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Watchdog Group Wants TBN Leaders to Step Aside

September 29, 2004|William Lobdell | Times Staff Writer

A church watchdog group recommended Tuesday that Jan and Paul Crouch step aside as leaders of Orange County-based Trinity Broadcasting Network while a panel of Christian leaders investigates its finances.

An executive for TBN, the world's largest Christian network, rejected the idea but said he would meet with critics and review audited financial statements and other related documents with them.

"We will turn over to them whatever we need to turn over," said Paul Crouch Jr., a network executive.

Wall Watchers, a North Carolina group that monitors the finances of more than 500 Christian nonprofits, proposed the series of reforms in response to recent stories in The Times that detailed the Crouches' luxury lifestyle.

The stories have reported that the network takes in far more money than it spends and provided a $425,000 settlement to a former employee who said he had had a homosexual encounter with Paul Crouch. The televangelist has denied the accuser's claim.

Wall Watchers also proposed that the network stop relying on the "prosperity gospel" -- a religious principle that donors will receive financial rewards from God by giving money to TBN -- for fundraising.

TBN officials said the ministry already had extensive independent oversight.

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