By Elaine Woo
Paul Crouch, a pioneering televangelist who founded Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world’s largest Christian TV network, died today, according to the network's website. He was 79.
The church reported in October that Crouch had fallen ill and was taken to a Dallas-area hospital while on a visit to a TBN facility in Colleyville, Texas. He had "heart and related health issues," the church said, and he was later returned to California for continued treatment.
The son of a Missouri missionary, Crouch moved to California in the early 1960s to manage the movie and television unit of the Assemblies of God. A decade later, after receiving what he believed was a message from God, he began to buy television stations, cable channels and satellites and developed enough Christian programming to sustain a 24-hour network.
By the mid-1980s, Orange County-based TBN was “the country’s most-watched religious network,” according to J. Gordon Melton and Jon R…