In December, 2002, NBC's Dateline broadcast an investigate report on Benny Hinn examining claims of miraculous healing
The report also asked, "Where does world-famous televangelistís money go?"
On March 6, 2005, Dateline broadcast a one-hour follow-up report. Among other things, it touched on money issues dealt with in a November, 2004 investigative report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Fifth Estate.
Dateline's report focused on the witnesses' accounts of Hinn's allegedly lavish lifestyle, as exemplified in such practices as staying in hotel rooms that cost several thousand dollars a night during layovers between ministry events, or frequently shopping at a posh Beverly Hill's store where his name happens to be on the window.
The Dateline broadcast also featured Nathan Daniel, a former employee with Hinn's organization, who claims to have been fired after he raised questions about the number of orphans actually sponsored by the ministry. Daniel said he was deeply troubled at the idea of malfeasance on the part of Hinn or his ministry and remarked, "To me, this was a fraud and deception being put across the people that are his donors."
Dateline was aided in its investigation by Ole Anthony, whose Trinity Foundation functions as an evangelical watchdog known for its investigations and exposes of televangelists.
Shortly after the March, 2005 Dateline program aired, The Trinity Foundation noted that Benny Hinn has sued Dateline:
Well, our long-awaited
follow-up investigation of Pastor Benny Hinn finally aired Sunday night March 6th. Two days earlier Benny and his buddies filed suit against NBC Television and Dateline producer Meade Jorgensen. (Read Benny Hinn's court filing
.) Benny's PR firm immediately sent out an E-mail denial of Dateline's story
, Brother Benny sent out a letter of his own
, and the Hinn team created a web site to extol Pastor Benny's virtues
In case you were working down at the soup kitchen and missed it, we've condensed Dateline's 43-minute expose down to just ten minutes for your viewing "pleasure," but be forewarned: you too may want to become a televangelist once you see the lifestyle of today's successful "Media Minister." See it here
Michael Horton is a professor of theology
at Westminster Seminary in California. He has edited a book called The Agony of Deceit -- What Some TV Preachers Are Really Teaching
(Moody, 1990), in which writers from diverse theological backgrounds take a critical look at a number of popular televangelists and their theologies in light of what the Bible says.
Horton feels many of those who faithfully watch TV ministers fail to exercise careful thought or spiritual discernment
about what they see and hear. "A lot of people, I think, who watch Benny Hinn or watch the TV evangelists more generally, think that what they're saying is authoritative -- after all they're on TV and they've written books," the editor of The Agony of Deceit says. "And we've lost the capacity to think critically and to weigh people in the light of what the scriptures teach."