Prosperity Gospel v. United States

Gassley Watch has followed the Prosperity Gospel investigation of Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa and the cold response he has received from televangelists, ministers, conservatives, and Iowa Republicans. The story has expanded somewhat recently.

A Minnesota ministry has now been targeted by the Internal Revenue Service. The Living Word Christian Center of Brooklyn Park is currently under an investigation that its minister, Rev. Mac Hammond, claims is politically motivated. He indirectly blames Grassley for creating the environment that led to the investigation. Hammond said, according to the Star Tribune, that the IRS investigation into his ministry is part of “a very clear effort, on a national scale, to discredit, defame and intimidate ministries and preachers of what has been called the ‘prosperity gospel.'”

According to The Voice, the investigation revolves around Hammond’s compensation, a loan Hammond received from the ministry for his residence, which was later forgiven, and a loan for an airplane that Hammond has leased back to the ministry. Hammond challenged the IRS in 2007 saying he would “almost welcome an IRS audit.” Despite that comment the ministry has refused to cooperate with the IRS forcing it to take the ministry to U.S. District Court.

As Grassley Watch does not have full knowledge of the IRS investigation, I hesitate to comment on the claims of the minister, but Hammond may be correct that Grassley’s investigation has created an environment of added scrutiny on ministries that preach the Prosperity Gospel. CREW, citizens blogging for responsibility and ethics in washington, has filed multiple complaints with the IRS about the ministry, but it is unclear if these complaints led to the investigation or if there is some other motivation.

It should be noted that Hammond has been reported to sit on the board of Kenneth Copeland’s ministry which is refusing to cooperate with Grassley’s investigation.

Greg Forbes
Editor, grassleywatch.com

Originally posted 08/26/2008 on Grassley Watch