BENNY ‘The Hair’ Hinn has a long history of extorting money from people in poor countries via his prosperity gospel gigs, but it’s only now that the lurid details of just how the fraudster operates has come to light.
In a “tell-all” 224-page book entitled God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies Costi Hinn – Benny’s nephew – delivers a damning indictment of the Hinn family’s exploitation of millions around the world. According to The Christian Post:
It’s a revealing, cautionary and tragic tale that attempts to atone for his role in it.
Costi Hinn, above, who now runs his own ministry called For The Gospel, lived high on the hog from the spoils of Hinn’s ministry, and became an assistant to his uncle.
My job was to be one of my uncle’s personal assistants when we traveled and to be a catcher during the healing services.
(If you watch Benny in action on YouTube , you’ll see a lot of people – including military personnel – collapse. The “catchers” are always on hand to stop them hitting the deck.)
Says Costi Hinn:
In less than just two years of working within the movement … I enjoyed more luxury than I ever could have imagined. It felt like I was hanging out with King Solomon. There are wealthy people who have lots of money but don’t live lavishly; then there are wealthy people who have lots of money and know how to turn lavish novelty into normalcy. We were the latter.
He then gave examples of his life with Uncle Benny. Here are but a few:
• Air travel on a Gulfstream IV (average cost of ownership: $36,000,000)
• Royal Suite at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, United Arab Emirates ($25,000 per night)
• Shopping spree at Harrods in London
• Shopping spree up and down Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, California
• Hotel suites at the Hotel de Paris, Monte-Carlo, Monaco
• Gambling at the Casino de Monte-Carlo, Monaco
• Vehicle chauffeurs in Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes Benz, Range Rover, Maserati
• Apparel by Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Bijan
• Accessories by Louis Vuitton, Prada, Breitling, Chanel, Hermes, D&G.
Costi Hinn says:
Wealthy people who enjoy the finer things in life look at this list and shrug. Perhaps even people with modest levels of income say, ‘Big deal, so you enjoyed nice stuff”. Both are right to view it with indifference — until we remind ourselves that this was paid for by donations from desperate people who believed that giving a prosperity preacher their money would result in their living this lifestyle too.
Somewhat more heartbreaking is that some of these donors were just hoping to see a fifty-cent increase above their minimum wage as a blessing from God for sowing their seed. The hardest working people were the poor barely making it but giving everything to us.
The book also highlights interesting bits during Benny Hinn’s ministry, such as the time a group of conservatives in Helsinki, Finland, never invited the televangelist back to minister after a “slimy” fundraising gimmick Costi Hinn’s father used among the faithful that made them reluctantly donate money to the ministry in envelopes to be anointed with olive oil for blessings.
Of all the methods we used for raising money, I had never before noticed just how slimy this one seemed (no pun intended). As much as I liked when revenue was high, some methods went a bit too far, even for us. I cringed. It was as though suddenly I had a conscience.
After the service, he notes:
Our team had a meeting in our hotel room to count the offering. We divided the spoils among ourselves. Payment for the anointed impartation. Something inside didn’t feel right. We were never invited back.
Costi Hinn also recalled a 2004 trip to Mumbai, India, where more than a million people responded to a Benny Hinn event for the first time but noted how turned off his uncle was by the smell of the country.
The sights, sounds, and smells of that trip fill my memory to this day. ‘Close the door! Close the door!’ shouted my uncle from the comfort of our aircraft. I hadn’t been to India before, so I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about. ‘I don’t want to deal with the smell until I absolutely have to,’ he explained to the flight attendant who had begun to open the aircraft door. Customs wasn’t coming our way yet, so Uncle Benny didn’t want the door opened. Apparently India had an aroma that my uncle didn’t care for.
Even though Costi Hinn alludes on several occasions throughout the book to how he developed a conscience while serving in his family’s ministry, it wasn’t until his relationship with his now wife, Christyne, was threatened that he finally decided to step away from his family and support a more conservative theology.
In a FAQ portion of the book, he attempts to address concerns from critics, such as those who think he might just be trading on his family name to get rich and famous.
My uncle has systematically exploited poverty-stricken countries for 40 years to get rich, and now other family members are following in his footsteps. Allow me to get painfully honest for a moment: for most of our family members, it can be pretty embarrassing to be a Hinn.
In a 2017 interview, Costi Hinn said:
Growing up in the Hinn family empire was like belonging to some hybrid of the royal family and the mafia. Our lifestyle was lavish, our loyalty was enforced, and our version of the gospel was big business.
Though Jesus Christ was still a part of our gospel, he was more of a magic genie than the King of Kings. Rubbing him the right way – by giving money and having enough faith – would unlock your spiritual inheritance. God’s goal was not his glory but our gain. His grace was not to set us free from sin but to make us rich. The abundant life he offered wasn’t eternal, it was now. We lived the prosperity gospel.
In 2018, Benny Hinn claimed to have given up living lavishly and flying in private jets:
I mean, forgive me. People have accused me of things that aren’t even real. One guy wrote a comment, ‘Oh he’s worth $40 million’. Oh how I wish. I would give it all to the Kingdom before God Almighty.
“‘Well he flies private jets,'” he continued mimicking criticism.
No, I don’t. I have not flown private in, dear God, years. I fly commercial just like anyone else.