Proverbs 10:22 says, "The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it."
The world's largest Christian TV channel, the California-based Trinity Broadcasting Network, has become embroiled in a multimillion-dollar financial scandal after members of the family that founded it alleged widespread embezzlement. The claims – by Brittany Koper, whose grandfather Paul Crouch founded TBN, and by Joseph McVeigh, another family member – describe exorbitant spending on mansions in California, Tennessee and Florida, private jets and even a $100,000 (£63,000) mobile home to house the dogs of Crouch's flamboyant wife. The network's lawyer said the Crouches travel by private jet because they have had "scores of death threats, more than the president of the United States".
The network, which claims to broadcast in every continent and has 18,000 affiliates, was set up by Crouch in the 1970s and preaches a "prosperity gospel" which promises material rewards to those who give generously. Two years ago it declared a net worth of more than $800m, although in recent years it has faced increasing financial problems.
According to the lawsuit, reported in US newspapers, Paul Crouch Sr obtained a $50m luxury jet for his personal use through a "sham loan", while church funds – many of which come from donations during events like its "Praise-a-thons" – paid for the dogs' mobile home. McVeigh's lawsuit makes the most damning allegations, claiming "unlawful and unreported income distributions to Trinity Broadcasting's directors". Brittany Koper, the network's former finance director, claims she was fired after she discovered the extent of the financial wrongdoing.
Directors of the network are also accused of misusing funds to cover up sex scandals, including the alleged "cover-up and destruction of evidence concerning a bloody sexual assault involving Trinity Broadcasting and affiliated Holy Land Experience employees; the cover-up of director Janice Crouch's affair with a staff member at the Holy Land Experience; the cover-up of director Paul Crouch's use of Trinity Broadcasting funds to pay for a legal settlement with Enoch Lonnie Ford (a former TBN employee who said he had a homosexual affair with [founder] Paul Crouch)".
In 1998, the elder Crouch secretly paid an accuser $425,000 to keep quiet about allegations of a homosexual encounter which he has consistently denied, saying he settled only to avoid a costly and embarrassing trial.
David E. Harrell, a professor emeritus of American religion at Auburn University, who has written about well-known televangelists told Associated Press. "Business squabbles, if they're complicated with family squabbles, can get nasty indeed."