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  Lifestyles of Wealthy Celebrity Pastors And Their Self Serving Shallow Theology

Ch 7. Assorted Hucksters - Here, Overseas, and Yesteryear

By Carol Brooks



Chapter 1: The Investigation: Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer and Eddie Long|
Chapter 2: Joel Osteen, Steven Furtick
Chapter 3: Ed Young, Kevin Gerald, Joseph Prince
Chapter 4: T.D. Jakes, John Hagee, Fred Price, Jesse Duplantis, Juanita Bynum
Chapter 5: Franklin Graham, Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, Wendy and Casey Treat
Chapter 6: Jordan and Jordan. Rev. Run
Chapter 7: Others - Here and Abroad
Chapter 8: Conclusion - Where Did The Idea That Ministers Should Live Modestly Come From?
 What Should Pastors Make And Should His Salary Be Kept From His Congregation? And more

Mike Murdock,    Rodney Howard-Browne,    Peter Popoff,

Overseas Pastors
Brazil,    Nigeria,    Germany

Yesteryear's Hucksters
Robert SchullerOral RobertsJim and Tammy BakkerJames Eugene Ewing, Robert Tilton Paul and Jan Crouch


Mike Murdock
Tele-Murdock P
(born April 18, 1946 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, is a televangelist and pastor of the Wisdom Center ministry based in Fort Worth, Texas. He made a splash in the early 1980s on The PTL Club television program with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Murdock, untouched by PTL's collapse in scandal, developed his own television ministry. Today, he still frequents the programs of more-successful televangelists, such as faith healer Benny Hinn".

The following is an excerpt from a 2003 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram By Darren Barbee. (All Emphasis Added) Details of Murdock's lifestyle were pieced together from documents obtained by the Trinity Foundation, a televangelist watchdog group in Dallas; Denton County property-appraisal records; a report of a burglary at his home; interviews; and excerpts from his broadcasts and books. They show a man living a Hollywood lifestyle...

    President and director of the Mike Murdock Evangelistic Association, has had several luxury vehicles at his disposal. Some belong to him, and some are owned by the ministry. The BMW, worth at least $69,000, was a gift, Murdock says, while the ministry bought the Jaguar. He says he got an idea that allowed him to buy the Cessna Citation 500, worth $300,000 to $500,000. Federal Aviation Administration documents show that the jet belongs to the ministry.

    Murdock likes to describe himself as a "Wal-Mart guy." But a $25,000 Rolex adorns his wrist. And he can shoot hoops on the "NBA-style" basketball court at his estate or take notes with a $4,500 fountain pen.

    Murdock once kept coin and jewelry collections valued at $125,000. He reported the information to the Denton County Sheriff's Department after a theft. Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Patton said investigators dropped the case because Murdock would not list what had Tele-Murdock Whitebridgebeen stolen. [01]

Currently: According to public records [02] , Mike Murdock owns 2010 Whitebridge Rd in Argyle, Texas. (picture on the right) Zillow put it up for sale in September 2018 for $2,700,000 and described the property thus,

 “Extraordinary elegance, this Villa offers privacy and luxury in a quiet natural setting hidden on 6 acres. owner A covered outdoor dining area overlooking beautiful pond, waterfalls. Pool, Library. The master suite includes a kitchen, media room, giant walk in closet, jetted garden tub, shower with body sprays for ultimate relaxation, private Tele-Murdok Brae Ctbalcony. Private basketball court, guest apartments, The ultimate indoor outdoor lifestyle. This unique property can be used for residential resort, bed and breakfast, corporate conventions, horses, workshops”. [03]

Murdock is also said to have sold his property At Brae Ct in Fort Worth, Tx. (picture on left). This 4 bed  9 bath, 11,334 sq ft property sits on 2.7 acres overlooking downtown Fort Worth on 2.7 acres. It features custom architecture including several Tudor arches, wooden millwork detailing and hand-scraped hardwood floors. Also included are a tennis court manicured walking paths, a private theater, a massive grand room complete with a fireplace, marble floors, a screening room and a game room. The home also has a gourmet kitchen, an adjoining wet bar and a formal dining room.  [04]

The "Malachi Miracle".
None of this should come as any surprise. Murdock's website has a short clip of him talking about the "Malachi Miracle" [05]. Unfortunately, our self serving Prosperity Doctrine preachers often use Will-a-man-rob-God approach (and other verses) to feather thir own nests. However, if one were to take a closer look at the passages in question a very different picture emerges. 

If you carefully examine the context, (See Context is Crucial) it becomes clear that when God said these words so beloved of Prosperity preachers, He was actually concerned about the indifference of his people and their lack of care for those in need, i.e., widows, the fatherless, aliens, etc., (v. 5);A second issue was that the needs of the Temple priests were being neglected. Through Malachi, God attempting to correct the people for their failing to bless the poor with necessary care. See Malachi 3:8-10 on THIS Page.

End Notes - Mike Murdock

[01] Darren Barbee. Star-Telegram Staff Writer. PROFIT in the pulpit. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3/02/2003.

[02] http://www.city-data.com/denton-county/W/Whitebridge-Road-1.html

[03] https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2010-Whitebridge-Rd-Argyle-TX-76226/2122773507_zpid/

[04] Jeremy Hallock | February 3, 2016. Auction Shows How Well Prosperity Gospel Treated Mike Murdock

[05]   http://www.thewisdomcenter.tv/tabid/10531/Default.aspx


Tele-RodneyRodney Howard-Browne
who has called himself the "bartender of holy laughter", along with with his wife Adonica, oversees his $16 million church, which they founded in 1996.

According to a 2014 article in TBO (Tampa Bay Online), the couple live in the fourth-largest house in Hernando county in Tampa Bay. The 8,796-square-foot home was built in 1989, and has five bedrooms, six bathrooms and a 760-square-foot concrete swimming pool. It has an assessed value of $536,477.

    Apparently the serenity and seclusion of Hernando County, enables those who can afford it to build their dream home surrounded by woods and ample acreage. [01]

He was also one of the group of pastors who, unsurprisingly went to the White House to pray over our morally bankrupt president.

End Notes - Rodney Howard-Browne
[01] Michael D. Bates. Hernando Today Published: March 2, 2014.


Peter Popoff
Has the dubious honor of being one of the 20th centuries most successful hucksters. The article is well worth reading in its entirety.

    In 1986, a team of freelance debunkers, including the magician James Randi, took a radio scanner to a Popoff revival, where they overheard Popoff 's wife, Liz, feeding him names and illnesses. Apparently, plants in the audience would chat people up or get them to jot down details, then feed their information to Liz, who passed it on to her husband through an earpiece. Listening through the gizmo in his ear, Popoff would call out to the crowd as if he possessed the omniscience of the Lord. [01]

Although exposed as a fraud and branded a charlatan more than once, Popoff has managed to rebuild his empire. Here is a more recent example of his mailing fraud. Copy and paste into browser http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/popoffback.html.

 He currently lives at 430 Long Canyon Road, Bradbury CA., a 5 Bedroom, 8 bath, 7000, sq foot house on 2.34 acres of land. Realtor.com describes it so

    Located in the prestigious 24 hour guarded gates of bradbury estates, an exclusive equestrian and estate community close to l.A., And just minutes to world famous Santa Anita race track, this stunning gated estate is situated on 2.27 acres of manicured grounds. This 7,302 square foot French inspired mansion offers majestic mountain and city views! Gates and a quaint bridge invite you in! This exquisite home boasts elaborate crown moldings, wainscoting, high ceilings with ornate custom finish details, breathtaking flooring, custom window and floor coverings, recessed lighting, lots of windows, grand hallways, and spacious rooms.

    There is a gourmet kitchen, with secondary kitchen, family room with wet bar, dramatic entry, formal living room and dining rooms, and a truly luxurious master suite with large balcony overlooking the city. There is also a recreation room, and theater which seats nine. Spacious patio/entertaining areas adorn the back yard facilitating California living! [02]

End Notes - Peter Popoff
[01] Mark Oppenheimer. Peter Popoff, the Born-Again Scoundrel. https://www.gq.com/story/peter-popoff-born-again-scoundrel

[02] https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/430-Long-Canyon-Rd_Bradbury_CA_91008_M23996-63959


Overseas Pastors
And, of course let's not forget about the pastors from other countries, many of whom have made their millions off the backs of some of the poorest people on earth

Edir Macedo, Brazil's Billionaire Bishop
Tele-Edir MacedoEdir Macedo is the controversial founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God - a replica of Solomon’s Temple.  Tele-Edir Macedo ChurchHe is reported to have over $1 billion in financial assets. As the picture on the left shows, He now sports a beard and will occasionally don a Jewish looking skullcap and some kind of robe.

    ... 5-foot-6, slight, and 68 years old. He has deformed fingers, a sparse crown of graying hair, and more than 5 million followers, whose donations over the last 36 years have made him a billionaire. In Brazil, where he was born and raised, he is a major national figure, the subject of dozens of criminal inquiries, and the owner of Rádio & Televiso Record, a media conglomerate that runs the country’s second-largest television network. He is known to most everyone by the title he created for himself: He is O Bispo— "The Bishop.” [01]

TV Record's e foray into telenovelas is reshaping prime-time in the giant South American country. (Note: Telenovelas -- or "novelas," in Brazilian Portuguese -- are a national obsession in Brazil, nearly on par with football.) Macedo has already scored two prime-time hits with soap operas Tele-Edir Macedo Livingbased on the Bible: "The Ten Commandments," in 2015, and "The Promised Land," currently on air.Tele-Edir Macedo Home

    Spending $230,000 per episode, the network has drawn viewers and advertisers with extravagant biblical sets, costumes and, in the case of "The Ten Commandments," action filmed partly on location in Israel. [03]

 The pictures are screen captures of a Youtube video. There are plenty more rooms like the one on the left [02]  And I never thought I would see someone out gaudy Trump.

End Notes - Macedo
[01] Alex Cuadros. Cult Education Institute. Edir Macedo, Brazil's Billionaire Bishop. Bloomberg Businessweek/April 25, 2013. https://www.culteducation.com/group/1211-universal-church-kingdom-of-god/21665-edir-macedo-brazils-billionaire-bishop.html

[02] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4WDhFlnqFc

[03] Brazil mega-church scores TV hit with biblical soaps.

Chris Oyakhilome
Forbes estimates his net worth to be between $30 and $50 million.

    "Last year, the charismatic preacher was at the center of a $35 million money laundering case in which he was accused of siphoning funds from his church to foreign banks. Pastor Chris pleaded no wrongdoing and the case was eventually dismissed. His church, Christ Embassy, boasts more than 40,000 members, several of whom are successful business executives and politicians. Oyakhilome's diversified interests include newspapers, magazines, a local television station, a record label, satellite TV, hotels and extensive real estate. His Loveworld TV Network is the first Christian network to broadcast from Africa to the rest of the world on a 24 hour basis. [01]

David Oyedepo
This pastor in one of the poorest countries on earth has a net worth of over 150 Million dollars and is believed to be Nigeria's wealthiest preacher. His Living Faith World Outreach Ministry one of Africa's largest congregations.

"The Faith Tabernacle, where he hosts three services every Sunday, is Africa's largest worship center, with a seating capacity of 50,000. Oyedepo owns four private jets and homes in London and the United States. He also owns Dominion Publishing House, a thriving publishing company that publishes all his books. He founded and owns Covenant University, one of Nigeria's leading tertiary institutions, and Faith Academy, an elite high school."

Three others, Temitope Joshua, Matthew Ashimolowo, and Chris Okotie are all said to have a Net worth of $3 -$15 million. [01]

The German 'Bishop of Bling'

    Catholic Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van managed to spend $43 million renovating his 'palace' in Limburg, Germany. This included LED lights built into floors, the walls, underneath steps, inside handrails and bronze window frames — all at the cost of $894,000. Unfortunately, since disgraced bishops and cardinals are rarely defrocked or lose their titles, Pope Francis accepted his 'resignation'. The Vatican said that "the departing bishop ... will be given another job at an opportune time.” [01]

End Notes - Overseas Pastors
Edir Macedo, Brazil's Billionaire Bishop
[01] Alex Cuadros. Edir Macedo, Brazil's Billionaire Bishop. April 26, 2013, 12:46 PM

[02] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc4CClt1MfM

Chris Oyakhilome
[01] Mfonobong Nsehe.The Five Richest Pastors In Nigeria. Forbes Magazine.

David Oyedepo
02] Mfonobong Nsehe.The Five Richest Pastors In Nigeria. Forbes Magazine.

Temitope Joshua, Matthew Ashimolowo, and Chris Okotie
[03] Mfonobong Nsehe.The Five Richest Pastors In Nigeria. Forbes Magazine.

Franz-Peter Tebartz-van - The German 'Bishop of Bling'
[01] Terrence McCoy. How the ‘Bishop of Bling’ spent $43 million renovating this house. The Washington Post. March 28, 2014.


A Few Of Yesteryear's Hucksters

RW-Robert-SchullerRobert Schuller and The Crystal Cathedral
Although Crystal Cathedral Ministries declared bankruptcy in 2010 and sold its 34-acre campus to the Catholic Diocese of Orange for $57.5 million in 2011, it deserves an 'honorable' mention.

Some years ago, seeing-stars.com, which billed itself as the Ultimate Guide to Celebrities and Hollywood, had this to say about the Crystal Cathedral.... "If ever there was a "Hollywood" church, in the true sense of the word, it is the Community Church in Garden Grove, better known as The Crystal Cathedral". They weren't kidding.

Made almost entirely of glass (and a spiderweb framework of white steel), the star-shaped "cathedral" is something to behold: over 400 feet long and 200 feet across, rising some 12 stories above the ground, with an angular, mirror-like exterior, its transparent, sun-lit interior features a giant television screen, and an altar of rich marble (bearing a Tele-crystal-cathedralnatural image that some think resembles Christ on the cross). The cathedral's pipe organ (with 16,000 pipes, it's among the five largest pipe organs in the world), the 100-plus voices of the Hour of Power Choir, or the electric fountain/stream that runs down the middle of the central aisle. The church seats almost 3,000 worshipers for Sunday services. But giant, sliding glass doors on the side of the church allow even more worshipers to watch the services from their cars in the parking lot.

    Boasting over 12,000 panes of glass, and a sparkling, contemporary bell tower, the "cathedral " is an Orange County landmark visible for miles around. The new glass tower was added in 1990, and is a stunning edifice in its own right; at the tower's base you will find a tiny, dome-shaped chapel housing an uncommon, cross-shaped crystal. Instead the usual wooden church pews, the "cathedral.” offers soft, theatre-style, individual seats (each bearing a small plaque with the name of a donor). During Sunday services, the church offers a nursery and childcare services. [01]

As said by the Orange County Register

    The church's "Hour of Power" television show attracted 1 million viewers nationwide and millions more around the world. The "Glory of Christmas" and "Glory of Easter" pageants, featuring elaborate sets, live animals and flying angels, drew thousands each year to the cathedral. At its peak, the church had 10,000 congregants in Orange County and millions nationwide and around the world. It was sought after by such celebrities as John Wayne, Andy Griffith, pianist Roger Williams, and Evel Knievel.

But, apparently an an $80 million budget wasn't enough

 Partly due to extravaganza staged by the church.. (for example "the Cathedral spent between $13 million and $15 million on a lavish production called "Creation." The show not only lost about $5 million, but was never staged again" 

When the Cathedral filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy it had to dig itself out of a considerable financial mess - a $36 million mortgage to pay off and a total debt of $48 million. About $7.5 million of that debt was to unsecured creditors – a majority of them vendors and laborers whose bills had gone unpaid. [02]

InPlainSite.org Note.. Robert Schuller was the epitome of the wolf that Paul spoke about in Acts 20:29-30. Called an extraordinary minister by New Age leaser New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch, what Schuller believed about the Bible was actually a redefined, twisted view of it. His repentance was not Bible repentance; his new birth was not Bible regeneration; his Jesus and his salvation was not that of the Bible. By promoting New Agers and their doctrines, Robert Schuller did his part to lead the church further and further away from Biblical doctrine down some very dark paths. Details

End Notes - Crystal Cathedral

[01] The Crystal Cathedral. http://www.seeing-stars.com/churches/crystalcathedral.shtml. Site no longer exists

[02] Deepa Bharath. Rifts, debt tear at Crystal Cathedral. The Orange County Register. Published: Oct. 23, 2010


Oral Roberts
The prosperity gospel was popularized by Oral Roberts. It is said that when one day he randomly opened his Bible to John's third Epistle and the words "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2 NASB)" jumped out at him, he and his wife were greatly excited. He claimed that it opened his mind to the fact that it was okay to be rich. Except that the verse didn't have anything to do with material wealth. See 3 John 1:2 - The Compliment Paul Paid Gaius -

Roberts went on to develop his famous concept of seed faith that has become the cash-cow for many, many other like minded preachers. It didn't hurt Oral Roberts either. Something that most of his followers never knew is that he

    dresses in Brioni suits that cost $500 to $1000; walks in $100 shoes; lives in a $250,000 house in Tulsa and has a million dollar home in Palm Springs; wears diamond rings and solid gold bracelets employees 'airbrush' out of his publicity photos; drives $25,000 automobiles which are replaced every 6 months; flies around the country in a $2 million fanjet falcon; has membership, as does his son Richard, in 'the most prestigious and elite country club in Tulsa,' the Southern Hills (the membership fee alone was $18,000 for each, with $130 monthly dues) and in 'the ultra-posh Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California' (both father and son joined when memberships were $20,000 each--they are now $25,000); and plays games of financial hanky-panky that have made him and his family members independently wealthy (millionaires) for life. (When his daughter and son-in-law were killed, they left a $10 million estate!)" (Evangelist R.L. Sumner's review of Give Me that Prime- time Religion by Jerry Sholes)

    "In addition to his healthy income, derived mostly from book royalties, Oral continued to enjoy generous expense accounts: `The Robertses wear expensive clothes and jewelry and travel in a company-owned eight-passenger fanjet.'  [01].


Jim and Tammy Bakker:
The following is a quote from a 2017 article in the New York Daily

    In 1984, after an exhaustive run through luxury stores in Manhattan, they added $24,500 in furs (including a full-length Blackglama) and $27,500 in jewelry (one item was a $6,000 diamond bracelet) to their homeowner's insurance.

    While in New York, the couple stayed at a suite in the Waldorf Astoria, complete with a fireplace and baby grand piano. Wherever they traveled, their hotel bills were astronomical.

    Later that year, the couple chartered a Gulfstream for a $107,000 flight to Palm Springs. Jim's feet no sooner touched the ground than he raced off to buy three luxury cars, including two antique Rolls-Royces, totaling $170,000.

    They shared a secret suite at the Heritage Gold Hotel, with gold-plated bathroom fixtures and a 50-foot walk-in closet. Even the doghouse was air-conditioned. [01]

The couple lost their television ministry after a series of sex and money scandals. Jim Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison. The term was reduced to eight, and he was released in 1994. [02]


James Eugene Ewing
Once a traveling tent-revival preacher, the Rev. James Eugene Ewing built a direct-mail empire from his mansion in Los Angeles that brought millions of dollars flowing into a Tulsa post office box.

    Ewing's computerized mailing operation, Saint Matthew's Churches, mails more than 1 million letters per month, many to poor, uneducated people, while Ewing lives in a mansion and drives luxury cars. Note that although Ewing claims it is a church, Saint Matthew's Churches, once called St. Matthew Publishing Inc., has no address other than a Tulsa post office box. It has two listed phone numbers in Tulsa and both are answered by a recorded religious message.

    The letters contain an alluring promise of "seed faith": send Saint Matthew's your money and God will reward you with cash, a cure to your illness, a new home and other blessings. They often contain items such as prayer cloths, a "Jesus eyes handkerchief," golden coins, communion wafers and "sackcloth billfolds." Recipients are often warned to open the letters in private and not discuss them with others.

    The approach reaped Ewing and his organization a gross income of more than $100 million since 1993, including $26 million in 1999, the last year Saint Matthew's made its tax records public. And while much of the money is spent on postage and salaries, Ewing's company receives nonprofit status and pays no federal taxes.

    Ewing's flair for effective, dramatic direct-mail appeals won him jobs writing for evangelists including Tilton (below), Rex Humbard and "Rev. Ike." In many cases, the letters are identical but contain different signatures.

    The Trinity Foundation, which obtained copies of the identical letters, has dubbed Ewing "God's Ghostwriter." [01]

Robert Tilton
Robert Tilton (born June 7, 1946 in Dallas, Texas) is an American televangelist who achieved notoriety in the 1980s and early 1990s through his infomercial-styled religious television program Success-N-Life, which at its peak in 1991 aired in all 235 American TV markets (daily in the majority of them), brought in nearly $80 million per year, and was described as "the fastest growing television ministry in America."

However, within two years after ABC's Primetime Live aired an expose into Tilton's fundraising practices, which started a series of investigations into the ministry, Tilton's program was no longer being broadcast. See More about the Undercover investigation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Tilton#Undercover_investigation

End Notes - A Few Of Yesteryear's Hucksters

Oral Roberts
[01] Oral Roberts: An American Life", by David Edwin Harrell, Jr., Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press 47405

Jim and Tammy Bakker
[01] Sherryl Connelly. The story of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's fall from grace.  New York Daily News | Aug 05, 2017. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/televangelists-jim-tammy-faye-bakker-fall-grace-article-1.3387060

James Eugene Ewing
[01] Ziva Branstetter. Reaping from faith. Cult Education Institute.


Index To The Lifestyles of Wealthy Celebrity Pastors