Donald Trump’s longtime spiritual guru Paula White responded to her many critics in a statement Wednesday. As a pastor, televangelist and early Trump supporter, White was criticized for her brand of belief and her controversial past after the President-elect announced she would join him to pray on stage at his inauguration Jan. 20.
“I have been called a heretic, an apostate, an adulterer, a charlatan and an addict. It has been falsely reported that I once filed for bankruptcy – and my personal favorite – that I deny the trinity,” said White, who went on to note that she hadn’t addressed rumors before so as not to dignify them with a response.
“But since these comments pose a potential distraction to an otherwise celebratory and historic time in our country, I would like to set the record straight in the hope of returning our collective attention to what’s important.”
Fifty-year-old White has had Trump’s ear for more than 14 years. A preacher of the “prosperity gospel,” White believes that God rewards the faithful with wealth, a source of much of the criticism leveled at her. The church White ran was investigated in 2007 after Sen. Charles Grassley launched a probe into the financials of a handful of televangelists. Her church made $150 million between 2004 and 2006, during which time White owned a condo in Trump Tower and an airplane. After three years of scrutiny, however, the investigation ended inconclusively.
White suffered “years of sexual and physical abuse” after her father died when she was five, according to her website. At 18, she was “introduced to the Gospel.” She is now the senior pastor at New Destiny christian Center in Apopka, Florida. She has been married three times.
“My mission is to see the world come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When God showed me a vision at an early age, all those fell under the sound of my voice were saved, and all those who didn’t fell into darkness,” the biography on her website reads. “The deliverance and freedom that is found in a relationship with God.”
Prominent Christian writer Erick Erickson railed against White in December when he denounced some of her religious beliefs far beyond her financials. He posted a video of White agreeing with a man who said Jesus was not the only son of God alongside an article that called her a “trinity denying heretic.”
“The President of the United States putting a heretic on stage who claims to believe in Jesus, but does not really believe in Jesus, risks leading others astray … I’d rather a Hindu pray on Inauguration Day and not risk the souls of men, than one whose heresy lures in souls promises of comfort only to damn them in eternity,” Erickson wrote. “At least no one would mistake a Hindu, a Buddhist, or an atheist with being a representative of Christ’s freedom.”
White is slated to appear alongside six other religious leaders Jan. 20, including black and Hispanic Protestant leaders, a rabbi and a Catholic cardinal.
White told the Christian Post last month she was proud to stand by Trump in his ascendance to the White House. “I will be humbled to stand shoulder to shoulder on stage with the new administration, other distinguished men and women of faith, and with the great sea of witnesses watching around the country and around the world who continue to pray for God to bless America.”