Joe Bob's America

God Apparently Flies First Class

June 07, 2018

They need out-of-the-way locations for their church services, and they need private jets for their travel, because they can’t stand to be close to the starving, desperate people they take money from.

In a rare moment of candor, Copeland admitted as much in a 2015 interview when he said that he can’t fly commercial because there are too many people on airplanes who would ask him for a blessing or want to talk to him. He said it was “like getting in a long tube with a bunch of demons.”

The church service is for the TV audience, not any flesh-and-blood specimen of humanity that might actually show up and get in the preacher’s way.

But just to deal with Duplantis for a moment: The plane he wants, the Falcon 7X, is made by the French company Dassault, and they’ve sold only 260 over twelve years of production. It accommodates about sixteen people, has a 5,000-plus-mile range, and is mostly used by huge companies with far-flung properties (Shell Oil, Volkswagen), militaries (the Ecuadoran air force uses one to escort the presidential plane), and heads of state (Sarkozy used one when he was president of France, mainly to support Dassault, and the Prince of Monaco uses one).

Even if we accept the premise that Jesse Duplantis needs a jet to evangelize the world—a premise I totally reject—he could simply buy an Embraer Phenom 300 for about $8 million. This might be a disappointment to God, since He apparently requested the Falcon 7X, but it would be a relief to the widows and orphans on the master fund-raising list.

Normally I would be making dozens of jokes about this—“What would Jesus fly?”—but part of the problem is that we treat these guys as jokes when they’re bringing misery into the world on a massive scale. We think it’s harmless rednecks on the fringes of society, but we’re talking about billions of dollars mined from despair, and the source of their ability to do that is the United States tax codes. Anybody claiming to be a church is put beyond the reach of taxation authorities, but, more to the point, beyond the reach of ordinary consumer fraud laws. The secular Jeffersonian writ of “separation of church and state” means that no law enforcement agency can touch these guys. There’s the assumption that it’s an “eyes open” transaction—one guy talks about God, and the other guy gives the preacher money for talking about God—but let’s be clear that the gods we’re talking about are not the ones you think we’re talking about.

The Prosperity Gospel is the gospel of gods called Pluto, Fortuna, Moneta, Horus, Odin, and Lakshmi. Gods of wealth and luck. Gods found in all cultures in all times and places. Gods found on the horoscope page in the daily newspaper and the color-coded cards at the lottery office. Gods that are easy to sell because they legitimize selfishness. Gods that say, “Forget those other people—all that matters is your household altar to me.” Gods that are especially attractive to anyone who’s broke, friendless, and unemployed. If you wanna study a few of them, go to any archaeological museum and look at the broken marble that someone once ardently prayed to, thinking that their loneliness or their poverty or their sickness could be helped by the positioning of their body in relation to the idol. It’s not a new con, but we should probably stop joking about it. These guys are about as far from Jesus as you can get.

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