Christianity, like many religions, is based on the notions of compassion and giving to neighbors. But many religious leaders seem to take advantage of all of the cash flow and power that come along with being the head of a religion. When a pastor or another leader becomes popular, they can often gain large followings, which turns them quickly into a celebrity. And just like with any celebrity, these leaders feel the need to maintain a rich and lavish lifestyle. Here are 30 of the richest religious leaders and what their expensive lifestyles look like.
The richest known pastor in the entire world has to be Edir Macedo, a Brazilian with a net worth of over 10 billion dollars. He has used his popularity and fortune to expand his business, and he owns several television networks. He claims that he must live a lavish lifestyle and appear wealthy in order to gain and maintain a mass amount of followers.
Bill Moyer started his career as a politician who worked closely with Lyndon B. Johnson. He originally was the Associate Director of the Peace Corps, and then eventually went on to serve as Lyndon B. Johnson’s personal assistant after the Kennedy assassination. Since his political career, he began giving sermons and is well-known as a pioneer of freedom. He now lives comfortably in his lavish New Jersey mansion, pictured above.
Jimmy Swaggart is a Louisiana native known as a radio and television host. He’s one of the most popular religious leaders to this day. However, he also had a falling out with his followers after being caught hiring prostitutes. Oops. He claims to live in a modest two bedroom house, but many would agree the above property is anything but modest. He’s been able to regain fans, however, and maintain his $1.5 million fortune.
Leroy Jenkins was once well-known as a miracle healer, selling vials of holy water that he claimed to have special healing powers. Once it was discovered that the water actually contained toxic materials, his empire quickly demised. You can see in the above picture what used to be his million dollar mansion, but it has since been slowly decomposing.
Nicholas Thomas Wright is a pastor from the U.K. He has grown his fortune into a net worth of over $2 million, due to his prowess as an author. He is also now a professor, educating young people about his right-wing views. N.T. is known for opposing gay rights, though he clearly doesn’t mind partaking in his own sinful behavior.
When Noel Jones first became the pastor of the Greater Bethany Church in Los Angeles, it barely had 1,000 members. Since then, the church has grown exponentially, due to his preaching and has helped him gain mass popularity. He has been able to amass a net worth over $5 million and has enough money to lead a lavish life full of pretty ladies and pretty cars.
Jesse Jackson is best known for his political accomplishments as well as his achievements in baseball. He turned his focus to civil rights, becoming an ordained minister in the late 1960s. He had a couple of presidential runs and even his own show, earning him a net worth of over $10 million — plenty of money to buy this beautiful D.C. home.
Jack Van Impe
Jack Van Impe is best known for his TV series, “Jack Van Impe Presents.” The show is still nationally and internationally syndicated across the US and Canada. The industry he is in charge of is estimated at $12 million, though he states to only have $2.5 million himself. Many others speculate he has much more set aside for himself than that, as he is able to live on a long road of mansions. This millionaire also shares and spreads his belief that black holes are actually entrances to Hell.
Eddie Long began his career in sales, which would explain his later money-driven decisions. Long turned to religion during his education, and eventually became a small-town pastor. He was able to grow the church and earn himself a fortune of over $5 million. However, he was accused of using the money of the church for personal gain and found himself in an underage male sex scandal as well. That still didn’t stop him from being able to live in the above gorgeous mansion.
Chris Okotie is best known as being a Nigerian Televangelist. He originally tried to make a living from being a pop star, but later turned to ministry. He built a career and a fortune on his televised sermons and books. He now has an estimated net worth of over $7 million and is well known for his passion for collecting expensive cars.
Joni Lamb is a Christian broadcaster and the co-founder of the Daystar Television network. She and her husband currently reside in Coleyville, Texas. As you can see in the above photo depicting their million-dollar mansion and their neighbors’ equally-exclusive homes, the Lambs live in the lap of luxury.
Ernie began his career as a Baptist minister but eventually turned to politics, becoming the governor of Kentucky. Like others on the list, he found himself in the midst of corruption, after being accused of unethical hiring processes. He eventually stepped down from his position after admitting to abusing his power. It didn’t hurt him too much, however, and today he sits as the CEO of a medical company and his $3 million dollar fortune.
Louis Farrakhan was originally a well-known violinist but gave up his promising music career to follow the Nation of Islam. He eventually became the spokesman for the NOI, and over time gained a net worth of $3+ million.
Reinhard is a German pastor who found retribution in Jesus as a way to absolve for his sins as a young child. His popularity as a missionary grew throughout Africa, and granted him the fame and fortune necessary to have a net worth of over $4 million. He also claims to have healed everything from the flu to AIDS.
Paula White began her journey as a religious leader after graduating college. She is known for having a comical tone when giving her speeches. Her unique personality has allowed her to gain a fortune of over $5 million, mostly due to her having her own television show as well. She receives much criticism for her freewheeling lifestyle, having married three times now.
Kay Arthur began her college career as a model and then went on to nursing school. She was in numerous bad relationships and made several bad life choices which eventually led her to find salvation in Christianity. Since the 60s, she’s married a new man and began her life as a religious leader, earning her a fortune of over $5 million. It’s easy to see she lives a lavish lifestyle, frequently donning multiple pieces of expensive jewelry.
John Hagee used to be a college football player, but has transformed into the leader of his own network! His Sunday services air across numerous stations on television and radio, gaining him popularity and earning him a fortune of over $5 million dollars!
Peter Popoff is a television minister originally from Berlin. He made his way onto the big screen after graduating from college in California. He is best known for his ministry healings. He was believed to be able to heal any ailment, until being exposed as a hoax in the 90s. He was able to make a comeback, though, and earned himself a huge fortune of $10 Million.
Joyce Meyer used to be a criminal who would often steal money from her own employers. She claimed to one day hear the voice of God, which led her to change her ways and start her own Christian radio series. The series led her to various television programs and book deals as well, and she accumulated a fortune of $10 million.
Ed Young played college football up until he decided to change his life and preach, just like his father had. He started giving sermons in the gym and eventually worked his way up to to TV. He has gained a huge fortune of over $10 million and has also become a New York Times bestseller.
T.D. Jakes is a minister originally from West Virginia. He began his ministry from an early age when he was taking care of his father. He began radio ministry and eventually started recording gospel albums, receiving a net worth of over $15 million in the process.
Ernest Angley made his way around the country in the 40s as a tent faith healer with nothing else to his name other than his bible. He was able to amass a huge following, and eventually made his way to television and a huge fortune of over $15 million. Now not only does he have a bible, but his own private plane!
Kirk Cameron is famous for his role on the television series “Growing Pains.” His sister is also well known for a sitcom role as well, as D.J. Tanner on “Full House.” Aside from acting, both the siblings practice strict religious beliefs. Kirk went so far as to completely leave acting behind, and now only focus on teaching other Christians through ministry. From the look of his mansion, he could afford to give up the acting career.
John Danforth was originally the Attorney General of Missouri, before turning his focus and career on religion rather than politics. Now still a practicing priest, John has a massive net worth close to $30 million. He even went as far as to purchase an entire hockey team!
Billy Graham is best known for being the spiritual advisor to numerous presidents, including Nixon and Eisenhower. He also preached alongside Martin Luther King Jr. Now close to 100 years old, Billy Graham has been able to use his popularity and beliefs to earn him a fortune of $25 million.
Kenneth Copeland was known in his early years as a recording musician. He changed the pace of his career and turned his focus on preaching. He made his way to television, becoming a familiar face for religious viewers. He has earned himself a huge fortune of over $25 million dollars.
Creflo was able to gain his fortune through television preachings and quickly earned his way to having a fortune of over $25 million. However, he is often criticized for the lavish ways he uses his fortune. He claims that a lot the things he purchases are necessities, especially the private jet he uses to travel in order to give his sermons.
Joel Osteen is best known for his television series, which is internationally syndicated. He is also a bestselling author on the New York Times book list and has been able to amass a net worth close to $40 million. He gained such popularity due to his father, and his bright shiny smile sure helped to attract a plentiful amount of followers.
Janice Crouch is the daughter of a preacher and one of the original founders of the Trinity Broadcasting Network. The network became one of the biggest Christian television networks in the country, with numerous sister networks. Janice still sits as the president of the Holy Land Experience Park in Florida, and also sits atop her $50 million dollar fortune.
Pat Robertson is probably best known for his popular role on the series “The 700 Club.” He is also the founder of several other channels and has earned himself a familiar name in pop culture. He also has an estimated net worth of over $200 million, with some speculating it could be closer to a billion dollars!
An Israeli televangelist, Hinn holds large faith and healing summits (enough to fill a stadium) called “Miracle Crusades” and has an estimated net worth of $40 million. His jet alone – a Grumman Fulstream II is worth $4.5 million. But he doesn’t keep it all to himself. In 2005 Benny Hinn Ministries donated $100,000 to aid Hurricane Katrina Victims, and another $250,000 to the Tsunami Relief Effort two years later.
Boasting a net worth of $10 million, Temitope Joshua is Nigeria’s third richest pastor, and called attention to himself when he tried to quietly buy a jet for $60 million. He founded the Synagogue Church of all Nations, with locations in South Africa, Ghana, the UK and Greece. Joshua also owns a Christian television network, and is known for his powers to heal people of AIDS and cancer.
Also a Nigerian pastor, Chris Oyakhilome was accused of a money laundering case involving siphoning funds ($35 million!) from the church into foreign banks. The case was dismissed and Oyakihilome continues to roll in the dough with investments in media, a record label, hotels and more. He is most known for his Christian TV Network called Loveworld.
The New Zealand religious leader is the bishop of the Destiny Church movement, whose charity assets amount to $16.7 million. Tamaki is infamous for tweeting pictures of his auditorium stage covered in cash, with the caption reading “A sweet-smelling fragrance that is acceptable to God (Phil 4:15-19). My God shall supply all your need.” With his tasteless display of money to the public, who’s to say that he doesn’t take some for himself?
Davis is a singer, songwriter, and actor turned minister with a net worth of $3 million. He was a co-founder and pastor for Welcome Christian Center in Huntington Beach, California and is a frequent guest on Trinity Broadcasting Network. He even was the host of Gospel Superfest, which is currently on syndication by United Television. We’re sure he dabbles in the lap of luxury every now and then since he has the means.
The London-based Nigerian pastor has accumulated a net worth of $6-10 million from his work as a pastor. In the early 2000s, he was a subject of investigation because of fraudulent money handling within his church, Kingsway International Christian Centre, and its charity The King’s Ministries Trust. The report found that Ashimolowo and his family received numerous benefits from the charity money, including and £80,000 car and a £13,000 timeshare in Florida.
The former spiritual adviser to ex-President Bill Clinton, Tony Campolo has become a prominent figure in the Evangelical left. He has accumulated a net worth of $4 million from over a dozen published books and speaking events. he is an ordained Baptist minister and evangelist who founded the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, which is geared towards at-risk youth.
Joseph Prince is a senior pastor and co-founder of the Singapore-based New Creation Church. He fell under criticism for allegedly earning $550,000 a year in salary from the church. Despite numerous attempts to debunk these claims, his net worth still amasses $5 million from his speaking engagements, books, and CDs.
Rich Wilkerson, Jr.
Rich Wilkerson, Jr. is a celebrity pastor based out of Miami, Florida. We say “celebrity” because he has been publicized by the likes of Justin Beiber and the Kardashians, even officiating the famous, but private 2014 wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in Italy. The current senior pastor of the Vous Church, Wilkerson welcomes people from all walks of life, saying, “I don’t care about your religious background, sexual orientation, your skin color. You are welcome.” He seems to be forging a new outlook on Christianity and although his net worth is not documented anywhere, we’re sure that he has amassed a hefty bank account from his television shows and books. He even reportedly frequents an exclusive clubhouse in Miami, where membership starts at $1,000.
Deepak Chopra is a prominent figure in the New Age movement who is quoted as saying, “Spiritual people should not be ashamed of being wealthy.” An advocate for alternative medicine, he has written several books and makes frequent speaking appearances to his audiences worldwide. He has amassed a net worth of $80 million from all his engagements.
Adeboye is a Nigerian pastor who also is the General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God. He has proclaimed, “I have houses in at least 188 countries in the world, so I am richer than Bill Gates.” He even established a millionaire’s and billionaire’s club within his church, claiming that he needed a huge sum of money to help him in his work with God.
Sam Adeyemi is another Nigerian pastor who founded a Pentecostal congregation called the Daystar Christian center. The congregation is reportedly so successful, that it often “preaches financial prosperity.” Adeyemi, as with many other Nigerian pastors, must like to lead by example as he is supposedly the owner of a private jet.
This Nigerian pastor is the founder and presiding Bishop of Faith Tabernacle, which is a megachurch in Nigeria. He also runs Living Faith Church Worldwide. According to a 2011 report by Forbes, Oyedepo has a net worth of about $150 million from authoring over 70 Christian reading materials and from running the largest church auditorium in the world.
Bushiri is a “prophet” from Zimbabwe who runs a YouTube channel called “Prophetic Channel TV,” where he claimed that he could walk on air. He has also claimed that God has gifted him a private jet that no one else can see and he also the proud owner of a lavish mansion in Malawi. More of a controversial internet figure than a spiritual leader, he has upwards of 200 thousand Facebook followers and 13,000 Twitter followers who unfortunately believe in what he says.
Warren is an evangelical Christian pastor who is the founder and senior pastor of the California megachurch, Saddleback Church. Saddleback is rising to prominence in America, currently standing as the eighth-largest church in the country. He has authored many Christian books, which with the help of his pastor duties, has led him to amass a net worth of $25 million.
Bynum is an American Pentecostal televangelist but quickly rose to prominence as a gospel singer and actress. She is also dubbed an “Empowerment Coach” and is the CEO of her own lifestyle and empowerment company called Juanita Bynum Enterprises. Through numerous speaking engagements and authoring several books, she has earned herself a net worth of $10 million.
Blake is the senior pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, which boasts a membership of over 24,000 people and is one of the largest churches on the west coast. While many church members supposedly live in impoverished areas of the Los Angeles area, Blake reportedly earns a $900,000 salary and has a 10,000-square-foot Beverly Hills mansion.
Robert Tilton rose to fame as a televangelist who promoted Success-N-Life, which is an infomercial-style television program through which he preached his gospel in the early ’90s. He has since come under fire after his fundraising practices and ministry went under investigation, but not before he acquired a net worth of almost $80 million.
Rossi was a former evangelical minister and healing evangelist in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but that career probably was put on hold after he was accused of murdering his own wife. He has more recently made a name for himself in other areas, such as filmmaking, writing, and hosting radio shows. Still, he was still able to gain a modest (in comparison to others on this list) fortune of $1 million.
Also worth $1 million is Pentecostal Christian minister, Paul Cain. In the late 1940s, he was only 18 years old when he gained prominence as a young minister of the Voice of Healing Revival in Europe. In the ’80s, he was a CIA consultant but returned to preaching at local churches in recent years in California.
Charles Stanley is the current senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and also founded In Touch Ministries, which is a Christian Evangelical non-profit ministry. His program, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley, is widely broadcasted and translated in over 100 languages. Through expressing and spreading his evangelical and dispensationalist theology, he has amassed a solid $1.5 million but chooses to live modestly.
R.C. Sproul gained a net worth of about $2 million as the founder of Ligonier Ministries and as a Calvinist theologian, author, and pastor. He runs the radio broadcast, Renewing Your Mind, and has become an internet radio sensation. He has also written upwards of 50 books and shows no signs of slowing down as one of the smartest, wealthiest pastors out there.
John MacArthur is a pastor on the radio program Grace to You, which is internationally syndicated. Acknowledged as “one of the most influential preachers of his time” by Christianity Today, MacArthur has made waves in the modern Christian realm as the evangelical Christian perspective representative on Larry King Live. He reportedly has a net worth of $5 million.
Sharpton was ordained as a Pentecostal minister at just nine years old and even was an activist with Jesse James before becoming a Baptist minister in 1994. He is often seen as controversial, hosting a radio show called Keepin’ it Real, and making guest appearances on many television news outlets, which has helped him obtain a net worth of $5 million.
Ravi Zacharias is a Christian apologist and defender of traditional evangelicalism, who authored over two dozen books on Christianity. He formed his own Toronto-based ministry, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, in 1984 and is the host of radio shows called “Let My People Think” and “Just Thinking,” all of which has helped him pocket a net worth of $7.5 million.
Cindy Trimm is from Bermuda and began a career in politics before she realized her efforts could be better focused towards ministry. She has been honored as the Outstanding Christian Woman of the Year and has many publications and guest appearances under her belt, earning a net worth of $15 million. She leads sermons and writes about spiritual growth and healing, calling herslf a “catalyst for change” and a “voice of hope.”
The former professional boxer is probably most known for selling his George Foreman Grill, but is also has dipped his toes in the land of ministry. He reportedly had a near-death experience in 1977, after which he became a born-again Christian and an ordained minister, preaching on street corners and Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Texas. Making guest appearances on The 700 Club and opening a youth center, his $250 million fortune is probably attributed to the sales of his fat-reducing grill.
Franklin is a Christian evangelist and missionary. As Billy Graham’s son, he is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and an international Christian relief organization called Samaritan’s Purse. From everything with which he is involved, he is known to have been compensated $1.2 million, whcih was met with much criticism.
Valdemiro Santiago is a Brazilian evangelical pastor who, after expulsion from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, began his own congregation and is the current leader of the World Church of the Power of God. He reportedly has more than 900,000 followers, over 4,000 temples, a $45 million private jet, and a net worth of $220 million.
Ted Haggard was the president of the National Association of Evangelicals from 2003 until a shocking sex scandal involving Haggard and other men, including a prostitute. During the controversy, Haggard also stepped down from his role as the head pastor of the megachurch New Life Church, which he founded in his basement in 1984. In 2010, he acted as pastor for the first meeting of the St. James Church in his Colorado Springs home. As of 2016, his net worth was estimated at $200,000.
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker
This husband-and-wife team are perhaps two of the most recognizable names on the list of wealthy religious leaders. Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker helped found The 700 Club and later The Praise the Lord (PTL) Club. During their heyday, the Bakkers built a 2,300-acre resort (complete with religious theme park) in South Carolina, estimated to be worth $125 million.
However, the Bakkers were ousted from The PTL in 1987 after it was discovered that they had used $287,000 of the organization’s funds to pay off a woman who alleged that she had been raped by Jim. A subsequent investigation revealed details about their lavish lifestyle. The two later divorced, and Tammy Faye died of cancer in 2007.
Rex Humbard was a popular evangelist who hosted a show from his lavish Cathedral of Tomorrow in Cuuyahoga Falls, Ohio. In 1958, he constructed the $4 million church, which was built specifically to accommodate TV crews. His ministry has estimated that Humbard’s program was viewed by 20 million people from 1953 to 1999. Elvis Presley was one such viewer, and Humbard gave a sermon at the rock legend’s 1977 funeral. Humbard died in 2007.
Mother Teresa’s Charity Scandal
This is a name you might not have expected to see on our list. Mother Teresa, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who now a saint, was not known for her wealth or lavish lifestyle, but rather for her devotion to helping the poor. So it may be surprising to some readers to learn that there are questions surrounding the late Indian Roman Catholic Nun’s charity. One 1991 investigation revealed that “only seven percent of the donation[s] received at Missionaries of Charity was used for charity,” and interviews with former Missionaries associates also reveal a lack of transparency in regard to finances.
Gilbert Deya, who calls himself the Archbishop of Gilbert Deya Ministries, operates a chain of churches throughout the UK. Originally from Kenya, Deya moved to Britain in the 1990s and is now wanted by Kenyan authorities for trafficking babies. He claims that he can cure infertility, and his wife was arrested for stealing children in 2004. The couple was using kidnapping victims to trick barren women into believing that they’d been blessed with “miracle babies.”