Jasper Scherer, SFGate, December 16, 2018
An associate pastor at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church who caught heat for buying his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini Urus is now defending the move, saying, “it wasn’t a pastor that bought the car, it was a husband that bought the car.”
Pastor John Gray, who leads his own megachurch in Greenville, S.C., said in a 23-minute Facebook Live video that he bought the car using funds from other ventures — citing his book deals, a reality TV show on the Oprah Winfrey Network and being “wise with savings and investments” — and did it to mark the couple’s eighth anniversary.
He continues: “I’m a husband first. Don’t confuse what I do with who I am. What I do is, I pastor God’s people. Who I am is a husband and a father, and I’ll do anything to honor them, and I won’t ask permission from anybody to do it.”
Gray initially set off the social media backlash when he posted a since-deleted viral Instagram video that shows him surprising his wife, Aventer Gray, with the car and saying, “You light my fire, let this Lamborghini light your fire, baby.”
The video immediately prompted people to question whether Gray had spent money from his church to pay for the car — he did not, Gray said in his video monologue — along with criticism for what some said was a showy display.
Some people criticize megachurch leaders who show off their riches, contending that the practice is unbecoming and out of step with the message they preach from the pulpit.
So-called prosperity preachers, whose message centers on the belief that God wants people to achieve financial and material gain and donate to the church, actually make people more likely to be overly optimistic and exhibit risky financial behavior, according to a University of Toronto study released last month.