Considering the sources of this alleged affair, I’m not going to make any assumptions until Benny Hinn and Paula White addresses these accusations. In the strange and disturbing world of televangelist, I’m not surprised by anything that surfaces.-David J
Married Toronto preacher Benny Hinn romantically linked to healer by Kenneth Kidd (source)
There’s a new televangelist soap opera.
Reports this week suggest a still-married Benny Hinn is now romantically involved with Paula White, another television preacher with a colourful past.
The 57-year-old Hinn, who began his preaching career at a church hall near Yonge and Bloor Streets in the 1970s, is best known for his faith-healing “Miracle Crusades” and his half-hour television show, This is Your Day.
White, 44, is the star of television’s Paula White Today, whose ministries reputedly pulled in $40 million in donations and sales of various goods in 2006. Her website’s current offerings include the four-CD set, “Creating Healthy Relationship” in return for “any gift amount.”
Neither Hinn nor White could be reached for comment Friday.
In February, Hinn’s wife Suzanne filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” The two were at that point living apart.
But in a broadcast shortly after Suzanne filed for divorce, Hinn said it had come as a “total shock.”
“The children and I never expected this to happen,” he said. “Divorce was the last thing on my mind and theirs.
“There was absolutely no immorality involved in my life or in Suzanne’s life, ever,” Hinn continued. “We were totally committed to each other for 30 years of marriage.”
They have four children.
Suzanne Hinn, nee Hathern, is also an evangelical preacher in her own right, whose Florida-based ministry goes by the name of Purifying Fire International. She once famously told her followers that if they couldn’t work up enough religious fervour, they needed a “Holy Ghost enema.”
Toufik Benedictus Hinn was born in Jaffa, Israel, but moved with his family to Toronto in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
As a teenager, he became intensely interested in religion, and eventually left the Greek Orthodox Church of his upbringing to join the evangelical movement. In 1974, he launched his own ministry in Oshawa, but later moved south of the border.
Earlier in his career, Hinn was given to wearing white suits, with his hair parted in a fashion once described as resembling Niagara Falls.
He now most often sports a monogrammed Nehru jacket, and his signature flourish — getting people to fall backwards with the “fire of God” at his touch or command — has become a YouTube staple.
Like many televangelists, Hinn’s career has not escaped controversy. His healing abilities have often been questioned, not least in one of his more famous cases, involving American heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield.
Holyfield turned to Hinn in 1994, after his physician told him he had a hole in the heart. Mayo Clinic doctors later concluded the heart defect never existed. Hinn has countered that any healing is done by God, and not him.
The Texas-based Benny Hinn Ministries, however, has remained a very big business.
In 2007, the CBC’s Fifth Estate estimated that Hinn’s ministry took in roughly $250 million a year in donations and sales of such items as stainless steel dog tags engraved with the Lord’s Prayer and vials of “Anointing for Prosperity Oil.”
According to reports, Hinn and White have been friends for decades.
White was a self-proclaimed “messed-up Mississippi girl” growing up in Tupelo. Her father committed suicide when she was 5, and White’s website says she suffered “sexual and physical abuse” up until she was 13. White says her life changed when at 18 she received a “divine visitation.”
By 1991, she and then-husband Randy White were founding their own mega-church in Tampa.
The couple announced their divorce in 2007, after the church came under fire to failing to repay $170,000 borrowed from an elderly widow. The money, originally borrowed in 1995, was used as down payment on a house.
Randy stayed on with the ministry, now called Without Walls International Church.
Last year, however, Paula returned to that church’s pulpit, replacing Randy, who resigned citing ill health. At her first sermon, White told the congregants: “Mama is back.”
Other televangelist troubles:
Ted Haggard: Male prostitute Mike Jones outs Haggard in 2006 as a client of his escort service, saying the minister engaged in gay sex and drug use. Haggard resigns as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and is fired from his New Life Church.
Jim Bakker: Bakker resigns from the Praise the Lord television ministry in 1987 after allegedly being blackmailed over a sexual encounter with church secretary Jessica Hahn in 1980. Two years later, he is convicted of bilking investors in his Christian theme park out of $158 million and spends five years in prison.
Jimmy Swaggart: Swaggart confesses to “moral failure” in 1988 and resigns from the leadership of the Assemblies of God church over an investigation into alleged sex with a prostitute. Three years later, police find Swaggart with prostitute Rosemary Garcia in Indio, California. Swaggart steps down as head of Jimmy Swaggart ministries.
Douglas Goodman: The head of Victory Christian Centre near London, Goodman is sentenced in 2004 to three and a half years for indecent assault involving four female parishioners. Later, the church is closed after investigators accuse Goodman of receiving unauthorized salary payments.
Compiled by Rick Sznajder, Star Library