The church used to be the mirror that society looked into to see its reflection. But, now the church has become the reflection that mirrors society.
Unfortunately, the church seems to have lost its way and can no longer be counted on to provide light in a dark world.
Last month, embattled preacher Eddie Long made an out of court settlement of the sexual charges made against him by 4 teenage parishioners. The settlement is reported to have been for $15 million (to be split between the four accusers). The accusers were: Anthony Flagg, Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande.
The suit accused Long of using his position as pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church to coerce the men into having sexual relationships with him while they were teenage members of his congregation (they were said to have been 17 years old). The acts included massages, masturbation, and oral sex. The age of consent in the state of Georgia is 16. The accusers were all over the age of consent when the acts occurred, therefore law enforcement had no grounds for criminal charges.
New Birth is one of the largest churches in the Atlanta area, with a membership estimated to be around 25,000.
As to be expected, members are leaving the church in droves, including one of their assistant pastors, Bernice King, youngest daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
To add salt to the wound, Creflo Dollar has shown his arrogance in his attempted defense of Long (a long time friend). According to Dollar’s sermon from last Sunday (seen on YouTube): “That preacher’s still anointed to do what he was called to. He just had a wreck (the sexual coercion charge)…The blood (of Jesus) will take care of his issue just like it will take care of yours. And I just can’t believe that people would leave their preacher because he had a wreck, instead of praying for him. So he had a wreck. You’ve had some wrecks. And I’m thinking, ‘Man, the mercy of God showed on you, but you couldn’t show it to the preacher?…He had a wreck, [but] here’s the good news. He’s got insurance. If you’re from that church that you know I’m talking about, you trying to join here, I don’t want you to join here. You need to go and join where you’re supposed to be.”
Dollar is pastor of World Changers Church in Atlanta. They have an estimated membership of 30,000 people.
Long and Dollar are both advocates of the “prosperity gospel.” This is basically a belief in the modern church that God wants everyone to be millionaires. All you have to do is to obey preachers like Long and Dollar, give them your money, and God will give you a big house, an expensive car, and any other material possessions you want.
They should know. Long drives a Bentley, has a nine bedroom house, and a $1 million salary. Dollar (what an ironic name) has a $3 million house in Atlanta, a $ 2.4 million condo in NY, two Rolls-Royces, and a private jet.
These preachers have basically made God into a personal ATM! According to their theology, if you don’t have material riches, you must be doing something wrong!
These mega churches have become the “Wall Street” of religion (as in the movie) where “greed is good.” These preachers depend on “the cult of personality” to expand their empires. People tend to join these churches because of the preacher, not the message that is being preached.
These preachers are nothing but celebrities with robes on. But, when you pull back the robes, most of them are naked—both literally and figuratively. Like in the movie, “The Wiz,” when you go behind the curtain, you find a big ole phony!
I am a graduate of Oral Roberts University, one of the preeminent Christian schools in the country. I have worked around many of the biggest names in the “prosperity theology” movement.
These preachers have absolutely no sense of the damage they are doing, not only to the church, but also to people’s lives. Proverbs 14:7 states: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof the ways of death.”
Dollar’s berating of those who left Long’s church is the epitome of arrogance. They have prostituted the church for their personal gain. The damage these types of preachers have done is incalculable.
For every ill we see in society, from politics, business, and entertainment, we now see reflected in the church.
The church is no longer the mirror, but the reflection. Just look at the man in the mirror!
(Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine [www.excellstyle.com] & USAfrica Magazine [www.USAfricaonline.com].)