Calculating the Cost of Ministry-Owned Aircraft Flights

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

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Tracking Televangelist Jets on Instagram and Twitter

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.

Pastor Planes can be found on Instagram and Twitter.

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.”

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Televangelists to Pay Higher Taxes on Personal Flights Involving Church Aircraft

TBN's Bombardier Jet

(Photo: Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Bombardier Global Express)

Twice per year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) updates the tax rate charged on “non-commercial flights on employer-provided aircraft” which includes personal flights taken on ministry aircraft.

The latest tax update was announced in the June 14, 2021 edition of the Internal Revenue Bulletin and covers personal flights taken between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021.

The terminal charge was increased from $42.62 to $61.88 with an additional tax based on miles of the trip known as Standard Industry Fare Level (SIFL).

SIFL Mileage Rates for the first six months of 2021:

Up to 500 miles = $.3385 per mile
501-1500 miles = $.2581 per mile
Over 1500 miles = $.2481 per mile

The previous SIFL rates were:

Up to 500 miles = $.2331 per mile
501-1500 miles = $.1778 per mile
Over 1500 miles = $.1709 per mile

Some televangelists disclose their use of private jets on the IRS Form 990, a financial disclosure document which reveals total revenue, total expenses, and compensation of executives.

Schedule J includes a box to checkmark for the use of first-class or charter travel.

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Trinity Broadcasting of Texas Obtains PPP Loan After Receiving $933 Million

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.

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Televangelist Ernest Angley Dead at 99

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.

 

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Video Blog Investigates TV Preacher Jet Flights

 

Map showing ministry aircraft flights on January 2, 2021.

Have you ever wondered where televangelists travel on privately owned and ministry owned jets? We take a critical look at televangelist flights in the first episode of our new 30 minute long video blog Air Traffic Out-of-Control.

For almost twenty years, Trinity Foundation has tracked televangelist aircraft and we’ve discovered TV preachers often travel after the Christmas holiday season ends. January 2nd was a busy day for televangelist and ministry aircraft.

We will also show you how to search for aircraft in the Federal Aviation Administration registry and track televangelist aircraft on the website ADSB Exchange.

Our first episode also features sermon clips in which televangelists Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Jesse Duplantis talk about their use of jets. Duplantis claims that 99% of the time he travels alone. Is this good stewardship?

Our next episode of Air Traffic Out-of-Control will explore the operating costs of private aircraft. We are hoping to publish it in April.

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