Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey; yet Kenneth Copeland claims God ordained the purchase of a $20 million Citation 10 Jet.  According to Copeland, “The Lord spoke to me and said to believe for a Citation 10 right now.”  Now honestly, do you really believe that?

We may be in a deep recession, but you wouldn’t know it judging by the lifestyles of the “Health and Wealth” preachers, whom some call “Prosperity Pimps”.  Ever wonder how those on the “other side of the pond” view America’s prosperity preachers? Check out this BBC World News America broadcast which aired on July 5, 2008.  It’s certainly worth watching.

BBC Reporting on Kenneth Copeland buying his jet

Senator Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, called for an investigation of six “prosperity” ministries in 2008 because he is concerned about the abuse of private donations to non-profit organizations. The ministries being investigated are: Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Bishop Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, and Randy and Paula White.  All but Kenneth Copeland Ministries have cooperated with the Senate investigation. 

The BBC broadcast features Kenneth Copeland defiantly making the following statement:

“You can go get a subpoena, and I won’t give it to you.  It’s not yours – it’s God’s.  And you’re not gonna get it, and that is something I’ll go to prison over, so just GET OVER IT!”

Senator Grassley explained that up to this point everyone he has ever investigated has cooperated except Jack Abramoff.  “And he’s in prison,” stated Grassley.   To read about why Abramoff is serving a prison term, check out this article in The Washington PostAbramoff Pleads Guilty to 3 Counts 

Kenneth Copeland has sidestepped Senator Grassley by working with the IRS, which is required to keep all financial matters confidential; however, we don’t believe the matter is over by a long shot.   

Here’s how the same news was reported in the United States
(Note: Dee and I do not care at all for Katie Couric, who reported the following story.  Nevertheless, Grassley’s investigation is extremely important!)

It is noteworthy that officials in Tarrant County, Texas have denied Kenneth Copeland Ministries tax-exempt status on at least one of its private jets because they have failed to follow protocol and reveal salaries of key staff in the ministry.  Check out this link which provides a thorough explanation:

We leave you with a few of our own questions:

Should Kenneth Copeland Ministries continue to be recognized as a 501 (c)(3) organization?

Is it fair that non-profits such as KCM do not have to be transparent with regard to finances?

Will Kenneth Copeland eventually “go to prison” for his defiance toward Grassley in withholding financial information?

Please stop by tomorrow when we will take a closer look at the false gospel that is being promoted by Kenneth Copeland Ministries.



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    The tax exemption for religious organizations (RO) is a privilege, not a right. The exempt status means that the RO does not pay taxes on the donations given to it and that donors to the RO can take a deduction, reducing the amount of their income that is taxed.

    The government is basically benevolently allowing income to go untaxed for organizations that meet certain requirements. Congress created the exempt status and Congress clearly has the power to remove, reduce, restrict or place requirements on ROs to maintain the status. An example of that is the ban on ROs endorsing or financially supporting political candidates.

    Neither Grassley nor the IRS attempt to take the money from the ministries, just information to show they are acting within the law.

    One of the restrictions on ROs and other exempt organizations is that the salaries and benefits paid to them must be reasonable in comparison to others of similar responsibilities and abilities in other organizations, including in the non-profit world. Any amount above that is considered excessive and can result in the loss of the exempt status that amounts to a government grant.

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    I have never cared for Kenneth Copeland. He has great stage presence, however.

    The older I get, the less I care for what he has to say. I would not question his sincerity or faith (he apparently really believes what he says) without real facts or knowledge of him personally, but I certainly disagree with his unbalanced approach to certain aspects of God’s word and certain doctrines. His wife is even more unimpressive. The charismatic world has lots of these weird husband/wife co-pastor arrangements. I think that they are strange.

    The IRS code determines whether an organization such as Kenneth Copeland Ministries qualifies for tax exemption under that code, though let me say that I believe the protections of the First Amendment (which predates and governs over and above the Internal Revenue Code) may have something to say about taxing churches etc. The courts may have ruled on that, but those are just cases and not the text of the law itself. Most of the fighting historically is over the meaning of the Internal Revenue Code in this area, not the First Amemdment.

    I actually believe that the founders would never have envisioned giving the power of the government to tax the church. You can see where that leads pretty quickly. If there is indeed a “separation of church and state”, it works both ways. So, even if 501(c)(3) were not in the code, I think that churches could argue that any attempt to tax them violates the First Amendment. The founders did not want the church to have power over the state, or the state to have power over the church.

    But I am glad for 501(c)(3). We need it, if for no other reason, for other charitable organizations.

    I don’t know what non-profits have to disclose with regard to their finances, so I don’t know if what Kenneth Copeland Ministries has to disclose or not disclose is “fair” (a highly subjective term) or not.

    I am glad that churches do not have to disclose their finances to anyone outside the church. I believe that is right and “fair”. Only the members of a church should have complete access to the church’s finances. It is not my business what the church down the street pays its pastor, priest, whatever. But I would not, for a moment, join or attend a church that did not make that available to any member or those seeking membership.

    I have no idea if Copeland will go to prison. I am not going to make a prediction. If he has violated the law, he should be prosecuted.

    I do not know how I feel about the subpoena issue. Again, I think that Copeland is cheesy and I have a suspicion that he may have some financial problems. But my suspicions or dislike for Copeland’s ministry and approach is not a basis for a subpoena to try and find something he may have done wrong. And I think the same applies to Senator Grassley (whom I admire) or any other politicans.

    I am concerned that politicians in D.C. use these committees and their subpoena powers too much. So, unless there is real probable cause that Kenneth Copeland has committed a crime or something, I am not so quick to be upset with his refusal to turn over records just because some Washington politician wants to see them. Even though Copeland, as usual, has expressed himself in a less than sophisticated way.

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    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. From all outward appearances, it seems that no one other than KCM’s inner circle knows anything about the finances of the ministry. To my knowledge, they do not have the ECFA or any other accountability group looking over their financial statements.

    People are essentially bribed into sending in their contributions so they can receive 100 fold. Sadly, Almighty God is being used for financial gain by Kenneth Copeland and his ilk.

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    If he came down to jail or give up the books? I have a feeling after they cook them a bit they will be materialize. He won’t go to jail they way he mentioned it. Give me a break!

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    However, I do believe that the IRS has successfully and can today withdraw the deductibility of gifts to a “church” (quotes becase KCM is not a “church”), so that donors would not get the tax break. Nothing in the first amendment says that the tax code has to subsidize giving to anyone! And I also believe that churches could be taxed on their revenue, like any other entity; the current practice could be considered a violation of the establishment clause, but has not been by the courts.

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    It seems (I guess) that the courts have not really focused on the First Amendment issue because of the exemption contained in the Internal Revenue Code and all of the wrangling has been about that.

    But looking at it logically and historically, how can one read, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,…” and then conclude that Congress (or now State and Local governments) can take the “revenue” (donations) of churches?

    What if congress decided to set the corporate tax rate in this country at 75%. The state could take 75% of the “revenue” (donations) from churches? Then the legislature could raise the rate to 90%, and then take 90% of the “revenue”.

    Doesn’t that give the state the right to tax the churches out of existence?

    And then, revenue agents could come to churches and check their books and budgets etc. The intrusiveness of this would be unbelievable.

    I just don’t see how this is “separation of church and state” at all.

    I don’t see how any plain reading of the amendment would allow the state to tax churches, anymore than the churches could get the state to tax citizens (as was done in some colonies before the passage of the constitution).

    If the First Amendment is read so broadly to mean that state officials cannot even allow public prayers at some public events, how in the world could the amendment at the same time then be read so narrowly that would allow the state to both take a church’s revenue and all the things attendent to that?

    Again, unless I am missing something big from history, I would be shocked that anyone would not see that the founders opposed that sort of thing with all their might.

    The same thing is true of property taxes. What if a church is going through a hard time, and barely has enough money to pay its pastor, but is in an old, historic part of town where the property values are really high? I cannot imagine that the founders would have set up a system where churches like that would be subject to the possible confiscation of their properties for failure to pay taxes. Almost every inner city church in the US would be confiscated immediately if that were the case. I can only imagine what the value of land in Manhattan where places like Trinity Church are located would be worth. There is no way the congregation could ever pay the annual tax bill on a place like that.

    True, there is an exemption in most places. But that is by legistlative decision. If the local legislatures wanted to do away with that, they could in a heartbeat. Then all of those churches would be at great risk.

    Except – I believe that the First Amendment is a bullwark against legislative action that would come and either result in the taking of church properties or church donations (“revenue”).

    I have no problem with the IRS watching closely the “deductibility” of donations made by individuals to churches and religious organizations. Those should be treated fairly, just as donations to educational and other charitable insitutions are. And organizations that are shams should be policed, as well.

    But I think that Chirstians need to be careful to understand the full implications of the First Amendment and tax policy, and we should not let guys like Copeland cause us to say things or push for policies that would be absolutely disastrous and probably illegal.

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    I was not recommending or supporting any confiscation of donations made to a church, only pointing out that the foregoing of revenue is a support to the churches, as is the deductibility of donations by the supporters of the churches. And that that foregoing and the granting of deductibility to donors are both contingent on the “church” involved operating within certain limits, including a limit on political endorsement, excessive compensation, etc.

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    And I am not agreeing with that.

    The church’s status under the First Amendment is not “contingent” on how the church behaves.

    I agree that the internal revenue code does have provisions on the things that you mention, but the First Amendment has no such contingencies.

    If the church’s freedom (including the right own property and receive donations free of confiscation by the government) is contingent on legislative fiat, legislatures come and go. Freedom might be contingent on some new test that’s written into the internal revenue code in the next legistlative session.

    That’s why churches need (and have) constitutional protection.

    I sense (and I only sense this and could be totally wrong) that you think making the church’s economic freedom contingent on how it behaves with respect to political issues, compensation etc. is a good thing.

    I do not. It doesn’t mean I like churches acting inappropriately. But it does mean that I am not happy about, nor am I going to conceed that churches don’t have economic freedom under the First Amendment and the separation of church and state, that predates the Internal Revenue Code, and supercedes with Congress or the Treasury Secretary might decide, by amendment to the Code or by Treasury Regulation.

    For me (and I think the plain reading of the amendment supports this) the Constitution would have to be changed to take away these freedoms.

    I know that there may be some cases here or there on these topics, but those are only cases, and are subject to change depending on the arguments presented and the ever changing make up of the judges hearing those cases.

    It takes a lot more to change the Constitution.

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    Thanks for your comments.

    To me the question is: What defines a church or religious organization? Do you believe KCM is functioning more like a business or a church?

    I fully support the separation of church and state, but if religious organizations like KCM don’t act more prudently, it may jeopardize the tax-exempt status of all churches. That’s why we are addressing these very serious issues.

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    I am glad that you are addressing these issues. I am fully in favor of that. As you know, I don’t agree with Kenneth Copeland.

    I don’t know enough about KCM to know how it functions when compared to a modern church. I suspect that it is very business-like, but in the normal situation (which this is not) I would applaud that. Churches should be run well, as well as a business.

    Where the line is to be drawn between individual congregations, denominations, para-church and business masquerading as “church” is tough. I certainly don’t think shams should be permitted. For example, you start a church to run a fried chicken franchise through it etc. I think that the law actually sniffs that stuff out pretty well e.g. people who run brothels and say that is part of their religious practice, or marijuana clubs and claim the same thing.

    “Church” should probably be drawn broader than local church and denominations and their functions. The Constitution uses “religion”, not church, so that might be important too.

    Certainly churches or other religious organizations cannot commit crimes, and as I said, shams should not be allowed.

    I am just very careful in cheering on the government to go after some religion even if I think the religion is stupid and the people who run it are insincere.

    At some point, the line of criminality is crossed, and they are fair game at that point.

    Should of that, and I think it is up to other Christians to say what they think (as you have done) and for the people who choose to be a part of these weird organizations.

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    Anonymous —

    As an attorney, heavily schooled in constitutional law and tax law, I can tell you that the first amendment does not protect religious institutions from taxation. And I am a heavy advocate for separation of church and state, as in the independence of each from the control of the other. However, there is another sense of independence, that that is that the one functions the same regardless of whether you are a part of the other or not. The government has the right to tax church property to which it provides services (police, fire, road access, security, economic stability, etc.) and having revenue (receiving funds) could legally subject the church to taxation on those receipts. However, the Congress has elected to provide for an exemption to the church and deductibility to the donors, under certain conditions. Churches are free to reject the exemption and behave as they choose, such as by endorsing candidates or paying exhorbitant salaries.


    However, I am not a supporter of ending the exemption. But churches and other religious ministries should be aware of the conditions on the exemption and on the deductibility of donations.

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    Thanks for the info. The current theory is that the government has the right to tax, but chooses not to.

    But I wonder what the founders would say. The personal income tax did not come in until about 1917 or so (initially to fund WWI). I don’t know when the corporate income tax came in.

    Property taxes have been around for a long time. I don’t know their history.

    I truly suspect that in the early days, churches were simply not taxed and that was that. There was no exemption necessary because the government did not see that it even had a right to tax a church.

    I tend to think that the starting point being that governments can tax (even to 90% or more) and that they have a right to tax churches at confiscatory rates, but that they simply choose not to, while apparently being the thinking of the day in legal cirlces, may not be the appropriate way to consider things.

    Thanks for your information, though. It has been helpful.