In the wake of money fraud scandals and allegations of opulent spending among high-profile ministers, an evangelical accountability group announced plans to expand its role and raise financial integrity.
The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) has provided oversight and accreditation to Christian nonprofits for nearly 30 years, monitoring the groups' fundraising and providing financial stewardship. It currently has more than 2,000 Christian nonprofit organization members and has been low key with no marketing until just recently.
The U.S. Senate Finance Committee investigation of six major media ministries drew in a string of media calls to ECFA's president, Kenneth Behr. more >>
The year 2007 was a year in which Christians had to up their guard amid increasingly frequent and vehement challenges. Whether it was defending against atheism, Mormonism, negative stereotypes, or liberal agendas, believers across the nation found themselves needing more to stand up for what they believe. The following is a list of the top 10 trends and events of 2007 that marked the year:
1. Rise of Militant Atheism, Apologetics
Atheism has nearly always been with us in one form or another, but the atheists we’ve been hearing the most from lately – chiefly Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris – are a new breed, as prominent conservative Chuck Colson noted earlier this year. Unlike the old-school humanists, the new atheists – or anti-theists, as some of them prefer to be called – don’t want to just deny the existence of God, they want to wipe religion off the map. more >>
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 >>