Reverend David Jeremiah rarely grants interviews.
He’s not shy in front of the camera.
The evangelical pastor of Southern California reaches millions of viewers through his broadcast ministry, Turning Point.
And it’s not that the staunch conservative Christian is trying to avoid controversy.
Jeremiah once had to answer a White House phone call after calling President Barack Obama a dangerous man.
He knows there could be fallout when he espouses his theory that Satan creates dissension and funds evil plans with the oil money produced from what he says is the destroyed foliage of the garden of Eden.
“If you teach the scriptures and believe the Bible is literal, which I do, there will always be people who will disagree with you,” Jeremiah said.
At 70, after beating two cancers, he is a prolific writer, writing dozens of books. His latest, “God Loves You,” hit the New York Times bestseller list last month.
When he preaches to a full house Thursday night at the Giant Center in Hershey, Jeremiah will stick to a formula that seems to have worked.
Tickets for tonight’s Hershey event are free. Jérémie only asks his followers for their voluntary financial support in order to continue doing what he is doing.
Jeremiah’s pulpit speeches are less akin to fiery gospel preaching than to an academic conference.
His preaching skills are in great demand. Jeremiah is as easily reserved for large Christian conferences as he is for secular arenas. He has become a favorite team prayer leader in the NFL and major league baseball. On Monday, just hours after arriving in Pennsylvania, he led chapel prayers with members of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His followers over the years, bolstered by sales of his books, CDs, Bible study programs and prolific radio and television shows, catapulted him from the small Christian venues of Lancaster that he was used to to reserve at the main points of sale.
He says he never earned more than $ 100,000 a year, nor accepted a pay raise from his employer – Shadow Mountain Community Church, one of the largest churches in the San Diego area.
“My church takes care of me,” Jeremiah said. “They are very good to me.”
His ministry, which is not associated with Shadow Mountain, posted a total income of $ 35 million last year, the vast majority coming from donations and product sales on its website.
Most of the money comes back, he said, to pay for the millions of dollars in television expenses, the production of new CDs and travel appearances.
“When we say we live by faith, we really do,” said Jeremiah, who traveled to Hershey with his wife and former high school sweetheart, Donna. “We’re always just a little ahead of what we need. We don’t have huge stocks of resources. We take what is happening and if we go a little further, we try to go to another place where we can send the message.
Jeremiah’s position on social issues is simple, evangelical conservative. He opposes abortion and promotes a traditional definition of marriage.
Even his take on the national debt and the fiscal cliff crosses the path of spirituality.
“Is it a Bible problem?” He said of the national debt. “That’s a sensible question, if you ask my opinion. You don’t spend the money you don’t have.
A coming Armageddon is one of his favorite subjects, and Jeremiah predicts that the national debt and the increasingly less liquid world economy are just two of the financial signals that herald the end of time.
He explored these themes in his 2010 book, “The Coming Economic Armageddon: What Bible Prophecy Warns about the New Global Economy”.
“At the time I wrote it, I thought it was a little pushy,” Jeremiah said. “At the time it was printed he was not aggressive enough.”
He preached that the proliferation of global technology – including the use of cell phones and credit cards – was accomplishing the revelations.
Jeremiah also lectures on the polarization of wealth – the divide between rich and poor – and what he calls “passive indifference to God’s warnings” as other signs that the rapture is near.
Even though he largely avoided aligning himself with a political party, Jeremiah made an exception this time around, preaching an exit-voting sermon to his supporters on the Sunday before the election.
“I told them to vote their values,” said Jeremiah. “I said not to vote for your location. Do not vote for your religious denomination. Don’t even vote your racial ID. Vote what you believe.
Two years ago, he told OneNewsNow, a Christian news service, that he believed Obama was moving the country in the wrong direction “towards socialism and away from our historic moorings.” Jeremiah described the president as a dangerous man.
Today, he says he and the White House religious liaison had a good conversation and agreed to disagree.
“I doubt he changed his mind, and I know I haven’t changed mine,” Jeremiah said.
He feels the same about Obama.
“I don’t hate this man,” he said. “I love him. He’s the kind of man you want as president. He loves sports, loves his family and obviously adores his wife, but what he’s doing to this country is very disheartening.
Last Sunday, just days after the election, Jeremiah told the 8,000 or so faithful in his church that he made a commitment to God to pray for Obama every day of his second term.
“I’m going to pray for him that God will give him wisdom,” Jeremiah said.
“He is our president and we are now responsible as citizens of the Lord God to support our president,” he added. “We have every right to disagree with his policies, but we must do so in a godly way.”
IF YOU ARE GOING TO:
- Who: David Jérémie
- When: 7 tonight
- Where: Giant Center, Hershey
- Tickets: Free