Editorial: When Ministry Mandates Prohibit Helping the Hurting

As inflation is making homelessness worse, the great divide between the “haves and the have-nots” is now more apparent than ever.

Month after month, we write about the extreme wealth of many of America’s preachers and compare that to the poorer Christians who support them—sometimes surviving off macaroni and cheese to give their last dollars to one “ministry” or another.

Do these large ministries give back?  Do they meet the needs of the poor surrounding them?  Some do, most don’t.  At least not in any significant way, from our vantage point.

One of the religious non-profit ministries we investigate has received over $1 billion in revenue in less than ten years while spending less than 5 percent of its total funding on helping the poor.

Ask one fellow, Larry Fardette, who, in his time of great need for his ailing daughter, contacted dozens of the ministries he supported asking for help.

Over the years, Larry and his wife had given $18,000 to $20,000 above their normal tithes to a number of television ministries.  In 2014, after a year of spending what they had helping their sick daughter, the Fardettes sent out a 9-page letter to the following ministries they sponsored and to a few more.  The ones below emphasized in bold were ministries they had donated to:

John Hagee’s ministry—they gave to his ministry for a Jewish orphanage in Israel, approximately $6,000 between 2004 and 2010.

Peter Popoff–$301 during 2012

Steve Muncie—an $85 seed

David and Barbara Cerullo, the Inspirational Network—their City of Lights in NC–$333

Mike Murdock— A televangelist owning an expensive mansion, and at least previously a number of private jets, should be able to afford to help people struggling financially, right?  The Inspirational Network still runs programs late at night with Murdock using high-pressure tactics to solicit donations.

Dr Todd Coontz—$273 seed

The Trinity Broadcasting Network, Jan and Paul Crouch (unknown $$ amount)

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland—did send them a little money in 2006, not much

Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, Operation Blessing—At one point, Larry Fardette placed a call to Pat Robertson’s ministry and spoke with a woman named Susan, an executive in the ministry, and she responded, “Oh come on, we get these calls, 8 to 12 times a week, and if we helped you, we’d have to help everybody

Jonathan Bernis of the Jewish Voice International Ministries— close to $1200        (spoke with Tim Tiller, who was the only one who actually called back, and he said “I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s illness but our ministry mandates prohibit us from helping you and your daughter, but we’ll pray for you”; at which point Mr. Fardette responded, “are you aware that we’ve sent you close to $1200?”, and Mr. Tiller said, “and we thank you for that, we’ll be praying for you”)

Every reply letter the Fardettes received back stated in almost the exact wording, “Our ministry mandates prohibit us from helping you (financially) but we will pray for you.”

As you can see from the particular response the Fardettes received from Pat Robertson’s ministry as well as the responses from others, they were not alone in asking for help—yet receiving none.

What people really need from us, at least for anyone who names the name of Christ, is to lay down our lives for the hurting people around us.

If you or someone you know of has a similar story, we’d like to hear it.  Meanwhile, we’ll keep you updated about our investigations of religious fraud and excess via our newsletters and articles.