Grassley Plans No Hearings on Alleged Lavish Spenders

Article excerpt

Senator Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who is investigating the finances of six prominent Pentecostal and charismatic ministries, says he doesn't plan to hold hearings on any individual ministry and hopes he won't have to subpoena any of them.

In response to critics who wonder if his investigation into alleged lavish spending is too broad, Grassley said he simply expects tax-exempt ministries to follow the law. The National Religious Broadcasters said none of the six are members but that NRB officials were concerned about the ramifications of the probe.

"I think their fear is that we're going to get involved in doctrine, in the internal teachings of the church," said Grassley, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, in an interview. "That's none of my business. But churches have to realize that they aren't any different from any other nonprofit organization. They have to abide by the tax laws."

Grassley had set a deadline of December 6 for the ministries to respond to his requests for detailed financial information. As of that deadline:

* An attorney for Creflo Dollar Ministries in College Park, Georgia, wrote a letter to Grassley suggesting that a request for information should come from the Internal Revenue Service or, possibly, a congressional subpoena.

* Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas, delivered a package of material.

* Joyce Meyer Ministries in Fenton, Missouri, also sent a package of material.

* Lawyers for Benny Hinn Ministries in Grapevine, Texas, held a meeting with Grassley's staff on December 6, according to a ministry spokesperson.

* Attorneys for Randy and Paula White of Tampa, Florida, contacted Grassley's staff.

* Representatives of Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, had not sent material or made contact with Grassley but had said publicly that they would cooperate. …