"Control Freak" Televangelist

kenneth copeland CBS

CBS News producer Laura Strickler wrote this story for CBSNews.com.


As the Televangelist Kenneth Copeland continues to defy a Senate Finance investigation, internal ministry documents shed new light on how Copeland runs his $100 million church.
Church bylaws obtained exclusively by CBS News say Copeland is "empowered to veto any resolution of the Board" concentrating all key decision-making power in the televangelist.

The bylaws indicate the president of the board is Copeland but Copeland's family members also play a critical role. His wife is the vice president. The senior pastor, secretary and treasurer roles are filled by Copeland's son-in-law. The operations vice president and CEO slots are both filled by Kenneth Copeland's son, John. Other documents previously obtained by CBS indicate in addition to family members there are ten other members of the church's board.

"My first reaction was that Kenneth Copeland was a control freak," says William Josephson, the former head of New York State's Charities Bureau after reviewing the Kenneth Copeland Ministries bylaws.

"Because control is vested in him and his family to the exclusion of any alternative source of authority and it is very unusual," Josephson tells CBS News.

And the many donors to Copeland's ministry have no say in how the ministry functions. According to the bylaws the church "shall have no class of membership entitled to vote." Josephson says that with the exception of Catholic parishes, this is also unusual. "Most churches are congregational and the authority comes from the congregation. They are the ones who approve who becomes the pastor and who succeeds the pastorate."

Another ministry document filed with officials in Tarrant County, Texas, indicates the church spent $28 million on salaries in 2006. $13.3 million went to administrative staff. Former employees tell CBS News the Copelands have about 500 employees on staff at their sprawling Ft. Worth, Texas, compound. In a prior broadcast Copeland said his ministry takes in about $100 million a year in revenue, leaving the unanswered question of what the church does with the remaining cash flow.

Copeland has refused to provide Senate investigators with any of these financial details.

Kenneth Copeland Ministries CEO John Copeland recently went to the local IRS office to offer cooperation should the IRS conduct a church-tax inquiry. Copeland has said repeatedly that it is the responsibility of the IRS to police church-tax issues and not the business of Congress.
By Laura Strickler
  • Laura Strickler

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