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Inspiration Network (INSP)

My current cable provider, Comcast, recently began offering Inspiration Network (INSP) as part of its extended package, and I spent a few minutes browsing their schedule recently. I have something of a weakness for Billy Graham programming, and INSP offers the occasional half-hour of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) program. Tuesday morning, for example, they’ve got a half-hour in the morning sandwiched between Creflo Dollar and Morris Cerrullo.

INSP’s programming is a funny mix of television reruns (The Waltons, Highway to Heaven, Our House, a Canadian something called Wind At My Back) and big-name television ministries, but without the TBN and CBN stars (no Crouches, no Pat Robertson). Here’s a sampling from their published schedule [link]:

  • Mike Murdock
  • Jimmy Swaggart
  • Creflo Dollar
  • James Robison
  • Benny Hinn
  • Joyce Meyer
  • Sid Roth
  • Rod Parsley
  • Bill Gaither (Gospel Hour)
  • Hilton Sutton
  • Bishop Larry Harris
  • Silas Malafaia
  • David and Barbara Cerullo [link]
  • Jay Sekulow/ACLJ
  • Jentezen Franklin
  • Beverly Crawford
  • Randy Weiss
  • Bret McCasland
  • Mark Lyon Edmond
  • D. James Kennedy
  • Del Tackett
  • Gregory Dickow
  • David Jeremiah
  • Kerry Shook
  • Doug Batchelor
  • Bobby and Sherry Burnette
  • Keith Moore
  • Charles Stanley
  • Perry Stone

The first dozen or so, along with BGEA and Creflo Dollar constitute the bulk of the weekday ministry programming; the rest are part of the weekend lineup, and they’re a mixed collection of name-brand ministries and what appear to be pastors of large churches who are looking to expand.

For a somewhat unrelated reason I visited the Ministry Watch website recently and downloaded their 30 Donor Alerts of 2009 end-of-year wrapup [PDF]. It’s a very readable document, outlining seven areas they recommend being careful when making giving decisions. They list thirty ministries where they raise concerns, ranging from loss of tax-exempt status to high salaries to being a cult. Here’s the list of Donor Alert entities that is also featured in the list above:

  • Benny Hinn
  • Rod Parsley
  • Creflo Dollar
  • INSP/David and Barbara Cerullo
  • Morris Cerullo
  • Mike Murdock

Ministry Watch flagged the Cerullos for excessive compensation (~$3 million for the Cerullos over two years 2005-2006), the others for lack of transparency, being investigated by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and sundry negative media coverage.

Please note that Joyce Meyer did not make the list; her data for 2007 and 2008 was unavailable [link], and if her total compensation figures are available I can’t find them anywhere; it’s a complicated picture because she sells so many books, and only part of the proceeds filters back to the ministry [link]. Ministry Watch currently gives her a “C.”

What I don’t understand is why otherwise reputable ministries in the big list above (BGEA, Bill Gaither, maybe David Jeremiah) would have anything to do with INSP. Is there really that much money to be made? Do ministries make money consistently on a per-outlet basis? Is this just a business decision? I really have no idea.

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