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Kenneth Copeland "Ministries" Lies Again

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Kenneth Copeland “Ministries” Lies Again

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On Friday, January 7th, 2011, Kenneth Copeland “Ministries” (KCM) posted its response to the January 6th, 2011 press release issued by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Of course, none of the advocates of  KennethCopelandBlog.com will be surprised to learn that KCM’s statement is quite far from the truth.

In fact, it is a bold-faced lie…as we will now document on this website once again.

Entitled with a very misleading, “Grassley Investigation Has Officially Ended,” KCM’s announcement begins as follows:

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January 7, 2011

Dear Partners and Friends,

KCM and your BSU team are very happy to share with you important news out of Washington today. The Grassley investigation targeting six faith ministries that began in 2007 has officially ended.

Sen Grassley’s office stated that there were no findings of wrong doing within Kenneth Copeland Ministries and therefore no penalties were levied against KCM…

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If you would like to read their entire statement, simply click on the following image:

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KCM News Concerning Grassley Investigation, dated January 07, 2011

(Click to enlarge)

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The KCM statement above was signed as being written by Stephen and Kellie Swisher. Kellie, of course, is Kenneth’s only daughter through his third wife, Gloria. (Terri Pearsons being conceived by Kenneth’s first wife.) In case you are confused, Stephen is Kellie’s third husband. If you are even more confused now, then read our KennethCopelandBlog.com post, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland: The Untold Story. That should straighten out the family connections for you (or confuse you even more).

Now back to their lying announcement…

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Nothing Has “Ended”

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First, Senator Grassley’s actual press release did NOT say that the investigation is “ended.” Rather, his release states (emphasis mine):

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Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, today released a staff review of the activities and practices of six media-based ministries and reports concerning other churches and religious organizations referred to the committee. He pursued this review as part of an ongoing effort to strengthen the tax-exempt sector. The review contains a summary of findings and identifies key issues for discussion by stakeholders.

“The tax-exempt sector is so big that from time to time, certain practices draw public concern,” Grassley said. “My goal is to help improve accountability and good governance so tax-exempt groups maintain public confidence in their operations.

…Grassley has formally asked the ECFA to consider the issues raised by staff and spearhead a discussion about how to address those issues….

“The challenge is to encourage good governance and best practices and so preserve confidence in the tax-exempt sector without imposing regulations that inhibit religious freedom or are functionally ineffective,” Grassley said. “I look forward to working with the ECFA and other organizations in a productive way.”…

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In other words, Senator Grassley’s office, and the Senate Finance Committee in general, publicly released their findings to date. They are planning to continue their efforts to “improve accountability and good governance” of tax-exempt groups, and are going to (at least initially) turn to some of the more respectable organizations for dialogue. More than likely, they are going to also consider changes to tax-exempt organizations law (which the SFC attachments discussed).

In short, their efforts are continuing, though their tactics have turned another direction than what most people had expected.

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Big Lies, Because Stupidity is Assumed

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However, Stephen and Kellie seemed to be either very ignorant of this fact, or they think we are very stupid. Personally, I think it is the latter because they proceeded to write, “Sen Grassley’s office stated that there were no findings of wrong doing within Kenneth Copeland Ministries and therefore no penalties were levied against KCM.”

Oh, really? Is that what the Senator’s staff “stated” to the public?

Well, let’s take a look at a few excerpts from the actual Staff report about EMIC/KCM and see if that is true. In reviewing their findings about Kenneth Copeland “Ministries” and Eagle Mountain International “Church” (EMIC), let us start on page 2 of their report (emphasis mine):

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EMIC/KCM’s response to the Committee and its public statements made it clear that EMIC/KCM did not intend to cooperate with the Committee’s request and provided the missing responses. As a result, Committee staff attempted to secure the requested information from public records and third parties. In this process, staff learned that EMIC/KCM used to strong tactics to prevent former employees from speaking about the organizations, even to Committee staff.

Several former employees of EMIC/KCM indicated that EMIC/KCM used intimidation in an attempt to keep informants from speaking to the Committee. Former employees were sincerely afraid to provide statements for fear of being sued since they signed confidentiality agreements. Employees were contacted by EMIC/KCM attorneys after the initiation of the Committee investigation and reminded that they signed a confidentiality agreement agreeing not to disclose any information concerning EMIC/KCM. One former employee stated the following, “The Copelands employ guerrilla tactics to keep their employees silent. We are flat out told and threatened that if we talk, God will blight our finances, strike our families down, and pretty much afflict us with everything evil and unholy. Rather, God will allow Satan to do those things to us because we have stepped out from under His umbrella of protection, by “touching God‟s anointed Prophet”. Further, employees are encouraged to shun and treat badly anyone who dares speak out.”…

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Boy! The way the SFC staff wrote that analysis, it sure seems like they thought there was “no wrong doing” on the part of KCM, doesn’t it? In the minds of KCM and the Copeland family (it would seem), it appears that they think that Grassley’s people actually thought that they were being good citizens by intimidating people!

I think most people can understand just from the above statement that there is absolutely NO WAY that anyone could rightly conclude that the SFC staff had “stated” that KCM had done nothing wrong. So again, either Stephen and Kellie Copeland Ward Kutz Swisher did not bother to read Senator Grassley’s actual press release, or they just think we are stupid.

By the way, in case you want to know what Jesus thinks about the above intimidation tactics used by KCM to hide their “ministry” activities and evil information, consider this excerpt from the Gospel of John, chapter 3 (NKJV):

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For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

(The words of Jesus in red, as recorded in verses 16-21, emphasis mine)

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That is what the Bible says about such “fear mongering” tactics aimed at concealing the truth.

Oh, but that’s not all the SFC team found! Let us return to their findings about EMIC/KCM and see what else they had to say, this time from pages 3-4 (emphasis mine):

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Veto Power

According to the Amended and Restated Bylaws of Eagle Mountain International Church, Inc. Article 5, Section 21 filed with Tarrant County on July 30, 2007, “Kenneth Copeland, as Co-founder and ex officio member of the Board of Directors, shall in his sole discretion be empowered to veto any resolution of the Board which he the President shall determine is not in the best financial or operational interests of the Church…” In addition if the Board passes a resolution to remove one of the Directors or one of the officers, the resolution is not effective unless signed by Kenneth Copeland….

Accountability to Members

According to the EMIC bylaws, the Church “shall have no class of memberships entitled to vote.” In addition, Kenneth Copeland and his family members hold all the key positions in the Church. Kenneth Copeland is president, Gloria Copeland is vice-president, John Copeland is the chief executive officer and George Pearsons (Copeland‟s son-in-law) is the pastor of EMIC. This would mean that members of EMIC have no voting rights concerning any of the operational and financial matters of the Church….

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Since the SFC staff put that into their report, KCM seems to think that they approve of such dictatorial control of the ministry by Kenneth Copeland! However, the staff also had these excerpts to say, in their “Review of Media-Based Ministries” staff memo to Senator Grassley, dated January 6, 2011, pages 30-33 (emphasis mine):

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This lack of governmental, independent or denominational oversight is troubling when considering that churches can reach the size of large taxable corporations, control numerous taxable and non-taxable subsidiaries, and bestow Wall Street-size benefits on their ministers….

Changing the annual filing requirements to address these concerns poses significant challenges, including constitutional ones. Eliminating the church exception would most likely withstand constitutional scrutiny. However, such a requirement would unnecessarily burden the overwhelming majority of churches, particularly those that are already financially challenged….

We considered limiting the exception to churches that provided members with some voting rights…We also considered limiting the filing exception for those subject to denominational oversight or oversight by an independent third party, such as the ECFA.

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So in essence, the staff lawyers who prepared this report for the Senator, are recommending that he look into changing the law. The idea is to require MORE reporting by “independent churches” which grow large in size, and which bestow “Wall Street-size benefits on their ministers.” Their idea is to exempt churches that allow the members at least some bona fide voting rights (which excludes EMIC, does it not?) and perhaps those with accreditation from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)which Kenneth Copeland “Ministries” has never sought, much less obtained.

In other words, they want salary and other information to be officially REQUIRED by law of such money-sucking televangelists as the Copelands. Does that sound like they “approve” or have found “no wrong doing” at KCM/EMIC? Consider also this statement from the ECFA’s press release on this same subject (emphasis mine):

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…In response to Grassley’s request, ECFA has created the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations (www.ECFA.org/Commission). The commission will address some of the most challenging tax and policy issues involving religious organizations. They include: whether churches should file the same highly-detailed annual information return that other nonprofits must file (Form 990); whether legislation is needed to curb abuses of the clergy housing allowance exclusion; whether the current prohibition against political campaign intervention by churches and other nonprofits should be repealed or modified; and whether legislation is needed to clarify tax rules covering “love offerings” received by some clergy….

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So can we see that there is more here than what the Copeland family would like people to know? Can we all see here that KCM is putting a “spin” on this story that is simply NOT justified by the facts?

Without question, the Copeland family REALLY hopes you will not read the SFC reports in their entirety.

Sin, Sin, and Even More Financial Sin

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However, in case there is yet any doubt in the minds of some of my readers, let me just list out a few of the other findings within the EMIC/KCM report so we can see if there is any “wrong doing” there in the minds of the Senate Finance Committee’s staff, and within the mind of Senator Grassley himself (all emphasis mine, as well as the bracketed notes):

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In a video provided to the Committee, Kenneth Copeland is shown speaking at the Kenneth Copeland Ministries conference held in January of 2008. During this conference, he acknowledged several times that he personally is a billionaire. Kenneth Copeland also states that since the creation of the ministry over 41 years ago, over $1.3 billion was come into the ministry as of approximately two or three years before the date of the 2008 conference.

(Page 8 of this report)

In its response to the Committee, the Church acknowledged that it provides a parsonage to Kenneth and Gloria and a housing allowance to John but did not provide any further detail. However, insiders and the Trinity Foundation state that Kenneth and Gloria reside in a house in Tarrant County, Texas.

A review of the Tarrant County Appraisal District records indicates the following. An 18,280 square foot residence [which actually has a total of 25,000 sq. ft. under roof, according to my ministry sources] owned by EMIC was built in 1999. The house is situated on a lake on approximately 25 acres and receives tax-exempt status. As of tax year 2008, the property was valued at $6,249,000.

(Page 9, bracketed notes mine)

A draft letter dated in 2004 from to Kenneth and Gloria Copeland from their former attorney Dennis Brewer was included in the Trinity Foundation Religious Conversion report that was provided to the Committee. In the letter, Brewer expresses concern that KCM‟s compensation committee is made up of Board Members who make recommendations to themselves. He acknowledges that there is a “loophole” in the law that permits it but if “an IRS agent was doing an examination it would raise a large severe red flag.” The letter goes on to state that “KCM has taken great precautions to not have the necessity to file 990s and to keep compensation issues confidential so why take an unnecessary chance?” The inference can be made that the Church, at least prior to 2004, did not have a truly independent compensation committee independent of Kenneth Copeland‟s influence, his family and close friends.

(Page 11)

It has been reported to the Committee that Kenneth Copeland told friends that he [personally] receives 2% royalties “back in” as it relates to the oil and gas wells [which are actually on  church property, and thus, are not technically his to receive royalties on]. A back-in is an interest earned after the well pays back its cost to the working interest.

(Page 18, bracketed notes mine)

Several Church employees told the Committee that Church employees work for businesses operated by Gloria Copeland and John Copeland. Gloria’s business “Great Designs” was an interior design business that at one time had a separate phone line at the Church. Very few employees were privy to the existence of Great Designs. Those who had knowledge were instructed not to tell anyone about the business because Gloria Copeland could get in trouble as it was not part of the ministry and a for-profit.

El Rancho Fe was a for-profit horse ranch that was operated on ministry property by John Copeland. Ministry insiders stated that Church employees were used to process payroll checks for El Rancho Fe employees, to draft letters for El Rancho Fe, and to repair sheds and feeding troughs and perform other miscellaneous duties related to John Copeland‟s ranch. Church employees were also used to round up cattle and take them to winter pastures. Church employees were not questioned as to how much time they spent working for El Rancho Fe. Since there was no accounting to the Church for time employees worked at El Ranch Fe, it would have been impossible for the Church to have been adequately compensated, if it were compensated at all. An insider also stated that when they were conducting tours on behalf of EMIC/EMIC if any questions arose concerning the cattle and horses that were visible on the property they were told to say, “The owner of the land leases the land to the owner of the cows.” The ministry insider went on to say that there was so much cover up in order to keep people from asking a lot of questions.

(Pages 18-19)

A former ministry employee stated Gloria Copeland used a jet to fly to Naples, Florida, to go shopping. She would purchase clothing, sculptures and home furnishings. John Copeland and ministry employees, Craig Atnip, Steve Poteet and some others used a jet to take hunting trips. Kenneth Copeland used to travel back and forth to Arkansas to see a chiropractor and to visit his cabin there. The Copeland family also flew to Colorado to their home in Steamboat Springs from time to time.

(Page 19)

Possible Conversion of Other Assets

On the August 4, 2006, broadcast of Copeland‟s Believer‟s Voice of Victory, Copeland acknowledges that he has no utility bills and that he has his own electrical power plant that runs on the gas that comes from his own ground and that he owns water wells, a purification plant, and a sewage plant, all located on his [i.e. not the church's] property. Copeland goes on to say that if no money came into the ministry, he would not be in need because he has no debt. Since Copeland resides on land that belongs to EMIC/KCM, it is difficult to understand his claim that all of these debt-free assets belong to him and not the Church.

(pages 20-21, notes in brackets mine)

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Now did you catch that last paragraph above? The SFC investigation team are really perplexed how all these tax-free assets can belong to “the church” in order to obtain tax exempt status—and yet Kenneth Copeland still considers it all “his” property. It would seem that Kenneth Copeland “Ministries” is nothing more than Kenneth Copeland’s “tax sheltered assets and income” within his wolfish and greedy opinion. (And given the things contained within the other citations above, it would seem that Kenneth’s wolf pack—i.e. his wife and other family members—seem to all have the same attitude that he does about “ministry” property, money, and airplanes.)

I think it is safe to say that Stephen and Kellie Copeland Ward Kutz Swisher’s statement that, “Sen Grassley’s office stated that there were no findings of wrong doing within Kenneth Copeland Ministries” is a bold-faced lie.

Furthermore, their statement that “therefore no penalties were levied against KCM” is a red herring. In other words, it was not the Senate Finance Committee’s job nor intention to “levy penalties” against any of the televangelists. They just wanted some answers, and Kenneth Copeland “Ministries” refused to provide any (for fear of the probable consequences, of course).

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Our Conclusions?

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So the Senator has taken another route, and will eventually get the information he requires. Along the way, the tax-exempt laws will likely change significantly, and Kenneth Copeland “Ministries” and Eagle Mountain International “Church” will be without any more “fig leaves” behind which to hide their sin and wrongdoing (see Genesis chapter 3 in your Bible for the full impact of that metaphor).

Oh, there was so much within that press release from Senator Grassley, and especially within the downloads! Nevertheless, for now, this is all I will cover within this particular post.

Stay tuned, however…I have more to write on later.

Consider also signing up for the Feedburner™ email notification service provided by Google. You will find it in the right column of this blog.

Also, for a related post, see our first article about this new SFC development: Grassley’s Bombshells, Media’s Confusion

Many thanks to our growing number our advocates. Together, we are calling on Kenneth Copeland, his family, and his alleged “ministry,” to simply repent.

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Always in Jesus,

-Rich Vermillion

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