Televangelist defends lavish lifestyle and use of private jets, calls it a "biblical thing"

By Christopher Brito

/ CBS News

La. televangelist seeks $54M private jet

Kenneth Copeland, a Texas-based televangelist, was confronted by a reporter who grilled him over his fleet of private planes. The exchange, which aired last month on Inside Edition, recently went viral over the weekend and showed Copeland justifying his luxurious spending.

Inside Edition correspondent Lisa Guerrero asked Copeland about why he won't fly commercial as he was getting in a vehicle in Branson, Missouri. He defended it, making it seem to be a vital means to his televangelism. He said, "If I flew commercial, I'd have to stop 65% of what I'm doing."

Full Interview: Preacher Kenneth Copeland Defends Lavish Lifestyle by Inside Edition on YouTube

Guerrero questioned him about a private jet he purchased from filmmaker Tyler Perry, the Gulfstream V. He replied, "Well, that's none of your business."

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Copeland, owner of Kenneth Copeland Ministries and a small airport in Texas, then said Perry "made it so cheap" he couldn't help to buy it. He cited a May trip where he traveled to five continents as a reason why he needed the plane. He also admits to using his private jets to travel to his vacation homes.

The journalist wanted Copeland to explain a comment he made in 2015, when he described flying commercial as "flying in a long tube with a bunch of demons — and it's deadly." While pointing his finger at Guerrero, Copeland denied saying it initially, before explaining that it's a "biblical thing."

Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, defending their private jets by jeffre2012 on YouTube

"People get pushed in alcohol," he said. "Do you think it's 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, it made me so mad to see that on television that I want to punch the guy out myself. I can't be doing that while getting ready to go preach."

Guerrero pointed out fancy clothing, planes and limo rides that Copeland has — all of which the preacher acknowledged to having. "I'm a very wealthy man," he said.

She asked him about critics that think a preacher shouldn't live of a life of luxury.

"They're wrong," he said. "It's a misunderstanding of the Bible. If you go into the Old Covenant, do you think the Jewish people believe you should be broke?"

Guerrero said, "Are you saying that Jewish people appreciate money more?

"They believe in wealth," he said.

"Some people would find that offensive," she said.

"I'm not talking about some people, I'm talking about the Bible," he said.

Guerrero brings up a Bible verse about rich men having a hard time getting into heaven, to which Copeland replied, "All things are possible with God."

He proceeded to grab Guerrero's hand and pray for her.

It's not the first time a big-time televangelist has been in hot water over a private plane. Last year, Jesse Duplantis asked his followers to "pray about becoming a partner" to his mission of obtaining a $54 million private jet. Creflo Dollar also asked his supporters to help him buy a $65 million Gulfstream G650 jet in 2015.

First published on June 4, 2019 / 4:20 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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