Television Ministers Find Audiences in Both Red, Blue States
Dec. 8, 2004 – A new generation of television ministers — with a much subtler, decidedly more approachable style than televangelists of old — is finding an audience in both “red” Republican and “blue” Democratic states.
Joel Osteen is senior pastor of the 30,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston, the largest church in America. His book, “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential,” is on The New York Times best-seller list. He says there is an enormous demand for advice that includes the perspective of God.
“People are just hungry for hope,” he said. “To be built up, to know that God is good and he’s on their side.”
Missouri-based minister Joyce Meyer, whose “Enjoying Everyday Life” broadcast draws millions of viewers worldwide every day, says much the same thing.
“If you’ve got inner strength, you can stand anything,” she said during a sermon.
T.D. Jakes — who pastors The Potter’s House, a nondenominational megachurch in Houston — fills stadiums across the country, teaching families how to improve their lives by using the Bible.
All three have audiences that are widely diverse — people who live in both red and blue states, but who seem to have in common a real concern that American society is pushing God out. It is a concern that prompted millions of people of faith to help color the presidential election map as red as it is, primarily in the Midwest and South.
“I do believe that’s what people did at the election, absolutely,” Meyer said. “I don’t see how we can look at it any other way. I believe they’re saying, ‘Look, we don’t want all this stuff that you’re trying to push at us and cram down our throats. We want morality. We want good things. We want God.’ “
By mentioning morality, they also mean much of what they don’t want is what they see as the growing coarseness of today’s media.
“All the dirt and violence and the bad language and the hatred and the murder and just everything that’s coming at us every place we turn,” said Meyer. “I think people are just, in general, getting fed up with it.”
It is a frustration not so strongly expressed in years past. “I think people of faith have been a little intimidated,” said Jakes.
But with the results of the 2004 presidential election, they are sending a message loud and clear.
“There’s this real scourge of secularism that’s hitting us, and they’re trying to pull out anything that has to do with God,” said Fr. Francis Mary on a recent Eternal Word Television Network broadcast. “And it’s gotten absurd, really.”
It’s a perspective millions are tuning into — media that addresses what they want to hear.
ABC News’ Erin Hayes filed this report for World News Tonight.
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