I really need to get religion. I used to be a DJ on a country music radio station. I’m not horrible looking. I think I could do this!
Creflo A. Dollar, senior pastor of World Changers Church International, preaches that God will reward the faithful with material riches. It is a gospel that has won the flamboyant preacher a 25,000-strong congregation — and a Rolls-Royce, a multimillion-dollar mansion and a private Gulfstream III jet.
He’s not the only one, as I’m sure you well know. Others on the list:
Benny Hinn: $12.5 million mansion on the California coast.
David and Joyce Meyer: Dresden vases purchased for JMM’s Fenton headquarters that cost more than $19,000.
Kenneth Copeland ministries: $20 million jet, trips made to a ski resort and exotic game hunting ranch.
Randy & Paula White: The committee sent her a letter Nov. 5 requesting financial records about her jet travel, a Rolls Royce she gave as a gift and a luxury home she bought near Boerne in August, among other items.
Wonderful news this investigation. But, of course, it’s not even scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Did someone say “Pharisees” under their breath?
In this case it’s not even scraping the TOP of the barrel.
No grifter in the history of America ever went broke saying the word JEEZUS over and over again.
No, but I could have sworn I heard the word “Simoniacs” whispered on the wind.
His name is Dollar? Now that is just hilarious!!!
Religion is a mish mash of some good people, some bad people and some stupid people. When it comes to evangelicals and ’boutique’ churches, they are comprised mostly of stupid people led by a few bad people. Oh well, as they say, a fool and his money are soon parted.
When I hear about crap like this, I really start to think that the IRS ought to have some discretion in the taxation of crap like this. It has nothing to do with the church itself, it is for the self glorification of the church leaders. Churches that invest their money back into charities (real ones), their church and their community should be exempt from taxation.
Not these crooks. I believe in God, I just don’t pay people for ‘his’ services. Nor do I feel the need to publicly proclaim my belief every Sunday by showing up with a bunch of other people who are mostly looking for approval from others.
I believe that God is a personal belief, and it is something best kept between myself and God.
No worries Michael D. Just buddy up to a Chri$tian and hang around until he starts hissing sweet nothings in your ear. Once you’ve decontaminated your ear, mournfully announce the Lord will force you to tell the world about his pickles and cream cheese fetish if you don’t get a few mil.
You don’t think Paula White gave away a Rolls out of the kindness of her heart, do ya?
The whole prosperity gospel sounds like a creative way for these preachers to get around the questioning of their lavish lifestyles (at least the questioning of their flock).
I do love that these guys never can have enough and always end up taken down by their own greed, fraud, sexual perversions, etc.
The Other Steve
This prosperity gospel crap is polluting the Word of God, and is a movement of charletans and con artists.
It’s time to shine the light on their game.
In some obscure language Creflo probably translates into “Gimme.”
Sinclair Lewis would never have given Elmer Gantry a name like Creflo Dollar. It’s just too obvious. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
I can understand someone not taking a vow of poverty. I have no objection to any preacher and his or her family being comfortably housed and well clothed. But, have these churches done all the good that they can for the less fortunate before providing their leaders with this kind of wealth? Can a homeless person find a square meal, a safe place to sleep and a little dignity because of them? Do they provide shelter for battered wives, daycare, meals for seniors?
Whatever denomination these people are, their profession of faith seems to be, “Never give a sucker an even break and don’t smarten up a chump.”
God wants you to be rich.
Did someone say “Pharisees” under their breath?
Nope, jake’s right – Cashflo A. Dollar and that ilk are the moneychangers in the temple.
Doesn’t anyone remember the airconditioned dog houses that Jim and Tammy Baker’s dogs had back in the day?
It looks like it’s time to re-release the 1972 movie “Marjoe”, the Oscar-winning, behind-the-scenes documentary about the lucrative business of Pentecostal preaching featuring the reformed preacher Marjoe Gortner, who gives us a full, lurid, expose of the seamy backroom dealing, money hungry underpinnings of the evangelical and non-denominational revival circuit.
It looks like it’s time to re-release the 1972 movie “Marjoe”, the Oscar-winning, behind-the-scenes documentary about the lucrative business of Pentecostal preaching featuring the reformed preacher Marjoe Gortner, who gives us a full, lurid, expose of the seamy backroom dealing, money hungry underpinnings of the evangelical and non-denominational revival circuit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjoe
Oh nobody should be acting shocked here. Religion has always been about personal wealth and power for those at the top.
person of choler
Not a new phenomenon:
These folks did ok, at least for a while promising a post mortem trip to heaven:
And Al Gore is raking it in by scaring the population spitless with his globally warmed version of the Apocalypse.
All nice rackets
Just to add to PeterJ’s quotation – the only time JC ever got physically violent (with people, anyway) in the gospels was with the moneychangers in the temple. Even when they came to take him away to try him he made a disciple put away his sword. So to a devout, sola scripturam Protestant it should be totally obvious that this kind of commercialised religion is an utter and complete no-no. The number of people following these charlatans is a sad reflection of how few ‘Christians’ actually read the Bible.
The comparison is Elmer Gantry.
In regards to the Copelands, that 18,000 sf home on Eagle Mountain Lake must be costing them major $$$ in property taxes, especially the hundreds of acres surrounding the home. Out of curiousity, I had checked the county appraisal district’s website for info about their home, but the property is not listed under Copeland’s name or ministry.
spanielboy: I would be willing to bet it is “The Rectory” and is not subject to property taxes.
To his credit, one of the most famous, over-the-top among the materialistic-greedy televangalist crowd, the late Rev. Jim Baker, apparently did come to a complete, refreshing reversal of his ways (helped along by the forced aesceticism of serving a prison sentence).
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I have a sneaking admiration for con men who operate on this kind of scale. It’s just so blatant and brazen. I mean really.. Creflo A. Dollar.
I wonder if they have an intern program?
How much do you think the palaces of the Vatican are worth?
Let them return to sackcloth and ashes, if they are true Christians. Jesus wandered the desert with no possessions and challenged the moneychangers in the temple. These televangelists have hoodwinked and fleeced their flocks and are living, undeservedly, like the sultans of Araby.
This is but one of the many things that turns me off about the commercialization of religion. All they should require is a Bible and basic necessities if they are true believers, and not cynical scammers of those who believe in THEM.
I’ve often wondered why the Christian Right have never been referred to as the Pharisaic Right, as it is so true. I’ve never understood why the word Pharisee isn’t more widely used within our present vernacular.
Or the Queen’s Palace in England. Or the Holy Rock in Mecca. Or the big monument to Abraham Lincoln. Or Joel Olsten’s Compaq Center.
Yes, yes. People spend a great deal of money on trappings and charity. But as a Catholic, it’s my experience that they’re a touch more up front about where your money is going. If the local congregation wants a fifty foot tall crystal cathedral, they say “We’re raising money for a 50 foot tall Crystal Cathedral with seating for ten thousand and a baptismal font you would drown in if you tried to swim across it.” I’ve never seen my priest stand up and proclaim “Everyone give me $50 to receive Jesus’s blessing or you’re all going straight to hell!” then take a weekend off in Vegas.
I generally believe that the job of “Preacher” and “Motivational Speaker” are the same thing, and incomes should be handled accordingly. Likewise, any community building – be it a church or an elk lodge or a community park or a youth center – freely open to the general public should receive a respectable tax break. And charitable activities should never be taxed at all. However, this mantle of “church” that just serves as a glorified tax shelter, needs to get kicked to the curb. I’m sick of watching this loophole get exploited time and time again while a bunch of conservatives whine about how high their taxes are.
I want to stick up for Joyce Meyer.
I’m the textbook bleeding-heart Liberal agnostic, but if I’m scanning through radio stations and I hear Joyce, I always stop and listen. She does a great job of using the Bible as a tool to improve our lives, regardless of our faith (or in my case, lack thereof). She’s fun to listen to and when her program is over I’m often inspired to be a better person.
A caution: I heard her interviewing a missionary once, outside her regular program, and she came across much differently. Here she was the stereotypical fundamentalist loonie, threatening infidels with brimstone and fire. But her regular radio show is a pretty good listen.
Remember Heritage USA and the Bakers. They scammed the middle class to the poor with a Ponzi scheme. History is repeated. If the IRS goes after this crowd, the locust will save Oral Roberts with the ghost of Jessica Hahn. She will suck the life from non-believers and J##s.
There are still some good religious people out there. Take a look at Sr. Joan Chittister sometime.
People need a moral vision of a greater good in order to put aside venal self-interest and work together. One of the great failings of modern day American liberalism is that it doesn’t have any kind of visionary narrative, just a bunch of policy wonking programs. They’re good programs, I’ll grant you, but they don’t fit into any kind of understanding of group-identity that inspires people to feel ethically and morally rewarded for contributing.
Oh lord, please don’t get them any ideas. I fully expect O’Reilly to start using this in his phony War On Christmas ™ meme again this year now that you’ve said it.
But the truth is, as someone recently pointed out, Reagan’s 11th commandment is never criticize another Republican. So basically any fucking nutball con-man on the “right side” of the voting spectrum is given a free pass. While anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman is a mouth-breathing terrorist lover who deserves to be stalked and spit on.
If you think about it, Republicans are the Church of the Latter-Latter Day Saints (Reagan, Rove, Gingrich, Delay).
BTW – You clearly don’t need to get religion to do “this”, as all these examples of charlatanery (is that a word) prove. You merely need to sell that you got religion.
And if you “fall of the wagon” (i.e. your Facebook pics show you having gay sex with Rick Santorum, Bob Allen and Larry Craig) you can just cry and say “you have sinned” and beg for forgiveness (along with donations so that the heathens can’t take away your ministry/crystal cathedrals).
I don’t really know my bible, but isn’t there a verse that says something about “they have their reward on earth” while those who don’t grasp for possessions will have theirs in heaven?
Dearest Abe – a general statement about religion ALWAYS being about money is NOT correct. My Pastor lives very frugally in a tiny house that my church pays for. We do a lot of Mission work with the poor and the entire church is very helpful and give of our own money and we WATCH how it is used. To lump all religion in one basket is so wrong. Folks who follow these “false god’s” may be forgiven by God, but those that profit from it TO EXCESS – will feel His rath!!
And I DO agree that the IRS should go after taxing the “EXCESS” which really would not be too hard to figure out!
Eeeuuurggh! Infliction of such mental images requires an act of extreme contrition.
That will be $1,000 please.
It doesn’t matter how many preachers you lock up, Americans will never abandon the “prosperity doctrine” as long as they have no desire to be made uncomfortable either physically or cognitively by their religion. Who doesn’t want to be told that they can be a wealthy, close-minded and intolerant bigot and still get into heaven?
Except for those big legal fees spent defending all those priest pederasts, and for the hundreds of millions paid to all those alterboy victims and their families.
And by the way, would it be a unfair assumption to assume that these churches appeal most to conservatives?
Religion and getting suckered are a classic combination, take a person already proven to take things on faith and then sell them a line of BS. There is a reason that Utah is the fraud capital of the united states and it ain’t cause of all the reasoned skepticism.
I’ll contest that assertion. Why do we need a visionary narrative, especially one that comes out the writings of a bunch of ancient sheep-herders? Why do we need group identity to feel ethically and morally rewarded for contributing? I’m one of those militant atheists, and I’m okay with my efforts to improve the world without my gang telling me that I’m a good guy. Do Christians only do good as a way of earning societal approval, or buying their way into heaven?
i’m not a fan of the term “pharisee”, then again i’m jewish so YMMV.
Ditto, and I’m sure we feel about that term the same way blacks feel about “articulate”, “state’s rights”, etc.
They’re all so innocuous, right?
They were fairly up front about that as well. Although, not quite so upfront about what took place before it.
Still, you can hardly equate settling a lawsuit as equivalent to buying a private jet or a condo in the Bahamas. This is, in fact, one of the reasons the Catholic Church likes to rotate its priests from dioceses to dioceses (the other being the whole molesting kids thing). Priests are cycled through the parishes to keep them from becoming individual figureheads or demagogues. Today you get a former missionary from the Ukraine. In two years you’ll get a guy who’s done a tour out in the fields of Kansas. Two years after that, you get a transplant from Vietnam.
Crazy as it sounds, the Catholic Church actively tries to discourage corruption and abuse. They know as well as anyone what the wages of graft and excess are – declining congregations and diminished local respect. Its the sort of thing the fly-by-night revivalist couldn’t care less about.
Why assume Judeo-Christianity?
That aside, I believe it is so because historically it has always been so. Even within atheism there is a narrative on how the world works and how to tell good from bad and right from wrong, even if it’s a narrative you came up with all by yourself, and that idea of how things work is the standard against which you judge yourself. And this is true for all cultures: some system of beliefs exists to explain the world and to judge what is moral, and those systems of belief are what we call religion.
It isn’t about impressing each other or buying a place in heaven or in the next life or in Valhalla or whatever else; it’s about knowing for yourself what your role is in life and in the world and knowing whether what you are doing is good or bad and what being better would look like. Maybe being better is slaying Grendel, maybe it’s wearing sackcloth and giving up shoes and getting martyred, maybe it’s recycling and carpooling, or storming Omaha Beach for Superman and Mom and apple pie.
What actually makes you good within your like-minded community doesn’t matter as much as having that framework to know for yourself that you have been good, because without that framework with an ethic that says that it is good to sacrifice or to risk yourself for the group, there is no impetus ever to do anything except to act purely out of venal self-interest.
FDR had it backwards: we know that venal self-interest is bad economics; that is why successful societies have decided that it makes for bad morals.
Don’t forget about Reverend Ike!
I think it’s time for a remake of Elmer Gantry, maybe with George Clooney in the title role.
I don’t think highly of Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, or Benny Hinn. Joyce Meyer is a different matter.
I haven’t conducted an investigation into her teaching or behavior. All I know is what I’ve learned from seeing her on the TVtubes once or twice. My first impression is that she’s a good preacher and teacher. My wife also mentioned that she’s conventional enough that the women at church can use her books as a basis for discussion.
jack van impe one of the last good men of god noo prosperty message just the love of jesus and what he did on the cross so we could live no dollar ammount charged its free!!!!!!