Rev. Creflo’s road to salvation

Rename part of Old National Highway for the holy high-roller? ‘C’mon, man’

Last year, the good Lord found it just that Rev. Creflo $ receive a $65 million Gulfstream G650.

So, who are we earthly beings to quibble when a state senator is pushing to put $’s name on a road sign?

State Sen. Donzella James introduced a resolution to dedicate a five-mile stretch of Old National Highway as Creflo Dollar Highway. But by the reaction, you might suppose she wants to turn that stretch of road into the reverend’s own private runway.

No, she says, Rev. $ is not behind this. And no, James, a life-long Catholic, said she hasn’t been brainwashed since joining his World Changers Church International a few months ago, following the death of her husband of 40 years.

“People are demonizing me, saying I got bought off,” she said.

She says the effort is simply a gesture born in her Bible study, one that came about when the other worshipers started saying it would be nice to name some asphalt after their favorite Man of God.

One might think that naming Old National Highway might be small potatoes when we’re talking about a minister whose church’s name starts with “World” and ends with “International.”

The highway, a stretch of of fast-food joints, motels and car parts stores, has plenty of baggage. Just Google “Old National Highway” and the search algorithm automatically wants to add the word “shooting” to it, as in, “That’s a dangerous area, Buster!”

Nevertheless, that’s where Rev. $ set up three decades ago. Land was cheap along that road and he was a struggling minister not yet behind the wheel of his first Rolls Royce.

The handsome, ebullient preacher and his beautiful wife with a made-for-TV name — Taffi — did well to win over the hearts, souls and wallets of those living around College Park with their version of prosperity gospel. It extols a message that generosity to the church might just loosen up the Creator’s generosity. It’s kind of like the Lottery without the ping pong balls.

This might rub some people raw, considering the median family income there, $27,000, is about half the state’s median income. Oh, and the poverty rate — 38 percent — is twice that of Georgia.

But never mind that; no one is holding a gun to anyone’s head. Besides, Jesus once said, “The poor you will always have with you.” And then a few centuries later, someone came up with car-title loans to help them.

Sen. James counters that no one from World Changers has grabbed her purse or peered over her W-2.

The senator called me and recited a long monologue with all the good works that World Changers has heaped upon the area: Food bank, clothing dispensary, paid utilities, free legal resources.

“It’s one of the biggest social service agencies in the area,” she said. “Most of the naysayers don’t know this.”

Naysayers — and I’d add myself to that column — are stuck on the facts like: His church reputedly pulls in tens of millions each year. He has traveled in a Rolls-Royces. He lives in a mansion. He owned a multimillion-dollar New York condo.

Yes, his story is amazing. He started with a service in 1986 in a school auditorium and now leads praises in the 8,500-seat “World Dome” right off the future Creflo $ Thoroughfare. I suppose it’s fitting. I mean, we’ve named streets for preachers who never even erected a World Dome.

Should we punish a man who did not want to hide his lamp under a bushel? What he has achieved is indeed Trumpian.

Rev. $ has sought to have a nice jet because his ministry, according to his website, has offices in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of South Africa, Australia, the Ukraine, and India.

“True to its name, World Changers Church International is setting the standard for excellence in ministry and making a mark in the lives of billions worldwide,” the website says. Yes, that’s Billions, with a B.

As I have said, there are naysayers.

I called Sen. Vincent Fort, the legislator who is forever a pebble in Mayor Kasim Reed’s wingtip. Rev. $’s dome falls squarely in Fort’s district, as does much of the future Dollar Boulevard. But Sen. Fort was not one of the five sponsors of the Dollar bill.

“Yes, my name was not on it; I was not asked,” said Fort. “These kind of recognitions are a part of politics. I’m more concerned with Medicaid expansion or income inequality issues.”

Sen. James said the legislation would only erect ceremonial signs, not change the road’s official name.

In fact, it would be like Evander Holyfield Highway, which is the southern extension of Old National Highway in neighboring Fayette County. The stretch is the site of the 109-room mansion where the former heavyweight champ — and generous World Changers’ donor — used to live before losing the home to foreclosure.

I drove to Old National Highway and was immediately greeted by the sight of Anthony Clark after turning off I-285.

Clark was standing outside a Western Union office, holding a big cardboard advertising sign for a tax preparation firm, trying to catch the eye of the thousands of motorists whizzing by. It’s not the kind of job you dream of as a kid. But it pays.

A quick conversation found Clark also in the naysayer camp.

“Keep it Old National,” he said, shaking his head, the sign falling to his side. “You’re a pastor. What do you need a street named for you? That’s like being an icon.”

He shifted a bit, somewhat weary from his roadside marketing stint.

“You’re not Martin Luther King. What has he done? I don’t see what he’s done for poor people. Hard-working people giving up money hoping God will bless them?

“C’mon, man!”

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