(Photo: TMZ video)
Charismatic preacher and worldwide evangelist Benny Hinn was called "world's greatest scammer" by an unidentified heckler as he and his bodyguards walked through Los Angeles International Airport last week.
The incident, which took place on Friday, was captured on video and shared by TMZ (watch it below). In the brief clip, the videographer asks Hinn, 60, to comment on the controversy surrounding former Food Network host Paula Deen and whether she should be forgiven for using the n-word.
"Well, of course she should be forgiven," says Hinn in the video. "We as Christians ought to forgive, of course."
After being thanked for his response, Hinn adds, "Bless you, thank you," and walks away from the videographer. It is at that point that the minister crosses the path of the unidentified heckler, who apparently had been watching his exchange with the cameraman.
Looking Hinn directly in the face, the man animatedly declares: "World's greatest scammer, Benny Hinn."
"He's been scamming people out of religious money for decades," the man adds of the evangelist.
"He's the biggest scammer in the world. He gets people's social security checks, they spend their life's savings hoping he can cure their cancer, then when they're dead he keeps the money," he continues.
Despite being heckled, Hinn continued on his way through LAX, although the yelling man seemed to have caught the attention of at least two of the Christian minister's four or five bodyguards.
Hinn, a charismatic evangelical who claims he can heal people of various ailments through an anointing of the Holy Spirit, often travels worldwide for his miracle healing crusades. The money raised at these events are used for "the kingdom of God," Hinn has explained.
Although the controversial minister claims he was commended for his cooperation in a 2007 Senate investigation into the financial dealings of several high-profile prosperity preachers, his frequent requests to supporters for "seed-faith gifts" (monetary donations) remain a source of criticism among some Christians.
Hinn, involved in ministry for 36 years and reportedly worth $42 million, has said that he uses the monetary donations for children's homes, hospitals, church plantings, feeding programs, training facilities, and "spreading the Gospel to the world." However, the evangelist claimed as recently as April that he was in debt, and In a prayer request newsletter revealed that he needed supporters to donate $2.5 million because an "anonymous donor" had vowed to match the amount to help him settle his debts.
His ministry website, BennyHinn.org, explains in a FAQ page: "We have a leading accounting firm that continually keeps a watchful eye on everything we do, making sure that we are good stewards of every dollar we receive." The ministry has also published online a financial accountability statement that provides answers to 20 questions ranging from how the ministry is governed to who sits on its board of directors.
Hinn credits supporters' financial giving for allowing him to personally obey the Great Commission to preach the Gospel throughout the world as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 28:16-20. The global evangelist also insists that giving money with the expectancy of receiving blessings from God is indeed biblical.
"I believe in biblical prosperity. It is taught throughout the Bible. Giving to the Lord is so important that God has promised that those who give for the work of the Gospel will be blessed and protected," Hinn explains of the prosperity, or health and wealth teaching on his website. "We give because it is God's will. We give because it is His command! We give because it is His law. We give because the Lord has commanded every believer to give. And the Lord Jesus promises that when we give, we will surely receive."