News

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

86 Responses to “Televangelism powerhouse swamped by scandal”

  1. Skepticsteve says:

    A weird cult run by an old, closeted gay man and funded by fools, rocked by financial and sexual scandal and it’s NOT catholici$m Inc.?

  2. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: That’s him exactly complete with flowing white robe and soppy children. When I saw that I was back there aged eight. It was eerie. Greatest occasion was when the missionaries from Africa came to talk to us. Hell, it was like they were super heroes. So they poured some chemical into a glass beaker of water and it turned black. “That is what your hearts look like,” they said somewhat less than encouragingly. We were scared.

    “But this is what will happen if you accept Jesus into your heart,” more chemical and the water was clear. Trouble was we had no idea how to get Jesus into our hearts. For a start we didn’t even know where they were. That, I now know, was child abuse, it affected me profoundly and adults sat around and never raised a finger to stop it.

    Oh, the freedom and freshness of atheism after the stench of religion.

  3. Brian John Brown says:

    To be frank I am quite disappointed at the intellectual content of a significant number of the recent comments. I am afraid freethinkers such as David Hume, Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell would be turning in their grave if that was possible. So many contributors seem at a loss to comprehend the stupidity of followers of the evangelical charlatans. Read ‘Religion Explained’ by Pascal Bowyer then follow up by reading the many scientists and anthropologists on the limitations of the human brain that evolved to deal with the challenges of surviving in the natural world and finds in extremely difficult to deal with counterintuitive thought and reflective rationality.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Saw all that as well. They loved their “object lessons”, and missionaries were royalty. My aunt gave me a little booklet about a boy who “asked Jesus to come into his heart”, when a wonderful change came over him. I read it in my bedroom and earnestly pleaded with Jesus to “come into my heart” as well. Guess what? Nothing happened. So I asked again…and again…and again. Sheer desperation. What was I doing wrong? No joy. Deep disappointment and confusion. Mental abuse, as you say.

  5. barriejohn says:

    Did they teach you this one, Broga?

    http://www.theanswerbank.co.uk/Music/Question362546.html

    Those deluded idiots seem to think it’s wonderful!

  6. barriejohn says:

    BJB: As the late, great Francis Howerd once said to an audience of students, “I’m not what you’d call an intellectual…which is why I feel so much at home here”!

  7. barriejohn says:

    Matt: Ken Russell – what a legend! I used to bump into him at Waitrose here in Lymington, believe it or not, but I’ve never read that one. Thanks for the tip!

  8. barriejohn says:

    PS Ken Russell’s last novel (Violation) envisages an England where football has become the state religion – hahahahaha!!! (See previous comments)

  9. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: I didn’t get that but here is one that I had drummed into me: “Grow like a tree, strong and fine/Smile as you go and never whine/Travel with courage, climb or plod/Live as Jesus did near to god.” Another memory I have is of giving our pennies to help the “little black boys.” I also remember on Sunday School picnic a boy saying he wasn’t going to eat his crusts. He was told he should be ashamed of himself as the “little back boys” would be glad of them. How the pennies got to the “little black boys” (no mention of girls) was never explained.

    We also had lots of pictures missionaries in sombrero type hats looking benign and tall and surrounded by half naked blacks who looked at them in what we took to be admiration, if not reverence.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Even as a child I thought it was patronising, Broga. But how about this one, then?

    http://yunshui.wordpress.com/2008/06/01/get-it-out-get-it-out-of-my-head/

    Nothing like getting them into the right habits when they’re young!

  11. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: It is amazing the way these simple tunes and words stay with us throughout life. I was never indoctrinated by parents personally. Just required like all the other kids to go to Sunday School followed by almost two hours of numbing boredom in church. I grew up with my mother and grandparents. Interestingly my mother, now dead, became an atheist and until her death a subscriber to The Freethinker.

    I think I was lucky because I suspect that her underlying attitude was always towards a secular view. And she had, of course, at her vigorous and repeated insistence a non religious funeral. In her terminal illness she would say, “And if you let a minister (she was Scottish) near my funeral I’ll come back and haunt you.” She was always had a ready sense of fun which never deserted her. I still miss her.

  12. Glenn Davey says:

    What a scam… The government needs to shut these people down. All of them. They MUST be made illegal, or made to pay HEFTY taxes — embezzlement or not.

  13. Daz says:

    Glenn

    or made to pay HEFTY taxes

    Interesting article along just those lines. I came across it just last night.

  14. elainek123 says:

    A brilliant DVD ‘Marjoe’About an evangelical preacher prodigy at the age of 4. WHo when he drops out of preaching returns and goes behind the scenes evangelical. “Evangelism’s answer to Mick Jagger-The New York Times.

  15. barriejohn says:

    I’ve seen him before, Elaine, but I didn’t know about the documentary.

    http://youtu.be/eHv7cnSSmaU

  16. LaPri Briscoe says:

    I missed Paul Crouch Jr on Behind the Scenes and whatever programs he was in on TBN. He seemed to be such a kind and true man of God. I guess it’s kind of difficult since his daughter is the one who filed a lawsuit. I pray that things can be worked out and they become a complete family like they should be, still working in the name of Jesus. To God be the glory! Thanks.

  17. Daz says:

    LaPri Briscoe

    Please don’t pray on our carpet. The stains are a right bastard to get out.
    Thanks.

  18. AgentCormac says:

    LaPri Briscoe

    Yeah, still working in the name of Jesus to rob you and yours blind! FFS wake up!

    Thanks.

  19. Broga says:

    LaPri Briscoe. You need a reality check to distance yourself from these skilled con artists. How they must laugh to see the money rolling in from the gullible suckers. As for prayer – why does an omniscient being, who knows the past, present and future, need prayer. Prayer is asking an omniscient being to change its mind.

  20. Daz says:

    Prayer is asking an omniscient being to change its mind.

    Not only that; it’s telling a ‘perfect’ being that its ‘perfect’ plan is, in fact, impefect, and needs changing. It’s actually a show of lack of faith!

  21. barriejohn says:

    Paul and Janice Crouch = Jocular, cheap, acid nun

  22. Daz says:

    Acid Nun: What a great name for a band…

  23. AgentCormac says:

    And prayer is proven not work. So it’s a complete waste of time anyway.

    http://web.med.harvard.edu/sites/RELEASES/html/3_31STEP.html

  24. remigius says:

    Daz, ‘Please don’t pray on our carpet. The stains are a right bastard to get out.’

    Stains?

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ejaculatory-Preached-Thursday-Staffords-Meeting-House/dp/1140778455/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337342863&sr=8-1

  25. Broga says:

    @Daz: Good point. If prayer is answered god must have got it wrong the first time. But being omniscient he knew he was getting it wrong, he knew he would would prayed to and he knew he would change his mind etc.etc.etc…………….

    It’s all bonkers.

  26. Daz says:

    Remigius

    Ejaculatory Prayer. Is that what they call it these days?

    “You can’t come in! I’m Praying!”

  27. barriejohn says:

    “I’m coming, Lord!”

    I suspect that we’ve all seen this page before:

    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/repent.html

  28. Matt Westwood says:

    @barriejohn: Notice that (apart from the anomaly in Numbers), in general the “god doesn’t repent” quotes come generally chronologically after the “god repented” quotes. Could this mean that as god gets older he gets more stubborn, cranky, ornery and just plain old and stupid? Put him into an old gods home where he can swap ear-trumpets with Odin, and sniggeringly flip up the skirts of the valkkyries whose role has now evolved into carers for the elderly.

    Judging from the weather last month I’m pretty sure he’s suffering from incontinence.

  29. remigius says:

    Matt, something along the lines of Pink Floyd’s Fletcher Memorial Home from their brilliant Final Cut album, perhaps?

    http://www.elyrics.net/read/p/pink-floyd-lyrics/the-fletcher-memorial-home-lyrics.html

  30. Matt Westwood says:

    Works for me.

  31. AgentCormac says:

    remigius

    Then there are these lyrics from Fun Boy Three:
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum – take away my right to choose
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum – take away my point of view
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum – take away my dignity,
    Take these things away from me
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum – take away my family,
    Take away the right to speak
    The lunatics have taken over the asylum take away my point of view,
    Take away my right to choose.

    Quite a neat summation of growing up with religion I thought.

  32. AgentCormac says:

    remigius

    I’ll see you and raise you 10!

    Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people living life in peace

    You, you may say
    I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people sharing all the world

    You, you may say
    I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one.

    Got to be the finest lyrics ever written.

  33. remigius says:

    Yeah.

  34. barriejohn says:

    AgentCormac: I love that song. John Lennon had a big effect on me as a young man – in fact, more influencial than Jesus, hahaha!!! He was definitely one of those who pushed me firmly in the direction of rationality, as did those who were treating me for depression – but then to my Christian “friends” the psychologists and psychiatrists were all “of the devil” (especially when they recommended Yoga as a therapy!). In the end you can only resist the forces of reason for so long.

    Matt: I think you have it back to front! The “God” who keeps saying in the earlier Jewish writings: “Oh, shit, I’ve buggered things up AGAIN”, seems qite clearly to belong to a more primitive age, where, much like the Norse and Greek gods, he demonstrates all too obviously our human failings. Later on, as the religion developed, he takes on the attributes of that all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful being that the religious envisage today. The problem for the literalists, of course, is that they have to somehow “harmonize” these contradictory statements!