"Turning to a man named Dollar for spiritual guidance is like employing a man named Madoff for financial service."
---- from "The Quotations of Chairman Joe"
Televangelist Creflo Augustus Dollar Jr, began his career in College Park Georgia with a ‘ministry’ that began with 8 congregants meeting in an elementary school cafeteria in 1986 to what is now one of the nation’s largest "Megachurches". Housed in what he calls the "World Dome", the 18 million dollar 8,500 seat capacity facility is said to be home to a congregation of some 30,000 members producing a gross revenue estimated in 2006 at some 69 million dollars. (1)
Dollar is one of the more prominent, if not more notorious, proponents of the so-called "Prosperity Theology" which teaches that prosperity, for Christians, is the will of God. Some have traced the origins of the movement, which includes the likes of Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen, back to the ‘New Thought’ movement in the late 19th and early 20th century (2), but its roots may go back further than that.
There has always been, in the Christian tradition, an unseemly connection between wealth, power and salvation. The history of the Catholic church is illustrative with its invention of "indulgences" and other means of separating the parishioner from the fruits of his hard labor. The coming of the Protestant Reformation didn’t give much relief as the "Calvinist work ethic" emerged as a dominant theme in which it was understood that the ‘lord helps those who help themselves’ and that, therefore, to be prosperous is the clearest indication that one has ‘earned’ the favor of the lord.
It is a small step from here to the movements that emerged in the 20th century leading to the "Prosperity Theology" in which it is held " that Christians are entitled to well-being and, because physical and spiritual realities are seen as one inseparable reality, this is interpreted as physical health and economic prosperity".(2) A contract of sorts is established between a man and his God in which God materially rewards the faithful and "poverty and illness are cast as curses which can be broken by faith and righteous actions.
"Mainstream evangelicalism has consistently opposed prosperity theology as heresy, and prosperity ministries have frequently come into conflict with other Christian groups, including those within the Pentacostal and Charismatic movements." (2) Critics from across the spectrum from the old main-line denominations to Jerry Falwell to Rick Warren, to the General Council of the Assemblies of God, have repudiated the doctrine.
Accordingly, "Prosperity churches typically reject Presbyterian polity (or governance) and the idea that a pastor should be accountable to elders; it is common for pastors of prosperity churches to be the highest organizational authority figure." (2) This proves a very convenient arrangement and it is, therefore, unremarkable that several of these self-appointed vicars of Christ revel in an ostentatious display of wealth. Proof positive, it would seem, according to this self-serving logic, of one’s growing favor with the Lord. A perfect theological tautology, in which one assumes one’s conclusions; all one has to do is display the growing evidence of one’s favor, and to do that all the good Shepard has to do is turn to the flock and administer a regular sheering.
Accordingly we find Oral Roberts with his "Blessing Pact" in which he promised that the Lord would return a donation "seven-fold", and faith healer A.A. Allen in the early 1950's "promoted merchandise such as ‘miracle tent shavings’ and prayer cloths anointed with ‘miracle oil’. (2) The history of the movement is replete with shameless huckstering needing no further elaboration. It is sufficient to point out that the happy intersection between church, state and non-denominational religion is a safe harbor for the most scurrilous of men.
This, in due course, leads us to one Creflo Augustus Dollar Jr. Dollar has become, in the course of a few decades the bottom dollar in a universe that makes an absolute ethic of the accumulation and display of wealth. Accordingly, he is reported to own "two Rolls-Royces, a private jet, and real estate such as a million dollar home in Atlanta, a $2.5 million home in Demarest, New Jersey, and 2.5 million home in Manhattan".(2) Good work if you can get it, or find people gullible enough to fund it.
On November 24, 2014, Dollar's private Gulfstream III jet, N103CD ran off the runway at Biggin Hill Airport, United Kingdom. There were no serious injuries. To replace the old jet, Dollar launched a fundraising campaign to get his followers to pay approximately $60,000,000. For a new Gulfstream G650 jet. He suggested his followers each committ to giving ‘$300.00 or more." The jet he wants is the ‘fastest plane ever built in civilian aviation. After receiving immediate backlash, Dollar ended his fundraising campaign. The project was kept as an option on the donation page of ministry’s website." (1) "Creflo Dollar Ministries received a grade of "F" for financial transparency by the organization Ministry Watch" (1)
He also, in 2007, refused to cooperate with the investigation conducted by the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa into several of these ministries.
Yesterday a video surfaced on Facebook in which brother Dollar was once again exhorting his congregants to belly up to the bar and fund his new jet, claiming the devil was busy at work preventing him from getting his just reward.
"Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
Cause I'm in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste"
----The Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil" (3)