Monday, October 12, 2009

What Camel? What Needle?

Dallas area televangelist Kenneth Copeland made an appearance at one of the Big Box churches last Sunday. For the uninitiated, Copeland is one of the more successful of the Prosperity Gospel hucksters whose ranks have thinned with the recent passing of Rev. Ike. According to the account in the local paper, " If you have enough faith to move mountains, Copeland suggested, God can give you the desires of your heart: vigorous health, limitless wealth, unending happiness and eternal life..."
None of which Jesus says in my Bible.
And God knows he can speak with authority about limitless wealth. He has an 18,000 foot "parsonage', he owns a cattle ranch, he has a fleet of luxury vehicles and his own jet airplane. He also has the Senate Finance Committee and the IRS after his ass along with some other of his ilk. The account in Sunday's paper says that he has pretty much stiffed the Committee in its requests for answers to it's questions and so we may assume that Subpoenas will soon issue forth like manna from...oh, never mind.
I am conflicted when it comes to these TV preachers. On the one hand, I don't view them particularly as ministers. You never see them marry or bury. You don't see them holding an elderly person's hand in the nursing home. You don't see them talking down someone who is on the brink of despair. Nope. Can't make any money hanging around hospitals unless you are a doctor or a runner for a lawyer.
Do I view televangelists as criminals? Crooks, yes. Criminals, not so much. It is not illegal to ask people for money. And as long as you don't misrepresent where the money is going it is not illegal. And as far as I can see, Copeland pretty much makes it clear that the money is not going to fund a school in Honduras. It's going to his ministry. Which means it is going to him.
And I don't worry so much about upper middle class types in West Little Rock giving Kenneth Copeland a "love offering" as the paper reports they did. In tasteful buckets adorned with the church's logo. If they are stupid enough to waste their money in this fashion so be it. But I worry about the more vulnerable among us who don't really need to be donating precious resources to a man who by all accounts is already fantastically wealthy.
And Copeland should too. But this would require a sense of shame. And any man that flies into town on a private jet to invoke the Gospel in order to induce knuckleheads to give him buckets full of money is not likely to suffer over much from that condition.
Is this a great country or what?


Anonymous said...

It truly is!
We are PAID to run the Jim Bakker hour every morning on our station and he does nothing but sell end-times buckets of dehydrated food (they make Great Christmas Presents!) to old people that he is scaring.I make sure that the "This is a Paid Program" spots run right before and after his show like clockwork. Amazing stuff!
I have also made weekly programs that ran on many staions early Sunday mornings by a retired Baptist preacher that was just like attending Sunday school and learning bible stories and parables and such. Kind guy, sincere, and NEVER asked for a cent on-air.We cut him a rate for production as he returned every week BUT he was driven away by syndicated preachers who paid double for the time period.
I am gona write a book about making TV spots for Pawn Shops Preachers,TV Lawyers,Branson Entertainers, and local Political Ads someday.
The Pawn Shop guys pay cash on the spot.... The rest are absolute credit risks...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment anonymous. I give money to the pawn shop preachers, I'd like to hear how they get the airtime, as you were mentioning, and I would be the first to buy your book. What else they are doing to shake the public down, that the good hearted true preachers that lose their time to them are not doing. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Uh... I should have checked my punctuation a bit closer. My intent was to say "Pawn Shops, Preachers..." I apologize, but I did go to school in the 1970's in the Pulaski County Special School District and some of the finer points of the English language were left out of the school day.
National TV Preachers are well-planned, well-presented, well-scripted entertainment programs that are in the business of raising funds. They are not as honest in their presentation as say, The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon or an infomercial about the latest cooking device from Ronco. The checks that we receive are never under the name of the show or "ministry" but are always from yet a third party in some city not associated with the programs production or home church.Never are traceable via address as an actual building, just an account somewhere that stuff is funneled through. As they say in Southwest Altheimer -"Them Books are Cooked!"
My judgement on what you term "Good-Hearted Local Preachers" I will stand by, as I can go to their churches that group together and support their weekly local message through offerings each week among the membership and genuinely use it as an outreach to the homebound and truly believe that it is an opportunity to spread the gospel as they interpret it in a positive way to the community where they all live and work and worship.
These folks are in nearly every town big enough to have a TV outlet and all one must do is walk through a nursing home and listen to what is on Sunday morning and indeed, there is an audience that appreciates the message and the music. As The Moving Finger Guy says,their preacher does Marryin' and Buryin'. TV is just a business and gets paid a hell of a lot more from the big-money hucksters and the locals are always getting tossed to poor time periods due to lack of funds. We have a totally local, totally paid through a group of churches that kick-in local Church of Christ program that has been on our station for about 35 years. And have never asked for a penny on-air.
I have worked with some National Shows that are just like dealing with the mob as far as negotiating times and $$$. They have actually faxed us photocopies of checks that they are promising to us if we will continue to run their programs... Not a check, but a photocopy of what they promise that they will send. What? The nationals will do or say anything to keep the money-train rolling on-air. I am not bitter about any of this - it is just business, but I would still rather deal with a Strip Joint owner, or a Pawn Shop or Title Loan guy as they know how pay-for-play works exactly. Now, I might get paid in sweaty dollar bills, but who cares?
Local Broadcasting (especially anywhere near Branson, MO) is absolutely the most fun and interesting job on the continent. You never know what is going to happen when you answer the phone!