AP Newsbreak: 2nd Preacher Spurns Senate
A second Christian ministry is refusing to meet a Thursday deadline for a Senate investigation into preachers’ salaries, perks and travel, The Associated Press has learned. Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, said in a statement to the AP on Thursday that he will not respond to the inquiry until next year. 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.
Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent lengthy questionnaires a month ago to six ministries so he could review whether pastors were complying with IRS rules that bar excessive personal gain through tax-exempt work.
Only Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., has provided the detailed financial and board oversight information sought by Grassley.
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.
All the ministries preach a form of Word of Faith theology, known as prosperity gospel, which teaches that God wants believers to reap material rewards for their faith. 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. However, several religious liberty watchdogs have said the scope of the inquiry is too broad and warned that it could be unconstitutional.