Like other magazines—secular and religious—CHRISTIANITY TODAY has kept a close watch on televangelist misadventures. But unlike many of those magazines (the secular ones, that is), we have tried not to limit our focus to the sensational scandal or the infrequent donation dipping. Instead, we have tried to ask the deeper questions that such embarrassing conduct should naturally raise in the minds of the church universal: To whom do religious broadcasters answer? What is the relationship between televangelism and the local church? Is television suited for the gospel? Or, perhaps: Is the gospel suitable for television?
As you will see in our news report beginning on page 32, we are again taking a hard look at the religious broadcasting industry, tracking donor patterns before and after the scandals that rocked the industry.
Many teleministries were reluctant to release such information, a situation that, for us, was both understandable and frustrating. Understandable because the media have not always been careful to distinguish the good guys from the bad ones. As one ministry spokesperson told us, “Whenever we have cooperated with the media, it seems we always pay for it with negative publicity.”
But canceled interviews and repeated stonewalling does little to dispel the image of cash-hungry ministers accountable to no one. As annoying as it may be to answer questions about money, those who face that task eventually regain the public’s trust.
Ultimately, religious broadcasters must answer to their viewers. And as our report suggests, the viewers may be trying to say, “Enough!”
Harold B. Smith, Managing Editor
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