Hucksters of every sort have almost certainly been around since the beginning of spoken language, but it takes a special sort of asshole to claim he needs a $54 million dollar jet to spread God’s word. Excerpt:
The most frightening thing about Jesse Duplantis is that I think he truly believes what he’s saying.
I mean, at some deep, deep level, even a guy who wears a yellow plaid shirt under a navy blue blazer is woke enough to realize that having a conversation with God—and, by the way, God needs to improve His syntax—having a conversation with God about how Jesse needs a $54 million jet to spread the Gospel is, among other things, insane.
(Quick digression: As recently as the ’50s, anyone claiming to get messages from God was immediately booked into the Rusk State Hospital for the Feeble-Minded. Today these guys get international TV shows.)
By this time you’ve probably heard about Jesse’s appeal for help in granting God’s wish that he start using a Falcon 7X corporate jet for church business. His three previous multimillion-dollar jets have proved inadequate for the spreading of the Prosperity Gospel because their range requires Jesse to stop and refuel, thereby wasting God’s valuable time. Jesse’s video went viral and attracted all kinds of attention from the secular press.
But why do these guys need jets? They all have them. In fact, it’s not uncommon for their churches to be built next door to a private airstrip.
They need jets for the same reason they need isolated locations for their churches, which are really elaborate television studios. Jesse Duplantis’ “church” is in Destrehan, an upscale suburb of New Orleans, where he lives in a church-funded mansion. Kenneth Copeland’s “church” is in Newark, Texas, a lakeside exurb of Fort Worth.
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.
But this particular asshole isn’t alone. There are dozens of these sorts of hucksters on television and radio, fleecing the rubes who mostly can’t afford to be fleeced, and living high on the hog. Occasionally one of them is busted and goes to jail, but not nearly often enough.
Back in the early 1980s, when I was married to my first wife, her grandfather – as kind and thoughtful a man as ever lived – used to send money to the detestable Jim Bakker. I used to try to talk him out of it. “But he needs the money,” Grandpa would reply. “He does good work.”
“What good work?” I asked him. My ex’s Grandpa was usually unable to name specifics.
He didn’t live to see Bakker thrown in the pokey, where he richly deserved to be. I was glad of that much; Grandpa M. would have been hurt and disappointed, and he was at least spared that.
But there is something especially detestable about liars ripping people off in the name of religion – and bear in mind, I’m an atheist saying this. This fucking conman Duplantis belongs in a jail cell, not in a private jet.