American Televangelism & Patricipatory Cultures

Fans, Brands, and Play with Religious "Fakes"

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Denis J. Bekkering
Contemporary Religion and Popular Culture
  • London, England: 
    Palgrave Macmillan
    , October
     228 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by David Feltmate forthcoming.


This book examines unintended participatory cultures and media surrounding the American televangelists Robert Tilton and Tammy Faye Bakker-Messner. It brings to light heavily ironic fan followings; print, audio, and video projects; public access television parodies; and other comedic participatory practices associated with these controversial preachers from the 1980s onwards. For Tilton’s ministry, some of these activities and artifacts would prove irksome and even threatening, particularly an analog video remix turned online viral sensation. In contrast, Bakker-Messner’s “campy” fans – gay men attracted to her “ludicrous tragedy” – would provide her unexpected opportunities for career rehabilitation.

 Denis J. Bekkering challenges “supply-side” religious economy and branding approaches, suggestions of novelty in religion and “new” media studies, and the emphasis on sincere devotion in research on religion and fandom. He also highlights how everyday individuals have long participated in public negotiations of Christian authenticity through tongue-in-cheek play with purported religious “fakes.”

  • Offers a new way of looking at television preaching, as it focuses on unintended fans of televangelists – individuals who found these preachers amusing rather than uplifting
  • Challenges research on religion and “new” media by highlighting analog “alternative” media
  •  Reorients research on religion and popular culture to focus more closely on how people actually use religious media
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Denis J. Bekkering received his doctorate in Religious Studies from the University of Waterloo. He has previously published work in Culture and Religion, Studies in Religion, and the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.

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