And if you’re Joel Osteen, who the NYT describes as “the ever-smiling preacher, best-selling author and religious broadcaster,” you’re getting a hell of a lot of dought from the Free Press – something to the tune of $13 million:
“I believe God wants us to prosper” is the gospel according to Mr. Osteen, 43, who offers no apologies for his wealth.
“You know what, I’ve never done it for the money,” he said in an interview after Sunday’s service at Lakewood Church, which he led with his glamorous wife and co-pastor, Victoria. “I’ve never asked for money on television.” But opening oneself to God’s favors was a blessing, he said. “I believe it’s God rewarding you.”
Especially interesting are the rumored terms of the deal (Osteen wouldn’t comment directly) that essentially it’s a co-publishing venture giving Osteen a smaller advance, but a 50-50 split on profits from the book. So how is it that he can command such lucre — and such adoration from his fan base? A mixture of evangelism and entertainment, according to James B. Twitchell. “There’s breadth but not too much depth, but the breadth is quite spangly, exciting to look at â€” that’s his power,” said Dr. Twitchell who called Lakewood “the steroid extreme” of megachurches.