NPR quoted Richard Flory, CRCC director of research and research associate professor, in a report about the ongoing financial woes of the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County. The Crystal Cathedral, a megachurch founded by Robert H. Schuller, Sr., is currently $50 million in debt, but officials say everyone owed will be repaid.
“To do that, the Crystal Cathedral’s soaring glass building and 40-acre campus will be sold to a local real estate developer, who will then lease the buildings back to the church so services and programs can continue,” reports NPR’s Karen Grigsby Bates.
Then, Flory weighs in: “Four years is a really, really fast turnaround to come up with $30 million when they’re $50 million in debt right now…The debts they report are anywhere between 46 [million] and 50 million, selling it for 46 million and then they’re buying it back for 30 million? Somebody’s losing money.”
Flory has previously been consulted and interviewed on this topic by the Associated Press 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.
Diane Winston, CRCC senior fellow and the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication, is also quoted in the story about Schuller’s original fundraising motivation and the church’s lack of appeal in Orange County.
“It’s not surprising that when he organized and the way in which he did it, that he might have had a clientele that reflected the way Orange County looked at that time,” she says. “And the fact that he hasn’t grown the church in significant ways may explain why it’s graying and why it’s so white.”
Photo from DaveReichert on Flickr.