Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let the fraudsters hit the floor

With any luck, the finances of some of America's richest and worst televangelists will soon be hitting the floor like the bodies at a Benny Hinn spectacle. Well, maybe that's a little too optimistic. But one can hope.

The backstory here is that Ole Anthony and the rest of the Trinity Foundation (the nice folks behind the Wittenburg Door) have spent decades researching the financial practices of these televangelist snakes (and also their religious practices--which, for them, also reduce to financial practices). And the latest news is that Republican (!) Senator Chuck Grassley decided to put this sort of information down on official Senate letterhead and demand some answers to some tricky questions--all leading up to the very big question of whether these "ministries" deserve their tax-exempt status.

(As it is, these organizations are tax-exempt because they are registered as non-profit organizations. But they don't have to report on how they spend their money, because they are "churches". Whose bright idea was this?)

See here for a summary, as well as (in the comments) a first-hand account of what it's like to be victimized by these assholes:
I'm so mad still at [John] Hagee [alas, not one of those who received a letter from Grassley] who fleeced me for over 12 years while I was a single mom with three abused kids, barely getting by. When I think of the times my electricity got turned off because I tithed and gave instead of paying my bills, I could scream. I was told to NOT pay my bills, but to tithe first and believe God for the money for my bills....then when my electricity was turned off I was told I had no faith. I thought God hated me.
OK, so, that's somewhat beside the point. It's unlikely that this sort of practice in particular breaks any tax laws. But it sure does piss me off.

Anyway, other info, plus clips of TV news coverage, available at the Door's Televangelism Scorecard. See Creflo Dollar (his real name) explain how he has only one Rolls Royce, not two. See Kenneth Copeland get asked whether he ever sees any of the prayer requests included in the cash-stuffed envelopes he gets, and then start whining. See Senator Grassley suggest that maybe a non-profit shouldn't be buying marble toilets.

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