Televangelist Paul Crouch dies at 79
Paul Crouch, the televangelist who built what has been called the world's largest Christian broadcasting network, has died, aged 79.
His grandson Brandon Crouch said he died at his home after a decade-long fight with degenerative heart disease.
"He was an incredible businessman, entrepreneur, visionary; he built something that impacted the world," he said.
Crouch began his broadcasting career while studying theology at Central Bible Institute and Seminary in his native Missouri by helping build the campus' radio station. He moved to California in the early 1960s to manage the movie and television unit of the Assemblies of God before founding Trinity Broadcast Network in 1973 with his wife, Jan.
They turned the network into an international Christian empire that beams prosperity gospel programming to every continent but Antarctica around the clock. The programming promises that if the faithful sacrifice for their belief, God will reward them with material wealth.
Based in California, the network says it has 84 satellite channels and more than 18,000 television and cable affiliates, as well as a Christian amusement park in Orlando, Florida.
The Crouches faced criticism for what critics say was their extravagant lifestyle. Ministry watchdogs have long questioned how TBN spends the hundreds of millions of tax-exempt donations it receives from viewers.
Last year, their granddaughter and her husband's uncle filed lawsuits alleging US$50 million in financial improprieties, detailing opulent spending on private jets and 13 mansions and homes.
The Crouches dismissed the allegations, saying the network's spending was in line with its mission to spread the Gospel.