Oct 29th, 2010 by iq2
The Crystal Cathedral, a 10,000 plus mega-church in Orange County, California, filed for bankruptcy this week. The Crystal Cathedral was the original tele-evangelical church, and its "Hour of Power" television show is broadcast all over the world. Last month, the Reverend Eddy Long, star pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, who preaches family virtues and has been feted by George Bush at the White House, was accused of sexually harassing three young men. Ted Haggard, who disbanded the massive New Life Church of Colorado Springs when a gay prostitute revealed their rapport, briefly became an insurance salesman before announcing this summer that, cured of his homosexuality, he was starting again.
The mega-church movement is closely associated with the rise of American evangelical styles of worship in Latin America and Africa. When the Chilean miners emerged from the mine two weeks ago, they were wearing T-shirts sent to them from a megachurch in Georgia. Evangelical churches have been credited with - or implicated in - re-building the grass-roots of the American right over the past 15 years, with the Tea Party being the latest vehicle for that coalition.
The evangelical movement has a globally influential role, and the megachurches are an important element of it. They have huge congregations with inspirational, charismatic pastors. They are run like businesses and, it might seem, often with rather business-like objectives of raising funds and satisfying customers.
In this Skype debate which brings together a London audience and speakers from the US, we wanted to hear from insiders to American Protestantism. This is not a debate about the rights and wrongs of religion, but rather a very specific debate from within Protestant Christianity about the form of worship found inside the megachurches.