Posts tagged ‘Senator Grassley’

July 30, 2008

TELEVANGELISTS WATCHDOG GROUP NEEDS WATCHING ITSELF

by MullOverThis

Creflo Dollar refuses to cow-tow to ole massa and hand over the requested documents to Senator Grassley and the Senate Finance Committee. 

Yet, ole Anthony is available to answer what would Jesus do and say concerning the televangelists that he has spent decades surveilling. 

But while he has been on the prowl, who has been watching him?  Please click the links below to see some questionable concerns about the Trinity Foundation.  Since Senator Grassley is concerned about not-for-profits and charitable donations, he would do well to pay his friend Ole Anthony a visit–and this time with a letter analagous to the ones sent to the Grassley Six.

http://www.dallasobserver.com/2007-11-22/news/turning-the-tables/2

http://www.dallasobserver.com/2006-08-03/news/the-cult-of-ole/

March 12, 2008

TWO OF THE GRASSLEY SIX HAVE RESPONDED: Senator Max Baucus Backs Senator Grassley in Televangelist Probe

by MullOverThis

So far, Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn have responded to Senator Grassley’s original letter requesting information from six televangelist ministries. Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long and Kenneth Copeland have not yet complied and appear to be challenging the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee to make such inquiries. These three ministries, along with Paula White who agrees to cooperate, have been issued additional letters with the added authority of the Chairman of the committee, Senator Max Baucus. So if this were a schoolyard wrangle two decades ago, it looks like Senator Grassley’s got some “back” [fighting reinforcements]. The second letter sets forth the basis of jurisdiction for imposing such questions to the Grassley 6. The Senate Finance committee distinguishes its oversight from the IRS, as the IRS enforces already existing tax laws while this review deals with the effectiveness of tax-exempt policies in ministries. “We have an obligation to oversee how the tax laws are working for both tax-exempt organizations and taxpayers. Just like with reviews of other tax-exempt organizations in recent years, I look forward to the cooperation of these ministries in the weeks and months ahead.” [March 12, 2008 Press Release: Grassley, Baucus Urge Four Ministries To Cooperate With Information Request] The weight of Senator Baucus joining this probe imports a greater ability for the Senators to acquire subpeonas from the non-obliging ministries.

For Press Release from United States Senator Chuck Grassley and Letters to Ministries:
http://grassley.senate.gov/news/Article.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1502=12011

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/12/AR2008031202124.html?tid%3Dinformbox&sub=new

January 22, 2008

CREFLO GIVES IT UP-Sells Controversial Rolls Royce

by MullOverThis

Creflo Dollar sold one of his Rolls Royce’s valued at $280,000  gifted to him by the World Changer’s church, according to a BET.com blog.  He gave the proceeds to the children’s ministry.   

WISE MOVE.  Not because Creflo should cater to the pressures from criticism, but simply because goodwill dictates that he forego an open display of material possessions.   Christians are admonished to give up what may be perfectly permissable when our entitlements severely hinder the weak.    The Kingdom of God really requires Creflo to give up the “meat” or the Rolls, so that the brethren who have stumbled won’t be discouraged by all of the goods he has amassed through gifts or otherwise.  Paul became as much like those who he wanted to “reach” as he possibly could, without sinning, in order to “win” them for the Kingdom of God.  For the sake of peace, Creflo is not sinning in giving up one of his Rolls Royce automobiles, the possession of which is sinful in the minds of some Christians.   The gospel of the Kingdom is what is quintessential and should be the primary focus.

This unsolicited time Creflo and the Grassley 6 have in the “does God want us to be rich” limelight is also an opportunity  to disclose some unknown philanthropic pursuits.  Creflo is careful to note that he has purchased over 100 cars for other people.  It will be interesting to see how wealthy ministers will curtail their public images as a result of the Senate inquiry. Ultimately, the world is an open classroom for these chosen teachers–the Grassley 6– to impart truth about Godly prosperity, the bedrock of which is Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.  Material wealth and prosperity is simply an excresence that comes from our inheritance as sons and daughters in the Kingdom of God.

Please read the following scriptures for understanding: 1 Corinthians 9:19-25; Romans 14:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13.

For more info click below:

http://www.bet.com/News/NewsArticleCrefloDollarRollsRoyce.htm

January 11, 2008

MORE ON THE GRASSLEY 6: BITTER, But Over Prosperity Teachings?

by MullOverThis

Someone sent me the following article a few weeks ago.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/wayoflife/12/27/prosperity.preachers.ap/index.html?iref=newssearch

Before we delve into the crux of the article, three true stories come to mind.  First, I remember years ago when the HSN first came on television and it was so unconventional to have round-the-clock shopping, and without leaving home. From the convenience of a family room, I clicked the remote control for a console 25 inch television and ordered my first gold link bracelet for $108 dollars.  It was  8 inches in length and 14kt Italian gold.  When I received the bracelet delivered to my front door, I was so excited.  I opened the packaging and thought it was a prank. The bracelet was so tiny, I was livid.  The bracelet was precisely what the network advertised, I just didn’t pay attention to the weight and the width of the bracelet.  There really was no bargain at all and I learned a crucial lesson:  pay attention to detail and some consumptions are best made in person where I can inspect the product.

Second, last year an on-line news journal headlined a NJ family who lost their home because the bank foreclosed on the property. After dancing through an illustrious tale of re-finance after re-finance and the increasing inability to pay the note and living off of the equity in the home, the family had to deal with the embarrassing reality of losing their suburban life.  The slant on the article was to capture a look at the ills of the sub-prime mortgage industry.  So an unethical broker who kept urging them to re-finance became the scapegoat.  The homeowners talked about the pressure they were under to keep re-financing.  The truth is they had thousands of dollars in consumer debt, did renovations and improvements that they could not afford, and paid maintenance bills with proceeds from re-financing, while having more children.  They made horrible choices living beyond their means, and wanted to blame the broker and the bank for making them sign hundreds of signatures, over and over again.  This is a prime example of bad habits and the blame game.

Third, there was a single mother in her late twenties who owned her own business and missed a couple of months in her apartment rent payments.  One day she went to church and the pastor made the statement, “you ought to live where you pay rent” (this was in reference to young men should pay their bills and be stable in their decisions, then God will allow them to be stewards over more, and become homeowners).  A number of months later, I drove this young lady and her child home, and she asked me to drop her at her place of business.  I told her I would wait to take her home, because it was extremely late and in a questionable neighborhood.  She explained that she moved into her place of business with her child, because God spoke to her through the same statement the pastor made months before, which she took completely out of context.  Since she did not make her apartment rent payments and kept the business lease payments up to date, God, in her mind, was speaking to her situation.  She made a major life decision and credited the pastor for giving her those asinine directives.  This woman who was responsible for the life of another human being, heard what she wanted to hear.

So when I read this article, I realized that there has to be some sob stories to make these televangelists be the super rich preying on the innocent poor as they’ve been dubbed.  Again, it is difficult to forgo common sense to end up putting these televangelists on the dartboard and piercing their images with each dart that hits the bulls-eye. 

Now, Ms. Bitter over Prosperity Preachings is an accountant who gave a substantial amount of money to the three televangelist ministries, and ended up borrowing money for food from her friends and using payday loans to survive when the blessings she was looking for did not come.  Accountant and payday loans do not work in the same equation unless there is a ‘”not equal to” sign involved.  Although we don’t have the full story, there has to be some fiscal insanity irrespective of any wooing these televangelists could have done to get this poor woman’s money.  As a member of the finance community, she would have been better off going to file an emergency claim with a social service agency, an  independent Charity, or knocking on a church door for some help.

According to the AP, Ms. Fleenor, the “victim” said, “I wanted to believe God wanted to do something great with me like he was doing with them…I’m angry and bitter about it. Right now, I don’t watch anyone on TV hardly.”  What was Ms. Fleenor’s perception of what God was doing with the televangelists?  They wrote checks to God and woke up a few weeks, months, even three years later and “blew up”?  That she would give to God and take the time, dedication, and diligence to build the families, churches, communities and works as the have? None of those ministries she contributed to, or any who are under the microscopic eye of Senator Grassley and his committee, are people who got Rolls Royces, private jets, mansions, face-lifts, image consultants, or millions of viewers overnight.  All of these ministries were built over at least fifteen plus years of  faithfulness to ministry.  What was God doing in them? He was and is prospering them for obeying the principles of the Word of God that do not gravitate towards a personality.  They work according to our faith, but faith without works is dead.  In other words, we must put our faith in action.  That does not simply mean to write a check because I want God to give me X or make me like Y. God is not a genie or Santa Claus. We all have our own paths in life.

Just to begin to tackle some of the principles in giving and receiving, the Kingdom of God pretty much works like the laws of agriculture.  In order to get a harvest, a farmer must have seeds and plant them.  This takes work to prepare the ground so that it is good and involves pruning, watering and oversight. When a harvest comes, a farmer does not give all of his harvest away. If he does, he will not eat, or cry after getting payday loans.  He must preserve some for his own table, and plant seed into his own ground again  so that he will produce a harvest in due season.  Next, a farmer may desire a harvest in crops that he does not plant.  He may sow, or exchange goods into another farmer’s land, and WHEN there is a harvest in another farmer’s crops, expect a return–not when they get tired of waiting.  One of the number one mistakes entrepreneurs make is they give up right before the new business turns a profit. One reaps what one sows.  This principle cannot be limited to giving, but certainly applies here. 

The article further purports, “The message flickered into Cindy Fleenor’s living room each night: Be faithful in how you live and how you give, the television preachers said, and God will shower you with material riches.”  That’s funny, because I have never gotten this message in isolation flickering into my television night after night. And I don’t suffer from the requisite delusions or paranoia to believe that “the man” or the televangelist division of the  FBI superimposes my television programming with Creflo, Copeland, Meyer, White, and Long teaching, or Ms. Fleenor’s with “give me money and you’ll get or become whatever is running through your mind when you think it should get to your front door”.  Nor do I believe they strategize to be aired in poverty-stricken markets so they can get money.  This thinking presumes that poor people are idiots, and fails to take into account that poor people are the ones WITHOUT MONEY to make greedy fat cats richer.  Everybody needs the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom and how to live as God intended his children to until Jesus comes again.

Now, we have no way of knowing what this message Ms. Fleenor received meant to her. But principles of multiplication and productivity (what people are calling prosperity gospel) are based upon what our priorities are (seek ye first the Kingdom of God), our faith,  our faithfulness as good stewards over finances (in paying bills, paying them on time, owing no man [not having debt], no usury, no unjust weights and balances, no unjust motives or practices), and, our stewardship over all things pertaining to life and ministry (our families, properties, businesses, education, works for the Kingdom of God). 

At least five of these ministries under fire teach extensively about the Kingdom of God and giving. They would all be well-advised to start using more of this teaching when making on-air requests for partners and offerings to defray duplicitous branding, because there are the “Ms. Fleenors” out there watching.  This situation is also a textbook case for the need for all believers to have a local church home. No one should be sitting at home waiting for some overnight fix to issues we’ve worked lifetimes getting ourselves into–in many circumstances–through writing a check.  If we do donate, it should be to perpetuate the works the ministries are doing all over the world while we WAIT PATIENTLY on God to bless us for meeting the needs of the Kingdom of God, LIVING AS FAITHFUL STEWARDS. 

Now it would not make sense to watch a weight loss program, buy the product, eat the food according to plan, work out, and then get mad at the weight loss company because your waist is expanding instead of shrinking.  If you know you have a fibroid tumor but didn’t know the diet food is what makes fibroids grow, your weight loss program is not going to give you the visual benefits you might expect until you get rid of the fibroid tumor that went from a small pea to a watermelon on the diet.  The weight loss program might not make disclaimers for such interferences because to some degree, folks expect folks to know their own situations and make decisions accordingly, and cannot account for such peculiar circumstances.  So, Ms. Fleenor may be bitter, but there would have to be a whole lot more information to pin the tail on the prosperity donkeys or guinea pigs. 

Moderator’s note:  I hope that Ms. Fleenor has a loving church family, or finds one.  Good pastors and elders help to prevent these types of experiences, because they are able to provide sound teaching and counsel believers according to the Word of God and their personal situations.

January 5, 2008

JOYCE MEYER SAYS “This is what I’m supposed to do”

by MullOverThis

Well, as many of you may know by now, I LLLLOOOOOVVVVEEEEE the church.  Having never sat through an entire episode of the Joyce Meyer Enjoying Everyday Life program, this morning I watched the entire 10 AM EST broadcast on the WORD Network. 

The Bible teacher talked about confidence, denouncing self-centeredness and egocentrism in the “how I feel” factor.  Joyce exhorted us to live based upon what we know.    She used examples of how she learned to acknowledge her feelings, but does not allow them to govern her confidence or what she does.  Joyce stated she does ministry because, “this is what I’m supposed to do”.  We should be like Peter and be bold enough to be the only one to get out of the boat despite our previous mistakes, and be like Paul, do what we are supposed to do and overcome our past.

Meanwhile, she was dressed to the tee and told a little story about how years ago her ministry received negative press questioning her motives and saying “mean” things about her.  She said she was so hurt and embarrassed, she didn’t even want to be seen while getting coffee in the coffee shop.  Since that negative media attention she declared her ministry, staff, viewership, partnerships, and world-wide missions have grown.  “New opportunities” presented themselves, and she was on Good Morning America and Larry King Live.  Joyce explained that people who read about her decided to tune in to her show and see what she was all about.  God vindicated her.   Joyce emphatically relayed a message to Senator Grassley and all who question how donations are spent on her  website: 

 http://www.joycemeyer.org/AboutUs/MediaRelations/whatwedo.htm

Joyce is waiting as long as God allows, one, two or maybe ten years for God to vindicate Dave, her children and the entire ministry.   She will not interfere with God’s business and she does NOT have to do it herself.  I have a toasty feeling that Joyce won’t be waiting too long and will  prosper while she waits.

Well, it seems like God is getting ready to increase her ministry again this time because in all the years of Joyce Meyer programming, today I thought, “let me see what she has to say” and guess what, you’ve just heard about it too! Lesson:  Public scrutiny is free and still PUBLICITY.

 

For BBB Wise Giving Report on JMM see below:

http://charityreports.bbb.org/Public/Report.aspx?CharityID=3113

For JMM website see below:

http://www.joycemeyer.org/

December 18, 2007

Nagging WatchDog Groups Lead to Senate Finance Committee Probe of Six Televangelist Ministries

by MullOverThis

The United States Senate Committee on Finance, led by Ranking Member Senator Chuck Grassley, is conducting a probe on six televangelist ministries.  And the nagged are: Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries; Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries; David and Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries; Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries; Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries; and Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International and Creflo Dollar Ministries.  Yes, I said “nagged”.  Kudos to Creflo and Long for requiring the Senate Committee to issue subpoenas or give it a rest. Kudos to the twentieth exponential power for Joyce Meyer telling them to click the on-line button because her ministry’s financial reports for the past few years is already public information.

Most of these ministries have already stated that as far as they know, they have complied with IRS Not-for-Profit requirements.  Because we can give our opinions in these types of forums here it is: if the governor of my state came to my front door asking me about why I didn’t report or purchased something I felt I had every right to according to IRS and corporate guidelines, I’d ask him why did he want to get into my business.  Just because some watchdog groups are drunk with fighting a fight that the sovereign God is perfectly capable of checking HIMSELF,  and have plagued the senator’s office with information to silence preachers who have been labeled “prosperity gospel preachers”, does not mean the ministries have to buck and comply. If there is a discrepancy, IRS rules, codes, audits and policing mechanisms need to change.  If these ministries are grossly out of compliance and into thievery, then these leaders won’t have to take the jet or be chauffeured in a Bentley or a Yugo to get to minister to prisoners.  They’ll either roll out of bed in their jumpsuits or write hefty penalty checks that better be holy and filled in the sanctified bank. 

Now, I don’t advocate anything that I know nothing about. I am still not clear what the tenets and doctrines of the prosperity gospel are about.  As a Bible teacher, prosperity is certainly part of the plan of God for all of His creation from Genesis to Revelation.  (This is another couple of blogs.) Urging the Senate to override procedural safeguards through fully empowered agencies because of substantive disagreement with what these ministries teach is not a precedent any religious institution should employ. The concern can’t really just be suspect money handling when Long and Paula White were already harrowed in their local areas and had to be IRS proof.  I submit for consideration that suspect money handling in the church is not a mainstay of the mega-church. These are the ministries with compliance officers and functions.

The real treat in all of this is according to letters issued to the ministries and the press release from Senator Grassley’s office, this  inquiry addresses concerns of abusing tax-exempt status, misappropriating funds given by donors,  whether these family or “back pocket” board members are merely figurative, and reporting of lavish gifts personally and to the ministries.                                              http://grassley.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=CapitolGains.Detail&CapitolGain_id=a21ffd20-d8d5-fbb3-21e5-793073fe92b5.  Yet, the judge and jury is already out with folks referring to this as an embarrassment to the church.  Hold your horses, Tonto!  We haven’t even gotten underway with the “knitty gritty” yet. The same folks who buy tennis shoes at a gazillion percent mark-up because their whining children must have the brand name cannot be griping. The ones who pull up to their humble church where their pastors and leaders are on salary and live off of ten to sixty-five percent of church revenue can’t be the ones either.  None of these probed ministries exhausts revenue for personal sustenance but do have works all over the world. Many communities in Africa have consummable drinking water because Joyce Meyer, and not her critics who have not come into the land and dropped any wells, has appropriated funds from donors and other streams of income to make a difference in the world. Not the type of difference that people who complain, but do nothing to help solve problems, make. I’m talking about a notable difference that meets the needs of people. So do I care that she or her ritzy guests to the ministry headquarters hoists herself on a $23,000.00 commode to engage in excretory bliss?  Absolutely not.  Order pizza while you’re on it Joyce, if you are bringing in 124 million dollars annually and some local pastors live off of six times more of their annual revenues, not profits, than you do and don’t even pay the church bills on time.  I don’t turn up my nose at the high-end commodes at fine restaurants either.  The ambiance of the executive suite of a mid-sized US corporation does not change because Christians run it. I personally wouldn’t suggest a $4.99 early bird plastic lid special at the ministry offices to appease people, most of whom can’t match the works of those they obsessively criticize.  And, finally,  God didn’t ask for the plastic or moderate commode level in anything He designed and asked His people to build for Him.  Everything in the temple was the $23,000.00 commode level, the finest materials.  When Solomon was rewarded by God for asking God for wisdom to rule God’s people, God gave him riches.  The lavish favored King didn’t grieve God and neither does any other steward that is meeting the needs of those who need Jesus.

 The real people who see the poor giving their last and spend it without accountability are the churches with Goofey accounting systems in play-play land, and every person who has a role in finances or is anointed to preach has the same last name which coincidentally matches the Pastor.  I don’t believe that the same Jesus that permitted the costly oil to anoint his feet (that his disciples thought should be sold and the proceeds used for the poor)  would mind that people who have put in over 25 years in ministry world-wide enjoy life at the level of their productivity. So this is one person that will be waiting to see what the end of this is before rushing to judgment.

To see the letter to each ministry, click here: http://grassley.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=15b0ac11-1321-0e36-ba95-dfc2c00db9c2&Month=11&Year=2007