On Wednesday, Donald Trump’s team announced that six prominent religious leaders will pray at the president-elect’s inauguration next month. The group includes, Rev. Franklin Graham, Rabbi Marvin Hier, and Paula White, a Christian televangelist who was once investigated by the Senate Finance Committee.
As pointed out by the Daily Beast, the 50-year-old pastor has received a great deal of criticism for spreading the controversial “prosperity gospel.” In a nutshell, it’s a belief that God wants people to be financially successful, and will bless his followers with material wealth as a sign of his favor. Many prosperity preachers, such as White, also teach that a way to get in God’s good graces, and eventually become rich, is by giving them your money. The bigger your “seed offering” is, the greater the reward, some say.
This kind of theology resulted in big paychecks for Paula and her ex-husband, Randy White. According to a 2007 article published in the Tampa Tribune, the Whites’ church, called Without Walls International, became one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the country. As their congregation expanded, their lives became increasingly luxurious. We’re talking $1.9 million jets, a $2.1 million home, as well as a $3.5 million condo in Trump Tower. White reportedly made most of her income through real estate, speaking engagements, and private businesses that sold everything from nutritional supplements and clothing to books and DVDs. In 2006, Without Walls International was said to have racked in $35 million in tithes and offerings. The couple refused to disclose how much of that money went to them.
Shortly after the Tampa Tribune’s article was published, the Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation of the White’s finances; however, according to the Daily Beast, investigators did not “find any definitive proof of wrongdoing.”
Despite the controversy, Trump has had nothing but nice things to say about White: “Paula White is not only a beautiful person both inside and out, she has a significant message to offer anyone who will tune in and pay attention,” Trump says in a statement on her website. “She has amazing insight and the ability to deliver that message clearly as well as powerfully.”
White, who is a longtime friend of the president-elect, has returned his kind words, and has insisted he is a man of God.
“I can absolutely tell you that Mr. Trump has a relationship with God,” she told Politico earlier this year. “He is a Christian, he accepts Jesus as his Lord and savior.”