Type to search

Ministry News Ministry Watch News

MinistryWatch Releases Faith Based Fraud

New book chronicles some of the most fascinating religious frauds of our time – and what we can do to prevent them

MinistryWatch this week released a new book, Faith-Based Fraud:  Learning from the Great Religious Scandals of Our Time.  The book is by MinistryWatch President Warren Cole Smith.

According to Smith, “From Jim Bakker to Bernie Madoff, some of the most notorious frauds of recent years have exploited religion.  This book explores why religion has played such a prominent role in financial fraud and how you can keep from becoming a victim.”

He said the book was written especially for donors to and leaders of Christian ministries.  “Very few ministries start out as fraudulent,” Smith said.  “But they begin to ignore the basic principles and processes of transparency and accountability.  What starts as sloppiness becomes, if unchecked, an environment in which waste, fraud, and abuse can thrive.”

Faith-Based Fraud tells the tragic but fascinating stories of the Bakkers and the Madoffs, as well as the infamous “Grassley Six,” televangelists who were investigated by Sen. Charles Grassley.  They included Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, and Paula White.  

These stories are often riveting in their own right, Smith said, “but the real reason I wanted to tell them was to show people how to prevent such scandals from recurring, and to show the world that Christians are committed to high standards of integrity.  History has shown that if we don’t police ourselves, the government will be quick to fill that gap.”

Smith said his ultimately goal is not to “tear down, but to build up” the evangelical church.  “We live in an increasingly secular, cynical, and skeptical age,” Smith said.  “Fraud and scandal in the church confirms the worst accusations against us.  But if we can show the world that such behavior is not acceptable, and that we are willing and able to hold ourselves to a higher standard, that can bring credibility to the church and enhance our witness in the world.

Faith-Based Fraud is available only from MinistryWatch.  For the months of September and October, the book will be sent as a thank-you gift to everyone who makes a donation to the ministry.  You can donate by clicking here.

The author, Warren Cole Smith, has been president of MinistryWatch since October of 2019.  He has more than 25 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur.  Prior to joining MinistryWatch he spent four years as vice president of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview.  He has had a nearly 20-year association with WORLD Magazine, as a writer, editor, radio and podcast host, and associate publisher.  He has written, co-written, or edited more than 10 books, including A Lover’s Quarrel With The Evangelical Church.  With Dr. Marvin Olasky, is the co-author of Prodigal Press:  Confronting The Anti-Christian Bias of the American News Media.  

Editor’s Note:  To read an excerpt from the book, a portion of the chapter on David Jeremiah and his Turning Point Ministries, click here.


Table of Contents

Introduction The Case for Accountability

Chapter 1 What Is Faith-Based Fraud?

Chapter 2 The Amazing Story of Charles Ponzi

Chapter 3 How Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker Redefined Faith-based Fraud

Chapter 4 Todd Bentley Takes The Money and Runs

Chapter 5 John Bennett and the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy

Chapter 6 Prayers, Ponzis, and Profits:  Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford

Chapter 7 Let A Thousand Toxic Weeds Bloom

Chapter 8 What Would Jesus Fly?

Chapter 9 What Happened At Willow Creek?

Chapter 10 Mark Driscoll Buys A Bestseller

Chapter 11 David Jeremiah and the Christian Industrial Complex

Chapter 12 What The Grassley Six Tells Us About Ourselves



End Notes