Included in the roughly 10,000 religious organizations that have received federal COVID-19 relief from the federal government are some highly controversial televangelists and wealthy prosperity-gospel preachers.
Jim Bakker, Peter Popoff, Jimmy Swaggart, and Joyce Meyer are among the televangelists who received millions in forgivable loans from the U.S. federal government.
- Jim Bakker, who leads Morningside Church Productions in Missouri, received between $350,000 and $1 million. He was defrocked by the Assemblies of God after a highly publicized sexual encounter with a church secretary and spent years in prison after being convicted of numerous fraud and conspiracy charges.
- Peter Popoff, who leads People United for Christ in California, received between $350,000 and $1 million. He was exposed on primetime TV for using an earpiece to receive radio messages from his wife which he used to "prophecy" personal details about audience members at his events. He is also infamous for shilling "miracle spring water" amid high-pressure fundraising efforts.
- Jimmy Swaggart, who leads the Family Worship Center in Louisiana, got between $2 million and $5 million. He was defrocked by the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in the early 1990s over sex scandals.
- Joyce Meyer, who leads Joyce Meyer Ministries, received between $5 million and $10 million. She is a prosperity-gospel preacher known for her immense wealth and lavish lifestyle. Her organization had $12 million cash on hand at the end of 2019.
🔦 These televangelists, among others, are likely to raise the ire of opponents who, even before the coronavirus, felt strongly that large profit-generating religious organizations which pay their executives massive compensation should not be tax-exempt like regular churches.