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Christian TV Grifters In Trouble, Again

Christian TV Grifters In Trouble, Again

A massive scandal is engulfing the world’s biggest Christian broadcasting network.

California-based Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) has been hit by a lawsuit from members of the family of founders Paul and Jan Crouch alleging widespread embezzlement.

The suit details massive spending on private jets, mansions in California, Tennessee and Florida and a $100,000 mobile home for Jan Crouch’s dogs paid for through sham loans. It follows the termination of Brittany Koper, the granddaughter of Paul Crouch. The suit alleges Koper discovered the illegal financial activities, conveyed her concerns to ministry leaders, and was told to keep quiet.

The charges also include allegations of spending by the ministry that helped cover up sexual scandals and a discrimination lawsuit. These include the alleged “cover-up and destruction of evidence concerning a bloody sexual assault involving Trinity Broadcasting and affiliated Holy Land Experience employees; the cover-up of director Janice Crouch’s affair with a staff member at the Holy Land Experience; the cover-up of director Paul Crouch’s use of Trinity Broadcasting funds to pay for a legal settlement with Enoch Lonnie Ford (a former TBN employee who said he had a homosexual affair with [founder] Paul Crouch).”

TBN preaches the “prosperity gospel” which promises material rewards to those who give generously. Since it was set up in the 1970s it has become the biggest Christian TV network with a presence on every continent except the Antarctic and has 18,000 affiliates. It also owns the Holy Land Experience, a Christian amusement park in Orlando.

Their shows feature such highlights as Jan Crouch tearfully giving an account of how her pet chicken was miraculously raised from the dead. Or Benny Hinn prophesying that if TBN viewers will put their dead loved ones’ caskets in front of the television set and touch the dead person’s hand to the screen, people will “be raised from the dead…by the thousands.”

TBN took in $92 million in donations in 2010 and cleared $175 million in tax-free revenue, although the recession has dramatically hit what it rakes in from its followers.

The network has fired back by pointing out that the lawsuit comes from family members who were themselves accused of embezzlement, though those charges were dismissed, and called the allegations of excessive spending “fabrications.”

The lawsuit follows quickly from revelations that David Cerello, CEO of Inspiration Networks (INSP), was paid a salary of $2.5 million from his ministry in 2010.

Californian pastor John MacArthur writes of TBN:

If the scheme seems reminiscent of Tetzel, that’s because it is precisely the same doctrine. (Tetzel was a medieval monk whose high-pressure selling of indulgences — phony promises of forgiveness — outraged Martin Luther and touched off the Protestant Reformation.)

Like Tetzel, TBN preys on the poor and plies them with false promises. Yet what is happening daily on TBN is many times worse than the abuses that Luther decried because it is more widespread and more flagrant. The medium is more high-tech and the amounts bilked out of viewers’ pockets are astronomically higher. (By most estimates, TBN is worth more than a billion dollars and rakes in $200 million annually. Those are direct contributions to the network, not counting millions more in donations sent directly to TBN broadcasters.) Like Tetzel on steroids, the Crouches and virtually all the key broadcasters on TBN live in garish opulence, while constantly begging their needy viewers for more money. Elderly, poor, and working-class viewers constitute TBN’s primary demographic. And TBN’s fundraisers all know that. The most desperate people – “unemployed,” “even though I’m in between jobs,” “trying to make it; trying to survive,” “broke” – are baited with false promises to give what they do not even have. Jan Crouch addresses viewers as “you little people,” and suggests that they send their grocery money to TBN “to assure God’s blessing.”

Thus TBN devours the poor while making the charlatans rich. God cursed false prophets in the Old Testament for that very thing (Jeremiah 6:13-15). It’s also one of the main reasons the Pharisees incurred Jesus’ condemnation (Luke 20:46-47). It’s hard to think of any sin more evil.

Related stories:

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12:10PM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

James 1:27 | NAS
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

10:59AM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

Chrisians give Christianity a bad name.

9:38AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

The Pharisees were known more for their self-righteousness and hypocrisy.

Matthew 5:20 | NAS
“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

IOW, His righteousness.

Romans 3:21–27 | NAS
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.

9:27AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

con't 2

In another speech (19330 he said "To do justice to God and our own conscience, we have turned once more to the German Volk (people)." In another he said: "We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."

Being either a certain religion or an atheist doesn't in itself make one a good or bad person. I know many atheists who do good for goods sake not because an invisible man says they will go to hell if they don't and I know many "Christians" who preach hate and intolerance in the name of God (just look at the latest crop of Republican Presidential hopefuls). Religion doesn't make the person..the person makes the religion.

9:26AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

con't If they bothered asking I don't believe these televangelists would exist. But they prey on the lonely, the old and the scared...and for that, if there is a hell, I'm sure they will be occupying it.

Steve R. Being an atheist does not in itself make people bad. Hitler wasn't an atheist. He was raised a Roman Catholic. He believed he was a christian (from a speech he made on 12 April 1922) ""My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people."
He did not view himself as an atheist. In anot

9:24AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

David I'm not sure what you talking about. Bible Bashers??? You said " One funny thing about those so called "Bible bashers" who are the gullible victims of the Televangelist scamsters" Bible bashers would not be victims of the Televangelists as I would think that Bible Bashers either do not believe in the Bible (hence the bashing) or they do understand the Bible and dislike the "interpretation" of it. Perhaps sheep would be a better term here. Because anyone who has actually read the Bible (free of outside interpretations know that it contradict itself and the message isn't the message that the televangelists are hawking. I don't believe in the Bible for several reasons. One because I don't think God wrote it and that the men who did write it picked out only those passages (based on older writings often from other religions) that suited their belief system and gained them power. The Catholic Church is a good example. There is now lots of evidence that the Church has suppressed any evidence that gives women power in the church or that says what they do is wrong. Jesus hated large lavish temples and thought that wealth could keep you from getting into heaven. Why would God give us such inquiring minds if God didn't want us to use them? Why would God create a hell to punish people for all eternity if God wants us to learn certain lessons and be good people? It's sad that so many people follow without questions. If they bothered asking I don't believe these televange

8:01AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

People who preach a “prosperity gospel”.
Are NOT Christians in any sense of the word.
They are greedy Pharisees, and that is all they are.

9:34PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

I know there are people so down in the dumps, that they will grasp at anything. I'm afraid that fewer brain cells are also a factor in people giving their hard-earned money to charlatans. It's always been, and always will be. I'm not christian, but I know enough christian beliefs that I know these grifters should be ashamed, and if there were a hell, they would be the candidates for it. I'd like to see them punished right here on earth -- prison!

8:55PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

If you're looking for spiritual insights and answers, TBN's gonna be a tough slog: I remember one of the few times I saw one of its presenters, coming across as a bellowing grotesque on a lavish stage set in what was either an arena or a mega-church packed with a very coiffed audience. The man literally growled his message, whatever it was. I didn't watch the whole thing. But it left me in pain. There is good Christian programming (Ken Curtis' Beatitudes for People with Cancer has a lasting effect) -- but it can be tough to winnow out from among so much junk.

Christian radio, on the other hand, has lower overhead costs, less need for inflated budgets, and tends to be much more orthodox and respectful of both its message and its audience. I think of commentators like Charles Stanley and storytellers like Chuck Swindoll, respectively presenting the head and the heart of the Gospel. And I definitely recommend Hank Hanegraaff and his show, The Bible Answer Man. He's passionate about discerning truth from error, and repeatedly puts TBN into his crosshairs. Truth claims matter, he'll tell you. Catch him online at http://www.equip.org/

7:55PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

I have nothing but disgust for the 'prosperity gospel'...I wrote an essay about it in the 'visitors' section on ReligiousTolerance.org if you want to read it.

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