Trinity Foundation http://trinityfi.org Monitoring religious fraud for almost 30 years. Fri, 22 May 2015 22:08:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 CBS This Morning exposes Creflo Dollar’s self-indulgence… “Almighty Dollar” http://trinityfi.org/2015/05/22/cbs-this-morning-exposes-creflo-dollars-self-indulgence/ http://trinityfi.org/2015/05/22/cbs-this-morning-exposes-creflo-dollars-self-indulgence/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 19:16:20 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=897 […]  

Creflo Dollar's Georgia mansion
Creflo Dollar’s Georgia mansion

Thank you CBS This Morning for helping expose Dollar’s madness.  Yesterday, CBS’ morning program, CBS This Morning, ran a piece about Creflo Dollar’s request for his donors to help him buy a $65 million dollar luxury jet. subtitled “Almighty Dollar”.

From CBS’ interview with Ole Anthony: “In Creflo’s church, there is no accountability. He runs it like a fiefdom,” said Anthony, president of the Trinity Foundation in Texas, a church fundraising watchdog group. “The chairman of the board of Texas Instruments or AT&T can have a whole fleet of jets, but they’re not begging for money from people and getting a tax write-off in order for them to establish such a lifestyle,” Anthony added.

CBS This Morning co-hosts Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell, and Charlie Rose each reacted with shock and/or sadness at the contrast between Dollar’s indulgent lifestyle and a supportive church member having to ride the bus to get herself to Dollar’s church.

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Atlanta metropolis sees Dollar’s wealth, self-justification http://trinityfi.org/2015/05/19/atlanta-metropolis-sees-dollars-wealth-self-justification/ http://trinityfi.org/2015/05/19/atlanta-metropolis-sees-dollars-wealth-self-justification/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 21:15:20 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=888 […] DollarSelfJustifyingCBS Atlanta–Last night, Atlanta and surrounding communities watched an eyeful about Creflo Dollar’s mansions, jets, luxury cars, and self-vindication.  CBS Atlanta reporter Jeff Chirico interviewed Ole Anthony and used flight data information provided by the Trinity Foundation for the story (here).  Atlanta preacher Creflo Dollar responded to critics, whom he alleged were motivated by the devil, and spoke to his cheering congregation, “if they discover that there’s life on Mars, they’re going to need to hear the gospel I’m going to have to believe God for a billion dollar space shuttle…”

Flight data from Dollar’s private and ministry jets obtained by the Trinity Foundation and given to CBS shows multiple trips to the Bahamas and other Caribbean locations, trips to Las Vegas, trips to numerous  Hawaiian Islands, FIJI, and a number of other locations which seem dubious at best from a ministry standpoint.  Here are some excerpts from Ole’s comments in the story linked above, “It’s a spiritual Las Vegas, a heavenly lottery if you will, and the odds are always in favor of the House and Creflo Dollar is the House.” Ole added, “his role isn’t to make money off of the sheep or to ‘eat the sheep’, … in the first century church the pastor lived as the poorest of the poor, not the richest of the rich.”

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The Devil is trying to discredit Dollar! http://trinityfi.org/2015/04/24/the-devil-is-trying-to-discredit-dollar/ http://trinityfi.org/2015/04/24/the-devil-is-trying-to-discredit-dollar/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:34:59 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=872 […]

This past Sunday, prosperity preacher Creflo Dollar went ballistic and lambasted his critics—note that the first few words out of his mouth attributed the entirety of the criticism to the devil.

Several weeks ago, Dollar removed his website’s princely request—“Project G650 Campaign” asking his supporters to pony up $300 each in order to help him buy a $65 million jet.

But, just when we thought that Dollar was either returning to earth or at least succumbing to pressure; he took the opportunity in front of his cheering church members to sharply criticize the many that thought this was an unreasonable request and justify his “dream” for the world’s most luxurious private jet. Dream on Mr. Dollar. The only problem with your dreams, Mr. Dollar, is that they impoverish the people who least can afford it.

We are tempted to publish our 2007 report to the US Senate Finance Committee about Creflo Dollar.  Should we?

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Dollar Insanity… Treasures on Earth http://trinityfi.org/2015/03/13/dollar-insanity-treasures-on-earth/ http://trinityfi.org/2015/03/13/dollar-insanity-treasures-on-earth/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 19:46:22 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=857 […] creflo-dollar-airplane

Way back in 2005, Creflo Dollar’s ‘blab-it-grab-it’ mentor, Kenneth Copeland, convinced quite a few donors to contribute to his ministry’s purchase of the world’s then-fastest private jet, the Cessna Citation 750 a/k/a the “Citation X” for only a cool $20 million—which Copeland uses regularly to travel to his Steamboat Springs resort home.

Now the ‘name-it-claim-it’ doctrine has struck again!  The aptly named Dollar is ‘believing’ for a whopping $65M to buy one of the now-world’s fastest, longest range, most luxurious private jets, the Gulfstream G650—if only 200,000 donors will give his ministry $300 each!??  Check out Christian Post reporter, Leonardo Blair’s article …

It worked for Copeland, “Only for you, Lord Jesus” (check out Copeland’s prayer dedication of the jet here)… so what the heaven, why not?

Dollar narrowly escaped a Senate subpoena along with five other jet-flying, luxury-car driving, mansion-dwelling, televangelists when our economy tanked in 2008 and again in 2011  when Senator Grassley issued his final report on religious non-profit fraud.  The Senate report about Dollar, based on information provided by the Trinity Foundation, details his numerous properties, mansions, jets, etc.

Check out what African American News Site “The Root” reporter Kirsten West Savali has to say about Dollar’s new “project”.

Dear IRS, please take notes for when you start investigating churches and religious non-profits again, if ever…

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Wichita KAKE TV Uncovers Religious Mail Scam http://trinityfi.org/2015/03/03/wichita-kake-tv-uncovers-religious-mail-scam/ http://trinityfi.org/2015/03/03/wichita-kake-tv-uncovers-religious-mail-scam/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:22:31 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=843 […] StMatthewsChurchesWichita news anchor Gloria Balding brings us a report about St Matthews Churches.  The Trinity Foundation has been investigating Gene Ewing (“God’s Ghost Writer”) and his mail solicitation business  for decades…  His “ministry” solicits funds from the poorest of poor.

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Lawsuit charges TBN’s Crouches with gun threat, massive fraud http://trinityfi.org/2015/02/05/lawsuit-charges-tbns-crouches-with-gun-threat-massive-fraud/ http://trinityfi.org/2015/02/05/lawsuit-charges-tbns-crouches-with-gun-threat-massive-fraud/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 22:53:20 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=815 […] crouches_wedding

Brittany Koper, the granddaughter of TBN founder Paul Crouch Sr.,
and former chief financial officer of Trinity Broadcasting, filed a lawsuit Jan. 29 against her former company and its top bosses for allegedly threatening her with a loaded gun when she objected to “unlawful distributions” of $100 million to themselves and others. (Above, the Crouch family in happier times: from left, Jan Crouch, Brittany Koper, Michael Koper and Paul Crouch Sr. The undated photo is courtesy of Brittany Koper)

“The nature of these illegal activities involved the systematic diversion of defendant Trinity Broadcasting’s charitable assets through unlawful distributions to defendant Trinity Broadcasting’s directors through numerous channels. The magnitude of these unlawful and related financial schemes uncovered by or disclosed to plaintiff Brittany Koper is on the order of $100 million,” alleges the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court Central District of California.

Read more here.

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Video: An Introduction to Trinity’s Investigations http://trinityfi.org/2015/01/01/video-an-introduction-to-trinitys-investigations/ http://trinityfi.org/2015/01/01/video-an-introduction-to-trinitys-investigations/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 15:44:34 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=61

Trinity President Ole Anthony explains the scope and the reasons behind the foundation’s investigations into religious fraud around the world.

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The Five Most Disturbing Things About a Benny Hinn Service http://trinityfi.org/2014/12/11/668/ http://trinityfi.org/2014/12/11/668/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 23:09:37 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=668 […] bennyhinn1Where did Noah get the money to build that ark? Think about where he got that moolah!” 
Corrie Mitchell, writing for FaithStreet.com, gives the Five Most Disturbing Things About a Benny Hinn Miracle Service.

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Compare Catholic Archbishops’ Homes With Televangelist Mansions… http://trinityfi.org/2014/08/04/compare-catholic-archbishop-homes-with-televangelist-mansions/ http://trinityfi.org/2014/08/04/compare-catholic-archbishop-homes-with-televangelist-mansions/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 13:40:52 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=649 […] Property records and independent appraisals done for CNN’s religion editor indicate that ten out of 35 U.S. Archbishops live in lavish homes worth more than $1 million.  Complete with photos, The Lavish Homes of American Archbishops, by CNN’s Belief Blog Editor, Daniel Burke reveals that some of these homes are shared by a few fellow priests.  Nonetheless, some of these are whoppers.  The Vanderbilt Appraisal company, hired by CNN, found this particular residence to be worth over $30M–due in part to the prime real estate it sits on in Manhattan.

We definitely can offer some competition from America’s televangelists.  Consider TV preacher TD Jakes’ personal crib appraised at over $6.36M and note the Bentley in the driveway–perhaps he should take a cue from the new pope.

Or, consider Kenneth and Gloria Copeland’s Eagle Mountain lakefront “parsonage” which, together with immediate surroundings, is valued at over $6.6M:

We’re guessing that not many if any of the aforementioned archbishops travel around in private jets, drive Bentleys or preach the prosperity gospel.  For images of these and other televangelist homes, jets and cars, watch our investigations video.

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Pope Poses With Wealthy Televangelists http://trinityfi.org/2014/07/07/601/ http://trinityfi.org/2014/07/07/601/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 23:59:27 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=601 […] Copeland_and_Pontiff_photo_2014
Photo taken from Kenneth Copeland Ministries blog site [1] and from Catch the Fire, Revival Magazine, “Unity in Diversity”, Left to right—Carol and John Arnott, Rev Brian Stiller, Kenneth Copeland, Pope Francis, Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, James and Betty Robison, Tony Palmer. A similar photo with the same persons was published by Trunews.com [2]

When Pope Francis sacked the German “Bishop of Bling” Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg last October for spending $43 million of church funds for his residential complex, and denounced the “idolatry of money,” self-indulgence and “insidious worldliness” within the church, we were hopeful.

And in May, when the pope condemned “profiteers” and “climbers” and “people who follow Jesus for money,” calling for a “poor church for the poor,” we applauded.

But now the Pope has met with several televangelists who engage in the same kind of excesses he’s been preaching against, and we wonder why.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 7th, 2014

Dallas, TX—Televangelist watchdog group questions Pope Francis’ decision to pose with wealthy… televangelists.

When Pope Francis sacked the German “Bishop of Bling” Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg last October for spending $43 million of church funds for his residential complex, and denounced the “idolatry of money,” self-indulgence and “insidious worldliness” within the church, we were hopeful.

And in May, when the pope condemned “profiteers” and “climbers” and “people who follow Jesus for money,” calling for a “poor church for the poor,” we applauded.

But now the Pope has met with several televangelists who engage in the same kind of excesses he’s been preaching against, and we wonder why.

Known for his humility, Francis turned down the normal papal residence for a more humble one nearby. He drives a Ford Focus and recently lamented that “it hurts my heart when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model of car.”

So why is he being cozy with these televangelist “bishops of bling?”

At a meeting in June, the pope greeted Kenneth Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries and James Robison and his wife Betty of Life Outreach International. Other guests were Tony Palmer, former director of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Africa and current bishop & international ecumenical officer of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches; Geoff Tunnicliffe, head of Worldwide Evangelical Alliance; and John and Carol Arnott of the Toronto Blessing “holy laughter” movement.

In January, Palmer brought a personal video message of brotherly unification from the pope to one of Copeland’s leadership conferences. In his address, Pope Francis urged believers to set aside differences. (See the Pope toward the end of this longer video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA4EPOfic5A)

If Pope Francis is offering his blessing on their activities, he’s either not the Francis we’ve come to expect, or he is lacking the facts.

Trinity Foundation has been investigating religious fraud for decades and was directly involved in a Senate investigation on religious organization’s abuse of donor money.  From 2005 through 2011, the foundation submitted 38 reports to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on abuses by religious not-for-profit organizations.

We hope Pope Francis will consider what our investigations have uncovered about some of his guests:

• Kenneth Copeland and his wife Gloria live in a 20,000-square-foot lake-front mansion near Fort Worth, TX.  They regularly fly one or the other of their two expensive jets and other airplanes around the world, including regular trips to their multi-million chalet-style mansion in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

• Tony Palmer, a former employee of Copeland, is ordained with the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC), a small offshoot unrelated to the main Episcopal denomination.  The CEEC also ordained Gene Ewing, creator of St. Matthew’s Churches, who for decades has been running a direct-mail operation sending out gaudy, gimmicky letters (with prayer cloths, holy water from the Jordan and holy oil) promising riches and healing for anyone desperate enough to send in their money.  Ewing, dubbed “God’s Ghostwriter”, routinely wrote similar garish letters for other evangelists using every trick to milk desperate people out of their money.  The mailings still take in millions of dollars every month, though the group has lost its tax-exempt status several times.

• A cursory search of property records show James and Betty Robison live in a “modest” Texas home appraised by Tarrant County tax-assessors at $742,800.   They also own one or more multi-million-dollar homes in Silverthorne, Colo., and have access to their large Robison ministry ranch and lodge in East Texas built with donor money.

We can only hope Pope Francis used his time with these Christian leaders to school them in the meaning of humility.

Trinity Foundation President Ole Anthony says it’s past time for churches to require real financial accountability from one another. “After all, shouldn’t religious groups be leading the way regarding integrity?”

The foundation’s six-year investigation of televangelists in partnership with the U.S. Senate Finance Committee ended when Sen. Chuck Grassley passed the problem along to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, whose self-policing recommendations were compromised by including on the panel representatives with ties to ministries that are among the most egregious offenders.

Corrective legislation or action by the IRS has been lacking. So Anthony is calling for religious leaders to come together to work out real solutions to the plague of religious fraud and excess in the church.

You can find out more about TFI and the fight for financial accountability on our website here: http://trinityfi.org/about-us/

Members of the media are welcome to contact Pete Evans at 214-827-2625, ext 200 or pete@trinityfi.org for more information.

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