Monday, December 10, 2007

Dollar and Long Get It Wrong

According to a report released by the Christian Post Reporter and the Associated Press, only two ministries on the list of high-profiled ministries under investigation by the U.S. Senate cooperated: Kenneth Copeland Ministries and Joyce Meyer Ministries.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who is leading the investigation, responded: "It’s good that some of the ministries are cooperating. I hope all of them will cooperate in the end," said Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Finance, in a statement. "For the focus of this inquiry, ministries are the same as any other non-profit organization. It’s a question of abiding by tax laws just like any tax-exempt group."

A month ago, Grassley sent letters to six high-profile ministries – led by Paula and Randy White, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Benny Hinn, Meyer and Copeland – requesting financial statements and responses to pointed questions about salaries, perks and other organizational and personal finances. The Senate probe was launched to determine whether the ministries are abusing their tax-exempt status as churches for extravagant lifestyles.

Early in the investigation, Dollar had released some information about the finances for his church – World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga. – showing that the 30,000-member church took in $69 million in 2006."I generally don't make this public," he said at the time.Dollar along with several other pastors have raised concerns about invasions of privacy and violations of religious freedom regarding the Senate probe.Dismissing the religious liberty argument, Grassley said, "Forget it. They don't have a leg to stand on."

Representatives of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., said publicly that the ministry will cooperate with the Senate request but Grassley has not yet received any material or contact from the ministry. Bishop Eddie Long, who leads the Baptist church, has called Grassley's request unjust.

Meyer surprised many last week with her press statement claiming that her ministry embraces "this latest opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to transparency with our supporters and our dedication to the continual improvement of our own systems of accountability." Very bold statement...and one that shows integrity. Horray for Meyer! If we only knew exactly how and why Dollar and Long got it wrong.

1 comment:

Shopharim said...

The Senate is not the federal body empowered to enforce laws. It has no right to the information requested.

Those who believe the worst about so-called "mega-ministries" may see the refusal to cooperate as hiding something. If, however, it was your finances being investigated with no evidence of wrong-doing, you might think differently.

Now, if we want to have a discussion about the biblical implications of what some of the "mega-minstries" do, that's a different story (which does not involve the Federal Government). But, if the discussion is legal, Dollar and Long have two legs to stand on, and are on firm ground.