NPR reporter John Burnett brought us a succinct explanation on “All Things Considered” why nothing has been or will be done about the excessive lifestyles of prosperity preachers.
Using Daystar TV’s financial records obtained by the Trinity Foundation under the Texas Opens Records act, Mr. Burnett was able to piece together an accurate picture of how many hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing through their accounts and exactly how little of that is spent on true charity.It’s less than 5% according to NPR analysis in the first of a 2-part series called, “Can a TV Network Be a Church?The IRS Says Yes”.
In the second part, “Onscreen But Out of Sight, TV Preachers Avoid Tax Scrutiny” NPR reporter Burnett gives us a “bird’s-eye view” of Kenneth Copeland’s large mansion and the ministry’s airport. He explains why the IRS has stopped investigating any churches or ministries and why they are unlikely to do so in the future.
“Having an electric church is like having a rubber doll wife.” “What would God say to the church today?” 27 years ago (April 5th, 1987), Ole Anthony delivered a message to the church… whatever you want to call it, this four minute excerpt of Ole Anthony being interviewed by then Eagle rock station’s DJ, Rich Brian, will amaze…
Dr. Yonggi Cho rejected Budhism in his youth and converted to Christianity. In 1958 he founded what has now become, according to PBS, the worlds largest megachurch in Korea. Spread out across 7 different services, literally hundreds of thousands attend services every Sunday. We are sad to report that Dr. Cho was convicted on February 21st of embezzling over $12 million dollars over the course of many years. As a part of his sentence, he will have to repay close to $5 million of that amount.
We will miss his quirky style, his constant comments about those evil “heretic hunters” (possibly referring to us), and his colorful dress shirts–well, maybe not the dress shirts. Paul Crouch died this past weekend at the age of 79 after a long battle with congestive heart disease. Religion News Service reporter Adelle Banks provided quite a lot of information about Crouch and the television network, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), he founded and grew.
Ms. Banks quoted our own Ole Anthony as saying, “Paul Crouch at TBN is the greatest proponent of the oldest heresy in the church — that gain is godliness,” said Ole Anthony, a founder of the Dallas-basedTrinity Foundation, which has investigated Crouch’s ministries and others for more than 30 years. “All of the heresy connected with that position is what they’re based on and the problem is they’ve spread that all over the world.”
Elevation Church Pastor Steven Furtick has attracted some unwanted attention. WCNC reporter Stuart Watson recently uncovered Furtick’s large $1.7M house tucked in the woods away from public scrutiny and doubly hidden in a specially created trust. The expose asks a lot of questions about how mega-pastors with a ready-made audience can profit from book royalties. It also raises questions about the suitability of compensation committees comprised of fellow pastors with a vested interest as contrasted with a long-held church tradition of elders and deacons having decision-making authority. Take a look at this 3-part story by WCNC News of Charlotte, NC. (part 1 above, parts 2 and 3 below).
In the 3rd and final part in this series, WCNC reporter Stuart Watson also illustrated the connection and similarities between Pastor Steven Furtick and North Texas Pastor Ed Young. Take a look:
Other news outlets have picked up the story as well and interviewed our Trinity Foundation president, Ole Anthony: “What happens is these pastors are on television or on radio and they write a book, and it’s based on their sermons,” Anthonytold The Christian Post. “But then what happens is the church is paying for the time and the place to write the book, and then the church is paying for the airtime to advertise the book. And it’s just unseemly.”
And Anthony wasn’t done there.
“The idea of being a servant is lost. It’s just a job and they try to make more and more money, and the congregations are losing out,” he said. “It just infuriates me. It’s the opposite of the pastor being the servant and feeding the sheep, the pastor’s eating the sheep.”
Can a secular government be more compassionate than a Christian ministry? Knowing televangelists like we do, apparently so. Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, recently cut her own salary by 30 percent, pledged to sell off 35 Mercedes Benz cars used by her cabinet, and sold the presidential jet for $15 million to help feed the 1.5 million people suffering from chronic food shortages, as reported by Associated Baptist Press (ABP). The Dassault Falcon 900EX jet was purchased by the late Malawi President Bingu wan Mutharika in 2009. In addition to the actual cost of the jet, its maintenance and upkeep cost Malawi roughly US $300,000 a year, according to a government official. We appreciate ABP’s tongue-in-cheek tag line: “It takes self-sacrifice to minister among the people whom Jesus called ‘the least of these,’ and sometimes it just takes being grounded.”
Latest in a rash of “Aviation Department” requests from rich evangelists is this letter to supporters from Mark T. Barclay of Midland, Mich. “Corrosion is a dangerous enemy for an airplane,” Barclay patiently explains, because his expensive Citation III jet needs to withstand “all forms of weather at very high speeds.” But a new paint job will stop corrosion in its tracks and allow Barclay to continue to reach “hurting, suffering and dying humanity.” If 80 people, ministries or companies sow $1,000, he says, “it will be taken care of.” With $1,000 to spare, we might add. See his letter here.