Religion seems to attract some of the biggest exploiters and it is not hard to see why. The absurd tax exemptions given to religious organizations, coupled with the reluctance of the IRS to strictly enforce the rules because of the privileged position religion has in society, has resulted in one racket after another coming to light.
TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network) is one such organization whose leaders led lavish lifestyles that their followers supported.
The prosperity gospel preached by Paul and Janice Crouch, who built a single station into the world’s largest Christian television network, has worked out well for them.
Mr. and Mrs. Crouch have his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community here, provided by the network using viewer donations and tax-free earnings. But Mrs. Crouch, 74, rarely sleeps in the $5.6 million house with tennis court and pool. She mostly lives in a large company house near Orlando, Fla., where she runs a side business, the Holy Land Experience theme park. Mr. Crouch, 78, has an adjacent home there too, but rarely visits. Its occupant is often a security guard who doubles as Mrs. Crouch’s chauffeur.
Ms. Koper and the two other former TBN employees also said that dozens of staff members, including Ms. Koper, chauffeurs, sound engineers and others had been ordained as ministers by TBN. This allowed the network to avoid paying Social Security taxes on their salaries and made it easier to justify providing family members with rent-free houses, sometimes called “parsonages,” she said.
The extent of their shenanigans has come to light as a result of a falling out within the family.
Of course, the big puzzle is why although these people keep getting exposed over and over again as living extravagant lifestyles, people keep supporting tem. The main reason that these people succeed is because there are so many idiots who are willing to give money to anyone who says that god speaks to and through them.