95) The Corrupt Church…

Revelation 2:18-29

“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 

[Jan] Crouch was, perhaps, one of the most influential televangelists of the modern era.On television, she played the role of wife and mother, wearing elaborate outfits and outsized wigs and falsies; nodding along to her husband’s sermons, swaying to that idiosyncratic sound of Christian contemporary music and, of course, testifying about the good will of God.

“Momma Jan” was part of a multi-billion dollar empire. With her husband Paul Crouch, Jan founded Trinity Broadcast Network (now called TBN) in 1973, the 24-hour network dedicated to a particular kind of Christian programming. Crouch and her husband, long-time hosts of Praise the Lord, were the very memorable faces of “prosperity gospel,” a controversial brand of Evangelical Christianity that has a laser focus on “give and you will receive.” TBN, and the Crouches, raked in millions of dollars as they solicited donations from their sleek television sets while enacting a kind of contemporary worship…

During one telethon, [Paul] Crouch, 70, told viewers that if they did their part to advance the Kingdom of God — such as by donating money to TBN — they should not be shy about asking God for a reward.

“If my heart really, honestly desires a nice Cadillac … would there be something terribly wrong with me saying, ‘Lord, it is the desire of my heart to have a nice car … and I’ll use it for your glory?’ “ Crouch asked. “I think I could do that and in time, as I walked in obedience with God, I believe I’d have it.”

The paper estimated that TBN took in roughly $120 million in annual donations (all tax-exempt). Jan, too, reaped the rewards. By 2012, Jan Crouch was living in a $5.6 million house in Orlando, Florida (her husband lived in an adjacent mansion on the same property)…The New York Times documented the Crouches’ internal family feuds over money and corruption alleged to be at the heart of TBN’s prosperity gospel.

Jan “Momma” Crouch, the 78-year-old founder and Vice President of Trinity Broadcasting Network, died after a massive stroke this week, two years following the death of her husband and co-founder, Paul Crouch…

Jan Crouch and later her husband Paul, who together built a round-the-clock religious television station that would bring them the fame and wealth that God promises for preachers of the prosperity gospel, a brand of Christianity which teaches followers that Jesus wants them to be rich, and for which the Crouches are at least partly responsible.

As a testament to the gospel’s power, Jan Crouch has testified over the years to a number of other-worldly wonders: Her debilitating depression was healed by a late-night dream where Jesus laughed uncontrollably; Her glaucoma was cured by watching a religious program on her own channel; And she aced a driver’s test and beat cancer—without studying or chemotherapy—all because of her faith in God.

Still perhaps the biggest miracle of all is the success of TBN itself.

The Crouches were part of a swell of colorful Christian fundamentalists that moved their ministries out of the traditional church and onto the nation’s televisions in the 1980’s. Alongside Pat Robertson, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Oral Roberts, Momma and Papa Crouch, as they were known, bestowed upon eager audiences their God-given Charismatic gifts: performing on-air miracles and healing the sick, interpreting God’s word and always, always, asking for money, for their mission: “to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.”

The network is still around after 43 years. If fact, the TBN reach has spread to 22 countries and now beams into 100 million households. The Crouches each earned an over-$400,000 annual salary for their work and an off-the-books extravagant lifestyle all paid for by semi-annual pledge drives called Praise-a-thons, and nearly constant pleas for donations as a show of faith—calls that the mostly southern, low-income TBN viewers have heeded in droves.

Sex scandals are merely crumbs from the table of a lawsuit filed this week against Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, which includes allegations that founders Paul and Jan Crouch

  • fetched a $50 million jet through a “sham loan to an alter ego corporation”
  • a $100,000 motor home was purchased for Jan’s pooches
  • attorneys, who perform legal work for Trinity, unlawfully distributed more than $50 million to the company’s directors
  • Koper, the former chief financial officer, director of finance, corporate treasurer and director of human resources for the company, accuses attorney David C. Loe of sexually assualting her on multiple occasions in front of witnesses, including grabbing her breasts during a business meeting to “see how they feel” 
  • Trinity wanted somebody “within the family” who would keep its financial “skeletons” safely in the “closet.”
  • destruction of evidence concerning a bloody sexual assault involving Trinity and its affiliated Holy Land Experience employees
  • cover-up of Jan Crouch’s affair with a staff member at the Holy Land Experience
  • cover-up of director Paul Crouch’s use of Trinity funds to pay for a legal settlement with Enoch Lonnie Ford, the the former Trinity employee who claims he had a homosexual affair with Paul Crouch
  • cover-up following Matthew Crouch’s [he’s also a director] exposure of his genitals to cleaning staff on multiple occasions
  • under-the-table payments to avoid liability and punitive damages in the ongoing David Rhodes wrongful death suit
  • multiple residential estates [including ones in Newport Beach and Miami] falsely reported as guest homes or church parsonages to “avoid income disclosures”,
  • meal expenses up to $500,000 for each of the company’s directors
  • “multiple backchannel distributions, kickbacks, and related schemes, such as tens of millions of dollars distributed through a company owned by TBN director Matthew Crouch, called Gener8xionEntertainment…”
  • In addition to Fido’s motor home, the suit alleges that Trinity directors unlawfully received and did not report multiple vehicles, including “the latest Bentley recently purchased by Trinity Broadcasting for director Paul Crouch, Sr.; the most recent Denali purchased by Trinity Broadcasting for director Janice Crouch; a new Suburban recently purchased by Trinity Broadcasting for director Matthew Crouch; and numerous other vehicles…”

Carra Crouch said that in 2006, at age 13, she was sexually assaulted in an Atlanta hotel room by a 30-year-old Trinity employee. When she told her grandmother, Jan Crouch blamed her for what happened and never reported the incident to police, Carra Crouch alleged.

On Monday, the jury awarded Carra Crouch $2 million for her years of emotional trauma and future suffering, finding that Jan Crouch’s response caused outrageous harm.

But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

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