The Ghastliness that Is ‘Christian Television’
This report by NPR is simultaneously enlightening and depressing. Just knowing that so many people are being misled by pentebabbleist pseudo-theology is enough to give even John Wesley a coronary. And knowing, as well, that the ecclesiology of Daystar is profoundly wrong just adds insult to injury.
About mid way through…
The founder and CEO of Daystar is a dapper, often-tearful, 56-year-old Pentecostal minister from Georgia named Marcus Lamb. He’s a spirited preacher and a tireless fundraiser. He declined numerous requests to speak to NPR. But in a four-page letter from Daniel Woodward, Daystar’s director of marketing, the network defends its business practices and notes that all of them comply with IRS rules. As a nonprofit broadcaster, it is little different from NPR, Woodward says, but for its classification as a church under IRS guidelines.
“Both networks are nonprofit entities that are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3),” Woodward writes. “They both enjoy all of the same benefits and obligations, other than the fact that Daystar does not have to file a form 990, due to its church status, for which it is fully compliant under the law.”
Daystar produces its own lineup of popular Christian talk shows and sells airtime to well-known evangelists such as T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen. “It just speaks to me, and I feel like I’m being ministered to,” says Jordan Riley, a Christian pop singer in Seattle who supports Daystar.
Despite its self-description as a church, Daystar does not resemble a church in any traditional sense.
“Church to me is when I’m gathered with other believers,” Riley says. “I don’t consider it an electronic church.”
Several former employees also don’t call Daystar a church.
“When the lights are on and the cameras are on, we’re a ministry. When those lights are off, cameras are off, it doesn’t feel like a ministry,” says Lisa Anderson, former executive assistant to Marcus Lamb and his wife, Joni. “It is a business making money.”
Daystar’s former IT manager Bill Hornback agrees. “I mean, there’s no Sunday sermon, no Wednesday night meeting. It’s all business. It’s not a church. It’s a television broadcasting company, that’s what they are,” says Hornback.
A tv show isn’t a church. A business isn’t a church. A church isn’t somewhere else, it’s where the people of God are gathered, literally, in one physical place at one particular time. Nothing else has been or ever will be the church in any respectable responsible theologically appropriate way.
Worst of all, these people are taking advantage of a law that wasn’t designed to feather their nests, but which is.