Considered the wealthiest pastor in America — with an alleged estimated net worth of $760 million — televangelist Kenneth Copeland is in hot water after an extensive investigation by the Houston Chronicle revealed how he has been living in a tax-free mega-mansion worth $7 million and paid for by Texas taxpayers for years.
The 85-year-old pastor’s house spans 18,000 square feet and is made up of six bedrooms and six bathrooms, located on an exclusive lake community outside Fort Worth.
The luxury pad, Copeland’s primary residence, is situated on one acre and surrounded by a 24-acre lakefront tract, which is valued “extraordinarily low” at $125,000, according to the Chronicle. Because of its low value, Copeland’s Eagle Mountain International Church — which Copeland founded in 1967 and which technically owns the home — pays less than $3,000 a year in property taxes, records show. The value was agreed upon by the Tarrant Appraisal District in Fort Worth as part of a dispute resolution agreement with the church.
But real estate experts said that the waterfront property in an open market would actually sell for millions.
Because Copeland claimed the mansion as a “clergy residence,” the home qualified for a 100% tax break. Without the break, Copeland would otherwise have an annual property tax exceeding $150,000.
The founder of the self-titled Christian organization Kenneth Copeland Ministries, the thrice-married pastor previously stated that when people drive by his house, “they will know there is a God,” according to a speech he gave at his 2015 Southwest Believers’ Convention in Fort Worth.
At the event, Copeland explained that his journey to living in the mansion all started when God told him years earlier to build a dream home that his wife, Gloria, had described to him.
“Minister this house to her,” he recalled being told. “It is part of your prosperity.”
Her vision included a three-story estate with long white columns in front.
“You may think that house is too big,” the prosperity preacher stated at the 2015 convention. “You may think it’s too grand. I don’t care what you think. I heard from heaven. Glory to God, hallelujah!’”
Built in 1999, the property “has a sweeping spiral staircase and a bridge that spans across the living room and connects the two sides of the house,” a 2011 report by the US Senate Finance Committee stated, according to the Chronicle story. “It also has crystal chandeliers and, according to Gloria Copeland, doors that ‘came from a castle,’ along with a ‘huge drop-down ceiling projector and screen’ in the bedroom.”
The mansion also boasts a tennis court, two garages and a covered boat dock with three slips, perched on the shores of Eagle Lake.
Copeland’s ministries center around his belief that God wants everyone to be “financially successful.”
This isn’t the first time the minister has been caught in the crossfire. In 2007, Copeland’s ministry — which reportedly owns a $20 million jet and another small jet next to a private airport established by the church — was asked about using the planes for his friends and personal vacations.
“I’m a very wealthy man,” Copeland told reporter Lisa Guerrero from “Inside Edition” in a May 2019 interview, during which she questioned him over his “luxury” lifestyle and refusal to travel on commercial airplanes.
“It takes a lot of money to do what we do. We have brought over 122 million people to the Lord Jesus Christ,” Copeland responded in the 12-minute video.
But Pete Evans, president of the religious accountability organization Trinity Foundation, seemingly found fault with Copeland’s church and its use of the tax break.
“The law was never intended to give breaks to millionaires and multimillionaires,” he told the Chronicle. “You make a mockery of the law itself.”