A Bad Investment
In Houston a father killed his three year old son for wetting himself. In Queens a woman died in a basement after a botched butt injection. And in Dallas a family beat a 13 year old girl for hours to induce the abortion of a child conceived by the rape of another family member. The family first tried to rid themselves of the fetus by burning it on a barbecue grill. When that didn’t work, they paid yet another family member $25 dollars to dispose of the remains.
Now one would think that with these and other examples of hell right here on earth, the one institution that promises salvation would do something about them. But this is not the case, at least as far as World Changers Church International is concerned. It has other priorities namely to ensure that its wealthy pastor, Creflo Dollar, with an estimated net worth of $27 million dollars, travels the world in style via the purchase of the Gulfstream G650, a $70 million dollar jet.
A few months ago we posted an essay on the matter entitled “Prosperity Theology and Greed in Action.” This particular brand of theology believes that fortune and prosperity are evidence of God’s favor and it promises such favor to those who tithe 10% of their income to the church.
The article questioned the morality of this theology as well as the purchase of the aircraft then valued at $65 million dollars. We also took issue with the pastor’s asking others for a $300 contribution to help underwrite the purchase.
Apparently others were similarly concerned and after being soundly criticized the sponsors of the campaign suspended the effort. At least so it appeared.
However, it now looks like Pastor Dollar is going to get his jet. In a statement released by the organization, World Changers states, “[W]e plan to acquire a Gulfstream G650 because it is the best and it is a reflection of the level of excellence at which this organization chooses to operate. We so value the lives, the safety and the well being of our pastors and leaders that we wish to provide to them the best air travel experience possible…”
We profess no expertise in theology. However, from a theological perspective the purchase makes no sense.
The religion to which World Changers subscribes focuses on people rather than material possessions. Jesus was modest and humble and his core message was love and forgiveness, especially of one’s enemy. His purpose was to reconcile, redeem and renew those lost and abandoned.
There is nothing modest or humble about the purchase here. World Changers is instead hell-bent on affording itself the best that money can buy. In fact, the above statement reveals a sense of entitlement, a barely concealed arrogance of “we don’t give a damn what anyone says. We are going to buy this plane because we deserve it.” It is almost as if Pastor Dollar himself crafted the statement.
And while we appreciate the church’s concern for the safety of their pastor, we wonder if it is equally concerned about the well-being of those less fortunate. We also question whether the church follows its own advice and tithes 10% of its income back to the community. Interestingly enough, Ministry Watch, an independent evangelical Christian organization whose purpose is to review Protestant ministries for financial accountability and transparency gives World Changers an “F”. See www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creflo-Dollar.
Undoubtedly, Pastor Dollar has world-wide investments, businesses and property interest that require his presence and personal attention. The only way to adequately protect and manage these interests is via unlimited access to an aircraft that spans the globe.
And legally, World Changers can spend its money however it pleases. More likely than not the expenditure of $70 million will neither break the bank nor cause the organization immediate harm. In the short-term, consumers of this particular brand of religion will continue to give no matter what.
Nonetheless, the decision is not without long-term consequence. There has been a noticeable deterioration of religious affiliation; an ongoing problem for the church. A new study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center has found that for the first time in U.S. history, the number of American Christians has declined. Said decline is most pronounced in the millennial generation and is therefore likely to continue. www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-us-religion-20150512-story.html.
In conclusion, there are better ways for the church to invest its resources. Given the sheer number of people with nowhere to turn; dying in the streets of Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta and elsewhere, to spend $70 million on a jet for one who already has wealth beyond measure is more than a mortal sin. It is a bad investment that will one day cost them dearly.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum