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Religion - Power of the Pulpit
Religion - A Review of Televangelists
Religion is as old as man himself and the conversations about it have started many a war.
Today we have a different battle, it's the battle for your money. The use of the media for televangelists has stretched far beyond just preaching the word of God, it's used for highly profitable marketing of religion.
Since economic times are tough the theme being preached these days is Money: "plant a seed of $100.00 and your financial woes will be over," you know the pitch.
A brief history of televangelism
In 1934 the U.S. Congress passed the Communications Act which authorized the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to grant broadcast licenses. The license, in effect, is a monopoly to use a scarce commodity. In exchange for this monopoly, the station is obligated to broadcast "in the public interest." Religious broadcasting was considered one way of fulfilling a station's "public interest" obligation.
In 1960 all this changed. Under growing pressure from conservative groups, the FCC ruled that local stations could sell airtime for religious programs and still get "public interest" credit.
Evangelical groups lined up to buy commercial time on radio and TV, local stations began to cash in on the new demand and to sell time to the highest bidder.
Just before the FCC ruling took effect, only 53 percent of all religious broadcasting was paid-time. By 1977, paid-time religious broadcasting had risen to 92 percent. Since the mid-1970s, religious broadcasting has been firmly in the hands of the televangelists.
When Ronald Reagan became President in 1980, he brought about an almost complete deregulation of radio and TV. He did this by weakening the FCC to the point where it had very little real control.
He cut the number of FCC Commissioners from seven to five. He drastically reduced its budget. And he installed a Chairman who publicly proclaimed that "television is no different from a toaster." The rapid buying of stations by large networks centralized systems -- radio, TV, cable, and satellite which was monopolized by a few corporations..
Today there are some 1,600 "Christian" radio stations on the air, and 250 "Christian" TV stations. They blanket the nation.
The FCC should have long ago denied them their licenses to broadcast because they violated the "public interest rule", but they will not. They cannot, because the religious right has become so strong in the Congress and the Administration that it would be political suicide for any politician to challenge these stations.
It is no secret that some of the messengers have lived lives worse than most and have died from strokes, cancer, heart failure like mortal folks. Not all evangelists are frauds, but the ones that are cast a dark shadow over the group.
Joyce Meyer Compound
The Meyer Family Compound.
Joyce Meyer Ministries bought 5 homes for Meyer and her family (Information obtained from the Jefferson County Assessor's office).
The Ministry pays all expenses, including landscaping and lawn care, property taxes and rehab work. Meyer, her husband and each of their four married children live in the homes, free of charge.
1) Residence of: Joyce and Dave Meyer
Bought: April 27th, 1999
Purchase Price: About $795,000
Square Footage: 10,000
Cost of Improvements: $1.1 Million
Features: 6 Bedrooms, 5 Bathrooms, Gold Putting Green, Swimming pool, 8 Car Heated and Cooled Garage, Guest House with 2 more bedrooms, Gazebo.
2) Residence of: Daughter, Sandra McCollom and her husband Steve
Bought: February 12, 2002
Purchase Price: $400,000
Square Footage: About 5,000
Cost of Improvements: About $250,000
Features: 4 Bedrooms, 3 full and 2 half Bathrooms, All-Seasons room, Prayer Room, Media Center and a Home Office.
3) Residence of: Son, David Meyer and his wife Joy Meyer.
Bought: June 18, 2001
Purchase Price: $725,000
Square Footage: 4,000
Cost of Improvements: Unknown
Features: 2 Story Colonial, 4 Bedrooms, 2 1/2 Bathrooms, 2 Garages and a Utility Shed
4) Residence of: Daughter, Laura Holtzmann and her husband Doug
Bought: March 7, 2001
Purchase Price: $350,000
Square Footage: 2,358
Cost of Improvements: $3,000
Features: 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms with a Fireplace.
5) Residence of: Son, Dan Meyer and his wife Charity
Bought: Mar 13, 2000
Purchase Price: About 200,000
Square Footage: About 2,000
Cost of Improvements: $33,000
Features: Brick Ranch With Full Finished Basement
The Meyer Ministry Headquarters
It's always a controversial subject when it comes money, especially money used by a ministry.
We will let you form your own opinion about how money is used in this case and just state the facts according to the assessor's accounting of assets contained in the Meyer headquarters..
Here's a few highlights from the Jefferson County assessor's office.
- The building is decorated with religious paintings and sculptures, and quality furniture. Much of it, Meyer says, she selected herself.
- A Jefferson County assessor's list offers a glimpse into the value of many of the items: a $19,000 pair of Dresden vases, six French crystal vases bought for $18,500, an $8,000 Dresden porcelain depicting the Nativity, two $5,800 curio cabinets, a $5,700 porcelain of the Crucifixion, a pair of German porcelain vases bought for $5,200.
- The décor includes a $30,000 malachite round table, a $23,000 marble-topped antique commode, a $14,000 custom office bookcase, a $7,000 Stations of the Cross in Dresden porcelain, a $6,300 eagle sculpture on a pedestal, another eagle made of silver bought for $5,000, and numerous paintings purchased for $1,000 to $4,000 each.
- Inside Meyer's private office suite sit a conference table and 18 chairs bought for $49,000.
- The woodwork in the offices of Meyer and her husband cost the ministry $44,000.
- In all, assessor's records of the ministry's personal property show that nearly $5.7 million worth of furniture, artwork, glassware, and the latest equipment and machinery fill the 158,000-square-foot building.
- As of this summer, the ministry also owned a fleet of vehicles with an estimated value of $440,000. The Jefferson County assessor has been trying to get the complex and its contents added to the tax rolls but has failed.
- All expenses including property taxes, renovations, utilities are paid by the ministry.
What do you think?
Exposing The Faith Healer
Another interesting case is Peter Popoff.
You talk about resurrection. A while back a guy by the name of James Randi made the rounds to debunk a few of the televangelists that looked suspicious.
When you watch the video below you will see how the seemingly miraculous vision that Peter Popoff had about peoples problems was really not that miraculous.
Soon after he was exposed he filed bankruptcy,.
Now, sometime in 2007, Peter emerged from the ashes and went right back into the same old routine. We have short memories and must be as gullible as ever because these guys are raking in millions.
There are so many of these guys it's ridiculous, but even after being exposed they still rake in the money. What does that tell you about us?
Kerney Thomas is rather entertaining so we added him to the mix. The first clip is the real Kerney Thomas, the second clip is one we discovered with a comedic tone, and with a subject like this a little levity doesn't hurt.
Religion - The Players
So, as you can see religion is Big Business, faith and hope are also profitable commodities.
Some of the names in the following list may or may not be familiar to you. Some on the list have passed away, some have faded out of the picture due to scrutiny, and others continue to do what they do:
- Jim Bakker
- Juanita Bynum
- Creflo Dollar
- Jesse Duplantis
- Jerry Falwell
- Billy Graham
- Benny Hinn
- T.D. Jakes
- Eddie Long
- Joyce Meyer
- Sister Paula Nielsen - America's only transsexual televangelist
- Joel Osteen
- Oral Roberts
- Robert H. Schuller
- Jimmy Swaggart
- Robert Tilton - in the same era as Peter Popoff, was run off for a while
- Paula White
There you have it, a recap of where we are in the cycle of religious evolution.
There is no doubt that some evangelists are funneling money into good deeds, but there can be no argument that others take a portion of that money and use it for self serving desires (history has provided us with that evidence).
So, what all of us have to do is weigh the facts for ourselves and decide who and where you want to tithe, if this is your desire.
Evangelists are human, they are vulnerable to sin and we must take this into account when deciding where to donate and who to listen to. And the question is, in the end does it really matter anyway?