Paul Crouch, Founder of TBN/Titan of American Christianity, Dead

Crouch, in the Holy Land, with his Gospel
Crouch, in the Holy Land, with his Gospel

Word is spreading around Christendom that Paul Crouch, the Missouri native who moved to Southern California with his wife Jan to create Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest Christian television network in the world, has passed away at age 79. He had been hospitalized recently for heart problems.

The news was announced by his grandson, Brandon Crouch, on Twitter.

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Southern Californians knew Crouch and his big-haired wife for decades for their histrionics on Channel 40 (or was it 44? Or 46?) and their continued demand for viewers to give them money in what's known as the prosperity gospel, the idea that God will give money to those who give money. And Orange Countians will forever know TBN for their garish headquarters just across South Coast Plaza (the one that had "Happy Birthday Jesus!" in lights 365 days a year forever), a marriage of God and Mammon no Hollywood screenwriter could ever imagine. It's this garishness that made it easy for the public to dismiss Crouch's influence, but he will go down in the history of Christianity as someone as crucial to spreading the Gospel worldwide as fellow OCer Charles E. Fuller--for Fuller, of course, it was radio, while Crouch found his success with TV.

Of course, like his fellow recently deceased OC Christianity titan Chuck Smith, Crouch was also an ass of a man.

 

While Crouch tried to pass himself off as a kindly old grandfather, his profligate spending over the decades while constantly exhorting viewers--overwhelmingly working-class--to give more and more money (we can't emphasize this enough, just like him) was downright disgusting, and TBN's defense of on-air personality Steve Galiher, who got a wrist slap for driving while drunk on his way to TBN headquarters (in the process crashing into a Vietnam War vet who never recovered from his injuries) was simply vile. And who can forget the scandal unearthed by former Los Angeles Times reporter William Lobdell that essentially outed Crouch as a closet homosexual, a scandal so buried in OC court records as to essentially be unethical?

Crouch spent the last years of his life fighting off a lawsuit from his granddaughters alleging that TBN had become an incestuous, corrupt den of thieves. It's going to be one hell of a funeral, no?

Email: garellano@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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