Dallas area televangelist Kenneth Copeland made an appearance at one of the Big Box churches last Sunday. For the uninitiated, Copeland is one of the more successful of the Prosperity Gospel hucksters whose ranks have thinned with the recent passing of Rev. Ike. According to the account in the local paper, " If you have enough faith to move mountains, Copeland suggested, God can give you the desires of your heart: vigorous health, limitless wealth, unending happiness and eternal life..."
None of which Jesus says in my Bible.
And God knows he can speak with authority about limitless wealth. He has an 18,000 foot "parsonage', he owns a cattle ranch, he has a fleet of luxury vehicles and his own jet airplane. He also has the Senate Finance Committee and the IRS after his ass along with some other of his ilk. The account in Sunday's paper says that he has pretty much stiffed the Committee in its requests for answers to it's questions and so we may assume that Subpoenas will soon issue forth like manna from...oh, never mind.
I am conflicted when it comes to these TV preachers. On the one hand, I don't view them particularly as ministers. You never see them marry or bury. You don't see them holding an elderly person's hand in the nursing home. You don't see them talking down someone who is on the brink of despair. Nope. Can't make any money hanging around hospitals unless you are a doctor or a runner for a lawyer.
Do I view televangelists as criminals? Crooks, yes. Criminals, not so much. It is not illegal to ask people for money. And as long as you don't misrepresent where the money is going it is not illegal. And as far as I can see, Copeland pretty much makes it clear that the money is not going to fund a school in Honduras. It's going to his ministry. Which means it is going to him.
And I don't worry so much about upper middle class types in West Little Rock giving Kenneth Copeland a "love offering" as the paper reports they did. In tasteful buckets adorned with the church's logo. If they are stupid enough to waste their money in this fashion so be it. But I worry about the more vulnerable among us who don't really need to be donating precious resources to a man who by all accounts is already fantastically wealthy.
And Copeland should too. But this would require a sense of shame. And any man that flies into town on a private jet to invoke the Gospel in order to induce knuckleheads to give him buckets full of money is not likely to suffer over much from that condition.
Is this a great country or what?