There are some who appear to be taking advantage of the spread of coronavirus across the country in order to gain from others’ hardships in a financial way.
Some of these individuals are religious figures, including Paula White, the spiritual adviser to President Donald Trump.
White, who heads the president’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, recently published a video online asking for donations to her ministry based in Florida, using questionable wording in order to compel her followers to give.
“We are a hospital to the sick,” White said.
The spiritual leader was quick to add a caveat — even though she just called her ministry a “hospital” and implied it was meant to help the “sick,” White explained in the same video message that she didn’t mean that literally.
“We are a hospital for those who are soul-sick, those who are spiritually sick,” she later said.
Still, using such terms may cross ethical lines, and it’s possible that those giving to her in the heat of the moment after hearing her words may believe they will be healed somehow, or protected from the threat of COVID-19, if they give money to her.
White implored her listeners to give $91 in reference to Psalm 91, a chapter in the Bible that is sometimes described as the Psalm of protection. Those who couldn’t give that amount, White said, should send to her “whatever God tells you to do.”
“Stand with your pastor,” she added.
NEW: Paula White, a top official in the White House Office of Public Liaison, is scheduled to be the featured speaker at a fraudulent April conference promising "supernatural protection from the #coronavirus now" #Covid_19 https://t.co/1GXHGQ1ze9 pic.twitter.com/WouAYKXmJw
— Matthew Sheffield (@mattsheffield) March 13, 2020
White is not unfamiliar with controversy, especially as it relates to telling her congregants what to give to her in terms of financial donations.
In February this year, she urged her followers to give tithings to her ministry, and made the argument that they should do so even before taking care of other financial obligations, including paying electric bills or home mortgages, Newsweek reported at the time.
Chris Walker is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin, who focuses on news, politics, and analysis of world events. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, since 2005 Chris has reported on workers’ rights protests in Wisconsin, opined on four separate presidential elections and written on a number of other political subjects for a variety of national online publications.