USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

CRCC’s Crystal Cathedral expert consulted by Associated Press, NPR, and LA Times

CRCC’s Crystal Cathedral expert consulted by Associated Press, NPR, and LA Times

CRCC’s Crystal Cathedral expert consulted by Associated Press, NPR, and LA Times

Richard Flory, CRCC director of research, was quoted in articles by the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, and NPR on the recent sale of the infamous Crystal Cathedral to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County.

The Crystal Cathedral, an temple of glass in Garden Grove, Calif. that was $50 million in debt earlier this year, will be sold to the Catholic Church. The diocese will pay $57.5 million to use the iconic building, made of 10,000 panes of glass, and help Robert H. Schuller, Sr.’s megachurch emerge from bankruptcy protection.

The iconic glass building once housed congregants of Schuller’s church and became an icon during his “Hour of Power” TV program. Schuller started the Southern California ministry as a drive-in church in the 1950s under the auspices of the Reformed Church in America. Decades later, the church evolved into an international televangelism empire and erected its now-famous building.

  • In the Associated Press article, which has appeared in the Washington Post, Salon and other media outlets, Flory talks about how the iconic glass structure has become tied to Schuller’s church’s identity: “They’re no different than any other business. They have to market themselves, and they have a particular branding and they’ve put all their eggs in that basket. That would be a difficult transition for them to make.”
    Read the AP article at Salon.
  • In the LA Times, Flory spoke about how the Schuller family seemed oblivious to their own privilege when the church recently asked for food donations for Schuller’s ailing wife — and said the items would be delivered to her in a limousine. “I mean, how out of touch can you possibly be?” he asked. “If you’re part of that congregation, at what point does this person or family start bringing more problems to us as a congregation than benefit?”
    Read the LA Times article.
  • “But in the end, it’s about living beyond your means,” Flory told NPR. The church had enormous costs in maintaining the building and the services, which included professional musicians and a yearly Christmas pageant that cost $2 million. At the same time, Flory says, the Crystal Cathedral did not adapt to the times. “They stuck with a particular model of what church was supposed to be and sound and feel like, and I think generationally people started to look for other things,” he says.
    Read and listen to the story on NPR.

Flory has previously been consulted and interviewed on this topic by the Associated Press, NPR and the Los Angeles Times. He examined megachurches and their role in contemporary culture with CRCC Executive Director Donald Miller in their book Finding Faith: The Spiritual Quest of the Post-Boomer Generation.

Flory has also written about the topic of megachurches on Trans-missions, the USC Knight Chair in Media and Religion blog.

Photo from the LA Times.