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?


Senator Grassley To Ministries – You Better Cooperate! Additional Information Sought from Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long and Others

January 29, 2008

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When the Senator from Iowa asks for information over which he has authority – well, let’s put it this way, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and in this case – Grassley is Caesar when it comes to the taxing authority of the government.

Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is preparing another round of letters to Christian television ministries, prodding them to answer questions about their spending and the way they are governed, a spokeswoman said back in mid-January.

Jill Gerber, Grassley’s finance committee spokeswoman, said the the follow-up letters would go out in the next few weeks to ministries that have raised concerns or not responded. Gerber said the letters will describe Congress’ authority and duty to investigate and evaluate laws over which it has legislative authority—in this case, tax-exempt policy.

“Customarily, people come to recognize the wisdom of responding to requests by senior members of the Finance Committee, and particularly by Sen. Grassley, before a subpoena becomes necessary,” she said.

Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the finance committee chairman, has not commented publicly on Grassley’s investigation. But Carol Guthrie, communications director for the committee’s Democratic staff, said this week Baucus is aware of the investigation, and suggested that the ministries ought to cooperate.

Gaining support of the Democratic chairman would not only give the investigation added heft, it would deflect criticism like that of Dollar, the most outspoken critic among the ministers under scrutiny.

So what’s next: Well, it appears that the next move is in the hands of the ministries in question. It seems that some want to fight, like Creflo Dollar. Dollar commented on the Fox Business Network that he felt is was Grassley, and not the committee, who was pushing the investigation.

Considering the comment from the Democratic Finance Committee Chairman, Max Baucus, it would appear that Creflo needs to rethink his position. One doesn’t want to get into a power play with the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Right now, I don’t think politics are on the side of any of the ministers or their ministries. Thus far the only ministry that has taken the high road (and who I feel will be rewarded for her position) is the Missouri-based Joyce Meyer Ministries. Smart move on her part.

Otherwise, it is reported that Kenneth Copeland ministries is willing to cooperate, but to what extent is not clear. Neither has there been much word from Benny Hinn and his ministries. Eddie Long and Creflo Dollar have both taken a public fighting stand – an unwise move in my opinion.

My guess, as this is written, is that Grassley has signaled, much like Bush before the Iraq war, his intention giving the uncooperative ministries another chance to comply. Lack of compliance by the end of January will result in further investigation and an outcome that many of these folk don’t really want.

I could be wrong, but it seems like the writing is on the wall. What Creflo and Eddie don’t want is Senator Grassley’s version of “Shock and Awe!”

You thoughts?

Business Ethics Speaker, Chuck Gallagher, signing off…