If you think a TV preacher buying three private jets is excessive, you haven't met Jesse Duplantis.
First of all, the Louisiana based prosperity gospel televangelist already has three jets. And in a recent video plea to his followers, he claimed God told him that was not enough. As a result, he recently asked for donations toward the purchase of a $54 million jet. In fact, Duplantis said God specifically recommended one particular Dassault model by name.
"It was one of the greatest statements the Lord ever told me," the preacher claimed. "He said, 'Jesse do you want to come up where I'm at? I want you to bleed me for a Falcon 7X."
What is prosperity gospel?
People sometimes lump a variety of prominent pastors and televangelists into the 'prosperity gospel' category. Because of their message, critics might use the term to poke fun at the profession. And their followers are often very loyal to the cause. Basically, they point to scripture as a blueprint to material wealth. In many cases, they themselves openly display ostentatious spending.
Duplantis has frequently asked for donations from his followers, and he is hardly alone. In some cases, they describe these gifts as seed planted in anticipation for a bigger reward from heaven. Whether prosperity gospel is legitimate depends on your perspective. Consequently, critics have slammed Duplantis and others for their opulent lifestyle.
What will he do with a fourth jet?
First of all, the televangelist made it clear that the jet would not be a personal possession. Due to that fact, he said it would instead be restricted to use by and for his ministry. Rather than benefit him, he claimed it would allow his prosperity gospel to impact more lives. He also cited the purchase as a more sustainable form of transportation.
"All it's going to do is it's going to touch people," he said. "It's going to reach people. It's going to change lives one soul at a time."
Therefore, he went on to suggest that it only makes sense a modern evangelist would make use of modern transportation.
"I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the earth today, he wouldn't be riding a donkey," Duplantis said.
The pursuit of private jets is hardly unique to this prosperity gospel preacher.
Jesse Duplantis' ministry already has a Dassault Falcon 50, a Cessna Citation 5000, and an IAI Westwind II. He now says yet another plane is needed to fulfill God's plan. Maybe that sounds absurd to folks attending a local church where the pastor drives a 10 year old Camry. Quite the opposite, a group of televangelists and megachurch pastors proudly boast of their wealth. It's especially relevant that this often shows itself in the purchase of private jets.
Religious figures like Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar have asked for similar donations too. Copeland controversially described commercial flight as "a long tube with a bunch of demons."
Whatever your stance, it appears that these preachers' followers are willing to shell out to support the ministry.