Amid Financial Turmoil, TBN’s The Holy Land Experience Is Having a Massive Estate Sale


Holy Land Experience, which is struggling with a sea of red ink in recent financial reports, is selling hundreds of ornate couches, thrones, nativity statues, costumes — and even a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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The owners of the Christian theme park, the Crouch family of Trinity Broadcast Network, are also closing gift stores in Tennessee and California.

An attorney for the network, John Casoria, said in an email that the not-for-profit companies have experienced a drop in revenue as TBN voluntarily ended the practice of live telethons to raise money in 2012.

“We have had to do some belt-tightening as well, which gives rise to the auctions and the closing of unprofitable gift stores,” Casoria wrote.

California-based TBN is also dealing with the death of its founders over the past few years — Paul Crouch in 2013 and Jan Crouch in May this year. And it has seen years of ongoing litigation with the Crouches’ granddaughter, Brittany Davidson (formerly Koper), over allegations of embezzlement and spending charitable donations on extravagant lifestyles. TBN and related companies are led by the Crouches’ youngest son, Matt Crouch.

Despite the turmoil, Casoria insisted that the Holy Land Experience isn’t going anywhere, and has plans to renovate and attract a younger audience. The attraction features live shows, exhibits and a collection of artifacts related to the Bible or Christian history. He declined to provide details on any changes.

Financial reports from Holy Land Experience Inc., a not-for-profit based in Orlando, show the downward spiral in revenue, mostly because of the end of large cash infusions from TBN.

Holy Land’s Form 990 financial disclosures to the IRS show that TBN and other companies contributed $42.7 million to the theme park in 2010. That dropped to $23 million in 2011. After that, the contributions plummeted to $2.2 million in 2012, $2.6 million in 2013 and $2.5 million in 2014. The organization’s 2015 form is not available.

Program revenue from tickets and other sales hovered around $8 million and $9 million annually during that period.

As a result, deficits started showing up on the books for Holy Land: $1.37 million in 2012 and $1.39 in 2014. The corporation still claims about $70 million in assets, mostly the value of land under the park at the intersection of Conroy Road and Interstate 4, near the Mall at Millenia. Holy Land Experience and related Trinity companies own about 63 acres in the booming commercial area.

According to Casoria, the decision to stop asking viewers for money on TV was made in 2012, by Paul and Jan Crouch, “without fanfare.”

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SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel – Paul Brinkmann

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