Monday, August 02, 2010

The Decline Of Dr. D. James Kennedy's Personality Cult TV & Radio Empire

At one time, Dr. James Kennedy amassed a large $37 million a year profit political empire using his Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church to promote his own personal political causes over the airwaves. He once aired his radio and TV messages to 200 nations. These mainly political messages were wrapped in a paper-thin veneer of God as some justification for whatever personal views that Kennedy himself held. It was like bait-and-switch Christianity. You expected to hear a sermon about God, but instead you hear another Kennedy political speech. But, it all has gone to waste after a 2006 heart attack, and 2007 death of Kennedy. Today, most radio and TV stations have dropped his program, and his church membership has sharply declined from a 10,000 member peak down to around 1800 to 2200 members. Side political groups established by Kennedy have also folded.

If anything, the rise and fall of the D. James Kennedy empire was proof positive that most members of his church or radio and TV listeners weren't there for God in the very first place, but drawn to the political personality cult of Kennedy himself. It's a pretty good sign that the church members put God second, if at all in their lives, and mainly thrive for the socially conservative politics that Kennedy once preached. If Kennedy wanted to go into politics, then he should have run for political office, not hijacked a church to further his politics. But Kennedy did what he wanted, and up to 3 million viewers with little spiritual discernment or true love for God followed this televangelist for many years.

D. James Kennedy had great potential to leave a lasting faith mark on the world. He went from a dance instructor, to gaining several important degrees in theology. He was a deeply intelligent man, but his love for politics rather than God became his fatal spiritual flaw. Despite an excellent speaking style, he would always leave wary viewers with a deep sense and mistrust. Asking viewers to send him in $500 for some political group like his "President's Club", made him a subject of scorn and ridicule by some. Kennedy might have been another Billy Graham is only he had more faith. But politics, not God, was his first love.

A church really based on faith in God should have withstood any change in pastors. But a personality cult with a man at the head blows away in the wind. Such is the case of the crumbling Dr. D. James Kennedy empire, a once powerful presence in televangelism broadcasting.