Why Are Creflo Dollar’s Followers So Quick To Assume His Daughter Is Lying?

What Women Really Think
June 18 2012 1:26 PM

Creflo Dollar and Believing Our Girls

104462960
Why believe a pastor and not his daughters?

Photo by John Amis-Pool/Getty Images

Over at Crunkfeministcollective, Brittney Cooper, a gender and race-studies professor at the University of Alabama, has a moving commentary on the scandal over pastor Creflo Dollar, whose 15-year-old daughter recently accused him of physically abusing her. What troubles Cooper is not just the incident itself—Dollar denies the abuse, and we don’t yet know exactly what happened—but that so many in Dollar’s church (and in Cooper’s own) utterly refuse to entertain the possibility that Dollar’s daughter might be telling the truth, that this successful and admired preacher might be not as virtuous as he says he is.

Libby Copeland Libby Copeland

Libby Copeland is a writer in New York and a regular Slate contributor. She was previously a Washington Post reporter and editor for 11 years. She can be reached at libbycopeland@gmail.com.

A bit of background, in case you haven’t been following the saga of Dollar, the Atlanta megachurch leader primarily known for his preaching of prosperity gospel, which teaches that God wants his faithful to be rich. According to both Dollar and his daughter, the two got into an argument last week when he told her that she couldn’t go to a party. Precisely why and how the argument escalated is what’s in dispute. In a police report taken after the 15-year-old called 911, the girl stated that after she walked away from Dollar and told him she didn’t want to talk to him anymore, he put his hands around her throat and briefly choked her, then threw her to the ground, punched her, and hit her with a shoe.

Advertisement

The substance of this story—slapping, brief choking, throwing to the ground and hitting—was backed up by testimony from Dollar’s 19-year-old daughter, who said she witnessed it. Dollar, meanwhile, says he merely restrained his daughter, and that when she began to hit him, he wrestled her to the floor and spanked her. Dollar was arrested and charged with simple battery and cruelty to children, then released on $5,000 bond. In a sermon a few days after the arrest, he told his congregation that he didn’t choke or punch his daughter, that he should never have been arrested, that the real culprit was “the devil,” who was trying to discredit him, and that “all is well in the Dollar household.” He likened his trials to those of the Apostle Paul.

The event has caused a good deal of debate over physical discipline, which may be more alive and well than some of us had realized. (I had no idea that corporal punishment is still legal in Georgia schools.) At the Washington Post website, for instance, Barbara Reynolds suggests that not only was Dollar justified in whatever he did, but that if he managed to teach his daughter a lesson, jail was a price worth paying. “If I could load up a bunch of bad kids across the nation and bus them to Pastor Creflo Dollar’s mega-church in Atlanta for a good old-fashioned smackdown, I would certainly do it,” Reynolds writes, before going on a bizarre rant about “knuckleheads” who wear their pants too low, “showing their underwear.”

At Crunkfeministcollective, Cooper suggests that if the account of Dollar’s daughters is true, the incident constitutes domestic violence. And she’s troubled by the fact that few of Creflo’s followers seem to even consider the possibility that his daughters might be telling the truth. Instead, the pastor is still getting standing ovations. The immediate assumption that both girls are “bald-faced liars” is deeply troubling, she writes, and it surely makes other women who’ve been victims of violence hesitant to step forward and tell the truth.

What would it look like for our faith communities to be places where Black girls could testify about the violence they experience from the men in our communities and be believed?

Of course, this isn’t a problem unique to the black church. Reading about Dollar, I couldn’t help but think of the hubris of the leadership of the Catholic church, which for so long refused to acknowledge the wrongs of its sexually abusive priests. Just as Dollar should not be convicted without a trial, neither should his daughters’ statements be dismissed as impossible without investigation. We have had enough lessons in the fallibility of our spiritual leaders to know that it’s possible for the high and mighty to do wrong.





TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.