Ink on the Preacher
Oliver Nham

Islamic Televangelism that would make Joel Osteen Proud

Oli Nham writes about new age televangelism and how Carl Lentz is bringing a younger generation to the Church. I agree that these sermons are more along the lines of performances. As Oli states, “Jerky body movements and stoic freeze-frame poses build into a form of entertainment and theatre for congregants, and just to witness him on stage becomes a reason for people to attend.”

This type of televangelism is spreading across religions. Boston’s Imam Suhaib Webb is a controversial member of the Muslim community. Growing up in America, he is open about his gang involvement as a teen. He converted to Islam in his 20's and studied in the Middle East for several years. He is known to base his sermons on episodes of Breaking Bad, talk about how he’d be the first person at the mosque if hip-hop singer Mary J. Blige was giving the sermon and speak about the amount of marijuana he plans on smoking when he makes it to heaven (because it will be permissible there).

The following article from the LA Times explains why Muslims are so curious about this blonde-haired imam and why he is the voice of a new generation.

Another, more conservative approach to Islamic televangelism would be Texas’ Imam Nouman Ali Khan. Having grown up in the United States, with ties to relatives in Pakistan, Khan is the new age voice for the younger, conservative generation. He speaks of relevant topics such as love, marriage, parenting, etc. He is able to relate to his audience because he has the values and knowledge that the older generation wants but he can speak about topics the younger generation is dealing with.

This video is an example of Imam Nouman Ali Khan discussing why it’s important to praise your children. For example, when they bring home an A+ in math and yet their parent asks what happened to the other 5%. This is a common issue among South Asians.

Pradip Ninan Thomas writes in Whiter Televangelism: Opportunities, Trends, Challenges that televangelism in Muslim communities is frowned upon because it can be considered a ‘dumbing-down’ of Islamic principles. The two aforementioned Islamic scholars are prime examples that this is changing. Thomas discusses financing televangelism. Just as Joel Osteen delivers the Good-News Glad, Nouman Ali Khan sells sermons on his TV channel Bayyinah TV ( You can take a parenting class, learn to speak Arabic or even take a course in understanding the Quran…all for $11.99 a month for a subscription.

As Oli concludes that Lentz is the embodiment of faith in the eyes of so many young Christians, this seems to be the way in which the commodification of religion is heading. To continue to make money and garner interest, leaders and scholars are turning towards technology to keep the younger generation interested. The preservation of religion is partially dependent on the advancement of religious knowledge via new means.

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