(RNS) — Trinity Broadcasting Network said it will no longer air the daily Texas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries program known as “Believer’s Voice of Victory.”
Instead, the network will replace it with programming by Steven Furtick, a megachurch pastor who is widely known for his appearances on PreachersNSneakers, an Instagram account that features influencer pastors and their expensive shoes.
The change will be effective Oct. 2.
Nate Daniels, Trinity Broadcasting Network’s marketing director, said the move is part of a number of changes the network “has been making over the last several years.”
“Just like the world in which we live, TBN is constantly evolving, seeking to provide exclusive programming that is uniquely built for the challenges facing Christians in this moment,” Daniels said in a statement provided to Religion News Service on Wednesday (Aug. 19). “As the leading global religious broadcaster, we want to provide our viewers with compelling and dynamic preaching, teaching, news and entertainment.”
Kenneth Copeland Ministries announced it on Facebook on Monday. However, Copeland had already said as much in a blog post on Aug. 3 on the Kenneth Copeland Ministries website. In that blog, Copeland said he’s partnered with Trinity Broadcasting Network for 40 years.
“This is a big change, but one we are ready for because we understand change,” Copeland wrote.
“We are exploding with vision. We are experiencing His power, and we have embraced the greatest changes we have ever seen,” he continued in the post. “Change is a good thing because everything that is alive changes in order to grow.”
Copeland, a prosperity gospel televangelist, hosts “Believer’s Voice of Victory” with his wife, Gloria Copeland. The show teaches on righteousness, healing and prosperity — principles the Copelands say are the foundations for victorious living through Jesus Christ.
Copeland, who with his wife served on President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board during the 2016 campaign, has come under fire for his luxurious lifestyle.
Copeland has also come under fire amid the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the pastor declared “judgment” on the coronavirus pandemic in a widely shared YouTube video that has more than 1.7 million views.
“I demand a vaccination to come immediately,” Copeland shouted in prayer. “I call you done. … You come down from your place of authority.”
And, in early August, despite mounting coronavirus cases nationwide, Kenneth Copeland Ministries held the Southwest Believers’ Convention in Fort Worth as religious events in Texas have been largely exempt from COVID-19 executive orders, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The newspaper noted many attendees were not wearing masks or keeping 6 feet apart.
Meanwhile, Furtick has associated himself with other megachurch pastors such as Joel Osteen, James MacDonald, Ed Young Jr., Perry Noble and T.D. Jakes, some of whom have also been criticized for promoting a prosperity gospel.
Furtick leads North Carolina’s Elevation Church, a diverse and youthful congregation described as one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation. The church, as The Charlotte Observer noted, carries an “orthodox Christian message that comes wrapped in a thoroughly modern package.”
Clad in streetwear, Furtick, who holds a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, conducts lively sermons that sometimes resemble rap songs with beats playing in the background while he preaches.
“Have you ever felt too churchy to be wordly, but a little too wordly to fit in some churches?” Furtick said in a recent sermon.
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Recently, Furtick has engaged in discussions with fellow pastors about racial inequities and the lack of Black leadership in churches.
“It becomes an excuse for me to say that just because I haven’t experienced it in that way it doesn’t exist,” Furtick said in a YouTube video posted in June.
Furtick’s lavish lifestyle has also been scrutinized.
In 2013, The Charlotte Observer reported Furtick’s plans to build a 16,000-square-foot estate with 7.5 bathrooms and an electrified gate. Although the tax value on the 19-acre property was $1.6 million, the newspaper found Furtick paid $325,000 for it.
Furtick in a sermon was quoted saying that it was “not that great of a house.”