Kenneth Copeland, the prosperity gospel preacher whose lavish tax-exempt mansion-and-private-jets lifestyle has been the subject of an (ineffective) congressional investigation and serious mockery by late-night comedian John Oliver, was among the Religious Right leaders who dined with President Donald Trump at the White House Wednesday night on the eve of National Prayer Day. Copeland’s attendance at the White House dinner was reported by the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Prosperity gospel preachers—most visibly Trump’s “spiritual adviser” Paula White—teach that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing. (White recently encouraged people to unlock a set of special Passover blessings, to include God assigning them an angel, by sending her money.)
While Copeland is somewhat notorious for enjoying the trappings of great wealth accumulated by his ministry—like Trump, he claims to be a billionaire—less attention has been paid to the connection between his belief in wealth-building and the dominionist ideology that motivates many of Trump’s Pentecostal supporters.
“Money answers everything,” begins an April 11 blog post from Kenneth Copeland Ministries. “God wants you to have money for three fundamental reasons,” according to the post:
- To fund Kingdom work. To “go into all the world and preach the gospel” takes money!
- To provide well for your own household. That’s your job—not your family’s or the government’s. God has called you to work to provide for yourself.
- To subdue the earth. To have dominion on the earth, we should be controlling most of the resources. For example, if you don’t like the immorality posted on the billboard outside your office, here is the answer: Own the billboard. If the magazines in the store are offensive: Own the magazines. That’s how you subdue the earth.
The need for Christians to take dominion is further explored under the header, “Christians Must Reclaim Their Territory.”
Christians seem to have become complacent in the area of taking possession, but the Bible is clear—we are to take territory and have dominion on the earth! That’s why it’s high time we, as believers, start expecting to claim more and more territory. It’s time to repossess the land!
Another section declares, “Possession of the Land Is Not Optional.”
This is the first command in the Bible. Take dominion. Possession of the land is not optional, it is not selfish, and it is not a luxury—it’s a command. It’s time that we, as Christians, take our job assignment seriously and become a positive influence on the world, rather than being under the control of those who seek to do evil.
Also included in the post is a link to a conversation between Gloria Copeland and Billye Brim about the need for Christians to “rule and reign” before the return of Jesus Christ.
Many of the Trump-supporting apostles-and-prophets crowd talk about a coming great “wealth transfer” that will enable God’s righteous remnant to take their rightful dominion over society. The late Peter Wagner, founder of the dominionist Pentecostal network known as the New Apostolic Reformation, published “The Great Transfer of Wealth: Financial Release for Advancing God’s Kingdom” in 2015. The foreword was written by Cindy Jacobs, a member of the Trump-supporting POTUS Shield network who was at the White House for the May 2017 signing of Trump’s executive order on religious liberty. In the book, Wagner draws explicitly on the promotion of Seven Mountains Dominionism by Lance Wallnau, who was recently invited to the White House for a briefing on the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plans. Other endorsers include big names of the “prophetic” universe, including Bill Redding and Che Ahn. In her forward, Jacobs wrote that “the spirit of poverty” is “one of Satan’s plans to destroy our worldview.”
Although Wagner claimed that he did not want to create a theocracy, his book directly linked the accumulation of wealth by Christians who shared his worldview to the “social transformation” he and his followers hope to bring about:
Most of us have a deep desire to see our nation—in my case, the United States—someday come to Christ so that the U.S. will once again be regarded internationally as a Christian nation, a nation steeped in and guided by the blessings and the values of the kingdom of God. In that day, America, as a nation, will proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord! In order to make that happen, a great deal of wealth will be required.
Copeland and his wife Gloria were members of candidate Trump’s evangelical advisory board. A month before the election, he told Christians that if they didn’t vote for Trump they would be “guilty of murder” and that God would hold them accountable for it:
“This is God’s nation and nobody is going to take it away from Him,” Copeland shouted. “No man, no woman, no Democrat, no Republican, no socialist, no communist can take this nation away from God! I don’t know what it is about that you can’t understand, but I’m telling you right now God Almighty is head of this nation, not people! Jesus of Nazareth is lord over the United States.”