Over the years I have sarcastically referred to the televangelists networks as "the hair channels" - since so many of the Christian preachers/performers seem to be infatuated with their hair styles and hair-dos just as much as they are padding their pocketbooks with donations from gullible Christians who send them their hard-earned money.
I get a kick out of watching these channels from time to time as I channel surf, and this week I saw two things that were humorous, yet disturbing at the same time. One of them involves Mac Brunson on the INSP network.
The first was a clip of Jesse Duplantis. Jesse is the cajun, folksy preacher from Louisiana that preaches unashamedly a health and wealth gospel - that is HIS own health and wealth. He is so far out in his views on money and wealth accumulation for himself and his followers that I was shocked earlier this year when I learned that one of Maurilio's clients actually had Duplantis into their church to preach.
In a wonderful display of just how brazen these health/wealth preachers have become, I saw Jesse say the following (I'm paraphrasing), bragging about his wealth: "I had a man come up to me one time and say to me 'Jesse, let me shake your hand, because I've always wanted to shake the hand of a millionaire.' And you know what I told the man as I shook his hand? 'Multiiiiii' " . If you've ever heard Jesse, you can imagine him saying "multiiiii" followed with his cajun giggle. To which the other hair channel phony balonies on the stage with him started hooting and hollering along with the studio audience. Yep, 'ole Jesse is not just a millioinaire, but a MULTI-millionaire, and proud of it. Nothing wrong with being a millionaire - but from donations of Christians who think they are giving money to God by giving it to Jesse and then BRAGGING about it? Praise Jeeeesus! God will get it through Jesse if he can get it to Jesse - ain't God good!!??
At Jesse's website he encourages people to become his "Partners" who will regularly donate money to his ministry. Benefits of being a "partner" include preferred seating at events, more personal prayer (Jesse will pray for YOU!), more heavenly rewards. Can you say "indulgences"?
But the next thing I saw on the INSP network was quite disturbing also.
I saw Mac Brunson delivering a sermon on INSP - pretty good sermon; but here is the disturbing part: it was obvious to me the sermon audio had been altered to include an applause track....at a point in the original sermon where Mac had only scant applause, there was edited in more rigorous, spontaneous applause. And it was so poorly edited that while the raucus applause was heard, at the same time a balcony camera shot showed that hardly anyone was clapping! There was also a portion where I believe they edited the tape to include more intense laughter at one of Mac's witty quips.
If indeed FBC Jax or the INSP folks are editing the audio tracks, how sad is that? I would think that FBC Jax would be above that sort of shameless image manipulation.
That has me wondering: who would do this editing? Do the FBC Jax media folks edit the sermons prior to sending them to INSP for airing to beef up the congregational responses? Why would they do that? Why would they alter the applause on the INSP version, but not the version posted to the 316 web site? What does this say about the congregation at FBC Jax? Are they just an audience who is expected to fork over their money to pay for INSP TV time, and to offer up their laughter and applause for Mac, and if they don't do that well enough the media bunch will "correct" that through clever audio track editing?
If indeed FBC Jax is altering the audience reaction to Mac's sermons aired on INSP, its another example of the disrespect and disdain shown for the sheep at FBC Jax by the leadership. From the accusations of them being a "hotbed of legalism", to the accusations made by Paige Patterson that Brunson never got a honeymoon at FBC Jax, to the disrespectful manner that Mac tells people they must tithe and give to his special offerings - even the praise given to Jesus that they didn't get a raise because they can't handle their finances....all of that, and now the stupid sheep don't even have the sense to know how to clap right and laugh loudly enough.
Used to be that there was a wide chasm, at least in my mind, between the hair channel televangelist ministries and our SBC mega churches.
But I'm not so sure there is much of a difference anymore.
Its all about the money and the image.