Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's time to stop just playing church

From time to time news will circulate about preachers of the gospel getting caught up in things they have no business being involved with.  Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Juanita Bynum, Carlton Pearson, and Benny Hinn are a few names in a long line of “Mega Preachers” that have been caught up in some sort of scandal.
I was a kid, but I can remember it like it was yesterday; Jim Baker being stuffed into a police car, crying and looking like a total train wreck after being convicted of fraud and conspiracy.
His alleged affair with the church secretary, Jessica Hahn, which he denied until his release from prison many years later, is what really got the ball rolling in exposing him for the type of preacher he really was. 
Remember Louisiana based preacher Jimmy Swaggart and his famous tearful confession that he had sinned against God?  Swaggart was well known for being outspoken against Christian rock and metal music, referring to it as pornography and putting other ministers of the gospel on blast for their extra-martial affairs. 
All seemed to be well with Swaggart after his confession, but a couple of years later he was caught for the second time with a prostitute.
The Catholic Church has had its share of problems over the years as well with numerous documented cases of priests molesting young boys.  Young men that were looking for comfort and spiritual guidance were walking away scared and broken because a person they thought was doing God’s work took advantage of them.
The Church of God in Christ (COGIC), a highly respected and powerful Christian group in the black community has taken its share of lumps over the years as well.  Some of their most powerful and influential preachers have been exposed for doing more than just praying and counseling their members. 
The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church has been linked to molestation cases all over the country for a number of years as well.  Jamal H. Bryant, a very popular AME preacher in the Baltimore area was caught up in a scandal of his own.
Bryant once preached a sermon, specifically addressing the allegations against singer R. Kelly and telling his members to watch out for pedophiles.  Shortly thereafter, a young girl in his church miraculously came up pregnant and numerous reports surfaced that he fathered several other children and was not financially supporting or acknowledging them.  When I say miraculously, I’m not talking about that young lady being today’s version of the Virgin Mary.
You would think a guy like this would be humble and apologetic for taking advantage of his members, their generous giving and trust placed their pastor, but not him.  A guy, who was already being scrutinized by many in the media and people around the Baltimore area for his flamboyant and lavish lifestyle, had the nerve to get in the pulpit and preach a sermon announcing that “I’m still the man!”  
He basically used a few scriptures to somehow justify his actions as being human and falling victim to his own flesh.  He boldly declared that he was still going to be preaching and teaching whether the members stayed or left because the anointing on his life was bigger than his mistake.
Stepping down for a period of time until he got control of his personal life would have been the best way to handle this situation, but his arrogance allowed him to continue to stand in front of his members and preach to them about right versus wrong.
Now the latest in the long line of Mega preachers caught up in a scandal is Eddie Long, pastor of a 25,000 plus member church in North Georgia.  Long has been one of the most outspoken ministers against homosexuality and homosexual marriage, but yet finds himself caught in a scandal involving his inappropriate behavior with several young men.
These guys are putting a new meaning to the term, “laying hands on you.”
He may not be guilty of manipulating the young men he was supposed to be leading and guiding, but this does bring attention to an epidemic that is plaguing the black church, the “down low” lifestyle.  I’ll save my thoughts on that for another time.
I hope the allegations aren’t true for the sake of the good preachers out there doing things the right way, but where there is smoke; fire may be soon to follow. 
The we fall down, but get back up religious, church folks and apologist who want to defend and justify what these guys are doing by saying that we are human and prone to mistakes need to do some serious praying.
Yes, we all make mistakes and fall short of God’s glory, and we are all going to have to stand before the most-high God and be accountable for our own actions. I, as well as you should expect and demand more accountability from a person that stands in the pulpit and carries the title of minister, bishop, elder, or pastor.
We don’t expect our judges, teachers, or political leader to do these types of things, so why should we give a pass to a preacher?
I am not passing judgment or saying they are hell bound, but there has to be a standard set for anybody carrying the title.  Our faith should ultimately be in God and not in an individual person.
I hope sooner rather than later preachers stop pretending; stop playing church in front of people; stop dressing like a sheep and acting like a wolf; stop using the church as a money making business enterprise; and stop taking advantage of God’s people.
Originally published by the Charlton County Herald on September 28, 2010

1 comment:

  1. This was a great piece of literature, Stu!