Sunday, September 12, 2004

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Gay Affair

The LA Times is reporting on the legal wranglings of Paul Crouch and a former employee over a long ago homosexual affair. Story is here. (reg req)(do you know about bugmenot for newspaper registrations?) Excerpts:

Televangelist Paul Crouch, founder of the world's largest Christian broadcasting network, has waged a fierce legal battle to prevent a former employee from publicizing allegations that he and Crouch had a sexual encounter eight years ago.

The source of the allegations against him is Enoch Lonnie Ford, who met Crouch at a TBN-affiliated drug treatment center in 1991 and later went to work for the ministry.

After Ford threatened to sue TBN in 1998, claiming that he had been unjustly fired, Crouch reached a $425,000 settlement with him. In return, Ford agreed, among other things, not to discuss his claim about a sexual encounter with the TV preacher.
But in the last year, Ford has threatened to go public with his story, prompting a flurry of legal maneuvers — conducted in closed court hearings, sealed pleadings and private arbitration.

TBN and Crouch went on the legal offensive after they learned that Ford had written a book manuscript that included an account of the alleged sexual encounter.

In a dramatic flourish, Ford had appeared at a TBN broadcast studio in Costa Mesa, minutes before the start of a "Praise-a-thon" fundraiser, and, without comment, handed Crouch a copy of the manuscript.
Other bits. Crouch offered Ford $1 million to not publish the manuscript. Ford thought $10 million would be a more fair price. Ford had a history of difficulty with homosexuality, pleading no contest to having sex with a 17-year old boy and serving 6 months in jail.

A Ford friend, Sandi Mahlow, "said he broke down in tears after returning from a weekend spent alone with Crouch at a TBN-owned cabin near Lake Arrowhead. Mahlow said Ford told her that he and Crouch had engaged in sexual acts."

The LA Times continues:

Despite TBN's efforts to keep Ford's charges secret, they surfaced in an unrelated 1998 lawsuit. A former bodyguard for TBN personality Benny Hinn testified in a deposition that during a European bus tour that year, Hinn had told a group of associates about "a sexual relationship that Paul Crouch had with his chauffeur."

The witness, Mario C. Licciardello, quoted Hinn as saying: "Paul's defense was that he was drunk."

Hinn and six others mentioned by Licciardello, who died in 2000, told The Times that Hinn never made such remarks. However, Rick Jones, a retired police officer and ordained minister who worked for Hinn, said he heard Hinn talk about Crouch's alleged homosexual relationship on that bus.

Jones said he was disgusted by the talk and "got up and walked away. I didn't want to hear gossip."
It's like a car wreck. You don't want to look; but, you catch yourself peeking. God help me for that part of my heart that chuckles at Crouch's troubles. For that was my initial reaction to all this, exposing a part of me, beneath the surface, that I don't want to see. When men fall from the pinnacle, from their insulated podium of reputation and power, those who disagree with them can find a perverse pleasure. God have mercy.

For Crouch, taking your brother to court is not the answer. Trusting the legal system to aid the situation is not the same as trusting God. As a matter of fact, the choice to go legal probably shuts God out of the equation, which is not good for a Christian. Simply speaking, 1Cor 6 says we don't take our brother to court. And if Ford is not a brother, we are to not have the faith of the Lord Jesus with respect to persons. So if we treat a brother one way, we should be consistent in treating others the same way. So who can we take to court? You decide. I vote love, and prayer, and a sovereign God.

What happens if Ford publishes his book? (not even asking if the affair happened or not). Crouch's reputation would suffer. But I know that we are to be of no reputation. I know our flesh and the world has a way of doing things that make sense to the natural mind. But for Christians, the world's solutions are not recourse for our difficulties. By choosing the world's ways in this matter, Crouch brings the spiritual law of sowing and reaping into effect. Even if he wins the court battle, that law says Crouch will probably reap some unintended results from his decision to fight in court.