Even before the Megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar was charged for allegedly choking his daughter stepped onto the dimmed stage, the crowd stood to their feet Sunday, applauding the man who would later imply that he was the real victim.
Dollar, sporting a red silk tie with his signature blue pinstriped suit, thanked everyone for their love and prayers.
"I want you all to hear personally from me ..." Dollar said.
“We love you!” someone shouted, interrupting him.
"I love you, too," he said, as more cheers came.
People were not only cheering inside the church building at World Changers International, but also on the online community that accompanied the live stream that this Digital Journalist attended.
"We LOVE you, Pastor Dollar!!" said Dahna M. Chandler. "And you DESERVE that standing ovation!!"
Others, like Moye Reginald, wasn't quite sure how to take it, saying, "Pastor Dollar walks on stage right now to a thunderous applause after his encounter with the Police for choking his daughter."
Things got emotional
"Raising children in our culture of disrespect is difficult today."
And as a Christian father of five, Dollar said parenting can become heated at times. “Like all of us who are parents, there are times when discipline and training our children can become very intense."
"The truth is that a family conversation with our youngest daughter got emotional," he said.
"I will say this emphatically: I should have never been arrested," Dollar said in his first public appearance two days after his arrest. “Never.”
Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the 50-year-old minister after his 15-year-old daughter called 911 at about 1 a.m. Friday and told a Fayette County deputy that she and her father had an argument.
"The altercation stems from an argument over the 15-year-old attending a party," Fayette sheriff's spokesman Det. Bret Rowan said, according to WSB-TV.
"And emotions got involved and things escalated from there," Dollar explained.
As Digital Journal reported earlier, according to an incident report, his youngest daughter said the argument was over a party that her father had told her she could not go to on Saturday night.
She stated that she left the room they were in and entered the kitchen along with her sister, --omitted-. She said that while they were in the kitchen, Mr. Dollar walked in and found her crying.
He asked why she was crying and she stated to him "I do not want to talk right now".
Juvenile Victim LD said when she said that to Mr. Dollar, he charged her, and put his hands around her throat and began to choke her. She said he then slammed her to the ground and began to punch her and took his shoe off and started whooping her with it.
“I love my children. Taffi and I have the grace to be loving and responsible parents. We remain committed to raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” he said.
From public handout
Dollar Family shown eating together
"All is well in the Dollar household," he said.
"He says all is well in The Dollar household," wrote Reginald who participated in the online chat that accompanied the video stream. If that was the case, Reginald asked, he needs to explain "why he got intense with Choking his daughter !!"
“She was not choked," he said. "She was not punched.”
According to his statement to police:
public police report/ screengrab
Fayette County Sheriff incident report, statement of Creflo Dollar
But authorities said her 19-year-old sister witnessed and collaborated her sister's side of the story.
She said that her dad and sister had gotten into an argument. While in the kitchen, --omitted-- said her dad walked into the kitchen and asked why Juvenile Victim LD was crying. --omitted-- said that her sister told him that she didn't want to talk to him, and then said all she remembers is her dad grabbing her sister's shoulders and slapping her in the face.
She said her sister tried to break free from him and did not fight back. --omitted-- stated that her dad then threw her sister on the ground, and that's when --omitted-- ran to get her mother, Dollar, Taffi L. --omitted--. --omitted-- said that after her mother entered the room, her dad stopped hitting on her sister. --omitted-- said that during the confrontation her dad put both hands around her sister's neck and choked her for about five seconds.
A deputy also said while the 15-year-old was speaking, "I noticed a scratch on the right side of her neck close to her throat that was caused during the altercation."
But Dollar called that nonsense.
“There were not any scratches on her neck,” he said. “The only thing was prior skin abrasion from eczema.
"I work in social servces (sic) and children use the protective services laws to manipulate their parents these days!" Danita J Seporia explained.
"Anything else is an exaggeration and sensationalism,” Dollar continued.
Debra Lett,21, said "The media sensationalize (sic)."
Dahna M. Chandler agreed. "I was a professional reporter for years. I know how facts can be "shaped" to fit the reporting, Chandler said.
He said for the police to come and take a picture of mark that was there for "10 years was appalling." Dollar added: “The police didn’t ask how long the mark was there."
From public handout
Creflo Dollar shown with his wife, Taffi Dollar
To online viewer BJ Grant, this explanation made sense, "the police lie all the time. Most of Atlanta officers are criminals themselves."
Many in Dollar's congregation were pleased with his words.
"I have great confidence in my pastor and this would be so totally out of character for him," said Cathie Cornette Greene. "He is 100% a man of God."
Reginald challenged, "He said if i choked my kid you would see visible sign on her neck. He said if i punched her you would've seen the results of it!! My ??? why was the POLICE CALLLED AT ALL THEN????"
The answer is simple. “The devil knows that in order to discredit the message, you have to first of all discredit the messenger,” Dollar told his congregation.“It’s not so much against me as it is this message of grace."
In fact, Dollar told the crowd they will be "appalled" at the facts regarding the incident when they are revealed.
“I would never put any fault on my children as Jesus would never put any fault on me,” he continued.
But when he read Psalm 35, the passages seemed to say the opposite.
11 Malicious witnesses testify against me.
They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good.
I am sick with despair.
13 Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.
I denied myself by fasting for them,
but my prayers returned unanswered.
14 I was sad, as though they were my friends or family,
as if I were grieving for my own mother.
15 But they are glad now that I am in trouble;
they gleefully join together against me.
Using this passage seemed to take a page out of Bishop Eddie Long's book when he addressed his congregation for the first time, in September 2010, after four young men sued Long for sexual abuse, which Long denied.
"I feel like David against Goliath, but I got five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet," Long said in his sermon that day.
He didn't need the rocks. Long settled out of court last year.
Here too, in these passages, like Long, pastor Dollar is David:
15 I am attacked by people I don’t even know;
they slander me constantly.
16 They mock me and call me names;
they snarl at me.
26 May those who rejoice at my troubles
be humiliated and disgraced.Aren’t you Creflo Dollar?
From there, he preached the Sunday sermon and talked about being in jail.
He said he sung “Jesus loves me” in jail while he was hand-cuffed, according to USA News First.
Dollar said that jail upped his resume. Paul. Jesus. Creflo.
Pastor Dollar said a man in jail said, “Aren’t you Creflo Dollar?”
He said “Yes I am. I am the righteousness of God.”
He told the church to laugh. He said the joy of the LORD is my strength.
Check Digital Journal later for more updates and commentary.