A televangelist who encourages her followers to get closer to God by sending money to her has been invited to Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Paula White spent much of the 2016 presidential campaign convincing evangelicals to vote for Trump, assuring them that he “accepts Jesus as his Lord and savior,” she told Politico. Now she’ll be praying with Trump at his inauguration.
But the popular pastor, who Trump originally became smitten with after seeing her preach on television, has some issues of her own. White is often criticized for preaching the “prosperity gospel,” which suggests that God is happiest when his followers are rich, The Daily Beast points out. She’s even written a sermon titled “Why God Wants You Wealthy” (it costs money to download).
And if being rich is an indicator of holiness, White must be in His good graces. White told Politico she was once worth “millions,” and her business practices suggests she knows how to handle money while manipulating her followers. In 2007, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) launched a congressional probe into the spending habits of White’s ministry, along with five other pastors. Grassley had questions regarding the televangelists’ use of church-owned airplanes and luxury homes. The Senate inquiry was eventually dropped, in part because White refused to cooperate with investigators.
Meantime, some evangelical Christians are sharply critical of Paula White’s involvement in the inaugural:
The loudest voices against White are anti-Trump evangelicals who have been warning their coreligionists against the president-elect since the campaign. But many Christians regard the prosperity gospel as incompatible with Scripture and view pastors who promote it as likely to take financial advantage of their flocks. White has drawn attention for her own lavish lifestyle, as the owner of expensive homes (including an apartment at Trump Towers) and cars. The Tampa Tribune reported that her broadcast business earned between $50,000 to $80,000 a week while a decade ago she and her then-husband were taking compensating ranging from $600,000 to $1.5 million a year. Eric Erickson argues that her theological problems go beyond the prosperity gospel to rejecting core Christian doctrines agreed upon across denominations, as evidenced by comments she made to worshippers that were captured on video. “The President of the United States putting a heretic on stage who claims to believe in Jesus, but does not really believe in Jesus, risks leading others astray,” he wrote. “Christians have an obligation to speak in defense of their faith. Trump letting this heretic pray in Jesus’s name should offend every Bible believing Christian.” “I’d rather a Hindu pray on Inauguration Day and not risk the souls of men, than one whose heresy lures in souls with promises of comfort only to damn them in eternity,” Erickson concluded. “At least no one would mistake a Hindu, a Buddhist, or an atheist with being a representative of Christ’s kingdom.”