By Michael Brice-Saddler
In the waning days of 2015, renowned televangelist Kenneth Copeland laid out exactly why he needs a luxury private jet to do his job: You can’t “talk to God” while flying commercial.
Criticized at the time for his use of extravagant planes, Copeland argued that travel for his work would be difficult, nay, impossible without them. The Texas-based preacher invoked his mentor, prosperity gospel preacher Oral Roberts, who Copeland said faced unsolicited requests for prayer when he flew on public airliners, “agitating his spirit.”
“You can’t manage that today, in this dope-filled world, get in a long tube with a bunch of demons,” Copeland told fellow televangelist Jesse Duplantis, who has faced similar backlash for asking his followers to bankroll a $54 million jet. “And it’s deadly.”
Copeland’s defense, widely mocked and viewed by millions, did little to help his case — many figured the “demons” he spoke of were the same people he’d asked for donations. Last month, the preacher was asked to clarify his remarks by Lisa Guerrero, a reporter for news magazine Inside Edition. Their exchange recently went viral, reigniting conversations about televangelists and the tax-exempt status of churches.
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