Should the Senate investigate churches?

One thing we have never done much of around here is discuss politics. I have a running debate with Waymeyer as to whether he is a true conservative or just conservative (do you see the difference?). At any rate, this NY Times article is making the rounds and it leaves me with mixed emotions. It appears that Senator Charles Grassley (R) has called for a Senate investigation of six well-known preachers and their suspect financial dealings. Most readers to this blog will recognize the six as a who’s who of “word-faith” charlatans. Benny Hinn, Paula White and Creflo “guess why they call him” Dollar are some of the preachers under scrutiny. My first inclination is to say “what took them so long.” Anyone with a thimble of discernment knows these are some of the worst purveyors of tom foolery. So here’s where it gets interesting.

What authority, whether legal or constitutional, does the Senate have to investigate churches or individual preachers at any level for any reason. I would like for anyone who thinks this is a good idea to make the case based on the Constitution. Someone might scoff at my questioning and ask, “Paul, do you think these preachers are innocent of duping people out of millions of dollars?” My own opinion is that they are about as innocent as Bill Clinton at a sorority party. The question of innocence is irrelevant to my larger question. I am questioning whether anyone thinks its a good idea for the Senate to investigate churches and if so why (not to mention that the Senate has no right to investigate private citizens for any reason).

If we suspect there are incongruities in these particular ministries (such as probable tax evasion) then their local district attorneys should take up the charge. When was the last time a Senate investigation yielded anything of value? Even more, what sort of precedent does this set for investigations for other issues that a Senator might perceive ill on the part of a preacher? I have watched many Christian blogs today applaud this as if something good is taking place but all that is happening is one blind man pointing out another blind mans lack of eyes.


Theologian Ben Witherington thinks the investigations are a great idea and hopes for more preachers to be added to the list.

Christianity Today has a round-up of the issue.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Congress has no constitutional authority but they never let anything as “trivial” as the constitution get in the way of their agenda.

  2. “. . . make the case based on the Constitution.”

    I’m with you, but most people don’t have a clue or a care about that anymore. They’re guilty, aren’t they? They need to be stopped, don’t they? Then let’s get it done, and don’t get fussy about how. Never mind the unintended consequences of giving Congress invasive powers. They’d never use them against me.

  3. Posted by ed on November 9, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    What is truly sad is that the church has been so
    remiss in keeping her own house that any civil
    authority has the opportunity to step in, consti-
    tutional or not.

  4. […] Should The Senate Investigate Churches? […]

  5. The problem with the question is that we do not live by the Constitution any longer thanks to Christopher Columbus Langdell and his more infamous student Oliver Wendell Homes. Today we live by case law and therefore if the courts uphold the actions of the Senate then it becomes law.


  6. […] wth at least one other friend, but contrary to others, I have a problem with this on a number of […]

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