I have a question for you. What is worse than day time television with it’s numerous judge shows, them cackling female gossipers known as, “The View” and the assorted, “You are NOT the father” nonsense garbage programs? Perhaps you’d say late night television with its infomercials about getting rich from sending in all your loose gold – or how that guy with the wacky jacket and glasses can get the government to fund all of your ideas. What about the latest Chuck Norris workout – or perfect ball that will make your abs look like Michael Phelps for two installments of $19.99?
If you get too bored day or night you can always turn on one of the Law And Order/ SVU/ Missing Persons, CSI, DNA, CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN and FOX detective shows. I mean are they ever NOT on? Don’t even get me started on Lifetime. They won’t even use the script unless the righteous woman is trying to avoid some obsessive jerk who wants to steal her money and kill her family. “If I can’t have you Barbara, nobody can!”
All of these pale in comparison however, to my favorite ridiculous TV program of all time; The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) fundraising programs. Now this is entertainment at its finest. First let me give you a little history. TBN, what I now call the “Takin Bank Network” was founded by Paul and Jan Crouch, as well as Jim and Tammy Bakker back in 73.
According to Wikipedia: TBN generates nearly $200 million in revenue annually. The network does not make its finances available and Crouch family members control the boards of all TBN entities, which makes Trinity “ineligible to join” the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an evangelical self-regulating group. It does not air commercials (excluding TBN Italy); rather, two-thirds of its revenue comes from viewer contributions and one-third from other televangelists’ payments for running their programming. Its $120 million donation revenue is larger than any other television ministry. It has posted average annual surpluses since 1997 of about $60 million. It holds two week-long fundraising telethons (known as ‘Praise-a-Thons’) per year, as well as numerous other solicitation drives. It maintains a direct mail database of 1.2 million names.
As of 2002, TBN boasted $583 million in assets, including $238 million in government-backed securities and $31 million in cash. Also among its assets are a $7.2 million Canadair Turbojet and thirty houses in California, Texas and Ohio with values ranging up to $8 million. The elder Crouches and their son Paul Jr. earn an estimated combined annual income of $900,000. In September 2004, the Los Angeles Times characterized their personal lifestyle as a “life of luxury.” According to Charity Navigator, TBN earned $188,152,079 in 2007 and has a 2 out of 4 star rating (47%).
In June 2007, TBN purchased the bible-themed adventure park Holy Land Experience for $37 million. The Orlando, FL based theme-park was in a slump with falling ticket sales and a reported $8 million debt when TBN purchased it. In October nearly 100 employees were cut from the payroll.
With that as a backdrop – I was flipping the channels when I saw one of the Marketing Preacher Reps (MPRs) Bishop Clarence E. McClendon (aka. Al B. Sure) making his pitch for people to call their toll free number to pledge them dollars. He talked about how the economy was going down but that God’s economy was still strong and that The Almighty would give the TV audience money if they gave these multi-millionaires their hard earned loot. Bishop B. Sure was “night and day” quoting scripture after scripture, using his most traditional Southern Baptist theatric tone as he jerked and soared as if the spirit was taking over his body riling up the audience. Then came the highlight of the rant! He said, “You just don’t know what happens in hell when you call the number and pledge your financial support. God magnifies the ring!” Huh? You mean to tell me that God is broadcasting the sounds of the phones ringing at the TBN offices in hell so as to gloat to Satan and his little demons? Yep! That’s what he said.
Bishop B.Sure isn’t the only one – when he’s not on there shuffling and jiving, there are others like Juanita Bynum, Rod Parsley, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, and other heavy hitter big name MPRs. They go on the program and appear before the television audience to get all deep, mystical, and spiritual as they give you reason after reason why you need to invest your dollars into their coffers – even if you are broke! It’s not as if they are not already a billion dollar industry. Still in all, while hundreds of thousands of jobs are being lost every month, they want to make sure they get their grubby hands on what little you have left.
I am a firm believer in supporting local ministries especially when they are available to giving back. Try asking “Takin Bank Network” for help the next time your gas is about to get shut off or if there is no food on the plate. The most you’ll get is a prayer and some more junk mail asking for donations.
I couldn’t stomach Bishop B. Sure any longer. I had to finish with some serious informative and educational programming. I watched the last few minutes of the Arizona Cardinals beating the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. I hear the Devil was watching the football game too. Though there was no word on whether he could hear the sound with all that ringing noise going on.