The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is a non-profit Christian network launched by Paul and Jan Crouch in The '70s, and has since grown to become the largest religious broadcaster on the planet. It has 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, or people who grew up in evangelical Christian homes (whether or not they still identify as evangelical and/or Christian).
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; 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.")
TBN's subsidiary networksAll of these networks are usually carried on the digital subchannels of TBN's stations:
- Hillsong Channel: A network devoted to content from the Australian megachurch of the same name. The network previously operated as The Church Channel (devoted to Church services and instructional programming) until 2016, although some of its previous programming has remained in off-peak hours.
- TBN Enlace USA: A feed of the Latin American religious network Enlace.
- Smile: Formerly Smile of a Child, it primarily carries children's programming.
- JUCE TV: A channel devoted to teens and young adults.
- TBN Salsa: Launched 2015, it is targeted towards English-speaking Hispanic Americans. Following the launch of Salsa, due to technical limitations with TBN's digital transmitters, the over-the-air feeds of JUCE and Smile were merged — with Smile airing in the daytime and JUCE airing at night (they are still 24-hour channels on digital platforms).
Shows aired by TBN and its affiliates:
TBN-produced shows include:
- Inside the Trinity Family of Networks, hosted by Matt & Laurie Crouch
- 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, yet oddly mixed with a computer theme.
Programs carried by TBN and its sister channels include:
- 3-2-1 Penguins!
- 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
- The Big Garage - one of the few non-Christian shows aired by TBN's Smile subchannel.
- Breakthrough - with Rod Parsley
- Coral Ridge Hour - with D. James Kennedy
- Creflo Dollar - yes, that is his last name.
- Davey and Goliath - possibly the only program presented by a mainline denomination.
- 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
- Patta Potta Monta (Going Wild, Going Green) - an anime series aired on Smile TV.
- Paula White Today
- Potter's Touch - with T.D. Jakes
- Swamp Critters
- Swiss Family Robinson
- Tales of Little Women
- 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.
- 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 TV 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 JUCE TV.
- 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.
- 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 rotating evangelists.
- Hilarious Outtakes: In the mid-1990s, one show featured a clipreel of these featuring sets falling down, light bulbs exploding in the middle of fiery sermons, various pranks and hysterics- and managed to make a scriptural lesson out of it, too.
- 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.
- 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. This issue partly lies to do with the fact that TBN doesn't make its HD feed available over-the-airnote , requiring a cable or satellite subscription, or access to its streaming service iTBN via its website and mobile app to receive it.
- Moral Guardians: The Crouches, specifically their son Paul Crouch, Jr., contributed to the "satanic panic" of The '80s by famously claiming that Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" contained demonic messages.
- The Moral Substitutes: Two of its sister channels, Smile (formerly known as Smile of a Child TV), advertised as an alternative to Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network; and JUCE TV (formerly 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 the main points of the pro-Creationism programs it airs.
- Spoofed with Their Own Words: Averted in The '90s, 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 significance 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.
John Bloom (a.k.a. Joe Bob Briggs): That was Jan Crouch reminding us that God can sometimes be a harsh mistress. As well as a rotten hairdresser.
- The Daily Show had a segment in The '90s called "God Stuff", which often poked fun at Paul and Jan Crouch by playing weird clips from their TV appearances.
- 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 '80s 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, got bought and sold a couple of times, and is now known as Freeform.
- Odyssey, a channel formed from the merger of two smaller nets, made a similar switch to secular shows (at first as a joint venture between Hallmark and The Jim Henson Company) and eventually became The Hallmark Channel at the Turn of the Millennium.
- Telethon: Ten-day/afternoon-long "Praise-a-thons" in the spring and fall, and smaller-scale "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.
- 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 '80s (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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