NRB member Larry Lea leaves the air in the wake of an ABC-TV exposé of televangelism.

As the nation’s religious broadcasters prepare to gather in Washington, D.C., later this month for their annual convention, they are once again facing tough questions about integrity and financial accountability within their ranks. The lastest round of questions has been prompted by an exposé segment on ABC’s “PrimeTime Live” that highlighted the practices of three Dallas-based television ministers: Robert Tilton, W. V. Grant, and Larry Lea.

Tilton and Grant have generally been regarded as outsiders to the mainstream evangelical broadcast community. Neither has official ties to any denomination or to national organizations, such as the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) or the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

Lea, however, has been a prominent NRB member. In 1990 he addressed the organization’s annual convention. And during the ABC interview with Diane Sawyer, Lea emphasized that his ministry had received the NRB Ethics and Financial Integrity Commission (EFICOM) seal of approval.

Following the November 21 broadcast, Lea complained that “PrimeTime” treated him unfairly. But about three weeks later, Lea announced he was going off television on December 29 for “an indefinite period” in order to re-evaluate his priorities and seek the counsel of other Christians. He also pledged to open his ministry to inspection by NRB.

Fund Appeals

“PrimeTime” raised questions about the truthfulness of Lea’s on-the-air fund appeals. Among the allegations leveled by ABC were charges that Lea raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a church in Auschwitz, Poland, but gave only a small percentage of that money to a church that had ...

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