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October 18, 2009

Televangelist Reverend Ike Passes

Preched virtues of prosperity.

F.J. Eikerenkoetter II, known as the Rev. Ike, died July 29, 2009, in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 74, and had a stroke in 2007 from which he never fully recovered.

Rev. Ike was among the first preachers to harness the power of electronic media with the gospel of prosperity and drew millions of listeners on television and radio with such proclamations as “Jesus was a capitalist.”

For nearly three decades, Rev. Ike presided from a red velvet throne on the stage of the Christ United Church’s Palace Cathedral, a Moorish-rococo former Loews movie theater in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.

At his height in the 1970s, he preached to roughly 5,000 congregants every Sunday. He also appeared on more than 1,700 television and radio stations across North America. His followers not only tuned in to his message of divinely ordained consumption and positive self-image psychology but also responded to his incessant pleas for financial support.

Claiming more followers during his heyday than any evangelist except Billy Graham, he earned an estimated million dollars a month from listeners across the hemisphere.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years and a son.

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