Trinity Foundation http://trinityfi.org Monitoring religious fraud for almost 30 years. Fri, 20 Feb 2015 16:49:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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Ole Anthony interviewed about Trinity’s investigations http://trinityfi.org/2014/06/25/ole-anthony-interveiwed-about-our-investigations-airs-today/ http://trinityfi.org/2014/06/25/ole-anthony-interveiwed-about-our-investigations-airs-today/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 20:21:39 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=596 […] Bill Feltner of Pilgrim Radio program “His People” interviewed Ole Anthony about our investigations into religious fraud.  The program aired 6/25/2014 at 2:30am and 12:30pm Pacific time at pilgrimradio.com at 9:30pm Pacific time.  We will be posting the program here soon.

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NPR: Why Televangelists Masquerading as Churches are Untaxed, Unregulated… http://trinityfi.org/2014/04/03/npr-tells-why-televangelists-masquerading-as-churches-are-untaxed-unregulated/ http://trinityfi.org/2014/04/03/npr-tells-why-televangelists-masquerading-as-churches-are-untaxed-unregulated/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 02:47:59 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=591 […] NPR reporter John Burnett gives 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 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.

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“What would God Say to the Church?”–radio interview clip rediscovered http://trinityfi.org/2014/03/27/what-would-god-say-to-the-church-radio-interview-clip-rediscovered/ http://trinityfi.org/2014/03/27/what-would-god-say-to-the-church-radio-interview-clip-rediscovered/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 17:01:52 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=584 […] doll“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…

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Dr. Cho Convicted–Charisma Blogger Lee Grady On Preventing Scandals http://trinityfi.org/2014/02/27/dr-cho-convicted-charisma-blogger-lee-grady-on-preventing-scandals/ http://trinityfi.org/2014/02/27/dr-cho-convicted-charisma-blogger-lee-grady-on-preventing-scandals/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 16:25:40 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=569 […] ChoDr. 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.

Devastated by Dr. Cho’s conviction, Lee Grady couldn’t help but speak out on integrity.  In response, he expanded on six different ways to prevent another ministry scandal (excerpted here), 1. Never build a cult of personality. 2. Develop a culture of openness.3. Insist on financial transparency.  4. Don’t build a family dynasty.5. Beware of creating a greed monster.  and 6. Never tolerate a spirit of entitlement.”

We couldn’t agree more.

 

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Paul Crouch, Sr. is dead at 79 http://trinityfi.org/2013/12/04/paul-crouch-sr-is-dead-at-79/ http://trinityfi.org/2013/12/04/paul-crouch-sr-is-dead-at-79/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 17:35:11 +0000 http://trinityfi.org/?p=553 […] Paul Crouch, dead at 79

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-based Trinity 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.” 

 

 

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