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. Raptor Jesus

    Beating your kid when she gets out of line? Sounds just like the teachings of the bible!

    June 11, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Shocker!

      Back when parents instilled values/morals and disciplined their children there were far less of what you see now. Should children be left to do their own thing and parents take whatever they dish out and yet feed, cloth them and provide a place olive. I don't trust anyone with raging hormones and external influences.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • MK

      @Shocker – Every generation back to Socrates insists that the "youth" are out of control. Look it up.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Know What

      MK, Even older than Socrates:

      ""The children now love luxury; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are tyrants, not servants of the households. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize over their teachers.

      "I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint."
      ~attributed to Hesiod (8th century B.C.)

      June 11, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  2. Salad Spinner

    Father & daughter are most likely both lying.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  3. A Serpents Dump

    I heard he had a raging hard on while he was slamming his daughters face with a shoe.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  4. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    His "flock" will follow him for one reason ... they will not admit "they" were/are wrong to follow. Their support is about them, not him .. if it were anyone else they'd be all over him as an abuser.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  5. Donna

    I have teenagers, they suck and they are dramatic and yes I totally believe they would falsely accuse. It happens people, it happens a lot. I have no clue who this guy even is, never heard of him but I know his story all too well.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • MK

      They don't have to "suck".

      June 11, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • sam stone

      And adults with massive income streams to protect wouldn't lie?

      June 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  6. annierooney

    If my child at 15 had the audacity to even bring up the subject of going to a party at 1am, I would have grabbed her before the Lord got the news. The punching and throwing to the floor then beating with a shoe would have been going overboard and I don't believe it really happened.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • ReligionKills

      Of course you don't. No way two daughters could be telling the truth about a preacher. Get a life.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  7. Wake up

    Cash-Flow Dollar is clearly lying. That his flock is going with it only shows the extent of his mesmerizing. Clearly a false prophet that we have been warned about.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  8. MaryM

    Child abuse is NEVER ok. I dont care if you are a priest or pastor. YOU abuse a child, you go to jail.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  9. Bing

    I have no idea what happened here, and this guy may have gone overboard. However, sometimes kids do need an old-fashioned smack in the mouth. Have you ever tried to raise a teenager?

    June 11, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      I've raised 5 and didn't beat a one of them. I agree teens are a rough crowd to discipline. The problem here lies with his career choice. He (as all pastors, priests & ministers do) proclaims to be the moral authority that was given them by God(s) himself ... therefor he has a larger responsibility to lead by example.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • ReligionKills

      Yes. Apparently better than you I didn't have to abuse mine to get them to behave.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • MK

      Do you think every well-behaved teenager out there was hit? Not so.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  10. hippypoet

    it doesn't matter what happened to her – she is a female and therefore a lesser species to us men and should do what she is told! praise be to god!

    for my reasoning to this pukible post, check out timothy...gotta love the bible, right?

    June 11, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • "a lesser species"

      your answer is about as ignorant as it could be, i certainly hope you do not have a wife or children, and if you do god bless em, there existence must suck living with an ass like you

      June 11, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • hippypoet

      hey, i wish i could say i am sorry but those are gods words not mine! read the book or shut up.

      i personal beliefs are as follows – equal in all things. simple – but alas, god is the rule maker and he said that women are less then men in every way and even cursed them to pain in child birth – you could blame lillith for that but she is also a creation of god.... yup god, its god who is the a$$ not me.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  11. wow

    "the devil"? really?!?!? can't do any better than that, eh

    also, i've been studying body language and when someone says something affirmative – e.g., "I love her with all my heart" – and shakes their head "no" while doing so, a body language expert would tell you that he is lying.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  12. tammy

    what a loser.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  13. SoM

    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 difference is that Christ was jailed for showing love and compassion to sinners.

    Paul was jailed for preaching the gospel.

    Crefto was jailed for child abuse.
    Do not compaire yourself with Christ and Paul because of your actions crefto.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Julie

      My thoughts exactly!!

      June 11, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  14. Martin

    Not saying he's guilty, just his defensive words are interesting. Also blamiing the devil? That may be part of it, but ultimately we are accountable for our own actions. Kind of reminds me when we were kids and didn't want to held accountable for our bad actions to mom and dad. We would say "the devil made me do it"! Childish.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • wow

      absolutely. accountable. responsible. ... how many of us do not love and respect a man who can say "i did a bad thing. i was wrong, and i am sorry. please forgive me." start there, creflo, and see where it takes you. as religious as you are, you should know the lord sees your heart, and he knows that you are lying.

      June 12, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  15. K Rob

    You guys are hilarious. None of you know him and none of you know his daughter. You know that there was an accusation of a grown man punching a 15 year old in the face, but there was no injury to her face. The police even said that what they saw was a minor skin abrasion. And I never heard "the devil made me do it". Hilarious I tell you. In two weeks a politician will be in the news and you guys will be there to hate on them too. Too Funny!

    June 11, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Dave

      Problem is his 19 year old daughter corroborated the 15 year old's story. These people always blame the devil for everything. They never take responsibility for their actions.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • wow

      it was a quote of his in one of the original CNN articles

      June 12, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  16. dutspup

    Kid get away with murder these days because we as parents are not allowed to disipline them without answering to the coppers. I'd simply say if you want to go to the party then pack your bags, your choice.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • MK

      Choking/punching/hitting does not equal discipline. That equals abuse.

      June 11, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      I will defend a slap on the kaboose as disciplinie but not hands around the throat or hitting out of anger with any object.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Rynomite

      What's the big deal? The Bible justifys everything he did. He shoulda stoned her!

      June 11, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • ReligionKills

      More parents get away with child abuse and child murder than the children do. But that FACT apparently doesn't fit into your "teenagers are the devil" narrative. Let's forget reality, though. You're right.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • wow

      lol i think he party-blocked her so she DIDN'T get stoned 😉

      June 12, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Sagar

      Thank you, Joey! I learned a few thgins I didn't know.This article reads like it came from a mature expert — and obviously, Joey, you are both mature and expert! Your efforts can make life better for victims of bullies and at the same time, make better human beings of fellow students who, instead of looking the other way in discomfort, will know how to take effective action. I love the whole school approach. Very powerful!

      August 1, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  17. Etiloba

    I'm not a religious guy, but I'm not going to allow my 15 years old daughter attend a night party unaccompanied. It is called Parenting.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • MK

      Choking/punching/hitting does not equal parenting. That equals abuse.

      June 11, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • mema

      A scratch hardly stands up to h€r account of events. A grown man does that to me Im sure I would have much more than a scratch. Sounds like a vengeful teen to me. Just saying.

      June 11, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Wake up

      Does that give you the right to choke her and beat the cr ap out of her too?

      June 11, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • ReligionKills

      If you need abuse to parent a child you should be sterile.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Tanq

      martnkieg and list building. Stop by Matthew Meyer's blog where you can find out all about email martnkieg and what having a big list can do for you. Tags: Autoresponders, Email Marketing, List

      July 29, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  18. J.C.

    If the pastor throws a fit, you must acquit!

    June 11, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  19. EdL

    Who shall we believe, the puncher and choker or the punchee and chokee?

    June 11, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  20. mitchmonster

    He blamed the devil??? LOL

    June 11, 2012 at 9:45 am |
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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.