I tried to stay out of this, but like the proverbial moth drawn to the flame, I couldn’t: Oh Creflo, say it ain’t so! The Creflo of whom I speak is Creflo A. Dollar, pastor of the World Changers Church near Atlanta, Ga., a church of some 30,000 members with a worldwide TV broadcast.
First, I have to say that Creflo has the best name for a televangelist in the history of the genre. Dollar! And dollars, it appears, is what Brother Creflo is most concerned with. His net worth exceeds $25 million; he owns an $8 million home in Atlanta; a $2.5 million Manhattan apartment and various real estate holdings around the world; and he has a posh Rolls Royce or two in his driveway.
Now, I don’t begrudge the man for being successful. Nor do I take issue with him because he was arrested last year. The charges were later dropped, but he allegedly assaulted his teenage daughter during an argument. I understand. With teenagers of my own, you could be reading about my booking at the local jail any day now, so I have no stones to throw.
No, what draws me to the scorching flame is his most recent fundraising effort, an effort that has broken the Internet and a few pocketbooks this summer. He needed a new airplane so he asked his followers to assist him with the purchase of a Gulfstream G650, a $65 million technical marvel that is “the fastest plane in the history of civilian aviation.”
If the man thinks he needs a $65 million jet, well, get the bit between your teeth and run with it over glory hill, brother, I don’t care (so long as I’m not the one paying the monthly operational costs). But for me, this is a problem: Creflo says that “faith” makes his success possible, and if you had faith like him, you could have everything he has and more, too. Yet, coercion has more to do with his financial success than faith.
Here is what Creflo said back in 2011 (when he was slumming around on a Gulfstream III that only had a seven-figure price tag attached to it); preaching about what he would do — if he could — to those who did not put their tithes in the offering plate, he said: “Red and blue lights would start going, the siren would go off, and a voice would go out throughout the entire building, ‘Crook, crook, crook, crook!’
“Security would go and apprehend them, and once we got them all together, we’d line them up in the front and pass out Uzis by the ushers and point our Uzis right at all those non-tithing members … and at the count of three ‘Jesus-es’ we’d shoot them all dead. And then we’d take them out the side door there, have a big hole, bury them, and then go ahead and have church … if we were not under the Blood of Jesus, I would certainly try it.”
At the end of all this recent tomfoolery, like the Second Coming of Flip Wilson, Creflo blamed the controversy on the Devil. He said, “The devil is [trying to] discredit me because I’m showing people Jesus.” This one really stuck me in the heart (as if the Uzi-wielding firing squad did not).
Because this is the Jesus who “had no place to lay his head;” who said, “Do not store up treasures here on earth;” who once told a rich man, “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and then you will have treasure in heaven;” the Jesus who said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Regardless, Creflo ended up with his new jet. Well, eventually he will, as its assembly is backlogged until around 2018. Maybe, if Jesus comes back by then, Creflo will take the Lord for a ride in it, because he’s already taken everyone else for one.
— Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, pastor, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.