Friday, November 09, 2007

Televangelist investigation

The United States Senate Finance Committee has recently begun an investigation of six prominent and extravagent televangelists. I have no sympathy for some of these thieving clowns who pass for Christian ministers, but the U.S. Senate investigating someone else's financial mismanagement seems like the pot calling the kettle black. Following is a Cc/carbon copy of a note I sent to Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

Dear Senator Grassley,

Through several forms of media, I have heard that you are "investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct." I have no sympathy for these ministries that to me appear fraudulent. I applaud your concern that they operate openly and above board. If they are operating illegally, they should be legally punished.

But I have two problems with what you are doing: (1) possible bad precedents you may be setting that could later affect more legitimate Christian ministries; and (2) the U.S. Congress has no "moral high ground" for investigating these ministries. These televangelists operate on funds that are donated freely (however unsuspecting they may be). On the other hand, our Federal Government, whom you represent, legally and illegally picks the pockets of the American taxpayers, often spending our money just as lavishly and wastefully as Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland.

I am a former Republican Precinct Chairman, a Christian and a Baptist. I agree with Rod Pitzer (Ministry Watch), who says these ministries that lack accountability "give a black eye to churches and Christians..." I do not waste my money supporting televangelists. I wish I did not spend my money supporting wasteful government spending. While looking at these televangelists, please consider cleaning up your own act.

Addition: Link to someone else cogitating on the subject: 7 lessons pastors can learn from the Senate Televangelist Investigation


Chris Crouse said...

Very fine letter, Brother Vaughn. I recently read in World magazine a list of high profile ministries who are unwilling to open their financial records to their givers. I would find it hard to continue supporting a ministry that believed in secrecy about such, or any matters.

While I don't support any of the ministries mentioned, I, like you think it hilarious that the same Senate that had a proposition of one million dollars being allocated for a Woodstock museum can investigate and complain about a ministry that is too lavish in their expenditures.

I am also concerned with the precedent this may set.

I hadn't noticed the Senate's intention for this investigation, so thanks for posting about it!

R. L. Vaughn said...

You're welcome, Brother. I think many so-called ministries are heretical, and that some of them are bogus. But if they answer to their contributors and aren't doing something illegal --'s a free country. As for the Congress, I know much of what they are doing is illegal (aka, unConstitutional).

One interesting recent example is the awarding of the Congressional Medal of Honor to the Dalai Lama (at a cost of $30,000). Of all the congress, Ron Paul opposed it on the grounds that the Congress has no authority to spend our money on such awards. Then he offered to put up $100 of his own money to honor the Dalai Lama, asking his fellow congressman to give approximately $70 each to the same cause. None responded. It is much easier to spend money that is not yours, as our governing bodies have long since discovered!

R. L. Vaughn said...

As a matter of interest, some might like to read Ron Paul's comments from his speech to the House of Representatives:

Mr. PAUL: Mr. Speaker, with great sadness I must rise to oppose this measure granting a congressional gold medal to the 14th Dalai Lama. While I greatly admire and respect His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and fully recognize his tremendous status both as a Buddhist leader and international advocate for peace, I must object to the manner in which this body chooses to honor him.

I wonder if my colleagues see the irony in honoring a devout Buddhist monk with a material gift of gold. The Buddhist tradition, of course, eschews worldly possessions in favor of purity of thought and action. Buddhism urges its practitioners to alleviate the suffering of others whenever possible. I’m sure His Holiness the Dalai Lama would rather see $30,000 spent to help those less fortunate, rather than for a feel-good congressional gesture.

We cannot forget that Congress has no authority under the Constitution to spend taxpayer money on medals and awards, no matter how richly deserved. And I reiterate my offer of $100 from my own pocket to pay for this medal-–if members wish to honor the Dalai Lama, all we need to do is pay for it ourselves. If all 435 of us contribute, the cost will be roughly $70 each. So while a gold medal sounds like a great idea, it becomes a bit strange when we see the actual cost involved.

R. L. Vaughn said...

I was annoyed today as I noticed that one of the six claims to be a Baptist and two others are based in Texas.

Anonymous said...

Good letter. I wish I had thought of that.
God bless, Hoyt D. F. Sparks