One believer is bitter that the money she donated to several prominent ministries didn't bring about the material blessings the preachers had assured would come.
"I wanted to believe that God wanted to do something great with me like he was doing with them," said Cindy Fleenor, a 53-year-old accountant from Tampa, Fla., according to The Associated Press. "I'm angry and bitter about it. Right now, I don't watch anyone on TV hardly."
Fleenor wrote checks to Benny Hinn and Paula White - two popular televangelists - and pledged $500 a year to Joyce Meyer, another prominent evangelist. But Fleenor has yet to be showered with the riches that the preachers said would come as donors give. more >>
A ministry watchdog released its list of top 30 ministries that grade high in financial transparency and aren't tainted with issues that would concern donors.
Not on MinistryWatch's December 2007 list are the six ministries currently under scrutiny for alleged opulent spending.
To make it on the watchdog's top "Shining Light" ministries list, organizations are required to be a legitimate nonprofit ministry with a legitimate purpose, show a willingness to treat donors fairly with a transparency grade of "A," be unashamed of being identified as an evangelical Christian ministry, and have no significant issues that would be of concern to donors. more >>
Only two faith-based ministries have met a Thursday deadline to turn over financial documents for a Senate investigation on alleged opulent spending. Six were asked to cooperate.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) received the requested papers from Kenneth Copeland Ministries on Thursday and Joyce Meyer Ministries earlier this week.
"Its 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. Its a question of abiding by tax laws just like any tax-exempt group." more >>
Days ahead of the deadline Thursday, when six popular televangelists are expected to turn over their financial records for a Senate probe, traditional Christians are not applauding the investigation.
Some Christians wonder what the future implications of the inquiry, led by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), might be for Christian media ministries.
"What we're concerned about is the future of Christian broadcasting and Christian ministries nonprofit ones if this inquiry is either broadened or ratcheted up and hearings are held and new legislation is considered," said Craig Parshall, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Religious Broadcasters, according to The Associated Press. more >>
Acting on complaints from the public, Senator Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has launched an investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing involving six high-profile televangelists, all of whom run non-profit organizations. The allegations involve governing boards that are not independent and which allow exorbitant salaries, housing allowances and luxuries such as private jets and Rolls Royces.
Creflo Dollar, pastor of World Changers Church International, is one of those under investigation. He has several Rolls Royces, private jets, a million-dollar home in Atlanta and a $2.5 million Manhattan apartment.
Best-selling author and televangelist Joyce Meyer, known for her candid, self-effacing speaking style, is also under investigation. Her office headquarters, with its 158,000-square-foot, three-story building and furniture estimated at $5.7 million, was built for $20 million in 2001. Since 1999, Meyers ministry has reported spending at least $4 million on five homes for Meyer and her four children, the largest of which is Meyers 10,000-square-foot Cape Cod style estate that spreads over three acres and includes a private putting green, a gazebo, a pool and a pool house. Among the items under Senate investigation are a $23,000 commode with marble top, a $30,000 conference table and an $11,219 French clock, all purchased for Meyers ministry headquarters. Meyer seems unapologetic for her accumulated wealth. As she blatantly acknowledged: If you stay in your faith, you are going to get paid. I am living now in my reward. more >>
Some ministers being probed for alleged financial misconduct said they will cooperate with a Senate investigation. But they question whether the request for their financial records is overstepping government authority into religion.
Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., and one of the six high-profile ministers being investigated, called Sen. Charles Grassley's request unjust and "an attack on our religious freedom and privacy rights" during the churchs service Sunday, according to The Associated Press.
It was Long's first comment beyond the statement he issued saying he would cooperate since Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, sent letters to the ministers on Nov. 5 asking for financial statements. more >>