Posted by: Damon Whitsell | March 3, 2010

Fleecing the flock. How Corrupt Is Christian Television?

http://www.rational-persuasion.com/christiantelevangelism.html

Corruption has skyrocketed in every sector of our society. And the Christian religion is not an exception. A good number of the Christian leadership have been caught in corruption, hypocrisy and lies; deceiving us, and much worse, trying to deceive God himself.

But the problem is much, much worse in Christian television, Christian radio, and televangelism. Christian television has a mass appeal and reaches an immense number of people, many who only have this as their source of information about Christianity. In fact, Billy Graham said that he could reach more people in just one night on television than the Apostle Paul in all of his life. Christian television and televangelism in effect are the main, if not the only, representation of Christianity that many people have today. Any wrong teaching, distorted information, false idea, or bad image will be their only reference of this religion. For instance, Benny Hinn’s show “This Is Your Day” airs in over 130 countries over several different networks, making it the most widely seen program in the world. And “This Is Your Day” promotes every unbiblical doctrine that is to be advocated. But unbiblical teachings and false doctrines are just the beginning.

Many of these televangelists claim to have the power of God to heal the sick and perform other miracles; power which can be seen in every show, where large numbers of people supposedly get healed. But if just dozens of people were really miraculously healed, it would be very difficult to keep it from the media, which is constantly searching for news. A large number of miracles and healing would be a great proof that Christianity is the real religion. Nonetheless, no news about healing or any other miracle. Instead, what we see is witnesses and victims denouncing those performers, and documentaries and other reporting exposing them and proving them to be a fraud.

For instance, in 2002 and again in 2005 Dateline NBC did an expose on Benny Hinn and his ministry. He was asked to provide medical proof of the miracles he and his followers claim to be experiencing, but to date no medical proof of any healing or other definitive evidence has been provided by the ministry. But a number of the people that he and other preachers proclaimed healed have died. Although the majority could have been saved, if they had gotten adequate medical attention on time. In the following video watch the personal experiences of some victims of this con artist; click on the video (on the triangle button) now and see for yourself:

Those claims of miracles have made Benny Hinn immensely popular, but it is with false healing claims, which he cannot prove, that he has achieved so much popularity.

Dateline NBC also questioned the ministry’s financial integrity. Although Benny Hinn’s ministry does not release information about its finances to the public, Dateline was able to find many problems in the financial aspect. An investigation showed severe problems with accountability, revealing that Benny Hinn maintains an extravagant lifestyle at the expense of his followers. In 1997 a CNN report also criticized him for lavish spending practices. There are estimates that total ministry revenue exceeds $100 million a year. This has allowed him to accumulate a fortune as a television faith healer and to live in a big, expensive mansion. The personal perks for Hinn, family and his entourage include a $10 million seaside mansion; a private jet with annual operating costs of about $1.5 million; a Mercedes SUV and convertible, each valued at about $80,000. Watch the video:

Televangelism has become a business, where preachers work towards better rating and more donations. It takes the Scriptures out of context to manipulate people to give, often beyond their means. It is estimated to be a several billion dollars business that preys on the elderly (mostly women), the poor, the biblically illiterate, and the desperate; all in the name of God. And it is not just a handful of television preachers, it is most of them. One reason is that there is no accountability for televangelists. If you sent money to any of them, you most likely helped that particular preacher to pay for his jet or his mansion.

The lavish lifestyle of these televangelists do not reflect in any way the sacrificial life that Jesus and his disciples lived. But incredibly, some television preachers actually claim that Jesus was rich. And there is a wide audience that believe that, and any thing else that they say. Those people are fooled simply because they do not know the Bible. If they did, no preacher could lie to them because they would immediately realize that those teachings contradict what the Bible says. The Bible repeatedly warns people about all these false teachers; … although not even that is a guarantee, since people can be so easily blinded to the truth. What that people reflect is the state of today’s society and of the Christian religion, and worst of all, it reflects their own hearts. But what I find particularly shocking is how little has mainstream Christianity done to unmask and fight these televangelists. The preacher in the following video is one of the few who say it like it is. Watch the video:

The biggest reason for people being misled is that the Christian religion has created a system of performers, in the form of clergy and preachers, and a passive audience warming the pews. This audience do not take an active role in searching for truth, learning the Bible, or asking God to guide them, but rely on others to show them the way. Instead, we should all maintain a direct, undistorted relationship with God totally discarding the intermediaries; and study the Bible using logic and reason to understand what God is trying to say through this. Trust God, not man.

England has a law that requires claims of healing and other supernatural phenomena to be verified before being broadcast. The United States should enact a similar law and use the IRS to regulate what they do. The U.S. congress should also enact some laws to protect the public from these professional deceivers. At present, churches are exempted from disclosing their finances, so anything goes with impunity. Most of these televangelists do not release any type of financial information. They do not want any one to know what they do with the contributions and donations received by the ministry. That tax-exempt status is simply wonderful.

The following link will take you to a list with the 30 most honest and reliable Christian ministries, according to ministry watch, where you can send your donation with peace of mind:

http://www.ministrywatch.com/mw2.1/pdf/SL_Top30.pdf

If you want information about any specific televangelist, you could make a Google search with the name of the preacher or tv network and any related words, like “false preacher” or “fraud”. Try educating yourself and others about these televangelists. In the end, it is your money, it is your health, and it is your relationship with God.

The following is a small list of televangelists, who live the life of the rich and famous. But the list could be endless. There is also a group of links with information about how they have spent your money:

Paul and Jan Crouch
– They are the owners of Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest faith based broadcaster network in the world. This is a $4 billion operation “and yet they are still begging for money”, although they live like kings. The Los Angeles Times has reported that their combined salary is nearly $800,000. TBN has posted surpluses averaging nearly $60 million a year since 1997. Its balance sheet for 2002, the most recent available according to the Times investigation, lists net assets of $583 million, including $238 million in Treasury bonds and other government securities and $31 million in cash. TBN collects more than $120 million a year from viewers of its Christian programming — more than any other TV ministry. TBN owns an airplane worth $7 million and two mansions whose combined worth is $10 million, a mountain retreat in Lake Arrowhead, Calif.; a ranch in Texas; and at least 30 other homes. Such figures have prompted questions about why the network continues to plead for contributions. But no mention is ever made of the ministry’s flush finances. A central element of the prosperity gospel is that no one is too poor or too indebted to donate. Do they really want your money? Watch the video, hear it yourself:

In 1998, a former TBN employee, Enoch Lonnie Ford, was paid $425,000 for agreeing not to publicize Mr. Ford’s allegations that he and TBN founder Paul Crouch had a homosexual affair years earlier. Questions still remain regarding the source of those funds. On March 23, 2007, ABC’s 20/20 also reported on the luxurious lifestyle led by Trinity Broadcasting Network’s leaders Paul and Jan Crouch. With such record, how honest and pure can the televangelists that TBN hosts be? Well, as you will see they are not:

Randy and Paula White
– They are the founders and pastors of Without Walls, a nondenominational church. The newspaper Tampa Tribune reported that Without Walls took in $35 million in tithes and offerings last year (2006), according to a recent audit by Lewis, Birch & Ricardo CPAs. How much of the revenue goes to the Whites, the couple won’t say. The audit lists more than $5.5 million in salaries for 2006. They travel in a $1.9 million business jet. They own a home they purchased for $2.1 million and a $3.5 million Trump Tower condo in New York. They believe in appearances. Both the Whites have undergone cosmetic surgery, seeming to grow younger over the past five years. “We’re on television, and you’ve got to look the part,” Randy said. Yes, and they are on the news too. Watch this video:

In his autobiography, “Without Walls,” and on a 2002 Web profile, Randy said he enrolled at the former Lee College in Cleveland, Tenn., and earned a bachelor’s degree in ministerial studies and a master’s in divinity. He said he was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va. Representatives from both schools said he did not receive degrees there, though Lee confirmed he took two classes. According to documents Randy gave the Tribune in April, he received a doctorate of humane letters from Commonwealth Assistance Foundation Institute of International Studies in Alexandria, Va., in May 1993. An in-depth Internet search found no mention of the school. There is no telephone listing for it. …Liar!

Joyce Meyer – According to a 2003 series in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, her ministry spent $4 million from 1999 to 2003 on five homes for the Meyer family. The ministry pays for all utilities, maintenance and landscaping costs. Joyce and Dave live in the largest house, $2 million, 10,000 square-foot property with a large fountain, gazebo, private putting green, pool, poolhouse and an independently cooled garage. Meyer told the Post-Dispatch that with her being on the road most of the time, she doesn’t have time to take care of maintenance issues herself. Yes, she is on the road making lots of money, watch this video:

Dr. Mike Murdock – (Extracted from investigative articles by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) Mike Murdock Ministry documents show that several individual donors give thousands of dollars. Murdock urges people watching his TV program, Wisdom Keys, to sacrifice by giving money to his ministry even if they cannot afford to do so. He says God will provide. He also asks them to send specific dollar amounts, such as $58. Many do just that. In December 2003, more than 60 checks written for $58 were returned to the ministry because the donors’ checking accounts had too little money to cover them. Other months reviewed showed similar returned checks. Is he sacrificing too? Nope, he lives a life of luxury. He wears a $25000 Rolex, owns a private jet, likes fast cars, expensive jewelry, and lives in a estate with exotic animals, which includes a lion and a camel. According to Randy Foret (ex-general manager for the ministry), after the articles by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram came out questioning the spending practices of the Mike Murdock Evangelistic Association, Murdock started a church to avoid public scrutiny of the ministry’s finances through the tax exempt status. As a church , its spending is kept secret. Good move Mike! No more uncomfortable questions to answer. He showed wisdom there, although the title of doctor is honorary, given by the International Seminary in Florida. In reality, Murdock dropped out of Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie in 1966.

David and Barbara Cerullo –
(Extracted from investigative articles by the Charlotte Observer) David brings home more than $1.5 million a year, making him the best-paid leader of any religious charity tracked by watchdog groups. His salary dwarfs those of executives leading far larger religious nonprofits. David and Barbara Cerullo live in a 12,000 square-foot lakefront home in south Charlotte – complete with an elevator and an 1,100-square-foot garage. Their home, in a gated community, is valued at $1.7 million, real estate records show. At a time when Inspiration Networks has been cutting jobs, freezing wages and even adjusting the office thermostat to save money.

Jimmy Swaggart –
In 1988 Swaggart pictures were taken of him with a prostitute. He issued a lengthy on-air apology for his actions and even cried on television. The best part about that confession is that he never mentioned exactly what the crime was. The photographs had been taken as a result of a rivalry with fellow TV Evangelist Marvin Gorman, who had been defrocked shortly after being accused of immorality by Swaggart. In 1991 again he was stopped by police in a car with another prostitute. They never learn!

Peter Popoff – was a self-proclaimed faith healer. He was exposed as a fraud when it was discovered that his healing was part of an elaborately staged setup including planting audience members. Skeptic James Randi visited a show and discovered radio transmissions of Popoff’s wife, Elizabeth, off-stage reading information which she and her aides had gathered from earlier conversation with members of the audience. Popoff would simply listen to these promptings with his in-ear receiver and repeat what he heard to the crowd. After tapes of these transmissions were played on The Tonight Show, Popoff’s popularity and viewing audiences declined sharply, and his ministry declared bankruptcy later that year.

Robert Tilton - In 1991, Diane Sawyer and ABC News conducted an investigation of Tilton (as well as two other Dallas-area televangelists, W.V. Grant and Larry Lea). The investigation, spearheaded by Trinity Foundation president Ole Anthony and broadcast on ABC’s Primetime Live on November 21, 1991, found that Tilton’s ministry threw away prayer requests without reading them, keeping only any money or valuables sent to them by viewers, garnering his ministry an estimated $80 million a year.

Some good links to learn about these people:

Read an article about Joel Osteen by clicking here

http://www.trinityfi.org/investigations/list_investigations.html

http://www.ministrywatch.com/mw2.1/H_Home.asp

http://home.earthlink.net/~19ranger57/halosham.htm

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/fprophets.html

http://www.rickross.com/groups/tv_preachers.html

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