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There's No Business Like the Religion Business

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

"In metro Atlanta and elsewhere, the number of megachurches, which have long been defined as having a weekly attendance of 2,000 or more, are still drawing huge numbers of worshippers and receiving millions of dollars in the collection plate."

Amazingly, the North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA, has an annual budget of $40 million -- only $10.3 million less than the city of Alpharetta.

While some megachurches have hit hard times (the Rev. Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral recently filed for bankruptcy), their leaders have, historically, lived quite well.

Creflo A. Dollar, pastor of Atlanta's World Changers Church, preaches the "prosperity gospel," which may or may not bring prosperity to his flock. But it definitely brings prosperity to him.

Dollar and his wife Taffi live in a $3 million Atlanta mansion, as well as a $2.44 million Manhattan condo.

They get around in a private jet, two Rolls-Royces (although Creflo insists they only have one), and a Hummer.

It was this sort of profligate spending that piqued the interest of Senator Charles Grassley in 2007, when he requested detailed financial documents from Dollar and five other megachurch leaders to ensure they were not in violation of their tax-exempt status.

Dollar refused, citing some sort of bizarre legal issue, which he valiantly attempted to explain to Larry King:

Three years later, Dollar apparently still has not complied with the Senator's request.

"If he sticks to his guns," Grassley said, "this will be the first nonprofit that I know of that hasn't cooperated with us over the last five or six years."

If nothing else, it certainly raises an eyebrow or two when the head of a "nonprofit" entity finds enough profit lying around to afford a home like this:

Jesus, that's a nice house.
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