Saying he’s responding to complaints and news coverage about lavish lifestyles, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has launched a probe into the finances of six television evangelism empires. Grassley says he wants to reassure people who are very concerned about what might first appear to be government intervention into religion.
"This has nothing to do (with) church doctrine. This has everything to do with the tax-exemption of an organization. Is that tax exemption being used according to law, and is the money that’s donated under the tax exemption being used for legitimate, non-profit purposes?," Grassley says.
Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has requested financial records from a half-dozen televangelist organizations. Among them, the Missouri-based Joyce Meyer Ministries, which is reportedly worth 124-million dollars a year.
Grassley says he’s heard reports of the televangelists’ private jets, luxury Rolls Royces and even a $23,000 marble-topped commode. Grassley says he’s in the fact-finding stage. "We have not drawn any conclusions whatsoever," he says,"the investigation comes from press reports of abuse and it comes from third-party people that you might call whistleblowers, contacting us and telling us about possible abuse."
Other media-based ministers under the probe are: Benny Hinn of Texas, Eddie Long of Georgia, Creflo and Taffi Dollar of Georgia, Gloria Copeland of Texas and Randy and Paula White of Florida.