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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Televangelists and how much they get paid

National Public Radio reported, yesterday and on April 1st (the link is to the combined report) about how some of the largest Christian entities take in millions of dollars, often with no accountability to anyone, except a controlling board, which may consist mostly, or entirely, of the leader's family. That's shameful. Some televangelists have lavish homes, fancy autos, and lots more. (scroll down in the report to see an aerial view of a "parsonage" valued at over six million dollars!) Apparently, based on NPR's research, at least one organization of this type gives viewers the impression that it gives much of the donations they receive to various charities, when, in fact, only about 5% of such money goes to hospitals, missions, and the like.

The Internal Revenue Service and the Congress have not cracked down on such behavior, and don't seem likely to do so in the future.

There are some prominent Christian organizations that are financially transparent, for example the Billy Graham Evangelistic Organization, Samaritan's Purse, and Charles Stanley's In Touch Ministries. See here for a chart of 30 prominent organizations, indicating which of them file with the IRS, and which don't, on the grounds that they are a church; which organizations have regular services - not all those who claim to be a church have regular services; which organizations are members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability; and a summary of any financial information (if such is available at all).

There is information available as to which charities are transparent, and how much of what they take in is actually used for the purposes of the charity. The ECFA, above, is a good place to start. The Better Business Bureau has information on religious (and other) charities. Also, see CharityWatch.

Jesus said this:
Matthew 6:19 Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don’t break through and steal; 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Scripture quotations from the World English Bible, public domain) Senator Grassley said, in the report, said something like "Christ came into Jerusalem on a donkey, so why do these preachers have to go places in their own luxury cars and jets?"

Some people, I hope Christians, don't seem to pay much attention to that idea. It is true that Paul said this: Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even out of envy and strife, and some also out of good will. 1:16 The former insincerely preach Christ from selfish ambition, thinking that they add affliction to my chains; 1:17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the Good News.

1:18 What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed. I rejoice in this, yes, and will rejoice.

So, even if someone is making a fortune for him or herself out of preaching, Christ can be proclaimed through such a person. But I wouldn't want to be that person. It's not up to me to judge others, but it is up to me to be a wise steward of the money God has allowed me to have.

Thanks for reading. Read the NPR article.


atlibertytosay said...

There are some Liberty area pastors that are in the same boat - consuming 50% or more of the money brought in. I think thats a shame because there are so many worthy local charities - like kidney transplants and animal rescue efforts.

Newspring is good example of how a local church spends a lot on their church but a lot on the community too.

I really only question TV evangelists if they have nothing but filler shows and no manna.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, atlibertytosay. God will judge televangelists, and you and me, and NPR reporters.