Evangelicals named to ministry watchdog panel
By Adelle M. Banks
WASHINGTON (RNS) The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability has announced members of a commission to advise a Capitol Hill review of financial reform of religious groups.
Secularists, however, say the panel’s all-evangelical leadership will be unable to police other evangelicals.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked the council to lead an independent review of “self-reform” of religious organizations after he concluded a three-year probe of alleged lavish spending by six major broadcast ministries.
On Wednesday (April 13), the ECFA said the 15-member panel will include Oral Roberts University President Mark Rutland, Campus Crusade for Christ President Stephen Douglass and megachurch leaders Joel Hunter and Bishop Kenneth Ulmer.
Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, criticized the choices.
“Stacking this so-called `independent’ commission with people representing only one narrow religious viewpoint is entirely inappropriate,” he said.
ECFA President Dan Busby said the commission will seek advice from legal experts, leaders from a variety of faiths, and representatives of mostly secular nonprofits. The three-year process will include public meetings where anyone can make suggestions, he added.
“We have made a significant effort to set up a framework that will provide broad, broad input,” he said in an interview Thursday.
In a statement, Grassley said the commission’s mix of input is “important because some of the issues raised by my staff report apply to all charities, not just religious organizations.”