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Subject: To Whom Is ECFA Accountable?

Paul Nelson
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Date Posted: 16:10:44 01/01/03 Wed

On Friday night, Dec. 27, 2002, NBC Dateline had an excellent show concerning super healing Evangelist Benny Hinn and his lack of credible healings or financial accountability. But NBC’s reporting about the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA) was off the wall even though Paul Nelson, its president, was also on the program. It is a fact that ECFA is no more accountable or less devious then Evangelist Benny Hinn.

ECFA was founded by Billy Graham's business manager after the Southern Baptist Evangelist was embarrassed in 1977 when the Charlotte Observer discovered an undisclosed $23-million fund in Texas, apparently not mentioned in the accountings of the Minneapolis headquarters of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. As a result Graham's business manager led the formation of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability after Graham said on a national telecast, ". . . there are some charlatans coming along and the public ought to be informed about them and warned against them, " "stated K. Hadden and Charles E. Swann in their book Prime Time Preachers.

Jeffrey K. Hadden and Charles E. Swann in their book Prime Time Preachers: The Rising Power of Televangelism (1) also stated:

In 1977 Senator Mark Hatfield informed a group of evangelical leaders that if they did not assume responsibility for regulating themselves there was every likelihood that legislation would be required. In fact, Congressman Charles Wilson of Texas had already introduced a bill that would have required disclosure "at the point of solicitation."

In December 1977 representatives of thirty-two evangelical groups met in Chicago to discuss cooperative efforts. Thomas Getman, chief legislative assistant to Senator Hatfield, told the group, "Legislation is not important; disclosure is." Getman encouraged "a voluntary disclosure program . . . that will preclude the necessity of federal intervention into the philanthropic and religious sector."

Almost two years later Dr. Stanley Mooneyham, president of World Vision, acknowledged, "There is no denying that this threat of governmental action was one of the stimuli'' that produced the December meeting and the subsequent activities which led to the founding of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

A religious tax exempt non profit organization and corporation is not like a private company which exists for profit? Revenues for religious organizations come from the donations and gifts of ordinary individual some of whom have sacrificed to give to them. For this is what many Evangelical Evangelists including Benny Hinn and Billy Graham request 'their sacrificial giving?" But the life style of TV evangelist such as Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, Morris Cerrulo, Robert Tilton. Billy and Franklin Graham is more like famous movie stars than disciples of Jesus and their financial accountability to their donors is mostly non-existent. So-called audited financial statements when distributed by many of the Evangelical Evangelist are a joke and do not tell the true story of how the donated money was spent but rather how they were recorded. They don’t reveal the total compensation of the chairman or founder or any of his family members or what he had charged to his indirectly owned religious non-profit corporation.

The Associated Baptist Press - www.abpnews.com on April 3, 2001 also reported that "About half of Baptist organizations contacted by the independent newspaper Baptists Today would not disclose salary information for their top executive. Three Southern Baptist Convention entities said policies allowed them to release only salary ranges.

Presidents Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Kenneth Hemphill of Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, declined to provide any information on compensation. New Orleans Seminary did not return numerous phone calls regarding the salary of President Charles Kelley. However, the IRS requires all colleges and universities to report the salaries of the top five paid staff members, Brumley explained."

Many evangelists in America, such as Billy and Franklin Graham, belong to the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability that purports to work on behalf of the donor but in reality exists for the spenders. Although ECFA has in its possessions the total compensation of all the chairmen of religious evangelical non-profit organizations that belong to it, it will not disclose them. Requests for such information from ECFA are stonewalled!

The Tampa Tribune had reported that "Billy Graham encourages religious leaders to be open about their salaries and publish their finances" But this does not change the fact that Rev. Billy, Ned and Franklin Graham, Rev, Jesse Jackson or any other prominent Baptist leader in America are not open about their total salaries and those of their family members and special friends. It is a fact that none of the prominent Southern Baptist evangelists, including Billy and Ned, Franklin Graham, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or Louis Paula who belong to the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability reveal their total compensation package and those of their family members and special friends to their donors upon request.

None of the Evangelical evangelists release to the public their personal income tax as President Bill Clinton did or President Bush does? All these evangelists demand that others be honest and accountable and demonstrate integrity but refuse to release their personal income tax, less people see how much they are stealing from the sheep?

A prominent family run evangelical ministry like Billy and Franklin Graham has a responsibility to be open, to show integrity and give accountability and to do all things above board. So to hide their total compensation package and those of their family and special friends shows that something fishing is going on. But all of this is not surprising if one examines the history of ECFA and its statements.

It is a fact that Fundamental Evangelical leaders in America, even those who belong to ECFA, never show their total compensation to their donors. They are not stupid. If they disclose anything is just your basic salary but not their personal income tax?

So to whom is the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability accountable to? To themselves? Definitely not to their donors or the public as seen by their own words! ECFA has as its Mission Statement that it is committed to helping Christ-centered organizations earn the public's trust through developing and maintaining standards of accountability that convey God-honoring ethical practices.

Also Its donor bill of rights states that its responsibility to make sure your charity's standards and guidelines assure you of a "bill of rights" as a donor. You have the right to:
1. Know how the funds of an organization are being spent.
2. Know what the programs you support are accomplishing.
3. Know that the organization is in compliance with federal, state, and municipal laws.
4. Restrict or designate your gifts to a particular project.
5. A response to your inquiries about finances and programs.
6. Visit offices and program sites of an organization to talk personally with the staff.

Nothing in the donor's "bill of rights" talks about checking into illegal or unusual expenses or salaries? But ECFA states that it wants to earn the public's trust through developing and maintaining standards of accountability that convey God-honoring ethical practices.

In other words ECFA tells you what kind of information you can request and what kind of information they will give you. But they will not explain why Billy Graham, 84, as Chairman has been taking a 100 % salary plus special perks including special secretary and medical staff for the last ten years and working less than 25 percent of the time. No other employee of B.G.E.A has these kinds of privileges!

The bottom line is that integrity in ECFA is nonexistent and they are nothing but con-artists fooling and deceiving the public with words and paper work.


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