“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” That’s Matthew 6:24, and probably the harshest thing the Bible has to say about the rich. Though Jesus told his disciples that it’d be easier to squeeze a camel through the eye of a needle than to get a rich person into heaven, that hasn’t stopped some of America’s most high-profile evangelicals from trying.
Televangelists of the 20th Century are often mocked for their ludicrously plush lifestyles, supported by massive donations from their followers. Private jets and multi million-dollar mansions aren’t all that uncommon among the Evangelical set, even though their own sacred text argues against such luxuries.
Here are the top 12 ludicrously wealthy pastors.
12. Al Sharpton – $5 million
Ordained as a Baptist minister in 1994, Sharpton has since built an empire that includes a popular radio show, Keepin’ It Real, and a hosting gig on MSNBC. One of America’s most high-profile ministers, 61-year-old Sharpton is also known for his work in the civil rights movement, and has courted a fair share of controversy. With a net worth of $5 million, Sharpton ran afoul of the tax man in 2014 when reports revealed that owed millions in back taxes.
11. Joyce Meyer – $10 million
A world-renowned minister, Joyce Meyer became a born-again Christian in 1976 and has built up quite the savings account ever since. Worth a whopping $10 million, Meyer’s media empire includes television, radio and numerous books. Known for her off-the-cuff demeanor and charismatic, entertaining messages, Meyer’s seat of power is a multi-million headquarters located in St. Louis, Missouri, and yes, she has her own private jet.
10. Jesse Jackson – $10 million
Well-known for his political connections and media appearances, Baptist minister, civil rights activist and former politician Jesse Jackson is one of America’s most recognizable pastors. A promising athlete before enrolling in Chicago Theological Seminary, Jackson has focused much of his career on civil rights, and even ran for president in 1984 and 1988. He also served as a “shadow” Senator from 1991 to 1997, and even had his own CNN show called “Both Sides of Jesse Jackson.” His success and influence have earned him a net worth of $10 million.
9. Kirk Cameron – $20 million
Kirk Cameron first came to prominence as an actor, starring as Mike Seaver on the ABC sitcom Growing Pains from 1985 to 1992. Though he continues to act in mostly faith-based films, the 45-year-old is best known for his highly-public and often controversial Evangelical Christian persona. He co-founded his The Way of the Master ministry in the 1990s alongside New Zealand evangelist Ray Comfort, and has built an empire that is worth more than $20 million.
8. Rick Warren – $25 million
An old joke in conservative circles holds that Christians are sure to have at least two books in their possession: The Bible (duh) and a copy of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. There’s a kernel of truth to that joke, as the New York Times best-seller has contributed to Warren’s $25 million net worth. Warren’s Saddleback Church is one of the U.S.’s biggest megachurches, and the 62-year-old is well-known and connected in Evangelical circles. Warren claims that his income is primarily derived from his books, and he has given 90 percent of his wealth back to his church in an effort to dedicate his accumulated wealth to his ministry.