According to numerous reports, investigators with the IRS and U.S. Postal Service served a search warrant on the Texas offices of televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn.
The Associated Press reports that anywhere from 40 to 50 agents descended on the location in Grapevine, Texas. Speaking to a local ABC affiliate, agents on the scene didn’t go into detail about the nature of the investigation but said that the search warrant was related to “primarily [with] investigating Title 26, which is tax evasion and general fraud against the government.”
Hinn was not present for the raid and is believed to currently be in Paris, France.
Prosperity preachers like Hinn often accumulate vast fortunes over time, which has made them the subject of harsh criticism from both conservativeand progressive Christians who say individual riches are antithetical to Christian teaching.
Hinn is also known for his “faith healing” church services, where he puts on massive displays showing faithful (and arguably complicit) congregants being knocked over by the power of the Holy Spirit delivered from his hands. It’s one of the oldest cons in the history of Christian broadcasting, but nevertheless a con that Hinn has continuously utilized over the years to help his ministry bring in an estimated $100 million annually, primarily from donations.
In addition to a separate IRS investigation in 2005, Hinn was one of six televangelists investigated by the U.S. Senate in 2007.
In a 2009 ABC News interview, anchor Dan Harris asked Hinn about a 9-year-old blind boy named William Vandenkolk who claimed in 2001 that his eyesight improved after one of Hinn’s healing services. When ABC followed up with Vandenkolk 6 years later, it turned out that his eyesight hadn’t improved at all. “I’d say I was caught up in the moment being as young as I was, thinking I could actually be getting my vision back,” Vandenkolk said.
When Harris confronted him with Vandenkolk’s story, Hinn replied, “These are things I cannot explain because I am not the healer.”
Watch a segment from ABC’s 2009 investigation on Hinn below:
Featured image via The Christian Post