The proliferation of TV stations and internet connection has made it easier for information to spread. While this is generally a good thing, it has also increased the threat posed by disinformation. While some autocratic countries limit the number of outlets their citizens can receive news from, others provide so many options that the recipients of that information are presented with fake news as well, which they tend to consume as the truth. In that regard, unregulated news is just as bad as, if not more evil than, censorship.
The increase in digital news outlets has seen a corresponding rise in the number of preachers spreading their message through TV. The fact that they can afford to purchase the expensive airtime means they are already doing well, financially speaking. Some have gone so far as to own entire radio and TV stations dedicated to spreading the word of God! This all sounds good, so where does the criticism come in?
For one, these televangelists have been accused of only being interested in accumulating wealth and not necessarily spreading the message of God. It is not uncommon for them to dedicate the bulk of their airtime in encouraging their followers to donate to the ministry. They have bank account numbers plastered all over the screen, with instructions on how to send money. Some sell all manner of religious materials, such as holy water, at inflated costs. There are those who charge for prayers. In short, nothing is free.
These teachings go against most religious denominations, which preach humility and the shunning of material wealth. Modern televangelists focus their broadcasts to people they think are doing well financially. They cherry pick the verses that appear to support their preaching. Unlike the older religious groups that focused on missionary work and the building of schools, hospitals and social centers, these new age televangelists do not seem to care about giving back to the less fortunate, but on how much their followers can give them. The fact that churches in most countries are exempt from paying taxes also makes their organizations, conduits for money laundering and other forms of financial fraud. They have been known to live lavish lifestyles at the expense of their less well off followers.
This seems to be the case all over the world, not just in Africa. In other parts of the world, televangelists like Jesse Duplantis use ministry funds to make outrageous purchases, including private jets. They usually raise money by telling the flock that God commands them to donate to the ministry. This sounds a lot like emotional blackmail, since there are true believers who sell everything they own to donate to already rich preachers. Televangelists have also been accused of faking the testimonies people give in their shows. They have been accused of paying actors to pretend to be sick or demon possesses, so they can be "miraculously" healed.
So in as much as there are preachers who truly seek to impart spiritual nourishment to their followers, the truth is that there are many more con men who are stealing from innocent people in God's name.
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