Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The ministerial high-life

Randy and Paula White say they were following God's call when they moved to Tampa Bay and started a ministry that now has more than 20,000 members and $40 million in annual donations. But as the success of Without Walls International Church soared, so did the luxurious lifestyles of its founders.

According to an investigation published last month by The Tampa Tribune (and resurrected by the DMN religion blog), the Whites travel in a $1.9 million business jet, own a $2.1 million on Bayshore Boulevard and a $3.5 million Trump Tower condo in New York and rent a waterfront villa in Malibu.

"Mansions, big planes, money, fame. That's what it's all about now," said the Rev. Hector Gomez, a former Without Walls staff member who left in 2000. "There are prophets for God, and there are prophets for profit. That's the category they fit in."

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