(Series: "Christian Greed")

HOT TOPICS for (TV shows, Internet shows, etc.). These topics are the passion of Bernie Dehler. Please comment and let us know your opinion on these short articles.

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Bernie Dehler is the Executive Director of To learn more about Bernie and the ministry, click here.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Greed: deception #2: It's OK to have wealth

Greed: Deception 2: It's ok to be wealthy.
By Bernie Dehler

Mammon: The God of Money
(Click here to find out what our Lord Jesus thinks of him.)

Is it ok to be wealthy? Well, actually, yes. Then why am I writing this, as if being wealthy is some kind of sin? Because I know lots of wealthy people, and none that I think understand the seriousness of this.

Most Christians are aware that money is not the problem; it's the love of money that is the problem (1 Timothy 6:10). Do they love money? Here's where the deception comes in. They tell themselves that they don't love money; that the material possessions mean nothing to them. I'm afraid they are deceived (remember, if you are deceived, you don't know it, or else you wouldn't allow yourself to be deceived). Because of the nature of deception, this is something you really have to open yourself to and ask God to search your heart.

Let me ask you something; how can you live in luxury when you have brothers and sisters in Christ dying from starvation? Where is the love of God (this is from Scripture, James 2:14-17 )? How is it that a high profile media minister, like CBN's Pat Robertson, can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a race horse and racing, simply because he think's it's a fun hobby? Can he explain that to his brothers/sisters in Christ when he meets them in heaven? (Click here for the full story.) (By the way, if you are a Christian and really claim to not know that there are dying kids from starvation or how to help them, just click here to fix that problem!)

Oh yes, there are plenty of good comebacks to rationalize why it's ok to be wealthy or to have fine things in life, but they are all based on American capitalism. (Yes, there are also examples from the Old Testament, but the New Testament is the "newer light" that we should be understanding.) "He worked hard for his money." So what? It was a gift from God, who gave the person the ability to make it (brains, health, opportunity, etc.). Can't this person who earned it be a good steward?

One time a very religious rich man came to our Lord Jesus, and asked what he should do to get eternal life (Mark 10:21). The Lord ultimately pushed him to the limit and told him to give all his money to the poor, and then follow Him. The rich young man couldn't do it. Could we? Oh, here is where almost every Evangelical preacher says "The Lord pushed this man because he knew that this guy had a love for money. He doesn't ask the same of us." Uh... actually our Lord did. Here's the verse where He speaks to everyone: Luke 12:33 . The early disciples all lived this way, sharing everything (Acts 2:44-45 & Acts 4:34).

There's even a story our Lord Jesus told about a "fool" who made a lot of money and saved it up to live an easy life in retirement (Luke 12:13-21). Can we see the "foolishness" in this; or if this man were in our church, would we envy him?

Am I suggesting that we start Christian communes? Not at all. But I am suggesting that we (in the USA) are almost all polluted and deceived by commercialism and capitalism, and we are deceived.

I hope that this "issue of wealth" is something that you'll think and pray about... you need to search your heart and ask God. Don't ask your Pastor, as he likely has the same problem. And yes, it doesn't help that the evil "prosperity Gospel" is being preached on TV by the likes of TBN, and continues to delude the masses (Christian and non-Christian) who watch it. Rather than proclaiming the truth, this form of "Christianity" is actually doing more harm than good to the cause of Christ.

To leave a comment here, click on the link at the very bottom that says "Post a Comment."

Scriptures used:

1. 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

2. James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

3. Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

4. Luke 12:33 (Jesus talking) "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys."

5. Acts 2:44-45 All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

6. Acts 4:34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales

7. Luke 12:13-21
13Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 14Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
16And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, "What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops."
18"Then he said, "This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.""
20"But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" 21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Greed: (Media Ministers) A Study of Nonprofit Exec. Pay

(Study Conducted: 1-20-04)
by Bernie Dehler

Selected: Twenty-seven of the most popular involved in "media ministries."

Results: See this webpage for all the data (tables and chart for the exec. pay of 27 media ministries.)


Nonprofit ministries, by definition, are formed to benefit the public. When they claim to be "Christian" organizations, they aim to build God's kingdom and glorify Christ in word and deed. They are not meant to be a profit means for individuals.

Some of these ministries are well managed by good stewards, and they should be rewarded (such as Focus on the Family and Coral Ridge Ministries). Other ministries show gross love for money, by paying themselves outrageous salaries (such as Dr. Hagee, Peter Popoff, Billy Graham, & Paul Crouch). See the tables and charts for yourself (here).

Dr. Hagee, come on... $900K??? What are you thinking? Paul and Jan Crouch, why do you two get over $700K combined, yet pay everyone else in your organization so poorly? Did you not think that this information would get out, even though it is public information and required to be made public by law???

Billy Graham, don't you know that you have a sterling reputation and that your brothers and sisters in Christ are proud of you for your evangelism efforts? Why would you blow your reputation like this? Over $400K? Please don't tell us you are not aware of your compensation, or that you have no control over it. We expect more of a mature and visible brother in Christ. By the way, talk to your son Franklin, too (getting paid $300K to feed the poor is also a scandal).

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Greed: Case Study in Bad: CRI

by Bernie Dehler, 11-11-04


1-21-05 Update: Click here to see this LA Times article for another scandal with CRI (click here for the same story topic from ChristianityToday magazine). An Analysis of the Financial Integrity of the Christian Research Institute (CRI, Hank & Kathy Hanagraaff)

1 Timothy 3:1-3
"Here is a trustworthy saying:
If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he
desires a noble task. Now the overseer must
be above reproach, ... , not a lover of money."

Summary: I very much like the ministry products and services of CRI, especially the interviews with leading authors with Hank on "The Bible Answer Man Show." I am disappointed that there is, in my opinion, a definite case of excessive executive pay and nepotism in the organization. There is also a serious issues as to how book royalties are paid, and to whom. To see the salary info mentioned below (from the actual tax return), click here.


1. I personally think that around $150K is a top limit for a minister to make (more on this later). If Hank Hanegraaff (President) wants to present CRI as a "ministry" to the public, then I think he's a minister. This is especially the case since he ministers on the daily radio show called "The Bible Answer Man." According to the tax return, he is paid $280K per year (almost twice what I would call reasonable). Hank is an ordained minister by Calvary Chapel (a very fine organization), and he receives a minister's "housing allowance" by CRI.

2. It's ok to hire friends and family, as long as they are qualified and paid a salary that is reasonable for the job and their experience. Hank's wife Kathy is the third highest paid employee (Hank is the first), at over $130K per year.

3. The tax form states that both Hank & Kathy work over 50 hrs per week, on average. If you know them, you'll know also that they have a family of eight (1), with some quite young still. Does it add up that Kathy would like to have a large family, and also want to work 50 hours per week at the ministry? Who's raising the kids? I think that Hank would say that she works primarily from home. If so, is this distracted kind of work really worth counting as 50 hours per week? I wonder if she gets a performance review, since her boss is her husband. (I know about large families; I'm #10 of 12!)

4. How does Kathy's work and experience line-up with the other employees? The top researcher and editor only make $52K and $60K, respectively. I would imagine that they are highly trained, maybe even seminary graduates. Kathy makes twice their pay! This would seem very unfair to their employees. How would you like to work at a place like that? One of the workers, Thaddeus Williams, did try to work positively for change, but all he got was fired. Here's the story.

5. Only three employees have an expense account, and Hank and Kathy are two of them. The third person has an expense account 1/5 of Kathy's, and 1/70th of Hanks. (The expense account figures are part of their salary, in my above calculations.) Most other ministries don't even have an "expense account." It's a perk that used to be more common-place, but most companies have dropped. It's not true that it's needed for travel-- other ministries do extensive travel with no such account.

6. Hank has written many books. These books have royalties. Who get's the money? I talked to CRI management, and learned that all royalties from books sold by the ministry go to the ministry, but all books sold outside the ministry (such as by go directly to Hank. How much does Hank get for these royalties? Unknown. They won't report it. I think that is a scandal, because Hank is paid a salary to produce these materials, and he gets free advertising for them by the ministry, yet he personally pockets the royalties. He should have to disclose this, but he doesn't because "he doesn't have to" (legally). If he wanted to be beyond reproach, he would, but he'd like to hide this source of income from the ministry. I think this is obviously why he is now into writing a fictional series, in order to make the kind of money that the "Left Behind" series did.CRI says that they are following the rules, by ECFA. It's what other ministries also do, and that ministries not in ECFA even do much worse (author's get royalties from books even sold directly by the ministry). In summary, their defense is that they are not breaking the "letter of the law" and that other ministries are much worse. Hardly an attempt at being "beyond reproach."

7. Is Hank a lover of money and the "finer things in life?" In July 2002, CRI paid $66,000 for a Lexus company car for Hank. Is that a reasonable use of funds? Did his donors know this when he told them that CRI needs money for meeting their shortfall, that very same year (including layoffs)? Here's the story. (CRI's response is that this story is false; the car was donated, and it was just an "appearance" problem.)

8. Hank took over the ministry after Dr. Martin, the Founder, abruptly died. What does Dr. Martin's family think about this? It's NOT positive (click here to read the article).


1. Why do I refer to CRI also as "Hank and Kathy Hanegraaff?" Because they seem to be making a family living off of the ministry.

2. What do I want to see happen? I'd suggest that Hank get a serious Board of Directors. I suggest Kathy get paid a reasonable amount for the work that she does (it is out of line to pay her twice what the educated and specialized research staff recieves). I suggest Hank lower his salary to something reasonable, $150K per year max (that's $75 per hour). I know Hank says he works 50 hours per week, and he also talks alot about golf, so I guess he does a lot of "work" on the golf course (2) (on the radio he mentions talking about work with his co-author on the golf course regarding the new fiction book series he is developing).

3. Are financial scandal problems at CRI being fixed? It would take a miracle for Hank to repent. He doesn't seem to be learning, since both his and Kathy's salary continue to rise.

(1) "Prayer of Jesus" pg. 19
(2) "Prayer of Jesus" pg. 89

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Greed: (Good Works) A Study of Nonprofit Exec. Pay

(Study Conducted: 1-6-04)
by Bernie Dehler

Selected: Fifty-nine of the most popular involved in "good works."

Results: See this webpage for all the data (tables and chart for the exec. pay of 59 nonprofit organizations involved in "good works.") Note: The chart was updated on 1-10-05 to show an average line.


Nonprofit companies, by definition, are formed to benefit the public. They are not meant to be a profit means for individuals. This is why, for example, the Board of Directors usually serve at no charge (unless they are on the executive staff, as paid employees), and why nonprofits can't offer stock for investors. It's my concern that some nonprofits are headed by greedy people who are more there for the money rather than the service. On the flip side, some organizations are run excellently, as role-models. Examples of excellence, regarding reasonable executive compensation, are "Habitat for Humanity," "Feed the Children," "AmeriCares," and Compassion International."

Personally, I feel that $150K should be a top salary. I think it's sad that the "American Red Cross," for one example of many, pays $621K to their top executive (4x what I consider appropriate). Some people justify this because of their large revenue, but there's various reasons why that doesn't hold true:

1. All executives work approximately the same hours.
2. They all have hierarchy (staff) to do any additional work, such as VP's, directors, etc.
3. United Way, for example, may be just as big, but they don't roll-up all their money into a central place like American Red Cross-- each division handles their own operation.
4. I'd hate to imagine the politics in getting this position, and keeping it.
5. There is no shortage of qualified executives who would do the job for $150K.

Bernie's picks for Tsunami disaster relief: NW Medical Teams, Doctor's without Borders, Mercy Corps, & Mercy Ships.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Greed: Deception 1: Get Rich To Bless Others

By Bernie Dehler

The Bible tells us not to be deceived by wealth. In the parable of the sower that our Lord taught (Matt. 13:1-22, click here for the story), one of the seed grew up amongst the thorns and weeds. The thorns choked out the good crop. The thorns represented the worries of this world, and the deceitfulness of wealth. Let's not let the "deceitfulness of wealth" choke us out of our Christian faith.

There are a number of faulty thoughts that lead one into the "deceitfulness of wealth." The first I would like to address is this. Have you thought this, or heard another Christian say this?:

"I want to make a lot of money so I can give away a lot of money to needy ministries."

The idea is that we can be a great influence for good if we could give more money for great programs. Using human wisdom, this is very easy to see.

Now let's look at it from the spiritual side. Our Lord Jesus said that a poor widow, who put in a fraction of a penny for a collection, gave more than the wealthy people (click here for the story, Mk 12:41-44).

Do you see how God could care less about the money that you give, in actual dollars, compared to how much it means to you? If a widow gave out of her poverty, and you want to be rich to give away a lot of money, you would have to give away all your wealth in order to give away as much as she did!

Another part of the problem is seeing by the human side about what you can accomplish with your money. God seems to be more concerned about us using what resources we have (time, treasure, talents) than what impact we make (parable of the talents, click here to see Matt. 25:14-30). In other words, there's nothing better about a millionaire giving away millions of dollars as there is for a poor person to give a few dollars, although the world will recognize and reward the rich. In this case, our motives really need to be evaluated.

In summary, rather than trying to make a lot of money to bless others some day in the future, live everyday of your life now as a blessing to others, using the resources that God has given you. Don't compare yourself to others; God doesn't. He'll judge us individually (Luke 12:5).