This weekend Pastor Planes, the Trinity Foundation jet tracking project, observed a couple of interesting televangelist flights. During our investigations we look for flights with little to no ministry purpose.
On Saturday, November 5th, Kenneth Copeland flew from Fort Worth Alliance Airport to Palm Beach International Airport aboard his church’s Gulfstream G5 jet.
(Photo: ADSB Exchange tracking map of Copeland’s Gulfstream G5 identified with tail number N1967J.)
Then Copeland and Paula White-Cain flew to Arnold Palmer Regional Airport outside Pittsburgh for a Donald Trump political rally where Copeland prayed. From all appearances, the televangelists flew aboard Donald Trump’s Boeing 757 jet to the rally on Saturday.
During the Sunday morning service, Paula told her congregation about the flight which included many important people.
(Photo: ADSB Exchange tracking map of Trump’s jet with tail number N757AF.)
Trump promoted Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz during the rally. After Trump’s jet returned to Palm Beach International Airport, Copeland flew back to Fort Worth.
Should pastors participate in campaign rallies where politicians are endorsed?
According to Trinity Foundation President Pete Evans, enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates, has been virtually ignored by the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS with regard to religious organizations. Evans says, “No matter what your political bent, Kenneth Copeland and Paula White-Cain are thumbing their noses at this law and the IRS.”
Such political events raise important questions: Did Copeland’s church jet flight to Florida have a ministry purpose? If not, did Copeland reimburse the church for travel expenses? Should the jet’s tax exempt status be revoked.
The Eagle Mountain International Church (which also operates with the trade name Kenneth Copeland Ministries) purchased the Gulfstream G5 jet from actor Tyler Perry in 2017. The church previously purchased a Citation X (Cessna 750) jet in 2005. Currently the two jets are based at Fort Worth Alliance Airport rather than Kenneth Copeland Airport.
In a 2007 filing with the Tarrant County Appraisal District, Copeland’s church listed the Cessna Citation X as “reasonably necessary for worship.”