The FCC from 1977 to around 1983 conducted a fraud investigation of my pastor Dr. Gene Scott, now deceased, on allegations from anonymous sources that he had been misusing funds raised from donors. It had decided, in its interpretation of Congressional will concerning fraud, that it had a mission to regulate and examine the financial operations of religious broadcasters owning TV stations in the US, and pursuant to that they began a campaign of fraud investigations targeting religious broadcasters that began with Gene Scott's Faith Center and with another church called the Crystal Cathedral, both located in California. At the time Dr. Scott was preaching from three on-air television stations located in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Hartford. In the process of the investigation a raid was conducted on the offices and sanctuary of Faith Center in which something like 8,000 of hours of videotapes of Gene Scott's teaching were seized valued at $250,000 at the time. The church was broken into in the middle of the night for this, doing damage to its entranceway, and no warrant was issued or served by a Federal judge authorizing this illegal entry.
In the course of this investigation the FCC demanded from Dr. Scott the names and addresses of every donor who had given anything from a penny upwards to the ministry. Scott refused, citing a First Amendment right to keep the names of the donors secret, in keeping with scripture from Matthew 6 which says that giving is to be kept secret. After he repeatedly refused to cooperate with the investigation while bitterly protesting its violations of Constitutional law, the FCC ordered him to shut down the three stations that were owned by the church, and he pulled the plug at midnight May 23, 1983.
Now, Dr. Gene Scott had always taught (and the ministry under his successor Melissa Scott to this day still teaches) that giving is an ileomasonry activity, meaning all giving is to a general fund to be designated however the pastor sees fit. In addition to this, since Gene Scott's unanimous election as pastor in 1975, donors to this ministry have never been allowed by the pastor to take tax deductions for their donations, in order to honor Matthew 6 which says to give in secret, because God rewards openly what He sees in secret. So, defrauding the donors is impossible, the donors already expect that the money they give, which is voluntary tuition to the teacher-pastor, is no longer theirs any more than the money you pay a restaurant bill with is still yours. (It's called stealing if you don't pay for your food already eaten.) Everyone who listened to the teaching long enough, whether in person or via electronic means, learned that giving is in response to the teaching of the word of God already heard, not for any other reason, and the pastor is responsible to God, not to man, to account for how it is spent just as the congregation is accountable to God for paying tithes. Everyone listening long enough who becomes motivated to give already knows this. If some moron protests that their donations are being misused, the money gets returned to him, and he loses his membership for lying about having listened to the teaching -- especially the part where it is no longer "their" money, it's God's money, Scripture orders it to be given to the priest for his living, and the priest is accountable only to God for how it is spent.
So, when the FCC broke those doors down, without a warrant, using the excuse of "compelling state interest" and violating the Fourth Amendment against warrantless, unreasonable searches and seizures, they were on a fishing expedition to try to determine that the pastor had defrauded the donors by spending "their" money on things the donors didn't authorize. 8,000 hours of teaching on the video evidence included all of the stipulations on giving, but that didn't alter the bureaucrats' course a whit; they had decided the pastor was defrauding, despite 8,000 hours of teaching they stole and never bothered to listen to, which stipulated what the money was for and ruled out the possibility of fraud.
The legal conflict with the FCC lasted from 1977 to 1989, as Gene Scott filed a lawsuit for damages against the FCC and its officers amounting to $77,777,777.77. Scott pursued it through the system to higher and higher levels until a Federal District Court judge finally told the defendants, the FCC investigators and their bosses, that they were eligible to face full civil liability under the US Code enforcing civil rights -- which meant they could be sued to the skivvies for every penny they had to their individual names. They were quick to settle out of court after that, although a friend of mine is trying to tell me Gene Scott lost this series of lawsuits. No, he appealed upstairs repeatedly and forced a settlement. That isn't a loss. But the entire episode really burned into us the reality of the ruthlessness of the Federal Government and what it is truly capable of.
Now, in case anyone is still unclear on the main issue, the FCC's demand for donor records was a violation of the First Amendment, and it's not an attempted violation, the demand ITSELF was the first violation. As a Christian church that has a policy of members giving in secret, which follows a directive of Jesus Christ, Faith Center never forwarded donor names to the IRS for tax deductions or to government agencies for any other purpose, and giving in secret is established as a eucharist and a worship activity, per Matthew 6, Galatians 6, the book of Philippians, and many other Biblical passages. When Gene Scott refused to bow to this demand, the agency punished him with financial audits that forced the church to account for every screw, nail, and light bulb that got inserted in any orifice (except inside those of bureaucrats), and when it was still unsatisfied to find no evidence of fraud, since they could not substantiate its source of income -- secret donors -- it refused to renew Faith Center's broadcast licenses for the three stations it owned, a step that is usually reserved for station owners who are convicted of a crime or of actual civil violations of broadcasting regulations. No violations of FCC regulations by Gene Scott were ever proved. It even accused Dr. Scott of "bad faith negotiations" while it practiced extremely bad faith as constitutional officers. That's what they called his protecting the donors' First Amendment rights as worshipers and worship includes GIVING, it's a contraction of worth-ship. The FCC called protecting that "bad faith negotiation." They remind me of poo-flinging monkeys in a zoo judging chickens for crapping in a hutch!
Someone raised a point with me stating, "Often when someone’s free speech is violated, they wind up in jail and/or killed for what they say or do. Dr Scott was not locked up, gagged, censored, nor prevented from speaking out or teaching any of his work, he simply had a license non-renewed and was thus forced to move to cable where the FCC no longer had jurisdiction over his fundraising." Well, there were instances where several members of our church who were outed to government agencies, like the IRS, were severely harassed by several government agencies and some were jailed on trumped up charges such as tax evasion. In addition to this Gene Scott used to receive numerous death threats in his mail from anonymous parties -- as anonymous as the parties that incited the FCC investigation. So what, now we wait for jailing and killing for a case to be made that rights are being violated?
"Well," you might say, "that doesn't prove he wasn't defrauding the givers!" Out of what? The teaching already given? "Well," you might assert, "he ought not to have been living the wealthy lifestyle he had on the backs of the givers." First of all, that was his apostolic right, to make a living by his teaching. Scripture says "Muzzle not the ox that treads out the grain" and "Let him who is taught share materially with the one that taught him." Luther said "the law was not made for cattle." "Well," you say, "he might get rich!" So what? The Pope is rich, and the media fawn all over him whenever he comes to town. One difference between him and Gene Scott was, Gene Scott was rich before he was ever elected pastor of Faith Center.
When he came to town in 1975 he found Faith Center owing $3 million with only $19,000 cash to pay in 30 days. The church wanted him to solve this problem, and they were so desperate they unanimously (while hiding a small handful of "no" ballots) gave him a blank check granting him 15 terms of service, and he made the church take steps to solve it, because that's the responsibility of the flock, to pay the tuition and expenses of the church and its pastor, while he conducts his pastoral mission, meaning one of a shepherd, and beats the wolves off of the flock, which he did by filing against creditors from out of state for violating California laws about debt collection. And here's the second shoe dropping: The money raised from the flock mainly paid church-related expenses, even though the pastor has the literally God-given Apostolic right to spend it any way he pleases because every penny is stipulated to be tuition. Dr. Scott's salary for pastoring was one dollar a year plus expenses; when he died the church was solvent, and still is, because it is self-sufficient.
I never saw the FCC try to shut down a Catholic owned TV station even with investigations against the Vatican Bank over a money laundering scheme that netted a BILLION dollars, with one cardinal hiding in the Vatican city-state to avoid prosecution for fraud! Know why? The Pope already undid one superpower -- the Soviet Union -- and he can undo another one. Don't even try to tell me the resistance of the people made that happen... It would not have been possible if the Catholic Church didn't have the capacity to reach and motivate billions around the world, or if the Pope had chosen not to speak out against Communism, as previous popes had not. It took a leader with guts, vision, and power. Especially -- POWER. I only wish there was a Protestant church with enough power to do the same thing. It'll never happen if this trinket-happy, materialistic, mentally warped society that worships the dollar, but won't do more than lip service to God, keeps being allowed to dictate to a church what a right financial relationship with God comprises. I would rather have a pastor that has the guts to tell the world to f--- off and mind its own business, and the guts to tell the world that neither the FCC nor any other non-elected government agency full of decrepit, moronic tyrants in embryo, who can't keep their private parts in their pants let alone obey the Constitution, has any business dictating what a church's rights are, or any business defining what comprises fraud or any other moral turpitude on the part of a minister of God!