Prosperity gospel is a controversial religious belief in which adherents equate material wealth or an opulent lifestyle with the will of God. It’s rooted in pro-capitalist and Pentecostal thought traditions and explains why pastors like Jesse Duplantis feel comfortable begging their flocks to cough up $54 million for a fourth private jet. But while this exploitative theology is common among religious folk, some of these niggas are just outright thieves.
Enter Rev. Clarence Smith Jr. of Chicago’s New Life Impact Church.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Smith, who has led the New Life Impact Church in the Lawndale neighborhood for years, has been indicted on charges alleging he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a federal program intended to feed needy children, spending the money on a $142,000 Bentley luxury vehicle and other personal expenses.
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time the 45-year-old has been caught up in unscrupulous behavior. In 2011, “Pastor Offering” pleaded guilty to hustling an elderly man’s estate out of more than $100,000.
This time, however, Smith sponsored a program responsible for providing meals to the less fortunate and vastly inflated the number of meals he was actually serving—all while billing the state nearly $1 million for services that were never provided. So how was he able to pull off such a massive scam? By telling the state Board of Education that the records he kept of how many children were being fed “had been damaged in a flood and were no longer available,” according to the indictment.
Smith received two lump-sum payments in the summer of 2016, and that’s when he purchased his brand-spanking-new Bentley.
On July 21, 2016, less than a week after receiving the second check from the state in the amount of $825,695, Smith purchased a 2015 Bentley Flying Spur luxury sedan in suburban Des Plaines using a $142,000 cashier’s check, according to the charges.
In the aftermath of these federal charges, it sounds like residents in his community aren’t particularly surprised by this revelation.
“He was coming around in Jordans and Bentleys and new cars,” Ravin Cosey told WGN. “I’m like, ‘Wait a minute; pastors don’t do that.’”
No, Ravin. They don’t.
Thankfully, Smith will have plenty of time to catch up on his bible studies while behind bars.