Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley may not be the hippest cat in town (or the most logical), but he hardly deserves to have a holy war against him. Texas-based televangelist Kenneth Copeland begs to differ. During the Jan. 22 broadcast of his 2008 Ministers’ Conference, Copeland pledged to wage his very own holy war against Grassley.
Copeland’s vow comes in the wake of Grassley’s request that Copeland, along with five other wealthy Pentecostal televangelists, hand over their financial records to the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley’s request is based on the suspicion that the televangelist has used funds for personal gain.
The fact of the matter is that when it comes to finances, Grassley is a stickler who must be accommodated. How big of a stickler is Grassley? Consider that since becoming the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, he has led investigations of such well-respected and long-standing institutions as the Red Cross, Harvard University and the Smithsonian.
Regardless of Grassley’s past, he is aiming at a deserving target. The fact that U.S. law requires non-profit organizations to keep accurate and up-to-date financial records for public viewing is reason enough for Grassley to request documents from six televangelists without incurring the wrath of God. At least in the case of Copeland, there is an abundance of additional reasons for the Senate Finance Committee to be suspicious.
According to WFAA, the television affiliate of ABC based in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, Copeland attained 49 percent of Affordable Homes Unlimited, a project geared toward providing homes for low-income families, in 2004. After only six months, Copeland decided to close up shop. The only problem was that land and supplies had already been purchased.
After initially putting $1.5 million into the project, Copeland decided to walk away rather than provide more cash for additional costs. If Copeland had created the project entirely by himself, then there may have been no harm done since no one would have lost money but him. However, Copeland was not the sole employee of Affordable Homes Unlimited. As a result, employees were owed as much as $45,000, but Copeland never paid a dime.
Looking into his work within his ministry is even more troubling, especially his claims about his faith-healing powers. Ever get home around 4:00 a.m. and turn on the television to see someone babbling about the power of Christ before they knock someone over, all to the amazement of a baffled audience? This is one example of faith healing.
One particularly disturbing claim was that Copeland ‘cured’ lottery-winner Bonnie Parker, who had been diagnosed with cancer. Parker rewarded Copeland with her lottery winnings, which ultimately went toward buying a $20-million jet. Although Parker died of cancer shortly thereafter, no funds have been returned to Parker’s family.
What makes matters worse is that while telling someone they are cured of cancer in order to buy a private jet is outlandish and ethically wrong, the other five televangelists from whom Grassley has requested financial records are no angels either, including Rev. Creflo A. Dollar, Jr., Bishop Eddie L. Long and Randy White. Dollar lives in a multimillion-dollar mansion, Long allegedly supplied himself with $3 million through his non-profit organization, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries Incorporated, and White kills puppies in his spare time. Okay, that last one isn’t true. Still, the actual decisions made by these individuals are as questionable as just about any action, outside of killing puppies.
Rather than waging a holy war against Grassley, these televangelists should commit their time to organizing their financial records, unless they have an interest in pitching faith healing inside a state penitentiary.
Daniel Johnson is a third-year film and media studies and literary journalism double-major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.