Thursday, September 23, 2004

TBN, Paul Crouch saga continues

Paul Crouch, founder and patriarch of the Christian TV network, TBN, continues putting his trust in the legal system, instead of God. I don't want this site to be TBN central, but I notice I posted about the first salvo here, the official TBN response, a TBN lawyer's interview, and then 3 LA Times hack jobs on TBN's financing: here, here, and here. Now, before going into what transpired today, here's a recap of the relevant points.

--Enoch Lonnie Ford met Paul Crouch while in a TBN sponsored drug rehab in 1991. He later went to work for TBN. TBN paid some of Ford's debts, spoke with judges on his behalf, and gave him continued chances by employing him despite his continued run-ins with the law.
--Ford claims that, while he was employed by TBN, in 1996, Paul Crouch coerced him into having sex with him at a TBN-owned cabin at Lake Arrowhead.
--Ford was in prison for parole violation in 1997, when TBN lobbied on Ford's behalf with the legal system, saying he would have a job waiting for him when he was released. Ford criminal record includes convictions for drug offenses and for the statutory rape of a 17-year old boy.
--Upon release, TBN refused to employ Ford.
--Ford threatened a sexual harassment suit against Crouch for the gay sex encounter.
--Crouch, under the advise of his lawyers and spiritual advisors!, settled with Ford, Before he filed suit. The secrecy agreement handed $425,000 to Ford from TBN in 1998. No ministry money used.
--In April 2003, Ford walked on the set of TBN's Praise The Lord program and handed Crouch an autobiographical manuscript that included an account of the Arrowhead gay sex encounter.
--TBN offered to buy the manuscript for $1 million.
--Ford offered to sell the manuscript to TBN for $10 million.
--During negotiations, Crouch sued to enforce the secrecy agreement signed in 1998.
--Judge ruled that Ford could not publish the book without violating that agreement.
--LA Times runs a story detailing the above. TBN responds. LA Times does a hack job using anecdotes from Crouch's autobiography to paint him and TBN in a negative light.

Phew.

Anyway.... yesterday's foray into the absurd has TBN taking the LA Times to court to prevent them from running this article. In it, Ford gives an interview and tells his side of the story. He feels that TBN broke the secrecy agreement by sending out a press release after the LA Times' first story. Some of the details of that article:

"There were times that I didn't make the right decisions," [Ford] said. "This is all true. But this man is using my mistakes to get away with this." ..."I'll take a lie-detector test on national TV. Paul Crouch needs to be exposed, and the truth needs to get out."

...In October 1996, Ford said he and Crouch spent two nights at the same hotel in separate rooms. During that time, Ford said they worked out together at the hotel gym and ate expensive meals with bottles of wine and after-dinner drinks. "I knew what he was doing," Ford said. "He was seducing me."

After checking out of the hotel, Ford said, Crouch took him to a TBN-owned cabin near Lake Arrowhead. It was there, Ford said, that Crouch first had sex with him. "I did it because I didn't know if this man is going to throw me straight out of that cabin," Ford said. "And I didn't want to lose my job. I was going to be in trouble if I said no."

The next morning, Ford said, Crouch read a Bible passage to him in an attempt to reassure him about the night before. The passage, Proverbs 6:16-19, details seven "detestable" attitudes and acts in God's eyes. Ford said Crouch told him that because homosexuality wasn't listed, the Lord wasn't worried about what they had done. Still, Ford said, Crouch warned him to keep the encounter quiet "because people wouldn't understand."
In addition to characterizing the Arrowhead encounter as the "first" time they had sex, another tibdit the latest article discloses is that Ford now lives openly as a gay man. But, the craziest thing about the story is that TBN took the LA Times to court to prevent them from running this piece. (as they say, read the whole thing)

What in the world are they doing? Every step of the way, they are making foolish decisions, putting their trust in man and the legal system, instead of putting their trust in God. This whole mess started when they settled out of court for something that, they (sort of) claim, Paul Crouch is innocent of. We are to be of no reputation; and by trying to preserve their reputations they are reaping the fruit of what they sowed in folly.

This is part 1 of what has transpired. Part 2 is found here, and concerns TBN's latest response to this whole mess.