Trinity Broadcasting Network is defending itself from critics whose television show was not continued, saying the facts around the end of “Zola Levitt Presents” do not support claims it allows Islam sensitivities to influence its decisions.
Officials with Zola Levitt Ministries last weekend announced in the September issue of the Levitt Letter, a newsletter to constituents, that TBN had cancelled the program because it was “modifying its programming to be suitable for broadcast in Arab nations.”
TBN said on Friday that was simply inaccurate.
The facts, the network said, are that when the show’s host, Zola Levitt, died in April, TBN committed to carrying the program as long as Levitt, personally, appeared as the host. When those pre-taped shows were exhausted, it would discontinue the program, TBN said.
The ministries group suggested a new version with a new host, but “TBN informed SLM that because the program was essentially a personality driven program, that is to say, Zola Levitt himself held the anchor position for the program, that they would need to provide TBN with a pilot episode to approve.”
TBN said it reviewed the new program, found it “did not meet the same high standard as when Zola Levitt hosted ‘Zola Levitt Presents.’ Thus, in regard to the new program, TBN’s review was based on the format of the program and the new host, NOT on CONTENT.”
Zola Levitt Ministries’ announcement said it was facing its own “Armageddon” because it could not “appease” the network’s programming directors. TBN said it offered to place the new program on “The Church Channel” but Levitt Ministries declined.
It was the second time claims have been made that TBN was making decisions based on sensitivities about Muslim content.
In January of this year, Hal Lindsey’s “The International Intelligence Briefing,” notified TBN he would not be back because of what he considered to be efforts to muzzle his opinions about radical Islam.
Lindsey, author of “The Late Great Planet Earth” and considered to be the biggest selling author alive today and a weekly columnist for WorldNetDaily, had anchored the program for the last 12 years on the world’s largest Christian network.
“Zola Levitt Presents” was a long-running, issue-oriented weekly TV program often critical of the jihadist ideology within Islam.
The program also will continue to air on several networks via the Sky Angel satellite television system, according to Sky Angel Vice President Nancy Christopher. [For program details, type in 'Levitt' in search engine on Sky Angel page]. The networks are Angel Two, Guardian Television, Total Living Network and Liberty Channel.
TBN officials were not available on Friday to elaborate on the network’s prepared statement, and a spokeswoman at Levitt Ministries could say only she’d been told the network wanted to go in “another direction.”
However, TBN said it consistently has supported Israel and Paul Crouch has met with every Israeli prime minister for the last 30 years. It said it has funded, produced and aired 33 years of programming in support of Israel, and continues to do so.
Among the programs appearing now where a pro-Israel voice is carried are “God’s News Behind the New” with Joe Van Koevering, “John Hagee Today,” “Manna Fest” with Perry Stone, “700 Club,” “The King is Coming” with Ed Hindson and others.
“As to TBN being accused of reaching out to the Muslim world with the love of God, TBN must plead guilty,” the network statement said. “When Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission, he said, go into ‘ALL nations,’ not just the non-Muslim ones.”
TBN called the Muslim world one of the world’s most untapped mission fields.
In recent years, technology has allowed its signal to be beamed directly into Muslim nations, and the impact of its outreach is in the “hundreds of letters TBN receives each week from people watching TBN by satellite who ask TBN for Bibles and other matierals to learn more about Jesus,” the network said.
Zola Levitt was known for the tagline, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”