A New Orleans televangelist known for preaching the “prosperity gospel” has asked his followers from all over the world to send him donations for him to buy a $54 million jet.
Jesse Duplantis, the leader of Jesse Duplantis Ministries, is asking for a new Dassault Falcon 7X, a three-engine jet he justified in a five-minute video posted last week on his website by saying it could go farther, therefore saving on airplane fuel. “Pray about becoming a partner to it,” he tells viewers.
“I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the Earth today, he wouldn’t be riding a donkey,” he says in the video “He’d be in an airplane preaching the gospel flying all over the world.”
Duplantis also said that God specifically told him, “I want you to believe in me for a Falcon 7X.” When Duplantis worried about the price, God told him, “Jesse, I didn’t ask you to pay for it, I asked you to believe for it.”
The jet would actually be the fourth private aircraft for Duplantis, according to the video. He bought an airplane “for the Lord” in 1994, then again in 2004, and again in 2006:
I used them—and just burning them up for the Lord Jesus Christ. You know, some people believe that preachers shouldn’t have jets. I really believe preachers ought to go on every available voice, every available outlet to get this gospel preached to the world.
Duplantis preaches a “prosperity gospel,” in which God blesses people who please him with material wealth, to an audience on Trinity Broadcasting Network, which claims to be the largest Christian TV network in the world. TBN has a lineup of famous names in televangelism, including Joel Osteen and fellow private-aircraft enthusiast Creflo Dollar (as well as Mike Huckabee), many of whom also promote the prosperity gospel. Paula White, Donald Trump’s controversial spiritual advisor, also appears on the network to encourage her audience—often low-income people—to give money and be repaid in future success, because of God.
A religious watchdog organization also investigated Duplantis for a $3 million tax-free house serving as a church rectory, paid for through non-taxable donations. Legally, Duplantis cannot put the donations toward any personal use. Flight records showed Duplantis took thousands of trips on his private plane, including ones to Hawaii and Las Vegas, according to the St. Charles Herald-Guide.
Duplantis once appeared in a video defending the use of private jets with Texas televangelist and fellow prosperity minister Kenneth Copeland, who bought his own $6-$12 million jet from the actor Tyler Perry earlier this year. In the video, Copeland argues that Oral Roberts, a famous televangelist had been mobbed by people wanting him to pray for them when he flew on a commercial flight. “You can’t manage that today, this dope-filled world, and get in a long tube with a bunch of demons,” Copeland said.
“And it works on your heart, it really does,” Duplantis added.