A televangelist's surging wealth prompts growing questions

INDIAN LAND, S.C. _ As Easter approached, the ad ran repeatedly on the Inspiration Network: David Cerullo, clutching a Bible, told viewers that they, too, could receive prosperity, physical healing and other blessings that God gave the ancient Israelites.

All they had to do, the televangelist said, was send $200 or more.

"Go to your phone," he said. "Sow your Passover offering and watch God do what he said he would . . . Call now."

Pitches such as this have made the Charlotte-area cable network one of the world's fastest-growing Christian broadcasters, beaming into more than 100 countries on five continents. They've also helped make Cerullo, Inspiration's CEO and on-air host, a wealthy man.

He brings home more than $1.5 million a year, making him the best-paid leader of any religious charity tracked by watchdog groups. His salary dwarfs those of executives leading far larger religious nonprofits.

David and Barbara Cerullo live in a 12,000 square-foot lakefront home in south Charlotte _ complete with an elevator and an 1,100-square-foot garage. Their grown children also receive handsome salaries.

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