Televangelism

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Televangelism is the use of television to communicate the Christian faith. The word is a blend of television and evangelism and was coined by Time magazine.[1] A “televangelist” is a Christian minister who devotes a large portion of his ministry to television broadcasting. The term is also used derisively by critics as an insinuation of aggrandizement by such a minister.

Contents

Origins

Televangelism began as a peculiarly American phenomenon, resulting from a largely deregulated media where access to television networks is open to virtually anyone who can afford it, combined with a large Christian population that is able to provide the necessary funding. However, the increasing globalisation of broadcasting has enabled some American televangelists to reach a wider audience through international broadcast networks, including some that are specifically Christian in nature, such as Trinity Broadcasting Network and The God Channel. Domestically produced televangelism is increasingly present in some other nations such as Brazil. Some countries have a more regulated media with either general restrictions on access or specific rules regarding religious broadcasting. In such countries, religious programming is typically produced by TV companies (sometimes as a regulatory or public service requirement) rather than private interest groups. Some televangelists are also regular pastors or ministers in their own places of worship (often a megachurch), but the majority of their followers come from their TV and radio audiences. Others do not have a conventional congregation as such and solely work through television.

History

Christianity has always emphasised preaching the gospel to the whole world. Historically, this was achieved by sending missionaries and the distribution of bibles and literature. Some Christians realised that the rapid uptake of radio beginning in the 1920s provided a powerful new tool for this task, and they were amongst the first producers of radio programming. Radio broadcasts were seen as a complementary activity to traditional missionaries, enabling vast numbers to be reached at relatively low cost, but also enabling Christianity to be preached in countries where this was illegal and missionaries were banned. The aim of Christian radio was to both convert people to Christianity and to provide teaching and support to believers. These activities continue today, particularly in the developing world. Shortwave radio stations with a Christian format broadcast worldwide, such as HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, Family Radio's WYFR, and the Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN), Grong Grong, among others.

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