Congressman says two TV evangelists make internal reforms in wake of questions

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, says Joyce Meyer Ministries and Benny Hinn's World Healing Center are making internal reforms in the wake of his financial inquiry.

Oklahoman/July 16, 2011

Washington - Joyce Meyer Ministries is undertaking internal reforms in the wake of a congressional inquiry into its finances, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday.

The extent of the changes is unclear. Grassley's staff declined to elaborate.

And Roby Walker, a spokesman for the Missouri-based Joyce Meyer Ministries, founded by popular TV evangelist Joyce Meyer, said the specifics were being worked out.

The action comes nearly a year after Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, launched an inquiry into six ministries including Meyer's.

Grassley said at the time that he was disturbed by reports about preachers living lavishly while their tax-exempt churches escaped scrutiny. The Finance Committee oversees tax laws and the IRS.

Grassley said Monday that Joyce Meyer Ministries and one other ministry, Texas-based Benny Hinn's World Healing Center Church, had been very cooperative with his inquiry and were taking internal steps to address concerns about their financial dealings.

The two ministries have engaged in "open and honest dialogue" with the committee staff, Grassley said in a statement. "Both Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn have indicated that they are also instituting reforms without waiting for the committee to complete its review," he said.

Four other ministries have declined to cooperate or have provided incomplete information, Grassley said. Those are Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church; Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church; Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries; and Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International.

Although Grassley's inquiry is ongoing, his office released some initial findings Monday.

For example, the committee staff has found there are almost 100 entities related to the six churches and their respective ministers. It's unclear whether the entities are for-profit or nonprofit and whether they provide some financial benefit to the churches, Grassley's staff said.

Grassley's staff also said some ministries might be involved in intimidating potential whistle-blowers by reminding employees about confidentiality agreements and threatening them with lawsuits if those are breached.

Jill Gerber, a Grassley spokeswoman, declined to say which ministries were involved in such activity, noting that the investigation is ongoing.

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