Tag Archives: Allegations

The Mighty Dollar: Public Figure, Private Life and Questionable Child Rearing Allegations

11 Jun

Most nights when I climb into bed at the end of the day, I ask God for three things:

  • The addition of 4 more hours to a 24-hour day
  • Forgiveness for the gleeful mental images of pure ruin and nastiness I’ve envisioned for the people who’ve crossed me throughout my day
  • The strength and wisdom to raise my kids in a way that does not jack them up into adulthood.

Now while I’m not very optimistic about the first request and I struggle with the second, I am pretty sure that I have been bestowed with an almost heavenly serenity and awareness when it comes to The Pack Kids because…well, they are still with us, ladies and gentlemen.

I say all that to say that raising children is HARD.  It is not for the faint of heart or for those looking for the latest melanin-enriched rosy cheeked, curly-haired accessory of the week (shots fired, I know).  It requires determination, resilience, patience, discipline (on both parts) and some basic common sense.  There are no “instructions or owner’s manual”, but the basic understanding that for your efforts, there will be occasions when you will be loved and adored and other times (sometimes more frequently) when you will be loathed and have mustaches and horns drawn on your Mother’s Day portraits (that’s just me? Oh…oh, okay then).  Still, as a parent who only wants the best for your child, you have to take the bad with the good and be unafraid of being the proverbial bad guy every now and again because you know that your resistance to negotiate with your kids’ terroristic demands or to acquiesce to their will is for their own good.

Having now stepped down from my soap box, I cannot imagine embodying these ideals for child rearing while being a celebrity.  I mean, as a public figure, people are already critiquing your every move and misstep; to couple that with a public assessment of the way that you interact with your children (God forbid if you believe in spankings and get caught not “sparing the rod” in public) and just like that, you and your family are media fodder and you have regular appointments with Child Protective Services for the next 6 months.

I can’t speak for him personally, but I imagine that is sort of what Dr. Creflo Dollar is going through right about now, especially given his religious celebrity status here in the U.S.   As reported by the NY Daily News:

Megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar took to the pulpit in front of a packed house on Sunday to deny punching and choking his 15-year-old daughter, calling the accusations “an exaggeration and sensationalism.”

Dollar was arrested on Friday after the teen told police that he roughed her up and beat her with a shoe during an argument over whether she was allowed to go to a party, police said.

The Atlanta-based preacher’s other daughter, Alexandria, 19, backed her sister’s story, and cops noted the teen had red marks on her neck, signs of an apparent dust-up.

Dollar was charged with battery and cruelty to children.

He struck down the charges during a sermon at his World Changers Church International, his suburban Atlanta-based church that boasts 30,000 members and a host of satellite ministries across the U.S., according to The Associated Press.

“I will say this emphatically: I should have never been arrested,” he said, after receiving an exuberant welcome from the faithful at his 8,500-seat sanctuary, known as the World Dome.

“I want you all to hear personally from me that all is well in the Dollar household.”

 The 50-year-old televangelist denied choking his daughter, saying the scratches on the girl’s neck were caused by the skin condition eczema, which she’s had for 10 years.

“The truth is, she was not choked, she was not punched,” he said. “Anything else is exaggeration and sensationalism.”

After the incident, Dollar told police that the fight started when he told the teen she couldn’t go to a party on Saturday night because her grades were poor.

On Sunday, he told the church, “The truth is that a family conversation with our youngest daughter got emotional. And emotions got involved and things escalated from there.”

“I would never approach one of my children to intentionally inflict bodily harm. I love her with all my heart,” he said.

The father of five has built a multimillion dollar religious empire since starting the church in an elementary school in his hometown of College Park, Ga., in 1986.

He runs a weekly radio broadcast and has published more than 30 books preaching the “prosperity theology” message, which says God rewards the faithful with vast wealth.

His ministry has drawn criticism from detractors who have raised questions about his lavish lifestyle, including multimillion dollar homes in Atlanta and Manhattan, a private jet, two Rolls Royces other deluxe creature comforts.

On Sunday, he suggested that the media attention following his arrest was part of a plan to undercut his message, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

“The devil knows that in order to discredit the message, you have to first of all discredit the messenger,” Dollar told his congregation.

To be clear, this post is in no way a means by which to discredit or detract from Creflo Dollar.  With the exception of his gangster lean in Jermaine Dupri’s Welcome to Atlanta video, I have nothing against the man.  I do not know what went on in his home to lead up to these allegations, so you won’t hear me judging him or his family.  Further, I find the online comments that I’ve read following the various articles about Dollar both supporting his alleged actions as well as condemning them to be irresponsible and premature, especially since it is not yet clear what actually transpired at his home last Friday.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what a person’s socioeconomic and/or celebrity status is, if punching or choking a child registers as acceptable behavior in their mind, then they deserve to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  The problem however, is proving this depravity in thinking and behavior.

For me personally, My Honey and I had to deal with an incident years ago where a parent of a teammate of my son basically accused my husband of abuse because said parent saw my kid get popped in the mouth for spitting on another child (the parent told other parents that he was concerned that my son was being abused).  Of course, when the rumor mill had finally made its way full-circle, it turned out that the “accuser” had not actually seen any of the exchange between My Honey and son, only my son crying inconsolably and his father threatening to give him something to cry about if he did not hush, but by then the damage was already done (and while My Honey relished the notion that these group of parents believed that he whooped his kids, I took issue with the whole Angry Black Man label that they tried to affix on him…but I digress).

If nothing else, from this story, it is apparent that wealth and status do not a stable familial relationship necessarily make.  This matter should also serve as a reminder to us as parents (and those of us who one day plan to be parents) of the serious commitment and mental fortitude that needs to be exercised in not only raising children, but ensuring that their core values and expectations in life are realistic and reflective of our own.

Is it a Case of “Let He Without Sin”…Or “Therefore, Rid Yourselves of Hypocrisy”?

21 Sep

As is normally the case, tonight’s regularly scheduled post was already prepared (yet another motherhood angst draft completed and in mid-revision) before the BREAKING NEWS bomb was dropped in my inbox all Hiroshima-like this evening.  Thanks to cable news networks and the instantaneous nature of the social networks that I subscribe to, my Twitter Timeline, Instant Messengers and emails pretty much imploded my Blackberry amid news of yet another seemingly fallen Good Reverend.

According to CNN.com, two male parishioners have alleged sexual misconduct and coercion by an esteemed Atlanta Pastor:

Two Georgia men have filed a lawsuit claiming that prominent Atlanta, Georgia, pastor Eddie Long coerced them into sex.

The suits, filed Tuesday in DeKalb County, Georgia, allege that Long used his position as a spiritual authority and bishop to coerce young male members and employees of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into sex.

“Defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as Bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship,” the suits allege.

Long is considered one of the nation’s top black preachers. His church has more 25,000 members, according to the suit, and was the site of Coretta Scott King’s 2006 funeral, attended by then-President George W. Bush and three previous presidents. King was the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The pastor took one plaintiff, Anthony Flagg, 21, on overnight trips to a half-dozen American cities in recent years, Flagg’s suit alleges.

“Long shared a bedroom and engaged in intimate sexual contact with plaintiff Flagg including kissing, massaging, masturbating of plaintiff Flagg by defendant Long and oral sexual contact,” the suit says.

Long took the other plaintiff, Maurice Murray Robinson, 20, to Auckland, New Zealand, in October 2008 for his 18th birthday and engaged in oral sex with him, Robinson’s suit alleges.

“Following the New Zealand Trip, Defendant Long regularly engaged in sexual touching, and other sexual acts with Plaintiff Robinson,” Robinson’s suit alleges.

Long spokesman Art Franklin said Tuesday that “we categorically deny the allegations.”

“It is very unfortunate that someone has taken this course of action,” he said. “Our law firm will be able to respond once attorneys have had an opportunity to review the lawsuit.”

Long frequently denounces homosexual behavior. A 2007 article in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s magazine called him “one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.”

“Everybody knows that a bishop or church pastor … cannot have any sort of sexual relations or sexual relationship with one of your parishioners,” the lawyer, B.J. Bernstein, said at a news conference Tuesday evening. “And even worse to have it with two young men who trusted him and got to know him at a very young age.”

Bernstein said she has alerted federal authorities about the allegations.

In June, Robinson was arrested and charged with burglary in connection with a break-in to Long’s office. An iPhone, iPad and other items — more than $1,300 worth — were taken from the office, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

On Tuesday, Bernstein said the theft was Robinson’s attempt to retaliate against the pastor. She said that once Robinson began telling others about his experience with Long, “he realized he wasn’t the only one.”

“It made [Robinson] angry,” she said.

Both plaintiffs said the pastor, his church and church employees gave them cash and lavish gifts that ranged from cars to college tuition.

The suits also said that Long framed the sexual relationships as religious in nature.

The suits allege that Long chose the plaintiffs to be his “Spiritual Sons,” a program that allegedly includes other young men from the church.

Flagg moved into a home owned by another New Birth pastor when he was a high school junior, according to the suit, where Long would sometimes share a bed with him. Flagg was eventually put on the church’s payroll, his suit alleges, with Long personally delivering his checks.

Flagg’s suit says that Long presided over a spiritual “covenant” ceremony between the two of them.

“It was essentially a marriage ceremony, with candles, exchange of jewelry, and biblical quotes,” Bernstein said Tuesday. “The bishop [told] him I will always have your back and you will always have mine.”

Robinson’s suit alleges that “Defendant Long would use Holy Scripture to discuss and justify the intimate relationship between himself and Plaintiff Robinson.”

The suits are seeking unspecified amounts of punitive damages from Long on various counts, ranging from negligence to breach of fiduciary duty.

Now, I will be the first to admit that although I don’t preach eternally damnation to random strangers and infidels or claim to possess the power to evoke a Fire and Brimstone downpour on all non-believers (you know, that new-age religion that some on The Right and many of those who travel on The Tea Party Express would have you believe that Christianity is all about), as a compassionate church-going, God-loving, Kingdom Striver, these allegations were incredibly disturbing.  And not so much because there are implications of gross sexual impropriety committed by a well-known and respected man of the cloth; one of the faces of the black “mega-church” culture, but because people have used this story to further vilify Christianity, “the body” and collective church-going as a whole. 

I cannot tell you how many comments I’ve read or responded to today that ranged from joking about whether Bishop Long’s S-Curl and silk too-tight shirts would be charged as accessories to this crime to people accusing the man of pedophilia with adolescent boys.  Please understand that I don’t repeat these crass opinions as a way in which to pass judgment. I only mention them to show how easy it was for the world to jump on the “there-goes-another-preacher-spending-my-up-my-tithe-while-creeping-with-the-choir-boy” bandwagon without having heard a single word in the way of Bishop Long’s side of the story.  Moreover, I know in media how important it is to get “the jump” on a hot and fresh story (as I can guarantee every blogger and their momma will probably be weighing in on this topic tomorrow morning, if they’ve not already done so) but I have to wonder if CNN.com, with more than 18,000 recommendations of this story via Facebook and it being touted as the most popular article on their website, cared more about the sensation that this story would garner as opposed to reporting on the whole story in its entirety.  Now, far be it for me to suggest that Bishop Long’s two accusers in this case are peddling falsehoods; I am not saying that at all.  I just think that we should all be careful to consider not only people’s motives in instances like this, but also the source from which such information would come.

What I do know to be true however, is my sincere desire for fact, accuracy and vindication to reign supreme and be made known when this snafu is all said and done.  As crazy as this situation is though, it’s bound to get even uglier before it gets resolved.  That is all the more reason why (in my opinion) we have to step out of our cloak of judgment and not put our mouth on a situation we are only privy to via second hand revelation. 

In the book of 1 Peter, it talks about how the people of God shouldn’t be surprised at being mistreated and made to suffer as a result of doing the Lord’s work (paraphrasing), while on the other hand the book of Matthew addresses the sadness and destruction that people bring upon themselves as a result of the sinful behaviors they allow in their lives.  In reading just these two bible passages it is evident that God will not be mocked, and I have a sneaking suspicion that one way or another this incident will be the catalyst for God allowing people to be exposed for who and what they truly are.

Revenge of The Nerd

30 Jul

It’s so funny for me to see old 80’s sitcoms that are now in syndication and wonder what ever became of the characters that I grew up watching (I’d like to take a moment to officially issue an All-Points Bulletin for Charmaine Brown, DJ Tanner and Lisa Turtle). 

This was the case a few years ago when that nasty little rumor about Jaleel White taking his own life made its rounds on the internet.  After going through the 5 Stages of Grief only to later “snopes” the story and discovered that it was false, I again took to the internet (you’d think I’d learn) to see what really became of Steve Urkel’s real-life persona.  Surprisingly, long gone were the suspenders, coke-bottle glasses and overall scrawniness.  The aesthetically challenged duckling with the unrequited feelings for Laura Winslow had indeed developed into a swan matured mallard.  White’s transformation of course made me very pleased, as I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the socially awkward and tend to root emphatically for them, even if said underdog is a made up character with overly embellished geeky features.  But although White had clearly grown up and detached himself from his former character, it was his latest alleged thuggery that had me comparing his current and former selves while wondering, when in the world did Urkel get gully?

While it currently does not appear that charges against him will be pursued, it does seem that the dust has settled a bit on the latest “Men Behaving Badly: Hollywood Actors Edition” story involving White and his baby’s mother. 

According to several media outlets, the LAPD recently investigated claims made by Bridget Hardy that Jaleel White punched her in the breast (implant) while the two were driving down a Los Angeles freeway, and that he also slapped and pushed her into a toilet at their home.  White and his reps have maintained that the incident never happened and that the accusations were nothing more than a ploy by his daughter’s mother to sully his good name since they are currently engaged in heated custody issues.

The reality is however, that no one except the two parties involved can say with complete certainty what is true and what are lies, but the fact that the charges were dropped against White due to there not being enough evidence to pursue, as well as questions concerning Hardy’s credibility seem to have quelled any real media blitz over this story.  Still, for Jaleel White’s sake, I hope the allegations are untrue.  He has got to know that no matter how hard he tries to disassociate himself from Steve Urkel, the whole Mel-Gibson-Raging-Lunatic alternative is not the look that he ought to be going for.  And even though he’d be “off the hook” legally, the court of public opinion would still completely fricassee what was left of his career and discard the bones…Chris Brown, anyone?

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