UNDATED (AP) - Many conservative Christians feel misunderstood by the general public. To many of them, six televangelists under investigation by a Senate committee are an embarrassment. Critics say the ministers' on-air faith healings and fundraising, backed by self-serving misinterpretations of Scripture, reinforce stereotypes of greedy preachers and unquestioning followers.
But traditional Christians aren't universally celebrating the probe led by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa. Some wonder whether the investigation is the right way to end the wrongdoing, especially if it results in more government oversight of all ministries.
Garry McCaleb's senior counsel of James Dobson's Alliance Defense Fund. He says "huge constitutional questions are being raised."
The ministers under review include Benny Hinn of the World Healing Center Church and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas.
All the ministries preach a form of Word of Faith theology known as "prosperity gospel," which effectively teaches that God wants believers to be rich. The ministries have said separately that they are committed to following the tax laws, but it is not known whether they will all comply with Grassley's request by the deadline.