America’s Richest Pastors


The Huffington Post has a list of the 10 highest paid ministers in the country. Like Kenneth Copeland, whose 1500 acre compound includes “a church, a private airstrip, a hangar for the ministry’s $17.5 million jet and other aircraft, and a $6 million church owned lakefront mansion.”

Then there’s Creflo Dollar — yes, that’s his real name — who “drives a Rolls-Royce, is transported in a private jet, owns a million-dollar Atlanta home and a $2.5 million Manhattan apartment.” And Bishop Charles Blake of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ, who “earns a $900,000 salary and owns a 10,000-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills while most of his congregation lives in impoverished South Central Los Angeles.”

And of course, other frauds like Benny Hinn. I’d love to know what other forms of religious frauds make, like Deepok Chopra. PT Barnum was right, of course; there’s a great deal of money to be made fleecing the ignorant and the credulous.

Comments

  1. says

    It’s no accident how some pastors like Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Copeland get their money: their whole theology is centered around the idea of benefiting financially as a sign of God’s grace (or some such other bullshit). Funny how that financial blessing seems to trickle down and pool right around their feet.

  2. Michael Heath says

    I was startled when I googled Kenneth Copeland’s name and saw the top hit: http://www.kcm.org/. Startled because the this hit’s title was a true assertion, Celebrating 45 years of Victory!.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    How to skim tithe money from a church

    1: Draw a salary – the bigger the better

    2: Accept a Parsonage (Housing) Allowance to pay for upkeep of the house in which you live. This can be as large as you want it to be.

    3: Buy Real Estate, sell it to the Church at an inflated price, and pocket the difference.

    4: Or have the church sell you Real Estate at an extremely low price. Then sell it on the open market and pocket the difference.

    5: Write a book and sell the whole print-run to the church at retail prices. If the church can’t resell them, well too bad, you’ve already been paid.

    6: Start a special charity and employ a family member to manage it for a large salary. At the end of each year give the family member a huge bonus – and then use the remaining dregs for charitable works.

  4. Aquaria says

    In 2007, the Express-News ran an article about one of these frauds:

    Pastor Rick Godwin constantly presses his flock at Eagle’s Nest Christian Fellowship to give generously for a new $36 million megachurch under construction on the North Side at the same time he spends tens of thousands of dollars of church money on luxury items for himself.

    When he flies, it’s first class or private chartered plane. He stays in high-end hotels and buys expensive gifts for some of his church associates. He can watch the Spurs from an AT&T Center luxury suite and play golf at the exclusive Club at Sonterra.

    In 2005, an independent audit done at the church’s request questioned similar expenditures, such as spa services massages and vitamins for Godwin, and warned that changes were needed to bring the church into compliance with tax rules for religious nonprofits. Accounting changes were made, Godwin recently told church members at a regular business meeting, and a new tax compliance audit has begun.

    This year, financial records show, the church spent $143,000 on charter planes from January to July. For a ministry consulting trip that included his wife and another church couple, Godwin charged Eagle’s Nest more than $11,000 for a week’s stay in a luxury resort in Hawaii. While in London, Godwin stayed at the elegant Berkeley Hotel in the Knightsbridge area at a cost of $4,500. As gifts for his church associates, Godwin charged to the church $2,600 for an Armani suit and accessories and $2,518 for a Cartier watch.

    I think the church eventually got rid of Godwin.

    Fun fact: Godwin was a long-time associate of our old pals, James Robison and Benny Hinn.

    Who I’m hoping the E-N will go after someday: John Hagee. There’s a lot of fraud going on with that monster. Count on it.

    Note: The link has a copy of the E-N news story. Although the original no longer exists on the SA E-N site, I reformatted the link’s entry to reflect paragraph breaks as I remember them from the published article.

  5. exdrone says

    They are just serving their congregations in light of Mark 10:25 by removing the temptations of richness and putting them in a safe place. God bless their selfless sacrifice.

  6. raven says

    Wherever you have poorly audited and controlled cash flows, you have corruption and people siphoning it off for their own use.

    The churches have been corrupt to one degree or another for 2 millennia.

    If the xian Dominionists ever took over the US government, the first thing they would do is loot the US treasury.

    In Iran, it is estimated that half of the money they make from oil sales is diverted by the Mullahs that head their theocracy. It was corrupt from the beginning.

  7. Michael Heath says

    raven writes:

    The churches have been corrupt to one degree or another for 2 millennia.

    Where pagan religions which predate Christianity were also known for their corruption. As Christopher Hitchens noted, religion poisons everything.

  8. stevebowen says

    It’s been going on for a long time. I’ve been reading Leviticus, the first few verses of which are about Moses and Aaron scamming the rest of the tribes into bringing all the best livestock to them to “burn” for Yahweh, before eating it themselves.

  9. Crudely Wrott says

    The greed of priests exceeds the greed of the people.

    The people are greedy when it comes to food, shelter, clothing. As those choices are current, happening now. Later today as well as tomorrow may well be dependent on choices made now.

    The priests (today that category must include political hopefuls claiming they can actually lead us — just listen to them!) are greedy for privilege to dictate the people’s choices. Their greed is not for warmth or comfort. They, from coddled aeries, simply want money. They get it, too.

    They do this by inventing punishments and rewards that are not available to the living. These inventions are then floated abroad, catching hold in those places where they can and thereby thrive.

    By any metric, the assets accruing to the priests far outweigh those enjoyed by the donors faithful. No problem. Lying for jebus is the same as praying to it and if you are not wallowing in the blessings then you just aren’t believing praying lying hard enough.

    Somehow, this shit works.

  10. shauna559 says

    lol…So us believer are called “ignorant and the credulous”, this story has me laughing at the ignorance in this judgmental blog.
    It’s called blessings people, God’s wonderful blessings He pours on to His children that love him so. If what they are doing is helping people by bringing stability, credibility, integrity, wisdom, forgiveness, healing, grace and mercy through God’s word so be it. God gives us all free will, free will to tithe and give offerings to the churches, free will to love and help others. We are not forced to give our money to these ministries, we give because God first gave us and when we give, we get back, ten fold. And if you have every purchased items from any of these ministries you know first hand they are reasonable, and well worth the money spent, and our money goes to helping all over the world…these jets are used to travel to the lost souls so that they may be found….it’s working…keep working it! What are you doing?

  11. shauna559 says

    lol…So us believer are called “ignorant and the credulous”, this story has me laughing at the ignorance in this judgmental blog.
    It’s called blessings people, God’s wonderful blessings He pours on to His children that love him so. If what they are doing is helping people by bringing stability, credibility, integrity, wisdom, forgiveness, healing, grace and mercy through God’s word so be it. God gives us all free will, free will to tithe and give offerings to the churches, free will to love and help others. We are not forced to give our money to these ministries, we give because God first gave us and when we give, we get back, ten fold. And if you have every purchased items from any of these ministries you know first hand they are reasonable, and well worth the money spent, and our money goes to helping all over the world…these jets are used to travel to the lost souls so that they may be found….it’s working…keep working it! What are you doing??

  12. Chris from Europe says

    @shauna559
    What you write is delusional. I hope they paid you with enough donor money to spam the internet.

  13. shauna559 says

    lol…hey Chris from Europe…delusional? nope, but your comment make no sense with regards to ‘spam the internet’ Lord have mercy on all the above comments…Shalom!!

  14. says

    It is a travesty that these greedy people are allowed to scam sick people and its also wrong to be so scared of death that you can possible trust these scammers.

    Whats wrong with people? If you truly believe in God, you would never place your trust in these greedy scum.

  15. says

    In reply to Shauna559, if these fakes were really doing Gods work, they woud be giving their money to the poor and needy,, not buying all the material things they do. Wake up.

  16. Michael Heath says

    Georgeanna Modlin writes:

    If you truly believe in God, you would never place your trust in these greedy scum.

    That’s not true. Conservative religionists define themselves as easy marks when the con is run by those they perceive as in-tribe leaders. That’s because they’re predominately authoritarians who submit to the social dominators within their perceive tribe; this attribute extends beyond religion and into other areas as well, such as political ideology.

    Robert Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians and more recently and with a broader overview, Chris Mooney’s Republican Brain both provide the empirical evidence for this type of behavior, why such behavior is exercised, and within which groups we observe such behavior.

    Georgeanna Modlin writes:

    . . . if these fakes were really doing Gods work, they woud be giving their money to the poor and needy,, not buying all the material things they do. Wake up.

    Wrong again. We have no idea if any god exists, let alone know of any demands or requests such supposed gods have on those who choose to submit to them. Both of these assertions argue you too need to, “wake up”.

  17. dingojack says

    Michael – you miss the point.
    We may or may not know about the existence of god(s), but believers are sure that they do. Their god commands believers to care for the sick, poor and needy, but these so-called men of god clearly don’t. Therefore believers should wake up and hold their so-called spiritual leaders to the standards of behaviours they claim that their god (that they are sure exists, remember) commands all his/her/it’s followers to follow.
    It’s called not being a hypocrite.
    Dingo

  18. dingojack says

    Michael – To speak more clearly*:
    I don’t expect them to live by my standards; I expect them to live up to their own standards.
    Dingo
    ——–
    * re-reading my post above, I realised that the post’s point was not presented particularly well.

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