I’m conflicted about Trinity Broadcast Network, which wrapped up its Fall Praise-A-Thon today.
There is no denying that “America’s most-watched faith and family friendly network,” as TBN advertises itself, provides a service to the Christian faithful.
I, for one, appreciate the platform it provides for such pastors as Ken Copeland, Charles Stanley, John Hagee, Ed Young Sr., David Jeremiah and Joel Osteen.
I also enjoy the praise and worship music it presents from such Christian artists as Chris Tomlin, Paul Baloche, Michael W. Smith, Israel Houghton, Martha Munizzi and Cindy Cruse Ratcliff.
Yet, my soul is troubled by news reports of what goes on behind the scenes of the network founded 39 years ago by Paul and Jan Crouch:
A bitter division within the Crouch family that belies the happy front 78-year-old Paul and 74-year-old Jan, and son Matthew and wife Laurie, put on while hosting TBN’s Praise-A-Thon this past week.
Lavish spending by “Papa” and “Mama,” as Paul and Jan are called on air, which might be acceptable for a billionaire couple like Bill and Melinda Gates, but not for a putative Christian couple that has spent the past week encouraging its viewers to “plant of seed” with TBN of $100 or $1000 or more if they desire God’s favor.
This past Spring, Brittany Crouch Koper, the 26-year-old granddaughter of Paul and Jan Crouch, went public with allegations of scandalous, decidedly unGodly behavior within the Crouch family.
That includes, she said, the family’s cover-up of a “bloody sexual assault,” as well as infidelities by both Mama and Papa Crouch, and repeated incidents in which Uncle Matt Crouch exposed his genitals to TBN cleaning staff.
Equally damning were allegations by Brittany, who served as TBN’s finance director, of unscrupulous financial practices by the non-profit Christian enterprise.
Indeed, Mama and Papa Crouch have his-and-her $5.6 million mansions one street apart in Newport Beach, California. Mama spends little time at her SoCal estate because she’s usually at a huge TBN-owned home in Orlando – where she oversees the company’s Holy Land Experience theme park – which is adjacent to a similarly lavish home there Papa uses on his rare visits to the Sunshine State.
The Crouches travel back and forth across the country, and around the world, in TBN jets valued at $8 million and $49 million apiece. The Christian TV network also owns a Bentley, which Papa Crouch sometimes uses to get from place to place.
“People have been conned by my grandparents,” said Britany, who is estranged from the Crouch family along her dad, Paul Jr., who used to host both “Praise the Lord” and “Behind the Scenes” TBN’s flagship programs, before parting ways with his parents last year.
Now, there’s little dispute that Paul and Jan Crouch have done a great work in growing TBN over the past four decades, from renting a couple hours a day on a small SoCal television station back in 1973 to overseeing the vast broadcasting empire network TBN is today.
But “Papa” and “Mama” must well know, from reading the Bible, that their works, however great that may be, are as “filthy rags” in the eyes of God.