THEISTWATCH FOR AUGUST 17, 1995 Contents: Virginia - ROBERTSON CONGLOMERATE TO SELL +quot;
THEISTWATCH FOR AUGUST 17, 1995
Virginia--ROBERTSON CONGLOMERATE TO SELL "ICE CAPADES" UNIT
United States--WHO ARE THE PROMISE KEEPERS?
Virginia--FEDS SEIZE COMPUTER OF SCIENTOLOGY CRITIC
New York--MAYOR GIULIANI PRAISES CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
World--THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
ROBERTSON CONGLOMERATE TO SELL "ICE CAPADES" UNIT
The $10.2 Million Deal Provides Another Look Into The
Televangelist's Sprawling Financial Empire
by Conrad Goeringer
Pat Robertson's International Family Entertainment,
Inc. announced Monday, August 14 that it is selling off
the recently acquired Ice Capades show. IFE had purchased
assets of the show last February, for $10.2 million, which
happens to be the same amount for which an unidentified
management company is issuing notes back to Robertson's
own firm. The notes come due in 2005 and bear an
annual interest rate of 7.5 percent. IFE retains the right
to convert those notes back into a majority stake in the
Ice Capades and the management company. Some observers are
wondering if the new Ice Capades owners are not linked to
others parts of Pat Robertson's financial conglomerate and
When the Ice Capades show was purchased six months
ago, skating champion Dorothy Hamil stayed on as president
of the company. She has now resigned, purportedly due to
the lackluster attendance in the last season.
A Communications Giant
International Family Entertainment is one of the two
major players in Pat Robertson's huge religious
communications empire. The other is the Christian
Broadcasting Network (CBN), which airs the popular "700
Club" program throughout most of the United States and
many other parts of the world. IFE is the financial
vehicle controlling the Family Channel, one of the largest
ad-supported cable TV networks in the country. It reaches
95 percent of all cable households, and 63 percent of all
households which receive any television. It has also
launched two other channels, one in the United Kingdom
(also known as Family Channel), the other known as the
Cable Health Club. The U.K. operation has been running in
the red, although losses in the past quarter were only
$2.35 million, a slight improvement from the $3.1 million
deficit for the same period last year.
Two other units, the Cable Health Club and MTM
Entertainment, also lost money, but that may reflect
capitalization and expansion costs. MTM, ("Mary Tyler
Moore") is a developer and distributor of television
programming. Properties include the popular show
"Christy," which has enjoyed widespread support from
religious organizations throughout the country for its
"wholesome," family-oriented themes, "The Mary Tyler Moore
Show," "Snowy River: The McGregor Saga," "Boogie's Diner,"
and even "Lou Grant" which conservative pundits once
accused of being a mouthpiece for "liberal propaganda."
Family Channel was founded in 1977 by Pat Robertson
and his son, Tim. In 1989, they formed IFE, which in turn
purchased Family Channel. Although IFE went public in
1992, it is still controlled by Robertson, who at age
sixty-three serves as chairman with an annual salary of
$434,594. Timothy Robertson is president and CEO,
receiving $582,766 for his duties.
While establishing numerous corporate entities is a
common and legal practice, Robertson's use of this
technique in the past suggests that the new Ice Capades
management company may be less of an "outside party" and,
indeed, might itself be linked to Robertson. According to
Knight-Ridder Business News, IFE senior vice president
David R. Humphrey while declining to identify the new
owner said that "it is run by a former major-league
baseball player and manages various sports events."
Humphrey also added that the new management company has
lined up a major corporate sponsor for the Ice Capades
1995-96 tour, but likewise would not identify who that
"Ice Capades executives were unavailable for
comment," noted a reporter in Monday's edition of the
Virginian-Pilot. Humphrey added that the Ice Capades "will
still be closely allied with other IFE operations,
including the Family Channel."
IFE is busy on other fronts, as well. Since May, the
Robertson company has been "talking" to religious
conservative film critic Michael Medved about a "family
viewing" site on the World Wide Web. Medved, the co-host
of the popular PBS show "Sneak Previews," was one of the
early popularizers of the current "Hollywood Hates
America" theme which has been taken up by politicians like
Senators Bob Dole and Phil Gramm. Medved recently called
for a "violence tax" to be leveled by the government
against films which supposedly portray excessive amounts
of violence or profanity. Civil libertarians have warned
that Medved's "family friendly" philosophy really masks a
pro- censorship, conservative political agenda.
According to Robertson and IFE, the web site "would
allow families and those concerned about movie content to
consult a well-known, trusted critic for recommendations.
The site would probably include evaluation of other media
fare as well."
International Family Entertainment has also produced
a series of 30-second commercials which allegedly present
views of "family life" and is trying to begin a "Seal of
Approval" program under which "family oriented" marketers
would receive an endorsement from the Family Channel.
Income for IFE has been rising steadily since 1998.
Revenues for the first year reached $62.6 million (net
income $11.8 million), and by 1993 had climbed to a
staggering $208.2 million (with $17.3 million net). The
company employs nearly 700 people, and according to the
latest Cowles/Media Information Report, has $74.1 million
in cash on hand. Advertising accounted for less than 10
percent of the revenues, however, suggesting that
Robertson's operation has a huge, and expanding base of
individual and/or corporate donors. The total market value
of the company stands at an impressive $694.9 million.
"Alternative Culture" Robertson Style
Robertson's evangelical and business activities both
underscore an important development which has been taking
place in American society -- the evolution of an
"alternative Christian culture." Christian evangelicals,
of course, have long chosen to "withdraw" from the wider,
secular American scene when possible, often cloistering
themselves in church, church-related social activities,
Bible camps, retreats and other venues. But it is the
sheer scale of Robertson's activities which is creating a
"total environment" where believers can be reinforced and
immersed in "religiously correct" programming and
activities throughout the day.
One example of this is the IFE purchase of a 20
percent share of Body by Jake Enterprises, Inc., a health-
fitness merchandising and film production company headed
by bodybuilder Jake Steinfeld. International Family also
announced this $4 million cash acquisition on Monday. Body
by Jake may fit in conveniently with the Cable Health
Club. Robertson seems to be moving toward a total
religious instruction-and-"family" fitness/entertainment
mediaplex, where participants in the Robertson movement
can receive everything from political instruction,
religious doctrine, "morally correct" entertainment, and
even health workouts all from the same source.
Like the "synergy" found in corporate deals involving
Disney and ABC, Robertson seems to be achieving similar
results with Family Channel, Christian Broadcasting
Network, and the International Family Entertainment, Inc.
Like it or not, he also appears to be making his own brand
of religious conservatism a household fixture, thanks in
part to the ubiquitous power of television.
WHO ARE THE PROMISE KEEPERS?
by Conrad Goeringer
THEISTWATCH has been watching the Christians "Men's
Movement" known as the Promise Keepers. Founded by ex-
collegiate football coach Bill McCartney, the organization
stages huge prayer rallies in stadiums and athletic arenas
throughout the country and is attracting a significant
following. News reports on the Promise Keepers describe
these events in highly emotive terms. "I felt God speaking
to me," declared one man during a tearful prayer-rally.
Thousands respond to "Coach" McCartney's "altar calls" and
traipse to the front of a huge stage where they pray in
small groups with Promise Keepers counselors, "unburdening
their souls, seeking forgiveness and exchanging phone
These Promise Keeper rallies have all of the ambience
and hormonal rush of a gridiron slug-fest. McCartney told
one recent gathering that "We as Godly men recognize that
we have fumbled the ball. A real man gets knocked down all
the time. He just keeps getting up with the help of his
friends." Who ARE these guys, anyway?
A survey published recently by USA TODAY may provide
a clue in determining who is attracted to these gut-
wrenching and angst-ridden encounter groups with the Lord.
A survey of those who attended Promise Keepers events in
1994 found that 21 percent had been divorced at some time;
88 percent, though, were married at the time they signed
up for the Praise God stadium wave; 5 percent were
divorced, and 7 percent were single. Indeed, Promise
Keepers is aimed at married men; the group emphasizes the
need for males to "reclaim spiritual leadership in
households" a goal which makes groups like the National
Organization for Women less than enthused.
Despite efforts to court Black evangelicals and its
public stands against racism, only 16 percent of Promise
Keeper attendees are in ethnic minorities. Whites account
for 84 percent of the guys in the bleachers, and Blacks
are way, way back at 7 percent. Hispanics are 5 percent,
and Asians and Native Americans split the remaining four
points down the middle.
Of those attending rallies, 13.5 percent have no
church denominational affiliation. But the biggest
percentage 23.9 percent is composed of men who were
Baptist. Another 10.2 percent describe themselves as
Southern Baptist, the denominational backbone of the
evangelical movement. Other affiliations account for a
much smaller representation. Assembly of God, Methodists,
Presbyterians and Lutherans total only about 2.5 percent
to 5.9 percent. Roman Catholics account for only 2.2
There may be a curious relationship between the
emphasis on athletic settings, language, and male
companionship, as well as the peculiar role of "Coach"
McCartney. Half of the attendees said they felt their
father was "largely absent" when they grew up, according
to the survey. And 19.2 percent reported that they were
children of divorced parents. Part of the psychological
"draw" of this religious men's movement could well be the
role of male god and father figures, including the figure
of the "coach" which can loom large in the minds of some
There is also the "permission" one is given at a
Promise Keepers gathering to express emotion and release
tensions in a somewhat socially accepted religious
ritual manner. Traditional male stereotypes restrict the
venues in which men may shout, cry, express doubts about
their own efficacy, or communicate in a substantive way
with fellow males. Promise Keepers may be finding a way to
"package" that need, combining expectations of fellowship
and camaraderie with a pop-religious message.
"Coach" McCartney wants the Promise Keepers to
flourish "across the world." It is certainly flourishing
in the U.S., and has successfully taken over the "men's
movement" of the 1980s. "The Promise Keepers are the
largest and most important men's movement in the United
States today," said David Blankenhorn of the Institute for
As the movement grows, THEISTWATCH will be watching.
FEDS SEIZE COMPUTER OF SCIENTOLOGY CRITIC
The Internet proves to be a hotbed for debunking Hubbard's
science fiction-style religion
by Conrad Goeringer
John Travolta, Lisa Marie Presley, and Tom Cruise may
buy into the Church of Scientology, but it appears that
growing numbers of on-line skeptics do not. Defectors and
critics of the science-fiction style religion are using
the Internet and other on-line resources like discussion
and news groups to comment on Scientology, and even
publish some of the Church's secret teachings.
Last Saturday, federal cops seized a computer
belonging to a church employee in Arlington, Va. who had
allegedly posted a 136-page text of Scientology doctrines.
Arnaldo P. Lerma insisted that the material was already
available through court records and that "you have to jump
through a lot of expensive hoops to get access to this. .
. . This is the big secret at the end of the rainbow, and
you could go to the court clerk and get it for 50 cents a
Reportedly, the document has been downloaded on the
net in countries as far away as China and Finland.
Lerna charges that the feds seized over 400 computer
discs and other equipment. "They even took my mouse and my
modem," he told the N.Y. Times.
Scientology was concocted in 1954 by pulp science-
fiction writer and adventurer L. Ron Hubbard. Critics
charge that Scientology exploits followers by charging
them considerable sums of money for revealing secrets and
teachings as people move up within the different levels of
the organization. Most of these "secret teachings," if not
the entire body of doctrine, has probably now leaked out
thanks to court cases and on-line gossip. Scientology is
filled with tales about galactic federations, a leader
named Xenu who had his space patrol round up excess
populations from other worlds and dump them on planet
earth, and "Thetans" whose thoughts and emotions impinge
on us today. It really does belong in a pulp mag! L. Ron
Hubbard Jr. ended up writing a scathing book about dad and
his cult. Critics such as Martin Gardner have been
exposing the foibles of this contemporary religious
But maybe, despite the Feds and what some Church
officials say is a campaign of harassment, Scientology has
gotten a bum-rap. The Mormon Church promises believers
their own planet! The Judeo-Christian Bible tells the
story of a universe-wide battle between demons and angels,
which really puts Hubbard to shame! Read the Autobiography
of Malcolm X; Elija Mohammed and the Black Muslims have a
similar yarn about some evil super-scientists who billions
of years ago began creating an anemic and degenerate race
which resulted in white folks.
Well, it all sounds like you-know-what to me. If you
want more info, though, for which at least some of
Hollywood's over-paid stars are spending their money,
surf the Internet, and even check out
alt.religion.scientology. Go on over to web as well, and
get the story on one ex-church member who's being helped
out by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a thriving
"cyber rights" organization. Find them at
And watch out for angels, Thetans and devils!
MAYOR GIULIANI PRAISES CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
Parents chide mayor for "disrespectful" comments made
about the public school system
by Conrad Goeringer
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani may have won the
hearts of folks in the Big Apple when he ran the notorious
"squeegee men" off the streets but he's causing a furor
because of remarks made on Monday, August 14 about the
public school system. Giuliani declared that the schools
are in need of "radical reform" and that the system could
be saved only if, as the N.Y. Times phrased it, "they were
more like the [Roman] Catholic school system."
Giuliani is a graduate of Bishop Loughlin High School
in Brooklyn. About 95 percent of the student population in
the school go on to college, and tuition is more than
$3,500. Bishop Loughlin is part of a network of twenty-
two Roman Catholic high schools, and some 151,000 are in
the city's parochial school system.
As impressive as the statistics are, however, they
don't tell the entire story. Many Roman Catholic schools
like Bishop Loughlin have no special ed programs for
emotionally troubled youngsters, and they select students
on the basis of high SAT scores and rigorous interviews.
Public school advocates point out that the city system has
to be a good deal broader, accepting unruly and
difficult to teach students, along with the physically and
emotionally handicapped. Critics of the mayor insist that
his statements prove that he simply lacks an understanding
of the mission of public education. One parent said that
Giuliani was "totally disrespectful of the public school
system and therefore of parents who need to send their
kids to public schools."
by Conrad Goeringer
Is this a "modest proposal"? A farce? Perhaps we
should just file this away under "Not a good idea." The
Edison Township, N.J. council was reported this past
Monday to be considering a proposal which would mandate
that three of the six members of the community Ethics
Board be clergymen. According to Councilman James Kennedy,
the author of this rather amazing idea, the presence of
clergy would make the group "calmer and more effective."
PARENTAL WARNING: The following THEISTWATCH story
contains suggestive, filthy, smut-filled lyrics but they
have nothing to do with rap music!
Religious conservatives and political hacks like
Senator Bob Dole are still having a field day beating up
on Black rap or gangsta artists like Snoop Doggy Dog or
Dr. Dre, and focusing their righteous wrath on the Great
Satan of Music, Time Warner. Word is that Time Warner is
slowly trying to divest itself of Interscope records. Even
if it does, the "music will live on", at least until Dole
moves into the White House and hires Pat Robertson as the
nation's moral Sergeant-at-Arms. But hooooold on! Along
with those mean lookin', disrespectful, cursin'-and-
rappin' Afro-Americans, there's a white boy in the music
pile at Interscope who's been wowing audiences for three
decades with suggestive tunes, smutty and innuendo-laden
lyrics, and lewd gestures.
We're talking about Tom Jones, the Interscope
"stealth missile of smut" (N.Y. Times), who grabs his
crotch more than Michael Jackson, and takes panties which
women throw onto the stage and stuffs them down his
already-tight pants. And that's just for starters.
Bill Bennett and other luminaries of the right-wing
religious "culture war" are in a paroxysm of indignation
over Blacks who don't talk, sing and dress like tame,
church-going, WASP types. They should read Tom Jones'
"Pussycat, pussycat, I've got hours to spend with you
. . . I'll soon be kissing your sweet little pussycat
That was in 1965. By 1974, in his "Something 'Bout
You Baby I like" cut, things had heated up:
"Maybe it's the way you wear your bluejeans so tight.
I can't put my finger on what you're doing right."
And if you thought OJ and Mike Tyson were bad:
"She was my woman. As she deceived me, I watched and
went out of my mind . . . I crossed the street to her
house and she stood there laughing . . . I felt the knife
in my hand and she laughed no more."
Interscope artists like Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tupac
Shakur has said, and probably done, some pretty wild, even
offensive things. Many lyrics, though, express deep,
personal rage at society; many point to the stupidity and
futility of violence.
And as mean and tough as the rapper guys look, well,
they've never appeared on stage wearing a fishnet shirt.
Monks at the Macheras Monastery near the Cyprus town
of Nicosia are asking British security police to "stand
guard" and keep out tourists or visitors wearing shorts,
miniskirts or T-shirts. News reports say that it was the
"sight of bare legs and shoulders" which so astonished
these (celibate?) Men-O-God that prompted the action.
Another monastery which dates to the twelfth century and
is a repository of ancient treasures and manuscripts
insists than scantily clad visitors must wear specially
designed robes while on the premises.
In Madras, India, doctors operated on a five-year-old
girl who was struck in the eye by her teacher. The girl's
"crime" was drinking from a pitcher reserved for people
from a high social caste a residue of the evil and
discriminatory religious caste system. Kids from lower-
caste families are considered "untouchable" and must wait
for somebody to pour water into their cupped hands.
The new issue of Vanity Fair has an article in which
a volunteer in Newt Gingrich's 1976 congressional campaign
says that she had oral sex with the then-wed politician
and future U.S. House Speaker. Ann Manning insists that
"We had oral sex. . . . He (Gingrich) prefers that modus
operandi because then he can say 'I never slept with
I didn't know it was called "Modus Operandi"!
When Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia died
recently, thousands perhaps even millions of "Deadheads"
flocked to memorial concerts, wiped off old vinyl for
another spin, and even filled on-line chat rooms. Three
generations of fans expressed their grief at the loss of
this gentle, talented man. But the nation's cranky
religious conservatives and sell-out yuppies were playing
a different tune. Former Reagan-Bush flunkie John Sunnunu
was busy trying to link Garcia to a "destructive drug
lifestyle." Gannett News columnist John Omicinski dragged
out every cliche he could probably think of in blasting
Garcia, the 80s, and a giant slice of the American
population who allegedly took "a roller coaster ride from
sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll through divorce and late
'parenting' to the onset of prostate twinges and hot
You don't have to like the music of the Dead to see
what's behind the latest round of put-downs aimed at Jerry
Garcia and an entire generational-cultural ethos. We have
gone from the socially aware 60s and 70s to the "lean and
mean" 90s, where guys like Pat Buchanan, Phil Gramm and
Bob Dole battle over a political turf slightly to the
right of Attila the Hun.
Garcia, despite his faults of psyche and body, was
truly an "American original."
Fare thee well, Jerry.
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