Friday, December 28, 2007

Shoveling a little snow...

Snow is predicted across the Midwest and the West for the next few days.

And it sounds like some snow jobs have been going on in the TV evangelist world—again. (You’d think they would've learned from the downfall of Jim and Tammy…)

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley has launched a probe into the lack of "financial transparency" into six ministries that teach "the Gospel of Prosperity." This particular gospel preaches that if you live well and give well (donate $$), God will bless you with earthly prosperity ($$$). Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Except that the ones who get blessed are the TV ministers. Some examples:

Creflo Dollar (yes, that’s his real name) took in $69 million, and owns 2 Rolls-Royces, 3 private jets, and 2 million-dollar homes—one of which is an apartment in Manhattan.

Paula White of Paula White Ministries made $39.9 million in 2006 according to an audit. This year, she bought a (another) huge home on 3 acres, with a pool, guesthouse, and 3-car garage.

Benny Hinn sent out a mailing asking for donations for a new private jet valued at $36 million. And his ministry has gotten an "F" rating (meaning "opaque") in financial transparency from Ministry Watch, an organization that watchdogs ministries and publishes a list to advise potential donors.

Eddie Long was accused by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of mishandling funds that were given to a charity that he started. The article said that the charity paid him over $3 million in salary, benefits, and use of property. Long has also written that God told him to get rid of the "ungodly governmental structure" of a deacon board. (Jesus will provide oversight, of course…)

According to one article, Kenneth Copeland has not yet responded to the probe. His ministry has a $20 million private jet (among other blessings), and he’s been criticized for using it for private vacations and to entertain friends. Ministry Watch also gives his ministry an "F" rating in financial transparency.

Joyce Meyer owns several expensive homes and travels in a private jet. In response to Sen. Grassley’s investigation, she now says her ministry will maintain financial transparency, publish their annual reports, have people other than her relatives on the Board of Directors, and have an annual audit. (wonder how large her family is??)

And there’s the recent scandal with Oral Roberts University where Roberts’ son was caught mishandling funds…

Although many people can see through this kind of tripe, there are those who are "snow blind"— vulnerable; perhaps desperate for something good to happen in their lives, perhaps unable to exercise good judgment or make sound decisions. And it’s sad when people are "taken" by stuff like this.

But it’s also irritating that these "organizations" aren’t held as accountable because they are religious organizations. If you are a non-profit organization that is NOT religious, you have to abide by all kinds of regulations. To get the benefits of the non-profit religious tax designation, they should have to be just as accountable—and financially transparent—as the rest of the non-profits.

High time to do a little shoveling...

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