Friday, April 1, 2011
Society • April Fool’s Day Appropriate for Breaking Headline
In Ultra Liberal California, Christians are generally hated and undermined at every opportunity. A church in Oakley, California has constantly been in the crosshairs of this atheistic, socialist state. especially when it began to have a positive effect on the area of East County, in the Bay Area. A public school was constructed and just before it opened, the housing crash began, workers were losing their jobs, forced to move due to foreclosures on their homes, and there were no students to enroll in the school. It sat empty. Mountain View Christian Center made arrangements to lease it from the cash strapped town of Oakley, using the classrooms for Trinity Christian School and the auditorium for the worship services. The superintendent of the Oakley School Distirict seemed to be uneasy with the arrangement from the start, and would contempuously refer to the teachers and staff as; “Those Christians.”
The final straw for the superintendant, Rick Rogers, was when the church launched a new website called, The Hunted Child, which was a program to protect children from molestors and predators. Announcements went out about the new program. On the day of the launching, Mr. Rogers had contacted the newspapers and the launch day was greeted with another front page story stating that Rogers wanted MVCC out and that “the property can be used for more viable purposes.” On the School District website, he stated that it would be better to let the school stand empty until a more profitable use comes in. (?)
See the story, “Bombshell Strikes Hunted Child Launch”, on this website to see the background of the attacks which are very informative.
Next, Mr. Rogers alerted all the area newspapers that he was coming to MVCC with a sledge hammer to get them out. An email was sent to the school notifying them of this impending action, which was sent on Friday evening at about 4:30 pm. By that time the offices were closed for the weekend. On Monday morning, with the newspapers present, he came to the campus with his henchmen, ordered students to begin carrying out school furniture and emptying several classrooms. The students all had to go to other classrooms for their day’s instruction.
The next day, of course, the Contra Costa Times had a feature with a headline no doubt gleefuly written: “Oakley Schools Evict Church.” The Press, a community newspaper that serves the East County cities of, Brentwood, Oakley, Antioch,and Discovery Bay got into the fray and their fictionalized story is today, April 1st, on every front page of their papers. You can see the headlines by going to: http://www.thepress.net
Today, this response to the smear job was sent to editor, Rick Lemyre with a respectful request to publish it for the issue coming out next Friday:
April Fools Day Appropriate for Headline
by Rev. Austin Miles
It is not unusual, during this depression (yes, DEpression) to read about foreclosures due to businesses and organizations getting behind on payments. Payment-delay links in the chain affects the entire chain. Someone who owes somebody who owes somebody else and cannot pay affects everybody. Bankruptcies unfortunately are now commonplace. Border’s Book Stores for example are closing and reorganizing through bankruptcy. So it is puzzling how The Press would devote full front page coverage, spilling over to pages 10 and 11, criticizing and attacking a church that is experiencing the downturn of the economy like everyone else.
The issue of the conflict is that Mountain View Christian Center (MVCC) and Trinity Christian School in Oakley, got a couple of months behind in their lease payments. This has happened in the past and every dollar owed was made up in full. The church/school has paid the Oakley School District over a half million dollars for a school that sat empty for two years, costing taxpayers $30,000 a year to sit empty. And they will be paid completely this time as well.
So the big question is: since this was only about being behind in payments, why was it necessary to launch into a flurry of personal attacks against the pastor, Jerry Hanoum, staff people and the ministry of MVCC? The Ad-Hominen attacks in order to make a point suggests that there is a much deeper agenda here in play. What is worse, the ‘information’ given is slanted and skewed to the point of being falsified. The most interesting fabrication is that this church “has been operating illegally.” How’s that again? America has not become a communist nation…yet.
The reporter claims that the church does not have a tax exempt recognition. The church has a FEDERAL 501C Non Profit Tax Exempt Status. That is what was required to have The Food Pantry list MVCC as a qualified non-profit organization for them to supply food for the church to give the hungry.
To further question the motives of this attack, let’s look at The Press itself. This writer has been a supporter of The Press since its inception. Through the years, the front page of each area served was localized for that particular community. This is the first time in the history of The Press that the same feature story (that applied to Oakley), was splashed on the front page of every community, town, city edition. This writer would be loath to think that the problem the Oakely School District has with MVCC is that it is Mountain View CHRISTIAN Center and Trinity CHRISTIAN School.
It is sad to see what had been a fine community newspaper evolve to tabloid sensationalism to attack an organization that has reached out and given so much to the community. However, it is ironically appropriate that the headline story broke today, April 1, 2011…April Fool’s Day.
Stay tuned. You will be informed about the status of my editorial. Plus, another story is about to break on this situation that you do not want to miss. So check back.
(Rev. Austin Miles is a staff pastor at Mountain View Christian Center and Community Chaplain Instructor/Coordinator.)