The Rev. Creflo Dollar of College Park’s World Changers Church International refused to cooperate in a U.S. senator’s probe into televangelists’ finances and uses of tax-exempt status.
Dollar’s attorney sent Grassley a letter telling him to get a subpoena or to refer his request for a review to the Internal Revenue Service.
The letter expresses concerns about giving documents to the government, explaining such action could trample on the constitutional rights of people to practice religious beliefs without government interference.
The letter says the six ministries targeted preach the “…’Prosperity Gospel,’ a deeply held religious belief that God’s devout followers and earthly leaders will prosper and be successful in all they do, including in financial matters, as the outward expression of his favor.”
It went on to say, “… we believe that the religious doctrine and practices of a church should not be held out for the world to evaluate as a result of responding to Congressional inquiries.”
Grassley said he is not interested in doctrine. He wants to make sure media ministries are not abusing their tax-exempt status.
He is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and has probed other nonprofit organizations, uncovering fraud and waste.
He believes he has a right to review records because when non-profits get tax breaks, the general public has to pick up the financial slack.
“I have an obligation to protect the integrity of U.S. tax laws,” Grassley said in a written statement. “If tax-exempt organizations, including media-based ministries, thumb their noses at the laws governing their preferential tax treatment, the American public, their contributors and the Internal Revenue Service have a right to know. Considering tax-exempt media-based ministries today are a billion-dollar industry with minimal transparency, it would be irresponsible not to examine this tax-exempt part of our economy.”
Joyce Meyer took an opposite stance from Dollar. She turned over records Tuesday.
In a written statement, Meyer said the ministry embraces “… this latest opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to transparency with our supporters and our dedication to the continual improvement of our own systems of accountability.”