Trinity Broadcasting celebrates 3,249 years of evangelistic success

Charisma magazine reports on the tremendous evangelistic success of Trinity Broadcasting Network:

TBN is reporting 36 million conversions to Christ in the past 40 years. The network says those reports have come through TBN’s prayer ministry, which has been hard at work alongside founders Paul and Jan Crouch from day one.

… In February of this year alone, TBN says its prayer partners received nearly 80,000 individual prayer requests and led more than 850 people in prayer for salvation or to renew their commitments to Christ.

Let’s do the arithmetic here: 36 million conversions in 40 years comes out to 75,000 per month. So either February was a horrifically slow month for TBN — with 74,150 fewer conversions than usual. Or else February was pretty typical, and the truth is that it will take TBN more than 3,000 years* to reach 36 million conversions at its current pace.

Something seems like it doesn’t add up.

Paul and Jan Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network.

The major fudge factor in TBN’s numbers is the customary weasel wording used by almost every “evangelistic ministry” that tallies and touts its soterian statistics. TBN’s claim wasn’t actually 850 “conversions” in February, but rather 850 people who came to “salvation or to renew their commitments to Christ.” In theory, then, this could all be one guy, calling in to TBN 850 times in February to constantly “renew his commitment to Christ.”

That phrase can be employed to refer to something meaningful, but in this context that’s unlikely. Anyone who has spent more than a year in the white evangelical subculture knows what “renewing their commitments to Christ” means here. It’s what happens when nobody comes forward at the altar call.

The preacher or evangelist standing up there in the pulpit realizes he’s talking to a room filled with life-long church-going Christians and not a single soul who hasn’t already been saved. So he starts to expand the scope of his invitation. First he challenges anyone who’s been “backsliding” to come forward and rededicate their life to Christ. And then he begins to widen the definition of “backsliding” to include those who have lost their “fire” for Christ. It keeps widening like that until he includes even those whose zealous devotion has never wavered, who are invited to come forward as a chance to reconfirm that faith publicly.

If that church seats 200 people, that goes down on the scorecard as “200 decisions for Christ.” Come back and do that at the same church with the same people in the Sunday evening service and now you’ve racked up “400 decision for Christ.” Do that 50 weeks a year and you can report “20,000 decisions for Christ” in your next fundraising letter — even if you’ve never spoken to, much less converted, a single non-Christian.

I’m not kidding. The population of the United States is around 313 million, but if you tally up all the “decisions for Christ” reported over the years by the thousands of evangelistic ministries in this country, you’ll get a number a lot higher than that.

This salvation inflation is pretty sleazy when its cited in those ministries’ fundraising newsletters. And it’s even sleazier when its cited as the trump card white evangelicals use to shield themselves from all criticism and to excuse any wrongdoing: We’re saving souls from Hell — that’s proof we’re in the right!

And that is, in fact, exactly why TBN is announcing these “36 million conversions to Christ in the past 40 years.” And it is exactly why that announcement is being reported, at face value, by Charisma magazine.

The puff-piece on TBN was published on April 23 as part of the process of patching up things and making nice after a column by Charisma mogul Steve Strang earlier this year obliquely referred to some of the more sordid details of the slow-motion implosion now occurring at the thoroughly corrupt broadcasting empire.

“They now are one of the most controversial Christian ministries out there,” Strang wrote — employing “controversial” in its disciplinary, tribal sense (meaning, roughly, “keep back lest ye be tainted by the contagion of controversy — unclean! unclean!”). Discussing a potential interview with the Crouches, Strang wrote:

I didn’t know how we’d ask the questions the Christian community wants to know: about why their oldest son, Paul Jr., left the network, or the lawsuit and allegations from their granddaughter.** Readers wanted to know why they allow ministers who have had nasty divorces — and in one case is accused of fathering a child by a teen in his church — on their telethons and stations. They wanted to know about how the more than $400 million-a-year budget is spent.

I know the Crouches well enough to know they feel the last part isn’t anyone’s business, as long as they follow the law. They rebuff inquiries about their finances.

TBN — a company with an ad budget, by the way — fired off an angry, testily defensive letter in response that it demanded Strang publish. Charisma published that letter on April 4. Here’s just a short excerpt from it:

An objective Mr. Strang might have told the relatively little-known story of TBN’s miraculous growth from one small station in California to over two dozen international networks and affiliates broadcasting the good news of Jesus Christ to every inhabited continent 24 hours a day — billions of souls.

Mr. Strang might have focused in particular on TBN’s six affiliate networks in Russia, its two full-time networks broadcasting the gospel to Muslims around the world, or the 24-hour network established a couple of years ago in Jerusalem that broadcasts the good news to the millions of Russian Jews who have made Israel their home.

Mr. Strang might also have pointed out the state-of-the-art studios TBN is now building in London and Jerusalem for the production of life-changing programming in all of TBN’s international networks and affiliates.

Most importantly, Mr. Strang would have had the opportunity to highlight the more than 36 million decisions for Christ logged by TBN’s prayer partners over the past 40 years, the multiplied millions of prayers answered and lives changes, and the commitment Matt Crouch and the next generation of TBN leadership has for continuing to pursue Paul and Jan Crouch’s undeterred vision of using television to reach the world for Christ.

That’s how this trump card is played. Salvation inflation lets you pump up the numbers into some impressive-sounding huge figure that can be cited — “most importantly” — as evidence of God’s blessing of your righteous work.

TBN, you see, is “using television to reach the world for Christ … billions of souls … 36 millions decisions for Christ …” And unless you’ve reached more billions of souls than they have, and unless you’ve produced more than the “more than 36 millions of decisions for Christ” that TBN has produced, then you’ve got no right to criticize them for their occasional nasty divorce, their coddling of sexual predators or their shameless fleecing of vulnerable poor people year after year after year.

But it doesn’t actually work like that.

Those incredible statistics of evangelistic success don’t outweigh, excuse or erase the loathesome evils of which the Crouches have been accused. Not even if those statistics could be believed.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* We could calculate this at least two ways. Based on 850 conversions a month, it would take 3,529 years to reach 36 million. Or, since February is the shortest month, we could calculate it based on 30.36 conversions per day, which would take only 3,249 years to get to 36 million.

** Those allegations are very disturbing (trigger warning for that link).

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  • Enopoletus Harding

    How can this post have 82 comments and 0 comments at the same time?

  • Sereg

    because Disqus.

  • c2t2

    Seriously. Has anyone double-checked the EULA to see whether we’ve all agreed to be in some kind of social experiment?

    I’m thinking something along the lines of the frog in slowly-heating water. Disqus is seeing how random and shoddy the commenting system can get before we all bail.

    /easily entertained by conspiracy theories

  • arresi

    I once had a class where the tables and chairs were rearranged every week. Seriously, no repeats in almost two months. Once the tables were arranged in a herringbone pattern. A herringbone pattern. A social experiment is my least insane theory. /also easily entertained by conspiracy theories

  • Alix

    …Are you serious? That’s kind of awesome.

    I had one teacher in high school who rearranged the desks into a smiley face on a lark, but that was a one-time thing he did, apparently, just for the hell of it. (FYI, nobody sat in the eyeballs.)

  • Wednesday

    Given that for two solid weeks Disqus just didn’t load for me on any computer I tried (and I tried Linux, Windows, and Mac machines), I’m going with social experiment.

  • banancat

    I’ve already mostly bailed. Except for the Left Behind posts, I visit each post pretty much exactly once. I rarely bother to check for new comments anymore, and there are some posts that I don’t bother reading at all anymore. Commenting is half the experience of reading blogs, and if the comments aren’t as good as they used to be, sometimes I don’t feel like reading a post at all. And I rarely read it on my phone anymore like I used to. Disqus has managed to cut blog traffic pretty drastically because I know I’m not the only to feel this way. I completely gave up on a blog that had the screwy nesting early, like several months ago. I hope I don’t just completely lose interest in Slacktivist too.

  • AnonymousSam

    If it weren’t for the option to subscribe, I know I wouldn’t be here nearly as much either. Traffic definitely seems to have diminished since the “update.” The only threads that go on for more than one page seem to be the ones with trolls and the Left Behind threads (which definitely don’t get as much traffic as they used to either).

    I just try and nip in and subscribe to every post early, so I can actually see the replies in chronological order. Watch, the next update will take that away. -_-

  • Invisible Neutrino

    This. I really wish Disqus would reinstate the old, simple, easy, flat system because as it is, it’s annoying as hell.

  • Carstonio

    Occasionally, new comments will be listed as having been posted six months ago, or comments a day old will show up as new ones.

  • Geds

    Yeah. I got an update yesterday that indicated it was a new comment on a thread I didn’t recognize. Turns out it was a response to a comment I made 9 months ago. The response was also from 9 months ago.

  • Eric Boersma

    The sharing button problem may be due to the fact that Patheos as a whole seemed to totally drive off the road for a couple hours this morning.

  • P J Evans

    I noticed that. It looked like the servers were down.

  • Lori

    It always strikes me as funny when televangelists and their followers claim that the size of their media empire is a sign of God’s favor while pointing to the success of popular media as proof of the work of the devil.

  • Mr. Heartland

    One could make a hell of a party game out of this. Televangelists, villans from a cheap mid-90s Tarantino clone, or both? (everybody drinks in the latter case.)

  • Launcifer

    Nah, not Tarantino; I can’t quite shake the feeling that it’s a still from an unreleased collaboration between John Waters and David Cronenberg.

  • Mr. Heartland

    Something humanity needs to happen before either man dies, now that you mention.

  • Patrick McGraw

    Yeah, I was definitely getting a John Waters vibe, too.

  • Marc Mielke

    I was seeing Waters AS Paul Crouch. Maybe John Travolta for Jan.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Why does that woman’s hair remind me The Donald’s hair? And have you seen this caterpillar?

  • Alix

    Oh my god that’s hilarious.

  • JustoneK

    this has made my morning.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Good GRIEF!!! Is Jan Crouch wearing a fright wig!?!? Please, PLEASE tell me this image not for real, please tell me it was taken from a Saturday Night Live skit!

  • P J Evans

    I’ve never seen hair that color as anything *but* a wig. And a cheap-looking wig, at that.
    The raccoon eyes and the fake lashes, too.

  • Vermic

    The dominant figure in any righteous Christian marriage is the hair. When two hairstyles love each other very much, God in His wisdom joins them into an unbreakable family unit. The husband and wife are created to be the hair’s helpmeets and to be equal-yet-subordinate to the hair’s authority, providing emotional support and the occasional rinse.

  • P J Evans

    Hasn’t anyone told to the Crouches that they look like something out of 1970s Las Vegas variety shows?

  • c2t2

    Needs more shiny! (The hair is spot-on though.)

  • Launcifer

    And a white tiger, for reasons of absurdity.

  • Alix_A

    They look like they’re preparing to eat souls, not save them.

  • Marc Mielke

    The only difference is in one’s interpretation of the blessed event.

  • Marian

    It’s the old “every head bowed and every eye closed” trope. Then the minister always says in a really emotional voice “oh yes, I see those hands.” I must have listened to thousands (note my own inflation here) of those sermons when I was in youth group, and I’ve always regretted that I never once had the nerve to open my eyes and look around and see if there were actually any hands at all.

    Course, I think the most egregious abuse of this sort of thing I ever saw happened in my mom’s Sunday School class. She was sick one day, and so I was subbing for her. She taught the toddler class… but for a really long time had been phoning it in and letting her 13 year old “helper” pretty much run the show. So my mom tells me I really don’t have to do anything more than supervise, that this girl will handle the actual lesson.

    Her lesson went like this. She read a Bible story (kids barely paying attention and squirming). She asked how many kids wanted to ask Jesus into their hearts (kids are still barely paying attention, nobody raises their hands). She gives the instruction “raise your hands everybody” (these are fairly obedient 2 year olds, and this is an instruction they understand). All the kids raised their hands, so she made them all “certificates” saying that that was the day they became a Christian. And I’m just watching, horrified, because I was only like, 18 or 19 at the time and really had no authority to DO anything about what was going on.

    And yes, those six or seven “decisions” for Christ got reported in the church’s annual business report. Even though I told my mom what happened and she agreed it was wrong and said she’d have a talk with the girl.

  • FearlessSon

    What she was teaching those kids was something alone the lines of, “When someone says ‘Jesus’ you say ‘Yay!’ Don’t think, just do it.”

    Unfortunately a lifetime of lessons like that are why some people can celebrate the messenger so passionately while missing the message so completely.

  • AnonymousSam

    I had the misfortune of the TV being on an evangelical channel this morning and woke up to the words “Satan is not a fallen angel and was not a nephilim or a giant. He was born of woman. Cain and Sargon the Magnificent were his sons.”

    I actually wanted to hear more of that, but the preacher apparently didn’t consider it worth discussing.

  • Gregory Peterson

    That reminds me of what I read the other week somewhere, that the some of the dualist French Cathari believed that Jesus was Satan’s younger brother.

    Oh, I remember where, It was in the “History of the Christian Church” by Williston Walker. I guess I’ll have to get the latest edition, as I have the 1947 printing of the 1918 edition, and it’s missing almost a century of church history and historical research.

  • Alix

    The other interesting belief I’ve found, regarding Jesus and Satan, is that Satan deceived Jesus into believing he was the Messiah and leading the world astray, when the real Messiah was John the Baptist. This is sometimes coupled with a belief that Jesus and/or his followers arranged John’s execution.

    That’s one “Christian” heresy that actually hasn’t been fully stamped out.

  • Marc Mielke

    Do they wear necklaces with severed heads on platters? I’ve always wanted there to be a John the Baptist cult just for that.

  • GDwarf

    Do they wear necklaces with severed heads on platters? I’ve always wanted there to be a John the Baptist cult just for that.

    My dad knows someone who was from…gah, mind’s left me, somewhere in the Middle East, who said he was a Baptist. This confused my dad a bit, and he asked if there were many Baptists, and was told no, not too many, it’s a very old group that was largely displaced by Christians. Now very confused my dad tried to clear things up, and found out that the man meant that he and his family were followers of John the Baptist.

    So they certainly exist.

  • Alix

    (Way late, but) I know one group is the Mandaeans in Iraq*, who were devastated by the aftermath of the US invasion.

    *And other places, but Iraq used to be their heartland.

  • VMink

    Reminds me of the RPG I ran once* where Yeshua, son of El Shaddai, was the brother of Baal Hadad, and Hadad had been suborned into being the War Horseman of the Apocalypse. For all of Heaven’s a stage, and a god may play many parts. Or something.

    * – The most dangerous words in the role-player’s grammar: “My game, let me tell you about it forever.”

  • Alix

    …How horrible is it that my first question was just what Sargon did to make them hate him – and that I spent five minutes wondering exactly which Sargon they were talking about?

    Edit: almost every hit for “Sargon the Magnificent” goes to a really weird book, or to sites referring to it. Which leaves me … still sort of confused. Apparently it’s all about how Sargon of Akkad was the builder of Uruk (he … wasn’t), which was also written Unuk (I’ve never seen that variant, ever), and was thus the same as the biblical Cain, who according to the Bible founded a city named Enoch, which they claim must by ~linguistics~ be Unuk/Uruk?

    I’m going to spend the rest of my evening beating my head on the desk, now.

    I’ve never heard the “Satan was born of woman” thing before, but there have been at least two branches of Gnostics* who were positive that Cain was indeed the son of Eve and Satan.

    *For a loose definition of “Gnostic,” as one of those groups, from what we can tell, does not seem to quite fit the typical Gnostic theology. Though given how many people use “Gnostic” as a catch-all for “early non-mainstream Christian/quasi-Christian,” it can be damn hard to tell.

  • Launcifer

    I had the same thought, actually. I didn’t know which Sargon, plumped for what might be the obvious choice and spent the last few minutes trying to understand what he’d done to upset whichever cult of twerps came up with that idea.

    In what might be a sign of my sleep-deprived status, however, I then wanted to give whomever came up with that complete arse credit for at least picking someone who existed at about the right point in history to have crossed paths with anyone heralding from the usual whacked-out pseudo-Christian timeline.

    Damn, this is going to be crawling around in the back of mind for *ages* now.

  • Alix

    I … kind of want to write up some crazy crossover between this and the … interesting theory I once encountered, that a pissed-off Babylonian god had once been imprisoned in the Great Pyramid before essentially tunneling his way out and taking a death ray with him.

    I wonder how many people I can con into believing it…

  • Launcifer

    Depends what kind of death ray it was, really, doesn’t it? ;)

  • Justme

    Sargon II of Assyria was the king who’s generally credited with the final conquest of Samaria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the exile of the 10 tribes..

  • Alix

    Yeah, and that’s initially who I assumed they were on about, but “Sargon the Great” usually (but not always!) refers to Sargon of Akkad, hence my initial confusion.

    And all those pages I found on my Google search were explicitly referring to Sargon of Akkad. Even if they weren’t, their crazy theories don’t fit Sargon II any better.

  • Ross

    I’m really confused. Isn’t Sargon the glowing sphere thing that possessed Captain Kirk and then later got chopped and welded onto Nomad to make the Romulan Cloaking device?

  • Marc Mielke
  • Enopoletus Harding

    Well, Uruk was called Unug by the Sumerians-

    I find it plausible that “Enoch” is a transliteration of “Unug”, but, as I am not a linguist, I cannot be sure of this idea. I have found almost no scholarly support for it, but no clear refutation of it. I have found that the author of thinks it plausible that “Irad” is based on “Eridu”.

  • Alix

    Interesting. Clearly, I am far more used to Akkadian. (And I’m kicking myself, ’cause I actually have a Sumerian lexicon.)

    Erech is the usual Biblical spelling of Uruk, and it would seem a bit odd, to me, for the Bible to have two versions of the name for the same city, especially when one is essentially a throwaway line in a genealogy. And none of this changes the fact that no matter how you slice it, Sargon didn’t found Uruk, so he can’t be an exiled Cain.

    …Then again, it’s been seriously proposed, for a definition of “seriously” that means “by wacky fringe theorists,” that the “Enoch” city Cain founded was really Tenochtitlan. Usually accompanied by bizarre claims about how the “mark of Cain” is some stereotypical aspect of Native American phenotypes.

    More seriously, though, I am generally skeptical of any argument that hinges on linguistic evidence alone, or mythical/legendary evidence. (This is why, by the by, I get really tetchy about the ancient matriarchy theories – they rest on mythic evidence not actually backed up by archaeology.) Language is … funny, and just ’cause things sound similar doesn’t mean they’re necessarily related. We know Erech derives from Uruk, but while Unug –> Enoch may seem plausible, I’ve never seen it seriously proposed by actual scholars, and there’s the obvious question of the transmission of that form of the name.

    I still can’t get over the Sargon thing. Brb, laughing my ass off.

  • Alix

    (putting this in another comment, because my other one’s long enough.)

    In a weird way, I do wonder if these crackpot theorists are right, or sort-of right, but not in the way they think they are. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that things like Cain’s epic bout of city-founding and his descendants’ creation of all of civilization might well be garbled versions of older Mesopotamian civilization-founding myths, and the Cain and Abel story in particular has known precursors – the clash of Shepherd vs. Farmer, which does date back to Sumer.

    So who knows, maybe they’re right with the Uruk/Enoch connection, though it’s a very garbled one, especially because Enoch was supposed to be the first city, but Uruk was not, and the Sumerians knew it. Also, well, Cain was antediluvial, and he doesn’t really match up well with any of the mythical antediluvial rulers in the King Lists. (Abel actually sort of does, though.)

    And, well, there’s the whole Sargon thing, but whatever. I’m almost over that. (Not really.)

    But if these people are right in a skewed sort of way about this connection, that doesn’t argue in favor of their views on the awesome rightness of their weird take on Genesis, but in favor of the Genesis account being a product of an epic game of telephone across thousands of years and several cultures.

    …and I really, really need to stop geeking out about all this, but, well. It’s not every day I get to natter on about my favorite topics, y’know? :P

  • FearlessSon

    …and I really, really need to stop geeking out about all this, but, well. It’s not every day I get to natter on about my favorite topics, y’know? :P

    By all means, keep geeking. I find it both refreshing and enlightening to hear from the perspective of someone who actually knows a few things about ancient-era Mesopotamian myths and languages. They had a huge influence on the Abrahamic religions which had in turn a huge influence on western culture in general, and a lot of people seem to ignore that connection.

  • Alix

    Thanks. :) I’m working towards a history degree, with a focus on the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, and I’m just a little obsessed with mythology and, yeah. Not often I get to ramble on about either, really, except to myself.

    Also, crazy conspiracy theories are so much fun. Which is why I totally watch Ancient Aliens religiously, which is probably something I shouldn’t readily admit to in public.

    Probably not quite the best way to break out of lurker-dom, but it works. XD

  • AnonymousSam

    Ancient Aliens is entertaining, provided you take it with a just a small pinch of salt. Here’s my pinch:

  • Enopoletus Harding

    A small pinch?? Three tons!

    So the commentators here will not yet again falsely accuse me of supporting religious fundamentalism, I ask them to read my reviews of the above-linked-to film:

  • Alix

    A small pinch?? Three tons!

    Yeah, no kidding. That’s the fun of it. :P

    I swear, you can judge the craziness of any given ep. by the craziness of that one guy’s hair. (I never remember his name, but anyone who’s seen even clips of the show remembers that hair!)

  • VMink

    Darnit, I will not laugh my kiester off at work, not when we’ve lost all the cubicles….

  • AnonymousSam

    Be glad you aren’t here. I just about knocked myself over giggling a second ago. I “ACK ACK ACK”ed at the picture (because, you know, I’m silly that way) and a bird outside the window started peeping at me in a panic.

  • reynard61

    “Also, crazy conspiracy theories are so much fun.”

    At least until believers in them start getting elected into National office and start turning them into laws and policy.

  • Alix

    Yeah. Like most things, it’s only fun so long as nobody’s getting hurt.

  • FearlessSon

    Also, crazy conspiracy theories are so much fun.

    I agree, it is fun. It is why I like things like Deus Ex (which is a kind of conspiracy kitchen sink.) But at least we know that these are just fun. Sadly, some people take them way too seriously.

  • VMink

    Indeed, I’m finding this thread fascinating!

  • Patrick McGraw

    I’m a bit sad that all this talk of Cain and Enoch has made it this far without a Vampire: The Masquerade reference. Which makes me want to get a copy of the Book of Nod into this preacher’s hands and tell him that it’s real.

  • FearlessSon

    I find it ironic that there was such a furor over Dungeons & Dragons being satanic, while at much of the same time there was a different RPG going on where the characters themselves were literally damned by God (though not necessarily by fault of their own) and trace their linage back to Cain from the Bible, and the Satan-panickers almost completely ignored it.

  • Alix

    And see, here I thought Jesus was the first vampire. Either that, or his crucifixion triggered the world’s first zombie apocalypse.

  • Marc Mielke

    The NWod’s take on theology is somewhat more involved and coherent, IMO. Try the Testament of Longinus.
    (I really prefer oWod for most things, but nWod’s background info is often ace. I still think they entirely munged Vampire rituals and Mage as a whole in the new version tho; the Mage 20th Anniversary looks very good.)

  • Marc Mielke

    A quick google makes it appear that “Sargon the Magnificent” is one particular person’s (I won’t say ‘scholar’) bete noire, so just google for that and have at.

  • Gregory Peterson

    I’ve always thought, very unkindly and I’m sure I’ll go to hell for it, that Paul and Jan Crouch look like retired sex workers.

  • Launcifer

    Heh. I can’t help but think that’s just Elvira’s “at home” hairpiece, myself.
    And now I’ll stop being cruel.

  • Randy Kopycinski

    How *dare* you imply Elvira looks like Jan Crouch!

  • Panda Rosa

    Well, one of them has got to be the Evil Twin! Trouble is, I’m not sure which one…

  • Lliira

    That is extraordinarily unfair and cruel to retired sex workers. I’m not joking.

  • P J Evans

    True, I really doubt that retired sex workers would bother with the wig and the makeup. (They probably look like everyone else.)

  • Ben English

    I remember they had a tagline “Celebrating 37 years of God’s miracles.”

    Which always made me think, what pretentious narcissistic bastards. God wasn’t doing miracles until TBN came into existence? Or only the last thirty-seven years worth of ‘miracles’ are worth celebrating because they’re the only ones that made Jan and Paul rich?

  • Panda Rosa

    Can’t stand most of it, but it was fun to hear Jan Crouch wax rhapsodic over her Doll Ministry. tears thrown in for free, and how she loved to give little Barbies to dirty little third-world kids with grimy hands (okay, she didn’t put it quite that way, but you get the idea). The kids and I called her “The Pink Haired Lady” and considered her a bad cross of Tammy Faye and Dolly Parton. Is she still even on? I still tune in at times, but don’t see Ms. Crouch and her overly-emotional sermons anymore. “There were 17 of us growing up in a tar-paper shack, and we all had to take turns playing with the same toy – a block of wood! (sob, cry, sniffle, sob, bawl).”

  • Launcifer

    “There were 17 of us growing up in a tar-paper shack, and we all had to take turns playing with the same toy – a block of wood! (sob, cry, sniffle, sob, bawl).”

    Wait, that’s a slight exaggeration, right? Unless, of course, she also wrote the Four Yorkshiremen sketch…

  • FearlessSon

    “There were 17 of us growing up in a tar-paper shack, and we all had to take turns playing with the same toy – a block of wood! (sob, cry, sniffle, sob, bawl).”

    To prevent the glurge-reflex, such a statement should only ever be made as intentional hyperbole for encouragement:

    “When I joined the corp, we didn’t have any fancy-shmancy tanks. We had sticks! Two sticks and a rock for the whole platoon. And we had to share the rock!”

  • Todd Sweeney

    OMG, that hair, that hair! I had to click through just for that hair.

    Hey, if these were supervillians from a 1970’s Eurospy flic, then wouldn’t Sargon the Magnificent be perfect for him?

  • Alix


    I am never going to hear the name “Sargon” again without breaking out into fits of giggles, am I?

  • Launcifer

    To be fair, it does sound like something you’d put in a dishwasher anyway, so maybe a fit of the giggles is something of an improvement.

  • Jamoche

    “Sargon, take me away!”

  • Jenora Feuer

    Curse you for beating me to that; that was the first thing I thought of as well.

  • PepperjackCandy

    I got it! DC Comics used to have a character called Sargon the Sorcerer. This has been bothering me for two days now. I finally remembered the rest of the name just as I was going to sleep last night.

  • Carstonio

    How old is that photo? Reminds me of Tammy Faye Bakker, and not in a comical way. This particular type of patriarchal subculture seems to infantilize women. My theory is there’s a tension between the subculture’s professed values about marriage and its view of wives as trophies. Every other subculture that has the latter view condones the husbands trading in for newer models, literally and figuratively. Perhaps husbands like Paul and Jim subconsciously saw themselves as no different from actors or athletes deserving of trophies. And perhaps Jan and Tammy Faye felt pressured to keep themselves looking like trophies.

  • Cathy W

    I know I’ve seen patriarchal-Christianity quotes that explicitly said a good Christian wife should be slim and fit, in order to maintain her appeal to her husband, and other quotes saying that one of the evils of feminism is that women feel free to “let themselves go”. It’s not just the celebrity pastors who think they deserve trophy wives, I guess…

  • Panda Rosa

    Actually I read than Jan Crouch, for all her Good Xian Wife thing, refused to tone down her famous hair or her clothes. She’s the most entertaining of the whole sorry crew and I suspect Paul knows it and resents it.

  • Carstonio

    When Swaggart, Bakker and Gorman were wrapped up in scandals, I imagined Falwell and Robertson rubbing their hands in glee, eager to throw those B-listers to the wolves. These two might have been thinking, “Heh heh, let Saturday Night Live and the talk shows have their little jokes. They’ll be two busy to notice us chipping away at that pesky First Amendment.”

  • FearlessSon

    (I was going to say this even before I realized there was a bandwagon to jump on)


  • Lliira

    It’s funny. Somehow the Vatican and other religious groups are accused of covering up for or “coddling” sexual predators. The wording distances. Who are they covering up for? People high in their ranks who ARE sexual predators. Married male religious leaders saying rape is good if the women being raped are married to the men raping them are called rape apologists, as if they’re just saying this is something good and not practicing it themselves.

    This wording, repeated everywhere, makes it look like the sexual predators are made of smoke. It’s like saying someone “supports meat eating” when they just ate a hamburger, or that they’re “coddling bank robbers” when they just held a gun to a bank clerk’s head. They ARE sexual predators. They ARE rapists.

  • Valancy Jane

    I really thought that photo of the Crouches was a still from a SNL sketch. They’re caricatures–him of the weasel conjob, her of that oddly asexual overblown trophy wife. It’s pathetic that they seem to be taking all the responsibility for these “miracles” themselves, anyway. I thought Christians gave their god the glory and considered themselves conduits, not the stars of the show.

  • Mark Z.

    Nah, once you get to a certain level of celebrity you’re allowed to take credit for miracles. You have to frame it as “God has blessed our ministry by doing X” rather than actually saying “We did X”, but what’s important is that you’re on God’s VIP list.

  • Valancy Jane

    I was once married to an abusive, manipulative, lying narcissist of a preacher who was like that. At some point they begin believing their own press. It didn’t help that he was reallllly good at acting all sanctified, so people literally said he had “he red bat-phone to God.” The more righteous the person acts, the less I believe it, nowadays. Being that puffed up is not restricted to Christianity, obvs. I’ve seen pagans do the same thing even though they’re not under the same restriction to pretend whatever the event was had nothing to do with them personally. People are people, and we do love attention.