"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Berean Baptist: Another Example of Arrogant Church Pastors and Their Sycophants Who Think They Are Above the Law

Below is a video news report from First Coast News in Jacksonville that shows portions of the video tape released by the Clay County Sheriff's Office, showing evidence of Berean Baptist Church Pastor Greg Neal's involvement in a secret video tape made in his office while female church members undressed.

In the video you will see Greg Neal's father and co-pastor declare his son's innocence, and then make this statement:

"I am more convinced than ever that my son is innocent...and I want to assure you that we are investigating, we will get to the bottom of this, and I'll have much to say about this in the coming days."

Really? "We" are investigating? His church is investigating? Why are they just NOW investigating a video tape that has been around for 9 years or so? This same man denied the very existence of the video tape for years.

This pastor thinks the people of Jacksonville are fools. You see, if you read the Clay County Sheriff's Office investigation report, this statement is made about the detective's criminal investigation into the illegal video tape and this pastor's refusal to help:

"After several attempts to contact the suspect, Gregory Michael Neal, and his father Herman Thomas Neal, they refused to cooperate with this investigation or provide a statement."

So if someone besides Greg Neal made this video tape as his dad says, then that means that there might have been a pervert on the loose at Berean Baptist Church. Why would the pastors NOT cooperate with authorities in their investigation? Sure, the statute of limitations ran out on THIS video tape, but perhaps there are more. Maybe women at Berean are still at risk with a pervert voyeur watching them and video taping them.

You see, this is what modern, institutionalized Christianity has become under the leadership of powerful, professional clergy who act to protect their jobs and power: pastors and their following lay leaders who think they are above the law as they go about doing God's will. The Neals refused to cooperate in the police investigation of crimes against women in their church, but when the news cameras show up, they tell Jacksonville not to worry, they are on the case and will get to the bottom of it. Yes, the discipline committee of Berean Baptist church, versus the Clay County Sheriff's Office. You've got to be kidding me.

Another recent example: Langworthy out at Prestonwood is molesting kids, and the church leadership does not report it to the police. They do their own investigation, and then decide to simply send Langworthy packing to another church with no warning to the parents and kids of Langworthy's new church.

Another quote from the Berean Baptist police report that should send chills down the spine of church members:

"While speaking with both William [the member who reported the tape to police] and [victim's name], they informed me of some of the concerns they had for their safety. Both said the church leaders have been known to cast out and in some cases threaten harm to those who oppose them. Both William and [victim's name] said they fear retaliation for their statements and accusations."

That is in the police report. Yes, in fundamentalist churches with powerful pastors and dedicated lay leaders who protect their pastor at all costs, this is a real concern: pastors taking revenge on people who dare to speak up in opposition to the pastor. And William Cochran's fears were well-founded, as he says after he informed members of the video tape he was escorted off the church property.

I go back to my own experience with FBC Jax and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in 2008 as another example of this institutional arrogance. During depositions last summer in the federal lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville and the Sheriff's Office, it was clear from church administrator John Blount's and Detective Hinson's testimony that Hinson opened his investigation into the FBC Jax Watchdog blog at the sole request of John Blount during a chance encounter on church property (the day after Chest of Joash). The detective then issued subpoenas to Google and Comcast to find my name, and he closed his investigation at the request of John Blount - after Blount got what he wanted: my name.

Even though Hinson interviewed no one in his "investigation", and even though he admitted under oath he still had "concerns" about the blogger, he still closed his investigation - because the head administrator at his church wanted it closed. And of course none of this was in his police report - it all had to come out in depositions of a federal lawsuit.

And at the time, Detective Hinson was a member of the church's discipline committee who sought my identity - a clear conflict of interest. Hinson never disclosed this conflict of interest...it only came out when we asked John Blount the right question at his deposition - and thankfully John Blount admitted that yes, Robert Hinson was on the church's discipline committee at the time of his investigation into my blog. Someone had the bright idea at FBC Jax that putting a detective with subpoena power on their newly formed discipline committee would be a great idea. What stupidity and arrogance.

After stories like that, and this one of Berean Baptist not wanting to help the police, and Prestonwood Baptist Church not reporting a crime to the police...it is clear that churches with powerful pastors think they are above the law.

This sort of behavior should not surprise us, since these people view their pastor as "God's man" a "prophet of God", doing the most important work of saving souls, and thus anyone that opposes him, or blogs about him, or speaks ill of him, or decides to investigate him, must be of the devil.



38 comments:

Tom Parker said...

I do not even think places like Berean Baptist are actually churches. The folks leading them are clueless as to what a church is to be.

So many people are hurt in multiple places by attending these "places"

Thy Peace said...

These are the fruits of Christians misinterpreting The Scriptures and following wrong doctrines. I hope Christians wake up from this wrong thinking and following wrong interpretations of The Word.

Moses Model said...

We need to respect the people of Jacksonville. These pastors do not believe they are fools, just their small congregation.

Anonymous said...

You would never have had to go through all your problems at FBC Jax if you had just gone in and visited with the pastor about your concerns or published your name when you started your blog.

Methinks your lawsuit was in the plans from the beginning but obviously it still possesses you since its in all your blogs.

oldcalvinist said...

Yes, as anonymous 11:31 says WD, you would be problem-free had you "just gone in and visited with the pastor" and took the little pill and washed it down with the kool-aid......

Tom Parker said...

Anons:

Said:"You would never have had to go through all your problems at FBC Jax if you had just gone in and visited with the pastor about your concerns or published your name when you started your blog.

Methinks your lawsuit was in the plans from the beginning but obviously it still possesses you since its in all your blogs."

One word describes the above post--DELUSIONAL.

Tom Parker said...

The pastor in the video looks and sounds like he is lying.

He says that he will have more to say in the future--I bet he will not.

Pastors like this cause much harm to the cause of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Whew! What a relief. Brother suit-and-tie from Berean assures us he is investigating. I am sure it will be a thorough investigation. Actually, it looks to me like the only thing those good o'l boys could find is a good BBQ place.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what the result of OJ's investigation was?

Anonymous said...

May be Berean could get Tom Messer at Trinity to help out. He knows a thing or two about covering up sex crimes.

Anonymous said...

Since the church denied that the tape existed for a decade (and kicked out the man who reported that there was a tape to them), how effective would you suppose their "investigation" will be?

Moses Model said...

Sure, this blog was a plot to get a six digit megachurch pastor to publicly slander WD. I really hate conspiracies.

Anonymous said...

Why do you suppose that the pastor didn't mention any reasons for believing in his son's innocence during this interview?

Why are they just starting an investigation now considering that the tape was reported to them years ago?

Why was the church member kicked out when all he did was report the truth?

Will he be reinstated and asked to join the investigation?

When will you be specifically (date and time) telling us "much more" about this issue?

If I had been the reporter, those would have been my follow-up questions.

Bojac said...

Is it any wonder that spirituality has been neglected as we have sought profit and fame. The church today operates like a corporation and the pastor in some instances is more like god-father instead of servant of God.

New BBC Open Forum said...

You would never have had to go through all your problems at FBC Jax if you had just gone in and visited with the pastor about your concerns or published your name when you started your blog.

Are you still hanging around here, Randy McDonald? You really should come up with some new material.

Anonymous said...

You are consistent...Tied it right back to FBC.

You have absolutely no shame.

Anonymous said...

In the video you will see Greg Neal's father and co-pastor declare his son's innocence, and then make this statement:

"I am more convinced than ever that my son is innocent...and I want to assure you that we are investigating, we will get to the bottom of this, and I'll have much to say about this in the coming days."


But if you watch the video , you will find Neal's father say he did NOT watch the tape, someone else did, and reported what that someone else said to Him.

Right on guy's , hope you didn't write the Bible (but who knows , one of their distant relatives may have;)

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Too shallow, anon. This is not about tying it back to FBC Jax. If you can't see the common thread of church leaders not dealing properly with police in the three instances I referenced in this post, then you're blind.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Off Topic....

Watchdog makes William Thornton's "Not Too Shabby Baptist Blog" list....kudos to William. I am certain that quite a number of SBC pastors read my blog, but I don't know of any other than William with the guts to say so publicly.

Says William about the WD:

"Tom Rich’s story about FBCJax, his banishment, lawsuit, and settlement was a prime example of how a church member, when denied any effective voice through proper church channels, can easily go public. Tom’s case just happened to be one of the more exaggerated examples of church conflict and a pastor and church’s inept response to it. Since then, Rich blogs about his version of abusive, manipulative, and misbehaving men-of-the-cloth. Sure, some may think it is just a pastor-hate site, but I encourage my colleagues to read it. They might learn something. I don’t buy all of his stuff but I read it all.

Thy Peace said...

Amen to William Thornton.

Anonymous said...

Dad Neal did say somewhere that his son couldn't have made the tape because his daughter was ill.
(She died that year in August)

The tape was made in April.

Bene D

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

The reporter points out that the video camera MOVES while the pastor's son is in his chair at the end of the tape!! So this points to another person involved in the taping! Thus, for the safety of the women at Berean, the pastor should have cooperated with the police so that if a second person was involved, the perv could at least be found out if not prosecuted.

Thy Peace said...

It could be a ptz camera. May or may not involve another person to operate it.

Proven said...

BBC Open Forum, what a great piece of detective work. Can't really be anyone else!

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!

Yes, and don't forget that people who can think for themselves on complex tasks such as tying one's shoes or whether or not to play in rush hour traffic, is also the devil.

I had what a call a "practitioner of religiosity" tell me it is against the Word of God to have and act upon one's own common sense in everyday situations instead of consulting God.

I kid you not.

Anyone have any ideas on why people make such ridiculous statements? Is it to begin the indoctrination into brainwashing?

Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem with these church investigations is that a lot of the police departments pick up contract work with the churches.

I suppose this might mean extra hours or overtime. At the very least a full day's worth of pay for pretty light duty.

Yes, I do believe the world is that corrupt.

Thy Peace said...

This is pure speculation on my part. BUT informed speculation.

PTZ Cameras 10 years ago were some what expensive. My guess is they were part of the church security /surveillance system. For some reason this one camera was installed at desk level. The software to control the PTZ Camera would have been installed on one or more computers that would have been networked. Retrieval of video footage from a church security /surveillance system would have been fairly easy.

If any one is doing any investigating, I would point them in that direction.

Oh, I clearly think this pastor had this installed as a part of church surveillance. BUT went awry.

LOT of people were involved in this mess.

Richard said...

@Watchdog & Thy Peace:
Before we speculate too much on why exactly the camera moved, I'd be interested in making sure that the apparent movement wasn't an artifact of the 'duplication' process. That is, we know that the first guy that got the tape (Brett Bartlett, IIRC) made a copy before he went to the pastor. If he made that copy using two VCRs, then there'd be no new movement introduced (just worse quality) - but if he instead made a copy by taping the screen of his TV while the tape was playing (a horrible horrible low-tech method that offends my engineer's sensibilities) then it's quite possible that he adjusted the camera during that process to make sure that Greg was in-frame when he was in his chair on the right. Maybe someone could ask him...

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic: Some interesting theological discussion that has quieted down now at Wade's blog.

Anonymous said...

Richard,

That is not a shifting of the picture but a rotation. If it was done after the original taping remember you can not add more to what is not there. It could of been him filming the TV monitor to make a copy. Also how did he know the book was in the way. HE v lined to it. I wonder if there is a mirror on the wall of if there is a wall in that spot. One of the things you see is when he moves the book the camera does not shift. It is on a self or tripod somewhere more than likely. I would go with see thru mirror or something like that.

Anonymous said...

Also look at screen size. It is a vcr tape and also there is no screen glare which you would of got with rotating the camera filming a monitor. The TV station probably filmed the monitor. If the other guy did also then thick of the reduction of quality that would be. Also there would have been some kind of reflection from the camera. How many non commercial video cameras do not have some kind of red light or something on it when it is recording? With the quality of video that has been put on the net it might be hard to tell but there are to many things missing that would suggest a video copy of the original from a cam.

Anonymous said...

Also look at screen size. It is a vcr tape and also there is no screen glare which you would of got with rotating the camera filming a monitor. The TV station probably filmed the monitor. If the other guy did also then thick of the reduction of quality that would be. Also there would have been some kind of reflection from the camera. How many non commercial video cameras do not have some kind of red light or something on it when it is recording? With the quality of video that has been put on the net it might be hard to tell but there are to many things missing that would suggest a video copy of the original from a cam.

Anonymous said...

This is the USA!!! Innocent until PROVEN guilty!!!

I know this Brother and He would never do something like this!

You are guilty of Slander!!!

He is employed by a Church, he is no pervert!

Shame on you Sir.

oldcalvinist said...

"He is employed by a Church, he is no pervert!"

......as if those are mutually exclusive states!

Anonymous said...

"He would never do anything like this"

He is not Jesus Christ. Even though David made a major mistake he was still considered a man after God's own heart. Solomon the wises man who ever was still made a major mistake. Godly men can have a moment of bad judgment and they are not beyond it. Becareful elevating a man to a standard he can not live up to.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Y'all are feeding the resident troll. Just sayin'.

Provender said...

Happy Birthday, Watchdog!
Your blog has been fascinating for many reasons. Mostly, it demonstrates the lengths authoritarian leaders will go to keep themselves firmly in control. The comments on this blog defending the church leadership's horrendous behavior provided a perfect blueprint of the peculiar language of spiritual abuse. Black and white thinking, elitism, authoritarianism,turning the tables, intimidation, attacking victims' character, apotheosis of the pastor, you name it, the FBCJAX defenders displayed just about every signature of spiritually abusive language there is. What a learning experience! Hope you keep going for a long time, because the blog is a treasure trove!

Jennifer Frank said...

I didn't know that there was kind of issue before. Anyway, I don't think they used a ptz security cameras like one commenter mentioned above. I think there's someone holding the camera, or a hole in the wall or something. PTZ cameras don't work that way as I remember.