Paul and Jan Crouch, founders of the world’s largest Christian media empire, walk a little slower these days. But that hasn’t slowed down the whirlwind transformation of their newest acquisition: Orlando’s Holy Land Experience theme park.
When their Trinity Broadcasting Network purchased Holy Land for $37 million in June, longtime employees and supporters hoped the takeover would usher in a new era of financial stability for the park. However, once the first family of old-school American televangelism settled in, they began reshaping it.
More than 50 employees — or a quarter of the work force — were fired or laid off. Scores of trees buffering the re-creation of first-century Jerusalem from I-4 traffic were cut down. The cavelike interior of the biblically themed Oasis Cafe was painted purple. Furnishings left behind by the previous owners were dumped, and then replaced by opulent and expensive new pieces.
Since Holy Land passed into the control of the Crouches, it also has undergone a theological shift — from its founder’s Baptist roots to a branch of Pentecostal Protestantism.
The Crouches are proponents of what is known as the “prosperity gospel.” It is based on the precept of “sacrificial giving by faith,” which encourages followers to donate to their financial limits — and in some cases beyond — believing the contribution will miraculously multiply.