Despite recession and a government investigation, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and their all-star lineup of “prosperity gospel” preachers delighted a multiracial crowd of 9,000 in Fort Worth, Texas, with anecdotes about the luxurious lives they had attained by following the Word of God. Private airplanes and boats. A motorcycle sent by an anonymous supporter. Vacations in Hawaii and cruises in Alaska. Designer handbags. A ring of emeralds and diamonds. “God knows where the money is, and He knows how to get the money to you,” preached Mrs. Copeland. Preachers in the “prosperity gospel” movement are drawing sizable, adoring audiences. Their message-that if you have sufficient faith in God and the Bible and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold-is reassuring to many in hard times. The preachers barely acknowledged the recession, though they did say it was no excuse to curtail giving. “If God did it for them, he will do it for us,” said Edwige Ndoudi, who traveled with her husband and three children from Canada for the Southwest Believers’ Convention this month, where the Copelands and three of their friends took turns preaching for five days, 10 hours a day. They are among 386,000 people worldwide whom the Copelands call their “partners,” most of whom send regular contributions to the Copelands, whose broadcast reaches 134 countries, and whose income is about $100 million annually. At the convention, the preachers worked mightily to remind the crowd that they are God’s elect. “While everybody else is having a famine,” said Jerry Savelle, a Texas televangelist, “his covenant people will be having the best of times. Any time a worried thought about money pops up in your mind, the next thing you do is sow”: drop money, like seeds, in “good ground” like the preachers’ ministries. “Stop worrying, start sowing,” he added, his voice rising. “That’s God’s stimulus package for you.” At that, hundreds streamed down the aisles to the stage, laying envelopes, cash and coins on the carpeted steps.
'God knows where the money is, and He knows how to get the money to you'
The Prosperity Gospel prospers in tough economic times