Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Media-Based Ministries “witch hunt” is over! To many prayers are answered…

January 10, 2011

November 2007 was when it began – the “witch hunt” that is – started by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, when he sent a massive informational request to six major media-based ministries.

Substantial financial inquiries were sent to:  Joyce Meyer Ministries, Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church, Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church, Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, and Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International/Creflo Dollar Ministries.

When the Grassley issued his extensive financial requests cries erupted from many in the various segments of the faith based community.  Claims that Sen. Grassley was over reaching rang far and wide and many suggested that the separation of church and state was at play here.  I, as a business ethics speaker, on the other hand felt that full disclosure was appropriate.  If you had nothing to hide, then why resist?  Obviously, some listed above agreed.

The issue Grassley was investigating was weather the tax exempt status of the ministries should be revoked based on the lavish lifestyles ministry leaders lead.

According to a CNN article written by Eric Marrapodi:

The review by the committee did not impose new rules on the religious organizations or suggest they be stripped of their tax-exempt status. But it did bring to light compensation practices that may raise eyebrows in the non-profit community and lead to a discussion of new tax policies for religious organizations.

“The staff review sets the stage for a comprehensive discussion among churches and religious organizations,” Grassley said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to helping facilitate this dialogue and fostering an environment for self-reform within the community.”

SO WHO COMPLIED?

Two of the six ministries contacted were willing to fully comply:  Joyce Meyer Ministries and Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church.  Both groups reported that they were working on reforming financial practices of their respective ministries.

Again the CNN states: “Committee staff members Theresa Pattara and Sean Barnett wrote in the staff review, “The reforms undertaken by Pastor Hinn and Joyce Meyer are extensive and are to be commended.” Joyce Meyer Ministries, based in St. Louis, went so far as to join the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.”

Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church, Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries submitted incomplete responses to the senator’s questions.

Atlanta-based Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International/Creflo Dollar Ministries did not participate at all, declining the senator’s requests, according to released correspondence between Grassley and Dollar’s attorneys.

GRASSLEY REPORT FINDINGS:

A 61 page report was presented and can be found here –  SFC Staff Memo to Grassley re Ministries 01-06-11 FINAL.

“While the majority of churches and religious organizations operate with policies and procedures that make them accountable to their members, it is the small minority that don’t that are subject to scrutiny by the members and the public, including the press. These outliers present tax policy issues for consideration,” the review said.

Grassley made the following comment as this phase of his worked seemed to come to an end, “The challenge is to encourage good governance and best practices and so preserve confidence in the tax-exempt sector without imposing regulations that inhibit religious freedom or are functionally ineffective.”

QUESTION:

Do you think that the actions taken by the six ministries was appropriate and sufficient?

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Politics, Religion and Ethics – Obama’s Presidential Campaign and Messages from the Pulpit!

October 27, 2008

Let me begin by saying, this writing is 100% about law, ethics and the application of the law.  I am in no way, taking a political stand through the content of this entry.  Rather, I am amazed as what I believe is the flagrant violation of the law when it comes to influencing votes in this presidential campaign.

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of ethics is the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.  Now, that definition is broad and clearly subject to interpretation.  However, good and bad must also be judged in accordance with the law.  One might judge a particular action to be good and ethical, but that same action might be against the law.  Hence, regardless of opinion, the action is unethical.

So, what does this have to do with the election?  Well…it is generally presumed to be against the law for a non-profit religious organization to use their pulpit (I use that term loosly) to influence public opinion for election results or outcome.   Non-profit religious organization can lose their non-profit status if they openly work to endorse a political candidate.  This loss could be costly indeed.

So how would one know if such a thing is happening?  Funny you should ask.  But today I received information about the link I am providing.  It was sent to me raising a question as to what my opinion was related to ethics, politics and the law.  What I saw was amazing – a flagrant disregard for the law and the non-profit status at stake.

PLEASE NOTE:  The following, should you decide to watch, is anti-Obama.  The message is clear.  What is more serious is that someone would knowingly and publically risk the non-profit status with such a clear political message.

Judge for yourself.  Here’s the link.  The message is from ATLAH World Ministries and it’s steamy.  Again, I express no opinion other than the amazement as to the message and risk inherent in its delivery.

WHAT ARE OTHERS SAYING:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked the IRS to investigate the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J. and Rock Christian Fellowship in Espanola, New Mexico.

According to AU’s letter to the IRS, Roman Catholic Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli has published a letter on Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J.’s website and newspaper attacking Barack Obama.”

The letter criticizes Obama for his pro-choice stance and encourages parishioners not to vote for Obama.

AU also wants the IRS to investigate Rock Christian Fellowship in Espanola, New Mexico for posting a large display that encourages voters to support republican candidates over democratic candidates.

In my opinion, what the above mentioned organizations have done is small change in contract to the ATLAH video.

An NPR article states the following:

On Sunday, 33 ministers will take part in a nationwide effort to violate the 54-year-old ban on political preaching and endorse or oppose a candidate from the pulpit. The effort is called the Pulpit Initiative.

Two weeks ago, more than 100 pastors squeezed into a hotel meeting room in Washington, D.C., to learn about the Pulpit Initiative, a brain child of the conservative legal group, Alliance Defense Fund. Attorney Erik Stanley walked them through it.

“If the IRS chooses to come after these churches, we will sue the IRS in federal court,” Stanley said.

Stanley says pastors are fed up. In the past four years, the IRS has stepped up its investigations of clergy. It sent letters to 47 churches, including some liberal ones — not just for explicit endorsements, but also for using code words like pro-choice or pro-life in relation to candidates.

“What’s been happening is that the government has been able to go into the pulpits of America, look over the pastor’s shoulder, and parse the content of their sermon. And that’s unconstitutional,” Stanley said. “No government official should entangle itself with religion in that way.”

HERE’S THE QUESTION FOR YOU – THE READER:  Which is ethical – (1) for the church to follow the dictates of the law and avoid endorsing or disparaging a politicial candidate or (2) to make a “good” decision based on a moral duty and obligation (in the face of the law)?

If you watch the ATLAH video…come back to this site and share your opinion.  Otherwise, your comments welcome on the ethics of religion and politics.


Kenneth Copeland Ministries Would Rather Have A Tax Audit? Why?

April 22, 2008

Over the course of the past six months, I’ve had the privilege of watching one of the most interesting battles take place between a powerful Senator and a popular Minister – Grassley vs. Copeland. I am doubtful that many reading this are not fully aware of the background so I won’t spend much time reviewing that – (however, I will, toward the end of this blog point out some of the more interesting questions asked by Grassley of the Copeland Ministries).

While many of the six ministries have complied in one form or another, Copeland’s ministries have been blatant about their refusal to comply completely. A letter dated March 31, 2008 was sent to Senators Max Baucus and Charles Grassley outlining the Kenneth Copeland Ministries position. The full letter can be found here.

Here are some excerpts to expedite the process:

The Church provided a complete response to six out of 42 questions, and provided a substantially complete response to eleven out of the remaining 36 questions. Where the Church did not provide a complete answer, the Church determined that the question raises constitutionally and statutorily based privacy, confidentiality, and freedom of association issues with respect to the Church and other parties (including, for example, the Church’s officers, directors, pastors, ministers, and members).

Your March 11th letter indicates that your intent in seeking the requested information from the Church is to allow the Committee “to conduct oversight into matters related to legislation enacted by Congress … to determine how well a particular agency of the executive branch is administering legislation enacted by Congress, if a particular law or section of the law is being administered in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress and what changes might be required to a law to improve and enhance it.” In addition, your letter states that, in order to exercise “oversight over the administration of the federal tax revenue system by the Internal Revenue Service to make sure that its rules and procedures meet the purpose and the intent of the revenue code, including those rules applicable to non-profit organizations … the Committee needs to understand clearly and specifically how non-profit organizations are structured and operated.” In the Church’s view, all of these purposes could be accomplished just as effectively by the Committee asking the Internal Revenue Service to provide all of the information Senator Grassley is seeking through a request pursuant to section 6103 of the Code. Section 6103 of the Code does not limit what the Committee can request from the Internal Revenue Service. It only limits the Committee’s ability to make that information public.

Now here I’m confused. Baucus and Grassley state, per the Copeland response, that they are requesting information “to conduct oversight into matters related to legislation enacted by Congress … to determine how well a particular agency of the executive branch is administering legislation enacted by Congress, if a particular law or section of the law is being administered in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress and what changes might be required to a law to improve and enhance it.” Yet Copeland wants the agency that Baucus and Grassley oversee to do the work to make sure that the IRS does what they are supposed to do. That’s bizarre!

Let me state that again, Grassley wants to make sure “how well” a particular agency (hum…must be the IRS) is administering the law. Yet, Copeland wants the agency in question to do an audit so that Grassley can take those finding to determine if they are doing their job. That will make you head wobble if you think about it.

Your March 11th letter states that “the Committee recognizes the concerns regarding privacy and confidentiality of certain records and has offered to work with [the Church] to protect any proprietary or confidential information.” In discussions with members of both of your staffs, however, it was made clear that the Committee was not willing to provide the types of confidentiality protections afforded by section 6103 of the Code, but rather was willing only to protect a very limited type of information such as social security numbers. However, any confidentiality protections short of those afforded by section 6103 of the Code are simply inadequate to address the Church’s concerns regarding the potential use and public dissemination of any information produced by the Church. In light of the Church’s view that the Committee’s oversight-related purposes could be accomplished notwithstanding the application of section 6103 of the Code to the information sought, the Church is deeply concerned that the information Senator Grassley is seeking could be used to subject the Church and its members to public stigma, scorn, and obloquy.

So the Senators say we will give you protections. The ministry says, we have better from the Internal Revenue Code. The Senators are trying to evaluate just how well the agency is administering the Code. The Ministry thumbs their nose at the Senators and says – not good enough – we don’t trust you. Well, it’s a free country and we enjoy freedom of speech so fair enough. But, as I’ve stated before, that’s playing with fire.

The six ministries under investigation all share a common theology based on the sincerely held religious belief that God wants His children to be spiritually, physically, and financially blessed and that prosperity in all areas of one’s life is an outward sign of the fulfillment of God’s promises contained in the Bible. The Church believes that the targeting of these ministries, and these ministries alone, violates a fundamental tenet of the First Amendment: that the government should not single out any religion for disparate treatment because of its beliefs. With respect to religion, the Constitution requires that the government be neutral, preferring no beliefs above others. The selective investigation only of churches that preach the “Word of Faith” message raises significant concerns as to whether the inquiry is aimed at publicly questioning the religious beliefs of the targeted churches, their preachers, and their members.

Keep in mind, it is just an opinion, but Copeland is way too egotistical here. There are way more than six ministries that believe that prosperity is a God given right and that anyone can claim that. Most new thought churches have believed that for years. In the movie and subsequent book, “The Secret” those same principles were espoused. In my home town of Dallas – Bishop T. D. Jakes has a massive ministry and certainly he believes in prosperity and preaches it as well. Yet, he was not “targeted.”

The Church continues to believe that the most timely and efficient manner for the Committee to obtain the requested information without compromising the Church’s constitutional and statutorily based rights is for the Internal Revenue Service to obtain the requested information from the Church through a church tax inquiry conducted pursuant to section 7611 of the Code. As you know, this Code section, which was part of the Church Audit Procedures Act that Senator Grassley himself introduced in l983, was enacted in recognition of the of the unique issues raised by the government inquiries into the financial and other operations of churches, including the need for the separation of church and state, and the special relationship of a church to its members. At the conclusion of a properly conducted church tax inquiry, the Committee could obtain the information Senator Grassley is seeking from the Internal Revenue Service through a request pursuant to section 6103 of the Code.

That is a fair statement and request as it is characterized in accordance with a piece of legislation that Senator Grassley introduced. I have long espoused that if you want to fight the government, do it in a way that is not emotional and focuses are potentially effective secular arguments. To put back in Grassley’s face the Church Audit Procedures Act makes sense.

Below are some of the items that Grassley expressly asked for in his first request:

  • A detailed explanation of the personal use of assets of the tax-exempt organization (i.e., jets, employees, facilities) and an accounting of any repayments made to the tax-exempt entity for the personal use of stated assets for years 2004 to present.
  • Credit card statements for all credit cards used by Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland and John Copeland for the years 2004 to present for expenses paid by EMIC and KCM. An explanation of all credit card expenses paid by the organization on behalf of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland for years 2004 to present.
  • Has any of the land or assets tied to the land that was deeded to the church from th estate of Paul H. Pewitt been transferred conveyed, gifted or otherwise placed in the control or possession of any other entity or person? If so, who, when , for what amount and for what purpose? Provide the names and addresses of all person(s) who made the decision to relinquish control of the real property.
  • Provide detailed information (Year, Make, Model and Number) of any aircraft owned, used or leased by EMIC, KCM or any related or integrated auxiliary, including amounts paid for the purchase and/or lease of the aircraft and all maintenance expenses form 2004 to present. Copies of the flight records of any aircraft owned, used or leased by EMIC, KCM or any related or integrated auxiliary from 2004 to present. Copies of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland’s itinerary from 2004 to present.
  • El Rancho Fe is a for-profit working ranch owned by Kenneth and John Copeland. Is any of the property used by El Rancho Fe the same property deeded to the church by the estate of Paul H. Pewitt? If so, how is the church compensated for use of this asset and in what amounts for tax years 2002 to present? Who approved the use of this asset? If the Board of Directors approved, provide the names and addresses of the board members.
  • The name and address of the person and/or company that prints, audio records and video records Kenneth and Gloria Copeland’s material? The name and address of the person and/or company that owns the titles, copyrights, royalties or similar interests in sermons, videotapes, books, CD’s, DVD’s, or other materials prepared by EMIC and/or KCM. Are any of the ministry’s paid employees involved in the printing, publishing, recording and distribution of the books, videotapes, CD’s, or DVD’s?
  • According to documents provided to the Finance Committee, in November 2000, (ouch…the precedent has already been established that Copeland has provided documentation to the Senate Finance Committee without having to have an IRS Audit) EMIC borrowed $1,000,000 from Gloria Copeland for operation of ministry affairs. In 2002, the EMIC board of directors executed a replacement promissory note in the amount of $1,083,407.29. Provide the committee with copies of the executed notes and a copy of the board meeting minutes for each date, an explanation of the loan distribution including the original source of the loan (i.e. personal check, cashier’s check, wire transfer), names and addresses of the board members present at each meeting and a breakdown of the loan repayments to Gloria Copeland since the inception of the original note. Also explain why the church borrowed money from Gloria Copeland when it owns assets in excess fo $20 million dollars.

And the list goes own. For the full six page detailed request go here.

When you look at the study of ethics (which I do as an ethics speaker) you generally go into a discussion of morals. In Wikipedia a statement is made: “People who have moral responsibility for an action are usually called moral agents. Agents are creatures that are capable of reflecting on their situation, forming intentions about how they will act, and then carrying out that action.”

So as I conclude this rather long blog entry, I suppose that both Copeland and Grassley are moral agents. Grassley is a moral agent for watchdogging the enforcement of accountability as it relates to potential abuse by religious organizations in their tax-exempt mission. (Keep in mind, if they weren’t tax-exempt this would go away – there would be no issue!) Copeland, on the other hand, is a moral agent for making sure that people in power in our government play by the rules and don’t over step their bounds or abuse their power.

Either way…asking (in effect) for a tax audit is gutsy. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is…

Business ethics speaker – Chuck Gallagher -signing off…


Kenneth Copeland Ministries – Why Not Comply with Grassley’s Requests? What’s There to Hide?

April 6, 2008

On November 5, 2007 Senator Charles Grassley wrote six ministries – one being Kenneth Copeland Ministries – asking a series of questions related to the non-profit organizations’ expenses, treatment of donations and business practices. The questions were based on presentations of material from watchdog groups and whistleblowers and on investigative reports in local media outlets.

 

Of the six ministries from whom material has been requested – according to a news release from Senator Grassley:

Three ministries have not cooperated, citing privacy protections or questioning the committee’s standing to request the information. Baucus and Grassley wrote to them on March 11 to describe the committee’s jurisdiction and role in determining the effectiveness of tax policy developed by the committee, distinct from the Internal Revenue Service’s role, which is to enforce existing law.

 

The three ministries are: Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Newark, Texas; Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International/Creflo Dollar Ministries College Park, Ga.; and Eddie L. Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church/Eddie L. Long Ministries, Lithonia, Ga.

Senator Grassley and Senator Max Baucus sent the following letter to the Copeland Ministries requesting their cooperation again! The letter is shown below:

March 11, 2008

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland

Kenneth Copeland Ministries

14355 Morris Dido Road

Newark, TX 76071

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Copeland:

 

As senior members of the United States Senate and as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance, it is our duty under the Constitution to conduct oversight into matters related to legislation enacted by Congress. The purpose of oversight is to determine how well a particular agency of the executive branch is administering legislation enacted by Congress, if a particular law or section of the law is being administered in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress and what changes might be required to a law to improve and enhance it. Oversight through the committee system is an important way for Congress to determine if the laws of this country are sound and if they are administered according to the intent of Congress.

One of the roles of the Finance Committee under the Standing Rules of the Senate encompasses the exercise of oversight over the administration of the federal tax revenue system by the Internal Revenue Service to make sure that its rules and procedures meet the purpose and intent of the revenue code, including those rules applicable to non-profit organizations. In order to do this effectively, the Committee needs to understand clearly and specifically how non-profit organizations are structured and operate.

On November 5, 2007, Ranking Member Grassley sent a letter requesting information from your ministry related to the laws that govern tax-exempt organizations. While the inquiry is not part of an enforcement action, which would properly belong to the IRS, it is within the jurisdiction of the Committee to make these inquiries. The Committee conferred with the Senate Legal Counsel to ensure that the letter was well within the scope of the authority of the Committee and that it does not infringe upon First Amendment rights.

Prior to your organization determining whether to submit the requested information, Committee staff members met with your legal counsel to explain the purpose of the investigation and to address your specific concerns. The Committee recognizes the concerns regarding the privacy and confidentiality of certain records and has offered to work with your organization to protect any proprietary or confidential information. Unfortunately, the information submitted by your organization was incomplete. Staff members contacted your legal counsel in an attempt to secure further cooperation and once again address your concerns. To date, you and/or your legal counsel have not provided the requested information to Senator Grassley, nor offered any assurances that the information would be forthcoming.

The Committee continues to hope that mutually respectful discussions will enable the Committee to obtain the requested information without resorting to compulsory process. Therefore, as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance, we are affording you another opportunity to send the information requested by Senator Grassley in the letter dated November 5, 2007. Our office should receive the requested documentation no later than March 31, 2008.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, and we look forward to your cooperation.

Sincerely,

 

Max Baucus Charles Grassley

Chairman Ranking Member

What I must admit I’m confounded by is why Kenneth Copeland and his ministries refuse to cooperate. It states in the Bible – Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. In this case Caesar is the government and the law which gives Kenneth Copeland Ministries the right to operate in a tax free environment. If all laws are being followed, then what is there to hide?

Copeland, in my opinion, has made some amazing statements in his effort to elect not to comply. The following is quoted from a report in the Baptist Press:

Kenneth Copeland Ministries provided a cover letter from its legal counsel, 23 pages of answers to questions and 291 pages of supporting material in response to Grassley’s initial request, Copeland said on the ministry’s website. The information was “incomplete,” however, Baucus and Grassley said in their letter to the Copelands.

Copeland lambasted Grassley in a Jan. 22 address at his annual ministers conference, according to a report in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Saying he would not disclose information on his ministry’s donors, Copeland said, “You can go get a subpoena, and I won’t give it to you! It’s not yours, it’s God’s and you’re not going to get it and that’s something I’ll go to prison over. So, just get over it! And if there’s a death penalty that applies, well just go for it!

“You wanna get in a faith fight with me?” Copeland said, according to Roll Call. “Why, just come on. But, I’m gonna warn you. I fight dirty. I got somebody else does my fighting for me. I just sit back and watch.

“I just throw the first punch and then get out and let my angels go to work.”

Let my angels go to work? I believe in the power of God. I also believe in the responsibility we have to comply with the law and respect the law of man, just as we should respect the law of God. From an ethics perspective what does this all mean? The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) has encouraged cooperation by the televangelists, but the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) has expressed concerns about the probe’s implications for ministries.

None of the six ministries is a member of either ECFA or NRB.

“It’s good to see the majority of the ministries offering information,” Grassley said. “They receive generous tax-breaks as non-profit organizations. In general, the federal treasury forgoes billions of tax-dollars a year to tax-exempt groups. The ministries sharing of material with the Senate Committee in charge of tax-policy shows an interest in accountability for their special tax status.”

As of the deadline – Kenneth Copeland Ministries and those ministries of Creflo Dollar have refused to cooperate fully (if much as all).

What are the ethics ramifications of these ministries refusing to cooperate?

Your comments are welcome!

 


Kenneth Copeland – Godfather of ‘Prosperity Gospel’? Why Not Comply with Grassley?

February 6, 2008

CBS Evening News recently did a story on Kenneth Copeland Ministries and the related public investigation launched by Senator Charles Grassley. The article CBS Investigates is linked here. Copeland Article

The senate investigation relates to compliance with the tax laws governing non-profit organizations. The question is whether the ministry resources are being diverted into for profit business that the Copelands own or have control of such as aviation, real-estate development and texas oil and gas wells.

A portion of the article is reprinted here:

“It’s a business, it’s a bottom-line business,” said a former ministry employee – who feared being identified. The employee answered hundreds of prayer requests a day, most sent in with donations, before quitting, feeling “betrayed” by Copeland’s gospel of prosperity.

Michael Hoover, who worked for Kenneth Copeland Ministries for five years, quit in 2005 over disagreements with the church. He says he witnessed other employees doing work on behalf of for-profit businesses tied to the Copeland family.

“In my viewpoint, I believe that they were using a lot of the ministry’s assets for personal businesses,” he said.

“The nonprofit activity and the for-profit activity are so intertwined that you can’t, you can’t separate them,” said Ole Anthony of the Trinity Foundation.

kennethcopeland.jpg

Kenneth Copeland recently stated: “You render unto the government what belongs to the government. And you render unto God what belongs to God,” he said, according to the newspaper. “You can go get a subpoena, and I won’t give it to you,” Mr. Copeland continues. “It’s not yours, it’s God’s and you’re not going to get it and that’s something I’ll go to prison over. So, just get over it.”

Here’s the question, what would keep the Kenneth Copeland Ministries from being fully compliant with the Senator’s request?

As a business ethics speaker (www.chuckgallagher.com) I understand that every choice has a consequence. What will be the consequences of Copeland’s non-compliance?


Senator Grassley Not Backing Off from Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, and Other Ministry Requests!

February 6, 2008

According to a report from the News and Observer, “Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said Friday that he has no intention of backing off from his investigation of six lavishly spending ministries, despite what he said was considerable “pullback” from those ministries.”

charles-grassley.jpg

Senator Chuck Grassley had requested in 2007 financial material from six mega-ministries: Randy and Paula White of Tampa, Fla.; Benny Hinn Ministries in Grapevine, Texas; Joyce Meyer Ministries in Fenton, Mo.; Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.; Creflo Dollar Ministries in Atlanta, Ga.; and Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas.

Thus far the only ministry that has complied completely was Joyce Meyer Ministries. The Kenneth Copeland Ministries has been reported to have complied partially, but Copeland has resisted publicly. Likewise, Creflo Dollar Ministries, has refused to voluntarily provide any information and said it would await a subpoena and Eddie Long has resisted as well.

Grassley, the Iowa senator, a Baptist, was invited to the New Baptist Covenant by former president Jimmy Carter. During a 25-minute address, he spoke about hunger. But later, at a news conference, most of the questions dealt with his controversial investigation into the ministries.

Grassley said he plans to send follow-up letters to those ministries that have so far snubbed his initial requests for information about their spending.

“We’ll deal with them in the way of encouraging,” Grassley said. “I think it’s a case of people waking up and realizing that they have nothing to hide.

Grassley explained that he began the investigation last year after seeing newspaper and television investigations about how these ministries reward their leaders.

“It’s nothing about the message,” said Grassley. “It’s about obeying the tax laws.”

Grassley said he wants to make sure the ministries are not abusing their tax-exempt status, but he said he was loath to consider subpoenas for now.

As a business ethics speaker, (www.chuckgallagher.com) I have had many comments about the ethics involved with the Grassley requests. Most of the ethics issues surround the governments requests and the ministries responses.

Questions:

What is the motivation behind not complying with the senator’s request?

If there is nothing to hide, should the ministries comply?

Does their resistance and non-compliance color your view of the ministries in question?


Is Kenneth Copeland Confused About Senator Grassley’s Request? Comments By Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

February 6, 2008

kennethcopeland.jpg

In a closed circuit broadcast to some 1,000 ministers and guests, Kenneth Copeland stated his position about his response to the requests for financial information about his ministry. Copeland stated:

“You render unto the government what belongs to the government. And you render unto God what belongs to God,” he said, according to the newspaper. “You can go get a subpoena, and I won’t give it to you,” Mr. Copeland continues. “It’s not yours, it’s God’s and you’re not going to get it and that’s something I’ll go to prison over. So, just get over it.”

Supposedly, the Copeland ministries has sent some of the information Grassley requested – but not all.

I must admit, I’m confused. Senator Grassley’s requests from six mega-ministries – like the one headed by Kenneth Copeland – is a request for financial information related to the ministries tax exempt status. Grassley is asking – Are you in compliance?

Again, maybe I’m missing it, but if the answer to the question is – Yes – we are in compliance with the laws of man that govern tax exemption – then Kenneth Copeland ministries should have no problem. Simple!

So what’s he talking about? It seems like Copeland, in his comments, is puffing out his chest and speaking double speak. First he says, “You render unto the government what belongs to the government. And you render unto God what belongs to God.” O.K., I get that. The government through laws grants qualifying ministries tax exempt status. In order to retain that you must comply with the law. So Kenneth Copeland’s first sentence makes sense. Give Grassley the subject of his request. It’s simple – comply and follow your own beliefs.

But no. Kenneth Copeland then confuses the who issue – taking a position that a ministry is above the law of man – by saying, “It’s not yours, it’s God’s and you’re not going to get it and that’s something I’ll go to prison over. So, just get over it.” What are you saying? Copeland says it’s God’s not yours.

Is he saying that ministry issues are above the law?

Is he saying that it’s a God given right to be tax exempt?

Why is he contradicting himself through his own comments?

What is he trying to hide?

As an ethics speaker (www.chuckgallagher.com) her in Texas, I know many people who support and believe in the good that the Kenneth Copeland ministries perform both locally and worldwide. I, personally, have great respect for Kenneth Copeland ministries. That said, there is far more power in truth and honesty than is found in rebellion and conflict. For God’s sake – Kenneth – comply and show the transparent truth of your ministry.