Founder of Trinity Broadcasting network, Paul Crouch dies
Known for flamboyant personal style and lavish lifestyle, Crouch dies of undisclosed circumstances at 79
In a world where the church is now planning greater outreach to the poor, televangelist Paul Crouch now appears to be a relic of a bygone age. The founder of the world's largest evangelical TV network, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Crouch was known for his flamboyant style, bubbly wife and co-host Jan Crouch and his lavish lifestyle. He's died of undisclosed circumstances at the age of 79.
The nightly talk show "Praise the Lord," hosted by the silver-haired Paul Crouch and his flamboyantly coiffed wife Jan was broadcast from an Orange County studio decorated with stained-glass windows, gilded imitation antiques and plush pews for the audience.
Affiliated with the Assemblies of God, Crouch been trying to spread the Gospel through a small television station in Tustin. After his message from God, he bought more television stations, then piled on cable channels and satellites. The end result was the world's largest Christian television system: the Trinity Broadcasting Network, or TBN.
Crouch had been hospitalized in October when he became ill with heart issues during a visit to a TBN station in Colleyville, Texas. Crouch had since returned to California. His immediate family has not disclosed the circumstances surrounding his death on Saturday.
Not the first Christian TV network, as televangelist Pat Robertson had launched the Christian Broadcast Network 10 years previously, TBN far surpassed similar networks in scope and ambition, bringing the word of God to a global audience of millions.
Crouch, the son of a poor missionary was known for preaching a gospel of prosperity. His twice-yearly telethons generated as much as $90 million a year in donations. The majority of donations were small amounts from lower-income Americans. "When you give to God," Crouch said, "you're simply loaning to the Lord and he gives it right on back."
To his credit, Crouch channeled much of the revenue into charity, funding soup kitchens, homeless shelters and an international humanitarian organization, Smile of a Child, founded by his wife, Jan.
Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, which helps minorities, women and other underrepresented communities own and operate TV and radio stations, received a helping hand from Crouch. He donated more than 150 low-power TV stations to the council in 2011.
TBN celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. The network is a 24-hour family of networks with something for nearly every evangelical Christian demographic, such as Biblical cartoons and soap operas, game shows, programs on fitness and faith healing, religious movies and late-night Christian rock videos.
The nightly talk show "Praise the Lord," hosted by the silver-haired Crouch and his flamboyantly coiffed wife Jan was broadcast from an Orange County studio decorated with stained-glass windows, gilded imitation antiques and plush pews for the audience.
Crouch and his wife also had access to TBN's multimillion-dollar private jets and more than two dozen ministry-owned homes. His granddaughter Brittany Koper, who had been the network's finance director, went public with detailed allegations of fiscal improprieties in 2012. Koper came forward with documentations of excessive salaries, four-figure expense-account meals and a $100,000 mobile home for Jan Crouch's dogs paid with tax-exempt donations. Her sister, Carra Crouch, who said she was raped by a TBN employee said she was forced by her family to cover up the crime.
It was just one of many allegations that dogged Crouch. In 2004, Crouch was accused of paying a former employee $425,000 to keep quiet about claims of a homosexual tryst. Crouch denied having sexual contact with the employee.
Crouch "has a mixed legacy," said, the evangelical graduate school in Pasadena.
"He has had a wonderful and profound influence on people's lives individually. His pioneering work with a new technology has been extremely influential. But that gets tarnished by some of the negative issues that damaged his reputation and hurt what I would call the cause of Christ," Kurt Fredrickson, associate dean of the doctor of ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary said. "I know too many people who turn on TBN because it's as good as 'Saturday Night Live' sometimes. They say, 'Wow, this is just so outlandish' or 'I wish I had a gold throne.' They're intrigued by the side-showness of it."
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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