Fundamentalist preachers have always been with us: John Wesley preached a very strict and fundamentalist doctrine that become the foundation of the Methodist faith all the way back in the 1700s. But during the Great Depression in the 1930's, fundamentalism experienced a new growth as fire and brimstone preachers held tent revivals, hoping to get a bed for the night and food in their bellies. The advent of the radio made it easier for a preacher to reach a much larger audience. But it wasn't until the advent of the television that they began to have such a great impact on the religious beliefs of so many people.
Billy Graham (not what I'd consider a fundamentalist) was one of the first preachers to truly realize the impact that television could have on his ability to reach a bigger audience. In 1957, he held his first televised crusade, which drew record crowds and ratings. Televangelism was born. Despite being rocked by several scandals— from the Bakker's theft of millions of dollars intended to help build a Christian theme park to Jimmy Swaggart's tearful confession about his dalliances with prostitutes to Oral Robert's claim that God told him to raise $8 million or he'd be "called home"— televangelism is not only alive and well, it has become a multibillion dollar a year business. Today, the leaders of the radical religious right have far more power and influence than is healthy for the continued existence of this great nation.
Follow the links below to learn more about the ministry of each televangelist/fundamentalist preacher and their role in the grab for power and control of the US government by the radical religious right.
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