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In the USA and Canada, a televangelist (a portmanteau of "television evangelist") is a priest or minister who devotes a large portion of his (or her) ministry to TV broadcasts to a regular viewing and listening audience. A number of televangelists are also regular pastors or ministers in their own halls of worship, but the majority of their followers come from their TV and radio audiences.

Evangelists have been using telecommunications to convert people to Christianity since the earliest days of radio. One of the more famous American radio evangelists of the early 20th century was Father Charles Coughlin, whose strongly anti-Communist and anti-Semitic radio ministry reached millions of listeners during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

While largely Catholic in the North, this phenomenon has been almost entirely of the evangelical Protestant variety in the USA Midwest and South, where it formed as an outgrowth of revival-tent preaching, which experienced a resurgence during the Great Depression as itinerant traveling preachers drove from town to town, living off donations.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the rise of evangelical Protestant Christianity created well-known televangelists, with their own media networks, news exposure, and political influence. Many of these figures and their ministries retain substantial influence today.

Although televangelism began as a peculiarly American phenomenon, some US televangelists now reach a wider audience through international broadcast networks, and domestically produced televangelism is increasingly present in some other nations such as Brazil. Some countries do not permit this kind of open-access evangelism, and religious broadcasts, where they exist, are produced by the TV companies rather than private interest groups.


[edit] Scandals

Some televangelists have been at the center of considerable controversy, as some of their ministries believe in the charismatic doctrine of divine healing. This method, seen as pseudoscience and charlatanry by skeptics (and by many Christians) has been exposed as a fraud in the cases of some televangelists, such as Marjoe Gortner and Peter Popoff.

A series of such scandals in the 1980s resulted in the fall from grace of several famous televangelists, including Jim Bakker, who served a prison sentence for financial improprieties associated with his ministry, and Jimmy Swaggart, who made a famous tearful confession to a dalliance with a prostitute. Most of these televangelists have continued preaching, nonetheless, even though their audiences may be a small fraction of what they were at the height of their popularity.

Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell achieved further notoriety in 2001 with their conviction that the September 11 terrorist attacks constituted divine retribution provoked by rampant sexual immorality.

In 2005, Robertson announced on The 700 Club that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez ought to be "taken out" by the US government. Many viewed this as a call for assassination. Later that year, in November, Robertson warned the town of Dover, Pennsylvania of a severe natural disaster following the defeat of the local school board for advocating intelligent design. In 2006, Robertson said God smote Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after he withdrew troops from the Gaza Strip.

[edit] Trivia

  • In 2001, German video artist Christian Jankowski collaborated with televangelist Pastor Peter Spencer to create a piece called "The Holy Artwork." In the video, Jankowski collapses on the stage and the pastor delivers a long sermon about art, using Jankowski's work in video as a metaphor to explain Christian beliefs. While this video was a type of collaboration between the artist and pastor, they each have separate objectives, and it is ultimately not clear whether the piece is mocking the cultural phenomenon of televangelism or helping to promote it (or both).
  • The term televangelist was created by Time magazine.<ref>Time: 75th Anniversary issue, March 9, 1998</ref>

[edit] References

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[edit] See also



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