Famed minister Creflo Dollar recently asked his 200,000-person congregation for $60 million to help purchase a new private jet, but the backlash has been so overwhelming that he opted to take down the funding page.
Reverend Dollar, 53, is the head of the World Changers Church International in Atlanta, Georgia. He preaches prosperity gospel, indicating through his ministry that God wants to bless believers with earthly riches.
But when the pastor asked his congregation for donations toward a $65 million Gulfstream G650 jet, the mainstream media had a field day with his message.
"The ministry's current airplane was built in 1984, purchased by the ministry in 1999 and has since logged four million miles," Dollar wrote on the funding page that has since been removed. "Recently on an overseas trip to a global conference, one of the engines failed. By the grace of God, the expert pilot, who's flown with Creflo for almost 20 years, landed the plane safely without injury or harm to any passengers."
Dollar claims that the jet -- currently the fastest private jet in the world -- would help him "safely and swiftly share the Good News of the Gospel worldwide."
"The G650 is the biggest, fastest, most luxurious, longest range and most technologically advanced jet - by far - that Gulfstream has ever built," according to a 2013 report from Flying Magazine. While there's currently a two-year waiting list for new models, other notable billionaires who own a G650 include Steve Jobs' wife Lauren Powell Jobs, Wynn Resorts CEO Steven Wynn, and Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
In a video posted by Dollar to promote this "Project G650," parishioners, a pilot, and even Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of LIberia, speak on behalf of the pastor. The video showcased the current condition of Dollar's 1984 private jet, showing the two times when mechanical failure almost ended in tragedy.
Rev. Dollar began preaching in a College Park, Georgia elementary school cafeteria in 1986 and has grown his congregation to over 200,000 in that time. He has also set up the current ministry location, called World Dome, in 1995. While Dollar's teaching are often controversial, he has been criticized for his lavish lifestyle which includes two Rolls-Royces, his private jet, and several million-dollar properties in Atlanta and New Jersey.
The pastor is certainly no stranger to investigations, either. In November of 2007, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa launched an investigation into Dollar's ministry to determine if the multi-millionaire was making a profit from his congregation.
And in June of 2012, the Fayette County Sheriff's Office filed a report claiming that Rev. Dollar assaulted his 15-year-old daughter. Dollar contested that he only disciplined her with a spanking after restraining her when she began to strike him. The argument began when Dollar told his daughter that she couldn't attend a party. All charges were eventually dropped when Dollar completed anger management classes and paid $1,000 in court fees.
While the dedicated funding page and video have been removed from the ministry's website, there's still an option to donate to the Project G650 fund through the church's donations page.