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Televangelist Kenneth Copeland accused of fraud over Haiti earthquake relief

WHILE aid agencies struggle to bring relief to Haitians in the wake of the recent devastating earthquake, a war of words has broken out between two US evangelists over money raised by one of them to deal with disasters of this sort.

According to the Rev Rich Vermilion, Kenneth Copeland, of the infamous Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KMC), raised millions a while back to set up a “aviation ministry” to fly aid into disaster-struck areas.

At loggerheads: Kenneth Copeland, left, and Rich Vermilion

According to this report, Vermilion – on a blog set up specially to call on Copeland and his dodgy outfit “to repent” – contends that money given by donors towards the formation of the new air relief ministry was never spent on the project – and has never been accounted for.

There has never been an open accounting or explanation given regarding the Angel Flight 44-earmarked funds given to date.

He does acknowledge that KCM formed a Disaster Relief Fund, but adds:

A generic relief fund is a far cry from a fully operational disaster-relief aviation ministry … my experience with Kenneth Copeland, his family, and his ministry, has given me the regrettable opinion that they may be nothing more than religious frauds.

Now with the current Haiti crisis in progress, Rich comments that the wealthy Copeland’s unfulfilled promises to invest in his Angel Flight project seems morbidly cruel. He wrote:

One has to wonder where Copeland and his Angel Flight 44 ministry were during those early days of the disaster when their services were so badly needed. If Copeland had prepared beforehand as he had pledged, there would have been supplies flowing into Haiti within 24 hours after that earthquake. Instead, the people had to suffer and wait until other groups arrived, and that seems almost criminal in my opinion.

KCM is one of six televangelist ministries being investigated by the Senate Finance Committee for possible tax law fraud, and has not cooperated with the investigation. KCM is not certified by any independent financial group, such as the Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability; Wall Watchers’ MinistryWatch.com has given them a financial transparency grade of “F.”

Hat Tip: Alan H

15 Responses to “Televangelist Kenneth Copeland accused of fraud over Haiti earthquake relief”

  1. rog says:

    Off topic, but: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00qby30/Nerdstock_9_Lessons_and_Carols_for_Godless_People/

    Shown yesterday on BBC4

    Nerdstock: 9 Lessons and Carols for Godless People
    A non-religious Christmas celebration of comedy, science and music recorded live at London’s Hammersmith Apollo in December 2009. Stand-up comedian and humanist Robin Ince is joined by a host of leading lights from the world of science, including Richard Dawkins, Brian Cox, Simon Singh and Ben Goldacre, as well as musicians and top comedians from Mark Steel to Shappi Khorsandi.

  2. valdemar says:

    Rich Vermilion? This guy is a type of gloss paint. Strangely apt…

    Re: feud of the fundies. It’s a good case of ‘a plague on both your houses’ trumping the old ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ concept.

  3. tony e says:

    Religion ripping someone off? Now who would have seen that coming!

  4. Broga says:

    I suppose these guys have become so used to shafting the public that theft has become a reflex action. Hell, with an opportunity like this they are not going to miss.

    Another thought. Consider the reaction if the Dawkins’ Initiative were left with money unaccounted for: “What do you expect from atheists?” “No values.” Etc………………..

    This bunch of shysters will make their usual pleas: “The devil misled me.” “I have been forgiven by Jesus.” Unless they are prosecuted and put is the clanger they will be just fine. We have seen this before. But you cannot get much lower than this. To describe that guy as a sewer rat would be offensive to any self respecting sewer rat.

  5. CybrgnX says:

    He BELIEVES Copeland is a fraud??
    Copeland is a televangelist. Isn’t that a different way to say fraud?

  6. barriejohn says:

    Actually, I think you’ll find that’s a photo of Phil Cool, Barry!

    http://www.philcool.co.uk/

    (I’d post an image, but that doesn’t seem possible now – am I right?)

  7. Mark Richards says:

    “religious frauds” is not an oxymoron.

  8. NeoWolfe says:

    It’s kinda entertaining listening to you all testifying that Satan is really the devil. That was an analogy.

    Do we really need to bring up the community projects that made Jim Jones so respected? These are weapons of public opinion that these preditors use to legitimize their theft. It’s nothing new, and the sad part is that the IRS never gets a look at what churches are doing with their money because it’s ALL tax exempt. They can build themselves a new church, get the pastor laid by a $500 an hour hooker, bribe a councilmen, contribute to a political campaign, anything. They can launder mob money, finance illegal wars, finance a cocaine shipment from Colombia, and no one gets to look at the books. Amen.

    NeoWolfe

  9. Jen says:

    Pleasantly surprised that the Senante Finance Committee is investigating religious groups, especially Christian groups. Why should everyone wait around until the inevitable sex scandal wrecks their scam? The US’s squeamishness to challenge religions in the name of “religious freedom” has helped create the monster that Scientology, the JW and JDL, and the fundies have become.

    Our own president, the great liberal hope, has contributed to this industry. No mention of non-believers in his inaugural speech can blot this out.
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2010/01/rick-warren-24-million-saddleback-evangelical/1

    And yes NeoWolfe, tax exemptions and school funding for religious groups need to come under serious scrutiny. Incremental cuts (you know, like we do with social services :/ ) would be acceptable.

  10. Well, I consider it an honor to have an atheist site in the UK pick up on this story. I appreciate you all taking the time to discuss these issues.

    In response to the comment by Broga: I hope you are not lumping me in with Copeland when you write, “I suppose these guys have become so used to shafting the public that theft has become a reflex action.” We do NOT solicit donations from anybody on our own websites, nor do we endorse any of the standard “tactics” used by the various religious frauds out there. In many ways, we are actually exposing such frauds on our KennethCopelandBlog.com project.

    To all atheists: Let me offer you a very sincere apology regarding the pitiful way in which the Body of Christ has presented itself of late (and at various times throughout history). The Bible tells believers to police themselves and expose error and fraud in such passages as 1 Corinthians chapters 5&6, and 1 Timothy chapter 5, (and etc). We have NOT performed as commanded, and thus, we have “blasphemed” the Name of Jesus “before the Gentiles” as a result (Romans 2:24). Thus, many of those who claim to be Christians have NOT always modeled the teachings of Jesus before the world as we have been commanded.

    I said above, “those who claim to be Christians” because Jesus Himself said that not everyone who make such a claim actually is converted (e.g. Matthew 7:20-23; 13:24-30, 36-43, and 47-50; 2 Timothy 2:15-21; & etc). In short, many of those who atheists can rightly point out as historical or contemporary examples of wicked “Christians” were actually likely never Christians to begin with (Jim Jones being one of many examples).

    Nevertheless, the biblical protocol has been for the church to “weed out” such impostors and to correct the errant among their own numbers. We have NOT done that as we ought (although occasionally we have). Thus, my sincere apologies are extended herein towards you all.

    I, for one, am making a sincere and diligent effort to explain and apply such Scriptures as I have mentioned above. My hope is to not only call Kenneth Copeland to account, but to also display a biblical example for other Christians to follow regarding other sins evident within the Body of Christ at large. In the aggregate, such efforts will likely help to distinguish biblical Christianity from false religion…and to give even atheists reason to respect people of true Christian faith.

    Once again, thank you all for your time in discussing these issues.

    Always in Jesus,

    -Rich Vermillion

  11. Barbara Pierce says:

    Was sent a link to your website – love the photo – my new desktop background!!

  12. Thank you all again for your interest in this important controversy between myself and Copeland. More importantly, thank you all for your demonstrated courtesy, as reflected in the way you seemed to receive my previous apology/clarification posted above. I truly appreciate that.

    We are continuing (and even upgrading) our efforts to hold Copeland accountable, and to distinguish biblical Christianity from false religion. Here is our latest post: http://kennethcopelandblog.com/2010/07/22/kenneth-copelands-bad-confession/

    Additional articles will be posted on our website above soon; for we have more of Copeland’s fraudulent and deceptive practices to bring into public scrutiny.

    Thank you all for your time.

    Always in Jesus,

    -Rich Vermillion