Grassley Ratchets Up Mega-Ministries Investigation

A leading Republican senator has announced plans to request more financial information from several mega-ministries.

Last November, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) sent letters to six large ministries requesting information on income and expenditures. Grassley, ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee, targeted the “prosperity gospel” preachers after hearing allegations that the ministries funded lavish lifestyles for their leaders, spouses and family members.

Several of the ministries have refused to cooperate. In early February, the Tampa Tribune reported that Grassley would send a second round of letters to the ministries urging their cooperation.

“I don’t intend to give up and go away,” Grassley said. “I work on oversight projects until I get answers and results.”

The newspaper noted that Kenneth Copeland, head of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, has been among the more vocal opponents, sounding a defiant note during a late January conference.

“You can get a subpoena, and I won’t give it to you,” Copeland said, according to Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper. “It’s not yours; it’s God’s. And you’re not going to get it, and that’s something I’ll go to prison over. So just get over it…. And if there’s a death penalty that applies, well, just go for it.”

Grassley has argued that his inquiry is only focused on ensuring that nonprofits, including religious ones, are complying with tax law.

“This is a nonprofit tax policy review like any other,” he said. “I’ve made it clear that I’m not interested in church doctrine.”