Holy Land theme park demolished after TBN spent $130 million on project

Experience in the Holy Land

The Holy Land Experience, one of America’s largest biblical theme parks, lies in ruins after Trinity Broadcasting Network spent more than $130 million on the project.

AdventHealth purchased the Orlando property from TBN in 2021 for $32 million. According to the NBC News affiliate WESHAdventHealth has submitted plans to build a hospital on the site.

Demolition is currently underway. A YouTuber named Adam, host of the YouTube channel “TheDailyWoo”, recently visited Holy Land Experience and documented the demolition of the theme park.

Expenses related to the purchase and operation of the Holy Land theme park

Religious news blog reported in 2007 that TBN spent $37 million to acquire Holy Land Experience. The purchase involved three financial transactions: TBN repaid an $8 million loan from the Grace Foundation to Holy Land Ministries, spent $12 million to acquire land from Sola Scriptura, and donated $17 million to the Master’s Gate Foundation.

According to Trinity Foundation insiders, The Holy Land Experience has become the pet project of TBN co-founder Jan Crouch. Jan Crouch oversaw renovations and new exhibits as the theme park produced Broadway-style musicals.

The Holy Land experiment became a money pit and was subsidized by TBN donations. A review of The Holy Land Experience’s financial disclosure documents (Form 990) shows that from 2007 to 2020, TBN made $96,764,685 in donations to Holy Land Experience ministries, including $28,530,154 in non-monetary donations in 2010 .

Matthew Crouch became president of TBN in 2016, the year Jan Crouch died. In addition to discontinuing TBN’s annual Praise-A-Thon fundraisers, Matthew Crouch has made programming changes to attract a younger, more diverse TV audience.

As the network relied less on donations, TBN sold assets. The network’s studio in Costa Mesa, California, was acquired by a real estate developer.

When Covid forced the closure of Holy Land Experience in 2020, TBN began looking for a buyer. The sale of Holy Land Experience would help TBN streamline its operations and allow Crouches to spend more time at other TBN facilities.

Although their private jet belongs to Trinity Broadcasting of Florida, Matthew and Laurie Crouch rarely travel to Florida.

According to Pastor Planes, a project launched by the Trinity Foundation to track church and ministry planes (see Instagram And Twitter), it can be noted that the Crouches spend most of their time in four locations: Southern California (TBN studio located in Santa Ana), Texas (TBN offices in Fort Worth and Irving), Colorado (Little Papoose Ranch owned by TBN), and Italy (home of Televisione Cristiana in Italia and Trinity Broadcasting Network Europe).

Lessons to learn

In 1978, nearly 30 years before TBN acquired The Holy Land Experience, televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker launched Heritage USA, which quickly became one of America’s largest theme parks, attracting millions visitors and generating more than $100 million in revenue in one year. .

Lawyers warned Jim Bakker that his business activities could endanger his department’s tax-exempt status, but he ignored them. While PTL, Heritage USA’s parent organization claimed to be a church, it operated a hotel and did not pay taxes on unrelated business income.

After rapid growth, the IRS audited PTL, Heritage USA’s parent organization, and revoked the organization’s tax-exempt status due to excessive executive compensation and non-payment of taxes on unrelated business income.

In 1989, Heritage USA closed its doors. PTL filed for bankruptcy. The department owed $56 million in back taxes. Millions of dollars wasted.

Even if Jim Bskker had not committed fraud by overselling timeshares or engaging in a sex scandal, his ministry would still have been imperiled by hubris.

The Bakkers and probably the Crouches were inspired by Walt Disney. They were chasing a dream: the opportunity to build a Christian Disneyland.

But the Kingdom of God is not about giving personal vision. Instead, God chose foolish things and despised them to achieve His purposes. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

Originally published at Trinity Foundation

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