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COGIC to ramp up PR strategy; plans to “get ahead of the story”

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

During the 2011 Church of God in Christ Call Meeting (national business meeting), held in Memphis, the [anonymous] Report of the General Board issued a pdf file which says that the denomination intends to ramp up its efforts to change its public image. But what’s the motivation?

The report ironically seems to paint the church as a victim of virtual boogeyman forces out to destroy its name, image and reputation.

“We are experiencing a viral media culture where truth and untruths are mingled together to produce sensation. Sometimes this occurs at the cost of reputation, livelihood, and humiliation. The Church must become more assertive in managing “her” own story about her role in world affairs. The selection of a Public Relations Manager is one of several ways we are going to “get ahead of a story” and offer a integral [sic] context to contrast the forces that take delight in minimizing our effectiveness and impact in the lives of hundreds of thosands [sic] of people in their every day lives.”

One solution, the church believes is to hire a “public relations manager”. As before when the issues cross clergy sexual abuse, financial mismanagement, and abuse of authority especially with COGIC leaders, the language becomes shadowy and generic.

For instance,there is no explanation as to how the public relations manager position is different from the one created for Bishop Brandon Porter or the (presumably) paid media relations position of Diedre Malone.

Is this just more useless spending by an administration trying to keep its dirty secrets from seeping out or is it a legitimate makeover by a church under the gun?

The problem with COGIC’s new strategy is akin to catching a child with his hand in the cookie jar. Asked if he is getting cookies when he shouldn’t be, the child responds: “But John’s dad called him a bad boy for getting a cookie before dinner, so you shouldn’t scold or punish me”. Redirecting attention from one’s own sins is the oldest trick in the book. Adam and Eve tried it in the book of Genesis.

COGIC dances around (or intentionally ignores) the real problem, which isnt a so-called  “viral media culture” (reportcogicabuse.com) or “forces that take delight in minimizing our effectiveness”.  It uses the same “viral media culture” to release its church propaganda.  The real problem is the fact that far too many of its own clergy are sexual wolves preying on unsuspecting sheep. And the church’s leadership does little — if anything— to resolve the problem. Instead of dealing righteously with legitimate victims who have suffered real and sustained sexual violence, the report paints the church as an innocent victim of  sinister viral media forces. Of course, they would NEVER name such forces lest people seek out the truth…and find it.

Its strange if not altogether bizarre that instead of following a biblical path which includes repentance, showing mercy to victims by acknowledging their hurt, restitution and disciplining perpetrators, the church’s leadership would rather lie to its membership about virtual boogeyman forces and slip on a new choir robe.

Even after a detailed and damning report released by James Smith,  a high ranking church officer, the administration of Bishop Charles Blake is still treating millions of faithful followers (many highly educated) as if they are first graders wearing wet diapers.

The world would call COGIC’s new PR job “spin control”. According to one source, it not a good thing at all certainly not for a church which proclaims to uphold the standards of holiness.

“In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure. While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, “spin” often, though not always, implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics.

Surely such things will come to no good end.

ACTION INFO

Robert Coleman, Jr.
COGIC Public Relations Manager
930 Mason Street
Memphis, TN 38126
Office: (901) 235-2160
rcoleman@cogic.org

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COGIC bishop LT Walker dies; end of justice?

April 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Originally posted at GCM Watch 021709

The Little Rock based COGIC bishop who was in the spotlight during the murder of a homosexual pastor under his charge, has died.

According to the denomination’s website, Bishop Leato T. Walker passed away Sunday morning and will be eulogized Feb 23th and 24th.

Walker never responded to claims that he sat on information about homosexual pastor Ronald Paige who was murdered by a  young black homeless man he allegedly attempted to rape. Since Memphis media broke the story several other male victims came forward attesting the pastor molested them when they were members of his church. One parent stated that Walker knew of the molestations but never removed Paige from office nor disciplined him.

To date, Walker, COGIC national and its presiding bishop Charles Blake, maintained complete silence on the case and the dead pastor. Walker’s death may end any real attempts for justice for the families of the young men.

Related: Gay ministers group founded by COGIC elder

COGIC and Bishop still silent on sexual abuse and gay clergy

April 2, 2011 1 comment

Originally posted at GCM Watch 090809

Little Rock – The COGIC Arkansas bishop who allegedly ignored critical allegations should be removed from office if proven that he indeed sat on information from parents of teen boys who had been molested by a pastor under his charge.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for the administration of Bishop Charles Blake to move expeditiously and address the growing cloud of clergy sexual scandals attached to its name. Its been five months since Ronald Paige of Earle, Ar was found murdered and several weeks since the allegations of his secret life and crimes were uncovered by Memphis media. But there has been not a single statement from Bishop LT Walker, Bishop Blake, or COGIC.

Witnesses have said they reported Paige’s actions to Bishop LT Walker, but Paige stayed in office until he was murdered by a 21 year old homeless man he allegedly attempted to rape.

Regarding reporting sexual abuse of children, the law is clear and does not exclude ministers for any reason. In April 2003 the Arkansas legislature amended the list of mandatory child abuse reporters to include ministers. The amendment added the following category to a long list of mandatory reporters: “Any clergyman, which includes a minister, priest, rabbi, accredited Christian Science practitioner, or other similar functionary of a religious organization, or an individual reasonably believed to be so by the person consulting him or her, except to the extent he or she has acquired knowledge of suspected maltreatment through communications required to be kept confidential pursuant …”

A looming question hampers holding bishops in the church truly accountable. Do COGIC jurisdictions or its national church keep documented records of sexual abuse cases on file?  Is there a paper trail from the crime to church authorities? Based on the law, could authorities inspect those files for patterns of withholding information of sex criminals?

Gwen Fox’s 15 year old son Tobias was molested by COGIC General Board member Bishop John Husband in a Memphis hotel room during the national convocation in 1981. Fox said that she was repeatedly told that she should not ”go against” the scripture by taking the church to the law over the case. Although she personally went to Memphis and plead for her son’s cause and personally mailed certified letters to every member of the General Board detailing the crime, she received no justice for what happened to her son. After years of financial struggle brought on by three heart attacks, she finally decided to “disobey” the church and seek legal redress. But she soon found out the statue of limitations (in Tennessee) had run out. Fox believes church officials intentionally stalled her to prevent the case from going to court. Through his lawyer, Husband who died in 1991, admitted complete guilt.

But the pattern of cold, unfeeling silence seems to continue.

The church should call for an immediate,  investigation as to whether or not Walker reported to authorities what was given to him by parents of underage boys. To regain a legacy being tarnished, the investigation should be made public to reassure victimized parents and children that the church does not value the criminal over the victim.

In his DNC speech, Bishop Blake criticized prolife conservatives for being “silent and indifferent” about inner city injustices, but what about his own silence and inaction?

Although Blake intimated he was frustrated with his party’s support of abortion, he praised its positions for the helpless in other ways.

“Others loudly proclaim their advocacy for the unborn,” he said, receiving a standing ovation, “but they refuse to recognize their responsibility and the responsibility of our nation to those who have been born.

“They are presently and historically silent, if not indifferent,” he continued, “to the suffering of our inner cities.”

Why is the hurt of small town parents whose sons have been sexually violated not being acknowledged publicly? Micah 6:8 said that God requires us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly, but for the parents and these victimized boys, there seems to be no justice. Or mercy. Only silent arrogance.

COGIC is busy preparing for its quadrennial elections. Bishops are campaigning and members are speculating. Will any of those who are striving to get onto the church’s presidium take up a cry for the victims of clergy sexual abuse? Will any bishop stand in the gap? Or is it church business as usual?

To its shame, COGIC has taken a position of silence in the face of these sex crimes by its clergy and still has yet to respond publicly to Paige’s alleged crimes and subsequent murder.

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