The following are questions John E. Roos, Inspiration Networks senior vice president for communications, answered via e-mail.
Creative Loafing: Fox News reported that Inspiration Networks donated nearly $20 million in supplies to help victims of Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina. Is that the most accurate, up-to-date number? Are there any other recent charitable examples that should be noted?
John Roos: Humanitarian relief is important to The Inspiration Networks. However, rather than start our own organization, we felt that it was more effective to find a partner. To that end, we established a partnership with Convoy of Hope. (An announcement release is attached.) We never claimed to have "donated nearly $20 million in supplies" to hurricane victims. This account had its genesis in comments made by Neil Cavuto when David Cerullo was a guest on his Fox News program in the fall of 2005. There was no opportunity to correct this statement in the short interview. We immediately asked Neil's producer and Fox to issue a correction, but they apparently have not done so. Our most recent numbers indicate that The Inspiration Networks and Convoy of Hope donated 115 loads of relief product to the Gulf Coast to aid victims of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. This represented approximately 460,000 lbs. of food, water, toiletries, paper products, cleaning supplies, and other items that served 920,000 people in 74 communities. We also preempted programming on our networks to air a live relief concert that raised more than $130,000 for these efforts.
Some watchdog groups, both Christian and secular, have criticized ministries that they characterize as examples of "faith-healing," "Word of Faith," and "prosperity Gospel" (such as Benny Hinn and Morris Cerullo Evangelism Worldwide). What is the organization's response to such criticisms?
We have a longstanding commitment to diversity. We recognize that there are differences of style, personality and interpretation within the Christian community. Viewers see this diversity on networks. We do have several core beliefs, however. Like most Christians, we believe that the Bible is the Word of God. We encourage people to put Biblical principles and promises into practice. This applies to finances and every other area of life, including health, relationships, education and business. The Bible is filled with verses expressing God's desire to bless people financially. We seek to practice those verses in our personal and corporate life, and to encourage others to do so as well. The Bible also teaches the importance of wisdom, prudence, education, discernment and other disciplines, as well as faith and placing God first. This is not the same as the "prosperity Gospel."
Faith is central to Christianity and the Christian life. The Bible says that without faith we cannot please God. Through our ministry, we stress and teach the importance of faith. So do most of the programmers that air on our networks. We urge people to have faith in God and the Bible. Like most Americans, we also believe in prayer. Because we believe the Bible and that God answers prayer, we believe that He heals. But He answers prayer (and heals) in many ways. Jesus Himself healed people in many different ways during His earthly ministry. Praying for the sick and believing God to answer prayer have been normal parts of the Christian life since Jesus walked the earth.
Has Dr. Cerullo's indictment affected his ties to the organization, and is he still on the board?
Dr. Cerullo has no formal ties to The Inspiration Networks and is not on the board. His indictment has had no affect on either of these matters.
How would Inspiration characterize its ties to local faith communities?
The local faith community is important to us in many ways. We support local churches, and encourage viewers and staff to be involved in a local church. We work with local churches in many ways and are working to build strong relationships with churches throughout the area. For example, we recently hosted a special screening for the movie "Amazing Grace" that was attended by more that 250 area ministry leaders. Youth groups from many area churches have attended various Steelroots functions. Throughout the year, we host tapings for programs, including "Christian Artist Talent Search" (C.A.T.S.) and "I Gospel" that are attended by people from various church groups in the local community. The City of Light will be a wonderful resource for churches and church groups, locally, nationally, and internationally.
Lancaster County says Inspiration will bring jobs to its county and already has begun to do so. What benefits does the organization itself foresee? Does Inspiration have plans to build 550 condos? What incentives did the state of South Carolina and Lancaster County offer?
Attached is information that has been issued about our move to Lancaster County and how this will benefit this community. There already have been significant benefits. A significant number of construction jobs have been created. Hundreds of existing jobs will be moving to South Carolina while hundreds jobs that will be created in the months to come. The City of Light is being built to house 1,500+ employees.
We have a positive working relationship with state, county, and regional governmental organizations and departments within South Carolina. They helped facilitate our move by offering job credits and various improvements. Building condos is one of a number of aspects of this project that have been discussed. However, no decisions have been made as yet.