Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa is investigating Benny Hinn and five other television evangelists to find out if they avoided taxes on for-profit activities or used their ministries for personal gain.
All six evangelists are “prosperity theology” adherents who preach that wealth is a sign of God’s favor.
Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said his probe was prompted by complaints from watchdog organizations that the ministers live in expensive homes, travel on private jets and engage in profit-making activities from their ministries, the Wall Street Journal reports.
While religious organizations are mostly exempt from federal taxes, they must pay taxes if they are involved in for-profit businesses, and employees can’t use church property primarily for personal gain.
Grassley’s committee sent letters to the six evangelists asking them to disclose their assets, spending practices and business arrangements, according to the Journal. They are not required to reply.
In addition to Hinn of Grapevine, Texas, the other five receiving the letter are Creflo Dollar and his wife Taffi of College Park, Ga.; Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Newark, Texas; Randy and Paul White of Tampa, Fla.; Eddie Long of Lithonia, Ga., and the Joyce Meyers Ministries in Missouri.
Ministers who are “prosperity theology” adherents say believers will reap benefits from God if they give generously to the ministries.
A spokesman for Benny Hinn Ministries, Ronn Torossian, said Hinn’s church “complies with the laws that govern church and nonprofit organizations.” None of the other five ministries responded to calls from the Journal.
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