Saturday, December 29, 2007
Christian Marketing and Redeeming the Fallen
Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa has launched a senate probe into TV ministries. He’s asked for financial records from six major televangelists including Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn.
The senator is questioning the ministers’ spending practices for possible abuses of their tax-exempt status. Some of those elaborate sets with the gold “thrones” seemed a bit over the top to me. Yet, the very scope of the inquiry has been attacked as too broad. Grassley has been quoted as saying that the investigation “has nothing to do with church doctrine” and that he wants to make sure the organizations are following the law.
However, I suppose the timing of the advertising insert for “Morningside, A Place of Refuge” couldn’t have been worst for one Branson, Missouri, televangelist you may recall and the Branson developer, Jerry Crawford, working with him. A four-page color advertisement for this new venture appeared in the Dec. 28, 2007, Springfield News-Leader. The AP story about Sen. Grassley’s investigation was on page 9A and the advertisement for this new planned community was tucked among ads for JC Penney after Christmas sales and DirectTV promotions.
Crawford, a supporter from Bakker’s old days of The PTL Club, had encouraged the fallen televangelist to come to Branson, and Bakker and his second wife, Lori, are building a TV ministry here. Perhaps the “Gospel of Prosperity” theology once associated with Bakker has been exchanged, and the years he served in prison for fraud have molded a new and redeemed man. But one thing hasn’t changed. Bakker hasn’t lost his love for televangelism.
Will the new venture, Morningside, evolve into something similar to Heritage USA, once the third-largest theme park in the U.S.? It’s too early to say but the ground has been broken and the development is under way in Blue Eye, Missouri.