April 1st, 2008 08:52 EST
Evangelists fail to please Senate Finance Committee
Media Advisory -- The Senate Finance Committee announced today that two of the six televangelists who have been asked for information continue to refuse to comply, almost five months after the original request went out from Sen. Charles Grassley.
Atlanta-based Creflo Dollar has failed to provide any information to Sen. Grassley and Sen. Max Baucus, who joined Grassley in his call for financial transparency. Texas-based Kenneth Copeland has turned over some documents, but is nowhere near full compliance, according to a Grassley spokesperson.
"It is truly unconscionable that these ministries have failed to comply," said Rusty Leonard, founder of MinistryWatch.com, a group that advocates for the rights of donors. "First of all, what Senators Grassley and Baucus are asking for is nothing more than what these ministries should be disclosing as a matter of course," Leonard said. "But for five months to go by without even an attempt at compliance - as is the case with Creflo Dollar - is a true slap in the face both to the Senate Finance Committee and, tragically, to their own donors."
According to Grassley's office, four of the ministries are either in substantial compliance with the requests, or have taken significant steps toward compliance. Joyce Meyer Ministries has complied with all requests, and Benny Hinn has made significant progress in complying. Eddie Long and Paula and Randy White, who had been non-compliant, have taken significant new steps toward compliance, according to Grassley's office.
"The fact that Sen. Baucus and Sen. Grassley worked together to on this new March 31 compliance deadline seems to have made a difference," said Leonard. "Now the non-complying ministries know that Grassley and Baucus together could, without a vote of the additional members of the committee, issue subpoenas."
Leonard added, though, that "it would be unfortunate if these Christian ministries were to have their non- compliance be their testimony to the world, rather than open and transparent dealings with both their donors and the Senate Finance Committee. The cloud of suspicion raised by this non-compliance affects not only the public's perception of these ministries, but also undermines the reputations of the many ministries that do voluntarily inform their donors and others of their financial activities."