Prosperity Televangelist Brought to Court on Fraud Charge

Famed televangelist Creflo Dollar and his son Jeremy Dollar were accused in a California court yesterday of fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets and a dozen other charges related to the ministry’s text messaging service.

According to Devone Lawson of Marina del Ray, California, in 2004, long before the explosion of SMS text messaging, he began working with the Dollar family to develop a program that would “generate tremendous income from mass SMS text messaging of ‘devotional’ or ‘inspirational’ messages delivered daily to subscribers’ cell phones.”

And despite the non-disclosure agreement that Devone entered into with Creflo Dollar Ministries—wherein the latter would “equally share the revenue” derived from the “nearly 1 billion viewers”—the plaintiff claims the ministry went forward with its own “Word on the Go” daily service. The official complaint claims that the service generates Dollar more than $50 million a year in profits since well over a million subscribers pay the $4.99 monthly subscription.

While it is doubtful that Creflo Dollar’s imagination or thumbs produce these daily “inspirational” texts, I am certain the pastor’s legal team constitutes his “favorite five.” As one of the “Grassley Six” (six prominent televangelists being investigated by the Republican senator about spending patterns and non-profit status), Dollar has remained the most defiant in regard to the senator’s inquiry. This is not to mention the charges of “paying off” Atlanta police officers, hiding money for Evander Holyfield during the boxer’s divorce, and even contempt of court arrest warrants that were once laid at the preacher’s alligator-covered feet.

In short, Dollar has found himself in court over the past decade as often as O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector. This makes sense to me. The way Creflo Dollar’s prosperity gospel murders the Christian faith, he and his ministry should be brought up on charges!

jonathan.walton@mac.com'

Jonathan L. Walton is assistant professor at Harvard Divinity School. His lastest book is: Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Religious Broadcasting (New York University Press).