Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Dan Fagan: Christ didn't have a long-range jet

The nation was abuzz last week with talk of Louisiana preacher Jesse Duplantis asking supporters for $54 million for a private jet. Duplantis is a popular, flamboyant and charismatic preacher who pastors a church in Destrehan and produces a religious television show seen worldwide.

CNN, USA Today, The Washington Post, Yahoo, and a slew of other national media organizations jumped on the Duplantis story.

CNN reported, "A prosperity televangelist from Louisiana says Jesus has asked him to buy a new private jet. And wouldn't you know it, Jesus has real nice taste in planes."

I wonder if Duplantis knew asking supporters for $54 million to buy what would be his fourth private jet would ignite a media firestorm of coverage? It's not like he tried to sugarcoat or disguise his request.

"I like all people to know exactly what I'm doing in this ministry," Duplantis said. "We don't hide nothing whatsoever at all. "

Duplantis claims buying a fourth private jet was God's idea, not his. Duplantis says he needs a new private plane because the three he currently owns have to stop too often for refueling. The new one will allow him to get his fuel at home at a reduced cost. All his supporters have to do is kick in $54 million and watch the savings role in.

Personally, I doubt spending $54 million on a fourth jet will save his ministry money in the long run. You know, because he already has three jets. If Duplantis wants a newer, fancier private jet, he should just say so. The spending $54 million to save money argument just doesn't fly.

Duplantis will probably get his fourth jet since his supporters have already bought him three. Why not a fourth? It's understandable why this may bother some as many view TV preachers as preying on little old ladies on fixed incomes. I hope that's not true and I suspect it isn't. I'm sure most Duplantis supporters understand fully what they are doing when they send him their money.

Another criticism of TV preachers is that they often pitch the prosperity gospel assuring supporters God will pay them back as much as 100 times over if they send in their cash. Maybe that's why so many to give to Duplantis. Send in $100, get back $10,000. What percentage of Duplantis supporters do you think send in money simply because they want to advance Christianity? Hard to say.

Some might argue if Duplantis convinced people to give up of their cash to buy him another private jet, so what? He's not doing anything illegal, right? Technically no, but his ministry does get a tax exemption. Should that prohibit Duplantis from flying in a private jet?

There are plenty working in the nonprofit sector making big bucks and living lavish lifestyles. Until just recently the NFL was a nonprofit enjoying huge tax breaks. The tax-exempt, nonprofit sector has become big business in recent years. The Wall Street Journal reported 2,700 employees of nonprofits made more than $1 million in 2014. Is it fair to single out only the religious nonprofits for excesses?

Changing the law by tightening up what you can and cannot do as a nonprofit may be needed. But until that happens, Duplantis supporters paying for him to travel the world on a private jet is between Duplantis and his supporters. There are plenty of celebrities, athletes and CEOs flying around in private jets and no one seems to care. A preacher does it and all of a sudden it's a national scandal.

Hopefully all the negative coverage generated from Duplantis wanting a fourth jet won't cause people to view Christianity in a negative light. I know of many people who have turned to God and embraced Christianity and say it has made a huge difference for them. They speak of finding meaning, contentment and freedom through their Christian faith. I've heard some say they only experienced deep, and real inner peace after they found God.

There's more to Christianity than flashy and slick talking TV preachers. But you already knew that.


Jesse Duplantis, the Destrehan-based prosperity gospel televangelist with a global reach, is asking disciples for money to buy a jet that costs $54 million "so we can go anywhere in the world in one stop." He seeks the donations in a video posted last week on his ministry's website.

"I really believe that if the Lord Jesus Christ was physically on the Earth today, he wouldn't be riding a donkey," Duplantis says in the video. "He'd be in an airplane flying all over the world."

He says his 40-year-old Jesse Duplantis Ministries has paid cash for three private jets and been "just burning them up for the Lord Jesus Christ." The most recent purchase was in 2006, he says.

Now he has his sights set on a Dassault Falcon 7X, a three-engine jet with a range of 5,950 nautical miles. Its customizable cabins accommodate 12 to 16 passengers. A 2017 write-up on SherpaReport.com, a website focused on private aviation, said the list price for a new Falcon 7X was $54 million.

In the video, Duplantis says God told him, "I want you to believe in me for a Falcon 7X." He tells viewers: "Pray about becoming a partner to it."

Duplantis' solicitation comes four months after another televangelist, the Newark, Texas-based Kenneth Copeland, announced he had bought a new Gulfstream V jet. That aircraft, when first sold in 1998, carried a $36 million price tag, The Christian Post reports.

In 2015, Duplantis and Copeland defended their use of private jets. In a segment on Copeland's television program, they argued that commercial planes were full of "a bunch of demons" that will bog down their busy schedules with prayer requests, The Washington Times reported. 

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Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Duplantis, would you please accept this donation of $5 towards my share of the new 7X? Also, would you say a prayer for me. I am so glad you are there for us. God bless and carry on with your important work of God.

Anonymous said...

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he should get a tail number with a 666 in it because the only "bunch of demons" I see here are televangelists.

Anonymous said...

Soooo.... Duplantis says Jesus would be flying on jets, and the planes that I fly on are full of demons that he doesn't have time for. SMH, this buffoon thinks he's Jesus Christ. He needs to buy his own damn plane - again. Either that and put his money back into his own local communities that need real help. Fool!

Jim B said...

Duplantis does not know Jesus. He knows greed and manipulation.

Anonymous said...

If Jesus did fly it would be on the same plane as the "demons" because that is where Jesus does his greatest work, saving lost souls.