Ephesians & Mark 4:22
William Lobdell, a Times staff, wrote about target-rich
environment: the unregulated industry of televangelism is estimated to generate
at least $1 billion through its roughly 2,000 electronic preachers, including
80 nationally syndicated television pastors. He told of the founder of the
Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, Ole E
Anthony, whose operatives struck dumpster pay dirt five
years ago in south Florida when they found a travel itinerary for Benny Hinn,
the Trinity Broadcasting Network's superstar faith healer who has filled sports
arenas with ailing believers seeking miracles cures. Hinn's itinerary included
first-class tickets on the Concorde from
Hinn and other pastors ask viewers to send
in donations for both specific projects and for general expansion of the
television ministry. Donors aren't told of the opulent lifestyles led by some
of the televangelists, but that fact isn't too much of a secret either--perhaps
because it fits nicely with the message of the Prosperity Gospel they are
spreading. A quick computer search of homes owned by Trinity Broadcasting
Network, for example, reveals 17 residences in
There's a darker side to Hinn and his organization. In 1998 two members of his inner circle died of heroin overdoses. In 1999, after one of his many vows of reform, he fired several board members and hired an ex-cop named Mario C. Licciardello to do an internal investigation of his ministry. Licciardello was the brother-in-law of Carman, the popular Christian singer, so many think Hinn considered him "safe." But Licciardello did such a good job – taking hundreds of depositions and getting to the bottom of the heroin use – that Hinn then sued him. While Licciardello was still his head of security, the ministry filed a lawsuit demanding that all his files be turned over and sealed, because their public release could result in the end of the ministry. One day before Hinn was supposed to give his deposition in this case, Licciardello had a mysterious heart attack and died. The Hinn organization made an out-of-court settlement with Licciardello's widow, which included sealing the court papers.
Hinn runs the largest evangelistic organization in the world that is NOT a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Responsibility. That means his finances are private, his salary is secret, and his income is anybody's guess. Royalties from his books alone are estimated at $500,000 per year, but he essentially has carte blanche to take anything out of the till he wants. "He lives the lifestyle of a billionaire," says Ole Anthony, "all on the backs of false promises and selling false hope."
As Hinn put it himself, in a moment of rare revelatory candor, "I don't need gold in heaven, I gotta have it now."
During 1993, his one year of "reform," he talked about being stung by being portrayed as a millionaire and how he wanted to be "more Christ-like." His solution: "The Lord said sell the Benz and the watch."
He got rid of his Rolex and his Mercedes. Notice he didn't give them away. He sold them – and then replaced the Mercedes with a $65,000 BMW. This is what God told him to do. And who better to know what God wants, because Hinn, after all, is only the third person in the history of the universe to have actually seen God and lived to tell about it. God, he says, is 6-2 or 6-3, with long hair of a light brown color, and eyes that can look right through you. (Jan/Feb 2004 issue of The Door Magazine)
Ministry Watch in its Donor Alert of May 2005 recommended that Donors Withhold Giving to Benny Hinn Ministries
MinistryWatch.com calls upon donors to prayerfully consider withholding contributions to Benny Hinn Ministries/World Outreach Church (BHM) in
response to facts and allegations regarding reports that Hinn:
• Lives a lavish lifestyle with funds intended for charitable purposes;
• Preaches a self-serving prosperity theology message;
• Manipulates individuals at healing crusades” for personal gain;
• Makes unsubstantiated claims of healings;
• Is nontransparent and lacks independent board oversight.
These facts, aired in March on NBC DATELINE — coupled with Ministry Watch.com’s previously stated concerns about Hinn espousing the self-serving “prosperity theology” message — has caused MinistryWatch.com to recommend that donors consider redirecting their gifts to one of the many biblically-based ministries that are not only more transparent in their dealings with the public but also treat donor’s funds as a sacred trust dedicated exclusively for the Lord’s work.
DATELINE interviewed a number of critics, including current and former BHM employees, who argued that Hinn, instead of modeling the sacrificial life lived by Jesus, is motivated by his own self-interests, hence turning the Gospel of Christ on its head. Hinn is founder, chairman, president and CEO of BHM. Through his crusades — which collect untold amounts of cash, as well as donations through checks and credit cards— and television program, This is Your Day,” Hinn raises upwards of $100 million annually, according to NBC.
Revelations from the program also include:
• Hinn’s salary is somewhere between half a million and a million dollars per year. He also gets royalties from the sales of his books;
• Personal perks for Hinn, family and his entourage include a $10 million seaside mansion; a private jet with annual operating costs of about $1.5 million; a Mercedes SUV and convertible, each valued at about $80,000;
• What the church termed
“layovers” between crusades included hotel bills ranging from $900 per night to
royal suites that cost almost $3,000 for one night’s stay. Layover locations
• Receipts showing Hinn’s daughter receiving $1,300 in petty cash; her boyfriend getting $2,550 for babysitting; $23,000 in cash dispersed to Hinn and his wife; and, $25,000 in cash for expenses for a crusade — 30 minutes away from Hinn’s home;
• Hinn employs two primary methods to manipulate those that watch him — promising healings to those afflicted with chronic or terminal ill nesses, and claiming that donations are “seeds” being planted by the donor that will result in the gift giver enjoying financial blessings;
Hinn’s refusal to be accountable to anyone — rooted in a conveniently defiant view of accountability (he is to answer only to God since he receives extra-biblical words, hence the Word of Faith moniker) — is the primary precipitant for each of the critiques amplified above. MinistryWatch.com I believes donors are entitled to make an educated and knowledgeable giving decision based on all the facts about a church or ministry. The disclosures noted above raise issues of concern to MinistryWatch.com and the donating public it serves, Concerns include, but are not limited to:
DATELINE, through its well-documented investigation, has raised serious questions as to whether the benefit and compensation package for Benny Hinn and many of his family members diverts funds intended for designated, charitable purposes.
• The same investigations raise questions about BHM’s board composition and whether the influences Benny Hinn enjoys on the board compromise its independence.
• Because book royalties are made possible in part by the work of ministry and employees, and in keeping with the best practices of other published church and ministry leaders, all royalties should be returned to the ministry to be used for the ministry’s designated, charitable purpose.
• Hinn is in a position to exercise not just substantial influence over the affairs of the organization, but total control. He is pastor, president, and chairman for life, he appoints the vice president (who is also a board member), Hinn picked the board, and he can suspend any board member.
According to a June article in The Dallas Morning News, shortly after Hinn announced his move to Texas, he said God had told him to build a "World Healing Center," and Hinn appealed for money. As much as $30 million was collected, but the center was never built. In April 2000, he told Trinity Broadcasting Network's Paul Crouch, "I'm putting all the money we have in the ministry to get out there and preach. The day (to build the healing center) will come. I'm in no hurry; neither is God."
Also about April
2000, Hinn's ministry began building a 58,000square-foot office building in
The Associated Press reported recently But while others like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker and Robert Tilton have fallen from grace over the past two decades, Hinn plows ahead, relentlessly seeking souls and money.
Like some colleagues, he embraces his worldwide followers who say he has cured them, like heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, who has credited Hinn with correcting his heart problem.
For the most part, he brushes off scrutiny, though not always gracefully. He once wished aloud for a "Holy Ghost machine gun" to blow off the heads of his critics, who object to everything from his unverifiable healing claims to his perfectly coifed hair.
While Swaggart's and Bakker's high-flying ministries were leveled by sex scandals, and Tilton eventually was brought down by reports of false promises and a legal battle with his first wife, Hinn has tripped over no such obstacles.
Hinn has not joined the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a sort of Christian Better Business Bureau to which evangelists such as Billy Graham belong. The council assesses the financial integrity of Christian organizations that join it.
Nor has Hinn publicly acknowledged his salary, though he told CNN in 1997 that his yearly income including book royalties was somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million. A spokesman has said Hinn generates about $60 million a year in donations. Hinn’s revenue is below that of Billy Graham’s organization of $100 milion.
With an estimated total viewership of ten million, the money that TV preachers rake in by any reckoning, are immense. In his heyday Jimmy Swaggart was making close to US$140 million a year. The Bakkers were close behind with an estimated yearly income of US$130 million. Jerry Falwell netted, by his own reckoning, about US$60 million a year.
The money, which was meant for their ministry, went to maintain their extravagant lifestyles. Swaggart bought himself a US$ 1.5 million mansion. In his show of fatherly affection, he bought another mansion, worth US$700,000 for his son, Donnie with money loaned by his ministry. The Bakkers had bought mansions and luxury cars, even the doghouse was air-conditioned.
WILLIAM LOBDELL, Times Staff Writer in an article titled “For Critics of Extravagant Faith Healer Benny Hinn, the Good Book Isn't Enough. They Want His Ministry to Be an Open Book.” Los Angeles Times Magazine, July 27, 2003 wrote:
In an attempt to clear up
his image, Hinn suggests meeting a Times reporter at the Four Seasons hotel in
"I'll tell you this," Hinn says, a likable guy who is bewildered that he could generate so much hostility. "I'm an open book. I think it's time for me to just say, 'Let me give you the blunt truth.' "
That's easier said than done. First, Hinn declines to divulge his salary. (He told CNN in 1997 that he earns between $500,000 and $1 million annually, including book royalties.) "Look, any amount I make, somebody's going to be mad," he says.
He offers to make available his ministry's general financial picture, along with access to his accountant—both unprecedented. "When it comes to the income of the ministry, I have no problem talking about it or what happens to the money," Hinn says. "We believe our partners are entitled to know what happens to their money." But two weeks later, he backtracks, saying his board won't allow it.
The pastor also promises to expand the ministry's three-member board—the guardians of the nonprofit—and to reveal their names. If they don't like the exposure, Hinn says, they can resign. Several months later, a Hinn spokesman says the board was expanded to five members, but the names will remain secret "for the board members' security."
But just before this story
went to press, Hinn and his board changed their minds and had their public
relations consultant provide the names. The board veterans are Hinn; Bill Swad,
described as an Ohio businessman who authors books such as "Don't Let
Satan Steal Your Harvest"; and Steve Brock, a pastor and featured soloist
for the Miracle Crusades. New members, according to the ministry, are Bob
Inello, a businessman from
Hinn does reveal that the $89 million taken in by his church in 2002 is a record for his Grapevine, Texas-based ministry, which has experienced double-digit growth during the past three years through direct-mail requests, viewer donations and offerings taken at the Miracle Crusades. By comparison, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. had revenues of $96.6 million in 2001, the last year available.
The hands of faith healer Benny Hinn—tools of a televangelist recognized around the world—are slim, almost feminine. The fingers are delicate, nails manicured and polished. A gold wedding band, so wide it covers the bottom of his left ring finger from knuckle to knuckle like a piece of copper pipe, bears the insignia of his church. The dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, sparkles with a cluster of diamonds.
These small, soft hands could be one of two things: anointed by God to heal the sick, or props in a televangelist money-making scheme that preys on the vulnerable. Shades of gray aren't a part of the Benny Hinn story.
Financially, at least, he's
the world's most successful faith healer, having received $89 million in
donations last year, according to officials with his ministry,
From his broadcast center
Hinn's disclosure in an
interview that his ministry generated $160 million in revenue the past two
years is a gold nugget of data that Christian watchdogs have been trying to get
at for years. The Trinity Foundation, a nonprofit Christian watchdog group in
"He promised me 10 years ago that his personal and ministry finances would be an open book," says Ole Anthony, president of the Trinity Foundation, dismissing Hinn's latest vow for more candor. "Hinn's incredible wealth and lifestyle does more harm to Christianity than all of his preaching."
The Whites, who came to Tampa 13 years ago, say they sometimes worried they wouldn't have rent money after they started their church in 1991.
Last year, they claimed a combined income of $600,000. Of that, $179,000 is Randy White's annual salary from Without Walls, a church that claims 15,000 members and brings in $10 million yearly in revenues. Co-pastor Paula White, who is gaining international acclaim as a televangelist and speaker, is paid $120,000. They also receive an $80,000 housing allowance from the church.
The Whites did not reveal whether they had borrowed funds from their ministry to purchase their home as many TV evangelists have done including Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart.
Roberts' two California homes, partly for security reasons, have not been discussed much by the ministry. His house in Palm Springs, purchased for $285,000 and financed by a Tulsa bank, was his only privately owned home. In 1982 ORU endowment funds were used to purchase a $2,400,000 house in a high-security development in Beverly Hills. Considered a potentially profitable investment, the house served as Oral's West Coast office and residence.
Wall Watchers tax expert Rod Pitzer says
federal law requires that any compensation — salary and perks, including
housing for ministers — must be reasonable. "Reasonable" means that
the benefits to Evangelist Joyce Meyer and her family roughly equal what other
ministers in the
Jeffrey K. Hadden and Charles E. Swann in their book Prime Time Preachers stated: Billy Graham was embarrassed in 1977 when the Charlotte Observer discovered an undisclosed $23-million fund in Texas, apparently not mentioned in the accountings of the Minneapolis headquarters of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. As a result Graham's business manager led the formation of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability after Graham said on a national telecast, ". . . there are some charlatans coming along and the public ought to be informed about them and warned against them."
Christian News Today reported that Franklin Graham wears jeans, boots, denim shirt, and leather jacket. He was a teen rebel who drank, smoked, fought, and led police on high-speed chases. He was kicked out of LeTourneau College. He used to be a rebel and a 'bum' got religion and become more sophisticated and formed "the Samaritan's Purse' so that he can fly around the country and charge things to his non-profit corporation. As a result his ministry, Samaritan's Purse, had a run-in with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The ECFA suspended Samaritan's Purse while it looked into Franklin's (Graham) compensation and use of the company plane.
Billy Graham has been accused of the following unethical deeds
· taking 100 % salary at 83 years of age and working less than 25 percent
· being a friend of Nixon and a bigot against the Jews
· writing a letter to Nixon to bomb the dykes of North Vietnam
· stating that he is unsure that heaven is a right place for him
· unconditional support of Clinton and his forgiveness of Clinton
· using a Ghost writer to write his books
· forming ECFA to protect his interests and cook the books
· supporting a son, Ned, who was a drunk, adulterer, immoral and had no integrity
· giving his ministry to Franklin who is as deceitful as his father and a bum and a thief
Although Billy Graham encourages religious leaders to be open about their salaries and publish their finances none of the Grahams reveal their total compensation nor release their personal income tax as President Bush does and former President Clinton has done. It's the law of the land that all non-profit chairmen of corporations must reveal their total salary and that Billy, Ned and Franklin do not speak volumes of their hypocrisy.
The Associated Baptist Press - www.abpnews.com on April 3, 2001 also reported that "About half of Baptist organizations contacted by the independent newspaper Baptists Today would not disclose salary information for their top executive. Three Southern Baptist Convention entities said policies allowed them to release only salary ranges.
Presidents Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Kenneth Hemphill of Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, declined to provide any information on compensation. New Orleans Seminary did not return numerous phone calls regarding the salary of President Charles Kelley. However, the IRS requires all colleges and universities to report the salaries of the top five paid staff members, Brumley explained."
The fact remains that multi-million dollars Family run Evangelistic Ministries in America be it the Hinn's of Orlando, the Straders of Lakeland, the Howard-Browne's of Tampa, the Falwells of Lynchburg, the Brights of Orlando, the Robertson's of Norkfolk, the Roberts of Tulsa, the Copelands of Forth Worth, and the Graham's of Minneapolis are notorious for hiding their total salaries and those of their family members and special friends in their indirect personally owned non- profit religious corporation while they live in palatial palaces like kings and royalty.
Unlike Jesus Christ who owned nothing, Televangelists Jan and Paul Crouch who lost their tax exemption for their Trinity Broadcasting Network are definitely not lacking in any material possession. Their home is described as "a palatial estate with ocean and city views and was purchased for around five million dollars. It has six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a billiard room, a climate-controlled wine cellar, a sweeping staircase and a crystal chandelier. The three-story, nearly 9,500-square-foot house, has an elevator, also has a six-car garage, a tennis court and a pool with a fountain.
Trinity Broadcasting, established in 1973, has more than 768 TV stations on the air worldwide. The Crouches oversee a $100-million-plus-a-year enterprise. One of the Crouch estates is TBN's ranch in Colleyville, TX, just minutes away from the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The 80-plus acre ranch contains eight houses and horse stables, is estimated to be worth about $10 million.
Mind you President Clinton did release his total salary and his personal income tax to the public while Evangelist Billy and Franklin Graham, Jimmy Swaggart, and Benny Hinn do not. But adulterous and lying Bill Clinton seems to have more integrity and accountability than Southern Baptist Evangelists do in this area?
On March 21, 1997 on TBN live, Benny Hinn said, "THE DEVIL CANNOT TOUCH YOU IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN." This is a demon lie. Millions of people viewed that program throughout the world, and they were told a lie. Benny believes it. The devil does not believe it. We certainly do not believe it. No wonder so many "Christians" are DESTROYED FOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE.
On March 16, 1997, CNN "IMPACT" had a profile of Benny Hinn and his ministry. What was revealed were FACTS, and was very negative. Some of the things THEY DISCLOSED were.
His ministry operates in a "veil of secrecy" as it will not disclose the financial status.
Benny Hinn's salary was $500,000.00 a year, not counting benefits, which are many. Ask yourself what YOU would do with that much money a year.
He lives in a $650,000 home in a guarded development.
CNN reported on one of Hinn's trips HIS hotel room was $2,200.00 a night.
One of Hinn's former body guards was going to go public about Hinn's ministry and the money flow. The guard was paid $103,000.00 to keep quiet. He did.
Hinn's ministry receives 15,000 to 18,000 pieces of mail a WEEK. Think there may be money in some of those envelopes? They have "forty people working 40 shifts" to handle all the mail.
Hinn's ministry intake increased 50% since 1995.
Hinn talks and acts like deceased Kathryn Kuhlman. "The only difference between the two is she wore a white dress, and he wears a white suite".
When asked why he had to drive such an expensive car, Hinn said, "what do you want me to drive, a Honda?"
On the CNN Impact Sunday Show of March 16, 1997 when questioned by CNN. Evangelist Benny Hinn had failed to provide for six months to CNN the promised financial statements of his ministry.
Benny Hinn admitted that he made more money than the President of United States around $ 500,000 to $ 1,000,000. Personal profit which came to him as a result of love offerings, tithes and financial support given by the public and for which he and his friends refuse to give financial accountability while they hold others accountable for their spiritual state.
Now If Benny Hinn wants to make a million dollars a year honestly, let him resign from the ministry and go to the private sector and do it. He and others are not entitled to make money from inside trading and complicity from their positions in the ministries.
If Benny wants to become a book writer and make money from his books let him leave the ministry and become a private individual. There is no justification under heaven and before God in becoming rich off the gifts and love offerings of God's people.
Subjet: False Ministers or Prophets
Dear Evangelist Benny Hinn
This week on your TV show you gave ten ways to spot false ministers or prophets:
things or do things in secret. (They don't reveal their salaries)
2) Handle the word of God deceitfully to build themselves up. (They don't raise money for souls)
3) Look on outward appearance not the heart
4) They commend or promote themselves
5) They are always competing with others
6) They are greedy for income for themselves
7) They seek a higher position for themselves like Korah (Numbers 16)
8) They pose as righteous ministers
9) They seek personal glory
10) They are boastful and self exalting
So do not to be a hypocrite and do things in secret but as a CEO of a nonprofit religious organization please reveal your total salary or compensation including perks and all?
Also why do
you support Senior Pastor Karl Strader of Carpenter's Home church who helped his
son to rob and rape sheep?