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March 6, 2007

Jet-setting for Jesus

Televangelist Ken Copeland and his wife circle the globe in their sparkling new $20 million Cessna Citation—only using it, of course, in ways that are “becoming to Lord Jesus.” Or becoming as luxury vacation spots:

Some may say a way tele-
vangelists can measure their success is that they have the ability to fly their own corporate jet to spread the gospel.
For the past several months, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Fort Worth have been traveling the globe in a new $20 million jet. They pledged that the air-
craft would be used for the pur-
pose of serving their ministry.
Are the Copelands practicing what they preach?
The Copelands are regarded by many as the most successful televangelists in the world, and they certainly look the part these days—jetting about in their new Cessna Citation, operated, they say, in exact accordance with federal tax law and used solely for ministry purposes.
… [T]he Copelands needed $20 million in their aim to buy a new jet that Kenneth Copeland said would be used only to spread the gospel.
“It will never, ever be used as long as it is in our care, for anything other than what is becoming to you, Lord Jesus,” he said.

Depends how you define “becoming:”

According to flight records obtained by News 8, the Copeland jet, on its way to an evangelical seminar in Australia last October, made a two-day layover in Maui. Then it was on to the Fiji islands for another stop.
After seven days in Australia, the Copelands headed to Honolulu for another three days of what they called “eating and rest.”
Last December, amid other evangelical stops, there was a jet ride to the Yampa Valley Airport in Colorado, just a few miles away from Steamboat Springs Ski Resort.
That same day, the jet flew back to the Copelands’ private airport north of Fort Worth.
Five days later, the jet traveled to the Yampa Valley Airport near Steamboat and returned to Texas.
One week later, there was another trip. This time, to the LaFonda Ranch in Southwest Texas, a favorite stop over the years for Kenneth Copeland and his son, John.
The La Fonda Ranch is described as a working cattle and hunting ranch located in the arid brush country.
A picture taken of Copeland and his son John shows them proudly posing with a pair of axis deer indigenous to India and Sri Lanka.
So, is a jet trip to a South Texas wild game ranch a proper use?
“You can’t take the assets that are supposed to be used for a religious or charitable purpose and use them for your own purposes without some tax consequences,” said Wayne Shaw, a former IRS agent and current Southern Methodist University business professor.
Concerns about Kenneth Copeland’s jet travel came as no surprise to Pete Evans of the Trinity Foundation in Dallas. […] “It tells everybody that Christianity is about getting stuff, and not about giving your life for the people around you,” Evans said.

The Copeland ministry refused to comment, or to disclose its tax filings.

And still the faithful keep on giving. Even, as the article goes on to explain, when they’re on their death beds.

Posted by Stephen at 12:06 AM in Religion + cults | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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