Pope Poses With Wealthy Televangelists

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 [email protected] for more information.

4 Comments

    1. patrick

      pretty ignorant statement about Bush,Unfortunately the Pope is playing the same politics as the televangelists posing with him.

      Reply
  1. Allena

    Most mega preachers work under the Illuminati. They pay these preachers money on an regular basics. Some of these mega preachers are freemasons 32nd and 33rd degree. These preachers are involved in The World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches. Some are even witches. Do your own research to find the truth for yourself to be sure.

    Reply
  2. God Is Dead

    All religions are a FRAUD! The catholic church is one of the biggest sh**stains miring the world. Thankfully the catholic church is on a slow but steady decline to nothingness.

    There are more people abandoning the catholic church than joining it. The elderly parishioners are dying off everyday. They are the last, loyal, group of people to stick with the church.

    The hispanic congregations aren’t growing much and without them the church is sunk. Young people today, and the middle age, are more advanced as critical thinkers. We aren’t the puppets of the past believing in fairy tales anymore. As far as I’m concerned God is DEAD!

    The New Atheist Movement has paved a far and wide road ahead bringing critical thought, knowledge and fact through science to the world. If we tune into the brilliance spoken of biologist Dr. Richard Dawkins and cosmologist Dr. Steven Hawking we will hear the truth spoken.

    Our world is shifting closer and closer to atheism and free thought. There will always be the credulous few who’ll be combative and defend their irrelevant faiths. They will be the ones who have lost in this game of life.

    Reply

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