Atlanta minister Creflo Dollar, a regent at Tulsa's financially troubled Oral Roberts University, reported that his church took in $69 million in 2006, according to press reports.
Dollar is one of several televangelists being investigated by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, which is looking into allegations of opulent lifestyles and excessive compensation by the ministries. Besides Dollar, the Senate is targeting two other ORU regents, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland.
Dollar told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he pays his own expenses using personal investments in business and real estate. His ministry did give him a Rolls Royce, which he uses for special occasions. "Without a doubt, my life is not average," Dollar told the newspaper. "But I'd like to say, just because it is excessive doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong."
Dollar preaches the so-called prosperity gospel, telling followers that God will reward the faithful with material riches.
We know nothing of Dollar's parishioners, but the philosophy seems to be working well for Dollar himself. Besides, there's always the example of Jesus himself, who spent his days hustling the Israelites for every shekel he could squeeze from his flock.
Oh wait, we're confused. The hustler we're thinking of is Jim Bakker, the former televangelist who once hustled Americans on behalf of Hertiage USA, his Christian theme park near Charlotte, North Carolina.
If we recall correctly, Jesus cared not a whit for worldly prosperity, preferring a humble life of service to humanity. But that Jesus apparently doesn't play well on television.