Several months ago Senator Charles Grassley, R Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent questionnaires to six ministries asking numerous financial questions - probing whether the pastors and their ministries were complying with IRS rules related to their tax exempt work.
The deadline was today and it appears that Binny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine (Grapevine, TX) and Benny Hinn World Healing Center Church, Inc. have stated that they will not respond to Grassley's inquiry until next year (2008).
According to the Associated Press:
"A lawyer for preacher Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta had said Wednesday that the investigation should be referred to the IRS or the Senate panel should get a subpoena for the documents."
"Only Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., has provided the detailed financial and board oversight information sought by Grassley."
Several questions have been raised by both sides. Many of the ministries through their spokes persons have taken the position that they comply with the law and the IRS is the watchdog. Hence, they feel that Grassley has overstepped his bounds by making such a broad request.
Again, according to the Associated Press in a report in the Dallas Morning News:
"Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters that he "can't be impressed" by the argument from some of the preachers that the IRS already monitors them, because his past inquiries have unearthed information that the IRS never knew.
Grassley has insisted his investigation "has nothing to do with church doctrine" and is strictly concerned with making sure nonprofit groups are following the law."
Some of the ministries have suggested that Grassley get a subpoena if he plans on capturing the information he's requested. Should the ministries refuse to turn over the information, a very interesting court fight could ensue.
"Hopefully these organizations will work with us," said Grassley, who has been investigating nonprofit compliance with IRS rules for years. "I don't think I've had to issue a single subpoena in the five years that I've been trying to get cooperation from organizations."
So here are the questions and your comments are welcome:
What does not complying to Grassley's request mean to the ministries?
If one believed that they were fully compliant, would it be best to turn over the records or stand on principle (perhaps the belief that Grassley over reached)?
Since the IRS rules provide that a tax-exempt organization cannot be a conduit for excessive personal gain, is it possible to define that in a highly successful ministry?
For the record, the ministries targeted by Grassley's requests were, in addition to Hinn: Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries of Lithonia, GA; Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries of Tampa, FL; Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, MO; Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in Atlanta, GA; and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, TX.
Every choice has a consequence. In fact, in Galatians it states, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." As this unfolds the truth will be revealed...whatever that truth may be.