Thursday, September 16, 2004

Crouched amid the tares

4 days ago, I posted about Paul Crouch and the gay sex accusations against him. My point was that he was taking the wrong tact in this whole messy affair. The facts are these--Enoch Lonnie Ford is trying to extort money from Paul Crouch alleging they had a gay sex encounter. Crouch, after paying him once to keep it quiet, sues to shut him up.

This was a worldy solution to the problem. He was trying to save his man-made reputation through the court system, and keep the affair quiet. Well, now it's out; so, I guess that didn't work. Crouch's network, TBN, officially responded to the LA Times article in a mildly disturbing press release. The opening sentence of the press release says:

In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times reporting a story that Dr. Paul Crouch, the founder and president of Trinity Broadcasting Network, was allegedly involved in a wrongful termination and sexual harassment case in 1997 is deplorable and the scandalous claims leveled against him are false.
This opening sentence is grammatically incorrect. Now, I am not the grammar police and I am sure my grammar isn't perfect; but, this press release was crafted by professionals (or it should have been). So what are they declaring 'deplorable'? The LA Times running an article on Crouch's legal procedings? The wrongful termination? It implies, without saying it flat-out, that Paul Crouch didn't have gay sex with a former employee. But, it doesn't really say that, does it? (a cool site on statement analysis is found here)

Note the 2nd sentence:

The accuser is a convicted felon and longtime drug abuser who has been imprisoned for years for serious crimes ranging from child sexual molestation to using illegal drugs such as crack cocaine.
This is what galls me about the press release. "The accuser is..." response is of the kind you see in politics, or in the corporate world. In the world, to deflect allegations, you besmirch the accuser without addressing the conflict. I am not justifying the extortioner. He is clearly operating in the wrong spirit here and he clearly has a criminal history. I am pointing out the worldy response of a supposed Christian leader.

Later, Ford, the accuser:

threatened to sue TBN by alleging wrongful termination and sexual harassment, directing his most salacious allegations towards Dr. Crouch personally. In an effort to address this matter in 1997, Dr. Crouch sought the advice and counsel of some trusted advisers, attorneys and spiritual leaders. The consensus viewpoint was that it would be better for TBN and Dr. Crouch to reach a financial settlement rather than to fight the accuser in court. This course of action was deemed less expensive and would avoid the bad publicity, time and effort that it would take to fight the false claims...The importance of the settlement does not rest on the money paid, but rather on Dr. Crouch's vehement denial of the allegations made against him...
Translation: according to Crouch he compromised, and agreed to something that he professes to be a lie. This may be a fool's way out, but it is not the way of truth. Having to go as far as point out the importance of the settlement, to the unwashed and unlearned among us, certainly leaves you with the impression that the charges are true.

In violation of his agreement, and in an attempt to extract yet more money from TBN and Dr. Crouch, in late 2003, the accuser threatened to shop an autobiographical manuscript to the media should TBN and Dr. Crouch not agree to buy the manuscript for an exorbitant sum of money. Rather than even contemplating a second round of what Dr. Crouch considered extortion, and with the support of his present advisers and attorneys, Dr. Crouch and TBN fought the accuser in court where the accuser and his false claims were soundly defeated.
This sound defeat came after Crouch offered Ford $1 million for his manuscript and Ford asked for $10 million. After these negotiations failed, the court proceedings were allowed to run its course. The above statement leaves you with the impression that the gay sex allegations are the false claims that were soundly defeated. Not so. The court proceedings involved whether Ford, the accuser, could seek a book publisher after signing the secrecy agreement in 1998. Ford's claim was that he could publish his book. The sound defeat is that an arbitrator ruled that he couldn't publish the book without violating the 1998 settlement.

Nowhere in this statement does Crouch say that he did not have gay sex with Ford. A close look at Crouch's actions leave you with the impression that he did. Benny Hinn claimed Crouch told him that the sexual encounter happened because Crouch was drunk. Maybe TBN is hoping readers of this press release are, at the least, mildly intoxicated.

Frankly, the only thing the world and the TBN crowd care about in this matter is whether or not Crouch had a gay sex encounter. Homosexual adultery is a big thing for people in Christian leadership; but, to me, more telling are Crouch's actions after the alleged encounter.

UPDATE: Searching for sensible reaction in the blogosphere regarding Crouch is difficult. A few pagans folks seem to be dancing in the streets over this. I did find 2 reasonable posts. Marcus Brown's reaction which is in line with what I said above:

Hmmm ... sounds more like an attack against the character of the accuser than the charges themselves. Basically, because the accuser was a drug addict and a felon, then he shouldn't be believed....I think it's becoming clear that Crouch has messed this up pretty badly. If the charges being made against him are TRUE, then he's lying and trying to pay off his accuser to shut him up. If the charges are FALSE, then why did he try to cover this up for so long and spend $425,000 of his supporters' money to pay off a blackmailer? Seems like a pretty poor use of the money.
And Rich Glasgow expresses his embarrassment:
I've been embarrassed by Paul and Jan Crouch since the first time I ever saw their gaudy, gilded, 18oo's style bordello TV soundstage...I'm also embarrassed that so many people find them to be inspiring enough to send them millions of dollars each year. I don't get it! Why not send your money to the local orphanage or how about helping out some widows in your local community. Get real Christians! These glitzy charlatans are about as Christlike as the Pharisees of Christ's era who lived to be praised by men...O' sure, they were religious! But religion is nothing if it is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. It's time to wake up, Christians!