Five years after the adoption of the highly touted Ethics and Financial Integrity Commission (EFICOM), members of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) have voted to disband the program. According to bylaws adopted during the organization’s annual meeting in February, all nonprofit ministries with annual broadcast-related incomes of $500,000 or more will instead be required to be members in good standing in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). NRB officials said the change will affect 40 to 50 EFICOM organizations not already members of ECFA. Smaller nonprofit groups will come under the oversight of the NRB ethics committee.
The change marks the official end of a long—and sometimes rocky—road in the religious broadcasting industry’s efforts to police itself on financial matters, “It will mean that NRB is getting out of the accrediting business, essentially,” acknowledged organization president E. Brandt Gustavson. Although the NRB had been discussing the establishment of some sort of financial-accountability mechanism prior to 1987, the televangelism scandals precipitated the advent of EFICOM. However, after official approval of EFICOM, the NRB realized implementation would be more complicated than they had originally envisioned (CT, Mar. 9, 1992, p. 59).
The net effect of the new policy will be negligible, since ECFA already has been administering EFICOM. According to NRB chairman David Clark, that was part of the reasoning that led to the decision: “With ECFA doing most of the work, we said, ‘It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a separate organization, so let’s move together.’ ”
Jeffrey Hadden, sociology professor at the University of Virginia, said that while he agrees ...1
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