Joseph Prince was born to a Sikh priest and originally wasn’t on a religious path in life. Employed as an IT consultant, Joseph had a change of heart and committed his life to his religion. He joined the ministry and founded one of the largest churches in all of Asia: New Creation Church.
Source: Instagram @josephprince
His mega popularity is partially thanks to such friends as Joel Osteen, of Lakewood Megachurch, who has hosted a number of his sermons, and the internet has helped him gain fame. He has an online video program called Destined to Reign with a following in over 150 countries.
Recognizing and Rewarding
In a 2008 interview with the Sunday Times, Prince acknowledged that he was “well-paid,” but added that “money doesn’t have a hold on me,” denying accusations that his salary was $50,000 a month. However, Straits Times reported that the church paid one employee between $500,001 and $550,000 in its last financial year. While not confirming the identity of that specific employee, the church responded that its policy is to “recognize and reward key contributors to the church and Senior Pastor Prince is the main pillar of our church’s growth and revenue.”
T.B. Joshua: $10 Million
Joshua is a unique influence in his native country of Nigeria. He’s the General Overseer of The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations and considered a Prophet in the eyes of his congregation. He grew up in Ondo State, Nigeria from a poverty-stricken family. He dropped out of secondary school in and did everything from working in a poultry farm to washing people’s legs in the muddy streets of Lagos to keep his family afloat.
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During a forty day fast he received a divine calling to start a ministry with eight members. The church became extremely popular and Joshua now has an impressive 1.5 million fan following on Facebook. However popular he is with his congregation, other pastors aren’t so quick to support him.
Son of a Devil
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Joshua has been publicly condemned by several prominent pastors within Nigeria, with his most vocal critic being Pastor Kris Okotie. He’s been described as a ‘son of the devil.’ Joshua was blacklisted by the government of Cameroon in 2010, which agreed with Pastor Kris’s accusations. Why the hate? Pastor Joshua preaches a “healing faith” and encourages his followers that praying alone will heal their ailments. In 2011, at least three people in London with HIV died after they stopped taking their life saving drugs on the advice of the pastor.
Franklin Graham: $25 Million
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Franklin Graham is the son of the famous pastor Billy Graham, and the president of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse. He was born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina with four other siblings.
After finishing his primary education at The Stony Brook School, a Christian private school in New York, he attended LeTourneau College in Longview, Texas. He wasn’t there for long before being expelled from the school for keeping a female classmate out past curfew.
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Three years later, the 22-year-old had a conversion experience where he fully committed himself to Jesus Christ in a hotel room while on a trip to Jerusalem. After eight years of proving himself, he was ordained in 1982 by the Grace Community Church in Tempe, Arizona.
During those years, Franklin was mentored by two senior members of the Billy Graham Team and eventually took over organizing events for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He was so successful, he became the CEO and president of the company and continues to be today.
Good and Bad
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Despite his contributions to world relief, Franklin is not without controversies. He was a supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and referred to Islam as “a very evil and wicked religion.” Last year, he wrote a column titled “Putin’s Olympic Controversy,” in which he praised the Russian leader’s anti-gay crusade.
Extremely different views than his beloved father, who is covered next.
Billy Graham: $25 Million
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Billy Graham is one of the most well-known pastors on the planet and has earned the nickname, “America’s Pastor.” He was born in 1918 and thus has been involved in many historical events including bailing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. out of jail during his fight for civil rights, and directly writing for and supporting Nixon during the Vietnam War.
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He’s estimated to have had an audience during his life long career of over 2.2 billion, but it obviously didn’t start out that way. While attending college, Graham became the pastor of the United Gospel Tabernacle and continued to preach all over the world. Since his ministry began in 1947, Graham conducted more than 400 crusades in 185 countries and territories on six continents.
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Compared to other pastors on this list, Billy’s list of controversies are quite tame. They mostly stem from him being extremely religious, duh, like his views on women. In 1970, Graham stated that feminism was “an echo of our overall philosophy of permissiveness,” and that women did not want to be “competitive juggernauts pitted against male chauvinists.” He then stated that the role of wife, mother, and homemaker was the destiny of “real womanhood” according to the Judeo-Christian ethic… okay.
Kenneth Copeland: $25 Million
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Before dedicating his life to Christianity, Kenneth was a recording artist and his song, “Pledge of Love” made it to #17 on the top 40 billboard hits in 1957. After his conversion, Kenneth concentrated his passion on the gospel and ministry work.
Pastor and PilotSource: Instagram @copelandnetwork
Kenneth has a love for flying. He got his pilot license to become the personal pilot of Oral Roberts before starting his own ministry. Unfortunately, even this led to some questionable decisions. Using church donations, his ministry bought five private jets.
Not only that, Kenneth Copeland Ministries have taken advantage of a Federal Aviation Administration program that keeps flights private from tracking websites. United States Senator Chuck Grassley has questioned some of the flights taken by these aircrafts, including layovers in Maui, Fiji, and Honolulu. The ministries responded saying the stopovers were for “preaching or for allowing pilot rest.” Convenient.
According to the Washington Times, Kenneth Copeland has defended his “use of private jets as a luxury means of travel, arguing that commercial planes are full of ‘a bunch of demons’ that will bog down their busy schedules with prayer requests”.
Setting that aside, Kenneth and his wife have been criticized for their anti-vaccination preachings. Gloria Copeland would often preach that doctors give patients “poison that will make you sicker” and that the church is an alternative to medical treatment: “Which do you want to do? Do you want to [get vaccinated] or do you want to sit here on a Saturday morning, hear the word of God, and let faith come into your heart and be healed?”