Evangelical pastors flush with cash from the flock
You know things are bad in the evangelical world when the religious press starts taking out the lizards among them. Here’s an expose of greedy preachers covered in a great article by Michael Barrick of MinistryWatch.com, “Why Prosperity Teaching is Biblically Fraudulent“. Obviously, he doesn’t want legitimate ministries painted with the same brush as the creeps you’ll read about below.
The Bible calls for humility, surrender, and sacrifice on the part of the believer, and transparency for leaders and teachers. Those teaching the prosperity theology seemingly display none of these attributes. Furthermore, rather than appeal to the hearts of those to whom they preach, these prosperity preachers instead prey upon one of the most basic of human foibles – greed.
Additionally, when challenged, they often stonewall or change their stories as close scrutiny begins to poke holes in their claims.
Consider Benny Hinn, perhaps the most visible of those preaching a self-serving prosperity theology message. He allegedly lives a lavish lifestyle with funds intended for charitable purposes, manipulates individuals at “healing crusades for personal gain, makes unsubstantiated claims of healings, and is nontransparent and lacks independent board oversight.
NBC has reported, for example:
— Hinn’s salary is somewhere between $500K and a million dollars per year.
— he has a $10 million seaside mansion,
— a private jet with annual operating costs of about $1.5 million,
— and a Mercedes SUV and convertible, valued at about $80,000 each.
On his evangelical “healing” trips, Hinn has had “layovers” between crusades piling up hotel bills ranging from $900 per night to royal suites that cost almost $3,000 for one night’s stay in lovely places such as: Hawaii, Cancun, London, and Milan.
For scam artist closer to home (SC), the article points out Leroy Jenkins. How about these principles, tallied up in the article:
— he sells water at his crusades at $1.50 for each 20 ounce bottle, implicitly claiming through the testimonials of others that it has “healing powers.”
— a woman that Mr. Jenkins claims to have healed at his Charlotte, N.C. crusade last August instead told MinistryWatch.com that she is in worse physical condition than before Mr. Jenkins and his staff manhandled her at the event.
— Jenkins promises that those who support him financially will “…never have another problem.” Still, scores of people leave his crusades downcast and dejected because they do not have enough to “buy” a miracle and Jenkins refuses to answer questions about his conduct, theology and the financial affairs of his church.
The article also covers the outrageous and closeted homo, Paul Crouch and his amazingly lifelike “drag queen” wife Jan of Trinity Broadcasting Network fame.
TBN refuses to release consolidated audited financial statements, though MinistryWatch.com has learned that TBN spends shockingly little on its charitable programs, at 43 percent, when compared to the MinistryWatch.com database average at about 78 percent. Additionally, TBN’s 2003 savings rate is high at about 39 percent compared to the MinistryWatch.com database average of around zero. Also, TBN presently has cash and short term investments of $341 million. This represents money that could be deployed into ministry work but instead is sitting idle on the ministry’s balance sheet. Meanwhile, the ministry continues to implore donors to give it even more money.
Furthermore, Mr. Crouch and his family live a life of luxury, the full extent of which remains unknown. Matthew Crouch, the son of Paul and Jan Crouch, controls a for-profit company that has received approximately $32 million from TBN corporations during the past several years to produce movies such as “The Omega Code.” Due to a lack of transparency, donors are unable to determine if this was a sensible use of their money or what amount of compensation Matthew Crouch and/or others closely aligned with the Crouch family may have taken from this and possibly other related party transactions. Also, TBN’s board of directors is made up of just three Crouch family members, preventing independent oversight needed to protect donor interests and in contrast to the best practices utilized by many other excellent ministries.
Finally, despite promises of cooperation from Paul Crouch Jr., TBN eventually resorted to a threatening letter from an attorney rather than answer the questions submitted by MinistryWatch.com, even though Crouch Jr., in an email, promised to fully answer questions from MinistryWatch.com. As a result, LibertyPressNews.com continues our investigation into a number of allegations of lawsuits, coercion, threats, and intimidation by TBN against those who criticize it.