The New Destiny Christian Center of Paula White, who will give a reading at the event. solicits monthly donations from "partners" in increments from $25, $50 and $100 or more per month and promises "spiritual and natural benefits" in return. The offerings the church asks for are called "seeds," and it is explained that sending them to White and her ministry will cause God to rain gifts down in exchange.
White's "prosperity gospel" teachings spread the message that God wants people to be rich and healthy, and that wealth is a sign of his favor. Achieving wealth, therefore, is a sign that God loves you more than other people. The spiritual practice is widely criticized.
"This seed will get God's attention," White's website promises. "This seed will be seen as a ‘Gratitude' offering. Gratitude always produces favor and favor will cause you to receive in a moment, more than some do in a lifetime!"
"Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe," Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission told Raw Story. Moore is a Trump critic, Raw Story points out. White is called a heretic for remarks she has made suggesting Jesus Christ was not the only "son of God," as all Christian sects believe.
White was among six "prosperity gospel" televangelists targeted in a three-year investigation by the US Senate. The final report raised questions about their fundraising practices, the general lack of oversight into church finances and the personal use of church-owned airplanes, homes and credit cards by pastors and their families, NBC reported at the conclusion of the investigation in 2011, but ultimately found no definitive evidence of wrongdoing.
White refused to provide full tax information to the investigation. According to a 2007 report by the Tampa Tribune, White's Paula White Ministries business earned between $50,000 to $80,000 and she and her then-husband Randy White were compensated to the tune of $600,000 to $1.5 million a year by the Without Walls church they were then part of. Much of the church's $5 million payroll went to White family members, a church financial adviser told the Times.
Some US evangelicals, who voted overwhelmingly for Trump in last month's election, are incensed about White's inclusion in the inauguration, though she has been part of Trump's circle for years, speaking at one of his rallies in Florida in March and giving interviews about Trump's Christian faith. She also delivered the benediction on the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.
"Paula represents everything that is wrong with American religion," Ole Anthony, founder of the religious watchdog organization the Trinity Foundation, told Orlando Weekly in October. "No accountability, the jet-set lifestyle, divorces and affairs that seem to never end. She's left a trail of destroyed churches behind her."
"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," conservative blogger Eric Erickson wrote on his website, The Resurgent. "Christians have an obligation to speak in defense of their faith. Trump letting this heretic pray in Jesus's name should offend every Bible believing Christian."
Other faith leaders taking part in the inauguration are Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan; Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Reverend Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse and of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, senior pastor of Great Faith Ministries International.