A more than three-year long Senate investigation of spending by six well-known evangelical ministries wrapped up Thursday, with no findings of wrongdoing or penalties for the pastors.
The report, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, questioned the financial dealings of the televangelists, including possible personal use of church-owned planes, credit cards, and homes, as well as oversight of finances by board members.
"[The] tax-exempt sector is so big that from time to time, certain practices draw public concern," Grassley said.
He added that his goal is to improve accountability for tax-exempt groups.
The Christian leaders investigated were:
- Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Newark, Texas.
- Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries in Lithonia, Ga.
- Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International and Creflo Dollar Ministries in College Park, Ga.
- Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries in Tampa, Fla.
- Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries in Fenton, Mo.
- Benny Hinn of Benny Hinn Ministries in Irving, Texas.
All six ministries insisted no wrongdoing. Meyer and Hinn told Grassley they've made changes in how they govern their ministries or set compensation.
The remaining four televangelists would not provide full information about their finances, questioning whether Grassley had the authority to conduct such an investigation.
Meanwhile, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a national financial accreditation organization for churches and other religious organizations, will announce the formation of new national oversight commission, Jan. 7.
The independent commission was formed at Sen. Grassley's request that the ECFA "lead a review and provide input on accountability and policy issues affecting the church."