Paul Crouch, the religious broadcaster who co-founded Trinity Broadcasting Network and was known for his prosperity gospel messages and lavish lifestyle, died Saturday (Nov. 30). He was 79. Photo courtesy Trinity Broadcasting Network

Prosperity gospel televangelist Paul Crouch dead at 79

Paul Crouch, the religious broadcaster who co-founded Trinity Broadcasting Network and was known for his prosperity gospel messages and lavish lifestyle, died Saturday (Nov. 30). He was 79. Photo courtesy Trinity Broadcasting Network

Paul Crouch, the religious broadcaster who co-founded Trinity Broadcasting Network and was known for his prosperity gospel messages and lavish lifestyle, died Saturday (Nov. 30). He was 79. Photo courtesy Trinity Broadcasting Network

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(RNS) Paul Crouch, the religious broadcaster who co-founded Trinity Broadcasting Network and was known for his prosperity gospel messages and lavish lifestyle, died Saturday (Nov. 30). He was 79.

His death was announced on the network's website.

"We are grateful for the life of this amazing servant of God," it said. "Please pray for the Crouch family during this time."

Crouch and his wife, Jan, started the network in a rented facility in Santa Ana, Calif., in 1973. Now based in Costa Mesa, it grew to include a "family of networks" and became the largest and most-watched Christian broadcast company in the country.

"Paul was a pioneer in Christian television; the channels and studios that Paul built around the world are an incredible achievement and will live on as a permanent legacy," religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, founder of the rival Christian Broadcasting Network, said in a statement.

In October, Crouch was taken to a Dallas-area hospital after falling ill. By November he had returned to California, where a spokesman said his doctors were addressing "heart and related health issues."

Crouch was the host of TBN's "Behind the Scenes," which gave donors updates on network activities. He and his wife also co-hosted TBN's flagship "Praise the Lord" program, which now sometimes features other Christian celebrity hosts, such as Bishop T.D. Jakes and singer Carman, but maintains the Christian chats, guest musicians and Pentecostal fervor it has had for decades.

"Tears pour from my eyes, I'll miss my friend but there is Joy in Heaven where millions of people are thanking him for sharing Jesus with them," said evangelist Arthur Blessitt, who has carried a large cross around the world and was a frequent guest on TBN programs.

Crouch was an on-air evangelist but also a media magnate who expanded his television empire to several continents, including Central and South America. Both he and his wife stood out physically -- especially his wife's purple bouffant hairstyle -- but their main success was a multimillion-dollar network to which popular religious broadcasters paid to air their programs.

"With his snowy white mane, he was a visibly important part of televangelistic talk shows, but he did not cultivate a flashy or controversial style of delivering his message," said Anson Shupe, retired professor of sociology from Indiana University-Purdue University, who wrote about televangelists in the 1980s.

Crouch was born in St. Joseph, Mo., and earned a degree in theology from Central Bible Institute and Seminary in Springfield, Mo. He started his broadcasting career at an AM radio station while he was a student.

His father was an Assemblies of God minister who, along with several other family members, attended the Pentecostal denomination's first General Council in 1914. The younger Crouch was appointed by the denomination in 1961 to oversee a film and audiovisual studio in Burbank, Calif. He was also an Assemblies of God credentialed minister from 1957 to 1975, after which he chose not to renew his credentials, the denomination said.

After four years working for the Assemblies of God, Crouch moved to radio and television stations in California in the late 1960s. He and his wife Jan, who he married in 1957, founded TBN in 1973. They had started working with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker but after disagreements, the Bakkers headed to the East Coast to start their own television ministry.

When Jim Bakker and another 1980s televangelist, Jimmy Swaggart, both were felled by scandals, Crouch was able to reap the benefits of their losses.

Like them, Crouch also shared in controversy. In 2004, the network denied allegations of his involvement in a homosexual encounter after the Los Angeles Times reported that he reached a $425,000 settlement with a man who made the claims. Three years later, the ministry defended itself after ABC News' "20/20" reported on luxurious living by the Crouches, including private jets and mansions.

Most recently, Crouch's ministry has been embroiled in litigation since his granddaughter and former chief financial officer, Brittany Koper, was fired in 2011 after questioning its high-cost personal expenditures. The Times said they included the purchase of a $100,000 motor home for Jan Crouch's dogs.

After investigations by nonprofits and journalists over the years, Paul Crouch continued to draw criticism, especially for his embrace of prosperity gospel.

"Paul Crouch at TBN is the greatest proponent of the oldest heresy in the church -- that gain is godliness," said Ole Anthony, a founder of the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, which has investigated Crouch's ministries and others for more than 30 years. "All of the heresy connected with that position is what they're based on and the problem is they've spread that all over the world."

As it has since its start, TBN depends on donors. In addition to original Christian TV programs and faith-based films, there are "praise-a-thons," music-filled events that last a week or two and raise money for the commercial-free network.

Over the years, TBN has expanded to become a group of networks, including Church Channel, a digital network that features Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen; Enlace, a Spanish-language affiliate; and "Smile of a Child," which features children's programming. All told, according to a ministry document, those networks air on more than 10,000 U.S. cable and broadcast affiliates.

TBN's holdings also include Trinity Music City, USA, in Hendersonville, Tenn.; an Irving, Texas production center where programs are translated from English; and the Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando, Fla.

Even Crouch's critics acknowledged his zeal to reach the world with the gospel message via the airwaves.

"Just imagine the kind of drive it took to create this humongous network and singleness of vision," said Anthony. "That's what he will best be remembered for."

The funeral for Crouch will be private but TBN said he will be remembered in a television special that will air Sunday (Dec. 8)  at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. PST, and on Dec. 9  at 2:00 pm PST on all of its networks.



  1. May the peace of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit be with the Crouch family and loved ones during this time of earthly loss and heavenly homecoming, and may the wounderful word of our God and Savior Jesus Christ continue to reach the yet to be saved in Jesus Christ as TBN continues to touch many around the world in Jesus Christ name Amen.

  2. Living proof that religion is a good racket for raking in money off the backs of the poor, naive and faithful. My sympathies go out to anyone foolish enough to donate money to his empire of Mammon.

  3. Truly this is s man of God after his heart. I know the angels are rejoyceing and the Lord is glorified. He will be greatly missed. But never gotten. May the holy spirit continue to empower his church to reach higher heights in preaching the gospel.


  5. My mama bless her heart got me and my kids watching TBN when they were young and she would watch them for me…that was over 25yrs ago…she loved TBN and so did I…since her home going 5 yrs. ago I hadn’t been faithful watch until resently…my heart goes out to the family and all of TBN…Bro. Crouch is home now and what a wonderful peace it will be when we get to see them again…God Bless..

  6. “Which is worse, the fool or the fool who follows him?”
    —Obi Wan Kenobi

  7. I think the big issue here is whether this prosperity gospel produces the kind of LOVE that Jesus preached about?
    Paul the great apostle wrote the epistles, the blue print(plan) for the New Testament church(that means then & now), for e.g. the structure of a church and the behaviour of the pastor and his family(which says to be of a very high standard). Nowhere in the epistles does Paul write about a prosperity gospel? If the prosperity gospel was/is so important how come the Holy Spirit didn’t tell/unction Paul to write about it in the epistles etc?
    A bigger question is, is Paul himself was living under the New Testament, how come Paul never tried to create a mediterranean palace where he could recup after traversing to and fro across the med, especially after being bitten by asps on Patmos, beaten to near death, locked up in prison etc? Paul never ever told the churches to go for a health, wealth, name it and claim it gospel, the epistles contain a very different gospel. Paul re-inforced time and time about loving one another very much. I like reading Thessalonians where Pauls writes about how he had to make tents to make ends meet, Paul was also involved in the daily lives of the people in Thessalonica etc, it paints a different picture of our modern day preachers!
    Again Paul was living under the New Testament and according to Joel could/should have been living in wealth!! Paul did more than all these preachers put together over the 2000 years since then, if there wa a man that deserved a comfortable life it would have been Paul, but he died in a prison in Rome!!!

  8. What a phony, fraud and heretic. Wake up, oh Christians, wake up!

  9. Finally. The truth. The Crouch’s are thieves stealing from the hurting and vulnerable – people who are looking for immediate answers to life’s cruelties. Instead of pointing them to Jesus Christ, they took their money and promised the people that if they believed just right and had the right amount of faith, giving the right amount of money, God would bless them with prosperity… That is not even close to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul Crouch was a homosexual. Jan Crouch is a promiscuous woman who had multiple affairs and an illegitimate child thru one of those affairs. Paul and Jan haven’t lived in the same home together in decades. Their marriage was a sham. They lived like royalty off your backside and pimped the Gospel of Christ for the almighty dollar. Wake up people. Just because someone says they are christian and just because they use God’s name on occasion with a whole bunch of pomp and tears, does not make them Christian! The prosperity gospel is a false gospel. You cannot buy Salvation & comfort from a man who claims to be a messenger for God. The Apostle Paul pronounced anathema (damnation) on those who would preach a false gospel. Unfortunately and unless Paul Crouch repented of his grievous sins before God before he (Paul) died, he busted the gates of hades wide open upon entry & will be subject to the second death quite shortly.

  10. …. there is no peace where he is. Look past the man you idolized & set on a pedestal toward the face of Jesus Christ. Yes, pray for the lost in the Crouch family, but pray more for those also led astray by the false teachings put forth by this ministry of death. Then go back & read your bible & study the lives of Jesus & the disciples – paying careful attention to how they lived & how $$ was treated. The disciples Were not to carry money with them on their trips but they were to earn their way everywhere. Paul shunned taking the people’s money. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for taking the money of the Widows leaving them with nothing. Jesus rebuked them for requiring the Widows to pay their last mite while they starved to death to meet the burden of the Law. TBN is no better. They guilt the Widow & the desperate giving them a false gospel in return. And…. Nowhere will you find the disciples living in the excess of Paul & Jan Crouch. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and ears to hear what HE has to say on this. He is faithful to the seeker. Amen.

  11. Religion is anything man makes it to be. However, the Word of God is not a religion, it is a Person. So yes, religion in this context is a huge money racket – especially with the unbiblical and satanic prosperity gospel. It is a false and manmade religion.

  12. King David was a man after God’s own heart – and the ONLY man God ever said that about. What you said in comparing Paul Crouch to God’s heart is pure blasphemy. If Paul Crouch is the living picture of who your god is, then you can keep your god. And I can thank my God that He is nothing like Paul Crouch.

  13. …it will be doubly worse for the fool who led the fool astray. And…. The fool who was led astray will be held without excuse, responsible for not seeking & knowing the Truth because the Truth has been made known to him. He simply Chooses to exchange the Truth of God for a lie. Read Romans Chapter One. It’s a real eye opener.

  14. Paul Crouch is a super-visionary who demonstrated his love for God and for the unreachable people, like the Islamic people, by using his talents in broadcasting. Those ugly people who said that he only had use the prosperity gospel to con people of their money, are wrong. Mr. P. Crouch is great and I admire him to the max!!! May the good Lord God bless him abundantly.

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