November 24, 2007

Televangelists, Ole Anthony, and the Truth

Congress is looking into the finances of televangelists - that's old news. Ole Anthony, the man in charge of watchdog group Trinity Foundation, is The Man of The Hour. He's interviewed everywhere, quoted by everyone, and is the recognized authority on the financial shortcomings of megapastors.

Maybe Ole needs to investigate himself. And maybe the national news should report the entire story. Last August the Dallas Observer ran a story on Anthony and his foundation, detailing financial improprieties. The story was updated this week:

Doug Duncan describes Trinity's most egregious financial transgression as defaulting on $42 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued in 1998 for the organization's purchase of 13 apartment complexes in Oklahoma City.

Issued by the Oklahoma County Finance Authority, the bonds were available to Trinity because it was a charitable organization with the stated mission of helping the homeless.

"It was a federal project, underwritten by the government," says Duncan. "This is public money being misused."

Doug Duncan is Anthony's former right-hand-man. His wife wrote an exposeof Anthony and the Trinity Foundation several years ago, detailing cult-like behavior in the foundation. At the very least, Ole Anthony bears investigating himself.

I'm not anti-Ole. In fact, I think the investigations he has done have been valuable -- he's holding people accountable, and that's a vital part of any Christian ministry. But it's also important for the watchers to be beyond reproach ("blameless" is the word the Apostle Paul uses in his letter to Titus), and this is exactly why. He's given the millionaire preachers an out -- "He's just as bad as we are! He's a hypocrite!"

He's also jeopardized past investigations, and actually embarrassed Diane Sawyer in one instance. Some evidence that Anthony dug up on Robert Tilton was actually shown to be fake. Tilton lost his suit against Anthony and ABC, but that trial did show that the Trinity investigators used some seriously deceptive practices -- according tot he Observer, one investigator actually regrets his role, and is convinced that many of the charges are unfounded.

And, as the Observer noted a year ago, the media at large is giving Ole a pass. They're ignoring his own financial issues, and his own control issues, so that he can hand them the big fish of TV evangelism. And as long as he keeps it up, they'll keep their end of the deal -- leaving him alone to do whatever he wants to do, blissfully ignoring the problems that their favorite source has.

That's not the role of the media. And I guess it's up to the New Media to do what newspapers and radio used to do -- watch the watchers. So I'm asking the questions that the Dallas Observer received from former Trinity folks:

"How much of members' tithes and offerings and other donations have been spent for Ole Anthony's pain medications for the last 20 years?

"Please provide the credit card statements for all credit cards used by Ole Anthony from 1987 to 2007.

"How much does the foundation pay annually to rent properties from its directors?

"The 2005 tax statement indicates that $40,306 dollars were expended for 'management expenses.' What are these expenses and who received these funds?

"Were the trips, cruises and vacations given to Anthony by ABC News and others ever reported as income?

"The 2005 tax statement indicates approximately $40,000 paid in utilities. Is the foundation using tax-exempt donations to pay utility bills of the homes of its elders and directors?

"When was the last certified audit done of Trinity Foundation?"

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 02:41 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 Warren, thank you for posting. You made some excellent points. Can you add these questions to your list? What were the terms of the settlement Ole Anthony received from his accident at the health spa? Please include all court documents. How much of the members’ tithes and offerings and other donations have been spent for Ole Anthony’s vitamins, medications, especially pain medications, and other medical treatment over the last 20 years? Please include costs of medical treatment associated with the fire walking incident. How much of Anthony’s medical costs has he paid for out of his personal funds (from the settlement) during the same time period? Were the funds from the charitable donations or contributors to Trinity Foundation used to pay for Anthony’s medical costs rather than the settlement money which was supposed to be for that purpose? How much of the foundation’s members’ tithes and offerings and other donations did the foundation spend from 1987-2007 to house and clothe Ole Anthony’s girlfriends? Please include costs of all gifts to girlfriends and “business” trips paid for with TFI funds. In the 1980s Ole Anthony wrote a book, Crossfire. He has claimed that the book sold a million copies. Please indicate the amount of royalties paid to date on this book. Were the royalties paid to the foundation or Ole Anthony? The 2005 Tax statement (Form 990) indicates approximately $50,000 annually costs for food service. Is this cost over and above the amount collected from the members and Levites for their meals? Since the majority of the alleged 700 meals prepared weekly are consumed by members of the Trinity Foundation, how does the foundation justify using tax-exempt monies for its members’ consumption? The 2005 Form 990 indicates that there was over $15,000 in expenses for Trinity Foundation’s Bible studies held in the homes of its elders. Can you itemize these costs? Is the foundation using tax exempt funds to “rent” space from the directors of Trinity Foundation? Thanks, Former member, Wendy J. Duncan Author: I Can't Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult

Posted by: Wendy J. Duncan at November 25, 2007 09:44 AM (QCJxi)

2 Wendy, Thanks for that. I really think it's good that someone Ole Anthony is being asked the same questions that he's asking other ministries. And it's telling that he doesn't seem to be very forthcoming with the answers to these questions. Hopefully,someone currently at Trinity will comment here, or I can get in contact with them to get some answers to these questions.

Posted by: Warren at November 25, 2007 02:37 PM (6ZwcZ)

3 Wendy and Doug Duncan. We are tired of seeing you bash Ole' every chance you get. If Doug had a problem with Ole', why did he hang around for so long, and why were you there for seven years, Wendy. You are making money off of Ole' so you are going to say what you have to in order to do so. Doug was OK until you came into his life, Wendy. How many times have you been married, Mrs. Duncan? It's apparent that you haven't been listening to God for years, or you wouldn't be doing what you are, you sinner, you hypocrite. Now, move on and get lifes, Mr. and Mrs. Duncan. If anyone notes, these are the two people who attack any and everything posted about Ole', who is a wonderful, intelligent man who knows what he is doing and many people in the world thank him.

Posted by: It's me again at December 09, 2007 08:19 AM (ZibVz)

4 It's me again, I don't doubt that many people are happy with Ole, or that he's helped a lot of people out. There's no doubt of that. Of course, the people he's got Congress investigating have also helped people out all over the world, and there are many people who are happy with them, too. I think that it's only fair that the Trinity Foundation be able to withstand the same level of scrutiny that they expect from other ministries -- and thus far, nobody's been willing or able to put them to the test. It seems to me that Ole Anthony would be more than willing to allow someone to investigate him the way he's investigated Hagee, Hinn, Meyers, Dollar, etc.

Posted by: Warren at December 09, 2007 04:02 PM (6ZwcZ)

5 Mr. and Mrs. Duncan are helping people who have been deceived by charismatic leaders and cult like religions.You see, these leaders will subvert the message of Christ because they need for their followers to make them feel equal to God and, by the way, feed their bellies while feeding their egos. Charismatic leaders deceive themselves, too. That doesn't make them innocent nor their followers innocent because we are all accountable for knowing the truth. I mean look at Ole's fruits. Is he kind, loving, forgiving, patient? What about his words? Are they wholesome and does he set a good example to children? When I met the man, he was meanspirited, condemning, harsh,and used foul language. Thankfully we have been forgiven by God's gift of Jesus whom we celebrate at Christmas. Does Ole celebrate Christmas or does he get caught up in some controvery so he can spin away and present his intellectual viewpoint while condemning those who don't?

Posted by: Joesephine at December 09, 2007 05:18 PM (vbJWA)

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