Coontz Tax Evasion Conviction Upheld, FINALLY


Televangelist Todd Coontz Loses Appeal in Tax Evasion Case

Televangelist Todd Coontz, a prosperity preacher and protégé of Mike Murdock, is one step closer to beginning a five-year prison sentence.

After a year of waiting for a new verdict, on Friday, April 17th a panel of judges upheld Coontz’s conviction for tax evasion.

According to WSOC-TV, “Coontz has to wait for the Board of Prisons to tell him when to report to prison.”

Coontz is required to pay $755,669 in restitution. Coontz has less than 90 days to file an appeal with the United States Supreme Court. However, such an appeal doesn’t stand a chance at being accepted.

During the appeal process Coontz continued fundraising while maintaining his residence in a luxury high-rise.

Trinity Foundation has requested the IRS revoke the tax-exempt status of Coontz’s organization RockWealth International Ministries. 

Coronavirus + Televangelists = Deadly Mix

Last year an informant visited Trinity Foundation and told us stories about the apparent contradictions of a prominent televangelist. While promoting himself as a faith healer, the televangelist is secretly a germaphobe. He limited contact with his employees while preaching that we shouldn’t have fear.

In contrast, Italian Catholic priest Giuseppe Berardelli recently died from the coronavirus after voluntarily giving his respirator to a younger person struggling with same virus. Berardelli’s sacrificial life decision is a bold picture of John 15:13, which says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

As the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has grown, televangelists and so-called prophets have exploited the tragic health situation with false prophecies and fundraising appeals. The Apostle Paul urges believers to test prophecies in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21. Let’s take a look at some of them. Continue reading “Coronavirus + Televangelists = Deadly Mix”

Seven Year Court Battle with TBN Comes to an End

In 2012, Carra Crouch, the granddaughter of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) founders Paul and Jan Crouch, sued the network for covering up her rape. When she was 13 years old, Carra was raped by a TBN employee. Her grandmother decided not to file criminal charges.

Recently, TBN decided not to file an appeal with the United States Supreme Court, bringing the litigation to an end (finally!!).  Carra’s victory in the California Courts of Appeal will stand. Since 2012 TBN has spent millions of dollars on litigation. The network sued Carra’s sister Brittany more than 20 times.

The Big Failure at This Week’s NRB Convention

TV producers, radio broadcasters, filmmakers, and journalists are flocking to the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention in Nashville for the biggest annual networking event showcasing Christian media professionals.

Attendees can choose from a plethora of workshops and speakers addressing topics ranging from first amendment issues to religious persecution and from marketing to production. Unfortunately, they will NOT hear about two topics the NRB should address:

  • A growing number of broadcast ministries are rejecting financial transparency. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Grace to You and Ravi Zacharias International Ministries have stopped filing the Form 990 which discloses the pay of its top executives and provides a breakdown of other expenses.
  • There are an astonishing number of wolves in religious broadcasting, preachers taking advantage of their congregations and viewers for financial gain.

Continue reading “The Big Failure at This Week’s NRB Convention”

How Criminals Target Wealthy Believers

Count Victor Lustig is one of the world’s most extraordinary conmen. Smithsonian Magazine reports, “He used 47 aliases and carried dozens of fake passports. He created a web of lies so thick that even today his true identity remains shrouded in mystery.”

In corporate filings and during trips some televangelists have also used aliases and misspelled names to hide their identity.

Lustig’s most famous crime was selling the Eiffel Tower in Paris to a junk metal dealer. Lustig falsely claimed to represent the government to pull off the con. Continue reading “How Criminals Target Wealthy Believers”

Televangelist Court Cases to Watch in 2020

Trinity Foundation has become alarmed by the long-term trend of televangelists weaponizing the courts to attack whistleblowers and media.  Previously, Trinity Broadcasting Network sued Brittany Crouch Davidson more than 20 times. In a four-year period TBN spent $20 million on legal fees.  Trinity Foundation considers this litigation to be poor stewardship of donor funds.

Here are eight court cases we are monitoring in 2020. Continue reading “Televangelist Court Cases to Watch in 2020”

MinistryWatch Publishes List of Highly Paid Ministry Leaders

MinistryWatch, one of our allies in the battle for financial transparency in ministries, has compiled a list of highly paid ministry leaders.

Not surprising to us, executives at The Inspiration Networks and American Center for Law & Justice dominate the top of the list. The Inspiration Networks’ flagship TV channel INSP was previously Jim Bakker’s PTL Channel.

At least 16 ministry executives are compensated $300 per hour.

Excessive compensation is protected by an easily exploited loophole: By using “independent” compensation consultants recommending large salaries and then ministry officers recusing themselves from voting on the recommendations, non-profit religious organizations can legally pay large salaries.

Church and Ministry Leaders to Steal $53 Billion in 2020

Continuing a 36-year tradition, the annual January issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research quickly summarizes the state of global Christianity with fascinating statistics.

Quick Highlights for 2020

  • Churches’ income: $320 billion
  • Parachurch and institutional income: $490 billion
  • Embezzlement: $53 billion
  • Income of global foreign missions: $47 billion

Researchers Todd M. Johnson, Gina A. Zurlo and Peter F. Crossing at The Center for the Study of Global Christianity compiled these statistics.  Their ongoing research needs greater media exposure so that global Christianity will be motivated to take action against these financial crimes.

With the amount stolen from churches and ministries, Christians could easily double the amount spent on global missions. Everyone should have the chance to hear the Gospel.

Becoming a Millionaire on a Pastor’s Salary

Through best-selling books and excessive compensation, a growing number of pastors are becoming millionaires. Let’s take a look at one of them.

Thirty-one years ago James MacDonald and a small team of believers started Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC). The church grew rapidly and launched new multi-site campuses in the Chicago suburbs. MacDonald also reached a large radio audience after launching his media ministry Walk in the Word.

With assistance from his church and ministry staff, MacDonald became a prolific author. Moody Publishers, LifeWay Press and others published MacDonald’s Bible studies.

HBC fired MacDonald in February 2019 after radio show host Mancow Muller broadcast an audio clip of MacDonald discussing the idea of planting child pornography on Christianity Today President Harold B. Smith’s computer.  MacDonald was furious because Christianity Today published an article that didn’t defend him for suing Christians critical of his actions.

A recently published audit of HBC revealed that MacDonald was being compensated extravagantly. Continue reading “Becoming a Millionaire on a Pastor’s Salary”

Pilgrimages to Israel Are Profitable Business for Ministries

The annual National Religious Broadcasters convention attracts thousands of Christians involved in media and vendors looking for new business. On the exhibition floor the Israel Ministry of Tourism and Noseworthy Travel Services promote pilgrimages to Israel.

Such tours have become big money generators for televangelists and smaller ministries.

Televangelist Ed Young Jr. is promoting a tour of biblical sites in Israel. The price starts at $3,419 and that might be a bargain. The cost for a Light of Messiah Ministries trip costs $5500.

During the Grassley inquiry Trinity Foundation notified the Senate Finance Committee that Benny Hinn Ministries Travel and Tours was providing travel services to churches.

Trinity Foundation started monitoring Israeli tours more than a decade ago based on the firm conviction that some profits from such tours should be reported as unrelated business income.

According to a Trinity Foundation informant, Benny Hinn himself allegedly received kickbacks for bringing groups to various Israeli businesses.