Preacher wants followers to pay $72m for fourth jet

Mr Jesse Duplantis says the Falcon 7X, which nears the sound barrier and comes with an entertainment centre and an optional in-flight shower, would let him spread the gospel efficiently.
Mr Jesse Duplantis says the Falcon 7X, which nears the sound barrier and comes with an entertainment centre and an optional in-flight shower, would let him spread the gospel efficiently.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Mr Jesse Duplantis says the Falcon 7X, which nears the sound barrier and comes with an entertainment centre and an optional in-flight shower, would let him spread the gospel efficiently.
Mr Jesse Duplantis says the Falcon 7X, which nears the sound barrier and comes with an entertainment centre and an optional in-flight shower, would let him spread the gospel efficiently.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

If Jesus was to descend from heaven and physically set foot on 21st-century earth, prosperity gospel televangelist Jesse Duplantis told his followers, the Redeemer would probably pass on riding on the back of a donkey: "He'd be on an airplane preaching the gospel all over the world."

And Mr Duplantis believes Jesus would not exactly settle for 30 inches of legroom or getting patted down by security.

Why would He choose anything less than the Falcon 7X, a private jet that nears the sound barrier but also has noise-limiting acoustic technology, a Bluetooth-enabled entertainment centre and an optional in-flight shower?

Mr Duplantis, saying he needs roughly US$54 million (S$72 million) to help him efficiently spread the gospel to as many people as possible, has asked the Lord - and hundreds of thousands of hopefully deep-pocketed followers across the world - for just such a plane.

He is the latest aircraft-seeking preacher to draw raised eyebrows and condemnation from critics who say asking for a multimillion dollar luxury jet is not exactly what Jesus meant when he said "store up for yourself treasures in heaven".

But this is not the first time Mr Duplantis has been enmeshed in the preacher-private plane debate.

The Falcon 7X would be his ministry's fourth jet - all paid for with cash drummed up from followers.

And he already has an answer for those who want to know why his ministry requires a luxury jet that would make his fleet the same size as US President Donald Trump's.

"We believe in God for a brand new Falcon 7x so we can go anywhere in the world one stop," he told people on "This Week With Jesse", a regular video broadcast on his website.

"Now people say... can't you go with this one?" he said, pointing to a picture of the plane he uses. "Yes, but I can't go it one-stop. And if I can do it one stop, I can fly it for a lot cheaper, because I have my own fuel farm. And that's what's been a blessing of the Lord."

The televangelist did not specify which missions the plane would be used for, although he has previously indicated that he has an extensive travel schedule.

Mr Duplantis is the founder of Jesse Duplantis Ministries, which includes a weekly television programme that reaches 106 million US households, according to his Amazon author biography. In 1997, he and his wife founded Covenant Church in Destrehan, Louisiana.

He preaches the prosperity gospel, which says God shows favour by rewarding the faithful with earthly riches.

Giving money to pastors and their ministries, the group's leaders say, is a sort of investment.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2018, with the headline 'Preacher wants followers to pay $72m for fourth jet'. Print Edition | Subscribe