Preachers promote bling - Jaya Franklin

All I can say is it's about time. Several TV evangelists are being investigated by the Senate Finance Committee.

The evangelists include Bishop Eddie Long, Creflo and Taffi Dollar, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Randy and Paula White.

If you ask me, it took too long. Let's start with Bishop Eddie Long. Long is associated with several mega churches in Georgia. About two years ago, I visited the bishop's church in Lithonia, because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

When I visited the church, I was highly disappointed. I didn't know if I was in a place of God or some type of secular arena. Before I even entered the church, we were stuck in the parking lot for about 30 minutes trying to park.

When everything finally started, of course the bishop wasn't there, some other guy was on the stage talking about raising money for the praise team to go to Africa.

For those of you who don't know, the praise team is like a 2000 version of a choir, except it travels internationally and has several different outfits for its performances, not just the trademark, choir robe.

I remember sitting in the auditorium in awe. I was thinking to myself, I haven't even been to Africa, why would I pay for the praise team to go? Of course, the sermon was about giving.

I was amazed. I just couldn't believe that someone would seemingly use God as a facade to take money away from people, and make themselves rich. What's more, the people of the congregation really believe these kinds of preachers have their best interest at heart.

The members of the congregation treat this man (Long) like God, literally. If you say one word about him that not a glowing compliment, no matter where you are, people become irate. I'm sure I will get a lot of e-mails and calls from people who disagree with what I am saying about these wealthy preachers.

But, the difference between myself and many others is that I've actually attended this man's church and I've seen the way people worship him.

Don't get me wrong, I know about his charities and what he does in the community, but most of that is minimal compared to the jet he travels in and the expensive cars he drives.

Creflo Dollar is another example of a preacher who, to me, seems to have ulterior motives. According to news reports, Dollar and his wife broadcast their sermons in 150 countries. They own two Rolls Royces, private jets, a mansion in Atlanta and a $2.5 million apartment in Manhattan.

Now, I'm not saying these people shouldn't have nice things. But how far does a preacher's salary really go?

And where is all of this money coming from? Shouldn't their lifestyles be more Christ-like? What kind of example are they setting?

These people are the leaders of millions of people. I was always taught that one of the Christian's main goals is to be humble like Jesus Christ. But what these wealthy peachers seem to exemplify, to me, is the total opposite of what the bible says.

So what are they really preaching?

Jaya Franklin covers government for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at jfranklin@henryherald.com