From ‘Hour of Power’ to ‘Days of Demise’: Media Portrayals of Crisis and Fractured Social Order within Robert H. Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral Ministry


  • Douglas J. Swanson California State University, Fullerton


Crystal Cathedral, Robert H. Schuller, Sheila Schuller Coleman, Christian megachurch ministry, Christian televangelism, crisis communication, crisis management, communications strategy, social order, public relations strategy, media content analysis


The purpose of this case study is to illustrate the importance of organizations in crisis to engage media gatekeepers through different forms of communication. The case study offers an analysis of media coverage from 2010-2012, a period in which financial losses and family squabbling resulted in the dissolution of Robert H. Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral Ministry. Ministry leadership failed to follow accepted principles of crisis communication by not effectively addressing topical issues critical to stakeholders. Additionally, the news content that formed the basis of this analysis illustrates that Crystal Cathedral’s communication efforts suggested a fractured, discordant social order that did not suggest the organization was capable of survival after loss of the edifice with which the ministry was identified. Ultimately, this case study demonstrates that religious groups and other similar organizations to which stakeholders have strong emotional ties must engage in effective crisis communication on topical issues. Organizations must also address the broader issue of social order, which relates strongly to the ability to move forward post-crisis.