PDA

View Full Version : Faith-healer Benny Hinn's tax exemption under review



savafan
08-15-2005, 12:34 PM
http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/local/states/texas/northeast/12375663.htm

By Darren Barbee

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

The tax-exempt status of faith healer Benny Hinn's $6.5 million world headquarters in Grapevine is being examined by the Tarrant Appraisal District after a televangelist watchdog group this week questioned whether the property should be considered a church.

The review of the property at 3400 William D. Tate Ave., triggered by a request of the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, is considered somewhat unusual, appraisal district officials said. But any request for a review is investigated as a matter of policy.

The ministry's 58,000-square-foot facility, with 235 employees, passed muster with the district in July 2003, when it was granted a property-tax exemption, according to the ministry and appraisal district documents.

Hinn is known for worldwide crusades in which believers are promised miracle healings. But Trinity contends that the ministry hides its spending from donors and uses donations to provide Hinn with a multimillion-dollar California parsonage and a seven-figure salary.

Ministry spokesman Ronn Torossian said that the Grapevine facility meets all requirements for its tax exemption and that the organization spends all of its money on spreading the gospel and providing for the needy. He lashed out at Trinity President Ole Anthony, calling him and his organization anti-Christian and anti-religious.

"They are on their crusade ... to harm Christianity, to harm religion," Torossian said in a telephone interview from New York. "And we find no credence in anything they say or do."

Anthony said that Trinity, a nonprofit religious organization, brought the matter to the district's attention because he wants to bring "integrity to the body of Christ."

But Anthony also said he opposes ministers "becoming fabulously wealthy on the backs of God's people."

The Grapevine building is used to handle the mail and phone calls of Hinn's ministry, according to Anthony and appraisal district documents. In a Wednesday letter, Anthony asked chief appraiser John Marshall to re-evaluate the gated property, in part because no public worship services are held there and only those with access cards or permission are allowed entry.

"Designating this organization as a church would be tantamount to naming Interstate Batteries, General Motors, the Dallas Cowboys and other for-profit corporations as churches because they hold periodic Bible studies on their premises," Anthony wrote.

Vinita Tribble, the district's support services director, was part of a team that initially examined the property for tax-exempt status.

"What we're doing at this time is re-examining the evidence that we have," Tribble said. She said the district has an obligation to investigate any allegations that an exemption was granted in error.

"It will stay under continual review as the situation develops," she said.

By law, a religious property-tax exemption may be granted if a property is regularly used as a place of worship, she said. That can mean anything from individual meditation to a group ceremony to religious education.

The district approved the ministry's 2003 request for an exemption only after asking for several documents, including the ministry's bylaws and its authorization from the secretary of state to do business in Texas. District officials also asked for a detailed explanation of how the property is used primarily as a place of regular religious worship.

In April 2003, the ministry responded that:

All employees are Christians and have "some form of organized worship, fellowship, prayer and biblical study at the Grapevine property on almost every business day."

The property has a sanctuary devoted to religious worship.

Call-center operators pray with callers and take tithes and offerings.

In addition, Tribble said, the property was granted a certificate of occupancy from Grapevine that described the facility as a church.

"The evidence that I was provided with the application was sufficient ... to bring it within the property-tax exemption statute," she said.

The ministry's attorneys acknowledged to the district that the building does not offer public worship services. And in 2000, a ministry spokesman told the Star-Telegram that the building would be "a traditional corporate office facility. ... There will be no facilities to accommodate the general public."

But not every inch of a property must be devoted to worship to qualify as a church, Torossian said.

"Our underlying religious purpose at our property in Grapevine is that of a church religious organization with religious beliefs and religious services, which are performed," he said.

CrackerJack
08-15-2005, 12:47 PM
If Jesus were alive today he'd burn that place down, and I'd be right behind him. :)

westofyou
08-15-2005, 12:57 PM
If Jesus were alive today he'd burn that place down, and I'd be right behind him. :)

Jesus was a Capricorn, he ate organic foods.
He believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes.
Long hair, beard and sandals and a funky bunch of friends.

Johnny Footstool
08-15-2005, 01:01 PM
I saw an episode of Benny Hinn in which he asked a lady to tell him what was wrong with her. She started telling this long, drawn-out story about how she was in a car wreck and hurt her leg, and it prevented her from working, so she lost her insurance, and blah blah blah. In the middle of the story, Benny grabbed her face, pulled her about two inches from his own face, and whispered into the microphone, "The Power of God is here!"

What a great way to shut someone up.

zombie-a-go-go
08-15-2005, 01:08 PM
Call-center operators pray with callers and take tithes and offerings.

So... it's like religious phone-sex.

Awesome. :evil:

princeton
08-15-2005, 02:43 PM
personally, I've always thought that medical students should be required to take four extra years of faith healing. Equal time.

traderumor
08-15-2005, 03:22 PM
Too bad the writer couldn't have inserted quotation marks each time he mentioned "ministry." It is a lucrative gig, those moneychangers and animal sacrifice sellers weren't in business because they really cared about helping people, after all. Same principal applies here. At least investigative reporters haven't dug up bags of trashed prayer requests from a dumpster behind the "ministry" building (yet :evil: ) like they did with one of Benny's peers, Robert Tilton, who makes Benny Hinn almost look legit.

registerthis
08-15-2005, 04:15 PM
Too bad the writer couldn't have inserted quotation marks each time he mentioned "ministry." It is a lucrative gig, those moneychangers and animal sacrifice sellers weren't in business because they really cared about helping people, after all. Same principal applies here. At least investigative reporters haven't dug up bags of trashed prayer requests from a dumpster behind the "ministry" building (yet :evil: ) like they did with one of Benny's peers, Robert Tilton, who makes Benny Hinn almost look legit.
Oooh, I remember that.

My BS detector goes off the charts whenever I see one of those faith healers mucking about.

Here's a question though: why do faith healers need to see doctors (http://www.mykeru.com/old_pages/pats_prostate.htm)?

traderumor
08-15-2005, 04:52 PM
Oooh, I remember that.

My BS detector goes off the charts whenever I see one of those faith healers mucking about.

Here's a question though: why do faith healers need to see doctors (http://www.mykeru.com/old_pages/pats_prostate.htm)?I always get a little snicker when the World Harvest Christian school (for those familiar with Rod Parsley's fine "ministry") has to shut down for a flu outbreak. Poor little children just didn't have enough faith and the demon of influenza attacked them. :evil: Or maybe it was their sinning parents who brought it on ;)

registerthis
08-15-2005, 05:30 PM
I always get a little snicker when the World Harvest Christian school (for those familiar with Rod Parsley's fine "ministry") has to shut down for a flu outbreak. Poor little children just didn't have enough faith and the demon of influenza attacked them. :evil: Or maybe it was their sinning parents who brought it on ;)
I have relatives from the SW Missouri area, and I was chatting with a guy in a mall there once, and he asked where I was from. "Columbus, Ohio" I said. "Oh, yeah, that's where Rod Parsley's at, isn't it?" the guy said.

Great, I thought. This is what we're known for. :rolleyes:

LincolnparkRed
08-15-2005, 06:05 PM
I actually audited one of these "faith centers" they were barely scrapping by on their financials but the youth director had an mercedes SUV and the preachers wife was buying $500 suits at Neiman Marcus and yes the youth director was the son of the head pastor.

BoydsOfSummer
08-15-2005, 07:03 PM
My dad is a retired minister. Best car he ever drove was a Bonneville. And he is a helluva better preacher than those ass-clowns...lol

alex trevino
08-15-2005, 07:30 PM
They should yank the tax emptions for all churchs. The lord will provide.

registerthis
08-16-2005, 12:16 PM
They should yank the tax emptions for all churchs. The lord will provide.
Some "churches" could certainly stand to have their tax-exempt status removed. But there are also a very good number of churches that truly DO benefit the community they exist in.

Calling Benny Hinn's headquarters a "church" is like calling Cristian Guzman a "shortstop".

Redsfaithful
08-16-2005, 12:44 PM
Some "churches" could certainly stand to have their tax-exempt status removed. But there are also a very good number of churches that truly DO benefit the community they exist in.

It's not even about whether churches are beneficial or not, in my opinion. If the government collected taxes from churches then it would become really easy for the government to show favoritism towards certain religions or denominations, or even to try to push some churches out of existence.

traderumor
08-16-2005, 12:50 PM
This is a huge precedent that would be set that I could see being far reaching for any tax-exempt parachurch organization. What do you do with Focus on the Family (who should lose theirs with the political pandering they do, but that's another story, I guess), Family Research Council, etc.?

registerthis
08-16-2005, 12:51 PM
It's not even about whether churches are beneficial or not, in my opinion. If the government collected taxes from churches then it would become really easy for the government to show favoritism towards certain religions or denominations, or even to try to push some churches out of existence.
Well that's true as well, good point. I was thinking more in terms of Hinn's church losing it because they rip people off.

traderumor
08-16-2005, 12:57 PM
It's not even about whether churches are beneficial or not, in my opinion. If the government collected taxes from churches then it would become really easy for the government to show favoritism towards certain religions or denominations, or even to try to push some churches out of existence.How so?

Redsfaithful
08-16-2005, 02:08 PM
How so?

Taxes aren't just used to raise revenue. They're also used to try to push people in certain directions. If a government wants more small businesses to be created then they try to make the tax code more favorable to small businesses. If a government wants to push marriage, then they give tax benefits. And on and on.

There are plenty of ways a government could create taxes that would only hit certain churches. Perhaps a tax that hits churches with a certain membership size. I don't know, it's all theoretical since government tries not to meddle with churches as much as possible, but there's a definite reason why churches aren't taxed that goes beyond the perceived benefits to the community of having religious institutions.

GAC
08-16-2005, 10:05 PM
Some "churches" could certainly stand to have their tax-exempt status removed. But there are also a very good number of churches that truly DO benefit the community they exist in.

Calling Benny Hinn's headquarters a "church" is like calling Cristian Guzman a "shortstop".

Thank you Ben. You're exactly right. I've been involved with various local ministries/churches for close to 20 years. I wish those that like to use cases/situations like this (involving these high profile tele-evangelists) to somehow make generalized denunciations of Christians as a whole in this country, would sometimes focus their magnifying glasses on the tens of thousands of local ministries that aren't high profile and whose members give alot of self-sacrifice in helping within those communities.

Last winter, this region of Ohio was hit with one of the worst ice storms ever. It was a disaster. Several counties and an awful lot of cities were without power for several days,a nd when temperatures were close to zero. The local secular governments provided zilch in aid/support. It's not that they didn't want to; but because they didn't have the resources to help so many. Where I live (Bellefontaine) was one of the worst. I even posted pics on here last winter when it happened. It was all the local churches whose members banded together, opened the doors of the churches, brought in generators, set up beds, and provided food and clothing to anyone in need.

And where did the money come from to do that?.... their own pockets. ;)

GAC
08-16-2005, 10:27 PM
There are plenty of ways a government could create taxes that would only hit certain churches.

I'm sure they could. That is one thing the government is very good at - creating taxes. But your local church is not a small business (as some would define a small business). They are not a for profit organization, where they are manufacturing/selling a product, nor hire employees (except for a pastoral family). Most who work within your local church (elders, secretaries, etc) do so freely.

And the money that members freely give to maintain their church has already been taxed.

What would be the function/purpose of such a trumped up tax? Most churches are already on very limited/strict budgets. Most churches are very responsible with the monies they due generate, and it not only goes to manintaining the church, but also pay the pastoral family (most elders do not get salaries), and is used to aid the community where it can.

The church does far better to get the most of it's dollar then the federal government does. Why? Because they have to. They don't have an endless supply of tax dollars to draw from.

The fact is - most of your major denominations are members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) which requires financial accountability. It's those churches that refuse such membership that I would be somewhat skeptical of. But that still does not justify/warrant government interference where they do not belong.

There is still a thing called separation of church and state...remember? ;)

You don't want church interference on government - and it should be likewise with government interference in church.

Redsfaithful
08-16-2005, 10:53 PM
There is still a thing called separation of church and state...remember?

Yeah, I was advocating for it. I'm not sure you got that, but I could be wrong.

GAC
08-17-2005, 09:32 AM
Would like to see where you specifically did so.

Ben and traderumor...

You mentioned such ministries as Rod Parsley's World Harvest Church. I totally agree.

Have you guys ever really examined their theology? Ministries such as Hinn's, Parsley's, and others (Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Fredrick Price) all got their start from the ministry/teachings of one Kenneth Hagin out of Tulsa. Believe me when I say that over the years I've done tons of research on this theology. I have tons of books by, and on, them.

Their whole theology is based on the teaching that just as God created natural laws, He also set into motion certain spiritual laws. And the way one brings these laws into their own reality is via positive confession. In other words, you believe it in your heart, then speak it forth into existence. Hagin call's it a "God-kind of faith" because after all, God spoke/called the universe into existence. And his creation is to operate within that same spiritual realm. It's how one appropriates perfect health and wealth.

Sadly enough though- the only one's I ever see accumulating any wealth are the evangelists. ;)

But these ministries really took off in the 70's and 80's. I personally believe it was because they "molded" their teaching/ministries to fit the overt capitalism/materialism of the American culture. Who wouldn't folllow a church that promises them, while asking for very little in return (except a full tithe)? ;)

And all of them have had bouts with various sickness in their lives - their excuse? They were operating in ignorance of those spiritual laws and a lack of faith.

I firmly believe in the anointing of oil and laying on of hands, along with prayer of the elders, when one is ill. But in the end- the final decision is up to God.

But it's sad because ministies like these, because they are so high-profile, give the evangelical church a bad name/rep due to some of their antics. Tilton was the worst. I wonder what ever happened to him? These ministries only make up a very small/minute percentage of evangelicals in this country.

registerthis
08-17-2005, 10:56 AM
But it's sad because ministies like these, because they are so high-profile, give the evangelical church a bad name/rep due to some of their antics. Tilton was the worst. I wonder what ever happened to him? These ministries only make up a very small/minute percentage of evangelicals in this country.
Looking at it another way, I've always viewed these type of ministries as "blasphemous" to the highest degree--what these people do is under the name of God, but really "God" plays a very small role in the whole affair, meanwhile guys like Hinn get rich off the backs of the elderly, poor and gullible. When people pray, it is generally that God's will be that the person get better...that part always seems to get left out of the "healing process" that the faith healers espouse.

What's also somewhat surprising to me is that the ministries continue to be as popular as they are, seeing as how "faith healers" have been thoroughly discredited and debunked. But, in the end, people believe what they want to believe, I suppose.

savafan
08-17-2005, 01:25 PM
I've always had a bit of a conflict with Bishop T.D. Jakes. I love his style of preaching, and agree a lot with what he says and writes. But then, I see him wearing $6000 suits, riding around in limosines and having bodyguards...all of which makes me question his real motivation.

registerthis
08-17-2005, 01:33 PM
I've always had a bit of a conflict with Bishop T.D. Jakes. I love his style of preaching, and agree a lot with what he says and writes. But then, I see him wearing $6000 suits, riding around in limosines and having bodyguards...all of which makes me question his real motivation.
I question how you can develop any meaningful relationships in a church that has 20,000 attendees every week. Though i guess you don't go looking for relationships when you do that, but still...part of the reason I continue to attend the church in my area is because of the relationships/friendships I have developed with people there. I think that woul dbe almost impossible in a church the size of Jakes's.

Redsfaithful
08-17-2005, 02:43 PM
Would like to see where you specifically did so.

Read my first post in the thread. I was responding to alex trevino. If you still don't get it, then there's nothing I can really do for you.