"This is the Trinity Broadcasting Network, celebrating XX years of God's miracles."
The following program is paid for by you, the TBN Partners, and is only made possible with your generous support
— TBN Announcer
The Trinity Broadcasting Network
) is a non-profit Christian network launched by Paul and Jan Crouch in The Seventies
, and has since grown to become the largest religious broadcaster on the planet. TBN runs four subsidiary networks – The Church Channel, JCTV, Smile of a Child, and TBN Enlace USA — and also dozens of affiliated stations in practically every corner of the globe. Despite its wide reach, it isn't that well-known outside of the non-inclusive world of the evangelical Christians in its target audience.
TBN is largely responsible for giving many televangelists their first national exposure. It was the first national broadcaster to carry Pat Robertson's The 700 Club
, and launched pastors like Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley, Paula White, and T.D. Jakes to international prominence. Apart from daily sermons and Bible readings, TBN also airs Christian movies and videos; not-so-truthful documentaries
about Creationism or America's "Christian heritage"; and Saturday Morning Cartoons
with a religious slant. Occasionally it will also air concerts featuring Christian musical artists.
The network is best known for its often-controversial TV preachers and constant fundraising through telethons. The latter has drawn criticism for helping justify the lavish lifestyle of the Crouch family. The "prosperity gospel" they preach claims that God rewards Christians with material blessings if they donate large amounts of money to TBN. Christian critics, financial watchdogs, and even Crouch family members have accused TBN of using the "prosperity gospel" message to make desperate followers part with their money, which is allegedly used to buy mansions, jets, and luxury cars for the owners. (This has earned it the nickname "The Blasphemy Network
Shows aired by TBN and its affiliates:
TBN-produced shows include:
- Behind the Scenes – a half-hour daily update on the network's new programming and charitable projects, formerly hosted by Paul Crouch; occasionally goes by the title First to Know.
- Christian Celebrity Showcase - a half-hour weekly program showing archival footage of celebrity testimonials.
- Praise the Lord – a two-hour talk/teaching/variety program, formerly hosted by Paul and Jan Crouch.
- Travel the Road – a show featuring two missionaries visiting war-torn locations in search of converts.
- Virtual Memory - a Game Show focusing on Bible-related trivia questions.
Programs carried by TBN and its sister channels include:
- The 700 Club - with Pat Robertson
- Christian World News - a weekly newscast from Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network
- ACLJ This Week - with Jay Sekulow
- Believer's Voice of Victory - with Kenneth Copeland
- Coral Ridge Hour - with D. James Kennedy
- Creflo Dollar - yes, that is his last name.
- Breakthrough - with Rod Parsley
- End of the Age - with Erwin Baxter
- Enjoying Everyday Life - with Joyce Meyer
- Ever Increasing Faith - with Frederick Price
- Evidence - with Dwight K. Nelson
- God's News Behind The News - Joe Van Koevering
- Hal Lindsey Report
- Hour of Power - with Robert Schuller
- It's Supernatural - with Sid Roth
- John Hagee Today and Cornerstone with John Hagee
- Joseph Prince
- Life Today - with James Robison
- Paula White Today
- Potter's Touch - with T.D. Jakes
- This Is Your Day! - with Benny Hinn
- Turning Point - with David Jeremiah
- Way of the Master - with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort
This network contains examples of:
- Activist Fundamentalist Antics: Some of its programs are DEFINED by this.
- Armored Closet Gay: Paul Crouch, allegedly.
- Author Existence Failure: Paul Crouch's death in November 2013 effectively cancelled Behind the Scenes, and only reruns have been airing in its timeslot since then.
- Berserk Button: For Paul Crouch, "heretic hunters" who criticized the prosperity gospel.
- Big Fancy House: The Crouches own about a dozen, which has done little to silence their critics.
- TBN's headquarters in Costa Mesa — known locally as "Jesus' Wedding Cake" — counts as one. Here is the exterior◊ and interior. TBN has a lot of other studios and properties like this, including the former Twitty City.
- Before major remodeling in the mid-2000's, TBN's sets were made to resemble Big Fancy Houses and were obnoxiously◊ lavish◊.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Crouches, as divulged through numerous court documents between feuding members made public over the last few years.
- Bowdlerise: Averted during airings of The Passion of the Christ. In marked contrast to the rest of its programming, which is rated TV-G, TBN airs The Passion uncut and slaps it with a TV-MA rating and an on-air disclaimer.
- Oddly enough, TBN edits the much milder Jesus of Nazareth miniseries.
- Smile of a Child does this with some of the originally-secular children's shows on its schedule. (The Reppies has its songs redubbed to mention God, while Dooley and Pals adds "Fun Bible Facts".)
- Christian Rock: Frequently showcased, especially on JCTV.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Some of the hosts.
- Corrupt Church: Many Christians consider TBN, with its emphasis on materialism and lavish spending, to be this. Some of the network's most outspoken critics are Christian watchdog organizations.
- Creator Couple: Paul and Jan Crouch, until Paul's Preacher Existence Failure in November 2013.
- Documentary Of Lies: Bible Code Foretold 9/11 used to air yearly as part of TBN's Patriot Day programming. Its main thesis was that the "Bible Code" — a pseudo-scientific method used by Bible prophecy scholars to decipher supposed prophecies hidden in Bible passages — predicted 9/11, as well as Bobby Kennedy's assassination, Bill Clinton's impeachment, and the election of George W. Bush. As the film was made shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom, it also predicted that Saddam Hussein would be linked to 9/11 and would die from terminal disease. TBN continued airing the film even after the Saddam-9/11 link was disproven and Saddam was hanged, but eventually dropped it.
- TBN still airs the American Heritage Series, an episodic documentary series hosted by Christian historian David Barton, who claims that historical evidence proves that the Founding Fathers intended for America to be a Christian republic instead of a secular democracy. Barton has been discredited thanks to his purposeful misreading of historical texts and, in at least one case, ripping off his "history" from a Louis L'Amour novel.
- Dysfunction Junction: The Crouch family and how they run everything, according to their own granddaughter.
- Edutainment Show: All of their children's programming qualifies as this, as all of them aim to educate kids on Christianity and the Bible to varying degrees. The shows aimed at the younger end of the age spectrum also teach letters, numbers, etc.
- Guest Host: Paul and Jan Crouch hosted Praise the Lord until the early 2000s, when old age and increasing health problems forced them to leave. The program is now hosted by various evangelists.
- Implied Death Threat: How many people interpreted these comments by Paul and Matt Crouch not long after Brittany Koper (Paul's granddaughter and Matt's niece) started accusing TBN of fraud.
- According to Koper, the Crouches routinely dished these out. She has claimed in affidavits that Matt Crouch took out a gun during a confrontation with her, while Paul Crouch compared her to John the Baptist (who was beheaded).
- And there's also the times when Paul and his fellow televangelists threatened their critics on the air, such as this message.
- Jesus Saves: Often invoked in numerous creative ways.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: TBN used to have a practice of repeating new episodes of Praise the Lord at least once, specifically so viewers could record an episode they liked. The advent of things like DVR, and the launch of an online video archive called iTBN, made this practice obsolete.
- Letterbox: When it airs older Bible films, like The Greatest Story Ever Told. This was somewhat amusing in the days before 1080p HD, as the opening credits for that movie were too small to read.
- Milestone Celebration: TBN temporary dropped all 24/7 programming in favor for an all-season telethon, "Fall Phaise-a-Thon" to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
- That's nothing new. "Praise-a-thons" past and present typically air twenty-four hours a day (really eight-hour live broadcasts that are then repeated until the following day) for a week.
- Moral Guardians: Paul and Jan Crouch may have caused the whole hysteria about Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" with this clip.
- The Moral Substitutes: Two of its sister channels, Smile of a Child TV (advertised as an alternative to Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network) and JCTV (a channel patterned after MTV and its ilk, aimed at teens/young adults).
- Patriotic Fervor: The vanity/copyright image closing Praise the Lord shows an American flag superimposed over the Statue of Liberty.
- Its Fourth of July and Patriot Day programming is often of a right-wing and nationalistic bent.
- Religion Is Right: The main point of the pro-Creationism programs it airs, often laughably argued.
- Spoofed with Their Own Words: Averted in The Nineties, when TBN wanted to book Genesis to appear after they released the song "Jesus He Knows Me." TBN apparently thought, what with the title of the song and the biblical signifigance of the band's name, that "Jesus He Knows Me" was a praise song. Instead, it turned out that the song was Phil Collins' savage satire of recent televangelism scandals. Once they figured this out, TBN dropped any interest in hosting a performance.
- Stepford Smiler: It has long been alleged, first by the Los Angeles Times and then by their granddaughter, that Paul and Jan Crouch lived separately for years despite still appearing on television as a devoted married couple.
- The Rival: Currently it's Daystar, another megachurch-focused cable network. Other rivals have come and gone:
- PTL was founded by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, the original TBN founders, but their scandals in The Eighties brought it down.
- Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) was a friendly rival — Pat Robertson's The 700 Club aired on both channels — but that channel eventually switched to mostly-secular programming and is now known as ABC Family.
- Odyssey made a similar switch to secular shows and became The Hallmark Channel at the Turn of the Millennium.
- Telethon: Afternoon-long "Praise-a-thons" in the spring and fall and smaller "Macedonian Calls" during the summer. Similar fundraising pitches turn up when Paul Crouch says God told him to start one.
- Token Minority: TBN was accused of doing this by hiring a controversial Hispanic pastor named Phil Aguilar (an ex-convict and self-styled "biker pastor" whose Set Free Church has been facing charges of physical and spiritual abuse, sex scandals involving his son Geronimo, and accusations of financial misdeeds) to the board of a TBN-offshoot group called National Minority Television in order to secure an FCC license for their Miami station (which was being challenged) during the early 1990s.
- Too Soon: Meggido, the TBN-produced sequel to The Omega Code, was released just four days before the 9/11 attacks. Afterwards, TBN got decided to use the national trauma to market their movie and inserted fresh images of the burning World Trade Center into a trailer. When viewers wrote in to complain, Paul Crouch scoffed at them for taking offense and replayed the trailer on his show.
- Uncanny Valley Makeup: Jan Crouch, a particularly notorious case◊. Allegedly, Jan Crouch and Tammy Faye Bakker didn't like each other when the Bakkers worked at TBN, with makeup being just one of the ways they tried to compete with each other.
- Un-Person: The network's founders, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, due to their fall from grace in The Eighties (see the Trivia page for more).
- Before the PTL scandal; much of this began when Paul Crouch (who had once been Jim Bakker's youth pastor in Minnesota) and Jim Bakker had an unspecified falling-out shortly after TBN launched that resulted in the Bakkers leaving to strike out on their own.
- A more recent Un-Person is Paul Crouch, Jr., who was the heir apparent until his familial relation to Brittany Koper led to him allegedly becoming collateral damage in the legal battle between her and the rest of the Crouch family. While he was the regular host of Behind the Scenes before his firing, TBN has barely mentioned him since. He now works for the Word Network.
- Viewers Like You: Phrased as "Because of your generous support".
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