In 2004, we were highly critical of the actions of the Church of God in Christ’s now Presiding Bishop Charles Blake. Blake hosted the openly gay religious activist Rev. Peter Gomes, allowing him to “preach” twice at West Angeles Church. The ensuing uproar over that event still lingers to this day. While Bishop Blake deserves all the respect due to his ascendancy to COGIC’s highest office, the man seemed to have serious discernment issues when it came to homosexuality.
We also felt it was highly inappropriate for Bishop Blake to sanction the doctrine of Robert Schuller, the new age positivity guru. As before, it seems Bishop Blake’s ecumenicalism has led him into pastures that are have been de-greened by false doctrine.
But we are enthused to see Bishop Blake take a step in the right direction by openly addressing sexual misconduct and sexual abuse by clergy in the COGIC. For this, we commend him. This open address is well overdue and in our opinion truly separates talkers from doers. Sexual abuse and malfeasance is cresting in the church and for too long it has simply been winked at or “handled” behind closed doors.
In December 2003, we strongly advised, denominations to invest in a radical approach on sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by its clergy. No longer can the church afford to allow men (in most cases) to continue clergy business as usual while legitimate accusations have been levied against them.
Bishop Blake seemed to take a major step in making that a reality in COGIC in his Address to the General Assembly.[pdf] In it, he outlined 10 of the top priorities for the nation’s largest pentecostal denomination. Concerning sexual abuse, he said:
We now live in a litigious society. People file lawsuits for every conceivable grievance, whether real or imagined. To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ, we must take positive steps to seriously investigate very case of alleged sexual abuse by the clergy. We must stand behind and support those who are falsely accused of sexual improprieties and found innocent by the courts. We must also insure that the Church act quickly to take firm and positive action against those who violate the sanctity of their positions and are found guilty of sexual abuse and other sexual improprieties.”
Perhaps this is in anticipation of a major sexual abuse lawsuit against COGIC. However, the real proof of Bishop Blake’s preliminary steps will be when this is written into public policy and enforcement procedures implemented to ensure there are no loopholes for career church sexual criminals.