It’s amazing how some use the name of Christianity and Religion to abuse of and feed off the people and how people would prefer to starve and let these fakes take the little bit they have from them. But like the old proverb goes.. “Time is longer then rope” and soon they will have to answer for their deeds.
Like Judas reaching into the money bag, the sad reality is that a small minority of Christian pastors steal from God’s people. As Christians we hate to face this truth, but I believe we must, because it is our duty to protect our less aware brothers and sisters – keeping them from these thieves.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” – John 2:13-16
These leaders use their faked “success” to promote a distorted gospel which basically says:
“tow the line obeying the leaders buying whatever we tell you to buy, and donate money whenever we tell you to donate, and then God will pour riches into your life.“
They tell us that they became successful by following this dream, but in reality they became rich by sucking money out of those caught up in the buzzing environment where this distorted gospel seems real.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” – 1 Timothy 5:17-18
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:2
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. – 2 Corinthians 2:17
Remember, your duty is to your family first.
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8
This list below compiled in 2011 by Mfonobong Nsehe, a contributor on Forbes, revealed the net worth of Nigeria’s most influential men of God.
Bishop David Oyedepo
Bishop David Oyedepo is a Nigerian Preacher, Christian Author, Founder and Presiding Bishop of Winners Chapel known as Living Faith Church World Wide. He is hailed as the wealthiest preacher in Nigeria with a total net worth of $150 million and properties like 4 private jets and homes in the United States and England. After the foundation of the Living Faith Outreach Ministry in 1981, it has evolved to be one of the largest congregations in Africa.
Net worth: $150 million
Ministry/Church: Living Faith World Outreach Ministry, also known as Winners Chapel
Every Sunday, he is hosting three worship services in Faith Tabernacle which has a total capacity of 50,000 people. He is also the founder and owner of the Faith Academy, a high school for the elites, Dominion Publishing House which publishes his books and Covenant University, a top tertiary school in Nigeria.
Net worth: $30 million – $50 million
Church: Believers’ Loveworld Ministries, a.k.a Christ Embassy
With an estimated net worth between $30 million- $50 million, Chris Oyakhilome is one of the richest pastors in the whole of Nigeria. He is a faith healer, a televangelist and founding president of the Christ Embassy which is also known as the Believers’ LoveWorld Inc. He is actively involved in magazines, newspapers, local television station, satellite TV, record label and even real estate. He had been involved in a $35 million laundering case after he was accused of stealing his church funds and transferring it to foreign banks. He denied the accusation which dismissed the case eventually. Currently, Christ Embassy has over 40,000 members, some of which were successful politicians and business executives.
Net worth: $10 million – $15 million
Church: Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN)
With an estimated net worth of $10 million-$15 million, this Nigerian televangelist, humanitarian, minister and faith healer belongs to the top 5 richest pastors in Nigeria. He is the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, he is considered as the most philanthropic and controversial churchman. Through the years, the church has expanded to Greece, South Africa, Ghana and United Kingdom with over 15,000 worshipers on regular Sunday service. He owns a Christian television network named Emmanuel TV, and for over 3 years, he has given up a total of about $20 million to help a number of causes including healthcare, education and rehabilitation programs for the militants of Niger Delta.
Net worth: $6 million – $10 million
Church: Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC)
With an annual salary over £100,000, Mathew Ashilomowo made it to the 4th richest pastor in Nigeria with an estimated net worth between $6 million-$10,000. Ashilomowo got most of his net worth from the sales of documentaries and Christian literatures in his media company known as Matthew Ashimolowo Media. His programme entitled Winning Ways is aired everyday on Spirit FM (Amsterdam) and Premier Radio (London) and on television in Ghana, Zimbabwe, TV, Africa, Ghana, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and Europe’s The God Channel and Inspirational Work.
Net worth: $3 million -$10 million
Church: Household of God Church
Chris Okotie is a popular televangelist and preacher of the Household of God Church International Ministries, he has a total net worth of $3 million to $10 million. He started as a pop musician until he founded the church. He has been a non-winning Nigerian Presidential candidate in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections. Currently, his congregation has over 5,000 members composed of Nollywood musicians, celebrities and society people.
Reading this I got to think about pastors elsewhere…
Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who runs Kenneth Copeland Ministries, was one of several televangelists whose finances were investigated from 2007 to 2011 by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.
According to an article by the Associated Press that ran in 2008, “His ministry’s 1,500-acre campus, behind an iron gate a half-hour drive from Fort Worth…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.”
The article later added that while Copeland has not released up-to-date salary statements, “the church disclosed in a property-tax exemption application that his wages were $364,577 in 1995; Copeland’s wife, Gloria, earned $292,593. It’s not clear whether those figures include other earnings, such as special offerings for guest preaching or book royalties.”
Creflo A. Dollar
Creflo A. Dollar is Senior Pastor of World Changers Church International, one of the nation’s biggest churches which has locations in Atlanta, New York and several other cities. He also hosts “Changing Your World” on cable networks. While Dollar — his real name — has not released his salary information, the New York Times reported that he drives a Rolls-Royce, is transported in a private jet, owns a million-dollar Atlanta home and a $2.5 million Manhattan apartment.
John Hagee, Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas and CEO of Global Evangelical Television, has made a comfortable living as a pastor. According to an article in The American Prospect, Hagee, “before he converted his nonprofit Global Evangelism Television into a church in 2004 (thus relieving him of the obligation to file a publicly available tax return), was known to be the highest-paid nonprofit executive in San Antonio, making nearly $1 million a year.”
The article also mentions Hagee’s 2000 book, “God’s Candidate for America,” “published by his nonprofit Global Evangelism Television, which that year used tax-exempt donor money to pay Hagee nearly half a million dollars in salary and deferred compensation for sixteen hours of work a week. Hagee earned another $300,000 from his church.”
Charles E. Blake
According to the Memphis Flyer, Bishop Charles Blake of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ “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.”
Evangelist Benny Hinn, known for his energetic “miracle crusades” that are attended by thousands of people where many claim to be healed of disease and disability, rarely talks about his own wealth. His organization, Benny Hinn Ministries, has not released his salary, but Hinn said in a 1997 CNN interview that he earned between $500,000 and $1 million each year. With his continued fame and sold-out crusades, it’s likely that he is still a well-off man.
The pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, the country’s biggest church, is also one of the richest pastors in the nation. Joel Osteen stopped taking his $200,000 annual salary several years ago after being critiqued for his massive wealth. But he has made tens of millions of dollars off his numerous books. He and his wife, Victoria Osteen, moved to a luxurious $10.5 million, 17,000 square-foot mansion in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston in 2010.
Bishop Eddie Long, who recently returned to the pulpit at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church outside Atlanta after being accused of sexual abuse, has been a leader in the “prosperity gospel” movement, in which pastors and believers say God will bless the devout with riches. According to a 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation, “during the period between 1997 to 2000, Long received more than $3.07 million worth of compensation and benefits from his non-profit charity, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries Inc.” The investigation found that his compensation included a “$1.4 million six-bedroom, nine-bath home on 20 acres in Lithonia; use of a $350,000 luxury Bentley automobile” and “more than $1 million in salary, including $494,000 in 2000.”
According to a 2010 investigation by Dallas news station WFAA-TV, pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Dallas lived in a 10,000 square-foot, $1.5 million home by the city’s Lake Grapevine. “Records show that Young was paid $240,000 a year as a parsonage allowance; that’s in addition what sources say is a $1 million yearly pastor’s salary,” the station reported.
Franklin Graham, who is the son of Billy Graham and the president of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, had a total compensation of $1.2 million in 2008. Criticism over his high compensation during a slowed economy led Graham to announce in 2009 that he would give up new contributions to his retirement plans from the two organizations he leads, according to McClatchy Newspapers. He also announced that he would give up his salary from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, has made tens millions of dollars off his books, such as “A Purpose Driven Life.” He’s made so much that, in 2005, he returned 25 years of salary to the church and stopped accepting new paychecks. Warren and his wife say they are “reverse tithers” who give away 91 percent of their income to charity and live off nine percent.
Have been under investigation
Benny Hinn is known around the world for his large healing crusades. His television show airs in more than 200 countries, and during his time as an evangelist, Hinn claims to have seen people get healed from cancer and crippling diseases, and he even says he has seen a dead man resurrected.
While building his following, Hinn has earned quite a bit of money along the way. His ministry collects more than $200 million a year, and he’s admitted to his salary being over half a million. Hinn owns a private jet, lives in a $10 million house near the Pacific Ocean, stays in hotel rooms that cost thousands each night, and owns luxury vehicles. His lavish lifestyle was first exposed by Dateline NBC, and it’s now under investigation by the Senate.
Since 1999, Joyce Meyer’s ministry has spent at least $4 million on 5 homes for Meyer and her children. Meyer’s house is a 10,000 square foot home with an 8-car garage, a large fountain, a gazebo, a private putting green, a pool, and pool house with a new $10,000 bathroom. Her salary was reported at $900,000 back in 2003, and she also enjoys use of a private jet and luxury cars. Needless to say, Meyer has been questioned for years, and she is once again under investigation by the government for possibly violating nonprofit laws.
Despite being under investigation, Kenneth Copeland refused to submit financial information about his ministry, saying “You can go get a subpoena, and I won’t give it to you. It’s not yours, it’s God’s and you’re not going to get it and that’s something I’ll go to prison over. So, just get over it.”
Copeland lives in a mansion that some have said is “the size of a hotel.” He also has acquired a $20 million Cessna Citation private jet for flying around the country to spread the word. And of course, he owns an airport for landing said airplane.
Creflo Dollar was another televangelist who ignored the Senate’s request for probes into financial records. Dollar claimed he was concerned about the privacy of his donors, and he said that if the IRS requested it, he would send it over. However, since it was Congress asking for the information, he wouldn’t do so without a subpoena.
His church made $69 million back in 2006, and the church also provided him with a Rolls Royce. In Dollar’s words “Just because it (my life) is excessive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.”
According to Eddie Long, Jesus wasn’t broke, and leaders of churches shouldn’t be either. Long has earned millions in salary from his ministry, owns a million dollar home on a 20-acre lot, has use of a $350,000 Bentley, and pulls in a host of other benefits too.
Long was also in the group of televangelists who refused to give the Senate the information requested of the ministry. Senatore Grassley, the leader of this investigation, said “When I hear about leaders of charities being provided a $300,000 Bentley to drive around in, my fear is that it’s the taxpayers who subsidize this charity who are really being taken for a ride.”
Randy and Paula White
The White’s ministry brings in millions each year, and they own million dollar homes across the country (including in Trump Tower). The couple has been under constant scrutiny for mismanagement of church funds, and they recently got divorced, further complicating matters for the ministry. At last check, they also failed to provide the Senate with all requested records.