Mark I. Pinsky, author and religion writer for The Orlando Sentinel, writing in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin:
“Faith and forbearance can sometimes be insurmountable barriers for religion journalists. When it comes to some true believers, I have learned, nothing you write that questions their idols seems to make any difference.
“I have been covering Trinity Broadcasting Network and its flamboyant founders, Paul and Jan Crouch, for nearly two decades. During that time, I have chronicled and investigated the inexorable rise of the world’s largest Christian media empire for newspapers on both coasts, in The Los Angeles Times and The Orlando Sentinel, as well as in chapters in several books.
“My detailed exposés in the Times have included the Crouches’ heavy-handed, corner-cutting, and even cutthroat dealings with fellow Christians, as well as disputes between Trinity and the Federal Communications Commission and evangelical trade groups like the National Religious Broadcasters. In part because of my reporting, Trinity withdrew from the NRB, and was stripped of its Miami television affiliate because of what the FCC charged was misrepresentation of minority ownership.
“I revealed dubious Trinity practices, like ordaining affiliate station managers (often Crouch relatives) in order for them to qualify for parsonage allowance tax breaks. Also, Paul Crouch’s practice of cozying up to third world military dictators like Guatemala’s Efraim Rios Montt, and puppets of the apartheid-era South African government, like General Bantu Holomisa of Transkei, in order to build television stations there.”
Pinsky got an interesting quote from Quentin Schultze, an author and faculty member at Calvin College. “Within conservative media ministries, criticism from outsiders often is seen as a badge of honor that validates a ministry’s righteousness,” Schultze said.
Excellent point, and I think that “criticism from outsiders” is seen as a badge of honor among numerous groups, whether their main thrust be religious, ideological, or political.
But Pinsky has much more to say about TBN and the Crouches than what I’ve shared above.
Read the full text of Pinsky’s outstanding article here.