The Newest Webvangelists are Just Fallen Televangelists
In their heyday of the 1970s and 80s, televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker drew in hundreds of thousands of worshippers and millions of dollars before scandal and corruption gutted individual ministries and then the entire genre.
Now, however, the Internet has made it easy and inexpensive to distribute video sermons around the world, breathing new life into virtual ministries and even providing a second act for a few infamous televangelists, a Canadian researcher says.
“They see the technology as a God-given opportunity to spread the message,” says Denis Bekkering, a PhD candidate in the joint program in religious studies at Wilfrid Laurier University of Waterloo, Ont. “So when new technology such as radio or television — or in this case, Internet video — arises, these groups are often eager to employ them as tools for that purpose.”
He coined the term “intervangelism” for this new breed of tech-enabled ministry, and his research is published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.