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Praise and Dismay for Senate Scrutiny of Ministries' Finances

While some cheer inquiry into alleged misuses of church funds, others fear government intrusion.

A United States Senate committee is demanding a detailed look into the alleged lavish lifestyles of six prosperity gospel ministries, stirring both kudos and cries of concern from religious and First Amendment experts.

"If your house is in order, you have nothing to fear and much to gain from this process," megapastor Joel Hunter told Christianity Today. Hunter is senior pastor of the 12,000-member Northland, A Church Distributed, outside Orlando, Florida.

Some, however, worry that the Senate could be setting bad precedent.

"James Madison would be telling us, 'Take Alarm! Take Alarm!''' Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the journal First Things, told CT. "This is cause for alarm that a Senate committee would presume to directly exercise financial oversight of religious ministries."

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, head of the Senate Finance Committee, sent letters yesterday to six ministries—those led by Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, ...

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