Religion: Enterprising Evangelism

Scandal opens a window on TV's major preachers -- but not too wide

Televangelism is a special kind of big business. In less than two decades, the vocation of preaching the Word of God via video has grown from hardscrabble beginnings into far-flung real estate and broadcast empires with assets ranging in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In almost every instance, those holdings are dominated by a single dynamic individual who decides how the money will be spent and who strives, above all, to keep vital donations flowing from the faithful.

Who are the televangelists and how well are those multimillion-dollar stewardships handled? What exactly happened at PTL? Could it affect other major...

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