Why Some Churches Should Lose Their Tax Exempt Status
The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been perverted on many fronts by pastors who have enacted principles of mega-church entrepreneurship that have turned Christianity into a multi-billion dollar business rather than fulfilling the mission of reaching out to a hurting world.
Nearly 20 years ago, Christian apologist Hank Hanegraaf warned of this dynamic in his book appropriately entitled Christianity in Crisis. The book chronicled the dangers of mega church pastors like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Jesse Duplantis, and many others who were leading people astray with a gospel of health and wealth.
A few years ago, Hanegraaf released a follow-up book entitled Christianity in Crisis: The 21st Century dealing with the modern day promoters of the feel good health and wealth message like Joyce Meyer, John Hagee, Td Jakes, Creflo Dollar, and Joel Osteen just to name a few. Because of this grand travesty of justice, I would fully support any law that would strip many if not all churches of their tax-exempt status.
In the New Testament, Paul warned Timothy (I Timothy 6:5) of those preachers who promoted the errant idea that godliness is a means for financial gain. Yet today, if we turn on our television screens we see many ministers who seem to be teaching that exact message. Is it any wonder that much of the world is turned off to the Christian faith after seeing such nonsense at work?
It is sad but probably true that anyone who truly wanted to make a fortune could easily convert to Christianity and start a new church promising health and wealth returned tenfold to all those who sent money their way. Such a perversion of the gospel is often seen when one watches the Trinity Broadcasting Network or the Inspiration Network especially when they are right in the midst of their fundraising drives, many of which they promise a ten times anointing being bestowed upon those who agree to give. Where does the money from such fund drives go?
There are more than a few examples of the injustices that are occurring under the guise of Christianity. In 2009, Inspiration Network CEO David Cerullo purchased a $4 million mansion in the Western South Carolina area all the while he had to lay off some employees to keep the network functioning. In July 2010, Joel Osteen purchased a $10.5 million house not far from his church in Houston. 10 years ago, NBC Dateline ran a story about Benny Hinn's multi-million dollar California beach house.
There are but many more stories to tell. However, to paraphrase the end of John's Gospel, if we were to give account of all the mega-church ministers who live a life of luxury with the funds they solicit from their unsuspecting audiences, there would not be enough room in the world for all the books that would be written.
With that said, I am all for action to be taken so that we can cut some pages out of that book until we eliminate it once and for all so that never again will the American people have to be subjected to the false gospel which promotes health and prosperity instead of giving people a cup of the Water of Life that is only found in a genuine experience with Christ.
Not only should multi-million dollar mega-churches have their tax-exempt status forever removed, they should also be required to give an account of how every dollar they collect is spent so that we can forever end the voodoo-like get-rich scheme that is being executed under the banner of the Christian faith.