Greed in the name of God. It does exist. And because churches are tax exempt, a lot of men – and women – ‘of the cloth’ are rolling in dough, unless they have a small, poor congregation. Then they have to take outside jobs. Mega churches, on the other hand, have religious leaders who can live off the fat of their followers due to the enormous amount of tithes they receive, often more than just once a week for many churches have weeknight services as well and will usually ‘pass the bucket’ then too.
It is sad fact of human nature that greed, one of the 7 Deadly Sins (featured so prominently in the film Se7en), is one that most televangelists suffer from. Remember Jim & the late Tammy Faye Bakker and the sex scandal involving Jessica Hahn, as well as the accounting fraud and the lavish lifestyle the couple glorified in? The PTL Club’s fund-raising activities between 1984–1987 underwent scrutiny by The Charlotte Observer newspaper, eventually leading to criminal charges against Jim Bakker. From 1984 to 1987, Bakker and his PTL associates sold $1,000 “lifetime memberships,” which entitled buyers to a three-night stay annually at a luxury hotel at Heritage USA. According to the prosecution at Bakker’s later fraud trial, tens of thousands of memberships had been sold, but only one 500-room hotel was ever completed. Bakker sold more “exclusive partnerships” than could be accommodated, while raising more than twice the money needed to build the actual hotel. A good deal of the money went into Heritage USA‘s operating expenses, and Bakker kept $3.4 million in bonuses for himself.
Prosperity theology or gospel is what these Masters of Money preach, and it is BIG business.
Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success) [A] is a religious belief among some Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. It is based on interpretations of the Bible that are traditional to Judaism (with respect to the Hebrew Bible), though less so in Christianity. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.
These crooks rob the poor to become rich, sort of Robin Hoods in reverse, and they are raking it in.
It has been reported that Osteen stopped taking a $200,000 salary from Lakewood Church in 2005 and that his estimated net worth is $40 million. He also lives in a$10.5 million 17,000 square foot home with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three elevators, five fireplaces, a guest house and pool house.
I once belonged to an Apostolic church that has since turned into a sort of Megachurch here in my hometown. At each Sunday service – they held two – and every Wednesday evening, they begged for tithes and offerings and sometimes, when I had it which wasn’t often because at the time I had no real income, I would give an offering. I also asked for prayer and well…were my prayers ever answered even though I had become ‘born again’ and ‘baptized in the name of Jesus Christ’ and was giving my all to the Lord? No, not even once. In fact, I never had much luck with Christianity or any other so-called ‘religion’. It wasn’t until I finally decided that I would be responsible for my own life that I had any successes and victories and accomplishments.
Yet there are those who strongly believe that if they give all that they have, and beg these religious leaders to pray for them, that they will receive God’s glory. Some people would donate $5 and write on the envelope, “This is all I have.” Sometimes, when checking off boxes for what the donation was for on the envelope, people would write “praying for debt release” in the “other” category. Whatever was being preached in those services, the people there believed that if they gave away money—all of their money, in some cases—they’d somehow be freed from the financial burdens in their lives. The ideas behind prosperity theology had seeped into sermons of everyday churches. Meanwhile, the ministers who walked into my grandparents’ office for meetings drove incredibly expensive cars and wore elaborate 3-piece suits. – Making Money off Miracles
I couldn’t conclude this post better than Jennifer C. Martin, who wrote: These televangelists do not speak for God. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus stated, “You cannot serve both God and money.” Directly responsible for forcing faithful Christians into increased poverty by squeezing money from them to finance their own extravagant lifestyles, televangelists are in defiance of the very God they proclaim to serve.