letters to Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church of Grapevine, Texas; David and Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo.; Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas; Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church of Lithonia, Ga., and Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International of College Park, Ga.
In a five-page letter to Randy and Paula White, Grassley asked for detailed information on 28 areas of church and personal finances, mainly from the years 2004 to present.
Make no mistake, I do not contribute to any of the ministries under question, nor have I ever contributed. I don’t agree with what they teach nor would I shed tears if their donors found out what they are really doing.
But I find this a bit troubling. The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of religion. If this happens, where does it stop? Will any church be exempt from the government’s probing eyes? Where were our “friends,” the Americans for the Separation of Church and State, so quick to jump in when religion enters the public domain?
The churches probably can’t take refuge in laws governing the separation of church and state. Religious organizations are subject to all sorts of government regulations, said Ayesha N. Khan, legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Doesn’t government have a responsibility to donors? Perhaps. One wonders what Sen. Grassley hopes to accomplish by this. He has investigated others before,
the American Red Cross, the United Way, The Nature Conservancy and the Smithsonian Institution. Grassley and the committee combed through records documenting excessive salaries and perks, uncovered dysfunctional boards and business practices, exposed sweetheart deals and demanded more transparency.
Did these nonprofits reform as a result of Grassley’s probes? In some ways.
Should these ministries finances be transparent? Sure. Should they spend less on “frivolous” items? Well, one man’s frivolous may be another’s necessity. In my opinion, many of these things are over the line–one reason I don’t support or recommend them. There’s a long line of similar ministries who have done similar things and wound up disgraced.
But Sen. Grassley treads a fine line. Federal tax law versus the Constitution.
How much good will this actually accomplish? In spite of past scandals, some ministries continue on as they have in the past. So we hear that these folks are crooks (which I half believe anyway), what happens? Will Congress change the laws?
That remains to be seen.
Other articles on this subject (all from Christianity Today):