Tuesday, November 6, 2007

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

The Lord has blessed....

Senate Panel Probes 6 Top Televangelists, Sen. Charles Grassley Asks Ministries To Turn Over Financial Records Within One Month - CBS News

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.

Good enough. For more on info on the unrelated scandal going down at Oral Roberts University, click here. Yes, I'm still irritated because Oral Roberts didn't heal my grandmother.
But can you imagine an Oral Roberts University Board of Regents meeting with that ghastly crew?
Has anyone ever had the nerve to call in sick?
Not with all those Alpha-Male Faith Healers taking your illness as an affront to their powers. Oral, Richard, Benny, Kenny, and Creflo would drop everything, fly to your bedside, lay hands all over you, and not cease praying till you were 100% healed.

Otherwise, people would talk.

Here's where it gets interesting, and not for the reasons you might think. There's a Dallas-based watchdog group that has been funneling information to the investigators for years:

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."

Ole Anthony is also publisher of a satirical religous magazine called "The Wittenburg Door". This magazine was hilarious 25 years ago, but has lost something in the interval.

Here's some more info about Ole Anthony, linked here from a Dallas Observer article of about a year ago. I happened to read it shortly after it was published, and maybe that's why I don't think "The Wittenburg Door" is very funny any longer:

....allegations that Trinity is a cult began as early as the late '70s and have surfaced numerous times since, often by members' families, sometimes by the media. In 1989, Jeffrey Weiss of The Dallas Morning News wrote, "there are times when even to its members the foundation looks like a cult of personality."

More than a dozen former Trinity members interviewed by the Dallas Observer agree that Trinity bears many cult-like traits:
• Zealous commitment to a domineering leader not accountable to any authority.
• Discouragement or punishment of dissent and doubt.
• Use of mind-altering techniques such as denunciation sessions--the infamous hot seats.
• Dictation by leadership of how followers should act, sometimes in great detail.
• Breakdown of personal boundaries, such as denying members permission to marry.
• Encouraging a sense of elitism or special status for the group.
• Fostering an "us vs. them" mentality.

There's more. I think Ole Anthony is simply trying to tear down his more succesful role models:
ABC had accused (Robert) Tilton of manufacturing tears; people were noticing Anthony had the same skill. "I think Ole is a classic sociopath," Larry Ferguson says. "I don't think he knows what real emotions are."

But the biggest issue was the far-fetched stories. Anthony always had a new tale: In addition to being a spy, he'd been a helicopter pilot and crashed when he had a backpacking and survival company in Montana, and he was also in Vietnam setting up nuclear test stations and in Colombia trading coca leaves for intelligence and on and on.

The next question: Who is going to investigate the investigators?

Update from November 25, 2007.....You can click here for an update on The Oral Roberts University investigation.


Rev. Dan said...

But that begs another question... who's going to investigate the investigators who investigate the investigators. And further, who is then going to investigate the investigators who investigated the investigators who investigated the investigators?

How many degrees of stupidity are necessary here?

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Reverend Dan,
How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
How long is a string?
In the "Dallas Observer" article, how many different degrees of stupid can you detect?
And this is about the guy that CBS news is pointing to as the hero....

Anonymous said...

My wife wrote the book that inspired the Observer article. If anyone is interested they can check it out at http://www.dallascult.com
I don't have a clue what point "Rev." Dan is trying to make. Is he saying that corruption is okay for Ole Anthony because Ole points out the corruption of other televangelists?

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dear Anonymous,
Your wife is a great woman. I remember being totally spellbound by the Observer article when it was originally published, and it improved with age when I found it again last week.
Has she written anything else?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. No, she hasn't written anything else. Her job keeps her pretty busy and we have begun speaking at churches and conference.