Local NAACP investigates pastor’s arrest

The Georgia State Conference and Fayette County, Ga. branch of the NAACP will launch its own investigation into the arrest of World Changers International Church Pastor Creflo Dollar, according to a local newspaper report. As you all know, Dollar was arrested last week on charges he physically assaulted his 15-year-old daughter.

Today, many parents in any household have vivid recollections of being firmly disciplined during childhood and can directly reflect on how that discipline made them better adults. In order to ensure fairness, the NAACP wants to make sure that first responders to alleged domestic parent/child dispute calls are skillfully trained to clearly distinguish discipline from child abuse,” the NAACP press release said.

Fayette County NAACP President John E. Jones also weighed in on the topic.

“We simply want to make sure that Pastor Dollar is allowed to be a responsible parent and discipline his children,” said Jones. “Parenting children in this day and time can be very challenging because many children believe that they can call the police at any time to stop any unwanted discipline. Little do they know that this can subject their parent or them to an arrest. Conversely, unruly or undisciplined children could get physically hurt or suffer worse punishment when they act out and come in contact with law enforcement. African-American children suffer the most in this situation. The parents are in a dilemma whether to forgo disciplining their children or to leave it up to law enforcement. Should we be apathetic, lax or indifferent and let the courts send our unruly children to jail or should we as parents do our duty and appropriately discipline our children? These are the questions every parent is asking today. The responsibility of the NAACP is to get out front and ask these culturally sensitive questions that affect the fundamental cause of freedom, equality and justice.”

Essentially echoing the statements of the local branch, the press release noted that Georgia State Conference NAACP President Edward O. DuBose is seeking factual information on how Pastor Dollar was handled and wants to make sure there is not a rush to judgment or a pattern of behavior by Fayette County officials towards a particular segment of its citizens.

In other words, the NAACP wants to ensure the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department was not acting in a racist manner by arresting Dollar. They want to ensure the sheriff’s department understand that African-American families discipline our children in a more unique way than mainstream America, which could be misconstrued as possibly cruel.

Interesting.

It’s ironic that the NAACP is already rushing to judgment on Dollar’s children by implying they were unruly, but they are urging the public and law enforcement not to rush to judgment on Dollar’s actions. *shrugs*

This story has peculiar not only of the different reactions it produced from the public, but how Dollar, known for his preachings on prosperity, responded to the attacks. The pastor, reminding me of Bishop Eddie Long’s indignant response to the allegations facing him, took to the podium and claimed he should have never been arrested and that “all is well in the Dollar household.”

“The truth is that a family conversation with our youngest daughter got emotional,” he said. “And emotions got involved and things escalated from there.”

He said the mark on his daughter’s neck had been there for about 10 years and was caused by a skin condition, eczema.

“The truth is she was not choked, she was not punched. There were not any scratches on her neck,” Dollar said. “But the only thing on her neck was a prior skin abrasion from eczema. Anything else is exaggeration and sensationalism.”

Dollar didn’t publicly display any anger toward his children.

I will never put any fault on my children, as Jesus would never put any fault on me,” he said.

Dollar’s wife is a co-pastor at the church. She addressed the congregation before her husband but did not touch on the allegations.

Dollar’s congregation appeared supportive Sunday, giving him sustained applause as he took the stage. As he spoke, people in the sanctuary yelled encouragement: “We love you!” and “We’ve got your back!” As he talked about the difficulty dealing with teenage children in a “culture of disrespect,” many in the crowd nodded in agreement.

Members of the church seemed to close ranks around Dollar even before he addressed them. Dozens of people approached by The Associated Press as they arrived for the service declined to comment, and the few who did expressed support. After the service, many were still reluctant to comment, but those who did said they were satisfied with their pastor’s comments.

When I first heard what he was accused of, I didn’t believe it. I knew there had to be more to the story,” said Phyllissa Wolley, 23, a daycare worker who has attended the church for about five years. “I felt like he addressed the accusations today, and I believe what he said. To hear from him personally, I really appreciated that. I was glad to hear his side of the story.”

Others said the media blew the accusations out of proportion without having all the facts and they felt vindicated after hearing Dollar speak.

I think you’re looking at a bunch of sensationalism,” said George Blake of Ellenwood, adding that he thought the media rushed to tell the story without knowing the full story. The 49-year-old said he never questioned his pastor of eight years.

It’s not up to me to me to be satisfied with what he had to say,” Blake said. “This is a man of God spreading the word of God.”

In other words, the mostly black congregation once again feels the need to blindly rally around their “man of God” and protect him from outside, evil forces.

A lot of opinions surrounding the debate on Dollar’s arrest revolve around whether or not Dollar has the right to discipline his children any way he pleases. As someone who experienced a similar situation with my younger sister, my family was told by their former pastor that my stepfather was able to discipline his daughter any way he pleases. We were told that she was his daughter, implying that she was and should be treated as property when she got out of line.

As someone who grew up getting disciplined with spankings, I can’t buy into that notion that adults have an innate right to discipline their children by way of hitting. I can’t accept that underlying notion, which implies children are the property of adults, thus are not afforded the same legal protection granted to adults when it comes to assault and abuse.

I’m not speaking as a parent as I don’t have children. I’m speaking of someone who suffered spankings that, when I look back at them, were done out of frustration. I grew up in a big family and my dad’s siblings were what you call strict disciplinarians. They grew up in a household in which they attended church every night and their lives revolved around church and church activities. Any time children cry, they are not consoled or hugged; they are yelled at and scolded. They were publicly humiliated and embarrassed in front of the rest of the family at times. I often spent time around adults who were like this. I have an aunt who would pinch us if we “got out of line” and threaten to whip us if she thought we were “lying” if we could not find a piece of item. She would threaten to whip us if we kept crying.

I have one aunt who I flat out do not like and do not talk to unless I’m forced. I am cordial to her, but do not attempt to make small talk. Growing up, she overtly favored my sister over me and I never felt truly accepted by her. To this day, I can’t recall why she never really liked me. This aunt routinely called one of my cousins “Freddy,” referring to the horror flick character Freddy Krueger. He had behavioral problems and was somewhat obnoxious–in other words, the typical young boy. He was referred to as evil and everyone always dreaded when he came around. Unsurprisingly, as he got older, he, along with my sister and I, stopped coming around.

Needless to say, I was pretty much anxious all the time when I visited my extended family. I was shy, didn’t talk much and did not have as close of a relationship with my aunts and uncles as my cousins (mainly because of the fact that we lived 40 minutes away). My sister and I grew up with my mother, who smoked and did not have a lot of money, so we went without some things. My father’s siblings, along with my father at times, would pretty much ridicule my mother in subliminal ways and we always felt like outsiders. We didn’t regularly attend church, which further alienated us from the rest of my dad’s family.

As I’ve grown older, I made a promise to myself that I would never allow my children to visit my dad’s family without me there…

As I look back, I wonder how my life would have been different if I weren’t spanked. Would I have more self-esteem? Would I be less timid and self-doubting? Would I not cling to co-dependent relationships? Would I be the same person who rarely takes a risk? Would I be the same person who will do anything to not upset or displease anyone? Would I be the same person who was afraid to cry or show their feelings in front of others?

As I think about my 12-year-old nephew, I wonder if he has been impacted due to spankings he’s received as a child. I wonder if he will be as timid as I am or as shy/withdrawn as I am as he gets older? I wonder if he will also be afraid to cry or show his true feelings to others for the fear of being ridiculed or humiliated.

The reaction of Dollar’s congregation isn’t even surprising. It’s laughable in a way in which you were expecting that kind of reaction. The black community in general has this obsessive-compulsive desire to rally around black men when they are attacked by the outside and Dollar’s congregation’s blind support of him is a prime example of this behavior. The black community and the black church has been and will continue to blindly support and uplift black men at the expense of the advancement, safety and protection of black women, black girls and black boys.

Regardless of what happened, as the adult, Creflo Dollar should have never allowed the situation to escalate to a point where the police were involved. As a self-appointed man of God, Creflo Dollar should have utilized the teachings of peace and tolerance of Jesus and worked to solve the internal family debate without even laying a finger on his children, which has been alleged. Any parent who has to resort to physical violence in order to get their children in line are acting out of pure frustration and anger–not out of a method of demonstrating discipline and order.