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A Few Thoughts About Paul And Jan Crouch

Trinity Broadcasting Network headquarters, Costa Mesa, California

I was raised Roman Catholic, so extravagance in a church is not surprising to me. The Catholic Church owns some of the most important art works ever created and there is probably enough gold in the vessels and gilded on every surface to fund the budget of a medium-sized nation. But I also knew that one of the foundations of the Protestant faith was a rejection of all those accouterments of wealth.

Living in the South, as we did for more years than I like to remember, it is nearly impossible to avoid the televangelists. One in particular caught my attention, because she had outdone Dolly Parton in the bouffant wig department, and hers were platinum pink. She favored tight knit shirts and long skirts with a shawl wrapped around her somewhat ample hips. Her name is Janice Crouch. The stage set for her show, well, technically it was her husband’s show, was decorated in pure, tasteless, over-the-top-Louis XVI gilding. Everything was gilded. One practically needed shades to watch the show. It was addictive, for someone raised in traditional religion, in its oddness and ostentation.

Jan Crouch had no shame. She frequently showed viewers their horse farm and thoroughbreds. Tara was a shack by comparison. Then, she would turn around and solicit funds for her personal mission – delivering toys to poor children in Africa or some other God-less place. She favored white dolls for the girls, and, I think, trucks for the boys. It was the white dolls that riveted me. Anyone could find ethnically and racially appropriate dolls in any Walmart. Even Barbie has a black friend. But Jan Crouch’s dolls were white. They also solicited funds for their television stations around the world.

from left: Janice Crouch, granddaughter Brittany Kroper, Michael Kroper, Paul Crouch Sr.

And then there was their choice of Bible translation for Jan’s tearful readings. Did you know that they had “summit conferences” in ancient Persia and Babylon? Now, as a Catholic, I was not raised in an Old Testament tradition. I was barely raised in a New Testament tradition. Catholics are very big on the Apostles and the early Christian philosophers, not as much on the contradictions of the Bible. But even I recognized that the words coming out of Jan Crouch’s mouth weren’t in any Bible I’d ever encountered, and I owned the King James, the Catholic and the Hebrew University Bibles. In being modernized and rendered into colloquial American, the words were being twisted to a certain degree. Not much, but enough to alter the meanings of passages. I knew about Revelations, even though the Catholic Church dismisses it as unimportant, but here was a woman preaching that Daniel’s visions about a specific set of Kings in a specific time almost 3,000 years ago were somehow predictions of the activities of the nations of the Middle East today.

That was when I finally understood the evangelical zeal for a holy war against Islam. It was being preached to Christians by televangelists like Jan Crouch. They were taking the history of ancient Judea and saying that it was relevant to the modern Middle East, that the visions of an ancient prophet given to ancient kings were visions of tomorrow. In the minds of their followers, all that ancient history was being mashed up with modern politics and modern Christians were taking the place of ancient Jews and none of it makes any logical sense. Archeologists have been proving for almost a century that most of what is in the Bible is not entirely accurate. The Old Testament is a written rendition of the oral history of a nomadic people. It doesn’t stand against the written histories of the city-states and civilizations of the region.

Islam didn’t even exist in the time of either the Old or New Testament. The wars of ancient times are only relevant to the wars of today in the bedtime stories of Iranian and Afghan parents who use Alexander the Great as a boogie man. It is the wars waged since the birth of Islam which are relevant, starting with the earliest conquests by Mohammed, which are cited by Jews who sort of skip over the next 1,300 years, as proof of the historical attitude of Muslims toward Jews. It is the Crusades that are relevant, and the centuries of conquests and occupations of the Middle East and North Africa that are important, and the effects of the Cold War and the conflicting support given to those nations by the United States and the Soviet Union that are important, not the wars of Nebuchadnezzar.

But, there she was, Janice Crouch, she of the pink bouffant hair, obtusely, subtly preaching hate. Frankly, she’s a very scary lady because she is damned good at what she does. All the major evangelical preachers have been very good at what they do, lead the gullible and profit off them.

It was no surprise to me to find that the Crouchs are being accused of taking $50 million from their followers to fund their extravagant lifestyle. They are hardly the first, they will not be the last. Thirteen mansions and their estates, private jets, race horses, the hundred grand for an RV for the dogs, the Crouchs have done very well by their Trinity Broadcasting Network. They are about as far from the virtues of poverty and service to the poor that Christ preached as the Vatican is. Wall Watchers, the religious watchdog group, rates Trinity Broadcasting as one of the thirty worst ministries in the world. No surprise there, either. The only thing that surprises me is how long it takes to expose these people and why, even after their sins and crimes are exposed, people still believe in them.

I left the Catholic Church a long time ago, but I retain a deep affection for two of their saints – Francis of Assisi and his friend Clare, founder of the Poor Clares order of nuns. They lived what Christ preached, lives of service to the least among us, lives of personal poverty after being born into wealthy families, lives of forgiveness, compassion and love.

 

 

 

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3 Responses to A Few Thoughts About Paul And Jan Crouch

  1. Jason

    August 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Hon, I hear you on all levels, here. First, let me note that your retained devotion to Francis and Clare speaks volumes about the goodness and spiritual ethic of your soul. I am still a Catholic Christian and yet I absolutely have some issues about the superfluous pomp & circumstance of the Vatican, but the comparison with these trashy Crouch fundamentalists is not quite valid. If we look at our historical context, the greatest artists of medieval times and the Renaissance vied for the honor to use their God-given gifts to decorate churches and cathedrals with their original work. Bernini, Michelangelo, Raphael … No end to the list. The same goes for the thousands of nameless artisans — those carpenters and poor masons and workers who broke their backs to build amazing edifices for the glory of God in their day, which, again (to highlight one of your very astute points) was a much different day, and not comparable to the travesty of Crouch-type scum and their milieu. The churches of Rome and the rest of the Continent represent a collection of culture and genuine artistry that truly goes back at least 1,900 years (e.g. the earliest papyrus fragments of the Gospel of John — the earliest actual scrap of a “Bible Book” before “Bibles” remotely existed– is in the keeping of the Vatican library, along with the earliest everything. ) Paul and Jan Crouch have a “foundation” that started in 1980, at best. The two are not comparable (Vatican and TBN). Believe me — not defending the institution of the Vatican itself, here. Corruption has never cease to haunt any organized group, from the circle of Christ’s own disciples, to the present day. Should the Vatican sell all of the thousands of years of artistic treasures and give the money to the poor, as Christ would have done? Oh yeah, baby, I believe that. At the very least, the Vatican prelates should move out of their fancy digs there in Rome, perhaps retain ownership/stewardship of the incomparable art and craftsmanship, but utilize it as a museum for the whole world to witness and enjoy, while each “prelate” lives out behind St. Peter’s in a comfortable but simple little monk’s cell, as a servant-leader. In little honeycomb-shaped cells, like the monks in our area, who live simply and struggle, but are full of joy for Christ. Humbly. If the Pope did that, the world would beat a path to their door to hear about the love of Christ, to see it in action. Regardless, I am not defending the Catholic dynamic too much because it is rife with its own problems. Even so, you may not have felt, growing up, that you were rooted in Old or New Testaments because Catholics don’t drag Bibles to Mass. Partly, they never have had to. The entire liturgy was all from the Scriptural books, from the acclamations to the responsorial psalms, to the OT readings, to the epistle readings, to the Gospel. The whole service was infused with Scripture. The average Catholic could certainly be a little more “caught up”‘on their own belief-system, but it bears mentioning that the first Christians didn’t have “Bibles.” The Christians that came after that and after them and after those didn’t have “Bibles” either. Faith was based upon Christ alone and expressed in the Eucharist, baptism, the liturgy, etc. What we see with these trashy fundamentalist groups (Crouches included), is basically a replacement of Christ with the Bible. Pen and ink and paper — each little letter inscribed is a little “image” — a little graven picture creating a word, creating a thought, communicating an ultimate “truth” that hopefully transcends the media used. Little wonder that, it is written, “Adhere to the spirit of the law, not the letter.” To continue, however, the Bible-worship, the book-worship, amongst these kinds of loons is rampant. Christ was being called and recognized as the “Word-Made-Flesh” long before anyone bothered to write that down in Greek, so that belief would have been passed on to us even if no one had ever invented a printing press or the whole world has remained illiterate. The problem with these types of scoundrels is that they (knowingly or unknowingly) believe, not in the Word-was-made-Flesh, but that the “Word-was-made-BOOK.” So, so, so horrid. For many of these groups, it’s not really the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but “The Father, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit.”. That dynamic is one reason why we see thee people dwelling obsessively upon irrelevant passages from decayed Old Testament prophets, while dancing around some of the great teachings of Jesus (Sermon on the Mount, Golden Rule, etc.) however they have come down to us.

    When, if ever, have the Crouches “expounded” on Christ’s ineffable: “Blessed are the poor, for they shall see the kingdom of God”? No, you won’t hear them preach the core teachings of Christ (forget about Paul, forget the very specialized and obscure Apocalypse/Revelation — what has been passed on to us about CHRIST’S possibly actual words from 2000 years hither?). The Sermon on the Mount does not fit with the Crouch’s grifter-gospel. It does also not square with 3-ft high pink wigs, RVs purchased for the comfort of poodles, and histrionics that ought to be soundly condemned by any rational human being. Here’s a question: How do these people really REALLY sleep at night? I guess Jan doesn’t — she wakes up levitating from the bed regularly. It’s one thing to put on a seedy song & dance to maybe “sell” a car, but to sell GOD? CHRIST?

    I enjoyed your commentary very much; I enjoyed the intelligence of it. The insight. But, for the sale of our shared Catholic upbringing (and full awareness of the flaws in the institution claiming to “lead” the Catholic Church), the comparison between the tacky faux-Louis XVI where Jan Couch sits and rants (and lets her poodles tinkle) is not the same as Michelangelo and Bernini and Raphael and others being casually “owned” by the men in ball gowns in the Vatican. Otherwise, thank you for your commentary. Much appreciated :-)

  2. Tina

    June 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Hi there. First of all it’s “Revelation” not “Revelations”. There is no “s” on the end.
    Secondly, the bible doesn’t specify Islam especially since it wasn’t around, but it does mention a ‘great nation’ etc and gives geographical areas all of which are coming to pass before our eyes. So although Jan is wrong about many things, she is just happens to be spouting off some truth she heard from other good and righteous pastors.

  3. Rob

    March 28, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Linda, I had an Irish Grandfather who always wore his Str. Christophers. When I was 20, I was able to tour the Vatican art galleries and Sistine Chapel. It wasn’t for me when you had to pay to ride the elevator to look from outside the dome into the courtyard. Most of the major TV Evangelist found while marketing the Gospel with the lucrative influx of money it became corrupting to them. There will always be non-perfect people making small or big mistakes. The NC Gov dipped into the dedicated “Education Lottery Fund” to cover other budget shortages, but was never charged with misappropiation of funds.. Don’t let a few people with errors in their ways keeping you from seeking understanding of the Bible. I challenge you to study the original Hebrew which Google put online (Dead Sea Scrolls) and ask while alone God to reveal himself to you. It is easy to see someone’s failures. People have big hearts and are charitable not knowing where it all goes. It is not money that is bad, but the love of getting it that is evil. God forgives when asked. Some people can never forgive and love to hate. Don’t throw out everything because you see othes mis-using their position. You are a writer. Find the right way to explain the Bible and show others it can be done without corruption. When I put up a free video that took hours to create and edit on Youtube, they embed marketing ads and someone profits.