Texas-based prosperity preacher Kenneth Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, who some reports estimate has a net worth upward of $300 million, recently declared himself “a very wealthy man,” but said his wealth doesn’t come from the offerings of his supporters alone.
“I’m a very wealthy man,” Copeland told reporter Lisa Guerrero from "Inside Edition" who questioned him over his lavish lifestyle and his refusal to travel on commercial airplanes because he doesn’t want to contend with "demons."
“My wealth doesn’t come from offerings alone,” he said, as he admitted to selling things like books and DVDs.
He then introduced a source of income that was not widely known.
“I have a lot of natural gas on our property. Didn’t know that did you, baby,” he said to the reporter. “Isn’t that wonderful?”
He also noted that he hasn’t been keeping all his wealth to himself. Last year alone, he said, his ministry invested about $20 to $25 million in the poor.
“Can’t do that being broke,” said Copeland, who also boasted that his ministry has “brought over 122 million people to the Lord Jesus Christ” thanks to their wealth.
“It takes a lot of money to do what we do. We have brought over 122 million people to the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
It was unclear at the time how much Copeland's ministry paid for the jet which was being sold by some vendors for a minimum of just under $6 million.
While defending his use of private jets, Copeland revealed that he now has three of them and he purchased his latest acquisition from media mogul Tyler Perry at a price he could not refuse.
“….Without the airplane that we have that I bought from Tyler Perry [I could not do the work I do]. And I didn’t pay anywhere near [the true value], Tyler is one of the greatest guys. He made that airplane so cheap for me I couldn’t help but buy it,” Copeland said.
When asked how much he actually paid for the jet, Copeland would not say but explained that private jets are a vital part of his ministry. He further asserted that if he didn't fly in private jets he would have to stop doing more than half the work in his ministry.
“The main reason is because of the need. If I flew commercial I’d have to stop 65 percent of what I’m doing. That’s really the main reason,” he said.
“Last May, I was scheduled for Lagos, Nigeria. That’s a long ways. I had a week off and I was scheduled for Peru. And I prayed about it and I thought, I’m not missing that dedication in Jerusalem. And here’s what happened. We flew in 21 days, 70 hours, 40,000 miles, touched five continents and preached face-to-face, personally with 125,000 people,” he said.
Copeland, who also admitted to using his ministry's jets to fly to his vacation homes, challenged a running narrative that he believes people who travel on commercial flights are demons.
“No, I do not, and don’t you ever say I did,” he said intensely while wagging his finger at the reporter. “We wrestle not with flesh and blood but principalities and powers.
“It’s a biblical thing. It’s a spiritual thing. It doesn’t have anything to do with people. I love people. Jesus loves people. But people get pushed in alcohol. Do you think that’s a good place for a preacher to be and prepare to go preach to a lot of people when somebody in there is dragging some woman down an aisle by her hair? It made me so mad to see that on television I wanted to punch the guy out myself. I can’t be doing that while I’m getting ready to preach,” he said.
Copeland, who said he is a commercial pilot who flew for his mentor, Oral Roberts, added that people who think pastors shouldn’t be living in luxury are misguided.
“It’s a misunderstanding of the Bible. If you go into the old covenant, do you think that the Jewish people believe that you should be broke? They believe in wealth,” he said.
“The blessing of Abraham. Abraham was extremely wealthy and he had a covenant with God. It’s not the Jewish blessing, it’s the Abrahamic blessing. I get excited talking about it ‘cause I love it and I started out deep in debt with nothing,” he said.
“I had to learn this from the Bible and from my spiritual mentor Oral Roberts. And I learned it from him, working with him and then we became … he was a close friend until he died. He took the same heat for believing God would prosper you that I’ve taken over the years,” he said.
“Abraham was a very, very wealthy man. Galatians 3. If you belong to Christ, then are you Abraham’s seed and heirs according to his promise? And his promise was great wealth,” declared Copeland.
The reporter, who said both her grandfathers were humble preachers, shot back with Matthew 19:24 which says: “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Copeland agreed, but noted: “but He said, all things are possible with God. And He said, if you studied the Greek behind that, it’s trusting in wealth.”