Surging ministry, growing questions

Surging ministry, growing questions

By Ames Alexander and Tim Funk
aalexander@charlotteobserver.com, tfunk@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Saturday, May. 23, 2009

INDIAN LAND, S.C.

As Easter approached, the ad ran repeatedly on the Inspiration Network: David Cerullo, clutching a Bible, told viewers they, too, could receive prosperity, physical healing and other blessings God gave the ancient Israelites.

 

All they had to do, the televangelist said, was send $200 or more.

 

“Go to your phone,” he said. “Sow your Passover offering and watch God do what he said he would … Call now.”

 

Pitches like this have transformed the Charlotte-area cable network into one of the world’s fastest-growing Christian broadcasters, beaming into more than 100 countries on five continents. They’ve also helped turn Cerullo, Inspiration’s CEO and on-air host, into a wealthy man.

 

He brings home more than $1.5 million a year, making him the best-paid leader of any religious charity tracked by watchdog groups. His salary dwarfs those of executives leading far larger religious nonprofits.

 

David and Barbara Cerullo live in a 12,000 square-foot lakefront home in south Charlotte – complete with an elevator and an 1,100-square-foot garage. Their grown children also receive handsome salaries.

 

His network, with a budget of nearly $80 million last year, sprang from the remnants of Jim Bakker’s PTL Club. Cerullo and his colleagues have raised much of the money by repeating this on-air assertion: God brings financial favor to those who donate.

 

Cerullo says he’s heard from many people who’ve “reaped a harvest” after contributing.

 

But some donors are disillusioned. Rebecca Mills, 54, of north Mississippi, gave about $400 two years ago. Money was tight. But it was a time when she was recovering from breast cancer and trying to get closer to God.

 

The more she read the Bible, the more she wondered why she’d written those checks: “I could just … tell that what they were saying wasn’t right.”

 

Much of the money sent by people like Mills is now funding the City of Light, a 93-acre campus in northern Lancaster County, S.C., where the network’s plans include a sophisticated training and broadcast center.

 

Taxpayers are also helping to pay for it. Eager to bring jobs to a county with 19 percent unemployment, South Carolina offered the network incentives worth up to $26 million to land the campus – a deal that has been questioned by economic development experts.

 

Cerullo said he works hard for his salary and has turned down recommendations that he be paid more. He said his appeals to donors are based on God’s promises in the Bible, and that 80 cents of every dollar donated is spent to spread the Gospel.

 

“Ours is an organization based on accountability, based on integrity, based on trust,” the 56-year-old minister told the Observer. “We’ve proven that in the last 18 years over and over again.”

 

Rise of a broadcast power

 

The son of a well-known evangelist, David Cerullo didn’t grow up wanting to follow his father’s path.

 

As a teenager, he planned to be a doctor. But, at his parents’ request, he agreed to try Oral Roberts University, a Christian school in Oklahoma. There, he said, he began to feel God point him in another direction.

 

“In that still small voice in my spirit,” Cerullo said, “I felt God suggest to me, ‘Look, change your major to business, and I have other plans for you.’”

 

After graduating with a business degree, he joined his father’s ministry and eventually helped run it. He was ordained in 1974 by the Assemblies of God, but said that even today, “I am probably more comfortable in a roomful of CPAs and lawyers and bankers than I am in a roomful of preachers.”

 

His father, Morris, grew up in a Jewish orphanage in New Jersey and converted to Christianity at age 14. Later, Morris Cerullo staged worldwide crusades in which, his Web site says, “the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear.”

 

The Inspiration Network launched in 1990, when Morris Cerullo paid $7 million to buy the assets of PTL’s cable television network out of bankruptcy. David Cerullo became president.

 

Throughout most of the 1990s, the network differed from many other religious TV stations: It didn’t ask for donations on the air. Instead, it generated revenue by selling advertising and airtime for programs produced by other ministries.

 

That changed in 1999. David Cerullo decided Inspiration should create its own programs to spread God’s word. “We started to put a face on the network,” he said.

 

That required money, so the network began soliciting donations from the public. Increasingly, it came to rely on “prosperity preachers” – guest evangelists who told viewers that God favored those who donated.

 

The gifts grew rapidly, from about $200,000 in 1999 to about $40 million last year.

 

The influx of money has created a powerhouse of religious broadcasting.

 

The ministry’s flagship Inspiration Network carries a variety of programming, from shows featuring controversial evangelists John Hagee and Benny Hinn to Christian hip-hop videos and an adventure show for children. Twice a day, the network airs its homegrown “Inspiration Today!” show, in which Cerullo and other evangelists ask for contributions.

 

Generous pay

 

As their networks grew, David Cerullo and his wife built a comfortable life. Their home, in a gated south Charlotte community, is valued at $1.7 million, real estate records show.

 

Few nonprofit leaders are paid more than Cerullo. In 2007, he received roughly $1.52 million in base pay, along with other compensation totaling about $69,000, according to the ministry’s IRS filing.

 

Guidestar, which monitors nonprofits, compiles a database on thousands of charities – including 13,000 religious organizations that filed IRS returns for 2006, the last year with complete records. None of the faith-based groups paid their leaders more than the Inspiration Network.

 

Even religious nonprofits with vastly larger budgets pay their presidents substantially less, the Observer found. The Christian Broadcasting Network, founded by Pat Robertson, has a budget roughly four times larger than Inspiration’s. Compensation to CBN’s president totaled $344,000 in 2007.

 

Concern about Cerullo’s salary prompted Wall Watchers, which monitors religious charities, to issue a “donor alert” to caution people about giving to the Inspiration Networks.

 

“That amount of salary is outrageous and out of sight,” said Rodney Pitzer, research director for the Matthews-based group.

 

Cerullo declined to discuss Wall Watchers’ warning.

 

His family is also on the payroll. His wife, Barbara, received about $198,000 in total compensation in 2007, according to Inspiration’s IRS return. Son Ben, daughter Becky and their spouses, who also work there, received a total of nearly $400,000, according to a network spokesman.

 

Barbara heads Inspiration’s women’s ministry. Ben, ordained by his grandfather’s ministry, oversees youth efforts. Becky is starting a network aimed at 18- to 34-year-olds. Becky and Barbara are not ordained ministers.

 

IRS rules prohibit nonprofits from paying “unreasonable compensation” to officials. But the agency examines the returns of fewer than 8,000 of the 1.8 million tax-exempt organizations each year.

 

A paid independent consulting firm recommends the salaries of Inspiration’s executives, including Cerullo, according to spokesman John Roos. The board of directors makes the final decision.

 

Cerullo said he and his wife, both of whom sit on the board, recuse themselves from discussions about his salary and abstain from the votes.

 

For a while, though, that arrangement apparently left just one board member to decide his salary. From late 2005 to 2008, the board consisted of only three members, including Cerullo and his wife.

 

The board expanded to four members last year and to six members this year, officials say. Today, the board is chaired by Cerullo and includes a fundraising expert and a neighbor who helps run a communications firm.

 

Cerullo says he earns his pay, typically working 60 to 80 hours a week. He oversees four cable networks, a ministry and a television production company, all while playing a key role in developing the City of Light complex, he said.

 

The board received a recommendation that he be paid “substantially” more, Cerullo said, but he turned down the additional money because “I am blessed beyond my imagination … I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I won’t take it.”

 

He said he knows of other religious nonprofits that pay their CEOs more, but he wouldn’t identify them. He also declined to share a salary survey used to set his pay. But he said that study looked at compensation for cable network CEOs, church pastors and ministry leaders.

 

Cerullo said the “average preacher” probably would not have the business know-how to do what he does, and that his salary is still below what his peers earn at cable networks such as Discovery and CNN.

 

Cerullo’s staff is also well-paid. More than 25 of the network’s 330 employees collected over $100,000 in 2007, the IRS filing shows.

 

Roos, Inspiration’s senior vice president for marketing, said the network examines national salary averages before setting any employee’s pay.

 

“This is a high-tech, very specialized (operation),” he said. “…That comes with a price tag.”

 

Still, two larger religious broadcasters, Trinity Broadcasting Network and CBN, had fewer employees earning six-figure salaries, records show.

 

Inspiration has chosen not to join the 1,385-member Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), which sets standards for governance and fundraising by Christian charities. “I don’t believe in organizations that set themselves up to create burden with very little benefit,” Cerullo said.

 

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who is investigating the finances of six other televangelists, questioned why any religious nonprofit would decline to join ECFA, which he likens to a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

 

Grassley would not comment specifically about the Inspiration Network, but told the Observer that leaders of religious nonprofits should be careful not to use viewers’ donations to adopt “filthy rich” lifestyles. Grassley wants to know whether some nonprofits are violating the spending rules that allow them preferential tax treatment.

 

“I saw (PTL’s) Jim Bakker treating his organization like a personal ATM,” said Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which helps shape the nation’s tax laws. “Any religious organization ought to get away from that impression.”

 

“Debt cancellation!”

 

Emotional on-air pitches generate much of the money used to pay network salaries. In March, Morris Cerullo appeared on Inspiration’s “camp meeting” with a message to fire up prospective donors.

 

“Is anybody ready for the greatest financial breakthrough you’ve ever experienced in your life?” he asked.

 

The elder Cerullo, a Pentecostal minister, at times appeared to speak in tongues. His gravelly voice periodically rising to a shout, he urged members of the audience to fill envelopes with $900 donations.

 

“When you sow for your financial anointing, the windows of heaven are going to open for you,” he said. “ … In the next nine months, you are going to experience more financial blessings than you’ve ever experienced in your life! 100 fold! Debt cancellation!”

 

Soon, these words appeared on the screen: “Call now with your $900 offering and receive God’s debt cancellation.”

 

Until about four years ago, the elder Cerullo had served as an unpaid member of the network’s board.

 

Like other prosperity preachers who raise money for INSP, Morris Cerullo has been criticized for his fundraising methods. In 2005, he was indicted in California for tax evasion, but the charges were later thrown out.

 

David Cerullo says he believes in his father – and that good things will happen to donors. He said he has gotten many letters and e-mails from contributors who “received what I would call a harvest.” He declined to name them.

 

“I don’t back off … the concept that seeds produce harvest,” he said. “It’s naturally accurate. It’s biblically accurate. It’s spiritually accurate…. The Bible says give, and then what? Then it will be given unto you.”

 

Laura Gamble is among those who believe her seeds have yielded fruit. The 69-year-old Easley, S.C., resident said she’s a regular viewer and contributor. She believes her donations have had something to do with improvements in her health, she said.

 

“I just got out of the hospital, and I’m having a good recovery,” she said. “It’s God looking out for me.”

 

Donors fuel rapid growth

 

Texas televangelist Mike Murdock, Morris Cerullo and the other ministers raising much of the network’s money adhere to a much-criticized brand of evangelism called prosperity gospel, which holds that God rewards them and their faithful donors with financial prosperity. With the Inspiration Networks and other broadcasters spreading their messages around the globe, those prosperity preachers have in recent years watched their audiences swell.

 

The financially desperate are among those most likely to be drawn to such pitches, experts say.

 

Janet Gibbens, 60, of northern California, was holding down odd jobs and barely making ends meet about five years ago when she saw Morris Cerullo on the Inspiration Network. She’d been reading Cerullo’s books and listening to his preaching for years. When he called himself a prophet of the Lord, she believed him.

 

On the air, the elder Cerullo urged viewers to donate to the network – and then prepare to receive “financial blessings that would stagger the imagination,” she recalled.

 

“I wanted to have something more than this poverty,” she said. “If I coughed up the $200 … He was God’s emissary, you know. If you did that in obedience, the sky was the limit.”

 

So she sent about $200 – all that remained in her bank account, she said.

 

But her financial situation never improved. About three years ago, she began reading information that caused her to doubt the claims of the people she had trusted. Her faith in those ministers evaporated and was replaced by rage. She now wonders why she ever believed Cerullo’s claims. “It’s almost like a brainwashing, that they can convince you to give all your money,” she said.

 

In recent years, the debate over the prosperity gospel has been the subject of cover stories in national magazines, theological conferences and Grassley’s Senate inquiry. Critics say preachers who espouse it – from PTL’s Jim and Tammy Bakker in the 1980s to Missouri-based Joyce Meyer today – distort the Bible to justify their luxurious lifestyles.

 

“If that was Christ’s message, then I want to know why he wound up on the cross. That’s not prospering,” said the Rev. Mike McDonald, pastor at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Mooresville. “He warned against seeking material gain – often quite explicitly.”

 

Rev. Michael Horton, a California theology professor who edited “Agony of Deceit,” a book that examines the claims of fundraising televangelists, said such appeals lead to “a kind of Ponzi scheme.”

 

“Certainly it works out very well for whoever’s at the top,” he said.

 

One former Inspiration employee, who asked not to be named, said many of the network’s donors were elderly people of limited means who hoped that giving to the network would help them “turn their own situations around.”

 

She said she valued the network’s mission of saving souls, but was troubled by the growing number of on-air promises that God would bring good things to donors.

 

“That teaches people that the things of God are for sale,” she said. “I just have a problem with that. That stuff’s not for sale.”

 

Staff researcher Maria David contributed.

 

 

I-Team investigates the Inspiration Network Article By DAVE WAGNER, NewsChannel 36 from, November 27, 2008

 
 

I-Team investigates the Inspiration Network

 

 

09:33 AM EST on Thursday, November 27, 2008

 

By DAVE WAGNER / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Dave: DWagner@WCNC.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A warning for donors to stop giving to a Christian television network headquartered here in Charlotte.

It’s a network that preaches if you sow your financial seed, God can make you debt free, even a millionaire.

The I-Team explores the Inspiration Network and its so-called “gospel of prosperity.”

“Tonight is the poorest you’ll ever be,” evangelist Mike Murdock said on Inspiration Network.

It is a pitch for prosperity…  

“Tomorrow, somebody’s gonna drive a Mercedes,” said evangelist Larry Huch on Inspiration Network.

That some call the gospel…

“If you can’t trust God for $58 you’ll never be debt free,” Murdock said on Inspiration Network.

And others call greed.

“They’re preying on the emotionalism, the tough times of the moment,” said Warren Smith with Wall Watchers.

 From their studios in Charlotte, North Carolina…

“You got to act tonight. Now! In Jesus name,” said evangelist Morris Cerullo on Inspiration Network.

To a self-proclaimed audience of 18 million homes…

“Jesus was not poor,” said Huch on Inspiration Network.

The Inspiration Network is attracting millions in donations…

“According to this book, I can give my way into the future,” Murdock said on Inspiration Network.

And the scrutiny of a ministry watchdog group.

“We would warn donors about the Inspiration Network,” Smith said.

Critics call them “televangelist gunslingers.”

“If you’ve ever decided to obey the Holy Spirit, go to the phone right now,” Murdock said on Inspiration Network.

Pastors flown in to raise money for the Inspiration Network.

“I’m asking for 1,179 people,” Cerullo said on Inspiration Network.

Each promising a gift from God for a limited number of callers.

“There are 300 people I want to pray for that will set aside a $58 seed for the next 12 months,” Murdock said on Inspiration Network.

Mike Murdock is part pastor, part P.T. Barnum… theology and theatrics.

“You have a Jehovah gyro in your life,” he said on Inspiration Network

His “prosperity” pitch filled with drama and the promise of divine miracles.

“They did a geological report and when it came back they found gold on her 27 acres of ground. This happened after a $58 seed,” Murdock said on Inspiration Network.

In 2006,  the Inspiration Network paid Murdock $100,000.

And with a $696 donation to the Inspiration Network, Mike Murdock claims it can happen to you.

“My goal is for 300 people to hear the wisdom that God gives my heart for them to become millionaires for the sake of the Kingdom of God,” Murdock said on Inspiration Network.

“I think there are some donors who are very vulnerable to that message,” Smith said. “Especially in tough economic times, you’ll find that there are a couple of growth industries. One is the lottery and the other is prosperity preachers.” 

“Tomorrow, somebody is miraculously gonna have their debts cancelled,” Huch said on Inspiration Network.

“It instead treats Jesus or God as a ‘cosmic bellhop,'” Smith said.

Smith is with Wall Watchers, a Christian ministry watchdog group based in Matthews, N.C.

These are files on 500 of the largest ministries in America. Their financial statements are reviewed by staff, including a certified fraud examiner.

“Our primary concern is that even if you agree with their theology, they have a moral and legal responsibility to be open and transparent,” Smith said.

Wall Watcher’s website, www.ministrywatch.com, analyzes and grades the ministries according to financial transparency or openness.

“I believe that financial integrity and accountability is extremely important,” said Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Ministry Watch gives the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association an “A” for financial transparency.

“My father for years, long before it was ever suggested, he told his board, ‘I want to be audited by an outside auditing firm. I want to make that audit public and we’ll let the world know how we’ve used the money,'” Franklin Graham said.

There’s a lot of money coming in to the Inspiration Network — $56 million in 2006. In a four-year period, $39 million in profit.

“Our concern is their donors don’t know where their money is going,” Smith said.

The gospel of prosperity has been a goldmine for Inspiration CEO David Cerullo. His salary in 2006 was $1.6 million.

“It’s certainly out of bounds of what we see as best practice within the ministry world,” Smith said.

Cerullo and his wife, Barbara, live in a gated neighborhood in south Charlotte. Their 8,200-square-foot home, with a pool and elevator, can be seen from the air, valued at more than $1.6 million.

In some of the network pitches, viewers are told to send their donations directly to Cerullo himself.

“Send your check or money order to David Cerullo…”

While there’s no evidence donations are being misappropriated, it’s another red flag for Wall Watchers.

“If checks are literally made out to him personally, as opposed to the network itself, there’s no way to know for sure where that money ends up,” Smith said.

Three years ago, the Inspiration Network’s articles of incorporation were rewritten to require just three board members, two of whom are David and Barbara Cerullo.

“So it’s hard to understand how the board of the Inspiration Network could be truly independent and fulfill their legal fiduciary responsibilities of independence,” Smith said. “We would counsel that donors not give money to the organization.”

Despite being on TV every day of the week, David Cerullo declined our request for an on-camera interview. Instead, a spokesman released this statement:

“Our policy is not to engage in public discourse regarding accusations against our ministry. We are audited annually by an independent accounting firm.  Every year we file Form 990 with the IRS which provides complete transparency about our income and expenses. Inspiration Ministries is in good standing with both the IRS and the North Carolina Secretary of State. Never in our 18 year history have we had a formal complaint from any regulatory agency.”

Even if you’ve never phoned in a dime, you could be helping to pay for the Inspiration Network’s new headquarters.

The so-called “City of Light” is just across the border in Indian Land, S.C.

And the I-Team discovered the state of South Carolina handed the tax-exempt Inspiration Network a $1.2 million economic development grant to pay for road, water and sewer construction.

“In effect, whether we choose to be a donor to that organization or not, we are, in fact, a donor to that organization if we pay taxes,” Smith said.

“How many would like to have some prosperity in your life. I’m not against prosperity. I’m for it,” Huch said on Inspiration Network.

As the prayers and pitches for prosperity continue on the airwaves, some critics question who’s really getting rich.

“Money is a weapon. Money is a bridge. Money’s a tool,” Murdock said on Inspiration Network.

“Any donor ought to look really before they gave money to the Inspiration Networks,” Smith said.

“Money’s an instrument. The Bible says money answereth all things,” Murdock said on Inspiration Network.

Again, we want to emphasize there’s no evidence donations are being misappropriated. The I-Team asked the Inspiration Network for more details on where those donations are going and we were denied.

MinistryWatch.com was founded by a devout Christian and their website acknowledges ministries who are good stewards of your donations.

At this point, Ministry Watch has not yet given the Inspiration Network a grade for financial transparency.

Mike Murdock Preacher from Hell

I JUST SAW Mike murdock (inspirationtoday.com )tell his audience ” if your having credit card problems sow a $ 1000 seed on your credit card and wait for relief from your problem”

Makin’ Da Money .. Anyway I Can

Mike Murdock is one of these preachers who can stand in front of virtually anyone and preach about getting rich and never blink an eye. He has no shame when it comes to asking for money and promising you will get it back 30, 60, 100 fold. He continues to amaze me yet today. Read below and see for yourself. You also will be amazed.

**********************************************

Peter Sumrall, the CEO of LeSea Network gave this endorsement on Mike Murdock, “This is one of the most dear friends of the ministry over the years.  Helping us out in telethons…You are probably the greatest blessing to Christian television since it started.”
Mike Murdock:
“…It would astound you if I kept every single letter…recorded every single testimony…that has occurred because of the seed of $58…However, thousands who believe God, have seen miracles.  Remarkable miracles.  I do believe that any miracle you ever receive from God will require an act of faith on your part.  I also believe that you will have to believe some man or woman of God…somewhere…sometime…before God ever releases a miracle toward you.  ‘Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper,’ 2 Chronicles 20:20.
Here Are 12 Undeniable Facts:

11.  Your reaction to a man of God determines God’s reaction to you.
12.  You may be required to rely on a prophet’s word alone instead of your own inner confirmation.  This happened to the widow of Zarephath.  It was the word of the prophet she believed.
I want you to place this letter on your personal Bible, on 1 Kings 17.  Please do it now as I pray this prayer over your Uncommon  Seed of $58….At some point in your life…’When you want something that you have never had, God will tell you to do something that you have never done.’
That’s when your journey of Miracles will really begin…
P.S…!  I am asking for 3,000 miracles through this tape..during this Season of Obedience…your seed of $58 could be the Golden Seed that unleashes the most uncommon miracles you’ve ever experienced!!…Sow your seed today.”
(Mike Murdock, letter from his ministry 2005)
Note: Can we buy miracles from God?  Mike Murdock may claim throughout this letter that “Nobody can buy a miracle from God.”  But if he truly believes this he is sending mixed messages by these quotes above that say the exact opposite.
“I broke the back of poverty with the $1,000 seed.  I broke the back of poverty with the $1,000 seed.  Listen carefully, this is, this is, possibly, possibly the most critical seed that you have ever planted in your lifetime.  Because there is an anointing.  I heard double portion.  Did I hear double portion yesterday [Steve Munsey]?  There is going to be a doubling of your wisdom in six months.  We’re going to come in agreement, this is not for everybody.  Every harvest requires a seed.  God never opens His hand, opens His windows until we open our hands.  But listen carefully, I don’t know where you are going to get it.  But if you can’t even faith in a $1,000 seed to sow, how can you ever be debt free?  If you can’t even call in seed, how could you call in a harvest?  You have to work with your faith for the seed before you can call in the harvest.  But the Holy Spirit is giving me faith for 1189 miracles in the next 30 minutes or so.  1189, now that’s not all.  But there is a strong anointing for 1189 miracles.  I’m going to tell you the three that I believe you will feel a special faith to focus the $1,000 seed for.”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Fall, “Share-A-Thon,” September 14, 2004)
“This  $8,500 out of your church will possibly be the most strategic seed that you’ve ever planted in your lifetime and ministry!  When God wants you to have a harvest, He asks you for a seed that authorizes it!  When God has a future for you He talks to you about a seed!”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Spring “Share-A-Thon,” February 28, 2005)
“The instruction you follow determines the future you create.  If you never do it again, do it now [Sow a $1,000 seed]!  If you called in already and something is stirring you up to plant the extra $1,000 to raise a faith promise up another level to this level.  Please do it now!  Don’t sit there with your hands closed.  Don’t sit there with your hands closed.  Open your hands.  When I open my hands God opens His hand.  My seed talks to God.  My seed is a picture of my covenant to God.  When God see’s my seed it is the way He remembers me!”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Fall, “Share-A-Thon,” September 14, 2004)
“This is the gift to the first 1189 who obey the voice of the Spirit.  His sheep know his voice and another they will not follow…Nobody can help you obey the Holy Spirit.  Nobody can force you.  Nobody can sow your seed for you…When God wants to bless you He talks to you about a seed.  Holy Spirit, I told your people what you told me to say.”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Fall, “Share-A-Thon,” September 14, 2004)
“Delayed obedience becomes disobedience.  Nobody can call for you.  Nobody can call for you.  Quickly go to the telephone.  Call the number that’s on the screen.  Do it now!…Quickly go to the phone, dial the number that is there and say, ‘I’m one of the 1189 that the Holy Spirit is speaking to.”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Fall, “Share-A-Thon,” September 14, 2004)
“The third, I feel so strongly that God will give you a debt, a debt free house, supernaturally.  It may not happen in three months, might not happen in six.  But it’s going to happen, according to your faith.”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Fall, “Share-A-Thon,” September 14, 2004)
“I also feel impressed that this $1,000 seed should be planted within six months.  This $1,000 seed should be planted.  you may have $100 now.  You may have the whole $1,000 now.  You may have $50 now.  But I feel so strong that this $1,000 seed is the turning point seed of your financial life and your financial world.”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Fall, “Share-A-Thon,” September 14, 2004)
“God had a son and needed a family.  So He used His son as a seed to get a harvest.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, April 20, 2004)
“I’m asking for 300 people who need big miracles (when you call and give $1,000).”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, April 20, 2004)
“You can’t wait another day or two for your healing or miracle…go to the phone and sow your $1,000 seed for your harvest.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, April 20, 2004)
“God had a Son.  But, He wanted a family, so He planted His Son to get a family.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“Widow woman!  If you keep that $200 that will be your harvest…Nothing leaves heaven until something leaves earth.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“There is one of the 300 people that can give the $600 all at once.  that kind of faith releases a swift response from God.  When you let go of what’s in your hand God let’s go of what’s in his.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“If you are one of the 300 to plant $200 a month for the next three month’s, God has a harvest for you.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)

“Go to the phone, Quickly!  Dial the number and say, ‘I’m one of the 300 to sow $200 for the next three month’s.’  Your seed has never had so much power.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“If you have ever decided to obey the Holy Spirit, do it today…Holy Spirit I told your people what you told me to say…If you are ever watching a program ordained by the Holy Spirit, this is the one.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“There is a Bible school student that has money set aside.  God is telling you to sow the $200 for the next three months.  Go to the phone son, don’t negotiate with the Holy Spirit.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“The next three month’s are critical in your life, very critical…I want to pray for 300 miracles like Gideon had 300 men.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“Tulsa is great because of these men that walk with God; Hagin, Oral Robert’s, and Richard Robert’s.
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)

“Your mouth is a magnifier.  Faith that isn’t spoken isn’t faith.  You have to speak it.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“God has one obsession, that’s to be believed…God’s only need is to be believed.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“God will never tell you a logical instruction.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)

“If you take that into your spirit you will reach millionaire status in three years.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)
“I have no arguments with people in other religions.  Because they are living their persuasions.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, May 6, 2004)

“I’m going to ask for 300 people in the next 50 minutes, 300 people who need big miracles…When I am done, go to the phone and say, ‘I am one of Gideon’s 300.’  I’m asking 300 to give a seed of $1,000 for your harvest.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, April 20, 2004)

“There are 12 people that will give $1,000 for every member of your family…Put your sons name on the check…Put your husbands name on the check.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, April 20, 2004)

“There is an anointing on the $1,000 seed right now!”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, April 20, 2004)

“God is willing that none should perish, yet many are perishing.  The will of God is rarely accomplished here on earth.”
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, April 20, 2004)

Mike Murdock told the following story, a woman did not have any money for a $1,000 seed to sow into his ministry.  So, this woman took off her wedding ring and gave it to Mike Murdock as a seed since she did not have any money.  This woman asked Mike to pray the “100 fold” return found in Mark 10:28.  Mike prayed the “100 fold” prayer and took the ring.
Within a few days a person gave that same lady a ring worth 100 times her old ring.
(Mike Murdock, LeSea Television, Miracle Telethon, April 20, 2004)
“If you are not blessed at least hang around somebody that is, if you don’t have money hang around someone who does.”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Spring Share-A-Thon, March 1, 2004)

“Jesus didn’t treat everybody the same, if you treat everybody the same, what would be the reward for being your friend?”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Spring Share-A-Thon, March 1, 2004)

“God will always give you something illogical to do.  God will never give you something logical to do, you can do the logical stuff yourself….Holy Spirit I told the people what you told me to say.”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Share-A-Thon, September 15, 2003)

“God doesn’t talk to your mind, He talks to your heart.  God doesn’t talk to your logic, He talks to your faith.”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Share-A-Thon, September 15, 2003)

         
“God still hasn’t recovered from the time that Satan doubted him….all God wants is someone to believe in him…God needs people to believe in him”
(Mike Murdock, Daystar Share-A-Thon, September 15, 2003)

“Ministry documents show that several individual donors give thousands of dollars. Murdock urges people watching his TV program, Wisdom Keys, to sacrifice by giving money to his ministry even if they cannot afford to do so.  He says God will provide.  He also asks them to send specific dollar amounts, such as $58.
Many do just that.  In December 2003, more than 60 checks written for $58 were returned to the ministry because the donors’ checking accounts had too little money to cover them.  Other months reviewed showed similar returned checks.
‘We can’t help it when someone writes us a check for insufficient funds,’ Prus said.  ‘Every person has their own talents and abilities, and if it’s not accounting and keeping up with their own checkbook balances, I can’t help that.  But I do pray for them, obviously, to be blessed financially.'”
(Mike Murdock, “Televangelist Mike Murdock moves financial books behind closed doors,” Forth Worth Star-Telegram, USA, December 15, 2004)
“Murdock’s 2003 compensation more than tripled, to $439,397, compared with that in 2002.  That included speaking fees, “love offerings” from the public and a $25,000 Christmas bonus.  By comparison, Viney Chandler, chief executive of the United Way of Metropolitan Tarrant County (Texas), received $254,785 in 2003.  She oversaw $29 million in revenue, about twice that of Murdock’s ministry, according to IRS forms.”
(Mike Murdock, “Televangelist Mike Murdock moves financial books behind closed doors,” Forth Worth Star-Telegram, USA, December 15, 2004)
“In August 2003, the ministry reimbursed Murdock’s sister, Deborah Murdock Johnson, $1,226.31 for repairs to a 1997 Seadoo Speedster that does not belong to the ministry.  Johnson lives in Leesville, La., across Lake Vernon from the ministry-owned property where she does contract work. She uses the boat as a water taxi, according to a Louisiana company that repaired the boat dock on the ministry’s property.  Prus declined to comment.
In 2002 and 2003, the ministry gave $72,000 to televangelist Robb Thompson of Tinley Park, Ill. Murdock has described Thompson as one of his closest friends.
The figure includes an April 2003 check for $8,500 with the notation “B. Day gift.”  In July 2002, the ministry gave Thompson a $25,000 check with the notation “happy birthday!!”  Thompson received another check that year for $15,000 with the notation “one house note!”  No records of reimbursement for the checks could be found.
Thompson did not return a phone call seeking comment.  Thompson’s birthday is in April, Illinois driver’s license records show.”
(Mike Murdock, “Televangelist Mike Murdock moves financial books behind closed doors,” Forth Worth Star-Telegram, USA, December 15, 2004)

Mike Murdock is scheduled to appear at “Faith Week” July 18-25, 2004 at Robb Thompson’s church with Word Faith teachers: Ken Copeland, John Avanzini, Jesse Duplantis, and Joyce Meyer.
Article from the Houston Chronicle March 2, 2003

Also see Profit in the Pulpit (off site link)

Ministry spends most of its money on overhead
Associated Press
Chronicle file

Evangelist Mike Murdock
FORT WORTH — The ministry of a Texas evangelist who asks followers to give money to help the poor spends more than 60 percent of its funds on overhead, including his salary, and only a tiny amount on helping the needy, according to a published report.
For nearly a decade, less than 1 percent of donors’ money to the Mike Murdock Evangelistic Association has been used for such charitable works, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in today’s editions.
The ministry, founded as a nonprofit corporation, pays Murdock, 56, a salary that helps him maintain a lifestyle that includes Rolex watches, expensive sports cars and exotic animals, the newspaper reported after a six-month investigation.
Murdock usually asks donors for small amounts. On his television program, at seminars and in books, Murdock encourages people to give money. In return, he promises that God will restore relationships, heal bodies and provide financial help with rewards that will be 100 times their gift.
“If any of this money is for Mike Murdock’s personal gain, may a curse be upon me and my ministry and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,” he often says.
In 2000, the ministry received $3.9 million.
According to IRS documents filed by the ministry, Murdock received $104,819 in pay and $138,000 in benefits or deferred compensation in 2000. That put him above the 90th percentile of managers of similar-sized nonprofit groups, according to GuideStar, a national database operated by the Philanthropic Institute, a nonprofit organization in Williamsburg, Va., that collects IRS data about charities.
From 1993 to 2000, IRS records show his compensation package averaged $241,685 a year, or about 9 percent of the $21 million the ministry took in during that period.
From 1997 to 1999, he drew from a $138,000 annual expense account. By comparison, in 2000, the combined expense accounts for the chief executive officers or directors of the five largest Christian nonprofit organizations — who oversaw $1.5 billion in revenue — was $25,671.
In 2000, when the ministry received $3.9 million, it spent $2,056 on “needy families and benevolence.” It spent $65,348 on flowers and gifts. In 1998 and 1999 combined, the ministry spent $27,247 on needy families and benevolence out of $5.6 million raised.
Friends and relatives said he is generous.
His brother, John Murdock, said the evangelist “has given lots of money to people you’ll never know about.”
Murdock began preaching in 1966 at age 19 and established his evangelistic association as a nonprofit organization in 1973 in Lake Charles, La.
Murdock came to the public’s attention in the early 1980s on The PTL Club, a television program with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, then developed his own television ministry. He frequently appears on the programs of more widely known televangelists, such as faith healer Benny Hinn.
The ministry is based in Denton, but Murdock has low profile in the college town. The size of his television audience is unclear. The ministry recently bought time on the Black Entertainment Television network, which Murdock said gives the show a potential viewership of 72 million households.
Murdock declined to be interviewed by the Star-Telegram unless everything he said was printed verbatim. He has labeled those examining the ministry’s operations as satanic, but he has made recent changes in the organization.
Murdock recently announced that his brother, John, left the board after years and was replaced by a ministry staff pastor. He also fired the ministry’s accountants of about 10 years and hired an attorney experienced in nonprofit organizations and asked for an audit of his operations.
An official with the new accountants, Chitwood & Chitwood of Chattanooga, Tenn., said some financial information was reported incorrectly to the Internal Revenue Service. The official blamed the ministry’s former accountants.
The ministry released its IRS filings, as federal law requires tax-exempt organizations to do, but staff members have refused to make public its books and financial records as required by state law, the newspaper reported.
The newspaper pieced together details of Murdock’s lifestyle from documents obtained by the Trinity Foundation, a televangelist watchdog group in Dallas; Denton County property-appraisal records; a report of a burglary at his home; interviews; and excerpts from his broadcasts and books.
Murdock wears a $25,000 Rolex watch and drives a $70,000 BMW 745. Since August, he has had the use of a ministry corporate jet valued at $300,000 to $500,000.
Murdock has said he was given the watches, expensive suits, and several cars. He has said that he is poorly paid considering the hours he works.
“May I never have what God has chosen not to give me,” Murdock said during a seminar in October in Grapevine. “But may I always have what he wants me to possess.”

“At the 2004 International Gathering of Champions held at Matthew Ashimolowo’s Church Kingsway International Christian Centre, the following people were featured speakers: Mike Murdock, Keith Butler, Bishop Eddie Long, T. D. Jakes, Juanita Bynum, and Morris Cerullo,” His website.
“At the 2001 International Gathering of Champions held at Matthew Ashimolowo’s Church Kingsway International Christian Centre, the following people were featured speakers: Myles Munroe, Bishop Eddie Long, T. D. Jakes, and Mike Murdock,” His website.
At the Morris Cerullo 34th annual World Conference in Orlando Florida on January 2-6, 2005 some of the people attending were: Myles Munroe, Keith Butler, Tommy Tenney, Steve Hill, Benny Hinn, Steve Munsey, Mike Murdock, and Perry Stone.
         
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
Matthew 7:15
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
2 Peter 2:1-3
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
1 John 4:1

Mike Murdock: False Prophet!