Clergy spanking update in Fort Worth

E16nh 01 01As a rule, the GetReligionistas do not post news updates simply for the sake of letting readers know that something has happened. This is not a religion-news site, it’s a site about how mainstream newsrooms cover religion news.

However, the scandal involving Pastor Sherman Allen of Fort Worth has been a bit different, since Julie “Bible Girl” Lyons has had the story almost totally to herself — in the alternative Dallas newspaper. So, in this case, we have been interested in the lack of coverage of what would certainly appear to be a major story, a story in which key voices have been willing to speak on the record to those willing to listen to them.

Now, Lyons has posted an important piece of news:

The Church of God in Christ has suspended Fort Worth Pastor Sherman Allen “from all national and local pastoral roles and activities” within the denomination. The Church of God in Christ is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, as well as the fourth-largest Christian church organization in the country, with some 6 million members.

Unfair Park requested a statement from COGIC after hearing that Allen — pastor of Shiloh Institutional Church of God in Christ, a prominent Pentecostal speaker and a frequent subject of Bible Girl columns — had been suspended by COGIC’s interim presiding bishop, Charles E. Blake of Los Angeles. This afternoon, Alayna Adams, spokeswoman for the Memphis-based COGIC, issued this statement under the seal of the Office of the Presiding Bishop:

“The Church of God in Christ does not condone any inappropriate behavior from any of its representatives, and does not comment on pending litigation against the Church or its representatives until a case has been brought to trial and an official ruling has been made. Until then, Pastor Sherman Allen has been suspended from all national and local pastoral roles and activities within the Church of God in Christ. This is Church policy and we will honor this policy for the case against Allen.”

The details of this case are lurid beyond belief, so you can follow the links to find previous Dallas Observer and GetReligion pieces on the scandal.

Will the other major players in Texas media cover the story after this public announcement? It should be noted that the Fort Worth Star-Telegram did have a news feature by reporter Melody McDonald covering the accusations against Allen.

This looks like a regional- or even national-level story to me, involving a superstar among Pentecostal preachers. Let’s see what happens now.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.