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Televangelism

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The term televangelist is used to describe a religious minister (often a Christian priest) who devotes a large portion of his (or her) ministry to TV and radio broadcasts to a regular viewing and listening audience. A number of televangelists are also regular pastors or ministers in their own halls of worship, but the majority of their followers come from their TV and radio audiences.

Televangelists have been preaching to audiences since the earliest days of radio. One of the more famous radio televangelists of the early 20th century was Father Charles Coughlin, whose rabid anti-Communist radio ministry reached millions of listeners during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

A few televangelists are not considered to be "officially" ordained ministers in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

Some televangelists have been at the center of considerable controversy, as their methods and ministries have engaged in faith healing. This method, seen as pseudoscience by skeptics, has been exposed as a fraud in the case of some televagelists, such as Peter Popoff[?].

As in other areas of faith centering around a charismatic figure, there are opportunities for unscrupulous "ministers" to try to take advantage of the faith and charity of the donor audience. Even honest evangelists, who begin their ministry with a more genuine calling to serve, may be tempted to embezzlement or self-indulgence by the celebrity of their position and the amounts of money flowing through their hands. A series of such scandals in the 1980s resulted in the fall from grace of several famous televangelists, including Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. Most of these televangelists have continued preaching, nonetheless, even though their audiences may be barely a fraction of what they were at the height of their popularity.

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