This morning’s New York Times explores the developing feud among family members operating the Trinity Broadcasting Network, an Evangelical television powerhouse that also operates the Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando, Florida.
According to the article, the granddaughter of the founders, Paul and Janice Crouch, were disturbed by lavish spending but the “nonprofit” organization and released records to the IRS. The organization raised $93 million in 2010 alone, and among the perks that the couple allotted themselves were a $5.6 million home in California; twin corporate jets; multiple “parsonages” for family use; a combined annual salary of over $750,000; and meal expenses that cost a staggering $300,000 per year.
The Crouch couple is firm believers in the prosperity gospel, telling their supporters that financial support of the TBN ministries would repay itself over and over again. The head of the Southern Baptist Convention, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., says the Evangelical community has long been embarrassed of TBN:
“Prosperity theology is a false theology,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Between its message and its reputation for high spending, Mr. Mohler said, “TBN has been a huge embarrassment to evangelical Christianity for decades.”
Should people who “earn” this much money for their ministry be able to spend it as they see fit, even financing a life that seems completely at odds with the Gospel? Should the government and IRS take a harder line on corruption in religious organizations? Do you think people such as the Crouches are motivated by greed or truly believe they are living out the gospel call to evangelize?
Michael J. O'Loughlin
(Image: Casting out the money changers by Giotto, 14th century.)