The founders of a religious tv network launched into bellicoseness damage control mode, revealing an extortion attempt on their flagship show Tuesday. The President and Vice President of one of the largest religious networks in the world, Marcus and Joni Lamb went on their program Celebration today to let viewers know there was supposedly an extortion plot over an extra marital affair Marcus Lamb had several years ago.
Christian TV took a soap opera turn Tuesday when the married co-founders of Daystar, a network based in the Dallas area, used a live broadcast to share the husband’s infidelity and to allege extortion by outsiders.
Evangelists Marcus and Joni Lamb made a pre-emptive strike, going on their regular morning program, Celebration, to acknowledge his past marital misconduct and say that three people had demanded $7.5 million to keep the scandal out of the media.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re not going to take God’s money and pay to keep from being humiliated,” Marcus Lamb said during the broadcast from Daystar’s Bedford headquarters.
The Lambs, who still run Daystar, allowed a reporter into the studio but would not take questions afterward.
Daystar is a powerhouse evangelical network, broadcasting in more than 200 countries. It is the second-largest Christian network, after Trinity Broadcasting Network, which has a production center in Irving.
Given the fallout in the 1980′s when PTL founders Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker tried to keep his infidelity quiet, it makes sense for the Lamb’s to go pre-emptive when cornered. DayStars pr firm, A. Larry Ross Communications, which manages most of the US Christian celebrities is handling some of the information.
A. Larry Ross, a public relations executive who represents Daystar, said authorities were alerted to the extortion attempt. He said the threat was made in recent weeks, but he wouldn’t say which law enforcement agency was contacted.
At least Marcus Lamb isn’t using a common dodge – blaming the devil, letting their marriage counselor (read success coach) go on-air to assure fans Lamb just has heterosexual encounters and this goes beyond bizarre. Hey, it’s all okay beloved partners because he’s not gay?
“He had had one inappropriate period of misbehavior, with one person, and it wasn’t a man. It wasn’t a transvestite. It was with a woman,” Kendall said during the broadcast.
Marcus Lamb said he takes full responsibility. “Joni has no blame,” he told viewers. “The other person doesn’t have any blame. … I don’t even blame the devil. It’s all on me.”
Daystar has an operating budget of 70 million dollars a year.
I’m inclined to believe there has been an extortion attempt, we’ll see when arrests are announced. Given the supposed several year gap (some people are saying 4 years) between actions and disclosure, supporters would have remained in the dark. Coming forward and saying they were victims of an extortion plot provides sympathy and minimizes donor fallout. This doesn’t look like a clearing of conscience move. One of the marriage counselors praising them attempted to deflect and blame the devil, but Lamb corrected him, I think the revelation is minimized for donors who feel their money helps spread to the good news. The Lambs have been married since 1982. As long as viewers accept the whitewash, focus on extortion victim hood, protecti the image, and keep support coming in from gullible viewers who have fed themselves on a steady Daystar entertainment diet, heresy and personal accountability will be sacrificed on the alter of ‘success.’ Deception is another form of extortion. Lamb, billed as a bishop in The Church of God did more damage control by contacting key business and religious readers before going public. This is the money quote to me: “”We’re not going to take God’s money to keep from being humiliated.” Matthew 6: 19-24:
19-21“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.22-23“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!
24“You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.
Wikipedia says Celebration and Joni Lamb’s program is carried on Grace TV, but I don’t see them in the lineup. You can watch the damage control program on the Daystar site; you can’t fast forward so if you are interested in the victim-spin you’ll have to suffer through the show, the product plugs and emotional set up. It’s an hour of your life you won’t get back.
The show looks like an old Oral Robers knock-off. Daystar has been called a TBN wanna be. Here is the damage control, pr, special statement (gag me) about how wonderful the Lambs are choosing to keep their marriage, business arrangement together so you too can celebrate God’s victory and send money.
Opps: Marcus and Joni Lamb are being sued. By a woman. Three actually, two others are will be filing their own civil suits.
Here it is (.pdf)
There are now competing claims, she said, she said he said. In other words the story told on air by Joni Lamb is sort of borrowed from the plaintiff. Errant emails are part of this suit, it’s messy but I think it’s difficult to make a claim of extortion. Disgruntled employees, possible hostile workplace – but extortion seems to be a stretch. More here.
While the people issues are front and center, the alleged use of Daystar money is something responsible donors might want to keep an eye on.
Update: The police have dropped the investigation into Daystars claims of extortion.
Bedford police began an investigation after meeting with Daystar attorneys.
“After review of the details provided by Daystar, and consulting with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, there does not appear to be any criminal conduct under the Texas Law,” Bedford police said in a statement released today.
…Daystar officials earlier said they contacted federal authorities about the alleged extortion. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas both declined to say whether they are investigating.