[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs on, Jan. 25, 2010]
If Todd Bentley has given "$8 million" to help the poor...
...I think that Canada's taxation authority, the Canada Revenue Agency, for one, might wonder how he has pulled it off...
On Saturday, Jan, 23, Todd Bentley on Twitter fielded this comment from someone else on Twitter:
costellost: @IamToddBentley Why not take it to Haiti? I suppose it's because Haitians can't pay you and that your "outpourings" are parlor tricks. 2 days ago from web
This led Todd Bentley to respond:
IamToddBentley: @costellost really your that judmental we've given over 8 million to the poor. U? 2 days ago from Twitterrific
This I think that I could fairly translate from "texingtese" as:
"Really, you're that judgemental? We've given over $8 million to the poor. And you?"
I don't presume to tell anyone how to spend their hard-earned money. But if you let your right hand, right foot, left foot, and the entire Internet know what your left hand is doing, as it were, it's fair for others to check whether you are telling the whole truth...
Mr. Bentley is hoping that nobody will try to fact-check this, but I would like to have a go at it.
This is unconfirmed, but I myself would make an educated guess that during his days with Fresh Fire in Canada, Todd Bentley earned roughly $100,000 Canadian annually in salary. If we recall that he was supporting a wife and kids on that, Bentley could well have afforded to give to the poor, but not in such a spectacular way as he implies he did in his "tweet".
And recall that during his various restoration videos with Rick Joyner, he has implied that he and Jessa are as poor as church mice. Moreover, at one time he was down to his last $20. Supposedly. Huge massive donations to the poor since Lakeland do not jibe with Todd's internet avowal of poverty.
Let's assume that "We" refers to Todd and the ministry he works with. ["We" could perhaps include Morningstar Ministries, which might mean that Todd Bentley is now a Morningstar employee and Fresh Fire USA a Morningstar subsidiary...but I don't think that is the case...or at least was the case in Bentley's mind when he was composing his text message.]
The first place to look to try to nail this down is for the Canadian tax returns for Todd's old ministry. Although, following the takeover instigated by Bentley's ex-wife and former mother-in-law, the ministry is now called Transform International, all the information applies to Fresh Fire Ministries (Canada) as it then was. The returns are available online, for the years 2000 to 2008 at the CCRA website. (Bentley has been in ministry since 1999, so this would be everything...)
The following sums are listed as "expendiures on charitable work the charity itself carried out" in the relevant years below. Keep in mind that, as Fresh Fire Ministries explained in its 2002 return, that it "works with Fresh Fire USA to preach the Gospel to other countries around the world." Although FFM did help the poor some times, it was not set up to be something like Samariatan's Purse, with that as it's main goal.
2000 $157, 598 Canadian
and 2003 $1,745,466
All this adds up to $3,835,617.
In 2004, the CRA started to demand a fuller breakdown of expenditures by charities, which can allow us to deduct things like rent on the Freh Fire buildings, exspenses for their former school, salaries and such. This leaves a category called "Other Expenditures", in which donations to help the poor could be included.
The following sums are listed for "Other Expenditires" for these years:
2005 $1,019, 625
2007 $654, 972
2008 $1,670, 311
All this adds up to $3,839,963
For a grand total of $7,675,580
Even if every cent of this was "given to the poor"--it's not $8 million. And Todd leaves us no room for leeway to help himself. Had he said "help" the poor, he could have finessed it by saying that preaching the Gospel and kneeing cancer victims on the stomach was helping the "spiritually poor". But he didn't, implying that his charitable works and his evangelistic words remain separate in his mind, as they would in the minds of most people reading him on Twitter.
I wouldn't say that Bentley never helps the poor. It's just that the tax returns for his ministry in Canada pretty well demonstrate that it is not plausible for Bentley to have given $8 million to the poor through his ministry given all the evangelistic work that he has done. Unless Bentley earned millions in revenue that was passed on to the poor, but never put on the Fresh Fire Ministries books, in which case Canada's tax authorities would like a word with him.
"I fed the poor in my crusades overseas!" he might say. Well, a look at his old itinerary would show that overseas trips were rather infrequent for Mr. Bentley. He is more the church conference and evangelistic meeting type rather than the type of evangelist to hold massive crusades in African stadiums. (That is, yes, he has held huge meetings overseas in front of tens of thousands--but that is not his forte.] In the many times that I have seen Bentley preach in Canada and the U.S., he offered no food to his audience.
Thousands spent on that sort of mercy ministries thing? Certainly. Hundreds of thousands? Perhaps. Millions? The support for that probably isn't there in Bentley's old ministry tax returns. Although I am not great at bookkeeping, I can't spot it.
Perhaps Mr. Bentley might try to point people looking for money for the poor to his old ministry, which in its 2008 tax return, after he was shown the door, listed these assets in its return:
Cash, Bank accounts, short term investments... $2,190, 510
Capital Assets... $1,614,802
(Other assets of various kinds and amounts)
All assets $4,323,171
...Which would imply, to the thoughful, that Bentley raised millions of dollars which his old ministry retained after he left.
Which he could have ordered to be given to the poor.
But chose not to.