Bastardizing the Dream: Alveda King

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This is the week set aside in honor of one our own, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Normally a time for celebration, I have come to dread our annual commemoration because of photo-op’s like the one above with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Dr. King’s niece, Alveda King, has fallen off the mountaintop, bumped her damn head, and become a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

 

Employed full-time by the religious right, she is an aggressive pro-life activist, minister, and professional public speaker. As she has moved steadily to the right, Alveda has provided political cover and given full license to those who would distort, defame, and destroy the dream of her late Uncle in the name of a fictitious colorblindness that is really white supremacy.

 

A long time opponent of Affirmative Action, she is entangled in a network of right-wing preachers hell bent on destroying the progressive social change that Dr. King fought for. While Dr. King spoke of the power of love and the creation of the beloved community, the glue that holds their little movement together is hatred, homophobia and a fixation with stopping same sex couples who love each other from having the right to marry.

 

In the month of Mrs. King’s death, Alveda participated in “Justice Sunday,” a wingnut gala consisting of the full constellation of reactionary politicians and their talabangelical brethren dedicated to fighting for the confirmation of Bush’s judicial nominees like Samuel Alito. Alito, an archconservative with a history of hostility to civil rights, provided the fifth vote to strike down voluntary Affirmative Action plans in the public schools last year. Weakening the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education without the guts to admit it, Alito and his allies on the court dealt the principle of ending separate but equal education a mortal wound.

 

Among those beating the drums of fascist religiosity with Alveda were Justice Sunday colleagues Tony Perkins, Head of the right-wing Family Research Council and a former Louisiana politician who paid white supremacist and neo-Nazi David Duke for his mailing list, and Jerry Falwell, a former segregationist who smeared Martin Luther King, Jr. as a tool of communists.

During most of Dubya’s first term, he found some way to paw Coretta Scott King in a manner that made my blood boil. Born on the same day as my grandmother two years apart, Mrs. King was always an icon in my household. I would NEVER allow George W. Bush to put his damn hands on my grandmother and I could never understand why Mrs. King visited the White House of a man who stole the Presidency. Her graciousness was always taken advantage of by this White House and she invariably became a colored prop in Dubya’s annual racist stage play of deceit every third Monday in January.

 

My personal favorite was the 2003 King Holiday. Within days of the holiday, the Administration announced a bold frontal assault on Affirmative Action by filing a brief against the Affirmative Action Admissions programs for both the University of Michigan and its School of Law. Writing a powerful Five-to-Four opinion upholding the principle of Affirmative Action, Sandra Day O’Connor ended her twenty years of steady opposition to Affirmative Action programs. Within two years, she resigned from the court only to be replaced by Alveda’s choice, Samuel Alito. It is only a matter of time now before Affirmative Action is destroyed by the Roberts Court.

 

Monday, I kept hearing reports of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee being invited to attend King Day services at Ebenezer Baptist Church by a member of “the King Family.” While not identified, I have a hunch that the black fool in question was Alveda. She was the one sitting next to the presidential contender that told White South Carolina Republicans that they shouldn’t tolerate anybody dictating to them about where, when and how to fly the confederate flag. After desecrating the sanctuary with his presence, Huckabee used the occasion to accept the endorsement of a group of black wingnut preachers, the “Coalition of African American Pastors,” a group Alveda has claimed a board membership of on her website.

 

 

This week, Martin Luther King III, “deeply” concerned about politicians misappropriating the legacy of his father, wrote John Edwards a beautiful letter telling him to keep fighting and stay in the race. If he was truly concerned about folks distorting the dream, he would have stopped his Mama from being used by George W. Bush, stopped his sister Bernice from demonizing gays and lesbians, put his foot down to permit the man who paid for his Daddy’s funeral, Harry Belafonte, to eulogize his mother instead of the ignorant patrician in the White House, and done something to put his cousin Alveda in check.

 

As adherents of the drum major for justice who preached non-violence, it would be unseemly for the members of the King family to take Alveda aside and beat her ass until she remembers what the hell the dream is really about. Nevertheless, let me be the first one to say to the King family that all of black America would happily forgive y’all if you laid down the principles of non-violence temporarily to “lay hands” on Alveda with “the love of the Lord.”

 

I won’t tell nobody and I am quite sure that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, a King family friend, would help. After all, she has kept her girls outta jail, despite the mess they’ve been involved in, and I’m very sure a discrete word from the mayor to the Po-po would squash it. If Shirley can’t help, somebody can always call Bishop Thomas Weeks, Juanita Bynum’s soon-to-be ex-husband. The way I see it he’ll pop either the question, Alveda, or both.

 

Although I can’t help but lampoon Alveda and make light of this situation for the sake of my fragile sanity, bastardizing Dr. King’s dream is no laughing matter.

Evangelist Bynum’s $4.5 million dollar home on auction block

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Hat Tip:  Bt Mike Morris, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Evangelist Juanita Bynum’s $4.5 million South Georgia compound is scheduled to be auctioned off next month for nonpayment of property taxes, officials said.

Ware County Tax Commissioner Steve Barnard filed a lien against the 23.6-acre property owned by Juanita Bynum Ministries on June 7, citing failure to pay $32,007.56 in 2006 property tax.

According to the lien, a $3,200 penalty and $2,240 in interest is also owed.

It’s the latest legal drama involving the nationally known Pentecostal evangelist, who has been in the news in recent weeks after alleging she was beaten by her estranged husband, Thomas Weeks.

Barnard said Tuesday that the property, on St. Bernard Trail near Waycross, will be sold at auction on Nov. 6 on the steps of the Ware County Courthouse. The auction will be canceled if Bynum Ministries, which still has ownership, pays the full amount before that date, he said.

Bynum’s Waycross-based ministry bought the property for $4.5 million last year.

Barnard said there is a 7,487-square-foot house, a 6,748-square-foot house and a 1,366-square-foot house on the property. Bynum lives in one of the homes, he said.

Barnard said someone from Bynum’s office called him last month, “wanting to know if they could set up a payment plan, and I told them if she sent me $25,000, I’d take it out of the [Nov. 6] sale, and she’d have 60 days to pay the balance.

That partial payment was supposed to be made by Sept. 28, Barnard said.

“I never received anything, and then last week, I received a check for $5,000 and someone from her organization called and wanted to know if we got the check,” Barnard said. “I said, well, we got a check for $5,000 that was supposed to have been $25,000, and they wanted to know if that would take it out of the sale and I told them, no.”

Bishop Weeks countersues Bynum

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Hat Tip: Errin Haines, Associated Press

ATLANTA – (AP) The husband of televangelist Juanita Bynum denies that he treated her cruelly and says they have not been continuously separated since June, as her divorce petition alleges.

Attorneys for Thomas W. Weeks III were expected to file his counterclaim for divorce later Wednesday. The four-page document goes beyond simply answering Bynum’s petition and makes a case for Weeks.

“Now they have each asked for a divorce,” said Randy Kessler, one of Weeks’ attorneys.

In the response, Weeks admits to most of the allegations in Bynum’s complaint, but denies her assertion that the two have been separated since June. Weeks said they spent one night together in August that boosted his hopes for reconciliation.

The next day, Aug. 22, Bynum claims her husband beat her. According to a police report, she told officers Weeks “choked her, pushed her down, kicked and stomped her … until a bellman pulled him off of her.”

Weeks faces charges of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats. He is free on $40,000 bond and is not allowed to have contact with Bynum.

Bynum’s divorce petitions cited “cruel treatment” and said the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Weeks told reporters their estrangement began June 3 when Bynum announced to the church that she was “planning to leave our church never to return.”

The couple wed in a million-dollar, televised ceremony in July 2002, and their marriage played a prominent role in their ministries. The couple co-wrote “Teach Me How to Love: The Beginnings.”

Weeks’ response to his wife’s divorce filing asks that the court equitably divide the couple’s debts and assets.

Bynum, 48, is head of a ministry that also includes a gospel record label and seminar tours. She has sold thousands of motivational books, CDs and DVDs related to empowerment and relationships.

Weeks, 40, is known to his followers as Bishop Weeks and is head of Global Destiny Ministries, based in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth.

Evangelist Bynum gets restraining order, seeks spousal support

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Hat Tip:  D. Aileen Dodd, Atlanta Journal Constitution 

National evangelist Juanita Bynum has filed for divorce in Gwinnett County and has been granted a restraining order as the proceedings move forward.

The petition for divorce and the mutual restraining order was received by the Gwinnett County Superior Court Thursday afternoon.

Bynum, who separated from her estranged husband Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III in June, is seeking a divorce based on the argument that her marriage has been “irretrievably broken,” and that she is a victim of “cruel treatment.”

Bynum, 48, told police in August that Weeks beat, choked and stomped her to the ground in the parking lot of an Atlanta hotel. Weeks, also a pastor, has denied the alleged abuse.

He was charged with felony aggravated assault, felony terroristic threats and two counts of simple battery in connection with the alleged attack.

The wealthy evangelist is also asking the court for possible financial support “that the court may deem equitable or appropriate.”

The divorce petition in Gwinnett mirrors a petition Bynum had filed earlier this month in Ware County. That petition was dismissed because it was filed in the wrong jurisdiction. Lawyers for Weeks, 40, said the case had to move north to Gwinnett because that’s where Weeks resides. The couple have a $2.5 million home at a Duluth country club.

Attorneys for Weeks said Friday they will respond to the divorce petition, but said they question Bynum’s motives for her recent media appearances. In recent weeks Bynum has appeared on the front page of The New York Times and has been a guest on Christian radio and Good Morning America.

Bynum, who has declared herself the “face of domestic violence,” has said she plans to launch a ministry to help women who suffer partner abuse.

“She thinks she is going to get some benefit by going public with this,” said Randy Kessler, Weeks’ attorney. “It is not necessary for divorce purposes. We are going to take the high road.”

Bynum’s attorney Karla Walker also sought a restraining order in the divorce petition.

The protection order prohibits both Bynum and Weeks from “any act that injures, maltreats … intimidates or harasses” each other. It also prevents the couple from retaliating against each other by disconnecting the utilities or canceling insurance policies.

Bynum, who uses the married name Bynum-Weeks, is asking the court that her last name be restored to Bynum, which she uses for professional purposes on occasion.

Bynum and Weeks married in an elaborate ceremony in 2002. They moved to metro Atlanta in 2006 to start Global Destiny Church in Duluth.

I thought the Negro was broke and had been evicted from his place. How can you get support from a brotha with no endz.

Juanita Bynum on Good Morning America

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 Juanita Bynum

Hat Tip: Good Morning America

Evangelical preacher Juanita Bynum and her husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks III, are superstars on the Christian circuit. But recently the Atlanta-based couple’s profile reached the stratosphere after Bynum accused her husband of domestic violence during the summer.

The episode surprised many of Bynum’s followers because the televangelist’s fan base is largely female and her sermons often center on female empowerment. The situation also served as an opportunity for them to challenge every word Bynum had ever preached.

So, when Bynum accused her husband of attacking her physically in a parking lot outside an Atlanta hotel, the incident seemed unimaginable for what many saw as picture-perfect couple.

The pair, who met in 2002 and were married a year later, separated earlier this year. On Aug. 21, the day the attack occurred, the couple met in an attempt at reconciliation.

Bynum showed police her bruises and claimed Weeks choked, kicked and stomped on her. She said he continued to do so until a bellman pulled him away.

A History of Violence

Bynum revealed on “Good Morning America” Wednesday that this was not her first encounter with domestic abuse.Her first marriage, which inspired her million-copy selling sermon “No More Sheets,” ended as a result of domestic abuse. At the time, Bynum quietly divorced her husband and chose to move on with her life.

“He repented for what he did. I made a vow that I would not talk about that situation,” she said.

Now, as her current husband faces charges of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats, according to The Associated Press, Bynum said she has decided to speak out. (Her husband is no longer is allowed to contact her.)

“You don’t call it abuse until it’s a parking lot situation,” she said. Often times people classify such behavior as marital issues, but it’s abuse when you’re getting yelled at, Bynum added.

Some critics have accused Bynum of using the situation to gain recognition and a larger following. Bynum shot down such allegations.

“The popularity that God had favored me with was already there,” she said.

Still, others questioned how a preacher who encouraged women to stay with their husbands regardless of their troubles can now change her tune. But Bynum said she still believes a wife should support her husband.

“It is the responsibility of every wife to make their husband feel loved and respected,” she said.

But, Bynum said, while people should live by the rules of their spirituality, they also should recognize danger signs.

“I think spiritually needs to be used in a proper manner,” Bynum said. “You need to pray, but you also need to take yourself out of harms way while you pray.”

The New Face of Domestic Violence

Since the incident with her husband, Bynum has christened herself the new face of domestic violence, and some of her followers believe it may have a lasting effect on Christians and their faith.

“It’s kind of like a black eye, you know, on Christianity,” said WTJH gospel DJ Reggie Gay. “We’re supposed to be able to get along with each other and live right and do all those kind of things. But it’s kind of tough. So I would encourage that congregation of people to be prayerful.”

Weeks has denied abusing his wife.

“I want to be clear in saying I do not condone in any way, shape or form violence of any kind towards woman,” he said. “My role has always been to operate as protector and not as an aggressor. I’ve walked away from many situations between the two of us just like I walked away that night.”

Bishop denies assaulting Bynum

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Just When I thought this was pretty much played out, another wrinkle develops in the melodrama that is the Weeks-Bynum divorce. 

Turns out that Bishop held a press conference today in which he denies beating her.   Amazing.  From what I can tell, he told a boldfaced lie.    This press conference is a naked PR ploy to cloud the issue of domestic violence and play on the sympathies of the weak minded.  You be the judge and read for yourself.

Hat Tip: by John Shriek, 11Alive News

“She said,” last week.
“He said” on Friday afternoon.

Ten days after Evangelist Juanita Bynum proclaimed herself “the face of domestic violence,” her estranged husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks, told reporters he wanted to speak out to try to set straight “the many discrepencies, dramatizations and untruths.” Weeks denied violence toward Bynum, and insisted he walked away from a confrontation with her on August 21, the night he’s accused of assaulting her.

I have always loved my wife and have been nothing but faithful to her,” Weeks said in a statement he read to reporters at his church, Global Destiny Ministries, in Duluth. “I want to be clear in saying I do not condone in any way, shape or form, violence of any kind towards women. My role has always been to operate as a protector and not as an aggressor. I have walked away from many situations between the two of us, just like I walked away that night.”

Weeks did not answer questions from reporters, on the advice of his attorneys, and did not comment further on the criminal assault charges against him.Atlanta police say a hotel bellhop saw Weeks kicking, beating and choking Bynum in the parking lot of the hotel that night, and that the bellhop heard Weeks threatening to kill Bynum as the bellhop pulled Weeks off of Bynum.

“I want to share my heart with the people,” Weeks said Friday, “to inform all that will listen that there are two sides to every story.”

He asked people to keep an open mind while he fights the criminal charges against him.

“I am asking that everyone that has already judged me to take the time to consider other perspectives. I understand that my silence to date has given me the perception of guilt,” but he said he does not believe in speaking publicly about what he considers to be private matters between him and his estranged wife.

Weeks said their current troubles began on June 3, when, he said, Bynum suddenly announced to their congregation that she was quitting the church, the church that she and Weeks had founded together, never to return. “It was the first time I knew she felt this way about our church family,” Weeks said. Bynum has always maintained her own, separate ministry that she founded and led prior to their marriage in 2002.

“The shock to the congregation was the start of many rumors,” Weeks said of Bynums’ surprise announcement.

Two days later, he said, her office sent a fax to his staff, “cancelling a major, international event and noted the reason was due to our marital separation. I was then informed by my staff about the fax. It was the first time that I was made aware of our separation.”

Thenn on June 14th, Weeks said, Bynum’s attorney mailed him a “cease and desist” letter ordering him to stop using Bynum’s name, face image, sound or likeness in anything related to the church.

“We were not legally allowed to mention her name even in prayer,” Weeks said. “Many people were offended by my removal of her image, as it appeared that it was of my own doing…. I did not share her letter from her lawyers to the church family in an effort to cover and protect her from negativity and perceptions, as I have done countless times over the past five years.”

Weeks said he still hoped he and Bynum could work out a reconciliation, and on August 16 he said she showed up at his office saying she, too, wanted to reconcile. “It was that day that I first began to believe that our marriage was moving in a positive direction. It was my understanding that the relationship was salvageable,” Weeks said.

On August 20, he said, “I was with my wife the entire night… and felt that our love for each other was going to get us through these hard times.”

Weeks emphasized that, contrary to earlier statements and reports, the reason he met with his wife on August 21 was not that he was seeking a reconciliation. He thought that their previous night together meant that they were already reconciling.

On August 21, he said, she called him asking to meet with him at a hotel, saying to him that, as he described it Friday, “Juanita Bynum Ministries was in need of our church facility and members’ support in order to raise monies” for one of Bynum’s projects. “She shared her urgency that we meet that night,” Weeks said.

Weeks did not describe, in his statement Friday, his August 21 meeting with Bynum, what led to their confrontation or anything else about it, and he did not discuss the indictment against him. He has pleaded Not Guilty.

“I would like for Juanita to know that I respect but regret her decision for a divorce. My church family is fully aware that I have always supported her in every endeavor. I have never hindered her from pursuiing her ministry vision or personal goals in life…. I want her to know that I am praying God’s best for her.”

Weeks’ divorce attorney, Randy Kessler, told reporters after Weeks read his statement that “he can’t stop the divorce from happening.” Kessler said Weeks just wants it to be settled as soon as possible, in private.

“The Bishop is not interested in money, this is not a case about money,” Kessler said. “We’d like all offers to remain private” as the two negotiate a financial settlement.

“Everybody, all of us, have blemishes, have flaws, that we do not want exposed” in a public courtroom, Kessler said, and Weeks is hoping to settle both the divorce and the criminal charges against him out of court.

There was no pre-nuptual agreement, Kessler said.

“The truth will eventually be known by all,” Weeks said. “In the end, God will always get the glory.”
 

Bishop Weeks bows to inevitable and won’t contest divorce

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Televangelist Juanita Bynum’s husband, accused of assaulting her, will not contest her petition for divorce after all, his attorneys said Thursday.

The Rev. Thomas W. Weeks III had held out hope that he and Bynum could reconcile even after she filed a petition for divorce Monday, but now “has come to the personal resolve, that if Juanita is insistent on a divorce, he will not stand in the way,” his attorneys said in a statement.

Bynum’s attorney Karla Walker said she is withdrawing a divorce petition filed in south Georgia’s Ware County, where Bynum has a home, and refiling the case in Gwinnett County, where Weeks lives.

Bynum, known for her message of female empowerment, claims Weeks choked, pushed and stomped on her in a hotel parking lot after an Aug. 21 meeting in which the couple failed to reconcile.

Weeks faces charges of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats. He is free on $40,000 bond and is not allowed to have contact with Bynum.

Bynum, 48, is head of a dynamic ministry that also includes a gospel record label and seminar tours. She has sold thousands of motivational books, CDs and DVDs related to empowerment and marriage.

She has now emerged as a self-appointed “face of domestic violence” and has said she wants to be seen as a survivor, not a victim, of abuse.

Weeks, 40, is known to his followers as Bishop Weeks and is head of Global Destiny Ministries, based in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth. He co-wrote “Teach Me How to Love: The Beginnings” with Bynum, and the two wed in a million-dollar, televised ceremony in 2002. They have been estranged since June.

The developments of the past few weeks may have put things in perspective for Weeks regarding the relationship, his attorney Randy Kessler said Thursday, who added that his client will speak out Friday.

“He put the word out there, said he was open for reconciliation,” Kessler said. “I guess he got no positive response. At this point he’s not going to fight whether or not there’s going to be a divorce.”

It ain’t like he had grounds to contest the divorce, noway.

“If you’re a prophetess, didn’t you see this coming?”

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Tom Joyner

Prophetess Bynum talked all around it and never answered the direct question posed by Tom Joyner, on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.    I wasn’t terribly impressed with the gist of her answer.  The only thing that mollified me was the clarity of her opinion that a woman is NEVER to stay in a physically abusive relationship.   She was honest and said that she filed for divorce in 2005 and pulled back because of who she was, I will give her that.   I hope that in her new ministry, after the divorce is over, that she can really come clean and lay it all out so that people can understand how this happens and how to keep it from happening.   ESSENCE magazine will be doing a December cover on the Prophetess, and she said that she will be at liberty to say more then.  I commend Tom for this interview and for asking the questions that needed to be asked.  Also discussed was her support for Barack Obama and that she has been asked to be a surrogate for the candidate and will do some traveling on his behalf.   

Bishop Weeks to contest divorce

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 Hat Tip: Black America’s Web, Associated Press

ATLANTA – (AP) A minister accused of attacking his televangelist wife in a hotel parking lot will contest her petition for divorce, his lawyers said Tuesday.

Randy Kessler, one of the attorneys representing Thomas W. Weeks III, said they are considering whether the counterclaim will accuse Juanita Bynum of cruel treatment, the charge her divorce petition levels at Weeks.

“Cruel treatment is a very vague legal term,” Kessler said. “There’s a possibility that there’s cruel treatment on both sides, but we’re not committed to that position.”

Kessler and Louis Tesser, who is also representing Weeks, are family law attorneys with the Atlanta-based firm Kessler, Schwarz and Solomiany, who have litigated high-profile cases against boxer Evander Holyfield, former Atlanta Falcon Andre Rison, Terrell Owens of the Dallas Cowboys and attorney Willie Gary.

The divorce petition was filed Monday in Ware County, where Bynum has a home, less than three weeks after Bynum accused Weeks of choking, pushing and stomping her in a hotel parking lot in an incident that began the night of Aug. 21 and continued into the next morning. Weeks, known to his followers as Bishop Weeks, was charged with aggravated assault and making terroristic threats and is not allowed to have contact with Bynum.

Bynum loves husband but needs to move on

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Hat Tip: D. Aileen Dodd, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Evangelist Juanita Bynum’s lawyer said Monday the pastor is seeking to divorce her husband on the basis of cruel treatment and irreconcilable differences.

The divorce filing states that the marriage has been “irretrievably broken,” said Bynum’s attorney Karla Walker of Valdosta, Ga.

by her husband Thomas W. Weeks III on Aug. 21 in a hotel parking lot near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“She loved her husband,” Walker said. “But she does feel it is necessary to stop the domestic violence and go on with the divorce.”

The divorce paperwork was sent to the Ware County Courthouse early last week, but an error delayed the filing. The legal documents were officially filed on Monday.

Bynum, 48, spent the weekend in California where she attended a fund-raiser for presidential candidate Barack Obama. The party was held at Oprah Winfrey’s estate.

Bynum has said she is moving forward with plans to start a domestic violence ministry. Last week, she resurfaced in the spotlight, saying she had recovered from the alleged attack and would like to serve as an advocate against domestic violence.

Weeks, 40, was charged with felony aggravated assault, felony terroristic threats and two counts of simple battery in connection with the attack. He could face up to 27 years in jail if convicted.

Bishop Weeks seeks reconcilliation with Juanita Bynum

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Hat Tip: D. Aileen Dodd, Atlanta Journal Constitution 

A lawyer for Thomas W. Weeks III said Friday that the bishop is looking to reconcile with his wife or at least end their marriage amicably if she has filed for divorce.

In a statement released by attorney Louis Tesser of Kessler, Schwarz and Solomiany, Weeks says he still hasn’t received notice that a divorce filing has been made by his wife national evangelist Juanita Bynum.

“The Bishop Thomas W. Weeks has hoped and still hopes that the marriage can be reconciled,” Tesser said. “If that is possible he is committed to working things out amicably and will only litigate as a very last resort.”

Word of the pending divorce spread after Bynum spoke of it on a news broadcast. A relative also confirmed the divorce filing Thursday.

Tesser said if Bynum has a divorce attorney he is ready to meet with the lawyer and discuss the matter privately.

Amy Malone, Bynum’s publicist, said she had no comment on the issue.

Bynum has resurfaced in the public spotlight calling herself “the new face of domestic violence,” referring to the alleged beating by her husband. The minister told police Weeks beat, choked and stomped her in a hotel parking lot on Aug. 21.

Weeks, 40, was charged with felony aggravated assault, felony terroristic threats and two counts of simple battery in connection to the incident. His appearance in Fulton County Superior Court originally set for today has been postponed indefinitely.

The case has been reassigned to a different judge. Weeks could face up to 27 years in jail if convicted.

Is this Negro for real? Doesn’t he know that he’s going to jail?

Juanita Bynum files for divorce

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Teach Me How to Love You

Hat Tip: by D. Aileen Dodd, S.A. Reid, Atlanta Journal Constitution

National evangelist Juanita Bynum apparently has filed for divorce, more than two weeks after the alleged attack by her husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks III.

A relative on Thursday said that Bynum has filed for divorce but court records were not available early Thursday. Bynum’s publicist, Amy Malone, would not comment.

the alleged beating by Weeks, the pastor and co-founder of Global Destiny Ministries in metro Atlanta.

Bynum called a press conference on Tuesday, a few hours before she hosted an international Christian talk show on Trinity Broadcasting Network. She appeared poised and soft-spoken before news cameras. She wore her wedding ring on her right hand. The pastor has been separated from her husband for more than three months.

Calling herself “the new face of domestic violence,” Bynum is expected to be part of an A-list crowd Saturday at a fund-raiser for Barack Obama’s presidential bid.

The party is being hosted by media magnate Oprah Winfrey at her 42-acre estate in California.

Bynum is part of a guest list that includes celebrities, politicians and other news makers.

“She received an invitation to attend the event at Oprah’s home,” said Malone. Bynum is hoping to talk directly with Obama or members of his presidential campaign team about national domestic violence concerns.

Weeks’ lawyer, Louis Tesser, has said that Weeks “hopes he doesn’t wind up getting a divorce.” On Wednesday, Weeks broke his silence for the first time since the alleged Aug. 21 domestic violence incident by issuing a written statement through his lawyers.

In it, Weeks cautioned against a rush to judgment and said he would share his version of what happened that night at the appropriate time.

Bynum was allegedly beaten, choked, and stomped to the ground in an attack. Weeks was charged with felony aggravated assault, felony terroristic threats and two counts of simple battery in connection to the incident.

Weeks’ appearance in Fulton County Superior Court originally set for Friday has been postponed indefinitely. The case has been reassigned to a different judge. He could face up to 27 years in jail if convicted.

Juanita Bynum speaks out

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Video courtesy of Hello Negro

Hat Tip: by D. Aileen Dodd, Atlanta Journal Constitution 

She aired her dirty laundry on a national stage, first as a victim of divorce and dead-end affairs and now as a victim of domestic violence.

National Pentecostal evangelist Juanita Bynum, 48, went public with her pain Tuesday, sharing yet another chapter in her tumultuous life story.

The tough-talking pastor, who has survived a divorce, a nervous breakdown and life on welfare, broke her silence two weeks after her second husband, Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III, allegedly beat, stomped and choked her in a hotel parking lot.

In a room with flashing cameras, Bynum said she has forgiven Weeks for the alleged attack and that her ministry will take a new twist because of the pain she has suffered.

“Today, domestic violence has a face and a name and it is Juanita Bynum,” said the pastor.

Weeks, 40, is facing charges of felony aggravated assault, felony terroristic threats and two misdemeanor counts of simple battery in connection with the Aug. 21 incident. The charges against him carry a maximum possible sentence of 27 years.

The bishop, who moved to metro Atlanta in 2006 to launch Global Destiny Church with Bynum, told his congregation that the devil made him attack his wife. Weeks was released on $40,000 bail from Fulton County Jail on the day he turned himself in to police. He is due in Fulton Superior Court on Friday.

Bynum said she was speaking about the incident Tuesday because she didn’t want her fans or colleagues to view her as a “damsel in distress.”

She said she intends to keep all her obligations to her ministry, including serving as host of an international talk show airing on Trinity Broadcasting Network.

A few hours after her 10-minute news conference Tuesday, Bynum was expected to appear as a special guest on TBN’s “Praise The Lord” program, a Christian talk show featuring ministers, gospel artists and other newsmakers. Fans learned of her appearance on Bynum’s Web site and began showing up at TBN studios in Decatur about noon to get a seat.

Bynum initially had planned her news conference at TBN but changed the location to the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead. She stood poised with her hands clasped in front of her, wearing baggy jeans and a pink Daytona Beach sweatshirt. A diamond wedding band sparkled —- from her right hand.

Bynum would not speak about the future of her marriage to Weeks. The couple wed in an elaborate ceremony in 2002. They had been separated for several months before the alleged attack.

“This is such a difficult moment for me,” Bynum said. “First, I want to go on record and say I forgive my husband and I wish him all of the best.”

The pastor said while some of her supporters have kept quiet about the incident, she does not intend to move on with her ministry as if the attack never happened.

“Relationships are what they are, [they] have their difficult moments,” she said. “… This has changed my life forever.”

Born in Chicago, Bynum was reared in the charismatic Church of God in Christ, a denomination that has a history of female evangelists. She married in her early 20s but within a few years divorced. After years of moving from being a beautician to a Pan Am flight attendant to joblessness and food stamps, she came into the Pentecostal ministry.

She gained popularity nationwide more than a decade ago for her messages of female empowerment and for her popular “No More Sheets” sermon on breaking free of sexual promiscuity.

Bynum said that after the alleged attack she was holed up with family feeling “weak and helpless.”

But Tuesday she said she won’t keep quiet on the issue of domestic violence.

“This isn’t a religious issue, it’s a social issue,” she said.

Bynum would not say whether she would participate in the prosecution of her husband or discuss her feelings about him. She said she is focusing on her new ministry. “Instead of a victim, I want to become an advocate,” she said.

Church leaders seek to defrock Bishop Weeks

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Hat Tip: Associated Press, BlackAmericaWeb.com

ATLANTA – (AP) A national group of black and Hispanic churches is calling for the minister husband of evangelist and gospel singer Juanita Bynum to be suspended for three years from the ministry because of allegations he beat his wife.

Thomas W. Weeks III, known to his followers as Bishop Weeks, was charged with aggravated assault and making terroristic threats following a confrontation last month that police say left Bynum badly bruised. Weeks and Bynum are estranged.

The Washington-based National Black Church Initiative said Weeks’ Global Destiny Ministries is not part of its church network, but that it considers the charges against him harmful to the entire Christian church.

Global Destiny Ministries was founded by Bynum and Weeks.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, NBCI is asking its 16,000 member churches and their congregants to refuse to support Weeks’ ministry or recognize him as ordained clergy.

“We’re not just going to tolerate this kind of behavior,” the Rev. Vincent Evans told newspaper. “He has hurt the cause of Christ.”

The coalition, which works to address racial health disparities and problems in black families, sees Weeks’ alleged actions as “morally wrong and reprehensible.” Domestic violence, the group said, is a root cause of the failure of black families and marriages.

The coalition said it wants him to apologize to his wife, his church and the Christian family, and to seek counseling.

“We cannot begin healing the black family without taking this action,” Evans told the Journal-Constitution.

Police say that during an Aug. 21 argument outside a hotel, Weeks, 40, choked Bynum, pushed her to the ground and started to kick and stomp on her. A hotel employee intervened and pulled Weeks off her, police said.

Bynum, 48, is a former hairdresser and flight attendant who became a Pentecostal evangelist, author and gospel singer. Her ministry blossomed after she preached at a singles event about breaking free of sexual promiscuity. Among her books are “No More Sheets: The Truth About Sex” and “Matters of the Heart.”

Her album “A Piece of My Passion” had been listed in the top 10 gospel albums by Billboard magazine for several months. She also preaches through televised sermons.

The couple married in 2002. Together, they wrote “Teach Me How to Love You: The Beginnings.”

Bishop Weeks Indicted by Fulton County Grand Jury

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Hat Tip: By D. Aileen Dodd, John Hollis, Atlanta Journal Constitution 

Apparently it’s going to take more than blaming the devil to get Bishop Thomas Weeks off the hook with the authorities.

A Fulton County grand jury indicted the husband of national evangelist Juanita Bynum for what Bynum said was an attack on her in the parking lot of an Atlanta hotel.

Weeks faces one count of aggravated assault, one count of terroristic threats and two counts of simple battery in connection with the Aug. 22 incident at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel.

Weeks fled the scene before police arrived, but later told members of his congregation the devil had been responsible for his actions.

The charges against him carry a maximum possible sentence of 27 years.

Weeks’ church was also facing possible eviction before the alleged attack.

According to police and court records, Weeks, 41, was struggling to pay the bills since he and Bynum separated three months ago.

Weeks was evicted from his home in Duluth in late June. And he was close to losing the church he built with his wife.

An attorney representing the landlord for Global Destiny Church in Duluth said Friday that Weeks had received several notices that he was in violation of his lease agreement for the church for nonpayment of funds. GrimesSquare Executive Inc. proceeded with an eviction lawsuit when the matter was not resolved within its timeline.

“I wrote the letter to comply with the law,” said Stephanie Friese, attorney for GrimeSquare Executive. “I am sure they did others.”

According to court records, Friese backed up the threat of eviction on Aug. 23. She filed a lawsuit against Weeks in Gwinnett County Civil Court that started eviction proceedings “for the non-payment of rent,” Friese said.

Two days later, Weeks was facing litigation again — for allegedly beating his wife after they met at the Concourse Renaissance Hotel in Atlanta to discuss what family has described as “personal business.”

Friese, the attorney for the landlord, called the incident “coincidental.”

Weeks turned himself in to police last Friday at the Fulton County Courthouse and was released on a $40,000 bond. He was charged with two felonies — aggravated assault for allegedly beating, choking and stomping Bynum and making terrorist threats for threatening to kill her, police said.

Bynum’s publicist did not have a comment early Friday.

Weeks could not be reached for comment. However, his attorney, Ed Garland, said he is not aware of any money problems Weeks may be having.

“I have not concerned myself with his financial status,” Garland said.

Garland said Weeks and Bynum discussed many things the night of the alleged incident. He said he did not know about a possible eviction from the church.

“They had been meeting a couple of hours discussing everything about their relationship,” he said. “There was a huge number of things being talked about.”

An out-of-court deal was reached Friday to stop the eviction proceedings against Global Destiny, Friese said.

“This morning the parties reached an agreement,” he said. “The settlement document has already been signed.”

Friese would not discuss whether GrimeSquare Executive received full payment for the church’s rent and other fees under the lease or whether Weeks was put on a payment plan. The bishop continued to have church services there. The church is located at 4830 Rivergreen Parkway in Duluth.

“If he complies with the terms of the settlement, he will be able to remain in possession,” she said.

Juanita Bynum’s ministry at a crossroads

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 Hat Tip: By Errin Haynes, Associated Press

Juanita Bynum is known and admired by thousands as a fiery evangelist whose no-nonsense, lead-by-less-than-perfect-example message of self-improvement was seemingly illustrated by her fairy-tale marriage to a man who also is a widely known minister.

The romance, which included a million-dollar wedding, became a nightmare last week when Thomas W. Weeks III was charged with choking his wife, pushing her to the ground in a hotel parking lot and stomping on her.

Her example, of living one’s life as an empowered Christian single woman-turned-spouse, now shifts to spouse-turned-survivor.

“The very thing she’s been preaching and proclaiming has now blown up in her own life,” said Duke University theology professor J. Kameron Carter. “She becomes Exhibit A for her own message.”

Since their marriage in an elaborate ceremony in 2002, Bynum and Weeks had both worked out of Global Destiny Church, but had their own independent and successful ministries, attracting tens of thousands to their conferences and selling thousands of books and CDs. She is the star preacher in the marriage, with her successful career as a media personality, gospel singer, author and playwright.

They had become estranged, and on Aug. 22 they met at a hotel to try to reconcile their differences. Within hours, police were called to Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, where they found Bynum with bruises. According to the police report, she told officers Weeks “choked her, pushed her down, kicked and stomped her … until a bellman pulled him off of her.”

Two days later, Weeks turned himself in to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office. He was released on $40,000 bail with the condition that he have no contact with his wife or her sister. On Friday, he was indicted on charges of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats.

Weeks’ attorney, Ed Garland, didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

A request to speak with Bynum through her publicist was declined.

Bynum’s MySpace page has a message for her followers: “I am currently recovering from all of my injuries and resting well. There are so many great things happening for me in my future, and so much to look forward to concerning my destiny, this too shall pass. The Bible says in Proverbs 4:25 ‘Let your eyes look right on with fixed purpose and let your gaze be straight before you.’”

Bynum, a former hairdresser and flight attendant, gained wide attention after she preached her breakout sermon, “No More Sheets,” at a Christian singles event in 1998 about breaking free of sexual promiscuity. An audience of thousands applauded her raw, no-nonsense delivery, peppered with first-person accounts of her struggle with her spirituality and secular ways.

“I find it very difficult to listen to anybody preach to me about being single when they got a pair of thighs in their bed every night … telling me to ‘Hold on,’” Bynum roared. “I wanna hear ‘Hold on’ from somebody who’s really holding on! I wanna hear ‘Hold on’ from somebody who knows about struggle!”

She admonished the women in the audience to improve themselves before seeking husbands.

“We ain’t got nothing,” she told them. “What are you bringing to the table? God is calling you to accountability today! Get yourself together!”

Lauren Aqeel was 10 years old when she saw Bynum’s sermon and said it had a powerful effect on her.

“At the time, there were not many female preachers I had been exposed to,” said Aqeel, now 18, who added that she felt the call to preach a few years later. “She has been a mentor from afar to me.”

Pulpit power couples like Bynum and Weeks lead several successful black churches, with their marriages prominently factored into their ministries and serving as an example to their congregations. Often, the wives also run popular women’s ministries that extol the virtues of being a good Christian woman, spouse and parent.

These couples include Creflo and Taffi Dollar, who head World Changers Church International, based in College Park; Bishop T.D. Jakes and his wife, Serita, leaders of The Potter’s House, based in Dallas; and Bishop Eddie Long and his wife, Vanessa, who are the faces of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia.

But for Bynum and Weeks, the allegation of domestic violence could have meaning beyond their marriage.

“For all of the strides that have been made to overcome the male dominance that is associated with fundamental Christian expression, this throws light on the ways in which women have been overshadowed in problematic and troublesome ways in the charismatic movement,” Carter said.

At a forum Thursday at Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta, many of the young women in the audience said they were shocked and saddened to hear of the alleged attack on Bynum.

“It just hit me like a wake-up call, that even the strongest can be victims,” said sophomore Elizabeth Alexander. “When he was hitting her, her husband had no respect for her role.”

Alexander said she sought the opinion of her own pastor, who is male, expecting him to condemn Weeks’ actions. Instead, he responded with scriptures, and said nothing of domestic violence being wrong.

“I was thinking ‘This is my spiritual leader. If I’m abused, what do you do for me?’”

Support for Weeks has been strong on his MySpace page. One message posted Aug. 28 reads: “Bishop Weeks, don’t be discouraged, but be encouraged. Stand firm and know that the Lord is mighty in battle.”

Kera Street, 20, said she is disturbed by such comments.

“She is a victim,” Street said. “It can’t be supported or condoned by the church.”

In an Aug. 31 e-mail to The Associated Press, Jakes said it is time for the faith community to come out of shock over the Bynum-Weeks controversy.

“Knowing the Bible may make you a strong Christian or a great speaker but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the only resource we can draw from or work with to help those in our pews who suffer in silence,” Jakes wrote. “Prayer is a good starting point but this is a problem where wise and fair action steps are needed.”

Aqeel said the incident brings Bynum closer to her followers.

“It got a point where you didn’t see her past anymore,” Aqeel said. “You were seeing a polished, well-groomed, woman of God. But now you see she’s still a work in progress. That’s going to create a deeper audience for her.”

Carter said it’s impossible to predict how Bynum’s ministry will rebound, but he said it’s possible she’ll resume with little loss.

“This in no way undermines her significance. If anything, it underscores the importance of that aspect of her message — the need for healthy relationships. It underscores that no preacher is bigger than their own message.”

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