Q. A recent Senate investigation into spending by high-profile televangelists found no actual wrongdoing, but raises interesting issues about the lifestyles of such people. The inquiry targeted six televangelists and examined how they used the funds raised by their respective churches, and whether they were breaking the rules pertaining to the tax-free status they enjoy as religious nonprofits. All six investigated preach some form of the so-called Prosperity Gospel, which says that paying tithes or donations to the ministries will result in God favoring the donors.
The investigation found that between them, the six churches take in tens of millions of dollars a year, none of which has to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service and for which no financial records are required to be passed on to anyone. The pastors of each church, and in many cases their spouses and families, live lavish lifestyles, travel in private jets and expensive cars, live in multi-million-dollar homes and stay in hotels costing thousands of dollars a night when traveling the country.