Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and the Silence of the Shepherds

In 2007 Senator Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, opened an investigation into the finances of televangelists Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, and Paula White. Here’s a brief overview:


Suddenly, several prominent Christian leaders jumped into action, crying, “foul.” James Dobson and other Christian groups formed the Alliance Defense Fund, which is protesting the legality of Federal government intrusion.


James Paris, Editor-In-Chief of Christian, a financial website for Christians, says he is outraged over Senator Charles Grassley’s investigation of six Christian TV ministries. Paris said, "You could never get away with this unless you were targeting Christians. I have no problem with an investigation into a particular organization, Christian or not, but this certainly looks like Christianity is the target here."

The outcry against government interference stems from the contention that separation of church and state means the government cannot investigate the financial affairs of churches. Alan Wolfe, a professor of political science and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, makes an important point: “This isn’t about church and state. Church and state was never about giving churches the ability to break the law.”

“You’ve got very large ministries now that are nondenominational,” says Ken Behr, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an agency established in 1979 to help ministries earn the public’s trust. Ken asks a very important question, “Who are they accountable to?” Not to their congregations, critics say. In recent decades, some mega-churches have abandoned traditional mechanisms of religious oversight. Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of New Birth, dismantled his deacon board, claiming he received a revelation from God that he should abandon the church’s “ungodly governmental structure” (from his book Taking Over).

Take a look at some of the lifestyles that have drawn the ire of Senator Grassley.


1. Check out Joyce Meyer’s $23,000 commode:

2. Dateline NBC investigated Benny Hinn in 2003 – since then he has relocated to Texas

3. CBS News reports on Kenneth Copeland

In the coming weeks, we will scrutinize these prosperity prophets (also spelled “profits”), and pastors who have refused to criticize them publicly. Because theologically balanced pastors have not spoken out against false teachers, the Federal government has engaged itself in policing ministries that are clearly in violation of the law. In a future post we will spotlight the curious silence of the pastors.

We believe their failure to hold these bogus ministries accountable may have negative repercussions in the future. In fact, this may be the door power hungry politicians use to gain control over the functions of the church. Don’t think it could happen? Didn’t President Obama just make a power grab on financial institutions and automakers? Didn’t he just tell the head of GE to step down? Take a look at Sweden. They jail pastors who preach against certain social policies.

May authentic Christian leaders learn from their failings and carefully investigate the claims of these dubious preachers.


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