Alex Blaze

Jesus smiles on sexual harassment

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 06, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Marriage Equality, Media, Politics
Tags: brian dugger, LGBT, paul crouch, sex, sexual harassment

As should be plainly obvious to anyone paying attention (except for anyone invested in the idea that the Religious Right is a group of home-grown Americans motivated by nothing other than the Moral Values in the Bible), the reason rightwing groups are always seeking religious exemptions to anti-discrimination and marriage legislation is because they fully intend to keep discriminating against LGBT people in ways that have nothing to do with their theology. And they know how to make life hell for LGBT people, according to this suit against Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian TV network:

Soon after his transfer to Tustin in 2001, Dugger was told not to dress so gay or to wear jewelry, to act more straight and to pay attention to girls, it said. "Brian has a man-gina!" Paul Crouch Jr. allegedly taunted Dugger (in front of a live video camera and a crowd of TBN workers). The junior Crouch (that's him at right) also sent Dugger explicit pictures of genitalia - male, female and transsexual - as well as explicit images of copulating couples and other pornography, the suit said.

Dugger claimed that he was denied promotions, raises and responsibility because of his sexual orientation, and ultimately forced into a "sham independent contractor relationship" with TBN, so the network could keep its distance from him. That deprived him of the benefits afforded to employees under California and federal laws, the suit said.

In 2007, Dugger's contract was not renewed. When Dugger appealed to the junior Crouch, Crouch told him that TBN was not a place for fairies, the suit said.

Dugger sued TBN under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act for $1.9 million and settled for an undisclosed amount last week. But if this happened outside of California, in a state that didn't have employment protections, would he have been able to sue?

Parts of his suit, like the sexual harassment, might have been do-able outside of California, but others, like the job discrimination, wouldn't have been.

Even if ENDA were passed into law, the religious exemption might allow this case to fall through. Here's what Jillian Weiss had to say in an email:

My understanding is that ENDA would not apply to any religious corporation, association, educational institution or society. Institutions of learning are also exempt if owned or managed by a religious group, or if directed towards propagation of a particular religion.

I don't know much about Trinity Broadcasting, so it's hard for me to say. The article you sent me to says that TBN is a "religious broadcaster." I'm not sure whether that would qualify them as a religious corporation, association, educational institution or society. However, I think it is safe to say that ENDA is going to be much more protective of religious freedom than the California Code. As far as recourse in a state without LGBT antidiscrimination legislation, the answer is no, unless the discrimination also fit under some other protected category.

TBN appears to organize itself as a church; they're getting a big property tax break in Tennessee because they were recognized as a church.

We always hear about how these exemptions are needed to protect religious freedom, and I don't think anyone has a problem with church's being able to choose their own clergy based on whatever discriminatory criteria they want. But shouting "man-gina," telling employees to be more heterosexually slutty, and denying promotions to someone a religious organization already hired is probably more what rightwingers actually have in mind when they seek these exemptions.

That's not to say that Dugger would have gotten any justice in California, either. He settled, and I doubt it was because TBN actually felt guilty for what they did (they litigated for 11 years to get a religious tax break for property that includes a "Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh Gift Shop," for crying out loud). It was probably because TBN's owner was getting a little somethin' on the side from Dugger:

Dugger began working as a broadcast engineer for Trinity in Nashville in 1993, and grew "exceedingly close" to Paul Crouch Jr.'s daddy, Paul Crouch, the suit said. When TBN headquarters moved to Southern California, the senior Crouch insisted that Dugger come, too; but once here, the senior Crouch became less involved with the station, while wife Jan and son Paul Crouch Jr. took the reins.

"Exceedingly close"? Just how close is that? I'd imagine Dugger was planning on elaborating on that in trial. Because it seems like Daddy Crouch has a history of such affairs:

Ford, a mortgage salesman who lives in Lake Forest, was hired in 1992 to work in TBN's telephone bank in Orange County. Crouch took an interest in him and within four years, Ford said, he was doing special assignments for the pastor.

One such job, he said, was to drive Crouch to Hollywood and take publicity photos for TBN at a Christian nightclub. Ford said he and others in the ministry were surprised at the assignment because he wasn't a photographer.

"They had to show me -- and I'm not kidding -- how to work a camera," Ford said, adding that Crouch told him not to worry about it.

After visiting the nightclub, Ford said Crouch took him to dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Shortly after that, in October 1996, Ford said he and Crouch spent two nights at the same hotel in separate rooms. During that time, Ford said they worked out together at the hotel gym and ate expensive meals with bottles of wine and after-dinner drinks. "I knew what he was doing," Ford said. "He was seducing me."

After checking out of the hotel, Ford said, Crouch took him to a TBN-owned cabin near Lake Arrowhead. It was there, Ford said, that Crouch first had sex with him. "I did it because I didn't know if this man is going to throw me straight out of that cabin," Ford said. "And I didn't want to lose my job. I was going to be in trouble if I said no."

The next morning, Ford said, Crouch read a Bible passage to him in an attempt to reassure him about the night before. The passage, Proverbs 6:16-19, details seven "detestable" attitudes and acts in God's eyes.

Ford said Crouch told him that because homosexuality wasn't listed, the Lord wasn't worried about what they had done. Still, Ford said, Crouch warned him to keep the encounter quiet "because people wouldn't understand."

Ford said Crouch told him the ministry would pay his debts -- about $17,000 -- and offered a rent-free apartment at TBN's Tustin studios.

Seems like sexual harassment runs in the family.


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Trinity Broadcasting Network is the most influential right-wing Christian broadcasting network in the US. If I'm not mistaken, its founder is the notorious Pat Robertson, who has had more influence on old-style conservative evangelicalism than probably anyone else in the country.

TBN's website is at http://www.tbn.org

cafurrball | April 6, 2010 10:45 PM

Actually, Paul & Jan Crouch left the hallowed halls of CBN - and I believe later affiilated with Jim & Tammy Bakker of PTL - to start TBN in the mid-70's. It's been their "baby," from the get-go.

It does not surprise me that Paul Sr has gay leanings, especially so after the scandals at their "sister" ministries in Charlotte, NC [PTL, of course, now long-since defunct]. With Jim Bakker having done what he did, and the cover-ups in the Assemblies of God churches and their affiliated ministries, it looks like the whole "head" of Christian ministry has skeletons in their collective closets. I witnessed some really “weird” and “covert” things going on in that particular denomination in that era, so I know it first-hand that there were some “cover-ups” going on, and – lemme tell ya – their back yard smells FAR from the proverbial rose-garden!!!

Sad that they just seem incapable [if not unwilling] to own up to their own weaknesses - whether or not they perceive it seems irrelevant here - and/or if their "struggle" is very real, as this story appears to be very "dead-on." Sorry, Paul [Crouch] Senior, however, it appears you have clay feet, just like the rest. You've just managed to keep the REAL truth covered up longer than the rest of your fellow national ministry leaders, that's all......

Alex, your account of the situation at TBN has a lot of truth in it; clearly there is much same-sex activity going on among those who claim to disdain it. Thank you, and all others, who keep it from being totally hidden.
On the other hand, the headline (which perhaps you did not write) of your story is misleading at the least, and I think, just plain wrong. Jesus does not smile on any sort of harassment, including sexual, despite what some who claim to speak in his name say (or how they act).

Alex, you may have intended for all of us to recognize the sarcasm, but it isn't as abundantly clear as you think.

As Robin said, Jesus would not have tolerated sexual harassment, and that heading would seem to most who view it as a taunting type of notation, rather than sarcastic.

I hope nobody thinks you're sinking to the same level of those who are on the attack regularly.

1. It's ridiculous to think that Jesus was pro-sexual harassment. So ridiculous it's safe to assume most people would see it immediately as untrue.

2. My entire post is against sexual harassment. So even if it wasn't clear from reading the headline, it should have been clear from reading the post.

3. Even if I argued that sexual harassment was good, I wouldn't use Jesus as a moral authority on the topic for previously stated reasons.

4. If you don't get it, ask. Like Robin did. And I answered.

But I'm not going to stop using irony and sarcasm and absurdism and other rhetorical tools that make this blog thing a little more exciting.

OK, my turn for a question: What's a "taunting type of notation"?

Jesus loves me, but he can't stand you.