Tampa - The founders of Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries apparently have decided to cooperate with a U.S. senator's inquiry into ministry finances.
Staff for U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said they expected to receive a packet of information from Randy and Paula White on Monday to address questions about whether the ministries have abused their tax-exempt status.
Grassley's staff did not know whether the material addresses all 28 areas of concern raised by the senator, who serves as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate's finance committee.
In a statement, Grassley said the ministries receive generous tax breaks as nonprofit organizations and he was glad to see the Whites and other ministries cooperate.
On Nov. 5, Grassley sent letters to the Whites and the heads of five other large ministries, saying that reports of their lavish lifestyles attracted his attention. He gave them a month to answer questions about church expenses, use of donations and business practices.
Other ministries under review are Joyce Meyer Ministries, Benny Hinn Ministries, Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International, Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries.
Randy White told his congregation that he wouldn't turn over financial and corporate documents, and joined a chorus of other ministers who said Grassley was attacking their faith.
Grassley, a longtime watchdog of nonprofits, said the probe is about tax policy, not religion.
Last month, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., joined Grassley's inquiry and gave the ministries until Monday to cooperate. Baucus, chairman of the committee, brought bipartisan heft to the probe and raised the possibility of subpoenas for those who don't comply.
Only Meyer has answered most of the questions; Hinn initially answered five of 28 questions, but Grassley staffers said that his ministry submitted more documents and data before the new deadline. Attorneys for the Dollars in Atlanta challenged the senator to subpoena the information, setting the stage for a legal fight. Long, another Atlanta-area evangelist, indicated last week that the ministry will cooperate.
"It's good to see the majority of the ministries offering information," Grassley said in a statement. "The ministries' sharing of material with the Senate committee in charge of tax policy shows an interest in accountability for their special tax status."
Through a spokesman, the Whites declined to comment for this report.