The following article originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal, noting National Christian Foundation as a good option for donors looking to give more wisely.
Heaven help us.
Jim Bakker, the disgraced 1980s televangelist whose "PTL Club" television empire was laid asunder by dual sex and money scandals, is out of prison and renouncing the prosperity gospel he once preached.
But churches, unfortunately, still provide fertile ground for scammers and con artists – from the secretary in the U.K. who was reported to have embezzled church funds to pay for a stamp collection, to a bankrupt Southern Baptist-affiliated foundation in Arizona that bilked elderly investors out of millions of dollars. Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges accusing a businessman of targeting church congregations in a giant Ponzi scheme.
Of the $569 billion that churchgoers and others are expected to donate to Christian causes this year world-wide, about 6%, $35 billion, will end up in the hands of money launderers, embezzlers, tax evaders, or unscrupulous ministers living too high on the hog, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass.
So how can you make sure your donation goes to the right place and what else should you consider before giving to your church or other house of worship?