I get to researching some pretty dumb stuff when I am bored. I hope the hiking trails and kayak routes in Florida get opened soon, or I am going to have to change the title of this blog to “Days of Darkness: A Journal of Our Life in Captivity.”
Today’s topic: Exactly how much money can you make being a televangelist? Quotes from what follows come from this page. I did try alternative sources to verify their statistics, and they seem fairly accurate. So I am going with them.
I think this is also an oddly appropriate topic for Good Friday, the ultimate day of sacrifice.
Now, I know money is a controversial topic in Christian circles. “There’s a difference between having a lot of money and being materialistic,” I have heard endless Christians say. And I agree with that to some extent. Money gives you the ability to do amazing things for people. If you choose to use it that way.
But what if being a minister almost propels you to billionaire status? Is it okay then? Should you be holding that money in your own name, or should that be the balance sheet of pure missionary efforts? Does being a “missionary” necessarily involve sharing wealth, or is it mainly an emotional effort?
This is a real question. The richest pastor in America is Kenneth Copeland from Fort Worth, Texas. His personal net worth is $760 million. And that was in 2018, so it’s probably a “hell” of a lot more now.
Copeland has a private airstrip for his nearly $20 million private jet and lives in a $6.3 million lakefront mansion funded by his church.
Then comes Pat Robertson. Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network, which broadcasts shows in 180 countries in 71 languages. He started the show “The 700 Club.” That’s a pretty big missionary effort. It has also made him personally worth $100 million, which he’s tried to use to run for president.
Then there’s Benny Hinn, of “miracle crusades” and faith healing claims, based in Orlando. The elderly and medically vulnerable flock to him for his magical healing powers. Net worth $60 million.
Then there’s Joel Osteen, endless target of the Babylon Bee, but somehow not the most materialistic pastor in the US. It seems that what peeves the Bee is his “sin is not really the point of Christianity” philosophy rather than the ridiculous wealth of televangelists generally. He’s worth a mere $40 million to $60 million from the sales related to his 52,000 people-strong megachurch in Texas.
Royalties from Osteen’s book sales, radio show, public speaking fees, and church collection reportedly generate $55 million per year. He and his wife, co-pastor Victoria Osteen, live with their two kids in a $10.5 million mansion in the Houston suburbs.
Then Creflo Dollar. All the puns intended.
Dollar is an American Word of Faith teacher, pastor, and founder of the non-denominational World Changers Church International, based in Fulton County, Georgia. In 2007, he had a congregation of 30,000 as well as $69 million in cash collection revenue. Dollar preaches his philosophy that “it is the will of God for you to prosper in every way.”
Dollar has a reported net worth of $27 million. He has been criticized for his lifestyle and possessions, including two Rolls-Royce cars, a private jet, and million-dollar homes in Atlanta and Manhattan. When his Gulfstream jet ran off the runway, through the congregation and website donations, the ministry board was able to acquire a new one.
Rick Warren had a net worth of $25 million, around what Billy Graham had. The younger Graham is worth about as much.
Pastor T.D. Jakes, whom Obama had at his inauguration, is worth $18 million.
Joyce Meyer is worth $8 million, but that’s low mostly because she puts all her big-ticket assets in the name of her ministry. This includes her $10 million private jet, a portfolio of mansions to stay in, and even her luxury cars.