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COMMISIONED by CHRIST 4 SHARING HIS LIFE/KEEPING IT REAL ADMIST THE LIES (II Cor. 5:17-21))

SHAKEDOWN: Does Government have a RIGHT TO GET INVOLVED IN RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS? Should Religion recieve a FREE PASS??

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 8, 2007

In case anyone hasn’t heard of the issue already, I decided to copy/paste from the site where the main story came from on what may be one of the most important actions of the year ( http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/06/cbsnews_investigates/main3456977.shtml :

Senate Panel Probes 6 Top Televangelists

Sen. Charles Grassley Asks Ministries To Turn Over Financial Records Within One Month

 


 

 

Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has asked six televangelist ministries to provide, by Dec. 6th, financial statements and records for an investigation into possible impropriety. (AP)

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(CBS) This story was written and reported by Laura Strickler of the CBS News Investigative Unit.


CBS News has learned Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by December 6th.

According to Grassley’s office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.

The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six – Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar – also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.

A spokesperson for Joyce Meyer Ministries provided CBS News with an IRS letter to the ministry dated October 10, 2007, that stated: “We determined that you continue to qualify as an organization exempt from Federal income tax.” The letter could not be independently verified in time for this story. The ministry also pointed to audited financial statements for the last three years that are posted on the organization’s Web site.

In a statement, Benny Hinn’s spokesperson, Ronn Torossian, said the ministry is in the process of determining the best course of action in response to the Senate investigation. “World Healing Center Church complies with the laws that govern church and non-profit organizations and will continue to do so,” Torossian wrote.

Eddie Long’s New Birth Ministries says he has received the request for information from the U.S. Senate and plans to “fully comply. New Birth Ministries has several safeguards put in place to ensure all transactions are in compliance with laws applicable to churches.”

In a statement to CBS News, Creflo Dollar called his ministry an “open book” and said he would comply with any “valid request” from Grassley. But he noted that the inquiry raised questions that could “affect the privacy of every community church in America.”

Paula White is also expressing concern about precedents that could be set by turning over the requested information.

“We take our financial responsibilities to our partners very seriously and to the best of our knowledge we comply with all tax laws. Our audited financial statements appear on our website,” said White, in a statement. “However, we are concerned about the possible precedent and ramifications of this request. We will be reviewing the request and its implications in detail over the coming weeks as we prepare our response.”

Because they have tax status as churches, the ministries do not have to file IRS 990 forms like other non-profit organizations – leaving much financial information largely behind closed doors.

The letters sent Monday were the culmination of a long investigation fueled in part by complaints from Ole Anthony, a crusader against religious fraud who operates the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, which describes itself as a watchdog monitoring religious media, fraud and abuse. “We’ve been working with them for two years,” Anthony told CBS News. “We have furnished them with enough information to fill a small Volkswagen.”

Anthony said after twenty years of working with media organizations to expose televangelists, he saw little reform. He says that’s why he turned to another tactic, going straight to Grassley. He is confident that Grassley’s inquiry will be different, “What we hope is that this will lead to reform in religious nonprofits.”

The structure of many televangelist organizations – in which the leadership is often concentrated in one person or one family – has itself been the target of criticism. “Churches like these are ruled as a dictatorship,” says Rod Pitzer, who directs research at Ministry Watch in North Carolina, which provides advice for donors to Christian organizations.

Pitzer welcomes the Senate committee investigation. Ministries lacking accountability, he says, “give a black eye to churches and Christians who are trying to do things in the right manner.”Here are the letters that were sent out:

Read The Letters:

Without Walls International Church

World Healing Center Church, Inc.

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

World Changers Church International

Joyce Meyer Ministries

Kenneth Copeland Ministries

Also, for blogs to visit that have much info on the subject, go here:

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2007/nov/06/na-without-walls-finances-face-senators-scrutiny/

For more videos/info on the subject, go here:

Senator Grassley Answers Questions About Inquiry into MEGA MINISTRIES

US Senator Chuck Grassley InvestigatIONS……

Grassley’s Defense for the INVESTIGATION:

For information regarding how many of the ministers from these ministries have defended themselves, go here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/07/national/main3464730.shtml

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/evangelists-investigated/1404520123

On whether Televangelists are living like KINGS and non-profit ministries are truly living as NON-PROFITS

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/06/cbsnews_investigates/main3462147.shtml

I plan on saying more on the issue, as well as the implications thereof…….but for now, I’d like to share the words of another on the issue:

Rank

I Peter 3:13-18 If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad.

As the Bible says, you are to be ready to give an answer for the way you’re living. So, yes!, churches and ministries should answer the governments questions about their financial dealings. Among the ministries in questions, I think we will find that some ministries will be guilty of fraud (a little muddy) and some will be innocent. Unfortunately, the fraudulent ministries will get more publicity than the innocent ministries and overshadow what these “good” ministries are doing.

Also, there’s a reason there’s a reason why God made clear that you don’t play with UNCLE SAM when he comes calling. In the U.S, “CASH IS KING”…..&

Romans 13

Submission to the Authorities 1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

1 Peter 2:12-17
12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submission to Rulers and Masters 13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

17Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Also, here are some thoughts on the issue from Ministry Watch, which has long been involved in keeping track of the FINANCIAL STATEs of churches to make certain they do not set themselves up for situations such as this (Ministry Watch):

VChristian ministries have responsibility to God, government, and mankind

and they should be financially open and transparent.

Responsibility to God

God knows all. Christians should have nothing to fear by being open. All

will be judged at a future date, but how are we to conduct ourselves before

God today? Organizations described as “Christian Ministries” are at

least giving people an image of God. Is God characterized as closed,

impartial and hidden; or, open, personable and knowable? Scripture

enjoins Christians to conduct themselves honestly (1 Thes. 4:12; 1 Tim.

2:2), with due candor (Jms. 5:12) and grace (Col. 4:6), without deliberate

offense to Jew, Gentile or the Church of God (1 Cor. 10:32), with decency

and orderliness (1 Cor. 14:40), blameless, giving no occasion for rebuke

(Phil. 2:15), and offering no opportunity for false accusation (1 Pet. 3:16).

Responsibility for the resources God has placed in the trust of His saints

is called “stewardship” in the Bible (1 Pet. 4:10), the person responsible

for the resources is called the “steward” (Lk. 12:42; 16:1-8). Most Christians

would not argue with the principle that the chief aim of man is to

…”to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” However, how can a “Christian

Ministry” “glorify God” if they are not open? Are not organizations that

hide things characterized as cults? Should not Christian ministries lead

by example? Besides being characterized as a steward, Christians can

be characterized as ambassadors and as light because God is light. Just

these few summary ideas indicate that Christian ministries should be open

and transparent. In addition, responsibility to God is linked to responsibility

to government and mankind.

Responsibility to Government

Scripture clearly teaches that Christians have responsibility to civil governments,

which are ordained by God, for the good of the governed (Rom.

13:1-7), whether or not its leaders are confessedly Christian (Dan. 4:17).

While constitutional guarantees in the United States provide for legal

challenges to laws, such challenges must conform to laws governing this

process. Additionally, there must be willingness to accept the outcome of

such legal challenges. Simply stated, laws duly constituted must be willingly

obeyed when conscience permits. When it does not, consequence

(s) must be accepted with grace and dignity (Acts 4:19-20).

Such was the consistent example of first century saints. More importantly, such was theexample of Christ (1 Pet. 2:20-23).

A government establishing benefits under tax -exempt status has a duty

and must have the right to examine an organization’s claim to those very

benefits. This cannot be accomplished without some level of disclosure.

Willful avoidance of disclosure obligations under law, absent clear and

formal legal challenges to those laws, is unchristian.

In anticipation of objection on a suppos ed basis of violation of Church –

state separation, it should be noted that disclosure does not require relinquishing

control. It simply aids honest evaluation of the legitimacy of a

claim to the benefit of tax -exempt status.

Responsibility to Mankind

There may not always be a legal obligation to be open and transparent;

however, many Christians are willing to live ethically without a governmental

entity mandating that they do so. Standards can become a consensus

of practical sound wisdom. It is one thing to make a verbal or

written commitment to standards, it is quite another to actually apply and

carry them out. The issue then becomes one of honesty and integrity.

Christian ministries have been given a responsibility that has placed them

as examples that others will follow in either direct or indirect behavior.

Christians should be treating others as they themselves would be treated.

If people are to make wise decisions with prudence and without haste,

they need information. Christians are also admonished to love God with

their mind. People cannot do this unless they have knowledge. If organizations

are seeking donations of money and/or time, organizations should

be willing to be open financially. It is imperative for Christians to show

themselves good examples by their deeds. Many Christian organizations

evidence little of a once marked distinction from non-Christian counterparts,

some bearing no distinction at all.

Christian ministries should be financially open and transparent, given the

fact that Christian ministries have a responsibility to God, government and

mankind.

What do ya’ll think?????

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