Six Ministry Jets Fly to Texas for Televangelist Marcus Lamb Funeral; Memorial Highlights

December 6th was a busy day for ministry aircraft as Pastor Planes (Instagram and Twitter) tracked 12 aircraft making 24 flights.

Seven ministry aircraft, of which six were jets, flew to airports in the Dallas-Fort Worth area carrying televangelists to pay last respects and attend the memorial service of Marcus Lamb, the founder of prosperity-gospel promoting Daystar Television Network, who died of Covid on November 30th after staunchly advocating resisting the Covid vaccine.

Trinity Foundation investigator Pete Evans observed limousines picking up two celebrity preachers after their jets landed.

Photo: A close-up view of the Dallas-Fort Worth area shows two ministry jets and a Beechcraft King Air F90 landed at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, three jets landed at Fort Worth Alliance Airport and one jet landed at Fort Worth Meacham Airport.

Continue reading “Six Ministry Jets Fly to Texas for Televangelist Marcus Lamb Funeral; Memorial Highlights”

Documentary Explores the Work of Missionary Pilots

Ends of the Earth is a new documentary about Christian missionaries. It tells a captivating story while showing the work of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilots serving in Papua, Indonesia.

Seventy-five years ago, following the end of War War II, pilot Betty Greene formed MAF to take the Gospel to hard-to-reach places. Greene’s missionary vision lives on as MAF serves in 27 countries.

The documentary introduces its audience to Liku, a Bible study teacher from the Wano people group, who has an infectious smile. Filmmakers accompany MAF pilots Joyce Lin and Nathan Fagerlie on their flights. The pilots provide critical support for missionaries Rebecca and Tim Ingles who moved to Indonesia with the goal of taking the Gospel to an unreached people group.

Lin and Fagerlie used small single-engine aircraft to reach remote areas, landing on unpaved runways, bringing medical supplies, food and the Gospel. MAF planes also transport people needing emergency health care.

Villagers slowly build a landing strip with primitive tools. Dirt is moved with wheel barrows rather than bulldozers. When the landing strip is complete, a trip from one village to another will be reduced from days of walking down to a ten minute flight.

The MAF missionaries serve with humility, in stark contrast to America’s televangelists that own private jets. None of the missionaries promote the prosperity gospel. They are motivated by a sincere desire to serve, rather than the accumulation of wealth.

For the amount of money televangelist Kenneth Copeland spent on purchasing Cessna Citation X and Gulfstream G-V jets, MAF could operate a fleet of small planes in Asia, Africa or South America.

Trinity Foundation president Pete Evans found the documentary to be “moving and exciting” and in awe of pilots landing on risky runways.

The documentary’s title comes from a famous Bible verse. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The final night to catch a theatrical screening of the Ends of the Earth is October 21, 2021.  The film will be screened in 700 theaters. Tickets are available through Fathom Events.

MAF is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and publishes an audited financial statement on its website. In 2019, the mission agency’s pilots flew 19,525 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Ministry Jet. One Day. Six Flights.

On September 26th, ADSB Exchange tracked televangelist James Robison’s Cessna 560XL jet making six trips. The jet is registered to Zoe Aviation, a shell company owned by LIFE Outreach International.

ADSB Exchange uses Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) rather than an American time zone to determine the date. The first flight, which left from Destin, Florida, began on September 25th UTC.

The jet traveled from Destin to Fort Worth, Texas, then to Centennial, Colorado, then to Fort Worth again, then to Austin, Texas, then Santa Fe, New Mexico, and finally to Eagle, Colorado.

Questions an investigator might ask:

  • Was there a ministry purpose for each flight?
  • If the flights included personal, non-ministry travel, are the trips reported as a fringe benefit and taxed? The Internal Revenue Service has established a tax rate that includes both a terminal fee and a tax based on mileage for such flights.
  • If Zoe Aviation is leasing the jet to other organizations, should LIFE Outreach International report the revenue as unrelated business income and file a Form 990-T to disclose the revenue to the IRS?

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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

Continue reading “Calculating the Cost of Ministry-Owned Aircraft Flights”

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.

Continue reading “Trinity Broadcasting of Texas Obtains PPP Loan After Receiving $933 Million”

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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