Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world’s largest Christian television system, has come to the rescue of the financially troubled Holy Land Experience, a Bible-based tourist attraction near Universal Studios Orlando.
The arrangement was more a handover than a takeover, spokesmen for both organizations said. Holy Land needed financial support and a nationwide promotional platform to remedy sagging attendance. Trinity needed land to build television production studios for the license it recently acquired for WTGL-TV Channel 52, as well as a back lot for some of its movie production and music videos.
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However, while some legitimate ministries and teachers (those who adhere to the orthodox teachings and practices of historical Christianity) appear on TBN, the network promotes such an incredible amount of heretical material – including extremist Word-Faith teachings – that it is often referred to as “The Blasphemy Network.”
“Universal Studios does the same thing,” said Paul Crouch Jr., son of Trinity’s founder who now serves as vice president of the California-based network. “We want Holy Land to be a smaller, faith-based version of that.”
In all, four members of the Crouch family, who founded and control Trinity, will join Holy Land’s board of directors. They replace seven of the eight previous members. Michael Powell, the current president and chief executive offer of Holy Land, will remain on the new board.
Since Holy Land is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, there is no stock ownership.
Thus, the park passes to the Crouches by virtue of their control of the board. Trinity is also a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.
Beginning in 2001, Holy Land was involved in a lengthy dispute with the Orange County Assessor’s office over its tax-exempt status. Last June, the legislature passed a law specifically exempting Holy Land from property taxes.
Trinity — which owns 34 television stations in the U.S. and has nearly 400 additional stations or affiliates around the world — reported revenue of nearly $200 million in 2005, the latest year it filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The network reaches nearly 100 million U.S. households via broadcast, cable and satellite.
Paul Crouch Jr. said in an interview Tuesday that the agreement was “a perfect marriage” of the two ministries.
The arrangement, he said, “has brought synergy to an unprecedented level.”