Betty Price, the grieving widow of the late Crenshaw Christian Center founder Frederick K.C. Price, defended his teachings on prosperity and said a misleading ABC News report about the televangelist on the topic triggered health problems that haunted him until his death.
“We can’t even tell you what he went through when ABC did that to him. He had worked all of his life, the whole 50-something years he had been preaching … ABC and 20/20 messed his reputation up in 10 minutes,” Betty Price recalled during a message about finding peace in a troubled environment two Sundays ago.
The ABC News segment headlined "Enough!" aired March 23, 2007, on "Good Morning America" and "20/20" and questioned whether several ministers who preach the prosperity gospel had used church donations to live lavishly," a 2010 news release about Price's defamation lawsuit said. The segment included a clip of one of the late preacher’s televised sermons in which he is seen telling his congregation: "I live in a 25 room mansion, I have my own $6 million yacht, I have my own private jet, and I have my own helicopter, and I have seven luxury automobiles."
Price, however, was not speaking of himself but a hypothetical person who had great wealth yet lived a spiritually unfulfilled life.
The televangelist went on to sue ABC News over the report, and four years later, the network admitted their mistake and publicly apologized as part of an out-of-court settlement between Price and the media company.
“ABC News apologizes for any harm caused to you as a result of its broadcast of a video clip that ABC News stated was of you speaking about yourself when in fact you were talking about a hypothetical person,” Kerry Smith, a senior vice president at the time, said in a statement. “ABC News regrets that it did not conduct sufficient investigation of the clip after receiving it to establish its correct context. By presenting the footage out of context, ABC News misled its audience and failed to meet its own standards, which ABC deeply regrets.”
Betty Price, who will bid her late husband goodbye at a funeral service at their Los Angeles-based church on Saturday, said her husband was deeply affected by the report because “it took him off guard.”
“It took him off guard. That actually made him sick,” she said. “As a result of going through that, he had a mess with TB and a kidney thing, and the kidney thing never did get right as a result of that. And so little by little, he’s had to carry that since 2007 when ABC did that.”
Price’s family announced on Feb. 12 that he died from COVID-19 at age 89, after a weekslong battle with the virus that has killed more than half a million people in the U.S. since a pandemic was declared last March.
Betty Price’s recollection of the ABC News episode was part of a segment in her Feb. 21 sermon in which she staunchly defended her late husband’s reputation as “a man that lived a wonderful, wonderful Christian life,” while speaking out against people who take pleasure in gossip and “say stuff about people they don’t even know anything about.”
“People have treated him, now, there’s millions that have been wonderful to him all these years, but there were some people that didn’t understand his life or else they were jealous. I’m talking about ministers in the gospel and some people,” she said. “A lot of them have done a lot of evil speaking. Malice. Just wanted stuff bad to happen to him. And they haven’t been forgiving.”
She added that because her husband stood up to defend his reputation against ABC News, ministers are now protected from what her husband experienced.
“We did take that to court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had a whole law change that they could never do that to any other minister. So instead of ministers talking about him, they ought to be glad he stood for something that would affect the ministry of everybody,” she asserted.
The grieving widow, who also celebrate her late husband’s journey to finally now be with God, said she chose to address the attacks on her husband’s character in his death because too many people have chosen to write negatively about him, particularly because of his teachings on prosperity, which she argues should not be paired with the negative practices of those who seek to exploit Christians.
“One of the main things they do is they talk about the fact that he preaches a prosperity message. He only preaches a small part of a prosperity message, so why would you want to write stuff like that and say that that was wrong? And the thing about it, he got his prosperity the right way. He didn’t do stuff that caused wrong to get his prosperity,” she said.
“We got his prosperity by the word of God. We did what the word of God said. We started when we didn’t know any better and God led us step-by-step that we needed to be giving more, so we started with our giving.
"How many people would do that? We started with our giving, giving 10% when we didn’t have anything. If you heard all of his message[s] you would know that he isn’t a prosperity teacher like you say. He teaches on prosperity, but he is not necessarily a prosperity teacher. We started giving ourselves outta debt, giving ourselves to be prosperous so we could be a blessing to people,” Price added.
She also noted that while people do not have to tithe, she believes it is a healthy practice to follow.
“You should be giving under grace, which should be more than the law, and so we started continuing to give more than the tithing 10%, 12%, 15%, 25%, 30%, all the way up to 40% of our offerings out of our salary. We give 40% away of our salary. That’s the way we have prosperity. Everybody can have prosperity that way,” she explained. “So you don’t have to be condemning him because he preaches the prosperity message.”
The Crenshaw Christian Church, also known as the Faith Dome, was founded by Price in 1973. With a seating capacity of 10,000, the church building is recognized as one of the world’s largest houses of worship. Price is also known for his global “Ever Increasing Faith Ministries” television broadcast that started in 1978.
He was scheduled to lie in repose for two days for a public closed casket viewing on Thursday and Friday at the Crenshaw Christian Center located at 7901 S. Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.
His funeral service is set for March 6 at 11 a.m.