Months-Old Ministry Probe Still Unresolved

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Last November, Sen. Charles Grassley launched an investigation into the finances of several prominent ministries.

The probe led to criticism from many leading evangelicals, who called it an attack on religious freedom.

As ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley began the inquiry after he heard news reports and complaints about the affluent lifestyles and lavish spending within some prominent Christian ministries.

"I don't want to conclude that there's a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and the taxpayers to find out more," he said. "This is not a crusade against ministries. It has nothing to do with doctrine. It's only the enforcement of the law, and it's no different than the investigations we've been doing on non-profits the last five years."

But Grassley's critics say he has no authority to launch such an investigation.

The six ministries in question are those of Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer and Randy and Paula White.

Despite Grassley's probe, all the ministries have the strong support of their congregations.

"Everybody that's done well doesn't mean they've done wrong," one supporter declared.

So far, the six ministries have taken different approaches to the inquiry.

Creflo Dollar of World Changers Ministries refused to respond to the investigation and denies any wrongdoing.

"If you give this money to our ministry, we're going to comply with the IRS," he said.

Kenneth Copeland has given partial answers to several questions, but not to Grassley's satisfaction.

The Copelands say they have answered as much as they can without compromising their rights to privacy and confidentiality under the Constitution & IRS code.

Randy and Paula White submitted answers on certain matters, yet Sen. Grassley feels their responses are incomplete.

The same is true for Eddie Long.

Joyce Meyer has been open with the investigation. She gave extensive answers to all questions, as did Benny Hinn.

Grassley congratulated both of them for cooperating, calling their efforts "in good faith" and saying they provided information over and above what was requested.

Grassley added that both organizations "have indicated that they are instituting reforms without waiting for the committee to complete its review."

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