David Jeremiah Returns Triumphant to NRB Despite Questionable Financial Dealings

By Warren Cole Smith
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This article is provided by a special partnership with MinistryWatch.com.

On the evening of Feb. 28, on the final night of the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters at Nashville’s Opryland Hotel and Conference Center, one of religious broadcasting’s best-known figures, David Jeremiah, took the stage as a conquering hero.

He was inducted into the NRB’s Hall of Fame. This exclusive club has less than 90 members, and they include Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, and Jerry Falwell.  It is easily the highest honor a Christian broadcaster can receive.

In accepting the honor, Jeremiah talked about his early days doing college radio at Cedarville University in Ohio, and he closed with an appeal to support NRB itself.  After mentioning that he had been coming to NRB meetings for 50 years, he added: “It’s important that we become ardent supporters of NRB.  What we do is more important than it has ever been.”

David Jeremiah

Much was unspoken—but well understood—by David Jeremiah’s appearance.  First, his words were an intentional show of support for an organization that has had its share of troubles the past few years and nearly went bankrupt in 2019. This year, Jeremiah made his appeal to a half-empty room, at the end of a conference that had barely half as many people in attendance as it did just three years ago. 

Secondly, his appearance and induction marked a triumphant return for Jeremiah.  For many years, the NRB required its members to also be members of the ECFA – the Evangelical Council for Financial Integrity.  But in 2010, David Jeremiah’s Turning Point Ministries lost its ECFA membership.

ECFA President Dan Busby said the organization has a policy of not giving reasons for an organization’s resignation, but a former Chief Financial Officer, George Hale, said a book-buying scheme—the same practice that brought down Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church—was a key reason for the resignation from ECFA membership. The book-buying scheme engaged in by Driscoll and by Jeremiah (which Hale said was “deceptive and unethical” and ultimately led to Hale resigning from the ministry) explicitly violated the ECFA’s ethical standards.   

And in 2010, if you weren’t a member of the ECFA, you couldn’t be a member of the NRB. 

Gaming the Best-Seller Lists

Gaming The New York Times bestseller list is not illegal, but Justin Taylor at Crossway Books called the practice “dishonoring to the Lord.” Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), calls it “unethical,” and ECFA adopted a rule against members in good standing engaging in it.

George Hale was chief financial officer of Turning Point Ministries from July 2007 until resigning in September 2009 because of his concerns about Turning Points’ practices.  Hale said each time Jeremiah released a book during his tenure as CFO, Turning Point radio and television programs promoted it, promising a free copy for a donation. This is standard fare for Christian radio. But, according to Hale, Jeremiah and Turning Point bought at least some of the books not at wholesale prices directly from the publisher, but at full retail prices from bookstores.  This practice violates the ECFA’s requirement that organizations buy books for fulfillment at the lowest possible price, which usually means directly from the publisher at the author’s price.  Authors do not receive royalties on such sales.

Jeremiah’s Turning Point Ministries “voluntarily resigned” its membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability on Jan. 31, 2010. ECFA’s Busby said the organization has a policy of not giving reasons for an organization’s resignation, but Hale said the book-buying scheme was the key reason for the resignation from ECFA membership.

Hale added, “I very much admire David Jeremiah and believe him to be one of the best Bible teachers in the world today. … I believe that David is blessed and chosen by God for this purpose.” But he believes Turning Point’s book-buying practice was “deceptive and unethical.”

“When a book is bought at the full retail price,” Hale said.  “The author gets a royalty and the agent gets a percentage.”  This scheme not only made it look like the book was selling well at the retail level, and therefore causing the book to show up on best-seller lists, but it also raises the possibility that ministry donations went directly into the pockets of David Jeremiah and his agent Sealy Yates, who—both then and now—serves on the board of Turning Point Ministries.

This scheme not only made it look like the book was selling well at the retail level, and therefore causing the book to show up on best-seller lists, but it also raises the possibility that ministry donations went directly into the pockets of David Jeremiah and his agent Sealy Yates . . .

How much money is involved?  George Hale says millions of dollars. “I never saw a contract between David Jeremiah and a publisher,” Hale said.  “But I did see an advance check made out to David for $3-million for a multi-book deal.”  Hale said the advance came from Faith Words, a Nashville publisher whose stable of authors includes Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and T.D. Jakes, among others. The books covered by the advance were The Coming Economic Armageddon (2010), I Never Thought I’d See The Day (2011), and God Loves You (2012), the book in which he bragged about his relationship with Result Source—the same company involved in Mark Driscoll’s book-buying scheme.

It is possible, of course, that these facts have an innocent explanation.  Did David Jeremiah donate the $3-million Faith Words advance to the ministry?  If he kept the money, did he disclose this income to the boards of Turning Point Ministries, which is responsible for setting his salary?  I placed dozens of calls to David Jeremiah and other members of the Turning Point staff to confirm Hale’s version of events and to give Jeremiah the opportunity to explain his version of events. None of these calls were returned.

However, in January of 2010, Jeremiah bought a $2-million condominium on Coronado Island, a resort community overlooking the Pacific Ocean near San Diego.  The website Zillow indicates the condominium is now worth more than $2.4-million and hasn’t been sold since Jeremiah’s 2010 purchase.

Changes at NRB and ECFA

Since Jeremiah’s resignation from the ECFA, the group has implemented stronger guidelines to prevent ministries from purchasing books in order to manipulate best-seller lists or to enrich the authors. (Traditionally, though, the ECFA tends to be lax in enforcing its standards as was recently exhibited when the group failed to flag the NRB, despite the organization spiraling towards bankruptcy for more than a decade.)

But the NRB seems to be moving in the opposite direction and has loosened its ties with the ECFA.  In 2010, ECFA membership was a requirement for all NRB members with more than $1-million in annual income. When Turning Point resigned its ECFA membership, that meant it had to resign its NRB membership as well.  A few months later, Jeremiah, who was scheduled to speak at the 2011 conference, withdrew from the agenda.

These twin resignations meant it is likely many leaders in the evangelical world knew of Jeremiah’s activities—and remained silent.  The reason for their silence is simple enough to understand:  It is in not in the interest of either Christian broadcasters or publishers to speak up.  Book publishers are obvious beneficiaries of these retail book sales.  In 2017 (the most recent year for which a Form 990 for Turning Point Ministries is available), Turning Point spent $10.4-million on “product fulfillment,” which is the cost of books and other materials sent to donors.

The reason for their silence is simple enough to understand:  It is in not in the interest of either Christian broadcasters or publishers to speak up.

Broadcasters receive large fees from David Jeremiah in order to air his program.  Since 2010, Turning Point has spent about $20-million a year on “broadcasting costs.”  That comes to nearly $200-million in the past decade alone.  Turning Point does not disclose the breakdown of these costs, but it is likely that much of that money is spent buying air time from NRB member stations and networks.

In short, David Jeremiah is a massive customer for NRB member radio stations, and for David Jeremiah not to be a member of NRB was embarrassing to both the NRB and to David Jeremiah.

So the NRB changed its rules in February of 2015.  It made it much easier for organizations like Jeremiah’s to be a member.  Again, the old rule required ECFA membership.  The new rule does not.  Here’s the new rule, in full, from the NRB’s website:

Nonprofit members of NRB whose donated broadcast revenue equals or exceeds $1,000,000 annually must be certified as meeting the financial accountability standards of one of the current nationally recognized charity-assessment organizations, including ECFA, Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, or others as designated by the NRB Executive Committee.

Nonprofit members of NRB whose donated broadcast revenue is less than $1,000,000 annually will meet NRB’s in-house standards established by the NRB’s Ethics Committee.

Denominational and church-sponsored broadcasts are exempt from the accountability requirements.

For-profit members of NRB are exempt but are asked to comply with membership standards as set by the Ethics Committee.

David Jeremiah’s Turning Point Ministries is still not a member of the ECFA.  Neither is it a member of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.  But soon after the 2015 rule change, Turning Point Ministries returned as a member in good standing of the National Religious Broadcasters.

And last week, he was inducted into the NRB Hall of Fame.

*Main photo features David Jeremiah receiving award. Behind him is Janet Parshall, host of Moody Radio’s In the Market and chairman of NRB’s Executive Committee. 

Warren Cole Smith is president of MinistryWatch.com, a donor watchdog group. Prior to taking on this role, Smith was Vice President-Mission Advancement for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.  Warren also hosts the weekly podcast “Listening In,” a long-form interview program heard by tens of thousands of subscribers each week. 

 

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17 thoughts on “David Jeremiah Returns Triumphant to NRB Despite Questionable Financial Dealings”

  1. It’s so reassuring that Christians can’t even trust the entities that supposedly keep ministries responsible for their actions…and then we wonder why people are so cynical about the church.

  2. I am so sad and disheartened by this with Pastor Jeremiah, Janet Parshall and NRB. THE LORD knows all. Is unethical financial gain worth hurting the Name of The Lord and his Church?

  3. Christian businesses, organizations, and ministries are explained and discussed yet the word that comes to mind that represents their purpose and actions is “garbage.” Something is so horribly wrong it is hard to fathom it.

  4. Please O God, let us fall on our knees in both CONFESSION and REPENTANCE. It seems as so we can act, do, whatever WITHOUT consequence.

    Until the Church returns to the ONLY True example of HOW TO DO REAL, AUTHENTIC MINISTRY…

    (its in the BIBLE!)

    (no million dollar housing complexes or Football sized “Houses of Worship” )

    for starters…issues like this will be a constant repetition.

    P.S. I personally have issues with “Houses of Worship” where the Pastor’s photos are EVERYWHERE throughout.

    To me this is an indication that something is “not quite right here.”

    1. Reformed Theology

      PRAY THAT THE LORD WILL GIVE US MORE TIME TO DO HIS WILL TO REACH OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO ARE NOT YET WITHIN THE KINGDOM AND THAT WE ALL WILL FALL ON OUR KNEES IN REPENTANCE FOR WASTED TIME. DISCERNMENT IS AVAILABLE TO ALL WHO WANT TO EXERCISE IT. DISSAPOINTMENTS SHALL CONTINUE REMEMBER JUDGEMENT COMES TO THE HOUSE OF GOD FIRST. TO NOT PUT YOUR TRUST IN MAN IS HARD BUT NECESSARY LESSON TO LEARN.

  5. Actually, the highest honor is to be and be known as one who is above reproach. Many NRB honorees fail at this measure. Dr. Jeremiah certainly is not the least of these.

  6. So here is a viper being honored by his brood. White-washed septic tanks who ignore everything the New Testament teaches about being honored by men, making yourself rich and serving Mammon while claiming to serve God. In a short time, they will all surely be hell, just as Jesus said. What will their trophies be worth then?

  7. Harry V. Viernes

    So sad, so very, very sad. Raking in all that money, living high on the hog, Is there any true honesty, integrity out there anymore. None of this is Scriptural. Is no one held accountable anymore. Look at our country, people going to hell. Who cares? Who will take a stand for what is right in God’s eyes and stop seeking power and glory and honor on this earth for themselves. Shame. Are they standing up and taking a stand in our culture against the sinful choices and anti-biblical morality that is being shoved at us everywhere. All they are concerned about is selling their books and making money. Making people feel good.

  8. How much money and how many houses do these men and women need here on earth? Is Scripture not still relevant for today? “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (Matt 6:19) Do they not believe that in Jesus’ return, promise and preparation of His Father’s house for us? (John 14:1-4) These charlatans should vote among themselves who are the greatest hustlers and be honorary members in this Hall of Shame. (cf Luke 9:46) I believe they forgot ” that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Kudos to George Hale in resigning, rebuking and revealing David Jeremiah’s sinful behavior in(1.) securing book royalties from retail sales vs. wholesale (2.) worldly ambition of the NY Times Best sellers list and (3.) stealing ministry funds. Differential price between wholesale cost from retail purchases; these monies could have been put back into ministry usage and/or the distribution of more books at a lower or free cost to get it’s teaching to a wider and greater audience.

  9. Charles Despeville

    Another scam artist pretending to be holier than you and knowing more than you to milk you out of your money. Another “man of God” asking you to give sacrificially while he himself is a millionaire living a plushy millionaire’s life style just as thief MacDonald does and so many other ruthless pretenders for money.

    Wake up, none needs these crooks and patronizing hypocrites. All you need is Holy Spirit and God’s Word. These crooks and thieves sell you what you have already and for free.

  10. The megachurch, the megachurch pastors, and conference Christianity are a virus in the body of Christ and should be avoided…..think about the term celebrity millionaire Pastor.its totally UnBiblical I was involved in it for 20 years, and like any virus it might not kill you but it Will definitely make you sick.

    1. Dan—you make a good point! I suggest however, that the issue isn’t size as much as Authority. As long as Man has the reins of authority “it” ( the assembly, church gathering, whatever) violates the Authority of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hebrews is quite clear that the old type system of a Levitical priesthood, the Temple, and all of that, has NO place now. A clergy- laity design is a Man configured arrangement that creates a caste system. And a professionally paid group of people carrying some sort of Title be it Pastor, Elder, Pope, or whatever must be an utter offense to our Holy God. To usurp His Headship with some “intermediary” then provide them a compensation package to run and control HIS BODY when the Holy Spirit is the Agent He has chosen to be the Administrator of the New Covenant—— no wonder we are seeing His judgement. So whether 5000 or 10 are meeting if Christ isn’t the Authority and Preeminent One to which every knee bows it’s not God’s House it is Man’s. “Come out of her” I believe is the Biblical directive.

        1. Reformed Theology

          John McArthur’s church Grace Community Church in Ca. is one of the best examples of proper leadership/function within the church as defined by Scripture. Anyone who takes the time to study their website will come to the same conclusion because based on the church’s commitment to proper biblical interpretation. Also their is a youtube video available where McArthur explains authority in the church…it is priceless.

  11. The multi-billion dollar corporate machine known as Christian Evangelicalism is corrupted and has to be abandoned. It has absolutely nothing to do with serving the cause of Jesus. Gullible people have been duped into believing that anyone who preaches is serving God. These people are serving themselves and they’re all in it together. All of them. I keep seeing people trying to separate their favorite out from the rest but that’s like trying to separate yeast out of a batch of dough. They all use the same playbook. They all support, protect, help, and cover for one another. They all share in the profits. The one thing these charlatans all know and bank on (literally) is that no matter what they do their loyal flock will stand by them. What ultimately enables all of these bad actors to keep doing what they do is their followers. They cannot continue to do what they do without loyal supporters and far too many people have shown them time and time again they’ll be right there waiting to follow and worship them no matter what they do. Yesterday Jerry Falwell Jr. called one of his followers on Twitter a “dummy” over the follower’s disagreeing with Falwell over how Liberty University is going to handle the Coronavirus. The man has a reputation of bullying and being abusive (and much more) yet he’s still in control of a so-called Christian institution. His followers, and the students and parents associated with that school will ignore his behavior, as usual, and he knows it. No secular college president would get away with that sort of behavior. Christians will quote 3-4 bible verses (which are usually misapplied) to “cover” the sin of the “brother” in question and shout down anyone calling for that person to be held accountable. No matter how immoral, illegal, unethical or abusive the behavior of their leaders are Evangelicals will stand behind their idols and truly believe they are serving Christ. This has to stop.

    1. Carla….wise words! This one column and comments has opened my eyes wide. I’ve been a listener to DJ and read a lot of his books. This made me realize I can’t truly trust anyone in these kinds of ministry anymore. I’ve often wondered about those preachers who crank out book after book….what do they do with the money they make? If they were truly serving God, it would all go back into ministry and missions…leading souls to Christ….not building huge homes and living like the ‘world’.

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