The AJC quotes the church's reply to the senator's request:
The attorney for Dollar sent a letter that read in part, "...'Prosperity Gospel,' a deeply held religious belief that God's devout followers and earthly leaders will prosper and be successful in all they do, including in financial matters, as the outward expression of his favor."
... we believe that the religious doctrine and practices of a church should not be held out for the world to evaluate as a result of responding to Congressional inquiries."
The attorney for Long sent a letter that read in part, "[it] clearly disregards the privacy protections of the Church under law and appears to cross the line of Constitutional guarantees for churches."
Of the six requests, only Rev. Joyce Meyer, of Missouri, has complied with her church's financial records. In a written statement, Meyers says, "... this latest opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to transparency with our supporters and our dedication to the continual improvement of our own systems of accountability."
Read the entire AJC article here.
plez sez: let me state for the record, i wholeheartedly support the separation of church and state.
with that said, i find it unfathomable how one can ask for tax exempt or tax free status from the government, yet thwart the government to examine one's fitness for that status! it is obvious to me that these "prosperity preachers" are in IT for the money and cannot stand the glaring light of scrutiny into their ministries. i've visited one of the Atlanta-based mega churches and the ministry there is nothing like the religion i was raised with as a child... it is more commercial, more sanitized, more packaged... and frankly, far less inspirational. there is a profound emphasis on money and contributing money and counting your blessings of money and grandstanding about - you got it - money.
both churches do wonderful work in their respective communities, but i am concerned with the armored-car amounts of money that these preachers generate AND how this money is used to provide them with lavish lifestyles (large homes, expensive cars, jets, helicopters, and all the trappings of success). and if they happen to accidentally blurt out the name, Jesus... oh, never mind!
i do not work for the IRS, but i would think that if these "ministries" would like to maintain their tax exempt status, that they would have to submit financial records that support that status. and as Rev. Meyer wrote, shouldn't these churches want to be transparent with their constituents and the federal government which provides this tax exempt status? their fierce money grab and the attempt at obfuscation around the need to submit financial records makes me wonder if those "love offerings" and massive salaries are justified by our current tax code.
and since GOD made it possible for them to reap such huge rewards from their people, i'm sure this same GOD will watch over them during this government probe: if they have nothing to hide, i feel they should turn over their financial records.