Should a charitable organization be required by law to make available to the public an audited financial statement showing how much donated income actually goes to the work or causes espoused by the organization?

No, according to an overwhelming majority of the representatives of thirty-one evangelical organizations who met in Chicago one afternoon last month to discuss issues related to that question.

The group was convened informally as an ad hoc body by Stan Mooneyham, president of World Vision International, and George Wilson, executive vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Included were leaders from major mission agencies, youth and campus ministries, relief organizations, religious broadcasting companies, and other parachurch groups.

The meeting was prompted by pending congressional legislation aimed at applying consumer protection concepts to charitable fund-raising activities. Several proposals were circulating in Congress at the time, reflecting the wide public concern about the scandalous fund-raising practices of some religious groups (see December 9, 1977, issue, page 60). The most-talked-about proposal was the one labeled H.R. 41, which contained a number of awkward—and probably unworkable—provisions (see November 4, 1977, issue, page 15), and it was temporarily shelved weeks before the Chicago meeting took place. (Committee action on it is expected sometime this year.)

Some evangelicals on Capitol Hill had expressed hope that out of the Mooney-ham-Wilson conference would come suitable guidelines and other valuable input for those working on legislative proposals. Instead, the conferees in a statement had these words for the government: 1. The proposed legislation is “unnecessary” ...

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