Quotations and Questions:
America needs to become a kinder and gentler nation!
Former President George H.W. Bush
Some religious substrate leaders in many of America's
religious substrate organizations - should learn
to be as humble as this President was and
become kinder and gentler leaders!
What happens when your pastor takes the place of God, and
your religious substrate organizations become heaven on
Rev. C. Solomon
* Newsflash: Four board members and the Sr. Pastor *
* of a prominent California congregation*
* recently resigned. *
* They resigned for the good of the *
* church, given that they could not work *
* together! *
* The spirit said separate Paul & Barnabas for *
* the work...! They ended up splitting up! *
* Leaders are human folks, some have authoritarian *
* styles and personalities, and they are not easy *
* to work with or to serve under. *
* Kudos to the resignees who placed the needs of *
* the congregation above their egos, or any hidden *
* need to hold on to POWER! * * *
America's entrepreneural get rich off the backs of
the parishioners, clerics, should take a page out of
Reverend Billy Graham's playbook - he insisted
that his church board keep his salary in line
with that of the rank and file members of the
church. Creflo, Jakes and others - are you
He never asked to be paid what corporate CEOs
in America were being overpaid! Power & Greed?
Japanese CEOs once referred to American CEOs
as gangsters, not CEOs. Many of America's
Religious CEOs more and more are beginning
to fit into the 'gangster classification'.
Government Sanctioned Religious Substrates - What Role Does the Government Play?Are present day Kings and Priests actually in bed together?
The government plays a significant role in sanctioning religious substrates, just as it does with 'for-profit' organizations. Most religious substrates take advantage of an exception that was written into law by our Federal Government. The exception which is known as 501C3 tax exemption status, permits eligible not-for-profit organizations to operate as a business without paying taxes.
How important is 501C3, and is it a requirement for religious organizations to apply for exemption status? It depends on who you speak with? A civil libertarian would tell you that a religious organization like many other not-for-profit organizations would neither have to procure 501C3 Tax Exemption status, now would they have to pay taxes to the government. Why? According to Amendment I of the United States Constitution, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...!
Therefore and according to Amendment I of the American Constitution, religious organizations do not have to acquire 501C3 Tax Exemption status, or adhere to any other Federal, State or local statutes that have been subsequently written. Paiute anyone? By the way, 501C3 is a provision of the Internal Revenue Service Tax Code!
There are many churches operating in the U.S.A. that collect monies and procure property that completely ignore any Federal, State or local governments guidelines or regulations that pertain to religious organizations. And, the Federal government is often reticent to challenge these rebel churches, for fear that these religious organizations will invoke their First Amendment Rights status. Dr. Eugene Scott, well-known California church pastorwaged a decade-long battle with the State of California - when it insisted that the church that he pastored disclose its financial records.
Many churches go about their business and act in accordance with the law without any government interference, oversight, restrictions or enforcement, and these churches refuse to register with any local, state or federal agencies. On the other hand some groups have violated the trust and are clearly abusing their First Amendment privileges. Senator Grassley's recent investigation of several church substrate organizations is a case in point. Some religious substrate organizations have become a law unto themselves, given the freedoms that they enjoy under the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The religious substrate organization that I was once a part of was named the Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church Incorporated, it was also often referred to by the initials, A.O.H. If you were to invoke the name A.O.H. or Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church minus the term incorporation, or the abbreviation 'Inc., attached to it - you would not be referring, in legal terms, to the same organization. The late visionary, Bishop W.T. Phillips was a giant among men and the founder of this once formiddable organization.
The A.O.H. organization augured that the mother church and its aggregate branches were effectively 'one global church'. In terms of legalese, the other churches would be considered branches or in some instances affiliates. Understanding this is essential for members who ought to know how their church and the substrate operates behind the scenes.
These umbrellas have a lot in common with regulated 'for-profit organizations' in that they are permitted to set up branches and affiliates, and to enter into all kinds of not-for-profit business and enterprising. Their dispersed subsidiaries together with the mother church or substrate umbrella, are considered to be one, or a part of the same organization. Your local parish could have a completely different name and still be a part of the incorporated umbrella organization.
The structures of these organizations are analogous to the structure, and the manner in which the Federal Government exercises control over State, County and Local governments, its territories and all Americian citizens. If you will recall the often overlooked lines in one of Dr. Martin Luther King's speeches, when he referred to the terms 'interposition and nullification". These two terms have to do with States Rights, that many today in the south still believe supersedes the right of the Federal Government to impose rule over them.
And just as every American lives in a local, county, unicorporated or state jurisdiction - members of churches are under the control of some centralized often invisible organizational substrate that operates behind the scenes.
These organizations wield power over its satellites in the same manner that the Federal Government in Washington DC wields power over the 50 states and its territories as well as all American citizens. Well some would argue that Israel is the 51st state! You might not ever get a chance to visit the Federal Government in Washington DC (I stayed there and participated in it for 6.2 years), however, it is there and most Americans know that it is there, especially around April 15th. Many individuals have found out that their local church was actually being ruled by some distant organization that they may or may not have known existed when they joined the local church.
Religious and other quasi non-profit religious organizations that are set up like the A.O.H. organization create laws, provide policing, oversee and try judicial matters, and in addition assess taxes to local churches and its rank and file members and clerics. Also, operating underneath the highest rung of the organizational hierarchy exists synods, dioceses and jurisdictions, as well as diocesans and overseers who preside over regional synods, districts and dioceses. With respect to the citizen-members of these hierarchical organizations, the members are bound to obey the laws, pay assessments, be policed and sanctioned by its government body and so on.
I left the embattled organization (mind you I didn't leave the body of Christ of which this organization was supposed to be a subset) after 6 years, having become drained and disheartened, I even tried to return to it later. Why? The preaching, teaching and fellowship was second to none - and factually I loved the people in the organization. However, the way that the church government operated, coupled with the anachronistic and overbearing Machiavelian ruling-behavior of its authoritarian governing officials, A.O.H. was too much for this northerner to bear.
And even though I liked the people in the organization, including the Bishops, I soon tired again of being in an organization that saw itself, in my opinion, as being bigger than the spiritual organism/organization that Jesus Christ established on earth. I also tired of tyrannical ministers who were often rude, abrasive, needlessly confrontive and factually out of control! Several of its top officials often reminded be of the Mob, the Mafia, the Cosa Nostra with 'this thing of theirs'. These fellas would rule like mob bosses, and put a 'spiritual hit' out on you whenever they felt that you crossed them or challenged 'their rule or rules', not God or God's rules!
The Paradigm Shift:I am finding more and more that discouraged Christians who abandoned these types of religious substrates were not tired of Jesus Christ or his church. What apparently burned many of these believers out the quickest were the manmade organizational substrate demands along with the attendant assessments, rules, stipulations and requirements. These churches are typically led by a minister who is benefiting financially from those who he or she is supposed to be serving.
Ironically, these kinds of ministers who receive money and support from the fleeced sheep, customarily have zero interest in receiving any input from them. Oftentimes their attitudes are simply, "just give me the money along with your service and shut up". The latter appeared to be the overarching theme of some of these, 'show me the money curmudgeons' that I experienced.
Often times the ones who leave, those who were exiled and those who went into exile often did so not because they were rebellious as the governing officials and local officials would have you believe, on the other hand they simply tired of tyranny and intractable officials who could not be reasoned with! A kinder gentler church with kinder and gentler church officials..., is something to be desired? Have you ever heard one of these characters stand up and tell the congregation, "if I were a CEO over an organization like this do you know how much they would be paying me". The answer, probably too much!
I have also found that regional differences also played a part and impacted the feelings of some members who escaped from several of these religious organizational substrates with draconian leadership. For example some religious substrates that were founded in the South, failed to appreciate the regional and cultural norms and differences that existed between northerners and southerners. A.O.H. is a prime example, however, other organizations were as culpable, consider the history of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, the Southern Baptists and other national and international substrate organizations!
The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, originally a trinitarian organization that was once ruled primarily by Caucasian bishops was founded in 1912 in Los Angeles California. The organization split because the southern churches were not very fond of the purported 'liberal' ideas that were emanating from the Northern Councils, particularly the idea of ordaining black bishops. Oops, I told you that some of these folks who lead these organizations can be very carnal! Er herm, white Prelates, what happened to the Holy Ghost, and no more Jew, Gentile et al? Not only that, when the Northern yankee Christians visited the south in order to attend church conventions and conferences, particularly the black ones, there were few public accomodations available for them.
Did the white Southern Christians care? Nyat? Today, the gentrified PAofW is practically a 'black organization'. While we're on this topic, how many of you knew that the All-American white bred southern Reverend and Evangelist Billy Graham from N. Carolina, refused to stand on the podium with Dr. Martin Luther King and preach to the nation that racism was wrong at the 1963 'March on Washington? Er herm, Billy said, 'I thought Dr. King and the Civil Rights workers were the troublemakers'. Oops, and brother can you spare a dime!
Well, the bigoted Apostle Peter (who had to be withstood to his face on more than one occasion) did not eat unclean things either did he, well, until God showed him differently? The Apostle had to later withstand Apostle Peter to his, with respect to his bigotry and sectarian spirit. Some of these 'robed and rabated fellas' who attempt to rule over us today, need to be 'withstood to their faces' - their brothers in crime aren't going to do it. And how about the weeping prophet Jeremiah, a man who was rescued by an Ethiopian who extricated him from a muddy dungeon?
Jeremiah felt that the unchangable skin of the Ethiopian was odious. He also felt apparently, that any dark hued individual would certainly want to change their skin color. By the way, it was a good thing that the Holy Spirit did not send Peter to meet with the darker hued Ethiopian brother who was returning to Africa following Pentecost. Why? Not only would Peter have baptized him, he likely would have held him down long enough and attempted to wash the black off of him. Had Jeremiah been there, he would have said, here Peter try this lye soap! In modern times, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and others in their substrates picked up where these two historical icons left off.
Even as Peter, Jeremiah and others were flawed and seeping in bigotry as the confused evangelist Reverend Billy Graham was, many of our leaders today are as flawed and head-strong, however, in a different way. But who can tell them that they are flawed without being sanctioned or silenced within their religious substrate-organizations! More and more it takes a magistrate or a judge to confront and correct some of our oppressive and out of control leaders and make them to listen to reason.
Now Reverend Solomon how do you know these things that you are saying about Reverend Graham for example, and aren't you a reverse racist? Ah, I get these types of cop out questions all the time. My answer to the cop out questioners would be to ask former Washington DC Delegate and still pastor, Walter Fauntroy. Or better yet speak with Mr. Clarence Jones, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's speechwriter and personal counsel. Or speak with Representative Lewis from Georgia, or talk to members of the Southern Christian Leadership conference and ask them just as I did.
Or, you can contact the Reverend Billy Graham and ask him! Fortunately, he confessed his sin years later - many years too late to help the sufferers that he could have helped to rescue! Does this prove my point that these fellas in the highest clerical ranks, that hold offices in religious substrates can be twisted and flawed in certain areas of their lives? A good man, the Reverend Jack Hayforth, you've seen his TV ministry; and what an excellent minister he is. However, he confessed that when he was a gridiron basketball player, that after the game ended and he had shaken hands with black players, he would run to the bathroom immediately afterwards. Why? He had to wash the black off of his hands.
Reverend Solomon, why are you doing this? To show you the difference between flawed ministers who do exist but are capable of repenting versus the ones who just keep on trucking! Reverend Hayward and Reverend Graham are alright in my book - for it took a lot for them to admit that they had previously been brainwashed and done wrong. Having said that, their help in the civil rights area, decades ago likely could have eliminated a lot of the persistent sufferings that blacks in America endured in the land of the free and the home of the slave.
They also could have helped to change to change the attitudes of bigoted secular government officials and many of America's Red State Christians of today, who still harbor discriminatory attitudes. Just think about it, if purported holy clerical leaders are harbingers of racial animus, how about the rank and file members of the churches that they pastor? Study the history of Bob Jones University, and you would be amazed to know that its founders and some of its current administrators and religious supporters still consider themselves to be good Christians. And the latter do in so in spite of their racial positions. KKK at this institution, does not stand for 'kool kolored kids'.
Having said all of this, many of our black clerics that have ruled for decades and need to be brought down off of their pedastals and reminded that they were put in place to serve - by the creator, not to be a 'tin horn egomaniacal Banana Republic style-dictator' that harbors the need to make up for the period of emasculation that they may have endured'! Well, Apostle Paul might not have put it in those terms, those are my words. However, clearly their biases are against 'those who they believe are somehow beneath them', the membership and subordinate ministers point of fact!
Some would laugh if I were to say that some of these organizations also have their own functioning military commands and commandos. Don't laugh for all of us know about the Nation of Islam's Fruit of Islam (FOI), it is religious a paramilitary group that exists within 'the Nation. Have you ever been confronted or frisked by these guys? One of many times that I experienced frisking was at the National Press Club in Washington DC. I went there to listen to Minister Farrakhan, who had just returned from a fact-finding tour of the Middle-East. While there he met with PLO Leader Yasser Arafat, as well as with Israel Prime Minister (and terrorist himself), Ariel Sharon.
Minister Farrakhan shed a lot of light on what was really going on in the Middle-East, even pointing out the misinvolvment and duplicity of the United States with respect to its Middle-East policy. I knew that already, however, and as an aside - did you know that when the nations of the world set up an embargo against the white racist regime of South Africa years ago, that it was mostly secularist Israel (that is supported by our tax dollars and Church benevolence), that continued to support the white racist government? Yes folks, secularist Israel supplied the white south Afrikaners with weapons that were used to continue the suppression of black Africans?
Hmm, now you know,and don't refer to me as anti-Semitic. First of all many Arabs and others that Americans hate are Semites. And the Apostle Paul once warned that Israel had left the righteousness of God, much like some of our leaders in religious circles today have, and gone about to establish their own form of righteousness!
All of us know or should know by now who was actually responsible for the assassination of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, it was the military arm of 'the Nation', the Federal government also played a role. My point, it was not the Klan or a white separatist group. Well, then you would argue that is the Nation of Islam who has its own commandos; and what does that have to do with my religious organization or my wonderful leader? Wake up Don Pardo, step out of line in your religious substrate and you will find out when you receive a warning, visit or call from the religious commandos in your organization!
By the way Minister Farrakhan admitted later after meeting with Betty Shabazz, late wife of the slain El Hajj Mailk El Shabazz - that he helped contribute to the atmosphere that resulted in the death of El Shabazz.
It is great that he confessed, but how many others before El Shabbaz, shared the same fate? And how many times has your out of control Prelate created an atmosphere that endagered or caused someone to be alienated within your church substrate. Study the history of the Catholic Church and you will find that their clerics had individuals, whole groups of people, towns and villages knocked off during the history of 'the Church'. Why, for instance did the late Pope John II, a man that I deeply admired, have to apologize to the Jews and to the Muslims for the past atrocities and persecution by the Roman Catholic Church? Anyone ever hear of the Crusades, among other things?
Factually, many of our religious organizations as far back as we can remember had military components. The Sanhedrin had a paramilitary arm, the Catholic Church had and has a paramilitary arm, and many religious substrate organizations today have paramilitary enforcement arms, some are euphemistically referred to as 'Sergeant at arms', some are the prelates, bishops, elders, superintendents, pastors, elders and deacons.
If you don't believe it, just ask some of the individuals who have been intimidated or who have received warnings or visitations from some of these enforcers. Some of your leaders are conducting crusades against many of you at this moment. Their objectives are to consolidate power and to alienate or to remove those individuals who do not support their self-empowerment agendas. Anyone, by the way ever hear of the Salem Witch Trials, similar actions are common today in some religious substrates! Some good religious folks, white, black and otherwise are black-hearted!
I was at another pastor friend's Press Conference some years ago, when he informed me just before the media event began that the enforcement arm at the church that he extricated himself from asked him, "do you know that we will kill you"? This pastor was from another mainstream American religious substrate denomination.
These were purportedly good Christian church folks in this major American Baptist organization who allegedly threatened him - I believe that he was being truthful for some of these carnal church boards can be lethal, in and outside of the Baptist denomination. I preached at one of these churches years ago, where the minister who had pastored the church for 50 years retired. The church was so taken with me, my credentials, my style, sermon and most of all God in my life, that some members stood up at the end of the service and appealed to the Trustee Board.
I can still recall their words, that we should hire this man right now. One lady pleaded, God has sent this man. The trustees were very kind to me themselves, but jovially told me in the back room, 'the members are right about you except for one thing', you are not going to turn us into a 'Bapti-costalist Church'! Eek!! A well known Pentecostal organist who was hired by a baptist congregation was rebuked after church one Sunday morning. It seems that he forgot where he was when he backed the pastor's preaching up with musical accompaniement as the pastor sermonized.
The Trustees caught the musician once the church service was dismissed and told him, 'dont you ever do that again'. He said, but the pastor liked it and the church obviously liked it. The Trustees told him, "we run this, not the pastor"! Not even the Holy Spirit was free in this church, apparently. Er herm, moving right along, how about the Baptist ministers who were on their way to a religious conference that was being held in Canada some years ago?
They must not have gotten the word that Jesus gave to his 'packing-brotha disciples' before - who Jesus told to leave 'their pieces at home', before they embarked on a divine missionary journey.
In terms of modern day 'street patois', pieces are weapons, especially knives! The cursing, weapons carrying, opportunistic give me a seat beside you in the Kingdom Jesus, were some BAD BOYS at the onset! Three years with Jesus, and he still reminded Peter that he had to be converted!
Yes I said it, the disciples of scriptures were a group of 'packing brothas' themselves. On one occasion, a couple of these disciples pressed Jesus to call down fire from heaven and burn up a group of individuals whom they did not accept as a part of the team! So what again Reverend Solomon, we are not baptists. Truth be told, if you study the history of the Pentecostal Church, trace its roots back - further than the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World's claim that all Pentecostal churches in America were birthed out of the P.A.of W, you will discover that your Pentecostal organization likely descended from the baptists.
Factually, the original American Pentecostal ministers were formerly mostly baptist ministers. What a minute again Don Pardo, don't get mad at Reverend Solomon for saying that, do some research yourself.
Following the Azusa Street revival many of the Baptist clerics who were converted, later became Pentecostal Ministers, and formed a new Pentecostal movement. Anyone ever hear of the founder of the Church of God in Christ? Yes, Bishop Mason and other ministers of the organization that he helped to found were originally Baptist ministers! And some of the antecedent behaviors of the former baptist "I AM THE MAN ministers', carried over into many of today's bringing down judgment Pentecostal 'wanna be the man clerics - these fellas see their jobs as being part political, and on the other hand all about 'control'!
For some of them that is all they know. However, you measure it though, their behaviors and attitudes are like Paul once wrote to the Church at Corinth about, carnal!
The military wings of some of our religious substrates also remind me very much of our 'Dominionists' and 'Religious Right/Moral Majority Pharisees of today', who were so willing to call down fire on the people of Iraq by deploying American made UAVs that were loaded with armed Hell-Fire missiles (and they did not name them 'hell and fire' missiles for naught). The American objective was and is to bring down hell and American brimstone fire on Iraqis, and other racial and religious groups who are not conceding to white, oftentimes religious American hegemony!
Sadly, Christian Americans also supported the deployment of and F117 stealth and other tactical bombers that were used in the pre-emptive attack and subsequent occupation and take-over of Iraq, and the murder of innocent men, women and children. God help us, for some of you are a part of those substrates who believe in their own form of interposition and murderous nullification and interventionism! Pat Robertson of 'kill Hugo Chavez fame', is just such a leader of one of these kinds of organizations that is fronted by a church organization - fully supported and encouraged the carnage.
Rev. Falwell of the Old Time Gospel Hour, and pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist church of Lynchburg was his partner in crime. 'Old time', and the term 'lynch', seem to be apropos for these two curmudgeons, and there are many more like them. I can still recall when that dude came back from S. Africa and proceeded to castigate Anglican Bishop Tutu. The subjugation of 96% of the black population wasn't the problem, Bishop Tutu 'the phony', as he put it was the problem. What a nut? And how many of you attend Regents or Liberty University?
If you are registered at one of these institutions, you should go back and study the doctrine of Dominionism, which is the driving force behind the creation of these quasi religious white-supremacist institutions, as well as many other schools that they have created in order to indoctrinate American children. Their objectives are to prepare individuals to help maintain 'a white supremacist world order - not a divine order! The phrase white supremacy will frighten some of you, but factually that is really the demonic force that beckons to the leaders of these quasi-religious substrates that pretend to be churches.
They invoke the name of God in order to rally, indoctrinate, sustain and implement white politics in America and around the world. Reverend Hagee, Tony Perkins and other well-known ministers like Reverend Rod Parsely are a part of this venal conspiracy.
These two heretical ministers, Falwell and Robertson along with others, insisted that President Bush reject the 'Roadmap for Peace' proposal for Palestine, also encouraged and supported (Falwell is no longer with us) a lot of the nefarious activities and killings that took place recently in the Americas! The two of them encouraged killings in San Salvador, and Guatemala!
Back to the Baptist clerics: The Canadian border guards had to take the guns off of all in this group of mostly Baptist clerics, men who were on the way to a church conference, eek! And how about Peter of scriptures, a member of Christ's group who pulled out his sword and nearly whacked off, we are told in scripture, the ear of an opposing military guard? There is simile when you compare Peter of scriptures, some of our Chief Apostles and Prelates today - again, and having said that, at least what Peter had was real. Eventually, 'he grew in grace, with regard to some of ours - we're still waiting for the grace revelation to occur!
I referred to 'Peter the Knife' in one of my writings, some found that amusing. The sword of 'the tongue' for many of today's leaders that will vanquish, excommunicate, send out letters of banishment or put out a spiritual hit on a substrate member - can be just as lethal! The way that some of these fellas behave gives new meaning to the phrase 'sword of the spirit'! Move over Reverend Jim Jones - you weren't the only one who wanted to play God, or rule over and murder God's people, while you attempted to amass power for yourself!
Another television ministry substrate in California grew way too fast. The pastor was a novice even by his own admission, in fact he started 'his church' in 'his living room'. Amazingly, his living room church grew to approximately 14,000 members in just over a decade. When asked by other ministers to tell him how to grow a church like that, this former Hell's Angel who claims to be 'Heaven's Angel today', told them that I could not tell you how it happened. I suspect that I could tell them, but that would be another story altogether.
And as a side-note, the man that started 'his church', in 'his living room', made 'his wife, his son, his daughter-in-law', pastors at 'his church'! A 4 million dollar gift from 'his friend' over a decade ago helped him to organize and build 'his church that is co-pastored by his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law'! Oops! Where did he learn that, from the Hell's Angels or by watching other churches that are dominated by family-membered and family-controlled church substrates?
His first major blunder happened as a result of the quick growth of his mega- substrate. It seemed that the pastor needed to appoint individuals over various ministries in the church. He made a huge mistake and appointed some men in the church, pedophiles, over one of his youth ministries. These men proceeded to sexually abuse the young men in 'his youth ministry'. The pastor like many of our hardened 'you don't tell me what to do - I am the king megalomaniac prelates", would not be entreated, and as a result was later hauled into court. He was mystified, and wondered, how could anyone sue the church?
In short, the judge reprimanded him at trial and ordered both he and the plaintiffs into mediation 'among themselves'. The judge also lambasted and reprimanded both factions for bringing this matter to court. He reminded them in session that church people are not supposed to bring matters, ideally, to civil courts. We have all witnessed a lot of that taking place lately, haven't we? Do you ever wonder why? During meditation, the hard-head Prelate was humbled, and admitted that he never listened to what the victim's parents were trying to tell him.
Folks, he failed to listen to a prophet who came to his church that gave him and the church 'a word from God'. They were told that God showed the prophet that individuals were having sex behind the large video screens in the church. These were the screens where the lyrics of the songs were displayed that the congregation read from as they sang along during worship. There was more to the message than he understood!
Sound arrogant for me to say that? Live with it, the man lacked spiritual discernment. What motivated him to start 'his church'. A black minister as he explained it, who had missing teeth - prophesied while spitting in his face that he would reign over this huge ministry someday. The black mystic or prophet, you decide, then hit him up for twenty bucks, immediately following the prophesy.
Folks, it is not uncommon for Prelates and officers of substrates to feel that they don't have to listen to anyone who they consider to be 'beneath them', well except for their partners in crime, their family members in the ministry or the yes men who agree with their 'I AM the power positions'. Many, instead will preach to you about your role, that is to become like little children under their draconian, autocratized and authoritarian forms of leadership.
But they do not seem to understand what Jesus meant when he said to permit the little children to come to him, and to forbid them not. Okay Bible scholar, I know the context that he spoke in originally, but at the same time it was the spirit of what he said, and not the context only that matters.
What child, besides children who are victims of bad parenting cannot come to their parents without being yelled at, verbally, physically or sexually abused - or castigated in the manner in which some of these fellas often done? By the way, I believe that the misappropriation of scripture, and teaching the members that they are children by prelates is condescending and derisive - if not a venal ploy that is being used in order to exercise mind and other control over the rank and file members of the substrate. Adult church members are not children, no more than the Prelate is a child - well, that's another story. Sometimes given the ranting, raving, egomaniacal behavior of some of them, it makes you wonder whether or not they are not behaving like children themselves!
In the sense that the Children of Israel were referred to as children - including their leaders, then I will concede that everyone in the church is a child under God, including the autocratic church leaders and the board members - who in some organizations are an autocracy, plain and simple. And some wonder how Jesus Christ really ended up on the cross; it wasn't Caesar's ideas. Jesus was slain given the actions of the out-of-control leaders who ruled the Jews in Jerusalem. These guys were also intractable, self-serving dictator rulers, the same as some of the leaders of religious organization are today whose organizations are Tax-Exempt no less!
Well how did the story of the 'I don't have to listen to you mega pastor' end up? The humbled pastor apologized for his hard-headness and refusal to listen to the victim's parents who argued that you had the responsibility for the ones who you placed over our children. In other words a trust had been violated, and these pre-pubescent youngsters were ruined, likely for life. The pastor conceded, yes it was my responsibility and I was negligent given my inexperience - and I placed, without consulting God, individuals over your children who were perverted!
Folks you cannot simply allow the substrate organizations and their on occasion misguided and in many instances autocratic leaders to rule over you without being informed yourself about the rules and the power behind the substrate, or by holding these characters accountable. Marriages have been destroyed, females and children have been sexually abused by some of these religious tyrants - and homes have been destroyed. No one should support these substrates when they are unable to question or hold the leaders of these substrates accountable.
Many of these individuals want your money, presence, participation, sweat and blood however, when it comes to your input - they will tell you, "I AM THE MAN", and you don't tell me what to do!
I beg to differ with them, yes we do, and as a minister of God that rule applies to me as well - I must hear from the rank and file and be submissive to them! Some of our ministers have completely overlooked 'the theology of submission', Jesus did not ignore it! These fascist leaders will have to give account for their fascist styles of leadership, however, consider all of the damage that they have done in the meantime. Exactly how many individuals are these autocratic rules solely responsible for running away from the church that they claim is God's church.
How many individuals are they solely responsible for driving to Mega's, a place where they oftentimes are NOT receiving the personal pastoral attention that God planned for them? Many, having overcome the world, ala 2 Peter 2nd chapter have found themselves entrappe, and having escaped one lunatic they find themselves under the control of raving power-hungry get rich dictators in either substrate system? How many are they responsible for that have simply returned home or to their venal practices, those who have observed and seen through the venal and sophist practices of religious megalomaniacs? How many? The answer is too many!
Frankly, and you have probably guessed it already, I have been dressed down personally by more than one of these autocrats - however, I was one of a much larger majority who experienced the same treatment. Folks, some of these fellas are factually carnal and out of control themselves. Juveniles were openly rebuked before the congregration David Koresh style and threatened with excommunication - while all their parents could do was to 'look on'! What happened to the fruit of the Spirit that is supposed to be operating in these autocratic style leaders? How come you can't ask simple questions or disagree with them without a public dressing down or having fingers pointed in your face. God help us!
One of my favorite stories was of a minister in an organization who questioned the new Prelates demands that the organization build a new Headquarters church. This new Prelate who preceded the one who passed away, wanted a new Headquarters built in the town where he pastored. The minister asked, Bishop, when we elect a new President to the White House, does the new President move to the White House or do the people build a new White House where the President resides? He was silenced by the Prelate. Er herm!
Many of these prelates hide behind the scriptures in order to invoke their own form of prairie justice, or to justify their ranting and raving. Praise God that Peter and even Paul later learned to and repented from the aggressive and carnal behavior that each of them exhibited on prior occasions! God, had to knock Paul down in order to turn him around and get him on the right track.
Now in terms of the Spirit of God talking to Jeremiah, or even Abraham, I challenge you to run to and fro and find a leader of one of today's substrate religious organizations or churches who is humble enough to listen to the rank and file members, to act more like a shepherd than an autocrat or scion, or even to admit when he is wrong! More and more they are becoming a rare commodity.
To wit, a colleague of mine suggested just over 30 days ago, that a group of ministers including 'yours truly', should conduct nationwide workshops that will either be held in locations around the country or on podcasts. The objective would be to inform and to educate members of these organizations just how their organizations actually operate behind the scenes. For some individuals are truly being exploited within these organizations given their lack of knowledge!
This brother is part of a Jamaican Church, and he has witnessed firsthand the draconian behaviors of churches in Jamaica, who are seeking to emulate American capitalist church models. Ah, to be honest the Rev doesn't want to tear churches apart. However, I am amenable to influencing these, 'I want to be a CEO leaders', or the 'military-style captain in the church' style leaders. If you want to be an entreprenuer, military captain or a businessman, don't use a non-profit tax exempt religious organization to pursue your vice, avocation or vocation, or to assuage your ego!
Clerics, if you desire to be a Head-of-State and run your own form of government you should head to Guyana, and found your own religious country, just like Jim Jones tried to do. Then, you also can sit on your throne and yell into your microphone at the crumbsnatchers! But whatever you do, leave your carnality at the door of the church, for the church is supposed to be 'the House of Prayer for all People', that is being led by individuals who are submitted to the will and the methods of God!
You would be amazed at the membership in religious organizations today who know only that which they have been told by the heads of their organizations. And, believe it or not that is always not a good thing, many times there is a lack of full-disclosure by the leaders and the boards, which can be detrimental to members who naively trust everything that they are told by their church leaders.
I asked my colleague to give me time to pray over his suggestion, unless we could be responsible for rooting up some of the wheat along with the tares! Remember my sermon that I told you about in the blog, American Capitalist Church syndrome? A church group often takes on the methodology, rules, behaviors, and the spirit of the economic and political systems of the indigenous nations where the organization happens to reside in or is established. That does not alter the fact that there are exceptions to the rule, given that some of the overseas churches are trying to emulate the flawed capitalist American church model. Now, there are operating off-shore, greed and power brokered - American style religious substrates.
America is too often all about greed and power, and anyone in America ought to be able to see that the church leaders of late are eagerly pursuing power and wealth on the backs of the parishioners. How many ministers, in the same manner of some of their archetypes have you heard saying lately that, 'there is nothing wrong with wealth'. Factually, there is something wrong with them. Folks, there is something wrong with greed and bringing the spirit of the world into the church. How often do you hear wealth-clerics say that we should obey Acts Chapter 4, and have all things in common? Are you kidding? Share the wealth and help the poor,they would say, wherever did you get an idea like that? Folks, there is something wrong with greed!
My question to many of these fellas is, how many airplanes, Armani suits, vacations, luxury homes, bling bling and cars - and other accoutrement do you require? Much of what they crave is being purchased off of the backs of homes-being-foreclosed, downsized, underemployed and formerly employed American Christians! Many of these terminally poor and fix-ed income parishioners who thrive in the ghetto sections of these churches, which some have done faithfully for years? I heard Creflo, 'well, the Bible says that you will always have the poor with you'. Er herm! What did the bible say about the rich Creflo?
I recently chastised the insensitive leader of a burgeoning mega Apostle Paul to pre Chief Apostle Peter style minister by rote, who boasted in an area of the country where the foreclosure rate was recently the highest in the nation, that 'my house is so big that I can't find all of the bathrooms in it'. Eek, what a nut! The people who were listening to him were loosing their homes, and many of them while still giving their tithes and offerings faithfully to the church - not knowing what street corner they might soon be living on!
All across this nation, church organizations and local churches are suing each other with regard to misrepresentations, misunderstandings, attempted property acquisition, malfeasance, fraud, usurpation of power and theft. It is happening in both Catholic, and Protestant churches of every denomination. Baptist leaders, have been imprisoned and a once burgeoning Methodist church in Maryland was in litigation for years given the leader's attempted abuse of power, his attempted confiscation of church property and his obvious obfuscation of the church charter. The leader was subsequently forced to move on, and in his place his son took over.
What happened that caused the members of the body to litigate against its autocrat? This once small congregation under the leader of this pastor grew over the years into a mega church. The mega church membership, the properties that were acquired under the churches original charter, and the vast sums of money that were banked, spent and shared among the church staff burgeoned while this man was the leader of the church.
The leader decided after many years that he was going to withdraw from that church organization, and since he felt that it was he who had been solely responsible for the expansion of the church, he was going to take a substantial portion of the membership, and most of the newly acquired properties, buildings and finances along with him into his new venture. He planned to start a new organization, where like prominent ministers 'show me the money Creflo Dollar', 'I own the biggest house in Dallas TD Jakes', Eddie Long and others, this pastor would be 'the Man', the All Powerful, likely 'Wrong Reverend'. Does that remind you of what took place in heaven when Lucifer said, I want to be like the most high?
Is that all the church is Bishop Jakes and others, a business? I am often asked to join in as well as to consult with churches and church organizations - and I do my best to help them by disclosing the truth. Case in point, a pastor once asked me to join in with his latest church venture. He had acquired two beautiful church facilities. I asked, well what about the church board? Church board he said, "I will never have a church board telling me what to do". I said to him, no thanks then - I will simply pass! Some ministers do not realize that they have an authoritarian, nobody is going to tell me what to do 'mindset' and 'personality!
If there is someone there to control them, they cannot launch into their often ill-conceived plans and visions.
Back to the Maryland Methodist Congregation, fortunately, the judiciary saw through the Methodist pastor's shenanigans, and the rank and file members of the church prevailed, in court no less!
BTW those of you who still believe that I am the rebel, and those who cannot understand why I am saying these things. Did any of you hear about the leadership of a well known church in Maryland who went behind the backs of the members and applied to the state for a liquor license for the Family-Life Center? Not everyone who wears a clergy-collar, or who dons a certain title is as sacrosanct as you might believe.
Oftentimes, their personalities seep through - and you can witness strongholds that they have not relinquished; can anyone recall the behavior of intemperate Moses when he descended from the Mountain. I believe that the reason that God made the lives of the Apostles and other biblical characters so transparent, was to warn us today to be watchful and careful about our current leaders as well as ourselves, and what can happen if we place them on too high of a pedestal. Honor is one thing, idol or icon worship is another thing altogether! Jesus said of himself - there is none Good but the Father!
Now back to the A.O.H. church substrate, which was originally named, The Ethiopian Overcoming Holy church, which was an even cooler name in my opinion. This organization/church name was likely coined in reference to the mission of Deacon-Evangelist Philip, who in Acts the 8th chapter helped to bring the Ethiopian Eunuch to Christ - who in turn carried his ministry into Northern Africa.
Please see my writing on how the black church in America lost its tie to its spiritual roots, for God disposed and sent Phillip to find this Eunuch in order to bring not only him but Africans to Christ. That experience had serious implications for all of us who were affected by the African diaspora as well as our ancestors who were sold into slavery and afterwards brought to the Americas - north, central and south.
Study the Coptic church in Ethiopia today, and you will discover why that connection is so important - even though we have ignored it for centuries. Too many of our influences today are derived from 'non-spiritual Calvinism and other Euro-Centric religious models', that have led us away in part from our God-given spiritual connection! Kudos to the late Bishop W.T. Phillips and Bishop Ray Allen, founders of the Ethiopian Overcoming Holy church, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church in America.
These men who understood that Africans had assimilated into a western cultural paradigm, recognized the importance of Africans retaining their underappreciated spiritual-cultural roots, and our connection to God that was brought about by Phillip's obedience to the Spirit. Many Africans, regrettably, willingly traded what they knew before for Americanization, consumerism and wealth - even when it meant obtaining it at the expense of black America's number one gift, their spirituality. Even Bishop TD Jakes has sold out. In a conference that I attended recently in the nation's Capitol, he said, "The Church Is A Business". Isn't it ironic that before, we always referred to ourselves as 'an organism'?
Have Cartesian, capitalist or another version of economics muddled the youthful bishop's let us make money brain! BTW, if you believe that I misunderstood the Bishop, his disconcerting comments were noted in the Washington Post several days afterward. Bishop Jakes is taking eurocentric evangelism to Africa of late - I have noted. It might be advisable for him to stop there and learn about 'the African Traditional Religions', and how Philip and the Eunuch were instrumental in bringing divine theology to Africa instead of a watered down eurocentric capitalist version! BTW, I wrote to the Bishop recently asking him to clarify his positions, I received correspondence with an envelope in it - requesting a donation!
Did anyone see 'show me the money Creflo Dollar' squirming on the Larry King Show last week. His answer for all his bling-bling and ostentation was, the bible says that you will always have the poor with you! Wake up Creflo, you are behaving like a carnal greedy and in denial capitalist entrepruener - and besides the world is watching you. You also have gone too far. Emulate Jesus, and stop imitating greedy American capitalist CEOs, and Bishop Jakes! By the way, what was your personal chef preparing for both you and your family in your home, as the TV cameras glared?
In legal terms then, 23rd Street Church was simply one of the A.O.H. organization's, global churches. I was raised in an independent Apostolic church in another state, so my ire was neither raised, nor was I skeptical about joining an Apostolic church 2600 miles away from where I was originally born, even with the initials A.O.H. attached to it. For this naive young man at the time, the church was 'one global church'. In fact, I still believe that the true body of Christ is one, and wherever the spirit of Christ is operating, I am at home.
[Don't let this get out, however, I have told people that they ought to cast their memberships at all parishes - that's right join every church that you encounter. Then perhaps the leaders of the churches will realize that there is only one church.] Radical?
The minister of 23rd street, a Bishop in the A.O.H. church was in his mid forties. I actually lived with him, his wife and an adopted daughter for about one year. At the age of 21 they welcomed me into their home as I transitioned from the east to the west coast where they treated me like a son (surprised to hear that), then what is responsible for this kind of duplicity that is noticable among many heads of church-states. At home, they could not have been kinder people! So why am I betraying them? I'm not, this substrate topic is bigger than the A.O.H. body or even them. Besides the pastor's wife once told me, 'you will tell the truth even if it hurts you'! Well, that is true - so no one should be offended here because I believe that I am telling the truth.
I would like to see well-intended organizations like the A.O.H. organization come stir the ship back to God and where the founder intended for it to be, and as a result it will give birth to and grow real Christians. However, I believe that in order to do so, the leadership will have to grow beyond some of its outdated paradigms, primitivism, dogmatism and autoocratic southern leadership styles, which turns off many individuals today who otherwise might join in with them. Those are my perceptions, and that does not make what I write factual!
The winds of change are blowing, however, some mainline organizations are stuck in the past! That does not mean that these organizations have to accept unchecked liberalism like many of the megas are doing today. However, being stuck in the same manner as the Jews were in the Mosaic Law, at least most Christians believe they were, is not any different from the A.O.H. like organizations that are stuck in a myriad of outdated laws, types and customs with for life dictators! And some people want it that way, believe it or not, but it does nothing to help to bring people 'to Christ'. Remind me, wasn't that the purpose of the church at the onset?
New people come to an organization often with new and fresh ideas, and new ideas are not neccesarily always bad ideas! However, some from the orthodoxy simply cannot accept change, for in their egocentrism they believe that the church is all about them, and it was put there in order to meet their needs! "Lawd", they say, "the chir'ren are trying to bring new music into the chuch, and we ain't hav'ng it, cause I like the music just the way it 'twas and has been".How selfish?
My problems with A.O.H. began shortly after, when I found myself trying to reconcile a need to worship the manmade sub-structure which was being forced upon us at the church, more than I was required to pursue and to attend to the things of God. The name of their legal 501C3 organization, A.O.H., was always mentioned in conjunction with the name of the church, during any church related activities. There were quarterly councils as well as church conventions.
And I was immediately immersed into the rules, methodologies and by-laws of the substrate organization; methodologies and rules that pre-empted and overshadowed the word of God. Kudos to 'the Church of Christ', for at least when you think about its nomnitive, you are forever reminded where you are - in the church of Christ! I have actually met individuals who feared organizations with names and acronyms like AOH, these individuals wondered if this was some kind of secretive "Heaven's Gate" like organization, ala 'beam us up to the mothership Scotty'!
Manmade Organizations: The AOH organization was headquartered at the time that I was a member in Mobile Alabama. The organization was governed by a board of Bishops and a prelate who was known as the Presiding Bishop. He and members of the Board were supported financially, in addition to their own congregations, by assessments form a sub-layer of Overseers, Elders and Ministers. In effect, it was a pyramid, or in today's terms a multi-level economic support system.
In addition to all of the rules of the organization, along with its diocesans, there were also a myriad of other strictly enforced manmade rules that members of the organization were expected to obey. For example each time that a Bishop walked into the church, the congregation was expected to stand until the prelate was seated (he usually knelt first to pray), the Apostles admonished those who wanted to worship them to abstain from doing so. Come on folks, not every time that you walk in the door - the Apostles didn't do that for Jesus! Our president day prelates from Jupiter and Mercury should have the practice eliminated!
There were also a phalanx of offerings and assessments to be taken which were owed to the minister, the local church, the national headquarters et al. This was in addition to the customary tithe (the pastor kept 100% of the tithes) 10% of one's earnings. There were also rules that were binding upon men and women, for example men and women and boys and girls were not permitted to date. The members of the church questioned me in private, wanting to know why I was permitted to date and they were not - just after I relocated to California.
The fact of the matter was that upon my arrival from another state - I was not aware that the church had such retrograde, non-spiritual, manmade cultish and binding rules. For exampke, my parents told me that I could date when I became 16 years old. Now having become a grown man, I had self-appointed religious dictators trying to tell me that I could not date and instead, that I had to get married. Why? And be as happy as some of them were in their marriages?
Er herm, where is that scripture found in the bible that tells you not to overstep your boundaries, David Koresh style ministers? Later, I found out that what the members of the church brought to my attention, given my new parents (er herm), efforts to get me married 'to anybody' and as quickly as they could get me married - were true!
I really didn't quite understand what the urgency was at the time, however, in retrospect I understand what they were doing today. I wasn't ready to get married, but the Communist Party church officials didn't care about that. My problem had to do with the shortsightedness on the part of the church leaders, my naivete, and the fact that the bible did tell me to obey those who have 'rule over your'. Obedience is not a problem, the real problem was obedience to these 'Skull and Bones' type leaders who cared about their organization's image and their personal images, and not the individuals that they were supposed to shepherd.
In other words, the organization wants you married - so, get married. Yessir, mob boss - and I was not the only one who did it. Move over Reverend Moon! The scripture nothwithstanding, today's Christian has to learn when to say no to these fellas'!
The first girl I dated in California (for less than a month), the leaders wanted to know if we were going to get married. The second young lady that I dated, honestly a schoolteacher, from Pasadena CA, the leaders took her off to themselves on a car trip that the church embarked upon to the Redwood Empire - without discussing it with me. Why? They did it so that the other members of the church would not see us riding together in the same automobile together. Did they ask me if I minded? Nope, I looked around and my date who came to accompany me from 405 miles away on a church excursion, was suddenly just taken away by the mob bosses/cult leaders.
Later a woman who pursued me from my past, first contacted the mob bosses/cult leaders in California, the leaders then in turn having already discussed the matter with the Bishop back east encouraged me on more than one occasion to marry her, in spite of my plans to remain single into perpetuity. These people really did not respect boundaries, or care about or understand human development or the desires and needs of other human beings. Frankly, they did not care! Development meant from their point of view, to live your life according to my adapted social ab-norms and impish ideals. The marriage didn't last. And what was funny, after I married the Prelates wife who now saw the young woman from another light augured, '...she is going to drag you down in the mud with her'. God help us!
I was considered rebellious after awhile as I struggled with the reality of my situation, and that was understandable when you suddenly discovered that you were under cultish leaders. But frankly, I did not come out of a cultish church that had all of the manmade rules that existed within this church. I certainly did not grow up in churches where the leaders could not be entreated, or where you could not express an opinion. Once while riding to church with the Prelate, I asked a simple question about baptisms. Factually, he smiled but never answered me.
Well, not until he got to church and behind the rostrum. Then he began to preach about not listening to other people who will confuse your mind, just listen to me - he was the one that was confusing my mind; given that the Bible seemed to be saying things completely different from what he was saying. Of course the rest of the church did not know what was happening as the leader ranted on, but I did. I thought to myself, dude, I keep trying, but I have got to get out of here altogether! In these of these kinds of cult-substrates, spies were common. You would often hear words repeated by the ranting wife of the Prelate, words that were spoken in private over the pulpit.
I had a funny experience when my girlfriend and I were at a church conference. A group of young people were out in front of the church talking. I had my arms around my girlfriend, and turned in front of her as if I had kissed her. God knows that we did not kiss, but the spies? Well someone happened to be standing in the audience with a camera and they took the picture, and LAWD, the word got back to the cult leaders. Hey in fairness, just like in Hollywood, the cameras can be 'trucked or dollied' in such a way, and from a certain angle make it appear that people are kissing when they are not. Again, we didn't kiss despite how it looked on the screen.
The minister who heard about the alleged kiss from the spies attacked me one day at church and asked, what is this I hear that you were kissing some girl...? You won't believe this but the words, that isn't any of your business never entered my mind. I told the good late Reverend, I didn't kiss anybody. He lectured me anyway.
Another occasion was even more comical. We were at a church conference, and a friend of mine and her mom and aunt were in town from out of state. My friend girl, nothing ever between us - went to visit a church conference. My girlfriend was there waiting for me. I walked down the aisle of an already seated church with my friend-girl, where my friend girl, my girlfriend and me all sat together. Eek, eek, double-eek and get the 'holy earl'! I was really making the Party bosses look bad by doing what was natural! The fact is that heterosexuals falling in love was not the problem that these near to San Francisco-based churches needed to worry about!
Back to the spies in the substrate who often felt that it was their sworn duty to report back what one of the rebellious cult-members had said or done that was out of line. A woman fell down outside of the church building one day. A friend of mine jokingly asked, are you going to sue the church. The senior citizen did not say it, she was simply in shock and trying to recover from the hard fall that she experienced. The next time I heard it from the pulpit,'Sis. XXX, fell down and when she got up - she said that she was going to sue the church.
I told the cult leaders prior to the slander of this woman's name that I was standing right there, I saw the whole thing and witnessed what had been said. Furthermore I explained, she did not say that she was going to sue the church, the person who came and told you that - invented that comment. And the cult leaders still ran with and publicly reported the fallacious information.
By now damage was done to this woman's character, The cult leader lambasted her, and had the story written in the substrate's monthly organ, and now everyone wanted to know why this fallen woman (no pun intended) would do such a thing? By the way, she was laid up for some time. Come on folks! What was frightening was that these brainwashed cult-members of this substrate never saw anything wrong with how they were being used. Factually, the spies were rewarded when they exposed the perceived malconented enemies in the camp, even when they fabricated lies!
Study mind-control literature, techniques and theory and you will find that the tactics of some of the small mom and pop religious organizations in our nations wittingly and unwittingly employ mind control techniques in order to debase and control the members of their cults. However, keep in mind that someone use the same methods on them too, in most instances. Some learned their tactics from reading books, for others it came naturally!
Prior to this experience, I grew up near and under Bishops who were kind, gentle, instructive and open to discussion or criticism. What a shock it was when I ran into the Dixiecrat Bishops - who were totally self-consumed if not simply egomaniacal with authoritative pesonalities derived from their southern training, personalities or cultural shapings! The church turned out to be a place where these types could act out their demanding and controlling behaviors!
The California Bishop told us that with respect to dating and marriage this is how you do it. Once you see the person that you want to marry, not date (given his cultural shaping), you simply walk up to them one day, having prayed about it of course, and asked the person to marry you. This assumed of course that the person was saved, for believers were not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. There were also rules for dress, and of course as is customary, the rules for women's dress were more stringent than for their male counterparts. Women were not permitted to wear makeup, pants, earrings, et al. How did these people survive this kind of oppresion for so long? Some flipped out!
A new female member of the church, one who had not been indoctrinated yet just like I had not been upon my arrival, made the mistake of sitting up in the choir stand one day with lipstick on. And she was unceremoniously called down from the choir stand in front of the congregation, and told to remove her lipstick or apparently to 'hit the road toad'. To my knowledge, they never saw her again! The men pretty much wore what they wanted. I guess it was hard to make rules given that the men in the church customarily wore suits and ties to church.
* Most individuals are not aware that when they give their lives to Christ or join a church today, that in addition to becoming a part of God's body, they have also, unwittingly, become a part of some man-made religious organization, denomination, synod or union that operates all-to-often secretly behind the scenes. And with respect to 'systems theory' there is often a cabal operating most churches. And that anonymously powerful substrate and church cabal will in many instances have incredible sway and control over the lives of the membership - A.O.H. is not the only culpable organization.
* Most individuals who finally make the decision to give their lives to Christ or join a church are not aware that the sub-group that they have unwittingly become a part of (in some denominations as well as independent churches), is predominant, with its set of rules and requirements than the church of Christ that Jesus told Peter about. Some have wondered why, with their new freedom in Christ do they feel so bound up? Run Forrest run!
The point was often made and disparagingly so, that those other churches who were not a part of an organization, in particular not part of the A.O.H., were not really churches at all. In fact they were considered renegade churches that were not subject to leadership. Now even though I enjoyed the camaraderie of being a part of a church with affiliates spread out over the United States and especially the west coast, after a while I began to feel that the organization itself and the Board of Bishops who presided over it were so very demanding and intolerant of other christians and other people's ideas. I for one gave my life to Christ, not to them!
To yours truly, oftentimes some of these ministers seemed to believe that the organization and their assumed power, and personal ideas were more important than Jesus Christ, prototokos, and Head of the body himself. The organization seemed to have become an 'idol' for too many of them from my point of view. At 23rd Street, the cabal would have overturned decisions that were voted upon by the majority in authorized meetings.
You Belong To Us:
If your church group wanted to become a part of this organization for example, you would be required to deed your property into the church body, even though the church body had never contributed one dime to your church (and was very unlikely to do so once you turned over the deeds to your local church property or properties). And deeding property I might add, is not unique to this organization - however, I am using this organization as an example of what other sub-strate religious organizations are also doing, to the detriment of the church, themselves.
I observed later that there were numerous lawsuits taking place around the country, over this very issue, particularly when a local church decided that it wished to pull out of the organization. NOT SO FAST BUDDY! Some churches whose members had become dissatisfied at some later date with the A.O.H., had to in effect sue or buy themselves out of the organization (if they no longer wanted to continue with this organization). Some of the litigation that followed was brutal. For there were occasions when some church members were not so willing to have their church properties taken away from them.
One pastor indicated that the church would be 'bombed', before their congregation would permit their church property to be taken away from them. Another pastor or member of a church that the organization was trying to confiscate their property from, reportedly bit the Prelate of the organization at the court house when he attempted to forcibly remove the title to the church property from her hands. In most instances, when litigation took place, the organization usually lost in court given that it could never prove that it had made any contribution to the churches that were being sued, or those churches that litigated against the organization.
In fact, I discovered during my time in the organization that the branch churches were there to give money to the headquarters, the governing body and the Bishops, the relationship was not reciprocal. Many came to recognize after a while that the benefits all inured to the organization and its Bishops - something that is not supposed to happen in a 501C3 organizations. The organization did very little for any of its churches or its members for that matter. On a personal level, the members were heavily taxed with financial and other burdens. I had begun to feel that the one's who were there to help me to enjoy my new found 'liberty in Christ', had brought me into a type of expensive and foreboding bondage See 2nd Peter the second Chapter.
I could see that along with many of the other naive souls in this organization, we had all become slaves to the ones who sat atop the organizational pyramid, and it was being done so in the name of the Lord. I found myself thinking and saying, I joined a church, it was never my intention to join a not so secret but demanding organization which I often likened to the Mafia or the Communist Party.
These 'build me a new headquarters fella's', all male, could be demanding, caustic, abrasive and downright nasty at times. They would dress down subordinate ministers and members, ignore family protocols and hierarchies, and even publicly humiliate the ministers below them who had behaved in some manner that they did not agree with. For example, one young minister in the organization, along with his wife went on a nationally televised and syndicated television game show where they won money and prizes. Given that the name of the show was called 'Gambit', which suggested gambling, the Board of Bishops, mostly, were outraged when they heard about it.
I wonder what happened to the members of the church who reported what they saw to the Bishops, for after all they were watching the show themselves - were they reprimanded? I hope not! However, several bishops wanted this young minister's head on a plate, ignoring the fact that they had never done anything for him financially, despite his service to the church. The decision was made that he was to apologize to the organizational body and then be baptized all over again. Baptism punishment?
Fortunately, the local diocesan disagreed with his fellow diocesans, feeling that the other Bishops should permit him to handle the jurisdictional matter as he saw fit. As you can see jurisdiction did not always matter. I recall what this late Bishop, a man seemingly unlike the rest old me personally about the matter. He said, if people make mistakes, it should be the role of the church to instruct, not to humiliate people. This young minister would not have knowingly done anything wrong, trust me on that. However, he still got dunked in the baptismal pool given his infraction!
Parishioners and pastors who have been forced into servitude, should realize that at times, the burden that they carry is not always a result of the work that they are doing for the kingdom of God. In fact, a Superintendent of the largest black denomination in America, taught the pastors underneath him to keep the people under a financial burden. In other words, when one project is near completion, then immediately start another. The late Abraham Maslow wrote about condigned, condigned and condensory power in his books. This superintendent was guilty of waging carnal power over the parish that he pastored, the pastors and churches in the district that he presided over.
Here is a good place to note that Maslow also subscribed to Hegel's explanation of Man's inhumanity to man. Hegel attributed it to the following: The ownership of property, and the pursuit of power through class struggle. We could apply Hegelian thinking to what we are witnessing in our churches today, especially among church leadership.
The C.O.G.I.C. Superintendent believed that keeping the parishioners under a financial burden that it would help to retain cohesion among the rank and file members. What gives him the right to make such dictates or to engage in these kind of carnal practices I thought? After all, he was rolling in the moolah, moolah that he obtained from the membership. His members were under enough of a financial burden, by simply taking care of him! Are members of church dumb? Who would go any place and pay someone to Lord over them, but religious people?
Shame on him, and is it any wonder that many of these old school churches are loosing their members to various mega-ministries across the land? Why? At the mega's, that are not above criticism themselves, their members experience a sense of unparalleled freedom, as opposed to the oppression that they once experienced under their former leaders in the parishes that they once attended! The problem with the mega's appears to be that the pendulum has swung in the wrong direction. And the 'free at last, free at last, thank God almighty that I am free at last Christians', are abusing grace and their new found freedoms!
Many times what the rank and file members are victims of in the old-time substrates, has more to do with man-made imposed works and levies, that have been imposed upon them by some organizational hierarchy that is operating behind the scenes, than in any way a mandate that came from God. The Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Galatians says, Christ has set us free (so make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law), in this context, manmade law. See Galatians 5:1.
Now, if you were to read my threads you will quickly surmise that I am not a friend of the inchoate mega-church substrate movement either. In fact these fellas in many instances have taken things one step beyond their power hungry predecessors, particularly, with respect to fund-raising and incorporation. Several ministers at the top of these substrate organizations have secretly incorporated their organizations into their own names. That's right, they own you and they own the money! At least the other substrates form a type of government that owns you, these fellas in the mega's own you themselves.
Both groups claim to be protecting you? From what,'the Cable Guy might ask", themselves? Did you know that his papa was a preacher too?
With respect to Mega's, I suspect that the trendy religious substrates of today's entrepreneurial ministers will end up being more disastrous than the average 100 member churches that most of them grew up in - when they collapse! And as you should know, some of these 'prosperity pimp ministries' have already gone under, not even macro-economics and creative begging and financing could save them.
Please read in one of my other blogs about the Hunt Valley MD conference, where I addressed a group of prelates and clerics from some of the major media-ministries from around the county. I confronted them, using a message that I preached before in Seaside California, my sermon title there was 'American Capitalist Church Syndrome.
Some of these entrepreneurial prosperity gospel prelates at least acquiesced during a 45 minute discussion, agreeing that perhaps we have gone too far in terms of pursuing wealth. How many more will admit it? Even the loquacious and often quick tempered "I will cut your ear off Apostle Peter', later wrote in his epistle to the saints to 'grow in grace'. The latter was something that he had to learn to do himself. Some of our leaders of today need to learn to do the same. It was not God's intent to create autocrats and dictators in the church, or to build enclaves and fiefdoms for men for their personal gratification!
Some individuals are being lost in the mega's, where the celebrity ministers are also reaping mega-bucks themselves, where Amway-style church merchandising and franchising is taking place - not to overlook the Pimping of Jesus in these networking church substrates! Reverend Ike, would have been put to shame by some of these characters, given the paltry sums that he, by comparison, once garnered. However, my point really is that no one likes oppression, or oppressors. Most of us could not wait to grow up in order to extricate ourselves from our parents home - particularly those who only knew one thing - domination!
Will someone please drive the money-changer, money-grabbers out of our churches and pulpits, please?
Many individuals are abandoning old school churches that they grew up in for that reason. Some have gone home, and they worship at home. Others are seeking alternatives in order to be one with God! Why are they doing this? From their former ministers point of view, they simply didn't want to be pastored. However, from the laypersons point of view, they would argue, I simply want to be shepherded -not owned or dicated to by some megalomaniac and for other reasons, and there is a difference you know?
Are their good pastors who care about God's flock, the kind that will treat the flock in the manner that God wanted? The answer is yes? So who gave the megalomaniacs the power or the right that to Lord over, abuse and disabuse God's sheep?
Factually many of my fellow clerics are out of control, they are head-strong and seeping with power, and daily seeking to acquire more power for themselves. And where did they get the idea that they could behave as such a manner in order to or amass more power? They learned it from their predecessors, who learned to behave as such from the world. And that does not make it right?
Many individuals are running away from the old mainline churches - those that thrive on oppression, the runaway slave Christians- are seeking the promise of being free indeed in Christ Jesus. To my fellow clergymen and women clerics, the church was not intended to be your personal fiefdom, enclave or kingdom from which you were put there derive wealth, vent your rage, wield or amass power or use to purchase luxury items. The church belongs to God - and he is the Shepherd of the soul(s).
One of the best prosperity pimps that I have ever witnessed in action, did his thing at the Headquarter's of a world-wide pentecostal substrate organization in Washington DC. He demanded a one-hundred and one dollar 'seed offering', before he would pray the prayer of faith over the individuals who wanted to get into the prayer line.
Well, 'fleece the flock' would have been more apropos, as opposed to prayed the prayer of faith over them! The Bishop of the church got his check book out and jumped in line -which encouraged the rank and file to follow suit. That brother, based on the number of people that I estimated that jumped in that line - mostly the elderly, picked up a cool ten thousand dollars for himself that morning. No wonder his sermon lasted only about 15 minutes - and that is rare in a Pentcostal church. There was money to be made!
Factually, praying for his victims lasted only about 10 minutes. Church substrate-members, do you aware that oftentimes this kind of cleric and others like them go in the back room of the church and split the loot among themselves? Rev Bob, here's your cut! Thank you Rev Bob said, and you come to my church and I will return the favor. Oh, and see you on the golf course Monday!
Some church members believing that they have escaped the oppressions of the worldly system, find themselves enslaved to a new form of oppression in many religious substrate/church/organizations. And I caution those of you who jump out of the frying pans of the former, that you may find yourselves in the fire(s) of the modern-day religious substrates!
The number one device of Satan, I believe, is deception. Good people, including, prelates, prophets, pastors and teachers can be deceived. And they can in turn be used to deceive the people, and instead of assisting them in their new found liberty in Christ, they enslave them all over again.
Are you the minister of the church that is being deceived, or are you misleading the flock and placing undue burdens on God's flock that God never intended? What happened to my yoke is easy and my burden is light? Are your parishioners being taught to follow you and to aceded to manmade organizational mandates, as opposed to being taught to follow God? Jesus said to come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest and you will find rest for your souls. Jesus said, 'take my yoke upon you and learn of me'. We were not supposed to take up the yoke of the misguided!
If Jesus will not place more upon his flock than it can bear, why are we ministers, at times, guilty of placing undue burdens upon the flocks that "we" are expected to shepherd and serve? Can good people and well-intentioned ministers be a part of something that in fact does more damage than good for the body of Christ? The answer is yes. The Apostle Paul warned the Elders at Miletus that among them some would rise up to do just that, elevate themselves while not sparing the flock! Am I bitter?
How do I feel about my former dictatorial, authoritarian and mean-spirited at church Prelate. Personally, he was and in actually a nice man. He was simply doing what he had been taught to do without questioning what he was taught to do by his former models. In fact he had good intentions. He considered me a son, I considered him to be my dad! However, with respect to style, he and I simply did not and still 'do not agree'.
I was not pleased with what he even willingly gave in to, believing that authority triumphed love. At times his at church behaviors reminded me of a Party Boss, when he at times behaved in a fashion similar to the 'Communist Party' or 'mafia' bosses on more than one occasion. Well, at least that is what it felt like to me. Love is the most important thing! A simple rule for all ministers who want to avoid becoming a Lord over God's people can be taken from scripture, 'what ye would that men do unto you, do also unto them', there is no exception to that rule for church leaders!
Remember what God told Eve after the fall, "he is going to rule over you'. Too many of our leaders, even husbands in Christian homes are to consumed with the idea of ruling, as opposed to the principle of loving. Nope, I have to show them that I am the boss and in control. Factually, Adam and Eve shared a different relationship prior to the fall. There's was a relationship of love, Adam was apparently the head - however, he was a loving as opposed to a 'ruling' head! Many men emulate their leaders at church when they go home to their families. And factully, the Bishops and Prelates expect to - be in charge!
All of us must return to the things of God, and place the things of God first, and only after we removed all of the leaven from our church organizations, particularly those things that we have permitted to have a place of pre-eminence within our churches and church structures can there be 'good growth'. The failure of any of us to do so could result in our being guilty of 'shutting up heaven', 'capturing men and women', bringing them into a new found bondage and preventing those who would have - from entering in heaven's gates because of their reaction to the grief that we caused them!
Ironically, I preached at a church a few weeks ago where the pastor was catered to, protected and escorted around as if he were 'the Godfather' himself, just before he headed off to one of his luxury vehicles. He also spends most of his time in the pulpit ranting, raving and degrading his faithful membership God help us - when will the leaders and the leadership remember that they are the ones who are there to serve just as Jesus served the people?
I observed one of his proteges stuttering each time the Shepherd came near him. Ministers, we ought to care about what God cares about, and God cares about he people, not our personal ascendancy or show of power or might! That does it for my writing on substrates. However, I still feel that perhaps all of us need to abandon our religious buildings, mosques, denominations and religious forms - then head back out atop the mountains, and being to worship God all over again - and HIM ONLY SHOULD WE WORSHIP!
Peace & Grace,
Rev. C. Solomon
A good book to read regarding the nation of Islam:
"The Nation", by theologian, Dr. C. Eric Lincoln
01/27/08 Addenda: I stumbled across this writing which I completed, errors and all, a year or so ago. Since it has been attached to A.O.H. organization information on the web, I feel that it is only fair that I add this caveat - the A.O.H. Organization is not the only organization that is guilty of this behavior, or a controlling religious substrate. I
cannot take back what I wrote, but hopefully, it will do
some good - This message resonated with the Bishops
and ministers at Hunt Valley - witnessed
by their conciliatory comments,
and that raucous applause
that followed my
And members and ministers keep in mind that I as explained to the national conference of ministers who attended the Hunt Valley conference; a church
can be easily influenced for and by the economic system of
its host country!
Be careful that you do not bring carnal capitalist ideas
into your church - for God has a superior
financial plan in mind for his church
And let us pray for the mega's, who have the potential of destroying a
whole lot of people - on a macro level, and they can do so all