December 4, 2012
Long-Running Investigation of Televangelists Prompts ... No New Law Suggestions
Five years after "Grassley Six" inquiry began, ECFA-appointed commission advises better enforcement of existing laws.
(Update: Bob Smietana of The Tennessean has a helpful roundup of reactions to the commission's report.)
In 2007, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) began investigating six major Christian ministries for "possible misuse of donations."
Five years later, the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations (CAPRO) released a 91-page report today with 43 recommendations aimed at increasing financial accountability by religious and nonprofit organizations—without requiring excessive new regulations.
The report offers no mandates and concludes that increased financial accountability by ministries does not require "harsh or excessive legislation or regulation," according to commission chairman Mike Batts. Instead, CAPRO recommends better enforcement of existing laws, as well as increased education for nonprofit leaders about those laws.
The report is the culmination of a national effort by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) to investigate tax and policy issues for religious organizations.
CT previously reported in 2007 when Grassley began investigating six major ministries that came to be known as the "Grassley Six." Four years later, after mixed responses by ministries and following the release of a 61-page report in January 2011, Grassley ended his investigations but commissioned ECFA to determine ideas for nonprofit-accountability reform. As part of its mandate, ECFA created CAPRO.
CAPRO plans to release a second report examining political expression by religious nonprofits within the next year.
CT has examined whether Congress should change pastors' housing allowances.