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TV Evangelists & Co.

©01 The Media Desk

     The TV/Radio preachers have been crying about how their ministries are loosing members and going broke. Some... not all, but most of them anyway, are belly-aching like third graders denied ice cream at dinner unless they eat their turnip greens.

     They are puzzled. They bemoan the fact that their outfits have lost their political muscle even with GW in the Oval Office who has proclaimed publicly that he is some brand of Methodist or other.

     They are confused. Society is shifting ever so slightly and ever so slowly back to the Right. Post modern humanism (a new age term for wacky religions) has lost steam and people are coming back to more traditional churches. But old members are refusing to send in their dues and new members say things about how they'd rather be a Hare Krishna than join their outfit.

     They are concerned. Wringing their hands about how they are not bringing in the millions of dollars that had filled their war chests, and pockets.

     They shouldn't be if they listened to their own shows and the broadcasts of some of the others.
     The simple fact is, they have gone off on a tangent bashing Christians until their listeners have decided they really don't have to pay for the privilege of hearing it.

     Let me say that again in case your jaw is in your lap and your brain is refusing to accept what your eyes just read.

     The broadcast evangelists have cut their own purse strings by going off on literal air strikes against their own listeners.
     Not long ago every single broadcast show on one radio station, for almost three weeks running, did nothing but blame Christian men for every ill in the homes of their families.
     Another station last month had a commentator who as much as said repeatedly for a week that Christians had done the moral equivalent of running off to the casinos trying to make money in the stock market and now God was paying them back for their sin.
     One of the more famous of the radio folk and erstwhile Christian Right leader has strained his own co-host's patience and ability with his increasingly irrelevant blathering and finger pointing.
     On the TV side. Benny Hinn did as much to sink that ship as Howard Stern could ever do. Turn on Trinity Broadcasting and check out the million dollar sets, the three hundred dollar hairdos, and the two-thousand dollar outfits. Then listen to them beg for money.
     I've got to mention the guy that comes on the radio on a couple of local stations and literally cries once a day over the evil he sees in his own people. Then the announcer comes on to sell his books and tapes.

     If all you did was listen and watch these people, you'd think the religious community of America was no better than the Latin Kings street gang, but with better hair.

     They wonder why they're going broke?

     I wonder why they haven't had to get real jobs like the rest of us.
     Nobody wants or deserves to be beaten over the head constantly with how disgusting they are. If they are listening or watching this stuff they are unlikely to be drug-dealing scum to begin with. If all you've got to say is how nasty the people listening are, how much trouble their kids are in, how close their marriage is to breaking up, and the depths of the depravity they are wallowing in, don't be surprised they haven't sent in this months donation and ordered your latest tape set on how to buy Christian Time Shares in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
     The last mailing I got from a national ministry is a good example. The lead story was about a guy that had worked with several ministries and watched them fall apart from the inside as the figurehead aged and began drooling on himself. Then the current aging leader said a bit about how he's not stepping down any time soon.
     Nowhere in scripture does it say the leader of the local church is to cling to power with all his might until he gasps his last. In fact, Paul instructed Timothy and others in exactly the opposite. Training the next generation, instructing the younger folk, passing the torch.
     Could it be that human pride (I didn't say greed, power tripping, egotism, personal agendas) gets in the way and prevents some of these people from seeing that indeed their time has past? They've said all they have to say and are now just blustering on like a Rush Limbaugh with a Bible? Maybe the course of their message has been run and now they should go fishing. When the Old Testament prophets had said their piece, they retired to the country. Probably with good reason.
     Maybe some of them still have something to say. Maybe Dr. Dobson could advise the new mouthpiece from the last seat in the last pew. Maybe he could go on the lecture circuit and make an impression on Divinity school students one on one, in small groups, in the churches and classrooms instead of on TV and the Radio.
     Maybe that's where the personality cult aspect of some of these organizations comes in. God ceases to be the headliner and they put the man's name first. So and So's Revival and Sideshow. The Ministry is left behind, the National Rally becomes an ego polishing dance for Pat Robertson instead of pushing the Conservative Cause. "Join our ministry as a sustaining member and he'll send you an autographed picture of himself." Let me find my checkbook.
     That's a hard thing to give up. The lights, the crowds, the adoring fans. Just ask the Rolling Stones.

     But this isn't about promoting your latest album. Or is it?

     Air conditioned doghouses are as hard to give up as having a Mercedes to drive to work and a Lexus to drive home. Does a preacher need a Rolex? Is there any doubt why the IRS looks at these outfits with a jaded eye and brings in a busload of lawyers to shake them down once in awhile? "You charge WHAT for a book?"
     But still, it's a sad thing when you hear a respected leader, a man whose has forgotten more than you will ever know, get stuck in imbecile gear and jabber until he has to take a breath and then his co-host cuts in to preview upcoming shows.
     It's a shame a national ministry can't force the retirement of its leader. A coup de tat to forcibly pass the torch. Mutiny at the pulpit. An insurrection by the deacons or lieutenants or whatever.

     Yes, deacons.... This happens on the local church level too, as well as the Moral Majority. But that's another write up. This is about the condition of various national and even global scale ministries.

     Maybe if the treasurer of one of these huge organizations gets a foreclosure notice on their weekend retreat on the lake the figurehead will get pulled into one of those meetings with a lot of unsmiling people in dark business suits and then...

The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
Philippians 1:17-19


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