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June 10th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar on his daughter: 'She was not punched'

By Steve Almasy, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - Telling thousands of parishioners that he should never have been arrested, Pastor Creflo Dollar said at his Sunday morning service he neither choked nor punched his 15-year-old daughter, as she claimed in a report to police.

Dollar, senior pastor of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta, told congregants in the sprawling megachurch and listening at one of more than a dozen satellite churches that when the facts of the case come out, they will be "appalled."

"The truth is, she was not choked. She was not punched," Dollar said.

On Friday, deputies responding to a 911 call photographed a scratch on the daughter's neck and arrested Dollar on charges of simple battery, family violence and child cruelty. Dollar said the mark on his daughter's neck is more than 10 years old, the result of eczema, a skin condition.

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"I want the church family to know that all is well in the Dollar household," he said, in his first public comments since spending more than 12 hours in jail. He immediately addressed the issue upon taking the pulpit Sunday, speaking for nearly eight minutes about the challenge of raising children and denying he had hurt to his daughter.

After Dollar told the crowd about the skin abrasion, one man yelled, "Case dismissed!"

Dollar's daughter said she argued with her father over attending a party, investigator Brent Rowan of the Fayette County Sheriff's Office told CNN on Friday.

Rowan said the daughter told the deputies that her father charged her, put his hands around her throat and began to choke her, according to a police report. She said he then slammed her to the ground, punched her and beat her with his shoe.

Deputies also spoke with another daughter, 19, who corroborated her sister's account of what happened.

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Dollar blamed the devil for causing the controversy, saying that to discredit his message of "prosperity gospel," the enemy must discredit the messenger.

Prosperity ministers preach that God rewards the faithful with wealth and spiritual gifts. Pastors such as T.D. Jakes, Dollar and Joel Osteen have become the Prosperity Gospel's most well known preachers, building megachurches and business empires with a message equating piety with prosperity.

Dollar's church claims about 30,000 members and has an $18 million, 8,500-seat sanctuary about 15 miles from downtown Atlanta.

Friday's incident was emotionally charged and escalated from an argument, Dollar said Sunday. But he never intended bodily harm to anyone, he assured the audience.

"I love her with all my heart," he said, shaking his head with conviction.

Creflo Dollar's Prosperity Gospel finds followers and critics

He cited a Bible verse from Psalms that talks about malicious witness against the good man, and evil men delighting when he stumbled.

He later, during his sermon, also joked about the arrest, saying that being a religious man sent to jail "upped my resume."

"Paul ... Jesus ... and Creflo," he said to a huge cheer.

The pastor, known for his pinstriped suits, laughed at being clothed in a yellow jumpsuit and sandals while being handcuffed and being held in a cell.

For most of the service, Dollar spoke of the people being "the righteousness of God by faith," the third in a series of sermons he prepared weeks ago, he said.

"No weapon that forms against you shall prosper," he reminded the audience, citing scripture.

At the end of the more than hourlong appearance, he said that he was persevering thanks to God's love.

"And we couldn't do it without the love of you brothers and sisters."

After the service, congregants declined to comment on Dollar's appearance.

Since he started his ministry in an elementary school cafeteria in 1986, Dollar has earned praise and criticism.

Supporters say he has preached a message that's financially empowered his parishioners and challenged the idea that Christians should be ashamed to be rich.

Critics call him "Cash-Flow Dollar," and say his message perverts the Gospel.

CNN's John Murgatroyd and John Blake contributed to this report.

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Church

soundoff (2,056 Responses)
  1. Flo

    Why isn't she in the hospital if he punched her??????????????????????

    June 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      Not everyone who gets punched ends up in the hospital.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Devin

      You clearly have never been in a fight. You don't need to go to the hosiptal due to one fight?! dummy

      June 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      Come on, Flo, you can tell us.....did you get your nursing degree online?

      June 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  2. Evangelical

    I am at odds with this pastor's feel-good teaching, but that doesn't not change the injustice being perpetrated against him. If I were him, I would put those two ungrateful harlots out on the street and cut them out of any inheritence.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • sleepytime

      How very Christian of you.

      June 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • sam stone

      How do you know it is an injustice, Evangelical? Because he worships the same god as you?

      June 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      Better to give up the daughters to the angry mobs than offend the emissary of god…right?

      June 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Flo

      If this child were PUNCHED by this man, thrown to the ground and CHOKED, where is the emergency room report ofher injuries. I am a nurse. She would be in the hospital if a man this size punched her. She is lying.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      Flo: It all depends on how hard he punched her.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      Were you there, Flo? If not, you do not KNOW what happened.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • C'mon

      Flo,

      I'm sure that you are busy at your hospital, but do you think that everyone who gets punched comes in there?

      (maybe you should stay on bedpan duty)

      June 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Hawk

      @Flo – then, as a nurse, perhaps you might be familiar with a little thing called HIPPA? You know, the Health Information Patient Protection Act? In case you are unfamiliar, it says something along the lines that the public doesn't have any right to see a patient's private medical information without their consent. If there is an ER report, we just may not be allowed to view it. It also would be evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation. Just throwing that out there. But, then, as a nurse, you *should* be aware of those things.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Haa

      Actually, if you want to take the biblical approach here, you should take them before the town elders and stone them to death... or beat them with a rod, depending on which passage you decide to accept.

      June 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  3. Zigma

    The man was just working very hard to prevent his daughters from being exploited. Being the daughters of a rich Dr. Creflo Dollar makes them very attractive to a lot of punks, who do not mean them any good.
    It appears that this daughter is the very rebellious black sheep or “Latoya Jackson” of the family. If she can stay out of trouble and live long enough she will eventually come to her senses.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  4. garwin1

    He was enthusiastically casting out demons.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • asdf

      I can see him testifying now...

      "You see, demons need oxygen just like humans need oxygen..."

      June 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  5. Choconet

    How did this article go from so called "child abuse" to prosperity preaching and collecting money from chruch members? Man you people can be so easily distracted from real issues! Then you wonder why incompetent politicians get voted in as they do and people get scammed out of their hard earned money. YOU PEOPLE CAN'T FOCUS FOR FIVE SECONDS ON REAL ISSUES!!!

    June 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • polemicist

      why is this even in the news? Because he's a charlatan and abusing his daughter is more proof of that. We are simply discussing the root of this scheme.

      June 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Steve O

      Probably because it is his job and his celebrity status that makes this national news. If some dude in a trailer park hit his daughter, I doubt it would be on the front page of CNN.

      June 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  6. polemicist

    Prosperity preachers always tell people to give away their money in order to get more, yet they are the ones willing to take your money without giving anything.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  7. Andy Hangley

    "Paul ... Jesus ... and Creflo? Did any of these three get jailed for beating a person? It's like comparing apples to oranges. The problem with Mega-churches is the Mega-bucks, which is the root of all evil.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  8. asdf

    "And Lo, I say unto thee: Dolla, Dolla, Dolla, Dolla bills, Y'all"

    June 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  9. Emery

    Wow it`s 2012 and people still have the need to go to church and give there money to these crazy`s in hopes for a crown in the after life. I wounder if on one sunday in all the churches if everyone just gave to people in need. Now that would be something to see. Or send food to the starving. It`s all so sad isn`t it.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  10. DONNA

    Seems to me both daughters need to MOVE OUT! If you can't abide your parents' rule... Go get your own place. We've seen it and heard it before; kids calling the cops and in the end it's all a lie because they were mad. Well once you call the cops on me, you're out of my house and on your own. I don't care how old you are. Whether he did or didn't I don't know and really don't care. All I know is what I would have done.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • asdf

      I can't imagine how messed up a family would have to be before a kid ever called the cops and lied about being abused. If that's what happened, then this was just the last step on a long road.

      June 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • John

      Way to blame that victim! Try calling the daughter names next time, that really drives your point home.

      June 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • MK

      That's the answer! If you don't want to deal with them, send them out for society to raise. Good for you, showing your muscle, Donna!

      asdf is right. This incident was the result of years of disrespect, starting with the parents disrespect for their children.

      June 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Tendofreak

      WOW! Just like that huh? Kick your won children out of your home for a disagreement? You dont sound like a very good parent to me. I understand that children need discipline. I've raised two myself and they are both productive and self supporating adults now. We had our spats...some of them big but never once would I have turned my back on my children. If this pastor did choke and kick his child, I hope he goes to jail. These types of men arent out for God's Word...they're out for your dollars.

      June 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      Gosh, what a loving, caring parent, Donna.

      June 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      Tend: And the gullible continue to send them money. Chumps are chumps for a reason

      June 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  11. Mass Debater

    Look at all the people who donated to this wolf in sheeps clothing coming out to defend him. How does it feel to know your money will be spent hiring lawyers for this violent felon? Probably as good as it feels when Catholics see $600,000,000 of their donations go to defending or paying off another kind of abuse perpetrated by Fathers...

    June 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  12. Zigma

    All that I can say to Black male parents that are out there is; do not relent in your effort to discipline your children as long as you don’t cause any physical or deep emotional harm to the child. An arrest in the United States no longer carries any weight, because the judgment of White law enforcement officials is often flawed when it comes to dealing with Black people.

    All over the world, people are finding it outrageous that a very successful and well educated, prominent religious person is arrested for trying to prevent his 15 year old daughter from leaving their home at 1.00 am in the morning to attend a party.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • sleepytime

      Wouldn't it be better is black parents tried to move away from the slave mentality of physically beating someone to keep them in line? This way of thinking along with fanatical devotion to Christian leaders are some of the worst legacies of slavery.

      June 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      sleepytime: and, apparenlty enthusiastically embraced.

      massah, messiah, whatever

      June 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      besides, without the slave mentality, how would some justify the need for salvation from birth?

      June 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  13. asdf

    "Dollar blamed the devil for causing the controversy, saying that to discredit his message of "prosperity gospel," the enemy must discredit the messenger."

    Your Honor, I'd like to plead innocent by reason of possession! Good thing everybody isn't this stupid.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  14. anniet

    people need to take responsibility for their actions instead of saying "the devil is causing it". i'm not saying this man is guilty of beating his daughter and i'm not saying he is innocent. i'm saying he isn't teaching her respect with comments like that. she can do as she pleases as long as she says "the devil made her do it." then she can repent and all will be forgiven. PUHLEEEZE!!!

    June 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  15. bct21

    "I want the church family to know that all is well in the Dollar household"
    really? because at best your kids lied to the cops & at worst you struck your child?
    that doesn't sound like 'silent night' to me.

    June 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  16. holdem

    This guy will cite whatever scriptures that will suit him. I'm sure he was quoting the Bible when he was beating her up too, saying she should honor thy mother and father.

    June 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • mema

      Scriptures aside, shoulnt kids honor their fathers and mothers anyway? Please sh€ had a single scr@tch. Move on...

      June 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  17. Beam

    "He later, during his sermon, also joked about the arrest, saying that being a religious man sent to jail "upped my resume."
    "Paul ... Jesus ... and Creflo," he said to a huge cheer."

    Ummm no...that ONLY applies if you are arrested for preaching the gospel...not for breaking a law...and most certainly not for domestic violence. I truly wish these people including, the pastor would read their bibles IN contexts! If he did nothing to his daughter and I really hope he didn't..(sure seems like if he did everyone she claimed she would be bruised all over!), then that means she and her sister lied and that means things aren't well at home at all. If your kids are making up lies of abuse (which sadly some do) then something is seriously wrong in the home. 😦 Continuing praying for them!

    June 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  18. Burbank

    Liar! Liar! Pants on fire! And another one bites the dust! – So many articles about child abuse and/or molesting on CNN today! Wierd.

    June 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  19. Nii

    As I said previously when there is clear n present danger of ur child endangering his future corporal punishment is acceptable. In my country if u sleep u fall behind. Its like Navy SEAL training. Only 9% of kids who start kindergarten enter college. If u are softy softy they won't survive.

    June 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • mema

      These kids in US should have to go to y©ur county for a year. Teach them just how easy th€y have it. Kids here are running wild and because of social stigmas parents can hardly raise them right. These kids know nothing of real abuse.

      June 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • MK

      @mema – So you're saying that kids in the US should be abused for real so that they behave? Great idea!

      June 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • mema

      Glad y©u agree! Or wait untill they are adults then the cops wont have a problem showing them the difference, now wil they!

      June 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      Nii: And I am sure that Ghana is a paradise. Next to Eritrea, that is

      June 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  20. Freedom From Religion

    Thou shalt not lie, "pastor!"

    June 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.