Not many churches have a private jet. But not many church pastors are like Creflo Dollar. The Georgia pastor asked followers to give money for a new one, and now his church's finances are under scrutiny.
The pastor and his wife, Taffi, own a mansion in Fayette County, Georgia, a $2.1 million home outside of New York City, and an Atlanta-area condominium, according to WGCL-TV in Atlanta. Dollar is the head of World Changers Church International (WCCI), a church that brings in a total of $80 million from its congregation, church spokesman Vic Bolton said. WCCI claims to have 30,000 members between its main location in College Park, Georgia, and New York City, and its website says it contributes to charities and carries out international missions with donations.
Dollar recently came under criticism in late April after he reportedly asked 200,000 followers for $300 each to help purchase a new $65 million Gulfstream jet for the church, according to the Huffington Post. World Changers International already owned a private jet, but the request was reportedly made because the old jet was too old and unreliable. When his asking for a jet came under fire, Dollar responded with criticism of his detractors in a sermon posted to YouTube.
"If I want to believe God for a $65 million plane, you cannot stop me," he said. "You can't stop me from dreaming, I’m going to dream until Jesus comes."
Dollar's sermons are televised and broadcasted to satellite churches across the globe. He later said in his speech about the jet request, "If they discover that there’s life on Mars, they're going to need to hear the Gospel, and I'm going to have to believe God for a billion-dollar space shuttle because we’ve got to preach the Gospel on Mars."
Churches are not required by law to make financial information public, so the exact spending of church donations is unclear. Bolton told WGCL-TV that the church gives "gazillions" to charities but wasn't more specific because WCCI doesn't track how much it gives.
The pastor has a history of financial problems. Dollar was called the "least cooperative" in a 2007 investigation of six televangelists by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, according to WGCL-TV.
Bolton said that Dollar does not receive a salary from the church, but WGCL-TV reported that the pastor and his wife have for-profit side businesses -- like CD sales and speaking engagements -- that are closely related to the church, even operating on its property.