Paul Crouch was undoubtedly a scoundrel whose Christian broadcasting empire took in millions for him, his wife, Jan and his entire family. With his passing, will the era of chicanery end?
It may be sinful to speak ill of the recently deceased, but if it is, then a host of writers and journalists on religion are indeed very, very sinful (including myself).
Paul Crouch was an inveterate con man who preyed upon the religiously gullible for profit, and he (and his infamously cotton-candy-haired wife, Jan) showed his contempt for his "flock" by openly living a life so garish, so lavish, that Jesus would have wept when His name was intoned.
And He would have wept constantly for the last forty years.
But They Needed It ALL!
It was a scene that America thought it had left with the tragic soap opera of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker: over-the-top spending by ministry moguls frought with sex scandals: Paul and Jan Crouch agonized over which of their many mansions to live in at the same time. You see, they hadn't lived together for years. They just sang together and swindled together - in the name of God.
But they needed those houses, the private jets - and even the 100k mobile home for the dogs, you see, because they'd been given a mission from God to obtain the most ridiculous accumulation of televangelist wealth in history.
Sarah Posner (Religion Dispatches):
"Crouch built the network from one station in the 1970s to a global empire featuring a 24-hour menu of health and wealth gospel, preying on the gullible to turn their money over to televangelists to receive God's blessing.
"[Douglas] Wead, who developed an extensive list of influential evangelicals with whom he wanted 1988 Bush presidential primary campaign to connect, had first-hand knowledge of the Crouches' world. Yet he recognized the potential downside of Bush being seen with Crouch, whom he described as an "exaggeration of the most bizarre manifestation of the peculiar evangelical subculture." He advised the vice-president not to appear for a televised interview with Crouch. But he staged such an interview himself, using the tagline "correspondent Doug Wead," coaxing Bush to exhibit his faith in Jesus Christ for the TBN audience.
Hey, That Cotton Candy Do Costs A Lot!
The list of the Crouch family mega-mansions is too long to list here, but suffice it to say that their total worth could feed Sierra Leone for a year. Add to that TWO jets and salaries neighboring in the millions, well, you get the picture. During most of his tenure at TBN, Paul Crouch sat on what looked to the viewers to be a gold throne befitting an emperor of Christian broadcasting.
And according to granddaughter, Brittany Koper (also TBN's former finance director), the regal lifestyle extended to:
- Mr. and Mrs. Crouch have his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community here, provided by the network using viewer donations and tax-free earnings.
- Mrs. Crouch, 74, mostly lives in a large company house near Orlando, Fla., where she runs a side business, theHoly Land Experience theme park. Mr. Crouch, 78, has an adjacent home there too, but rarely visits. Its occupant is often a security guard who doubles as Mrs. Crouch's chauffeur."
- One $4m jet and another $48 jet.
- Matching homes for son Matt's children that included an indoor basketball court.
Besides the "outing" of his financial chicanery and lavish overspending, Crouch had the ubiquitous scandal concerning sexual harassment of a male TBN employee. It was "settled out of court" for about $450k.
Ironically, the most notable "tributes" to Crouch after his passing came from prosperity preachers and scam artists Creflo Dollar and Benny Hinn as well as "mega-ministry preachers" from all over the country.
He was, after all, their gold standard.
Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books " Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most interesting people of our time: Steve Allen, William F. Buckley, Alan Ginsburg, Armisted Maupin, Anne Rice, Grace Slick, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Patricia Nell Warren, and Betty White.
He is also an ordained minister in the ULC and has studied extensively on the subject of the Bible and homosexuality. Additional articles can be read on his blog, The Devil and Dan Vojir.
Future goals and activities: a new ministry focusing on reaching personal spiritual levels without the outside influence of proselytism or evangelism called The Church of the Inner Preacher. This ministry will be included in a new website The Devil and Dan Vojir.
Vojir's main goal: to root out hypocrisy in religion and politics. "If only one person is saved from being killed or bashed by inane bigotry, then I'll have accomplished what I was put on earth to do: To Live and Help Live."