Donald Trump is not known as a religious man. In his speech at the Values Voter Summit, the president-elect made almost no references to the actual teachings of Christ and mentioned the Constitution more frequently than the Bible. Many voters remember the awkward moment when Pope Francis warned about “building walls” and Donald Trump responded with a Facebook post in which he called the Pope’s words “disgraceful.”
The president-elect has announced that the preacher at his inauguration will be televangelist Paula White, who is something of a polarizing figure in Christianity. White is a rather typical televangelist; she has an bouncy personality and a contagious love of quoting psalms. However, she is catching some criticism from more traditional Christian leaders who have ridiculed her for teaching a “prosperity gospel.”
According to The Washington Post, the prosperity gospel is best described as “the theology that God will bless true believers not just with eternal salvation but with material wealth here on Earth.”
Many find White’s prosperity gospel difficult to reconcile with the first-century Mediterranean peasant who told his followers that it’s “easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” One pastor wrote on his website that “Paula White is a trinity denying heretic.” Orlando Magazine published a profile on the preacher in 2012 that states she might make as much as $1.5 million annually, and an audit from the Tampa Tribune found that White and her ex-husband’s ministry took in $40 million in 2006.
White has long been a Trump supporter and has even helped campaign for the future president. She owns a $3.5 million apartment in Trump Tower.
This is not the first time that a minister at the inauguration has come under scrutiny. At Barack Obama’s first inauguration, he chose Rick Warren to lead the prayer and received significant backlash.