A Bit of Light Reiding

The New Humanist links to a new blog, MediaWatchWatch, which

was set up in January 2005 in reaction to the religious campaign against the BBC’s broadcasting of Jerry Springer: the Opera.

We are trying to keep an eye on those groups and individuals who seek to limit our freedoms in order to protect their beliefs from offense.

The emphasis appears to be on the British Christian Right, with attention given to groups such as Christian Voice and Mediawatch-UK. Their latest entry includes a piece on Peniel Pentecostal Church, which operates under Bishop Michael Reid in Brentwood, Essex:

Values espoused by Michael Reid reportedly include: unemployed Christians should be allowed to starve, homosexuals are “filthy perverts”, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists are “vile” and “foul heathens”. They have been in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority over their adverts claiming miracle cures, and even resurrections. Members were accused of infiltrating the local Brentwood and Ongar Conservative Party, prompting Martin Bell to contest the seat in 2001.

Reid is an interesting character. A member of the Evangelical Alliance, he was ordained as a Bishop by the late Nigerian religious leader Benson Idahosa, and, alongside Earl Paulk, is part of the International Communion of Charismatic Churches (1). His church also runs a college which is affiliated with Oral Roberts University.

Unfortunately, all the newspaper coverage of Reid ignores perhaps his weirdest exploit, which involved hiring an actor as part of a ploy to stop Channel 4 making a documentary about him in 1998. The actor claimed to be from MI5 and asked the documentary makers to abandon their project in the interests of national security. The programme was part of a strand called Joe Public and this Channel 4 page features an interview with the director, Joe Layburn. Layburn and his colleagues secretly filmed all their meetings with the actor (a well-spoken, oldish gent) and eventually challenged him about his identity – resulting in a far more dramatic and entertaining piece than would otherwise have been the case. And, of course, also providing far more evidence than could ever be hoped for that Reid is a rather dodgy character.

(Thanks to MediaWatchWatch for jogging my memory about which TV programme that actually was)

UPDATE: It seems that there were a couple of other documentaries on Reid back in 1998. One, which was shown on ITV, had a complaint partially upheld against it by TV regulator Ofcom:

The Commission has partly upheld a complaint of unfairness by Peniel Pentecostal Church and Bishop Michael Reid about Carlton’s London Today and London Tonight. The programmes, which featured reports about Peniel Pentecostal Church and Bishop Reid, were broadcast on 30 April 1998. The Commission considered that the implication that Bishop Reid had awarded himself the title of Bishop was unfair since would seem to have been consecrated as a Bishop by international group of non-conformist churches.

The Commission found that the programme-makers misrepresented the purpose of the programmes to Peniel Pentecostal Church and Bishop Reid. As there was no overriding public interest to justify the misrepresentation, this was unfair. It also found that the programmes’ failure to offer Peniel Pentecostal Church and Bishop Reid an opportunity to respond to allegations about them was unfair, as was the programmes’ undue reliance on known critics and former church members. With regard to the portrayal of Peniel Pentecostal Church as a “sect” or “cult”, the Commission found unfairness. It was not unfair to criticise Bishop Reid’s qualifications, nor was it unfair to describe him as advocating corporal punishment of children by “beating”. The Commission also noted that Bishop had made incorrect statements to the programme-makers about Peniel Pentecostal Church’s academic results.

Accordingly, the complaint was upheld in part.

There was also apparently a documentary on the BBC.

(1) For some reason, I could only find an Australian affiliate site to the ICCC. The similar-sounding International Communion of Christian Churches is another Pentecostal grouping that uses episcopal titles, but dates only from 1998. I don’t know how this new ICCC relates to the other ICCC.

4 Responses

  1. […] woman, and on Bishop Earl Paulk (an ally of the UK’s Bishop Mike Reid, whom we’ve seen before), who married McClendon to his mistress a week after the divorce came through. Possibly related […]

  2. […] Maasbach, is associated with Bishop Michael Reid of the Peniel Church in Essex (which I blogged on here). The Maasbachs emphasise miracle healings in their ministries, and Robert claims that he was cured […]

  3. Reid has just ‘stepped down’ from the church after admitting an 8 year affair with a woman in the church.

  4. […] agent and that the programme should not be made for reasons of national security (I blogged on this here). A few years after that, there was further bad publicity when members of the church were accused […]

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