As the year draws to a close, would you prayerfully consider supporting the work of MinistryWatch.com? Over our 15 years of existence, we have been able to mostly fund our operating expenses without asking for outside help. Indeed, we prefer the thousands of users of our website give to the many deserving ministries found on MinistryWatch.com than to us. Our current circumstances, however, are such that we will need some outside funding in 2014 and we are hoping to raise at least $100,000. If you feel led to help with this need, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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Billy Graham's Health Said to be Deteriorating but His Vital Signs Remain Stable 12/9/2013
Franklin Graham told a Charlotte TV station last Friday his Father's health was deteriorating. Billy Graham, who just turned 95 years old, has suffered from respiratory issues in recent years. Shortly after celebrating his latest birthday, Graham was again hospitalized for two days. Apparently, he has been unable to regain his strength since returning home.
Is the United States the Most Charitable Nation in the World? 12/9/2013
At least according to one metric, Americans are the most charitable people in the world, reclaiming that title from Australia. The Charities Aid Foundation has commissioned Gallup to study charitable trends around the world since 2008. Each year, between 500-2,000 people in 135 countries are surveyed to determine how charitable their nation is. The USA achieved the top overall rank among all nations in 2012 by ranking first in the percentage of citizens willing to help a stranger in need, coming in third in volunteering while only landing in thirteenth place in the percentage of people donating money to charity.
Tips for Jesus? We Have a Better Idea. 12/9/2013
News outlets reported last week very sizable tips were being left for waitresses, waiters and bartenders in various states with the word's "Tips for Jesus" written on the credit card receipts. Tips apparently have ranged from $1,000 to $5,000 and even as high as $10,000. While those receiving those tips are needy in some way or another, at MinistryWatch.com, we can't help but think the money could be given much more effectively if the tippers first checked out our MinistryWatch.com database rather than giving randomly.
Tomorrow Is "Giving Tuesday" - Which Worthy Ministries Should You Give To? 12/2/2013
In an attempt to redeem the rampant consumerism of the holiday weekend and return to a true spirit of Thanksgiving, the charitable community has been promoting the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as "Giving Tuesday". People are being encouraged to give to charity tomorrow, December 3rd, as a way as kicking off the typical year-end charitable giving season. At MinistryWatch.com we are normally a bit skeptical of gimmicks used to prod recalcitrant givers to open their checkbooks. We prefer encouraging cheerful givers, who the Bible proclaims God loves, over those being nudged reluctantly into giving through the latest marketing technique or emotion manipulating appeals. The Giving Tuesday campaign hardly seems to be a sophisticated marketing effort nor is it trying to guilt anyone into giving. So we are happy to participate and thought we should mention some often overlooked ministries you might want to explore further.
Bill Gates Is Recommending Heifer International for Giving Tuesday - Should You Take His Advice? 12/2/2013
In an effort to promote Giving Tuesday, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda sent out a message highlighting four non-profits they believed donors should consider contributing to, including Heifer International. When the world's richest man suggests donors consider a Christian ministry as a recipient of your gift on Giving Tuesday, it is news if for no other reason than the apparently secular Gates family is recognizing a Christian ministry. There is no doubt Heifer has performed admirable work helping alleviate poverty over many decades. According to Heifer, it has provided life transforming help to almost 21 million families translating into nearly 100 million men, women and children over its 70 year history. Despite this track record of helping the poor and the impressive endorsement from the Gates, MinistryWatch.com believes donors would be wise to look elsewhere in assisting the impoverished among us.
Trinity Broadcasting Network Founder Paul Crouch Died November 30th 12/2/2013
MinistryWatch.com has often been critical of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and its founders Paul and Jane Crouch due to their propagation of the harmful message of the Prosperity Gospel and their mistreatment of donors via the financial mismanagement of their ministry. With the announcement of Paul Crouch's passing on Sunday, however, we want to respectfully pause from that criticism and ask MinistryWatch.com users to join us in prayer for his family during their time of grief and for the ministry of TBN during this time of transition.
Outrageously High Fundraising and Compensation Costs - What You Need Know About Those Emotional TV Commercials Asking You to Help Impoverished Jews 11/25/2013
Many have no doubt seen the rather frequent and emotion-laden advertisements on Fox News asking for your donations to help struggling Jewish people around the world. The ads come from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) founded and run by Rabbi Yeckiel Eckstein. Recent ads have featured what the ministry claimed were elderly holocaust survivors in the former Soviet Union and poor Jewish people in Israel. Unfortunately, television advertising is quite expensive, which is why few ministries utilize it. Using the ministry's audited financial statements, MinistryWatch.com calculates the ministry's fundraising costs amount to 14% of its revenues, almost three times the level of the average ministry in our database. This is an absurd amount of money being spent on fundraising and donors should be aware that so much of their gifts are being diverted from helping suffering Jews to instead raise more money for IFCJ.
Definitely Read This As It Has Big Implications: Judge Rules Against Clergy's Tax Free Housing Allowance 11/25/2013
Christianity appears under increasing attack in our culture from all directions. The latest news came last Friday when a Wisconsin judge, appropriately named Crabb, ruled the ministerial housing allowance is unconstitutional. We recently noted such fallout could occur as a side-effect of the controversies surrounding a relatively small number of ministers owning multimillion dollar mansions. Under a 1954 law meant to help the clergy who are typically poorly paid, the government established the right of churches and other religious groups to provide part of an ordained minister's compensation as a tax free housing allowance. Accordingly, some mansion owning, mega-church pastors like Stephen Furtick, Joel Osteen and Ed Young could be pulling down tax free housing allowances worth six figures annually. The sins of a few often cause pain for many innocent bystanders.
No Surprise Here: Study Indicates Churches Benefits to Their Community Far Outweigh the Cost of Their Tax Exemption 11/25/2013
If we are right about the potential for a future clash over churches tax free status, you will want to be prepared for the battle with good information regarding the economic benefits churches bring to their community. Fortunately, such a study has already been prepared and additional such research is expected to be completed soon. Richard Ostling at the Get Religion blog posted an article which you should familiarize yourself with. Ostling reviews the work of Ram Cnaan of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy and Practice on the subject of the value of a church in a community versus the cost of lost tax revenue due to its tax free status.
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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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