Is there something wrong with prospering preachers?

Is your pastor riding in a Bentley and flying in a private jet while his or her members are riding the bus and living in one-room apartments?

Now, let’s be clear. I’m all for prospering and I’m well aware of the scriptures that people use to justify this “new” gospel, but I’m convinced we’ve swung too far from the foundation of the faith, which is Jesus Christ.

Currently, I’m in a class at a Baptist church where the pastor in a series is teaching such topics as how to eliminate debt, budgeting, investment strategies and the like. I have no problem with such teachings. The rubber hits the road for me when the preacher no longer teaches Jesus Christ and him crucified. Rarely, do you hear the prosperity talking about Jesus Christ.

These are my thoughts. What about yours? Check out the story below. 

By the Associated Press

Acting on tips about preachers who ride in Rolls Royces and have purportedly paid $30,000 for a conference table, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee said Tuesday he’s investigating the finances of six well-known TV ministers.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said those under scrutiny include faith healer Benny Hinn, Georgia megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar and one of the nation’s best known female preachers, Joyce Meyer.

Grassley sent letters to the half-dozen Christian media ministries earlier this week requesting answers by Dec. 6 about their expenses, executive compensation and amenities, including use of fancy cars and private jets.

In a statement, Grassley said he was acting on complaints from the public and news coverage of the organizations.

“The allegations involve governing boards that aren’t independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls Royces,” Grassley said.

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

Those ministries that responded Tuesday either said they were cooperating or committed to financial transparency and following the law.

The investigation promises to shine new light on the kind of TV ministries that were crippled by sex and money scandals in the 1980s. Experts also say it stands out as an unusual case of the government probing the inner workings of religious organizations.

Most of those under investigation preach a variation of the “prosperity gospel,” the teaching that God will shower faithful followers with material riches.

Grassley’s letters went to:

_ Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas, a $20 million organization and prosperity gospel pioneer. Questions were raised about the transfer of church assets to a for-profit company, Security Patrol Inc., a $1 million loan from Gloria Copeland to the group, and a “personal gift” of more than $2 million given to Kenneth Copeland to mark the ministry’s 40th anniversary.

A Copeland spokeswoman released a statement saying the ministry is working on a response to Grassley’s letter, follows all laws and best practices governing churches and religious nonprofit groups, and “will continue to do so.”

_ Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International and Creflo Dollar Ministries of College Park, Ga. Grassley’s letter asks for records on private planes, board makeup, compensation and donations and “love offerings” to visiting ministers. In a statement, Dollar called his ministry an “open book” and said he would cooperate. He also questioned whether the investigation could “affect the privacy of every community church in America.”

_ Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, is asked about use of a private jet, a home in Dana Point, Calif. and “layover trips” while traveling on ministry business. Hinn did not respond to requests for comment.

_ Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries of Lithonia, Ga., was questioned about his salary, a $1.4 million real estate transaction and whether he, and not the board, holds sole authority over the organization. Long plans to fully comply with the Senate’s request, and his church has “several safeguards” to ensure transactions comply with laws governing churches, according to a statement from Long’s spokesman.

_ Joyce and David Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., who were quizzed about receiving donations of money and jewelry and the handling of cash from overseas crusades. They also were asked about expenditures at ministry headquarters, including a $30,000 conference table and a $23,000 “commode with marble top.”

The ministry’s lawyer released a statement describing the ministry’s work and public release of several years’ worth of audits. He also said the IRS found in October that the group continues to qualify for tax-exempt status.

_ Randy and Paula White of the multiracial Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries of Tampa, Fla. are asked about home purchases in San Antonio, Texas, Malibu, Calif., and New York, credit card charges for clothing and cosmetic surgery and the reported purchase of a Bentley convertible as a gift for Bishop T.D. Jakes, a prominent Texas preacher and televangelist. An e-mail to a spokeswoman for Jakes was not immediately returned.

In a statement, Randy and Paula White declined to comment on specifics, saying they needed time to review the letter with their lawyers. But the Whites called the Grassley letter “unusual, since the IRS has separate powers to investigate religious organizations if they think it’s necessary.”

Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar all sit on the board of regents for Oral Roberts University, which is mired in a financial scandal of its own.

The Senate Finance Committee has chided secular nonprofits for governance and compensation problems in the past, but this level of scrutiny for what are basically “non-pulpit churches” is unprecedented, said Ken Behr, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Because the groups have tax status as churches, they are not required to file tax forms open to public inspection.

3 Responses

  1. Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, and Paula White are among many other Word-Faith teachers who are deceiving and financially raping thousands of Christians. For those of you who are interested, I’ve written a very detailed article that addresses the false doctrines of the Word-Faith Movement. It can be found at:
    http://www.victorstephens.com/victorstephenswebsite_018.htm

  2. I would say that some of these “minister of God” who have the big mega churches, and who are living ‘high on the horse” are more concerned about “living large” instead of preaching the word of Jesus Christ, and saving their “flock”/congregation.

    Some ministers are living in millior dollar homes, riding in fancy expensive cars, and oh, let’s not forget, wearing the big diamond “bling”. Yes, it is nice to live big, but when you have individuals who attend a chruch where these “living large” ministers preach, and they see this compared to their measly living, what kind of example is this sending. Surely it is not about the life of Jesus Christ who had humble, poor, living conditions (remember, he was born in a manger), and who shared what he had with others even as small as it was.

    Have you ever heard of one of these “mega ministers” sharing their wealth with the “common folk” who attend their church. Probably not, as they want to keep all this money that the poor folks are giving them to themselves, even though some of these poor people are giving money that they really can’t give, and who are on fixed incomes. Yet, these ministers preach about thiting, and giving your 10% to the Lord. What Lord? Them.

    I see some of these ministers on television, and they are wearing designer made suits with all the trimmings, and they have two or three big diamond rings on their fingers along with a big diamond watch, and large diamond bracelets on their wrists. Why is it that they have to walk around showing their fancy stuff in front of poor individuals who have nothing. Hypocrisy at its best.

    And it’s not only the ministers that one sees on television who is doing these things. Some of our local ministers also are driving big luxury cars, and wearing the “bling”, and beleive me the people who attend some of our black churches here in Alexandria are dirt poor. Yet, they sacrifise to give the little they have to their pastor because they beleive in him, as he represents God to them, and they want to please the man above, but rather, they are pleasing their pastor dressed not in sheep’s clothing, but designer made tailored suits.

    Yes, there should be a federal investigation of all the mega churches to find out once and for all whether the money collected is indeed going to the church and its congregation, or in the pockets of the “mega pastors.”

    Think about it the next time you see one of the mega pastors on television.

  3. I left a mega church 4 years ago and have not joined a church since. I told my former prayer partners that the spirit of Eli and his sons was over the churches and soon you will not longer hear of the levites. We will be going back to house to house ministry.

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