In a year replete with outrageous fund-raising appeals, sexual scandal, and reports of financial mismanagement, the image of television preachers has been badly tarnished. Last month, however, the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) took a step toward proving it is serious about policing its ranks and restoring public trust in TV ministries.

The 1,300-member organization’s board of directors approved a code of ethics that, among other things, calls for full disclosure of all sources of income, including indirect staff remuneration such as bonuses, and housing and transportation allowances. With the adoption of its new ethics code, the NRB formally established its Ethics and Financial Integrity Commission (EFICOM). NRB members who fail to comply with the code will be denied use of the EFICOM seal, described by NRB executive director Ben Armstrong as the “Good Housekeeping seal of approval” for religious broadcasters.

The NRB will decide at next year’s annual meeting whether to make compliance a mandatory requirement for membership in the organization. If that step is taken, Armstrong said, the organization risks a membership loss.

Referring to the embarrassing PTL debacle, Armstrong said, “If [EFICOM] had been in place, conceivably this would not have happened.” He added that plans for EFICOM were well-rooted before the revelations of misconduct at PTL, though the events of recent months have “given greater relevancy to what we’re doing.”

Eficom’s Teeth

When the idea for EFICOM first surfaced, some observers regarded it as an effort to sidestep the more established Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). AS it turns out, however, EFICOM’S teeth ...

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