Eddie Long Responds – Is Chuck Grassley’s Request Intrusive?

November 15, 2007

As reported on the Religion News Blog, Bishop Eddie Long said that Grassley’s request was “unjust,” “intrusive,” and “an attack on our religious freedom and privacy rights.”

http://www.religionnewsblog.com/19869/eddie-long

As reported on CBS.com – Grassley is investigating six ministries: “The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six – Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar – also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.” 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/06/cbsnews_investigates/main3456977.shtml

The letter sent to Eddie Long requests a long litany of church, personal and financial data.  (http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507long.pdf

According to Christianity Today – http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/novemberweb-only/145-22.0.html

“Grassley’s office told the Tribune that the IRS “has been unable to keep up with the exponential growth of all tax-exempt organizations, including churches and ministries.”

While Grassley is not proposing any changes to the law or tax code, he’s suggesting that he may do so after the investigation. “Based on initial review, the way ministries operate has changed significantly over the last 20 years to 25 years, while the tax laws governing them for the most part have not,” his office said.”

The Christian newswire reports Grassley’s request as well. http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/510074770.html

What are your thoughts?  Intrusive?  Unjust?  An assult on Religious freedom?  Or is the government exercising it’s authority to maintain accountability so that religious freedom can be enjoyed as it was designed?

Every choice has a consequence.  While there is separation of church and state…reality is that Christianity says that we must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s – i.e., we must comply with the law.  It does seem that law changes might be in the works based on the types of questions that have been put forward in these requests.

 Do you think that the law is just as it stands or should be changed.  Share your comments.

 


Benny Hinn – Ethics, Choices and Consequences – A Senate Inquiry

November 14, 2007

An investigation into possible misuse of donations has been launched against 6 nationally known ministries by the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finances – Senator Chuck Grassley R-Iowa.

TOB.com reports: Grassley, former chairman of the finance committee, said his requests for information came in response to complaints from the public and news coverage about practices at the six ministries. The allegations involve governing boards that aren’t independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances for church leaders, and amenities such as private jets and Rolls-Royces.

“I don’t want to conclude that there’s a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and taxpayers to find out more,” he wrote. “People who donated should have their money spent as intended and in adherence with the tax code.”

The specific request made to the World Healing Center Church, Inc. is found here: http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507hinn.pdf

A good friend of mine said recently, “When you search for something, you’ll find something!” Grassley is searching – make no mistake. Knowing nothing about the ministry (and admitting that openly), I would easily bet that World Healing Center Church and Benny Hinn Ministries employs teams of attorneys and accountants to make sure that the tax positions they take are squeaky clean. The issue for the government is tax revenue and tax exempt status. If the tax exempt status can be revoked or some of the income recharacterized, then more tax money for the government.

Keep in mind, however, Every Choice Has A Consequence! As a national speaker – having served time in Federal Prison for my choices, I know first hand the relationship between your choices and the consequences that follow. However, here the choices and consequences might be mostly perception. What do you think?

Compare Benny Hinn Ministries to Billy Grahams Ministries and while both are extremely successful, the Hinn Ministries are targeted due to the more opulent lifestyle of the ministry head – Benny Hinn. There would be no doubt that Billy Graham Ministries is a well funded ministry, but Billy Graham chooses to live a more reserved lifestyle. I doubt he suffers for any need, but few would call his lifestyle lavish.

Should churches and ministries have to answer the governments questions? Would less flamboyance yield less government attention? Is Grassley overusing his power as the ranking member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee? Or, has Benny Hinn Ministries overstepped their tax-exempt bounds?

Your thoughts?

More to come…and your comments are welcome!


Ethics, Choices, Accountability – Kenneth Copeland Ministries Request

November 14, 2007

An investigation into possible misuse of donations has been launched against 6 nationally known ministries by the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finances – Senator Chuck Grassley R-Iowa.

TOB.com reports: Grassley, former chairman of the finance committee, said his requests for information came in response to complaints from the public and news coverage about practices at the six ministries. The allegations involve governing boards that aren’t independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances for church leaders, and amenities such as private jets and Rolls-Royces.

“I don’t want to conclude that there’s a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and taxpayers to find out more,” he wrote. “People who donated should have their money spent as intended and in adherence with the tax code.”

The specific request made to the Kenneth Copeland Ministries is found here: http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507copeland.pdf

A good friend of mine said recently, “When you search for something, you’ll find something!” Grassley is searching – make no mistake. Knowing nothing about the ministry (and admitting that openly), I would easily bet that Kenneth Copeland Ministries employs teams of attorneys and accountants to make sure that the tax positions they take are squeaky clean. The issue for the government is tax revenue and tax exempt status. If the tax exempt status can be revoked or some of the income recharacterized, then more tax money for the government.

Keep in mind, however, Every Choice Has A Consequence!

Compare Kenneth Copeland Ministries to Billy Grahams Ministries and while both are extremely successful, the Copeland Ministries are targeted due to the more opulent lifestyle of the ministry head – Kenneth Copeland. There would be no doubt that Billy Graham Ministries is a well funded ministry, but Billy Graham chooses to live a more reserved lifestyle. I doubt he suffers for any need, but few would call his lifestyle lavish.

When Senator Grassley asks the tax exempt purpose for ministry jet layovers in Maui, the Fiji Islands and Honolulu…one might wonder if lavish choices have brought these negative consequences on the ministry or if Grassley is using his power and influence for a witch hunt.

As a motivational speaker who speaks to audiences nationwide on choices, ethics and consequences – I understand the impact that choices (whether intended or unintended) can have. Hopefully, the powerful things that the Kenneth Copeland Ministries does will not be overshadowed by the very public inquiry from the Federal Government.

More to come…and your comments are welcome!