Televangelism powerhouse swamped by scandal

The Crouches: 'We need every cent you can spare for our garish clothes and silly hair-dos'

THE world’s biggest Christian broadcasting network – the Trinity Broadcasting Network founded by Paul and Janice Crouch – has been hit by a lawsuit from Crouch family members alleging widespread embezzlement, plus allegations of spending by the ministry that helped cover up sexual scandals and a discrimination lawsuit.

Allegations include:

The cover-up and destruction of evidence concerning a bloody sexual assault involving TBN and affiliated Holy Land Experience employees; the cover-up of director Janice Crouch’s affair with a staff member at the Holy Land Experience; and the cover-up of director Paul Crouch’s use of TBN funds to pay for a legal settlement with Enoch Lonnie Ford (a former TBN employee who said he had a homosexual affair with Paul Crouch).

In 2010, TBN paid an undisclosed sum in damages to one of its employees, Brian Dugger, who claimed he suffered harrassment and discrimination at the hands of TBN employees. Paul Crouch Jr taunted Dugger with pornography, and said:

Brian has a man-gina!

He also said TBN:

Was no place for fairies.

The lawsuit 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.

The suit comes in the wake of the sacking 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 shut her gob.

O happier days: Janice Crouch pictured with Brittany Koper

According to this report, when the whistle-blower refused to shut up:

She allegedly faced threats of physical and lethal violence.

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.

And, in one rich moment of black comedy,  the elaborately-coiffed Benny “The Hair” Hinn appeared on TBN  to tell viewers that, if they were to put their dead loved ones’ caskets in front of the TV and hold the corpses’ hands to the screen, they would “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.”

You can read more here.

Hat tip: Terry Sanderson