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The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is the United States' largest Christian television network. Headquartered in Costa Mesa, Californiamarker, it also has studio facilities located in Irving, Texasmarker; Hendersonville, Tennesseemarker; Decatur, Georgiamarker; Miami, Floridamarker; Tulsa, Oklahomamarker; Orlando, Floridamarker; and New York Citymarker.

Founded by Paul Crouch, Jan Crouch, Jim Bakker, and Tammy Faye Bakker in 1973, TBN currently is the ninth largest over-the-air broadcaster in the United States.

It makes the claim of serving an average of five million viewer households per week in prime time in the United States. TBN is carried on over 275 television stations in the U.S. and on thousands of other cable television and satellite systems around the world in 75 countries, where their programming is translated into eleven languages. TBN owns 35 full-power television stations serving larger metropolitan areas, and 252 low power television station in the United States, which are mixed among stations serving medium-sized cities and rural translator stations in order to maximize the network's reach as much as is permissible.

History

The Trinity Broadcasting Network was founded as the Trinity Broadcasting Systems in 1973, and began distribution through cable systems in 1978. The network was a member of the National Religious Broadcasters association until 1990.

Recently, TBN has been purchasing independent television stations to gain cable carriage, due to FCC must-carry rules. As a result, TBN is available to 95% of American households, as of early 2005.

Television Programming

TBN broadcasts programs and telecasts hosted by other well-known televangelists and Christian media personalities, most of whom subscribe to charismatic or Pentecostal theology, including: Andrew Wommack, A.R. Bernard, Carl Baugh, Kirk Cameron, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Billy Graham, John Hagee, MC Hammer, Marilyn Hickey, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, D. James Kennedy, Carol Lawrence, Gavin MacLeod, Joyce Meyer, Rod Parsley, Pat Robertson, James Robison, Jay Sekulow, Fulton J. Sheen, Nasir Siddiki, Charles Stanley, Paula White, and Jack Van Impe.

Attractions

Trinity Christian City International in Costa Mesa, California
In addition, TBN also owns studios and venues in Dallas, Texasmarker; Hendersonville, Tennesseemarker (the former Twitty City); and Trinity Christian City International in Costa Mesa, Californiamarker.

Revenue and assets

TBN generates nearly $200 million in revenue annually. The network does not make its finances available and Crouch family members control the boards of all TBN entities, which makes Trinity "ineligible to join" the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an evangelical self-regulating group.

As of 2002, TBN boasted $583 million in assets, including $238 million in government-backed securities and $31 million in cash. Also among its assets are a $7.2 million Canadair Turbojet and thirty houses in California, Texas and Ohio with values ranging up to $8 million. The elder Crouches and their son Paul Jr. earn an estimated combined annual income of $900,000. In September 2004, the Los Angeles Times characterized their personal lifestyle as a "life of luxury." According to Charity Navigator, TBN earned $188,152,079 in 2007 and has a 2 out of 4 star rating (47%).

In June 2007, TBN purchased the bible-themed adventure park Holy Land Experience for $37 million. In October nearly 100 employees were cut from the payroll.

Criticism and Controversy

Fundraising and wealth

TBN refuses to disclose its financial situation for public inspection, and the network is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a financial oversight group of TV ministries. TBN's refusal to disclose financial information, as well as the strong promotion of the "prosperity gospel," has caused the Christian watchdog group WallWatchers to repeatedly grade TBN with an "F" for its lack of transparency. TBN also received an F from MinistryWatch, a Christian ministry information and rating organization.

Theology

Trinity Broadcasting Network has come under heavy criticism for its promotion of the prosperity gospel — a belief that giving donations will cause God to materially reward the person giving. as well as other claims made by Paul Crouch and other prominent TBN personalities. TBN broadcasts, endorses, and highlights televangelists who preach the prosperity gospel message, such as Nasir Siddiki, Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley, Pat Robertson, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Eddie L. Long, Jesse Duplantis, Paula White, and Kenneth Copeland. Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Finance has begun an investigation on Hinn, White, Copeland, Dollar, Meyer, and Long to determine if they mishandled donations to their respective ministries.

Watchdog groups have also found fault in the way that Paul Crouch and TBN respond to outside criticism. Crouch has been known to angrily rebuke and mock TBN's critics—which he refers to as "heretic hunters" -- and often threatens them with damnation. During a 1991 "Praise-a-thon", Crouch addressed his critics by saying, "To Hell with you! Get out of my life! Get out of the way!...I say get out of God's way! Quit blocking God's bridges or God's going to shoot you if I don't...I don't even want to even talk to you or hear you! I don't want to see your ugly face!" During a 1997 "Praise-a-thon", Crouch went so far as to pray to God that TBN's critics would die, saying, "God, we proclaim death to anything or anyone that will lift a hand against this network and this ministry that belongs to You, God. It is Your work, it is Your idea, it is Your property, it is Your airwaves, it is Your world, and we proclaim death to anything that would stand in the way of God's great voice of proclamation to the whole world."

Following the investigative reports on TBN in September 2004 by the Los Angeles Times regarding the network's wealth and Ford's claims, the network issued a press release attacking Trinity Foundation head Ole Anthony as "not a credible source" for the Times series and charged that the newspaper itself was a "left-wing and anti-Christian" outlet. [ 2004

Hal Lindsey cancellation

From 1994 to 2005, evangelist and self-styled Bible prophecy expert Hal Lindsey hosted a program on TBN titled International Intelligence Briefing, in which Lindsey provided news and commentary and aimed to interpret current events into biblical prophecy. Lindsey made remarks on the program that attracted outside criticism , particularly commentaries regarding Arabs and Islam. In December 2005, TBN announced it would be pre-empting International Intelligence Briefing for the entire month, causing Lindsey to send an e-mail to followers accusing TBN management of censorship, saying, "some at the network apparently feel that my message is too pro-Israelmarker and too anti-Muslim." Paul Crouch issued a press release defending TBN's support of Israel and insisting that Lindsey's show was only pre-empted for Christmas programming. Crouch eventually admitted, however, that concerns over whether Lindsey "placed Arabs in a negative light" were a secondary factor in the show's pre-emption. TBN faced criticism from the conservative news website WorldNetDaily for supposedly bowing to the pressure of political correctness.

Lindsey resigned from TBN on January 1, 2006, effectively cancelling International Intelligence Briefing for good. Shortly thereafter on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, Lindsey indicated that he would not be returning to the network. The following month, Lindsey launched The Hal Lindsey Report, a program similar to International Intelligence Briefing, which initially aired on Sky Angel and Daystar Television Network, but not on TBN. However, on January 22, 2007, TBN announced that Crouch and Lindsey had reconciled and that The Hal Lindsey Report would soon debut on the network.

Travel the Road in Afghanistan

TBN produces and airs a Christian reality show called Travel the Road, which features missionaries Tim Scott and Will Decker in remote and often war-torn locations overseas in search of converts. In December 2008, the program attracted criticism from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group that looks for acts of religious discrimination in the United States military. The MRFF claimed that Scott and Decker were embedded with American troops stationed in Afghanistanmarker, despite the fact that, according to MRFF president Mikey Weinstein, the military exercises a "complete prohibition of the proselytizing of any religion, faith, or practice...You see [Scott and Decker] wearing American helmets. It is obvious they were completely embedded." When ABC News contacted the U.S. Army in Afghanistan about Scott and Decker's alleged embed, which had taken place four years previously, they said that they no longer have the documentation of the missionaries' status with the troops.

Scott defended the trip to Afghanistan, telling ABC, "It wasn't like we were hiding in the back saying we're going to preach. [The military] knew what we were doing. We told them that we were born again Christians, we're here doing ministry, we shoot for this TV station and we want to embed and see what it was like. We were interviewing the chaplains and we talked to them. We spoke at the services and things like that. So we did do our mission being over there as far as being able to document what the soldiers go through, what it's like in Afghanistan. So I could say that we were on a secular mission as well as far as documenting. I would say we were news reporters as well, we were delivering news of what was actually happening there, but we were also there to document the Christian side." Scott argued that since the pair were acting as Christian journalists, they had the same right to cover the war in Afghanistan as secular networks.

Criticism of personalities

Benny Hinn, an Israelimarker-born faith healer and the host of the widely syndicated program This Is Your Day, is a frequent guest and occasional guest-host for Praise the Lord and Behind the Scenes. Throughout his career, Hinn has claimed to be a conduit for "the anointing", the ability of God to heal his followers of illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. Since the late 1980s, Hinn has claimed to heal attendees at his ministry's "Miracle Crusades", held in stadiums and arenas across the United Statesmarker and the world. Because of Hinn's claims, following, and emotional broadcasts, Paul and Jan Crouch have repeatedly touted him on TBN. However, some Christian critics have criticized Hinn's theology and teachings as heresy, and secular investigative news programs such as Inside Edition, NBC's Dateline, and CBC's the fifth estate have questioned the veracity of Hinn's healing claims, as well as his personal history. Hinn is also being investigated by the Senate Finance Committee as to whether he is mishandling donations to his ministry.

TBN full power stations

Notes: **Indicates a station that is owned by TBN.

DMA# City of license/Market Station Channel
TV (RF)
Owned Since
1. Poughkeepsiemarker - New York, N.Y.marker WTBYmarker ** 54 (27) 1981
2. Santa Anamarker - Los Angeles, CAmarker KTBN-TVmarker ** 40 (27) 1973
3. LaSallemarker - Chicago, ILmarker WWTOmarker ** 35 (10) 1986
4. Burlington, N.J.marker - Philadelphiamarker WGTW-TVmarker ** 48 (27) 2004
5. Irvingmarker - Dallasmarker - Fort Worth, TXmarker KDTX-TVmarker ** 58 (45) 1987
8. Monroemarker - Atlanta, GAmarker WHSG-TVmarker ** 63 (30) 2003
10. Houstonmarker KETH-TVmarker 49 (39) 1987
12. Phoenixmarker KPAZ-TVmarker ** 21 (20) 1978
14. Seattlemarker - Tacomamarker KTBW-TVmarker ** 20 (14) 1985
16. Miamimarker - Fort Lauderdalemarker WHFTmarker ** 45 (46) 1980
17. Cantonmarker - Clevelandmarker - Akron, OHmarker WDLImarker ** 17 (39) 1986
19. Cocoamarker - Orlandomarker - Daytona Beach, FLmarker WHLV-TVmarker ** 52 (51) 2006
23. Portland, Oregonmarker KNMT-TVmarker ** 24 (45) 1985
26. Bloomingtonmarker - Indianapolis, INmarker WCLJmarker ** 42 (43) 1987
30. Hendersonvillemarker - Nashville, TNmarker WPGD-TVmarker ** 50 (33)
32. Newarkmarker - Columbus, OHmarker WSFJ-TVmarker ** 51 (24) 2008
33. Richmond, INmarker - Cincinnatimarker WKOImarker ** 43 (39) 1982
34. Mayvillemarker - Milwaukee, WImarker WWRSmarker 52 (43) 1997
37. San Antoniomarker KHCEmarker 23 (16) 1989
40. Gadsdenmarker - Birmingham, ALmarker WTJPmarker ** 60 (26) 1986
44. Albuquerquemarker - Santa Femarker KNAT-TVmarker ** 23 (24) 1986
45. Oklahoma Citymarker KTBO-TVmarker ** 14 (15) 1981
47. Holly Springs, MSmarker - Memphismarker WBUY-TVmarker ** 40 (41) 1995
61. Mobile, ALmarker - Pensacola, FLmarker WMPVmarker ** 20 (21) 1984
73. Honolulumarker KAAH ** 26 (27) 2003
88. Harlingenmarker - Weslacomarker -
Brownsvillemarker - McAllen, TXmarker
KLUJmarker 44 (34) 1984
118. Montgomerymarker - Selma, ALmarker WMCF-TVmarker ** 45 (46) 2000
141. Beaumont, Texasmarker KITUmarker 33 (34) 1984


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