Iowa Senator Continues Televangelist Probe

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is considering subpoenaing televangelists who have failed to cooperate with his investigation into possible abuses at their tax-exempt ministries.

“We haven’t decided yet to take the step of a subpoena,” Grassley told reporters in Iowa, “but it looks like that’s what we will have to do.”

In 2007, Grassley initiated an investigation into six high-profile “prosperity gospel” ministries after hearing reports that the televangelists were abusing their tax-exempt status by using donations to support lavish lifestyles. As a Senate Finance Committee ranking member, he wrote to the religious groups asking for information on expenses, executive compensation and amenities given to executives and family members.

Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas, and the affiliated Eagle Mountain International Church have not submitted answers to Grassley’s request. Copeland maintains that any investigation should be done through an official IRS church tax inquiry, not one initiated by Grassley.

Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International and Creflo Dollar Ministries of College Park, Ga., also declined to provide any of the requested information. Several other ministries also have provided incomplete responses.

Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., has provided complete answers to all questions, Grassley said.

Meyer’s ministry has also submitted itself to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

“It’s kind of a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for churches that are members of it to pledge to do certain things to make sure that their money is handled in a secure way as a trustee for the donor’s money,” Grassley said.