UPDATE: Benny Hinn delivered an on-air statement about wife's divorce filing. Details below . . .
Staring into the camera with two TBN personalities by his side, televangelist Benny Hinn twice repeated that his wife of 30 years filing for divorce was not brought on by "immorality in my life or my wife's. EVER!"
Some observers believe the pastor was preparing the flock for damning allegations to come.
Judge for yourself here:
Hinn said he would "fight" to the end to protect the ministry he began 30 years ago no matter what, elicting "Amens" and "Praise Gods" from the fellows sitting across from him.
The pastor claimed there were "no biblical grounds" for his wife's divorce filing, adding that it totally surprised him, his and his wife's children and his wife's parents.
"I pray for our precious lord, Jesus Christ, to heal my family," he said.
He asked for prayers from the faithful, and revealed that he and his children are doing well.
"I will do everything I can as a dad to fulfill their destinies in God," Hinn said.
Creepy organ music could be heard playing gently in the background throughout the speech.
After completing his statement, Hinn granted the wish to speak by by one of his two friends. Appearing to be if not the Hair Club for Men president then at least one of its members, the man revealed that he has been around Hinn for 34 years and, "This man of God is clean. . . . [sic] Cleaned as a whistle. . . . Thank you and God for that kind of submittal for God."
Coupled with Hinn's previous immorality denial, it certainly seemed as if followers were being prepared for some big revelation.
Though he spoke softly and repeatedly mentioned that he still loves his estranged wife Suzanne Hinn, who filed for divorce Feb. 1 in Orange County Superior Court, the pastor spit out words as damning as those in the unsigned statement Benny Hinn Ministries released exactly one week ago.
"Pastor Benny Hinn and his immediate family were shocked and saddened to learn of this news without any previous notice. Although Pastor Hinn has faithfully endeavored to bring healing to their relationship, those efforts failed and were met with the petition for divorce that was filed without notice."
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Actually, it shouldn't have been a surprise, based on the actual court papers his wife filed. Citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split, they reveal the couple separated on Jan. 26 and note that Hinn lives separately in Dana Point while Suzanne and one of their daughters split time between Dana Point and Murrietta, where they reside with Suzanne's mother and another woman. The filing adds that Suzanne Hinn has been living this way for the past three years.
Binny Hinn Ministries is headquartered in Grapevine, Texas, but it operates a church and television studio in Aliso Viejo. The ministry website shows Hinn is scheduled to participate in the 5 p.m. March 1 taping of the TBN Telethon at the Costa Mesa Trinity Broadcasting Network studio of his televangeling pals, Paul and Jan Crouch. Hinn has been a TBN regular for years.
His "Miracle Crusades" include spiritual healings, and his advocacy of "prosperity gospel" has attracted millions of followers and hundreds of millions of dollars.
Watchdog groups have criticized Hinn for his lavish lifestyle, and he is one of six televangelists under investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) on the Senate Banking Committee over whether Benny Hinn Ministries complied with IRS rules for nonprofits.