Saturday, March 30, 2013

Marriage: Equality, Morality & The Supreme Court

First: I wish to thank ALL of the readers of this blog for your ongoing support, readership and encouragement. Whether you agree or disagree with my assessments and commentary, I hope that you find this blog a place to share, expand and grow your thoughts. I appreciate YOU!

"The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will refocus..refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires of adults...of adult couples." ~ Attny: Charles J. Cooper

This week the United States Supreme Court heard arguments on the Constitutionality of California's Prop 8 which banned gay marriage in that state, and the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defines marriage within the United states as a gender specific union between a man and a woman. These are two powerful arguments with far reaching implications for all Americans and not only Californians or Hawaiians, (the venues from which these issues arose) and those individuals in states in which gay marriage is also the law. The Court's decision, estimated to be announced in June or July 2013, is set to be interpreted as the standard on the issue of gay marriage for the country, and of course, has sparked a renewed debate between those who hold views of traditional marriage and others who claim that the fight for gay marriage is a civil right's fight and specifically a fight for marriage "equality".
To be clear, the ONLY arguments that the court can consider are legal arguments. Explicitly moral arguments cannot be considered by the court even if the subject has moral implications as both of these issues obviously do. With that said, what is being legislated and promoted is a secular sense of modern moral relativism or relativistic thought regarding the issue of homosexuality in general and the acceptance of the practice or behavior as "normal".
Transcripts Available

What amazed me, as I listened to the banter from the Justices and the responses from the lawyers, especially them in favor of the homosexual right to marry, was the need to make the assumption that homosexuality and homosexual marriage was publicly accepted. In fact in the DOMA argument, Attorney Ms. Kaplan,  claimed that the American opinion of homosexual acceptance had undergone a "sea-change" since 1996, when these issues began to arise in the court of public opinion. Although she was hard pressed to provide evidence of her assertions, (especially in light of the fact that over half the country has through referendum and legislative acts, rejects the homosexual definition and version of marriage) she at least argued like she really believed it.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Am My Brother's Keeper...Right Vision, Right Time!


I have spoken of our efforts to bring advocacy for victims of church related abuse and clergy sexual abuse to the forefront. With that, I was recently blessed to launch I Am My Brother's Keeper Christian Advocacy Council (IMBKCAC).

Almost 5 years in the making, IMBKCAC was created to address the needs of victims of church related abuse and clergy sexual abuse. As noted in our article on the John Jay College Report to the College of Bishops of the Catholic Church, the numbers say that within the Catholic Church there has been slightly over 6,100 priests responsible for the sexual defilement of slightly over 16,300 people since 1950. Although protestant churches have never been polled as a group, according to news reports and insurance company statistics, the numbers of individuals affected quickly add up to indicate that there is a moral value ethic lacking among Christian leadership and churches as it pertains to dealing with some of the more vulnerable persons associated with the church.

Ephesians 5:3 ~But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Biblically, the moral value ethic that the believer was supposed to embrace was clear. Abstinence from all evil was the standard and the expectation. A purity of lifestyle and conduct was what the church was to follow. However, as we can readily observe, we've come up short. The problem is not so much the "shortness" by itself. Even though that is bad enough, we can be forgiven. The problem is the criminal activity that has come along with it and the denial of dignity to victims who have suffered. In many cases it's simply just throw money at the problem and it will go away. These are ungodly sentiments and are not worthy of the saints and those that call themselves children of God. We must must do our best to reverse the trend. Some feel it may already be too late. Then others are not really convinced that there is a problem. However, the following is for certain:

Insurance Companies Don't Lie About Claims

One way to know and understand current trends is to look at insurance tracking reports. These reports can tell us what is happening. While insurance companies may try to get one not to file a claim, they certainly don't lie about the claims that they have paid or that have been filed. According to the IMBKCAC website from a 2007 insurance company report 
"Three companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in America say they typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members."
Another company, Brotherhood Mutual, says that they have received in excess of 60 claims from churches per year for the last 15 years regarding clergy sexual abuse of minors. Many churches don't have insurance to cover the situation. Some churches are still seduced to live in the past, thinking that enough offering can be raised across the table to meet the needs if these sort of cases arise. 

Within COGIC there are some pastors and elders of some jurisdictions that must raise special reports to pay for the financial fallout from these atrocities of sexual abuse or misconduct. While these claims represent a small portion of the overall insurance company annual claims, to say that this is not a serious situation is to say that one is totally ignorant and inept to make any determination as it pertains to the issue. In other words, open your eyes, be quiet, listen, and learn (with all due respect)...

Then, What Of The Victims?

Part of the problem dealing with this issue in general, stems from the stereotype and preconceived notions that victims only want a monetary award. That is NOT necessarily the case. I would hold that there is nobody, not one victim, that has ever contacted my office that has ever wanted money as a primary method of relief or resolution regarding a sexual abuse issue. What people want is to be heard, taken seriously, and be assured that the church, whatever church, is addressing the issue at all levels. 

Let me be a little more personal, I can testify of assurity, that within COGIC, too many victims have been denied access  to confront their victimizer and have not been given any serious plan of restoration to help them reestablish their lives. Some have been given money, but all have had to endure a culture that caters, in many cases, to abusers who are situational generalists and in some cases pedophiles, as I have pointed out in this POST. The damaging part is that some of them have been allowed to continue, under the auspice of "forgiveness", "love" and "restoration" without any organizational correspondence with or plan of action delivered to those who have been victimized. In other words, the same "love" and enthusiasm for "restoration" has NOT been extended to victims by far and large. these dignities and courtesies have only been extended to them committing the ungodly acts and sins. In essence, there is some sort of twisted allegiance to some of those who have done wrong at the expense of those who have been victimized. These actions and attitudes are ATROCIOUS and indicate a culture that is in total disconnect with the needs of those who have been hurt within our own ranks. 

Special note: If you are an official of this church, (COGIC) as I know that certain monitor my efforts even if but discreetly, and you believe that a background check or a sexual harassment policy is a victims advocacy plan, then please follow the instructions in the last line 3 paragraphs previously. You have been misinformed.

IMBKCAC Is For All Churches & Ministries

Some erroneously have stated that we are fighting churches. That is the greatest LIE from hell that has been told regarding our efforts. Of course it is like the devil to not want the environment of the church to be a safe and wholesome one for ALL individuals. Independent ministries and churches or organizational or institutional churches and ministries, if your organization does not have a victim's advocacy plan, then you or your officials need to contact IMBKCAC. You simply cannot function without a plan to address the needs of victims and potential victims, should trouble arise. Your reputation, status in the community and sincerity in dealing with these issues in favor of the hurting, are all in question without an adequate plan. If you have a plan, I will personally review your current plan and make recommendations for improvement free of charge. 

If You've Been Hurt or Suffered, You Have An Ally
On a personal and individual level, if you have been victimized in any way by your church or other religious organization, or by anyone in or representing those churches, regardless of organizational affiliation or denomination, contact IMBKCAC for help and a personal plan of restoration. Suffering from church related abuse and sexual abuse is like suffering alone. Do not let title, position or fear of how others may perceive you stop you from gaining the valuable deliverance and help that you need and that is essential to your life and living....THE STORM IS OVER...come in out of the rain!!!!

How Can I Help?

First, you may wish to click the Paypal link and provide a donation for the support of this ministry. There is much that must be done to get this message out and as they say, "it takes money to buy land". In this case it will take resources from individuals willing to promote this message to make the message available to all. Secondly, IMBKCAC would like to establish a network of individuals and churches in all parts of the country who will help deliver this message of restoration to those who come forth in their community. Please contact me for details so that you can discover how you can personally be responsible for lifting those who have been abused in your area and turning the tide of disgrace away from an issue that has impacted the lives of millions of Americans and millions of individuals within the Christian church itself.



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Saturday, March 9, 2013

May 2011 John Jay Report On Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Still Being Examined

Recently, in performing some additional research for I Am My Brother's Keeper Christian Advocacy Council, I came across a 2011 report from the John Jay College Research Team, which did one of the most comprehensive studies in recent times into the nature of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct within the Catholic Church. 

The results of the study were amazing and the information and suggestions that arose from it will be examined for years. There were some interesting notions, which I thought are apropos to our time and efforts in both understanding the mindset which has facilitated abuse within the church and understanding the urgency of delivering restoration of those who have been victimized and are hurting. one thing is for sure, if we look at this as simply a "Catholic issue", then we have missed the boat. This is a Christian faith issue and no matter what church one may attend, there are problems, whether one is aware of them or not. 


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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Open "Confessions", Ebony Style

Well this is a scandalous day to say the least. it seems that every week something new is being revealed or coming to the surface regarding certain persons and those who you thought were your "greatest" ministry personality. There are numerous reasons for this. first, God ALONE is the only one due worship and allegiance. God is certainly reminding us that all "flesh is as grass" (Isa. 40:6, 1 Pet. 1:24), no one is to be worshiped or exalted but HIM. 

With that said, and speaking of "scandal", in a story carried by none other more rigorously than Mr. Obnoxious himself, William G. McCray, it seems that the often worshiped founder of Empowerment Temple, Jamal Bryant, has made an open confession in response to a March 2013 editorial of Ebony Magazine. In the article Ebony set forth an examination of modern day scandals referring to the event which allegedly dissolved Jamal's marriage. Reportedly, Jamal not only committed adultery with a younger member of  his church, he also fathered a child with her. She was later reportedly escorted out of the sanctuary when confronting Jamal about the issue in front of the church.

In a statement (below) the "Alpha Pimp" confesses to "participating" in an affair (what does that mean???) and doing most of the damage, but also claims that Ebony and others are doing even more damage. Well, yes, he did it, and nearly everything else. EXCEPT that, according to him, there were ever any other "minors" involved other than his own children. So that whole incident can be put to rest. (OK...yea, right...)

The Confession

Here's his statement and confession:  
For 67 years, Ebony Magazine has been the drum beat for culture in the African American community. John Johnson its beloved founder dedicated his life to safe guarding our image with great integrity.
The March 2013 edition has left a hole in my heart. On page 124 they published that it’s alleged I impregnated a 17-year-old member of my church. This accusation is categorically and completely untrue. To publish this with absolutely no source lends itself to reckless endangerment to my children, my congregation and my community.
Ebony is not the National Enquirer. A higher standard is required and the statement jeopardizes my ministry to the youth in my church and community. So it is on moral grounds that a retraction is necessary.
In 2007 I participated in an extramarital affair that resulted ultimately in the termination of my marriage to my incredible wife Gizelle. NO minors were involved but my minor children have been affected. I don’t want them to have to live through any further unnecessary pain.
Matthew 18:15 say’s if your brother has sinned against you go and tell him his fault. I solicit your continued prayers for my family, forgiveness for myself and accountability from Ebony magazine.
Flawed but faithful. I remain,
Jamal- Harrison Bryant
(A Father and Pastor)

So what Jamal is saying (or not saying) is that all the reports were accurate except for the report of him impregnating a 17 year old member. he also suggests that anyone making inaccurate statements are lending to the hurt and stability of his family and all involved. 

Now Isn't That A True Pimp Move?
To try to convince YOU that YOU are the cause of the problem for having and formulating your own opinions based on what he did? 

Now, don't get me wrong, there is a whole host of internet conversation on what happened and all of that. I am not in that and never been to Empowerment Temple, am not nor have ever been "blessed" by Bryant's ministry and have not and do not care to meet him personally except that he is willing confess, pray and repent. No one who was there, has ever called or emailed me to share their personal story, and I am not looking for such verification, but I (and we) can look at what he said for himself. 

The Real Issue

The problem is NOT forgiveness or the ability to forgive. Neither is the church to blame nor is anyone else looking on as "Mr. Alpha" seems to suggest. The problem is the attitude that anyone else can do more damage to him and his family than he has already done, and the utter lack of accountability, correction and redirection. 

Yes, this is tough. It's not easy when sins are dragged out before the world. It's even more tough to realize that you have failed and disgraced God, family, the church and community...but it is down right arrogance that blames those who see and know it for making you feel "uncomfortable" or for telling what they know.

This leads to what the modern minister feels is "good enough" so far as repentance is concerned. For them, anyone "talking" (at least those not saying what they want to hear) is "negative" and is not being godly. The onlookers and the ones who have paid their tithe, and faithfully and diligently served, are at fault when they demand a full accounting and a better standard. These are tricks of the "alpha pimp" trade. under the theme that the "mission" is greater than any sin that one can commit, those seems to expect to simply go on, bypass an accounting for self and sin and blame those that are disturbed by the sins claiming that they are somehow at fault. This type of response is almost as big of, if not even more, of a lie than the original sinful and dastardly acts that led to the incidence.

Now, Jamal claims that those talking are making it difficult for his family, when the truth is that he didn't care about any of that at the time he looked over his congregation and chose an illicit lover. There is absolutely no one that will have a greater concern and care for his children than he does. evidently he didn't care, why and how does he expect Ebony, McCray or anyone else to care?

The problem is not failure. Certainly we have all sinned in one form or another. The problem is the arrogance in dealing with it and blaming others for our sins. It seems that if others don;t tell the story, we will tell it ourselves, because the TRUTH simply must be told. One thing is for sure, the word of God is right:

Luke 12:2-32-For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3-Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

May the LORD have mercy on us all as we kneel down, bowing our soul and seeking HIS face!!!!!


photo: Courtesy The Jasmine Brand

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