HART: Preacher flies high

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

Never have I reached out to readers and solicited money for a just cause. But Atlanta-based televangelist couple Creflo and Taffi Dollar recently asked their congregation to buy them a new jet.

I’m in. We must do this. Creflo feels strongly that his current jet needs replacing, and has long coveted a Gulfstream G650. His neighbor has one.  It lists for a mere $67,950,000.

Before you cringe at Preacher Dollar’s request, just ask yourself, “What Would Jesus Fly?”

I am not sure where in the Bible it says preachers get a jet, but then I skipped around a lot. I am sure it’s in there, because Preacher Creflo said so. This is not for me to question; he’s the preacher. So I am sending him money.

I have written about such church leader cases in the past, most notably in my award-eligible column  “Ministers Should do More than Lay People,” about defrocked Reverends Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart, both of whom were caught philandering. I am starting to understand why all those Bibles end up in hotel rooms.

After Ted Haggard finally admitted to using money from his mega-church to buy drugs and the services of male prostitutes (thus robbing Paul to pay for Peter), he went into a religious program to de-gay himself. It was supposed to last three weeks, but he only had time for about a week. The staff said, “Fine, that will probably about do it.” Haggard's final exam consisted of seeing whether he could watch a complete NASCAR race while the Tony Awards were broadcast on another channel.

Creflo’s rival, Atlanta preacher Eddie Long, the charismatic who leads his mega-church of 26,000 members, fought allegations that he sexually harassed young male members of his flock. Looking back, those parishioners should have known something was up when Bishop Long insisted they chant “Fabulous!” instead of “Amen” after he preached.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Long drives a Bentley and took in more than $3 million in salary for three years. He responded, “We’re not just a church, we are an international corporation. We’re not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can’t talk and all we’re doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around the world.”

It is an age-old story. Charismatics promote their moral superiority by telling others what to do while they take 10 percent of their followers’ income as a tithe in the name of God. God is a great silent business partner for these guys because He lends credibility and does not take a cut. I’m no theologian, but using the fear of God to take advantage of the vulnerable has to be one of the worst things done in the name of religion — right behind using it to justify going to war.

If they want to be elected, politicians are aware America must know they are churchgoers. Bill Clinton is a Baptist; Baptists are required to live by a strict code of morality. That suits him, because the Clintons love the challenge of getting around the rules. Back in Chicago, Hillary played church softball, where she led the league in stolen bases and potential evidence.

Money-driven pastors of mega-churches are chosen based on charisma, marketability and the ability to safeguard the confidence of sensitive personal information. These are the same criteria Tom Cruise uses to pick a wife.

Because of incidents like Creflo’s and judgmental social issues they pursue, organized religion is on a downward trend in America. The Catholic Church has been having problems reaching out to young people in a way that is not followed by hush money. Obama advised the Pope to deal with any problems by blaming the previous Pope.

The Church got a new and younger Pope, only 76 when elected, which qualifies as  a youth movement in the Church. His election was unprecedented; he was the first Pope elected without carrying Ohio.

The Catholic Church confirmed a second miracle by the late Pope John Paul II, qualifying him for sainthood. You know a church is strict when you perform a true miracle and the board says, “OK, fine, but what else you got?”

Because of antics of church leaders, like Creflo Dollar and others, we are becoming more secular.

Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator can be reached at or visit