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Televangelist Misappropriation, Essay Example

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Essay

Many people have been inspired by the work of televangelist. Televangelists are people who express religious beliefs using mass communications, especially television. Some people have criticized televangelists for misappropriating the trust of their congregations. The issue is investigated here.

Like many elements of human culture, religion can be used as a tool for wrong-doing similar to the way technology can be used either to heal or kill. Despite a trend toward immoral behavior evident in some theological circles at certain times, it does not itself detract from the inherit truth contained in the traditions which they profess to champion (Jesus-is-Savior.com, 2011; Winzenburg, 2011). It does however speak to the conscience not only of the televangelists but also to that of their congregation. Many such evangelists maintain leadership through the eliciting fear in their followers. One program that implements such strategies quite proficiently is the 700 Club.  Producers of the program blatantly exploit the insecurities of their followers by warning them of impending doom that is usually the aim of some earthbound servant of the devil whom also happens to be leader of some country who is politically unfriendly to the West. If it is not Iran’s Amedinijad, it is North Koreas Kim Jong Il — if not Il, it is some other world villain. Surely, in the 90s and early 2000, Satan’s servants were Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. In the future, it will be some other non-WASP leader of a foreign power.

The underlying argument here is not so much whether or not Il, Castro, Hussein, Gaddafi, or Bin Laden are evil or not. They may or may not be. It is neither here nor there for the sake of exposing the issue with respect to the televangelists and their followers themselves. The problem is that televangelists prey on the natural fears of the populace for profit and that their followers are not cognizant enough to see through the smoke.

The sheer illogical involved in the assertions of some of these leaders underscores a critique of one approach. It is a logical (if not metaphysical) error to equate modern nations with their historic counterparts. Modern day Iran is not ancient Persia any more than modern day Greece is ancient Greece or modern day Israel, ancient Israel. If they are, what makes the US not pre-Columbian America? What makes the United Kingdom not King George the Third’s 18th century England? What makes present day Germany not Nazi Germany?

To be unaware of this understanding obviates the responsibility of the televangelist follower (Gardener & Avolio, 1998). Likewise, the follower is also responsible for not seeking to understand their own faith more clearly. In the case of the 700 Club, Christians should follow the example of Jesus himself in including the outcast, the leper, and the downtrodden in their kingdom – just as Muslims should scorn the targeting of non-combatants by so-called jihadists.

Some people have criticized televangelists for misappropriating the trust of their congregations. Although it is only logical to assert that not every televangelist follows a pattern of abusive exploitation of faith, it is difficult to discount the problem of misappropriation among them and perhaps among religious leaders in general.

References

Gardener, W.L. & Avolio, B. J. (1998). The charismatic relationship: A dramaturgical perspective. Academy of Management Review, 23(1): 32-58.

Jesus-is-Savior.com. (2011). Greedy Televangelists! Retrieved from jesus-is-savior.com/Greedy%20Televangelists!.htm

Winzenburg, S. (2011). Televangelist Report Card. Christianity Today. Retrieved from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/october22/10.88.html

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