Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Impact of Televangelists

Dan (DFV) left an interesting comment on my post on televangelists that I'd like to take a moment to address. I started leaving this in the comment section, but it got too long! Before, I get to it, however, Dan, congratulations on your award. What you are doing for the kids in your building is awesome!

Again, thanks, Dan, for writing and I suppose I could have summed it all up with "I agree!" Nobody takes the very real threat of the religious right more serious than I do, but sometimes you just gotta laugh or you're gonna cry!

Although most televangelists hold very little political power, unlike the real fiends like Dobson and formely Haggart who hold (held) tremendous power in the Republican Party, I think they do very real damage on multiple levels. I think their decidedly for-profit rhetoric perpetuates an out-moded way of thinking and reinforces an "in group" mentality - Christians vs. everyone else." But I probably feel worse for the greater damage they do to the pocketbooks of individuals who would be much better off keeping their money. I'm convinced that televangelists pray off the poor working class first and foremost, with the elderly close behind. These are people often desperate for a miracle and promises of instant health and wealth lure them in, not unlike how lotteries negatively impact the poor.

As for proof of their miraculous healing, you are, of course, spot-on. Where's the proof? Where's the documentation? Don't you think such great news would hit CNN? There's no documentation because there's no proof! As a person of faith, I believe God could instantly heal people and sometimes does...through the intervention of modern medicine! The fakery and trickery of faith healers should be well documented at this point, yet people continue to believe in their abilities. But as you can see from the clip below, even well-debunked charlatain Peter Popoff (who is very stereotype you can imagine about televangelists) continues to do well.

I recommend James Randi's book The Faith Healers for more reading on that particular subject.

And several televangelists have been investigated over the years and even this past year for fraud, tax evasion, and various financial abuses, including Hinn, Richard Roberts, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland (note that him and Dollar are seen together in that post's clip), Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Robert Tilton, and others, but not nearly enough. Other ministers, like portly and hellfire-thriving (and really scary zionist political mover) John Hagee, are not your typical televangelist, but still like to sell every book, CD, DVD, and trinket they throughout their telecasts. And, I may catch flack for saying this, but even mostly beneign ministers like Robert Schuller, who probably does a lot of good, endlessly shills his wares.

I'm not arguing that these individuals should necessarily give their products away, but many of them have congregations in the thousands and certainly could offer their products for less than they do. I remember Jerry Falwell's endless appeals to grandparents, which constantly drove me mad. Most grandparents I know are on fixed incomes and certainly have better ways to spend their money.

So, all this to say is that there are some VERY dangerous people in the religious right movement that we should keep an eye on, but I think the major damage caused by televangelists are on the pocketbooks of the people who can least afford it.

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