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.

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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.”

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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

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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.