Paula White, Benny Hinn deny report of affair
TAMPA - Without Walls International Church senior pastor Paula White and worldwide televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn posted statements on their websites denying a National Enquirer report that they've become romantically involved. White, who could not be reached for comment at her Tampa church, called the article "misguided and untruthful" in the statement directed to "friends, partners and ministry colleagues." "The publication, which is known for its bias and slanting of the truth, tries to mislead readers regarding the ministerial relationship and friendship I have had with Pastor Benny for over 20 years," she wrote. The article appears in the Aug. 2 issue of the tabloid, now on newsstands. It includes photos identified as Hinn and White holding hands on a supposed "romantic trip to Rome."White, host of "Paula White Today," seen on several Christian networks, is twice divorced. Hinn's wife of 30 years, Suzanne, filed for divorce in February. Hinn's statement, which has since been removed from his site, was directed to "my precious partner." He "forcefully, categorically and absolutely renounce(s) the lies that have been spread about me and want to set the record straight with you. There is nothing inappropriate or morally improper about my friendship with Paula White. There has been no immorality whatsoever!" The televangelists acknowledged that they reconnected in late May after not seeing each other in years when White taped a "This Is Your Day" segment on Hinn's television show. White said as someone who has endured a "painful and public divorce," she was able to offer him insight and spiritual encouragement. Both Hinn and White said they were in Italy to meet with Vatican officials, traveling independently for respective ministry duties. However, White said, "We were never alone and were in the constant company of staff and other associates." Hinn's and White's organizations, along with four others, remain under investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican whose Senate finance committee is trying to determine if they've complied with rules set by the IRS for nonprofit organizations. The probe, announced in November 2007, continues, according to a spokesperson for Grassley's office.
Reporter Michelle Bearden can be reached at (813) 259-7613.