Fort Worth's Kenneth Copeland to Senator Grassley: Bring It.

Gloria and Kenneth Copeland

Back in November, Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican and his party's top man on the Senate Finance Committee, demanded the financial info from a handful of televangelists who the senator -- and Trinity Foundation's Ole Anthony -- believes are abusing their tax-exempt status. Dunno why. Kenneth Copeland's kid said last month that Jesus wants his maw and paw to have their $21-million private plane and 18,000-square-foot shack. Which, go figure, just isn't good enough for Grassley, who last week sent the media this missive in which he berated the Fort Worth-based franchise for being "not responsive" while also threatening some kind of legal action after consulting with Senate attorneys.

Well, today Copeland responds with his own media release, in which he more or less tells Grassley to take a flying leap, even after several other of the ministries under investigation have cooperated, among them Irving-based Benny Hinn. Notes the release, "Any government inquiry into the affairs of a church raises serious constitutional issues that must be carefully balanced against the government's need to evaluate the effectiveness of the laws of the land." Turns out, though, Copeland might submit to a higher authority ... like, oh, the Internal Revenue Service. Sounds like a dare. --Robert Wilonsky

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