As a member of the Board of Directors of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and as a source for Saundra Saperstein's article, "Spreading a $600,000-a-Day Message: Swaggart's Tax-Exempt Ministry Is Family Enterprise" {June 7}, I want to respond to the article's erroneous statements that Jimmy Swaggart is "not strictly accountable" for expenditures and that he is "not accustomed" to providing financial information.

In fact, both Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and Jimmy Swaggart are more accountable than a local pastor, both to parishioners and to the church hierarchy. Furthermore, they have long histories of providing detailed financial information to the various publics involved in their evangelistic outreaches.

1) Jimmy Swaggart Ministries is accountable to the U.S. government. No, the Ministry is not required as a church to file annual information returns to the Internal Revenue Service -- though its predecessor, Jimmy Swaggart Evangelistic Association, did so without incident through 1981 -- but its obligation to adhere to the letter of the numerous nonprofit, postal and communications laws and regulations continues notwithstanding the lack of reporting requirements.

Credibility is Jimmy Swaggart Ministries' lifeline. The Ministries' very existence is dedicated to world evangelization, and that is far too important to jeopardize through either laxity or an outright refusal to follow the reasonable guidelines established by law.

2) Jimmy Swaggart personally and Jimmy Swaggart Ministries are further accountable to the Assemblies of God, the Springfield, Missouri-based denomination that is among the nation's largest such bodies. The Rev. Swaggart is an ordained Assemblies of God minister, and as such he is subject to discipline and/or dismissal for a wide variety of personal and integrity-related actions, including financial improprieties.

Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, meanwhile, as an independent affiliated organization under the Assemblies of God charter, is required to submit annual audited financial information to the denomination's leadership. The Assemblies of God has enforcement power to go along with its oversight responsibilities, the power to strip a minister of credentials, something neither the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability nor any other "watchdog" organization has. Further, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries' extensive missions outreaches, which totaled some $15 million in 1986, are funded directly through the Assemblies of God Division of Foreign Missions and its vast network of missionaries.

3) Jimmy Swaggart Ministries is also accountable to its donors -- without whom, of course, it could not survive -- and it has acknowledged that accountability since its inception through the provision of thousands of audited financial statements to those who have requested them. The Post was given this fact by me, but did not report it.

Financial statements to donors are not required by any law. Local churches certainly do not generally provide audited financial statements, nor do they generally maintain accountants and attorneys to monitor financial activities -- but Jimmy Swaggart Ministries recognizes its fiduciary duty to exercise proper stewardship over the funds entrusted it.

For several years, in fact, the financial statement was printed in the Ministries' magazine, The Evangelist, and the policy has never changed -- regular contributors can receive an audited financial statement upon written request. Furthermore, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries' daily and weekly broadcasts regularly report on what is done with donated funds.

4) Finally, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has even attempted to demonstrate accountability to the public at large, opening up its books to The Post as well as other national, reputable news organizations -- a fact The Post should have at least acknowledged.


New Orleans