Saturday, June 15, 2013

#598: Paul Crouch

The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) used to be the third most significant network in the Christian Broadcasting world (after Jim Bakker’s PTL and Pat Robertson’s CBN), though it advanced a couple of places when Bakker’s PTL took some familiar damage back in the days. TBN’s programs are mostly concerned with name-it-and-claim-it preachers and faith healing, and Paul Crouch is its monstrously insane pentecostal televangelist founder.

The TBN's most important program is probably “Praise the Lord”, which features several expensively-dressed evangelical preachers discussing obscure religious doctrine, how Jesus made them rich, and claims to the effect that Jesus was indeed wealthy himself and his disciples wore designer robes – one senses a certain dim awareness of the conflict between the prosperity gospel and religious doctrine, and the theology is pretty tortured. The viewers of “Praise the Lord” then send the preachers shitloads of money so that they (the viewers!) can get rich as well, though the rest of us tend to see the discrepancy between the goal and this particular strategy for achieving it. At TBN’s Praise-a-Thon telethon events, however, the agenda is more direct; in this case viewers are told that they will get their reward in heaven rather than in earthly lives.

TBN also owns and runs The Holy Land Experience, a particularly bizarre theme park (or, really, a chain of gift shops) devoted to showing you the Middle East from a fundie perspective; it was founded by the particularly insane and controversial Messianic Jew Marvin ‘Marv’ Rosenthal, but was taken over by TBN after Rosenthal experienced some financial troubles. The theme park was an important stop during Herman Cain’s 2012 campaign tour.

In 2012 TBN was the subject of some lawsuits e.g. from Paul Crouch’s own granddaughter. Paul and his son Matt reacted in interesting ways – “God help” anyone who gets in the way of TBN – and Paul claimed to have attended the funerals of two people who had tried. One wonders how many kneecaps Jesus and his “disciples” were breaking to pay for those designer robes, but I suppose it would be easy for Jesus and co. to extort protection money out of bronze age shepherds given how his Family had previously treated recalcitrant Pharaohs and pretty much anyone else standing in their way in the Old Testament.

As for other projects, Crouch himself has the production company Resurrection Pictures, which is supposedly behind the (still) forthcoming(?) movie “Creation” concerning the life of Kent Hovind, and Crouch himself wrote the “popular” End Times novel and subsequent movie The Omega Code.

Crouch rather suddenly resigned from Trinity in October 2011, but it was all left to his son who is also called Paul Crouch, which is very convenient since it means that we don’t have to create two separate entries.

Diagnosis: Some may argue that Crouch is a fraud, but if he isn’t he is certainly a loon. The two are not mutually exclusive.

[Note to readers in response to requests: we’ll keep an eye on Ted Cruz – a wingnut’s wingnut, to be sure, but thus far he has primarily exhibited dishonesty, bigotry and extremism, and for instance avoided clear commitments to denialism or critical thinking failures (that he thinks that “George Soros is in a conspiracy to prohibit golf courses” relies, strictly speaking, on an uncharitable interpretation).]

1 comment:

  1. I would suggest being very careful about classing Cruz as a wingnut. IMHO, he's actually much worse, namely a totally sociopathic demagogue who is said by his former professors and students who were contemporaneous with him at HLS to be absolutely brilliant. Think Joe McCarthy with brains.