Saturday, June 02, 2012

Why the Sunday Express newshounds are on the trail of the Todd Bentley fox?

{Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On dec 8, 2011] As Todd Bentley moved on from Wales and prepares to visit a meeting place that is advertised as not far from London, we can mention that other British newspapers have not found the evangelist’s return to Britain to be newsworthy yet. The Sunday Express, however, has. As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, the newspaper has warned “Beware the tattoo preacher”, quoting a local Tory MP who fears that Bentley’s often amazing claims are “far-fetched”. He warns his constuents to stay clear. A similar warning was issued by the newspaper in a 2008 story, which led Todd Bentley, in a video that is still on YouTube, to basically dare the newspaper to try and stop him, in my view. Given this—which I’ll explain below—it’s no wonder that the news nose of the Sunday edition of the Daily Express newspaper continues to smell keenly. Reading the Sunday Express story, at first glance you may be dismayed as the story quotes Bentley making various fabulist claims at face value. For what it’s worth, I think they did a fine job. We just need to keep in mind the constraints of newspaper stories and how they are structured. The “inverted pyramid” style used in newspapers dates back to the days of the telegraph when rates per word were high and telegraph service often failed . The essential information is high up in the story, and in this case, it’s the warning to be wary. Readers looking quickly at the story will conclude that this Bentley fellow is selling a load of bollocks and move on. Yes, Bentley is quoted without being directly refuted, but the idea of “be careful—he may not be what he seems” has been planted. As few, if any, of the newspaper’s readers have any direct experience, with people returning from the dead, say, my guess is they will be raising their eyebrows as they read what Bentley says. If the Sunday Express merely wanted to promote Bentley, they would take his claims at face value and splash them on page one. That they are adopting this marked caution in their tone demonstrates that they are not. There is paltry information about the 33 people—wasn’t it 32-- that Todd Bentley claims to have brought back from the dead. We don’t know who these people are. The doctors who wrote the report that Bentley quotes refuse to release the report, or their names, to the public. Skepticism is justified, as I explained in this post exploring the issue when Bentley started to pursue this line of argument. (Good thing I quoted what I needed to before Morningstar moved everything behind a subscriber wall. That’s how you can make sure that Bentley never gets called on anything he says. Nice transparency, Rick Joyner.) Is Bentley now saying that the doctors verified 33? Did he raise two people from the dead that he never mentioned before Lakeland? And you’ll notice, in the quote from the video, that you have to now pay to see, that back in 2010, the doctors verified “22” of whatever they chose to verify. Now, according to the Sunday Express account, he is merely claiming “twenty”. Did the doctors recant their findings about two of the people that Bentley’s commissioned report cites? I’d like to hear if that is the case. But we probably won’t. [Auctioneer: Do I have 18? Thank you…Do I have 17, will someone give me 17…” :) ] If I had “miraculously resuscitated” anyone, the number of people that I had done this for would be cemented in my mind forever. Ah yes, not being exact in one’s recall. Hopefully, if the Sunday Express does a follow-up story, they will be aware of the work that World magazine did. As you’ll remember, Warren Cole Smith’s 2009 story followed up on a list of people that Bentley’s ministry said had been “healed at Lakeland”. Alas, he was able to report that since Lakeland two of the people who were alledged healed had died. By now, there is probably more. Todd Bentley never gets around to mentioning this in the interest of accountability and accuracy. Maybe an Express reporter, say, can get him to ‘fess up. There is a backstory between Todd and the newspaper by the way. Bentley almost visited Britain shortly after the Lakeland revival in September 2008. But a story by the Sunday Express on June 29, 2008, almost certainly played a role in putting a stop to his plans. The Church Times blog in their post about the story and the immediate aftermath reported that the Anglican Bishop of Dudley at the time, David Walker was so concerned about Bentley’s visit that he planned to make his own inquiries. “Born-again child abuser’s visit to “cure cancer’ read the 2008 Sunday Express headline. And it went downhill for Bentley from there, as the newspaper reported that Bentley had admiited “That he was jailed as a juvenile for sex offenses involving a boy aged under 10.” The 2008 Sunday Express piece noted some of the stranger experiences that Bentley had talked about while on the Lakeland stage, and then reported that he was planning a visit to a Birmingham exhibition center. This was because, the paper noted, of his close ties with Tom and Sharon Baker, of a church in the Brmingham suburb of Dudley. The newspaper went on to do a phone poll, asking respondents whether Todd Bentley should be banned from Britain. 79 per cent of respondents answered Yes. Various sources online say that the following Sunday Express quote from that day comes from their “story”. It reads more like an editorial to me, but here’s what the Sunday Express intended to be their final word for the time being. Church authorities were ‘right to query” what Bentley was doing: “No doubt his shows are a spectacle that many enjoy but few ever see the consequences left among the frail by charlatans.” Did Todd see the story? I’ll say. And we have video proof that you can still watch on YouTube, as I write… The video poster had their own reasons for uploading the footage, but happily for us, it also captures what has to be Todd Bentley’s defiant 2008 GOD TV response to what the Sunday Express had written. There’s no humility or repentance. Needless to say. As videos go missing, I’ll quote Bentley’s remarks in detail. According to when it would have been posted, this would have been between when the Sunday Express story ran and July 14, 2008 Anyways, Todd is talking about all the fabulous things that have happened at Lakeland, and then remarks that various media outlets are have been curious about what is going on. “God alwaya moves in power when the media shows up,” says Bentley. (It has not really been the case the several times that I have been to watch Todd Bentley in action, it goes without saying…) Even secular media are interested, he says starting at 3:16 of this YouTube clip. I’ll quote starting from there. Emphasis mine:
“….People go, ‘Todd aren’t you afraid the media’s gonna use you?’ Oh, they did a terrible story on me in England, I know. Terrible story. Blown out of proportion. Never verified the facts. Didn’t communicate with me. But you know what, it doesn’t matter because even bad controversy serves for the glory of God. You pray for me? How many people tonight here from Europe? How many people here tonight here from England? How many watching tonight in England and Europe? Of the revival? You pray for us. We’re coming September the 20th, through the 23rd of September. And I’m telling you, they are already trying to ban me from England. Can you imagine? They said, Todd do you know there’s a story here in the paper, they want to ban you from England. I said ‘Praise God, the devil doesn’t like me all the way in Europe’ The revival hasn’t even got there yet and they’re just helping me get ready for the nation to be shaken by the glory and the power of God!! I’m telling you, get ready England. In September (2008), the whole nation [of England] , Ireland, Scotland and wherever you are in Europe, we’re coming and the fire is going to fall and the devil is going to shake in his boots!! And the media can write whatever they want to, ‘cause in the end, Jesus. I was made for this stuff! Somebody on my team said, ‘Todd, I don’t know, I think you get excited about controversy . I said, ‘absolutely not’, You know the whole world, this is what they are talking about. Good, bad and ugly, this is what they’re talking about, and the more an more, people just get hungry. Let me read you this story….
1. The Sunday Express had all their facts right. As someone who has watched Bentley for 10 years now, I see nothing in that story that is factually incorrect. 2. If it “doesn’t matter”, then why is Todd Bentley attacking the authors of the story on an internationally distributed GOD TV broadcast? If memory serves, I think that GOD TV may even be available on British cable TV. 3. The “banning reference is a direct reference to the 2008 Sunday Express story and would logically identify, his subsequent references in this quote to “they” as the Sunday Express newspaper as no one else raised the possibility of a ban. You catch the reference that the Sunday Express is doing the bidding of the devil? How christlike is it to say that your opponents are doing the work of Satan? Should the “leader of a mighty revival” know to turn the other cheek? 4. If Todd was “made for this stuff”, why, after hiding for months and an extensive “restoration process” do people have so many questions about Lakeland and his current activities that remain unanswered? 5. The most interesting thing is Todd prophecy, or at least a promise that he was going to visit Europe starting In September 2008. Nothing was going to stop him, unless his own will got involved. Doesn’t Todd owe an apology to his European friends for not coming in 2008. Who knows, maybe the “revival” he speaks of might have actually happened if he had been obedient to what they Lord was telling him to do. Did any big revival of any sort happen in Europe in September 2008. God could have used anyone, especially anyone connect with Lakeland, to start one. If Todd intended to be prophetic here, and I think he was, we can perhaps hold him to the biblical standard, that if he prophesies and is wrong, we can put less credence in what he has to say… At any rate, this is a strong swipe at the Sunday Express. A wrong-headed one, of course, but if I were working at the newspaper back in 2008, this would emphasize to me that the coverage I had done had hit home. It would certainly make me think that I would want to keep an eye on Todd Bentley. And I would think that he may well, continue to be possibly newsworthy. And that may be why their newshounds caught a scent. And I offer them my congratulations for that. A couple of quick additional notes. Bentley first went to Cwmbran Wales. Wikipedia tells us that the region of Cwmbran has just over 47.000 people as of 2001. The town was created in the late 1940s to take advantage of cola mining. If you look at a Google Map of the area, it appears to me anyway that the nearest sizeable city is Cardiff. Using the M$ freeway, Cardiff would be 21 miles away, or a 32 minute drive. [Lakeland Florida, says Google maps, is almost 36 miles away from the major city of Tampa Florida., a 45 minute drive.]. As I write, Todd was scheduled to be in Horsham England, which is a town south of London. Google maps says 40 miles and 1 hour 7 minutes away. Todd seems to be increasingly fond of smaller cities or towns that are close enough to a big city that you can get to them with some effort. Because it is not impossible to get to Cwmbran or Horsham, “revival” seekers are close enough to get to Todd Bentley is, but far enough away that they have to think “I really hope that something happens, as I came this far…” Being a little far away, as Todd Bentley remembers from Lakeland, it can take quite some time for excitement to build up, so that the secular media comes and sees you. But I think that is not Bentley’s thinking now. The longevity of Lakeland allowed people who were worried about what was happening to come and see what was going on and prepare a response. So I think we’ll see Bentley not stay in these smaller towns for only a few days, or a week at most. Bigger cities likely won’t see him. So hurry kids, the circus is in our little town for only two days!