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LA Times details TBN's riches—and the theology that brought it

When the Los Angeles Timesbroke the news of allegations that TBN founder and president Paul Crouch had engaged in homosexual sex with an employee, several Weblog readers and friends expressed sorrow. The sadness was largely for Crouch and his accuser, but they were also sad that Crouch's leadership was being challenged because of unproven claims of a one-night stand—not because of his troubling theology, which he televises daily.

Los Angeles Times reporter William Lobdell seems to understand this, and in Friday's and Saturday's editions devoted far more space to Crouch's faith and finances (along with some business issues) than the paper did to the tryst allegations last week. While there are signs that a bit more care could have been used—an incorrect use of the word fundamentalist here, a misspelling of Pentecostal there—it's clear that Lobdell spent much time reporting these stories, trying to get the details correct.

Those details — including descriptions of several of the Crouches' spending sprees and 30 homes — are astounding. But the overall picture is one that's evident from anyone who has channel surfed past their "Praise the Lord" show. If one word had to describe TBN and the Crouches, it's opulence.

The numbers: Paul Crouch receives a $403,700 salary. His wife, Jan, gets $361,000. "Those are the highest salaries paid by any of the 12 major religious nonprofits whose finances are tracked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy," Lobdell notes.

The network nets about $60 million a year and has $583 million in assets. Viewers donate $120 million annually to TBN, and 70 percent of those donations amount to less than $50 each. However, ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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