As we noted Tuesday morning, Sen. Charles Grassley's investigating six top televangelists: Paula and Randy White, David and Joyce Meyer, Creflo and Taffi Dollar, Eddie L. Long, Wise County couple Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and Irving-based Benny Hinn. And it was all the doing of Ole Anthony of the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, who's clearly been been dumpster-diving again. Says Anthony, Trinity provided Grassley with enough information to fit in a Volkswagen, which allowed the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to ask some very pointed questions of the televangelists.
For example, Grassley demanded to know the cost of items purchased for the Meyers’ headquarters, such as a “$23,000 antique commode with marble top,” and to explain each item’s tax-exempt purpose. Shades of $10,000 toilet seats for the Pentagon. The commode raised eyebrows. On a Web site on media, culture and faith called Phil Cooke and the Change Revolution, Cooke explained why Joyce Meyer might own such a regal throne:
The "Antique Marble Commode" is my favorite, hands down. Yes dear readers -- I've seen Joyce's commode. It was an antique donated to her ministry and sits in the lobby of her office. Lobby you ask? That's right. Look at these pictures of antique commodes.
In the antiques world, a "commode" is an antique chest of drawers. I think you'll see that Grassley and Anthony are going to be embarrassed with this one... But you can see how the damage gets done. You accuse someone in the national media, and whether or not you have your facts correct or not, the damage to their reputation is done. Even in pursuit of a good ideal, this is a terrible way to go about it.
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Cooke said religious groups should be transparent with their finances but wondered how the media would have reacted if a ranking Senator “called for the rounding up of the top six Muslim groups in America? Or the top six gay or lesbian organizations? How would the NAACP react if Grassley targeted the top six African-American organizations? Why am I suddenly reminded of Joseph McCarthy?"
Another reader, Powell Holloway, weighed in, referring back to my story in the paper version of Unfair Park last August called “The Cult of Ole”:
Dear Phil, Your recollection of Anthony's helping ABC’s PrimeTime Live “expose" Tilton, Lea, and Grant is accurate. Unfortunately, I was involved with Anthony during the "investigations" and cannot legally go into any of the details, however, I can point you to several articles written by Glenna Whitley for the Dallas Observer which explore (aka: expose) in detail some of his (Anthony's) shenanigans! BTW, ABC is again in hot water over more "evidence" obtained from Anthony... They should have learned their lesson back in the early 90's - a lesson that cost the ABC/Disney folks hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees hopelessly defending Anthony and his "investigators" (of which I was one).
Apart from the First and Sixteenth Amendment issues, Anthony's hatred of all televangelists has been his only drum for the last twenty-plus years. In the decade that I was involved with Anthony and his "Gospel of Poverty" church/Bible Study/Cult, I can personally attest to the fact that we never, during those many years, investigated or "looked into" any Islamic group or individual Sheik. All of the 501 c3 Charity’s energies were focused to give Anthony a platform to be the "Giant" slayer. (Yes, TFI is organized as a charity not a church.) Alas, we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot of him in the weeks to come… He’s finally a member of the band. "C’est plus qu'un crime, c'est une faute."
Here we go again. --Glenna Whitley