Randy and Paula White: Divorce shakes evangelical empire

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TAMPA – As a team, pastors Randy and Paula White attracted tens of thousands to Without Walls International Church. But behind the picture perfect image, the couple’s 18-year marriage was in trouble.

At Thursday night’s service, they announced plans to divorce. Both have been divorced before.

“I believe the leadership establishes some principles when it comes to fidelity and marriage, and when it comes to the fiber of a family,” says Pastor Donald Lott of True Worship Christian Center in Temple Terrace.

FOX News, Aug. 24, 2007.

Lott is familiar with the church, and both pastors. He has family who attend Without Walls.

“By all means, a pastor should at all times be able to recognize when he is in crisis and his hope is in the word of God, and should all be able to rise above our circumstances in situations such as this,” Lott said

Randy and Paula White built their multi-million dollar evangelical empire by offering what they called “the perfect church, for those who aren’t.” That message catapulted Paula White to international stardom as a televangelist and author. Her husband has been less high profile, mostly leading the church at home.

The couple shares a $2 million dollar home on Bayshore Boulevard, along with a private jet. Some say the pastors have been spending more time apart as they buy property and pursue ministries elsewhere. Paula White owns a Trump Towers condo in New York City and a home in San Antonio. Randy White is reportedly leasing property in Malibu.

“The scripture says the love of money is the root of all evil, and you have to evaluate your priorities,” Pastor Lott says. “And without us knowing what their priorities are, I would hope they’d be on the Kingdom.”

But with their lavish lifestyle on display, critics say what the Whites were preaching was a message of prosperity at the expense of humility and family values.

Now with its leadership split, the church faces its own test of survival.

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FOX News, MyFoxTambaBay.com, USA
Aug. 24, 2007

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This post was last updated: Aug. 26, 2007