WASHINGTON — Prosperity and Word of Faith preacher Kenneth Copeland posted a photo to social media on Tuesday of a letter that he received from President Trump congratulating him for “50 years of ministry.”
“Melania and I send our warmest wishes as you celebrate 50 years of ministry,” began the letter, which was dated Aug. 16 but just shared this week. “For half a century, you have devoted your life to faith and humanity. Your enduring commitment to spreading the word of God has influenced the lives of people across the United States and around the world.”
“We hope your heart is filled with joy, knowing your efforts to spread a message of hope are an inspiration to people who seek the love and mercy of the Lord,” it continued. “Congratulations on this remarkable achievement.”
Copeland’s staff thanked Trump for the recognition, writing, “Thank you President @DonaldTrump for officially recognizing Kenneth Copeland Ministries for 50 years in ministry!”
As previously reported, Copeland, who has long drawn criticism for his teachings that God wants Christians to be rich, was among a group of religious leaders who prayed over Trump in 2015 prior to his election.
“[W]e ask you today to give this man your wisdom, boldly. Make sure and certain that he hears You. Manifest Yourself to him,” he prayed. “And we thank You and praise You for a bold man, a strong man and an obedient man.”
Copeland and his wife Gloria were also among those who agreed to be on Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board. The board includes diverse names such as Ronnie Floyd, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention; popular radio host and psychologist Dr. James Dobson; Jerry Falwell, the president of the Liberty University; and Paula White of the New Destiny Christian Center (who chairs the advisory board and is stated to be Trump’s closest religious advisor).
White delivered the invocation at Trump’s inauguration in January, praying, “In Proverbs 21:1, You instruct us that our leader’s heart is in Your hands. Gracious God, reveal unto our president the ability to know … Your will, the confidence to lead us in justice and righteousness, and the compassion to yield to our better angels.”
As previously reported, Trump has stated on several occasions that he identifies as Presbyterian. His wife, Melania, identifies as Roman Catholic.
“I am a religious person. People are so shocked when they find this out—I’m Protestant. I’m Presbyterian,” he said during the Iowa Family Leadership Summit in 2015, stating that his pastor was the late Norman Vincent Peale, who became known for his books and speeches on “the power of positive thinking.”
Peale led Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, which is actually not Presbyterian, but according to its website is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America (RCA).
Some believe that Peale’s teachings are partly responsible for the rise of prosperity preaching in America.
“Indeed, scholar Harvey Cox wrote concerning the prosperity gospel that ‘it owed much to the ‘positive thinking’ of the late Norman Vincent Peale,’” wrote David Jones of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. “[Another] modern movement that has influenced the prosperity gospel is simply the ‘American dream,’ or materialism.”
Copeland is among the most known prosperity preachers in modern times, and teaches that man is the “prophet of [their] own life.” His lavish lifestyle has raised questions among Christians and unbelievers alike, including last year, when he raised eyebrows after sharing on his daily television broadcast that he flies on a private jet to avoid being bothered by “demon” passengers.
“Oral [Roberts] used to fly airlines,” he said. “But even back then it got to the place where it was agitating his spirit—people coming up to him, he had become famous, and they wanted him to pray for them and all that. You can’t manage that today [in] this dope-filled world, and get in a long tube with a bunch of demons. And it’s deadly.”
While he said that he didn’t want to fly with a “bunch of demons,” moments later, Copeland contended that he needed a private jet to help reach the lost.
“We’re in soul business here. We’ve got a dying world around us. We’ve got a dying nation around us,” Copeland proclaimed. “We can’t even get there on the airlines.”
Just this month, in the midst of a series on “supernatural wealth transfer,” his organization posted to social media the exhortation to make the faith confessions, “The wealth of the sinner comes to me now,” “The Lord is increasing me more and more,” and “I call in the harvest on every seed sown.”
Some reacted to the White House letter to Copeland with elation, while others vocalized their concerns about the prosperity preacher’s teachings that have been proliferated for half a century.
“That is amazing! We serve an awesome God and I pray often for President Donald J. Trump. He needs our prayers! God bless him for recognizing you and your family for 50 years in the ministry. That is a beautiful letter,” one commenter wrote.
“[A]nd people are still not checking what you teach against biblical truth in context, context, context,” another stated.
“So sad that Trump thinks this is Christianity,” a third remarked.
In Mark 8:36, Jesus asked, “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
1 Timothy 6 also outlines in instructing Christians to turn away from those who assert that “gain is godliness:”
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”