James Randi --- Wizard ((no email))
Sat, 30 Apr 1994 13:38:05 -0400


The "Praise the Lord" Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) claims to
have 385 TV stations reaching 50,000,000 persons all over the world.
Their lacquer-coiffed, polyester-clad host, Paul Crouch, says that 2.5
million watts of radio power bathe the faithful in their evangelical
"good news" day and night. Crouch and his Tammy Faye look-alike wife
beam their tiresome, sugary bulletins to the accepting hordes of
contributors who are constantly reminded of the local telephone number
-- never out of sight and glued to the bottom of the screen~so that
they may help pay for the gilded set that seems borrowed straight from
a kitschy production of Gone With the Wind. It's capital tacky, but
it brings in the bucks.

Well, according to Crouch, in a special "very significant event"
announcement, we better start worrying about events foretold for
Thursday, June 9th. One Reverend Hinkle, introduced on a TBN news
program recently, says that God told him to proclaim that a big event
is coming. God apparently spoke to Hinkle "in a voice like thunder"
which, added Hinkle, "wasn't really loud so as to hurt," but
nonetheless got his immediate attention. God thundered that on June
9th of this year "evil will be ripped from the Earth."

Just what this means, interpreted from Godspeak into Ordinaryspeak,
is not quite clear. Does "evil" include MTV, impacted molars and
ragweed? And "ripped"? That's heavy language. Is God really pissed
off at the Savings & Loan scandal, or at Clinton's health plan? None
of this is made evident. Perhaps not enough of the 50,000,000 have
dialed that number; Crouch only claims to have "won" 6,674,544 souls
via short-wave, so maybe 13% isn't quite up to His expectations?

Personally, I have a suspicion that Paul Crouch is just rubbing the
Reverend Hinkle's ego. Crouch had hardly heard Hinkle declare the
Divine Event, when he reminded his supporters of a rally at which he
would officiate at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, June
21st to June 23rd. Several possibilities to explain this seeming
paradox suggest themselves: perhaps Tulsa is about two weeks slow
getting major news. Maybe there is no "evil" in Oklahoma to be
"ripped" out. Or, maybe Reverend Hinkle was doing a Joan of Arc
number, hearing voices. One can only wonder at the complexities of
the way the Divine Mind -- and those of His anointed ministers - -

I'll bet that we won't even notice June 9th. On June 10th the
dust-balls will still be under the bed in the guest room and the cat
will still have fleas. And Reverend Hinkle will roll along as before,
not the least discomfited by having heard God speaking with forked
tongue, if at all.
James Randi.