Let’s take a look at one of the most expensive days so far in 2021 for church, ministry and Christian university aircraft trips. We tracked eight aircraft on March 19, 2021. It is possible that more than $100,000 could have been saved by flying commercial rather than using privately-owned aircraft.
List of aircraft owners:
A. Mt Gilead Full Gospel International Ministries B. Mighty Horn Ministries C. Liberty University D. Liberty University E. Faith Life Church. F. Assemblies of God Financial Services Group G. Philadelphia Church of God H. Harvest International Ministries
Trinity Foundation has compiled a database of more than 50 church, ministry and Christian university aircraft, but have been unable to identify aircraft that several televangelists are using. If you know the N-numbers of such aircraft, please contact us. Thank you for supporting our work. Confidential informants are always welcome.
(Photo: GFA World, formerly Gospel for Asia, at NRB’s 2021 Convention in Grapevine, Texas. Gospel for Asia has rebranded after facing a series of scandalous accusations and settling a $37 million lawsuit.)
Where have the televangelists gone?
The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) annual convention was held this year in Grapevine, Texas, which is coincidentally the home of Benny Hinn Ministries.
Some of America’s best known televangelists (James Robison, Robert Morris, Marcus Lamb and Matthew Crouch) have homes within 10 miles of the Gaylord Texan Convention Center, home of the 2021 NRB Convention.
Yet, unsurprisingly, most televangelists and “Christian” TV networks were no-shows at the convention. Daystar Television Network, Inspirational Network and The Word Network stopped being convention exhibitors years ago. The ability to network over the Internet has dramatically reduced the need for in-person communication and the lingering effects of Covid-19 discourage large networking events in 2021.
If you thought televangelist shoes and watches are expensive, let us introduce you to the extravagant world of ministry aircraft. From the mundane to the exotic, we are tracking trips to ministry events and vacation destinations.
Trinity Foundation recently launched Pastor Planes, an investigative project, with the objective of bringing financial transparency to churches, ministries and Christian universities using privately owned aircraft.
Trinity Foundation is currently tracking 50 aircraft.
By our calculations, there are days when more than $100,000 is spent on private-jet and charter-jet travel by televangelists, ministry executives and Christian university personnel. In addition to the cost of purchasing or leasing aircraft, jet fuel, pilots’ salaries, inspections, repairs, insurance, landing fees, and hanger fees result in higher travel expenses.
Christian leaders are commanded to be good stewards of resources entrusted to them. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, ”Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”
(Photo: David Cerullo, president of Inspirational Network)
The accumulation of wealth by prosperity gospel promoting televangelist David Cerullo boggles the mind!
As president of Inspirational Network, David Cerullo has become one of America’s wealthier televangelists—a fact that is obscured by net worth tracking websites severely underestimating Cerullo’s wealth.
Net Worth Post estimates that Cerullo has a net worth of $900,000. Meanwhile, Idol Networth estimates Cerullo’s net worth to be $3.2 million, but neither website reveals how they reached such dubious conclusions.
In 2010, the Charlotte Observer reported, “With compensation exceeding $1.5 million a year, Cerullo is the best-paid leader of any religious charity tracked by watchdog groups.” Eleven years later, Cerullo remains the highest paid executive in MinistryWatch’s 100 Highly Paid Ministry Executives list.
Last week the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published Inspirational Network’s 2019 Form 990, a financial disclosure document revealing total revenue, total expenses, and compensation of key employees. It shows that Cerullo received more than $3 million in 2019 bonuses, pushing total compensation to $7,319,371 for the year.
To create a big picture view of this ministry’s compensation, Trinity Foundation compiled a compensation spreadsheet of Cerullo, other family members working for the TV network and Dale Ardizzone, the network’s attorney.
Matthew Crouch, president of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) has launched a massive restructuring of the world’s largest religious TV network.
Financial disclosure documents published last week on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website report that Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana (TCCSA), long the parent organization of TBN, and other affiliated organizations transferred $860,132,250 in assets to Trinity Broadcasting of Texas in 2019.
The Texas-based non-profit also reported $30 million in donations, $24 million in revenue from selling airtime, and $17 million of investment income. Total revenue for the year was $933,330,134!
In 2020, Trinity Broadcasting of Texas received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loan of $3,308,005. Congress authorized the Small Business Administration to create the program to help small businesses retain employees during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While applying for the PPP loan, applicants were required to certify the following statement: “Current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”
Was this loan necessary to guarantee ongoing operations? Trinity Broadcasting of Texas began 2020 with $878 million worth of net assets. Should a non-profit this large qualify for a loan for small businesses?
Trinity Broadcasting of Texas was able to qualify for the loan because it had less than 500 employees.
Televangelist Ernest Angley, pastor of Grace Cathedral in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, died last week at 99 years of age.
Controversy surrounded the prosperity gospel preaching faith healer.
A former church member told The Akron Beacon Journal that Angley said, “It’s against God’s will for anyone to have a child.” The newspaper reported pregnant church members were pressured to have abortions and men were pressured to get vasectomies. Angley also reportedly inspected genitals of male church members.
In 2004, Angley created a shell corporation in Aruba named Crestwind Aviation to acquire a Boeing 747SP jet, one of the largest televangelist jets in the world. Its only known rival would be an Airbus used by Eduardo Manalo’s Iglesia ni Cristo. Angley’s jet would be used a couple of times a year for mission trips to Africa.
Crestwind Aviation shows up in the Offshore Leaks Database, which raises an important question for Trinity Foundation investigators. Did Angley engage in international money laundering? Aruba was a hub for this activity.
In 2019, the Akron Beacon Journal reported, “Add in landing fees, maintenance and other related costs and, if Angley takes three trips a year averaging 16,000 miles round trip, the annual operating cost is about $2.16 million.” The jet was estimated to have cost $26 million when it was purchased. Before the jet was sent to an airplane graveyard, it cost $240,000 to fill the jet’s gas tanks.
Video of the jet, which Angley named Star Triple Seven, can be viewed on YouTube.
In his autobiography Hurry Friday! Angley wrote,”Thousands attend my services in other countries, acres and acres of people in one service. Thousands are saved, healed, delivered and baptized in the Holy Ghost. From all manner of death diseases they are delivered, including HIV/AIDS. Medical evidence proves they are healed.”
If Angley could really heal people of AIDS, why didn’t he perform healing services in hospitals?
Instead, Angley became comedy fodder for comedians, talk show hosts and documentaries as Angley would repeatedly say the word “heal” with a weird accent.
Sadly, Angley’s legacy is no laughing matter. Please join us in praying for the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of Angley’s victims, family, friends and church members.
On April 16th, Trinity Foundation’s previous president Ole Anthony passed away at 82 years of age. We celebrated Ole’s life and legacy at a memorial service on May 1st. Ole’s obituary is available here.
Trinity Foundation board members selected Pete Evans to be the ministry’s new president during a May 13th board meeting.
(Photo: Pete Evans being interviewed by Inside Edition.)
In addition to serving as spokesperson for Trinity Foundation, Pete will also oversee investigations of religious fraud, theft and excess. Trinity Foundation will continue to serve as an advocate for low-cost housing.
Pastor JW Luman remains as vice president. Brian Kelcher was selected to serve as secretary and Glenn Evans as treasurer.
Four of Universal Church of the Kingdom of God’s leaders have been indicted in Angola, Africa, for money laundering.
The Brazil-based church is exporting the prosperity gospel into Africa much like America’s televangelists.
Church founder Edir Macedo is the owner of Brazilian TV Network RecordTV and a bank. Macedo is copying the lifestyle of America’s most notorious televangelists by owning his own fleet of jets and a helicopter.
Revista Forum reported, “Macedo’s right-hand man and former artistic vice president of Rede Record, Bishop Honorilton Gonçalves da Costa, was indicted” along with “Angolan Bishop Antonio Pedro Correia da Silva, former president of the church in the country, and pastors Valdir de Sousa dos Santos and Fernando Henriques Teixeira.”
In 2020, Rio de Janeiro’s Public Prosecutor’s Office and Brazil’s Financial Activities Control Board accused church leaders of laundering $1 billion – i.e. using fake companies to pass funds through different accounts abroad and then returning them in the form of loans.
In 2008, Edir Macedo was arrested but not convicted of embezzling $2 billion which was allegedly laundered.