Cover Story

Lone sentry on the wall

"Lone sentry on the wall" Continued...

Issue: "Big bucks ministries," July 28, 2007

After months of criticism, JMM relented. The ministry sold the homes, paid $1.56 million in real estate and property taxes, and started making audited financial statements available on its website. Wall Watchers removed its donor alert and reported JMM's efforts at financial transparency.

Leonard doesn't expect all of the 29 ministries on Wall Watchers' "transparency watch" list to follow suit. The list reports ministries that refuse to make financial statements available. At least eight of the organizations, including Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar Ministries, have programs on TBN.

But Leonard does hope that at least a small percentage of donors will consider diverting donations to organizations that are more transparent with funds. He's convinced the work is important and says he has largely funded Wall Watchers himself, pouring in more than $2 million.

The effort is depleting his savings, but Leonard says it's worth it: "If we can just move 10 percent of donations from unworthy ministries to worthy ministries, that's a huge, huge impact."

There are signs the efforts may be working. After ABC's 20/20 ran its report featuring Wall Watchers and TBN, Leonard says he received more than 2,000 emails in response. Most were positive, he said.

But Leonard's favorite sign of progress so far is a money order Wall Watchers received from a man who discovered the group's work. On the "pay to" line, the donor had scratched out "Benny Hinn Ministries."

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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