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A MinistryWatch.com Readers Asks - Is Rodney Howard-Browne's Ministry Legitimate? 2/6/2014
A reader of MinistryWatch.com was concerned for his brother's welfare after he sold everything he owned, including his wedding ring, to move closer to Rodney Howard-Browne's ministry based in Tampa, FL. He asked us to look into this ministry and we are happy to assist. While the prosperity gospel message appears to be a part of Howard-Browne's teaching, it does not appear to be as prominent as seen with other pastors. Still, our reader's brother could well be at risk in this situation of both personal financial problems, if the church is encouraging him to give more than he has the capacity to do so, and doctrinally, given the focus of Howard-Browne's ministry on "holy laughter". While Howard-Browne's church is a legitimate church - not one set up simply to avoid IRS and other financial oversight - it is highly unconventional and likely does pose a risk to our reader's brother's financial and spiritual well-being.
New Press Reports on Elevation Church and Pastor Steven Furtick's Manipulation of His Book Sales 2/6/2014
Recently, the Charlotte Observer newspaper published several articles shedding additional light on the situation at the mega-church in Charlotte, NC pastored by Steven Furtick. Additionally, another report has surfaced highlighting how Furtick's upcoming book will inevitably end up as a New York Times bestseller simply because of how his publisher is manipulating sales. In the past we have written about the controversy that had arisen over Furtick's new multimillion dollar home, so we thought readers might also find these latest articles of interest as they describe the unusual approaches used at Elevation and the concerted effort to manipulate the sales of Pastor Furtick's books to make sure the book ends up ever so briefly on the New York Times best seller list.
Boston Episcopal Church Spends $3.6 Million, More Than Twice as Much as Furtick's House, on a New Condo for its Rector 2/6/2014
Another church is now facing questions about its decision to spend $3.6 million to purchase a 3,100 square foot condo for a parsonage for its pastor in one of Boston's toniest real estate markets. This sum is more than twice the amount Elevation Church pastor Steven Furtick paid for his home and is less than half the size of Furtick's home as well. It would be easy to be outraged by this seemingly exorbitant spending, but there are some notable differences from the situation with Pastor Furtick.
Barnabas Aid Looks Like a Good Choice When Viewed Through a Global Perspective 1/23/2014
Thanks to excellent cooperation from the ministry, we have now had the opportunity to review Barnabas Aid's audited financial statements and IRS form 990 for the ministry's fiscal year ending August 2013. We have also reviewed the audited financial statements for the ministry's US parent, the UK-based Barnabas Fund. We have also had extensive discussions with the UK based finance director of Barnabas. With the ministry's quick response to our request for financial data, there is no longer any concern about Barnabas' transparency. When looking at the global Barnabas organization, it is clear it operates very efficiently and quite effectively as well. While it is not possible to profile Barnabas on our MinistryWatch.com website due to the lack of consolidated financial statements and the differences in US and UK non-profit accounting, we believe we have enough information to be able to encourage donors to strongly consider Barnabas when they are looking to help persecuted Christians.
Important New Information Regarding Barnabas Aid 1/22/2014
We are very pleased to report the leadership of Barnabas Aid quickly contacted us following our report yesterday on their ministry. While initially we were not able to get a response from the ministry, this appears to have been a result of miscommunication within their staff. We will have a further update just as soon as we are able evaluate the financial statements we have just now received. Meanwhile, we wanted our readers to know Barnabas Aid has responded very quickly to our initial concerns and has been very open and straightforward in answering our questions. Additionally, as we noted in our update yesterday, we believe Barnabas Aid does very worthy work on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world.
View all MinistryWatch.com Updates
Making 'Good Intentions' Good
Peter Greer of Hope International discusses the unintended consequences that can result from Christians seeking to help those in need. Careful planning is required for our giving if unfortunate side effects are to be avoided. Read more
Christian Rapper Calls Out Prosperity Preachers
A new song released by Christian rapper Shai Linne calls out Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Paul Crouch, and other prosperity preachers by name. In "Fal$e Teacher$", Linne criticizes twelve prominent teachers for preaching a false religion he dubs "selfism". He raps, "Jesus is not a means to an end, the Gospel is He came to redeem us from sin / And that is the message forever I'll yell / If you're living your best life now, you're heading for hell." Read more
Court Documents from TBN's Whistleblower Granddaughter Released
The Orange County Register Newspaper has been closely following the developments regarding TBN. Recently, it obtained
court documents in a case involving Brittany Koper, the Crouch's granddaughter, just prior to them being sealed
and published them on its website. These documents include internal TBN memos, receipts and reports from TBN's accountants
detailing improper and likely illegal acts. In our opinion, it is likely the leadership of TBN will ultimately be
replaced as a result of these revelations and some of the leadership team could possibly spend time behind bars. While the
wheels of justice grind slowly, they do tend to grind finely. It may take quite some time before new leadership is appointed,
but it will be near impossible for TBN's leaders to successfully defend themselves from IRS and FCC regulators. Accordingly,
we call on leaders in the evangelical community to begin to prepare to assemble a new leadership team that could be
presented to the regulators as a replacement. TBN is an attractive asset to the global church, therefore serious efforts should
be made to preserve it and manage it in accordance with laws and regulations. Under stronger evangelical leadership, TBN
could win more souls to Christ, effectively disciple millions with legitimate Christian teaching and bring honor to the
Lord. We believe it would be wise for a new, respected leadership team to be assembled now and presented to the IRS and
FCC as an alternative to other outcomes which would see the church lose control of this strategic asset.
The court documents containing the info noted above can be found at: http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2012/05/20/tbn-extravagance-read-internal-memos-for-yourself/155188/. We urge readers to looks over these documents themselves as well
as some of the other reporting done by the Orange County Register on this subject. Some of the most damaging elements
contained within the 180 pages include the following:
1. Widespread abuse of ministry funds by TBN directors including having the ministry pay for numerous personal
expenses. Lavish meals, motorcycles and home remodeling were just a few of the expenses charged to the ministry.
Brittany Koper claims she was told to invent business reasons for these many personal expenses to cover up the actual
personal use of ministry funds.
2. Double billing TBN for some of these personal expenses.
3. The transfer of as much as $50 million over the course of a decade to the Crouch family.
4. The use of TBN's two jets for personal use.
5. Matthew Crouch's for-profit film production company received millions from TBN with little to show for it but
an extravagant lifestyle lived by Crouch and his family.
6. Numerous threats made to Koper and her husband for her whistleblowing activities.
7. A report from TBN's external accountant detailing how the ministry and its leadership were at risk from IRS fines
including this conclusion:
"Areas with the greatest exposure include:
Personal Use of the Organization's Assets
Use of the church's credit card for personal expenses
TBN's Dysfunction on Full Display in New York Times Article
Due to family conflict within the ministry's controlling Crouch family, new information about the extent of financial abuse of donor funds has come to light. We again strongly urge donors to TBN to prayerfully consider withholding their giving until such time as new leaders and a new board of directors are brought in to clean up this very troubled and dysfunctional ministry.
Generals International Loses Non-Profit Status
Generals International has lost its non-profit designation from the IRS as a result of its failure to file its IRS Form 990 for three consecutive years. Obviously, donors who have been supporting this ministry, or were considering doing so, should look for other ministries more worthy of their donations.
African Children Welfare Association Loses Non-Profit Status
African Children Welfare Association has lost its non-profit designation from the IRS as a result of its failure to file its IRS Form 990 for three consecutive years. Obviously, donors who have been supporting this ministry, or were considering doing so, should look for other ministries more worthy of their donations.
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