EMISSARY^7 (G²)

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

For those supporting TBN/AGAINST THE INVESTIGATIONS OF MEGA-MINISTRIES: EXCELLENT THOUGHts on WHY GRASSLEY’S INVESTIGATIONS ARE BIBLICAL

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on December 15, 2007

Luke 12:32-48

48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

That alone should make everyone of us TREMBLE when considering our financial dealings……yet it has always perplexed me to see how the standard seems to get SHOT DOWN when it comes to investigating mega-ministries to ensure they’re in check…..Especially in light of Grassley’s investigations.

 For anyone unfamilar with where I’m coming from, consider this:

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee sent letters to Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Randy and Paula White, Creflo Dollar, and Eddie Long, asking them all for detailed information on expenses, executive compensation, and amenities given to executives……………………

*** Here are a couple of links:

http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/264923.aspx

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/…n3456977.sht

Also, to see firsthand from the man conducting these investigations:

For many have come against it for a MYRIAD of reasons, from risking government intrusion to being unfair (despite how many of these same ministries have had a LONG list of accusations—some false, other ALARMINGLY TRUE–regarding their financial dealings.

This, of course, has been escalated due to the issue of many ministries—paticularly Creflo Dollar’s and Eddie Longs—-refusing to cooperate with the investigations. For first hand information as to what I’m talking about, consider this interview on CNN:

 

Also, consider this as well

 Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Now, from discussions I’ve witnessed/learned from elsewhere, I reminded of what someone said on the subject:

God just might use the tactics of the world to purge His church of those who were never called to minstry in the first place.

It’s something to consider as a possible consequence.

     To that,  I very much agree. The problem with many ministries is that they want the “tax exempt” status that is provided for under US laws. The thinking of the government is that if an organization fulfills certain roll it will allow the organization to be “tax exempt” to encourage giving to that organization. This eliminates the roll of the government in the taxation of those that want to give, and the monies will be spent more efficiently than if there is government involvement. Most of the tax exempt corporations have volunteers and run very effeciently. When a corporation applies for this tax exempt status, they place themselves under the laws that accompany that status. The laws are very clear and the intent of the government is, in this rare case, a very generous one.

Now, however, comes along a bunch of ministries that want to use this umbrella for the reason of encouraging folks to give to them, and they abuse the process. There should be no surprise then that the government will step in and prosecute those that have responsibility of the abusive corporation. If there is no abuse, it will come out in the legal process as a corporation defends itself against the prosecution.

Here is what isn’t understood in the first place. The government doesn’t tax churches, there is no need to file for the tax exemption. What is tax in both cases is the income that is paid. And in the case of a tax exempt organization, when it is seen that the monies are being paid in unreasonable amounts to those that run the organization.

       It is not as if the situation’s a bunch of “Nazi’s” coming after folks, and it is reasonable people that are seeing an abuse. Read about it here:

Internal Revenue Service

 God has ordained the governments of the world as a means to accomplish His purpose. When the people have abandoned their covenant responsibilities and are in apostasy (as is the case with many of the ministries being investigated, though I’ll share more on that later), God will use the government to bring judgment upon the wicked and to correct His people…….and even in the case where Government is doing something we’re undeserving of, we’re still called to give to government what it’s due:

Rom 13:1-4 KJV Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: (4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. (Mat 22:20-21 KJV)

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Rom 13:7 KJV)

 To be fair, there has often been an unjust issue with  folks who’ve attacked every WoF minister with a successful ministry on the basis of their wealth……and if that be the case, then In six instances where ministries are investigated with a “let’s bring them down, and then let’s move on” mentality, who’d logically be moved onto? Here’s my guess:

Focus on the Family, D. James Kennedy, Charles Stanley, Hank Hanegraaff, Chuck Swindoll, and John MacArthur, all of whom are very rich.

 Of course, though, many of the ministries listed above here do not have as many of the accusations (both monetarily and theologically) against them that those under investigations do…..and even in their having riches, there seems to be good stewardship in place:

Also, if I may add,

If I may say,

Here’s some insightful thoughts from one of my brothers in Christ (within Reformed Charismatic Circles).

What is the role of the civil government in protecting citizens from con-artists and thieves? Just because people can get a Rev. (Rest, Eat, Visit) affixed to their names, should not offer them exemption from prosecution if they defraud others. Of course, the big issue here is how this works out in property and other taxes. Here is the heart of the matter: clergy, be they the real McCoy or leaders of cults or con-artists in dog-collars, are entitled to certain tax benefits.

(4.1) By lying or by actually being opposed to all public insurance, clergy can exempt themselves from Social Security. In the case of self-employed people, which clergy are usually labeled, Social Security is called Self-Employment Tax. This tax is double what ordinary people pay because it contains both the employee’s and employer’s portions. I pay the federal government 15.3% on every penny I receive from my work as a minister — I come nowhere near to the maximum ceiling of the first $94,200, but I personally know not a few preachers who exceed that income. [“The self-employment tax rate is 15.3%. The rate consists of two parts: 12.4% for social security (old-age, survivors, and disability insurance) and 2.9% for Medicare (hospital insurance)” <http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98846,00.html> or <http://tinyurl.com/38rac>.]

(4.2) A member of the clergy can exclude from his taxable income (but not from Self-Employment Tax), the total cost of maintaining his home, and he can turn around and deduct the amount of interest he paid that year for purchasing this home, on top of having already excluded that money from income — double benefit! That means that the money paid to buy a home, insure a home, run utilities in that home, repair and furnish that home, are all excluded from Income Tax. That’s more than a deduction; that’s exclusion. (Of course, as I stated, the clergy must still pay that 15.3% Self-Employment Tax on this “Housing Allowance,” but it is completely excluded from income, and therefore not subject to Income Tax.)

(4.3) While a manse or parsonage that is owned by a minister is subject to the same property taxes as everybody else’s property, property owned by the ministry itself is excluded from the county (in Louisiana, parish) tax roles.

When I first moved to Central Louisiana, the congregation paid me $10,000 a year in salary, housing and other allowances and provided me a church-owned house to live in free of charge. But I had to pay Self-Employment Tax on the fair market rental value of the church owned parsonage. Making what I made, my wife not working outside the home and our having five children, I was never able to scrape together enough money to think about putting a down-payment on a piece of property, but when my father’s sister died in 1999 at the age of 102, I received enough inheritance to make a down-payment on the home that I am still purchasing from the bank — if God wills I make it to 70, I’ll own it outright. But for tax purposes, the home is mine, and I owe $1,930.85 to our parish tax collector by December 31, 2007, and I don’t have the money as of now. Yikes! I’m praying more earnestly every day.

Now I have no ethical problem with legally avoiding paying taxes, and in the case of most pastors, those three things mentioned above are not really significant to the government bodies to which we pay taxes. (What’s the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion? About five years in the United Slates Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.) But let’s try out this scenario, not uncommon with celebrity preachers.

Joe Blowhard spends fifty dollars and gets himself ordained. For a few thousand dollars, he can buy a bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degree from a non-accredited “university” or “seminary,” as well — I once had to deal with an employee who had actually obtained all three degrees this way, and I only figured out what he’d done when I caught the small time gap between his bachelor’s and doctorate — the man had only spent two years in a junior college in actual education. Wow!

The Reverend (the con-artists all love that title) Blowhard starts his own “church.” Because he’s a quick thinker and has few scruples about collecting “tithes” from poor people who have bought into his “Prosperity Gospel,” he quickly gathers a crowd. When they decide to buy a piece of property, he makes sure that he retains absolute and total control, even though the property is bought in the name of the ministry: The Greater Gospel Harvest Family Community Life and Blessing Worship Center. GGHFCLBWC continues to grow, and the Reverend Blowhard decides to buy a home for himself. But since he totally controls the finances of HIS church anyhow, he has the church purchase a parsonage in its name rather than his. Even though the Reverend Blowhard has public life and health insurance, as well as public automobile insurance, he fills out the form for the IRS, stating that he has a conscientious objection to participating in public insurance and gets his exception from paying that 15.3% Self-Employment Tax.

It isn’t long before GGHFCLBWC reaches 1,000 in Sunday worship, then 2,000, then 3,000, as poor folks hopefully tithe, playing a divine lottery, just as they do the state’s lottery at the corner gas station. The Reverend Blowhard buys his next airplane, this time a used Learjet, but it belongs to GGHFCLBWC, and all the money going into its purchase and upkeep is excluded from income tax. The same goes with the eight luxury automobiles — they are all ministry owned. When membership tops 5,000, the Reverend Blowhard decides that it’s time for the ministry to buy another home, this one in Aspen, Colorado — it’s a ministry owned retreat center. GGHFCLBWC pays $4,500,000, and a luxury piece of property is taken off the tax rolls of Pitkin County.

By the time the membership reaches 10,000, the Reverend Joseph Blowhard’s actual income is well over a million dollars a year, plus all the benefits that he gets to use at will, but his taxable income might be low enough that he qualifies for Food Stamps and Earned Income Tax Credit [“The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) sometimes called the Earned Income Credit (EIC), is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families. Congress originally approved the tax credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the burden of social security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. When the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit”

 I’m sure, I’m exaggerating about Food Stamps and EITC, but, no kidding, the Reverend Blowhard can so structure things that his taxable income is very, very low, even though he’s pulling in over a million bucks a year.

 That I felt was most insightful…..Unless of course the ministry took the steps that anyone would, interested in obeying the law, to separate any for profit business from their not for profit ministry since Many ministries are associated with businesses, and the guidelines for not graying the lines are very clear (ex: CBN had no trouble separating the ministry of the 700 club from the network, when the latter went out from under the not for profit umbrella.)…..& Anyone can link one section to another, for There are bookstores inside church buildings everywhere/they are considered a different entity…….but nonetheless, the information was insightful.

Therefore, thought it’d be beneficial to post some articles on the subject. These are from one of my favorite sites, “MINISTRY WATCH”, which does excellent work in examining and ensuring biblical financial stewardship in ministries claiming the Name of Christ

.

These are the articles discussed:

 

http://www.ministrywatch.com/mw2.1/Newsletter/MinistryDirect_December07.pdf

 

http://www.ministrywatch.com/mw2.1/pdf/Reflections_GrassleysRequests.pdf

 

To visit the main site, go here:

 

http://www.ministrywatch.com/mw2.1/H_Home.asp

 

Also, to visit the site Ministry Watch was birthed from (as well as to see their sister site, Good STEWARD) go here:

 

http://www.wallwatchers.org/ww/front.html

 

1 Peter 2

1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

 4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”[a] 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,[b][c] 8and,
“A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”[d] They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 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.

 18Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”[e] 23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

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