Not Just a Clever Name
Jesus Wants Me to Have This Jet
Pastor Creflo Dollar has spoken to God, and God wants him to buy a $65 million private jet. His congregation, thus far, has obliged his every whim.
God wants Pastor Creflo Dollar to have a $65 million private jet, according to paid spokesman for God, Pastor Creflo Dollar.
On Friday, Dollar’s website unveiled Project G650, an “airplane project” that he claims has something to do with “Understanding Grace” and “Empowering Change.”
You may be wondering, What could this mysterious, holy airplane project be? Probably something related to charity, you must think, like air-dropping food into famine-ravaged countries, or flying sick children to doctors, or lifting two of every animal out of a flood.
Dollar was once the proud owner of a pretty baller private jet, but now it’s old and, naturally, he wants a new one. He also wants his followers to pay $65 million for it. As Jesus intended.
On his website, Dollar made his case: “The ministry’s current airplane was built in 1984, purchased by the ministry in 1999 and has since logged four million miles. Recently on an overseas trip to a global conference, one of the engines failed. By the grace of God, the expert pilot, who’s flown with Creflo for almost 20 years, landed the plane safely without injury or harm to any passengers.”
Dollar claims the private jet allows him to “safely and swiftly share the Good News of the Gospel worldwide” in a way that commercial aircrafts no doubt just couldn’t.
“The mission of Project G650 is to acquire a Gulfstream G650 airplane so that Pastors Creflo and Taffi (his wife) and World Changers Church International can continue to blanket the globe with the Gospel of grace,” Dollar’s website said. “We are believing for 200,000 people to give contributions of 300 US dollars or more to turn this dream into a reality—and allow us to retire the aircraft that served us well for many years.”
Then, on Friday afternoon, the post was removed. Dollar wouldn’t say why. Repeated calls to his assistant were met first with a claim that a PR person for Dollar would call me back to provide answers, and then with voicemail. A request to interview Dollar received a similar response.
Dollar’s Bronx church was closed. Multiple attempts to reach Dollar through prayer proved unsuccessful.
Dollar (he claims it’s his real name, though it was once reported that he was born Michael Smith) is the televangelist host of Changing Your World. In 1986, he founded a non-denominational church, World Changers Church International. There, he preaches “prosperity theology”—a gigantic scam that convinces the vulnerable and the stupid that by giving ten percent of their income to the church, they will eventually increase their own material wealth.
Testimonies from Dollar’s followers are hard to come by, but there’s no denying the World Changers Church International system, whereby Dollar takes and God is supposed to act like an ATM, has worked out well for Dollar.
Besides the aging private jet, Dollar and his wife, Taffi Dollar, have two Rolls Royce’s and multiple multi-million-dollar homes (they sold one New York City apartment for $3.75 million in 2012.) Mr. Dollar wears gaudy pinstripe suits and crocodile shoes, and Mrs. Dollar has a side-career as a record label CEO and gospel singer.
“Money by itself cannot define prosperity,” Dollar told The New York Times in 2006. “When you say, ‘prosperity,’ people think money. they are not incorrect, but they are incomplete.” Dollar explained to the publication that what he was really preaching was “total life prosperity,” which extends to physical well-being and a successful family life.
But perhaps Dollar himself needs to donate more of his salary to… himself.
Chuck Grassley certainly doesn't think so. In 2007, the Senator and Twitter savant, then a ranking member of the Committee on Finance, launched an investigation into the financial records of six televangelists, including Dollar. Dollar did not cooperate, but he ultimately evaded punishment.
Dollar’s salary is not known, but according to The New York Times, Dollar’s New York church rakes in $4 million annually and his Atlanta operation has an $80 million annual operating budget.
“About $800,000 of it goes toward renting the theater in Madison Square Garden; an additional $84,000 pays for the church’s rented office space nearby; only about $120,000 is spent on the salaries of three people who are on staff," Michael Luo wrote in the Times. "The bulk of the rest, according to church officials, is designated for the church’s building fund. The church hopes to raise $200 million for a complex in the city.”
Dollar came out unscathed from the Grassley investigation. Grassley declined a request for comment about Dollar’s private jet dreams.
Dollar has also had troubles at home. In 2012, he was arrested for beating his then-fifteen year old daughter and charged with battery and cruelty to children. Dollar denied the claim, and the charges were eventually dropped.