Posts Tagged “robert h schuller”

Crys-extThe drama surrounding the slow demise of the palatial “Crystal Cathedral” in Garden Grove, California continues to play out. The local Roman Catholic diocese purchased the “Cathedral” in a bankruptcy sale only a few months, ago, and I’d have thought things might have been resolved with creditors being paid off … but alas, it was not to be. The Los Angeles Times reports that founding pastor and televangelist Robert H. Schuller resigned from its rump board over money he thinks he’s owed (WebCite cached article):

Robert H. Schuller and his wife cited the “negative” environment at the church he founded when announcing their resignation from the Crystal Cathedral board.

“We cannot continue to serve on the board in what has become an adversarial and negative atmosphere especially since it now seems that it will not be ending any time soon,” Arvella Schuller said in a statement Saturday. …

The resignations are a result of a breakdown in negotiations over financial claims against the church that the Schullers filed in Bankruptcy Court.

Schuller; his wife, Arvella; their daughter Carol Schuller Milner; and her husband, Timothy Milner, allege that the church owes them money for copyright infringement, intellectual property violations and unpaid contracts.

Sorting through competing financial claims has delayed $12.5 million in payments to some church creditors and could threaten the church’s ability to continue its ministries, including the “Hour of Power” broadcasts.

That’s right folks. With tens of millions of dollars of debt owed to a large number of creditors — some of whom are small businesses who’ve gone unpaid for years already — the Schuller family is hovering over their church’s sad remains, fending them off and demanding to be paid first. That there isn’t any money left — and that the Schullers themselves caused their church’s pathetic financial condition in the first place — appears not to matter to them. They just want their money, and are willing to get in the way of everyone else’s interests, and storm out of the room, in order to get it.

What a wonderful brood, eh?

I still can’t figure what this kind of greed has to do with the man who founded Christianity and taught the virtue of humility and poverty … but hey, what could a cold-hearted, skeptical, godless agnostic heathen like myself possibly know about such things? If there are any Christians out there who can explain this to me, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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I’ve blogged several times already about the colossal, glitzy, ostentatious edifice known as the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. It was originally built by televangelist Robert H. Schuller to show off how pious — and wealthy — he and his congregation are. Since its official opening in 1980, though, it’s proven itself a massive albatross around the necks of the Schuller family and the Garden Grove Community Church which they govern and which meets inside it. The church had to file for bankruptcy in 2010 and has been unable to meet its financial obligations.

The Orange County Register reports that a prayer campaign to bring in $50 million dollars to pay off the Cathedral’s debts, is falling catastrophically short of its goal (WebCite cached article):

The Schuller family is coming up far short in its attempt to prevent the sale of the Crystal Cathedral.

A month after announcing a “miracle faith” campaign [cached] to raise $50 million by Thanksgiving, the congregation had collected $4,737.

That figure, the total raised as of Aug. 31, was buried in a report filed last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana. The cathedral will update the report in two to three weeks, attorney Marc Winthrop said.

The Garden Grove landmark owes $50 million to its creditors, who plan to sell it — with or without the founding Schuller family’s consent — on Oct. 31.

The idea that a church could somehow wrack up $50 million in debts that it cannot settle through bankruptcy is staggering. Churches are spared the financial obligation of having to pay taxes and frequently get products and services donated to them or at a discount because they’re presumed to be “non-profit.” All I can say is that the Schullers’ profligacy must have been truly enormous.

At any rate, this sure puts the lie to the common believers’ assertion that “prayer works.” It clearly is not working for the Crystal Cathedral. About the only good part of this is that there are two entities who’ve expressed an interest in the property, and they will be able to pay the $50 million that’s outstanding. So the C.C.’s creditors should be made whole (or nearly so). What remains to be seen is who or what actually pays that immense tab.

Lastly, I challenge any Christian to explain to me how this colossal, shiny monstrosity has even the slightest thing to do with the teachings of their religion’s founder? He taught humility and poverty, not glamor and ostentatiousness. That’s absurdly obvious to anyone who has actually read the gospels. Sheesh!

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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The Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove, CAThe vast, lavish monstrosity known as the Crystal Cathedral, in Garden Grove, California (about which I’ve blogged a couple times already), is falling into the pit of America’s ongoing recession, and may be filing for bankruptcy. KCBS-TV reports on the shining edifice’s financial woes, which it is inflicting on others as it heads down (WebCite cached article):

Officials at the Crystal Cathedral say bankruptcy may be pending for the mega church, a one-time drive-in house of worship that grew into a worldwide television religious powerhouse.

Kristina Oliver told the Orange County Register that she lost her house to foreclosure because the church has been unwilling or unable to pay her the $50,000 it owes for renting camels and other animals for its holiday pageants.

Oliver had been sitting on a panel of creditors set up to negotiate with the church and help it avoid bankruptcy. “I honestly believed that the church was going to come up with an equitable plan to pay us all,” she told the newspaper.

“But I now know that all they wanted to do was string us along,” she added.

The Crystal Cathedral, of course, professes ignorance that anyone else is being harmed by its inability to pay its bills:

The son in law of Cathedral founder Rev. Robert H. Schuller told the Register he was unaware of the impasse between the church and the creditors until the panel of small creditors sent a letter to him Thursday.

I’m fairly sure that the Crystal Cathedral’s creditors aren’t going to let them get away with this too much longer. People generally put up with a lot of bullshit spewed by the heads of religious groups, but “The check is in the mail!” isn’t one of the lies they’re likely to buy.

Of course, I’m still trying to figure out exactly how the career of the man whose teachings included the Beatitudes, could possibly have inspired such a pretentious edifice as the Crystal Cathedral. Jesus, I thought, had preached humility, among other virtues. So an enormous, shining building doesn’t seem in his character. But then, I’m just a cold-hearted, cynical, god-hating agnostic heathen … so what the hell do I know?

For those Christians who may not be familiar with Jesus’ teachings on humility, you can find some of them in your Bibles, in the Gospel according to Matthew, chapters 5 through 7 and the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 6, verses 20 through 49 … among other places.

Update: The Crystal Cathedral has, in fact, filed for bankruptcy, as reported by the AP via Google News (cached article).

Hat tip: iReligion Forum on Delphi Forums.


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Crystal Cathedral 2I’ve blogged a couple times about problems and infighting over at the monument to evangelical Christian opulence known as the Crystal Cathedral. Along with having lost its financial luster, that edifice is also losing its founding pastor, the Rev Robert H. Schuller, as the AP reports via the Torrington Register-Citizen (WebCite cached article):

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, founder of Southern California’s Crystal Cathedral megachurch and host of the “Hour of Power” televangelism broadcast, announced Sunday he will retire after 55 years in the pulpit and his daughter will take over.

The 83-year-old Schuller told his congregation that Sheila Schuller Coleman will become sole lead pastor, after sharing that role with her father for the past year.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the Schuller family schism has healed:

Coleman’s appointment comes two years after Schuller’s son, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, split from the church during a family rift that made headlines. The younger Schuller had been groomed to take over for his father.

Robert A. Schuller is now part of Dallas-based American Life Network, a cable channel aiming to produce family-oriented programming.

Given the monstrosity he built in which to preach — and from which to broadcast his “Hour of Power” show — I hesitate to imagine what sort of obscenely palatial structure the elder Schuller will build for his retirement.

Photo credit: loop_oh.

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I’ve already blogged about problems at the Schuller family’s Garden Grove, CA megachurch. The once-shining Crystal Cathedral continues to grow a bit dimmer … financially and, to a lesser degree, spiritually. The Orange County Register reports on its continued decline (WebCite cached article):

Crystal Cathedral, the megachurch founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, is laying off employees, will sell property in south Orange County, cut its “Hour of Power” broadcasts and cancel its “Glory of Easter” pageant this year to make up for an unprecedented 27 percent decline in revenue last year, officials said today.

Sheila Schuller Coleman, who was appointed the megachurch’s leader by her father, the older Schuller, issued a podcast through the Cathedral’s Web site saying they have had to make several tough decisions as a result of the economic crisis.

The series of “tough decisions,” she said, were made by the cathedral’s International Board of Trustees.

Especially troubling to Coleman is not the layoff of employees, who — living as they do in southern California — will have a hard time finding new jobs … but rather the loss of the precious “Glory of Easter” show:

Coleman said she had tears in her eyes when she heard the board’s decision to temporarily suspend “The Glory of Easter,” the pageant that depicts the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ with flying angels, special effects and a live animal parade.

Yes, the loss of a pageant this year is definitely far worse than the possible financial ruin of a few dozen families. (Of course, I mean that sarcastically.)

The degree to which the recession has caused the Crystal Cathedral’s revenues to collapse, is not all that certain. For a few years there’s been some family infighting in the congregation’s leadership, as the OC Register goes on to mention (and they’re reported on it in the past):

The cathedral has seen turbulent times since the departure of Robert A. Schuller, the son of the elder Schuller, who left the megachurch and the “Hour of Power” broadcasts in the midst of a highly publicized family feud [cached article] between his four sisters and their respective spouses. The younger Schuller joined hands with his son-in-law Chris Wyatt and is now part of Dallas-based American Life Network, a television channel that aims to produce family-oriented programming.

The infighting has alienated some congregants and helped drive down donations, at a time when they’re already running low.

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Things are not looking up, over at the monstrosity of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. Even the church built by the famous “Hour of Power” pastor Robert H. Schuller, is feeling the pinch of America’s recession. As the Orange County Register reports:

Crystal Cathedral’s executive pastor, who was brought on board by the church’s former senior pastor Robert A. Schuller, was let go this week because of financial issues, church administrators said.

Jim Poit and his wife, Linda, who was director of children’s ministries at the cathedral, were both laid off. Deb Yurk, who had been brought on board by Poit as pastor of congregational life, was also released from her job, according to a news release by the Church Executive magazine based in Arizona.

Clarification: Like the two presidents George Bush, the two pastors Robert Schuller have different middle names; the elder is Robert H. Schuller and the younger is Robert A. Schuller. It was the latter who, having taken over the family business some time ago, abruptly resigned at the end of November last year. The departure of his successor, Poit, leaves the Crystal Cathedral without a leader. But is the recession the cause of this vaunted congregation losing money? CBS News reports a very different possible cause:

The church is in financial turmoil: It plans to sell more than $65 million worth of its Orange County property to pay off debt. Revenue dropped by nearly $5 million last year, according to a recent letter from the elder Schuller to elite donors. In the letter, Schuller Sr. implored the Eagle’s Club members — who supply 30 percent of the church’s revenue — for donations and hinted that the show might go off the air without their support. …

The Crystal Cathedral blames the recession for its woes. But it’s clear that the elder Schuller’s carefully orchestrated leadership transition, planned over a decade, has stumbled badly. …

Members often tie their donations to the pastor, not the institution, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University.

Could it be that the billions of dollars the Crystal Cathedral collected over the last several decades, came in due not to the “loving message” of Christianity, but instead because of the elder pastor Schuller’s personal style? If so, this would tend to undermine the presumed power of Jesus’ message, would it not?

But even if the recession is to blame for this, it tends to undermine the “conventional wisdom” that churchgoing increases in troubled times (presumably because people are looking for “guidance” of some kind).

Whatever the cause of the Crystal Cathedral’s financial woes, it does my heart good to see that one of the greatest monuments to religious ostentatiousness has run aground on its own excess. I’m no Christian but I’m fairly sure I saw nothing in Jesus’ career that he ever intended for his followers to build such colossal, splashy edifices in his name.

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