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 suggest 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.
Years later, White declared bankruptcy on the church she initially ran with her then-husband that had been the subject of the probe, Politico reported.
But whatever fortune she’s amassed has been in large part to her followers, who give her money to get in God’s good graces. On her website, she refers to sending money as giving a “seed” to the almighty Himself:
I feel impressed of the Lord to ask you to do something that I believe will create a memory in the mind of God and this will change your future. I want you to give a seed offering that I call a “Gratitude” seed. This is an extremely powerful seed for you… especially at this time in your life. This seed will do two things for you.
- This seed will get God’s attention. Remember, God sits high and looks low. He is looking for faith on the earth. This seed will require strong faith.
- This seed will be seen as a “Gratitude” offering. Gratitude always produces favor and favor will cause you to receive in a moment, more than some do in a lifetime!
It’s a tactic that other religious leaders frown upon. Earlier this year, Southern Baptist leader and Trump critic Russell Moore tweeted out his distaste of White, Politico reported.
“Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe,” the tweet read.
White denied the assertion that she’s only trying to grift money in an interview with the publication.
“Do I believe that God is a sugar daddy? Not at all,” White said.
The recommended “seed” amount on her website is $115.