Religion: Cleaning Up Their Act

Harried evangelists vote to monitor their money and morality

For TV and radio evangelists, 1987 seemed like the Fall and the Flood combined. The PTL fiasco and other scandals produced unseemly bickering, a plague of embarrassing behavior, threats of government intervention and -- most grievous of all -- a disastrous drop in financial contributions. Clearly the preachers had to act to restore confidence or face perpetual chaos. Last week in Washington, the broadcasters did just that. Overcoming deep-seated traditions of independence and secrecy, they agreed to regulate themselves and monitor one another's business practices.

The occasion was the annual convention of National Religious Broadcasters, whose 1,350 members include most of...

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