Robert Schuller, the televangelist who founded the Crystal Cathedral, has died. He was 88 and had been dealing with esophageal cancer for the past two years.
Although Schuller began his smiling and soft-spoken evangelical ministry in 1955, he didn’t really hit it big until the late ’70s and early ’80s, when his widely-watched TV show, Hour Of Power, was drawing about 20 million viewers in more than 180 countries. With the construction of the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California in 1980, Schuller, often sporting a purple robe and oversized gold-rimmed aviator glasses, became the preeminent American TV minister, preaching a blend of positivity and redemption that some more extreme practitioners of the faith felt was a little watered down. Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Ford, and Clinton reached out to him for guidance—or, at least, help landing votes from some of Schuller’s constituents. Schuller also wrote 37 books, six of which made the New York Times’ bestseller list.
In recent years, the Schuller family has lost much of its former glory, filing for bankruptcy in 2010, right around when Robert Schuller left the television pulpit. The family even sold the Crystal Cathedral to the Roman Catholic church in 2011. It’s since been renamed the Christ Cathedral.