Understand the Idolatry of Televangelists

By Jerde, Lyn C | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), August 22, 2015 | Go to article overview

Understand the Idolatry of Televangelists


Jerde, Lyn C, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


My grandma - at home in heaven for 29 years - was a devotee of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and their TV "PTL Club."

She'd sit in front of the TV with tears streaming down her face. She had boxes and boxes of literature that the Bakkers sent, apparently at bulk postal rates, to their so-called prayer partners.

When a Facebook friend posted a video of John Oliver's recent segment on TV evangelists and the fiscally and spiritually predatory fundraising practices that many of them use, I couldn't help but remember Grandma, who mercifully passed away before the PTL scandal made national news.

When the same Facebook friend asked how an intelligent person could fail to see through these (un)holy hucksters, I thought of my grandma, too.

She wasn't a fool.

But she had spiritual needs that weren't met by the dull-as-a- dial-tone pastor in her home congregation - needs that she perceived as being filled by the Bakkers repeated proclamations that "God loves you. He really, really does!"

Grandma needed a sense of connection with a God who knew all about her, who cared intensely about her ordinary problems (like a husband dying of a vicious strain of cancer) and who would suspend natural law just because she asked for it and "planted a seed" with her prayers and financial contributions to the PTL Club.

Grandma seemed impervious to the way some of her family members scoffed at the PTL Club. Some of that scoffing was expressed with a barnyard epithet loosely translated as "organic fertilizer." It was the kind of blunt compound word that would, in Grandma's younger years, prompt her to wash a child's mouth out with soap. …

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