COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — A video of a prominent prosperity preacher issuing an online plea to supporters to help him purchase a $65 million dollar private jet has been removed following backlash over the matter.
Staff of Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga. had posted the video on the organization’s website this month as Dollar asked for 200,000 people to donate $300 dollars each so that he could purchase a new G650 airplane.
He explained in the footage that his current 1984 jet, which he purchased in 1999, experienced engine failure in London on a recent trip to Australia. Dollar said that the plane is now grounded and is in need of being replaced.
“Due to this recent incident coupled with the 31 years the airplane has been in service, we believe it is time to replace this aircraft so that our pastors and staff can continue to safely and swiftly share the good news of the gospel worldwide,” the webpage, which is now unavailable, stated. “We need your help to continue reaching a lost and dying world for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Gulfstream G650 is a top-end business jet that can carry up to 18 passengers and is stated to fly faster than other large cabin aircraft.
“A longer, wider cabin and the choice of 12 floorplans offer more design configurations for meetings, entertaining and relaxing,” the manufacturer website explains. “A convection oven, large ice drawers and fitted storage for flatware and crystal increase dining options. After dinner, relax in a handcrafted leather recliner. Or retreat to a private stateroom. The choice is yours.”
“The work they (the Dollars) do is important,” public relations representative Juda Engelmayer told the Atlanta Constitution Journal on Friday. “It’s feeding, clothing, educating people, as well as passing on the word of God.”
“The plane is not so Creflo Dollar can get on by himself and fly,” he added to the Christian Post. “They take a ministry team of 10 to 15 people with them. They take thousands of pounds of food and provisions with them when they go around the world. If he’s coming to the New York church, he’ll hop on a Delta flight. If he’s taking 12 people plus 100,000 pounds of food, it’s not that simple.”
But as word broke about the project, some still expressed dismay as to why Dollar, who leads a 30,000-member megachurch and lives in a million dollar home, needs such an expensive aircraft, which is reportedly sought out by billionaires. David Graham, Global Express aircraft captain with Advanced Air Management, told the publication that Engelmayer’s claims don’t add up.
“[The aircraft] cannot carry 12 people and 100,000# of food and supplies,” he said. “Creflo is a crook and scammin’ his church in the name of the Lord.”
Significant backlash also broke out on social media.
“Most people think the appeal is very extreme, and they basically believe that they are sending the wrong message to the world about Christianity,” Leonardo Blair told WSB-TV Atlanta.
While the appeal page has apparently been removed from the World Changers website, contributions for “Project G650” are still being accepted on the donation page. Spokespersons for the organization state that the campaign is being reassessed and that Dollar is flying commercial in the meantime.