November 08, 2007

Yet Another Scandal Alleged

If you have followed my commentaries for a length of time you know that I am no great fan of government intrusion into the ministry of the church. But that being said, you have to realize that if ministries are expecting a tax exemption based on their 501-C3 status (non-profit) then you have to submit to a certain scrutiny by "Caesar." If a ministry finds that objectionable, the solution is pretty simple; forfeit your tax exemption from "The Man."

When I first heard of Senator Charles Grassley's (R-Iowa) investigation into several prominent ministries, my knee jerk reaction was to be perturbed; but after thinking about it, if we are "in bed" with Caesar, there are certain things we forfeit and one of them is, perhaps, the level of total independence that we might like.

Allegedly there have been complaints about the extravagant lifestyles of certain television ministers which include some respectable names like Joyce Meyers and Paula White. So Grassley--as a representative of the United States government which grants to ministries, exemptions as a special "favor" essentially, has every right--I think--to see that everything is being carried out according to IRS code.

That being said, this needs to be watched very carefully since there is a very thin line between law and how it is applied versus one's opinion about how a law may or may not be applied.

Ministers and ministry heads also need to be mindful of legal, but abusive applications of the tax exempt status of non-profit organizations. Spending millions on mansions, private jets, vacations, investment properties and the like, sheltering them from taxation was not the purpose of the exemption in the first place. And these ridiculously rich "ministers" will end up ruining it for the vast majority of ministers that "do it" right.

It is interesting to note that none of the ministries in question are part of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability--a watchdog organization that polices its own concerning financial practices.

So here we go again with another scandal about money grubbing, conniving Christians who are out just to fleece the flock. True or not, the allegation will stick; it always does. Let's tighten the strings of accountability before we are ordered to by law--with great financial repercussions on all ministries.


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