Friday, March 7, 2014

Ohio Police Assist Christian Pastors to Make Religious Propaganda Film

by Nomad

What could be better for a phony war on Christianity than a series of mock arrests of innocent preachers? And even better than that? Why, video taping the staged event- without bothering to tell the congregation- and uploading them to YouTube without any explanation. 
Best of all, the local sheriff and his deputies were more than ready to assist in the making of this propaganda.

During last Sunday's sermon, parishioners  at Greater Bethel Baptist Church in Akron Ohio must have been stunned and outraged as armed deputies from the Summit County Sheriff's office marched into their church.
The members of the congregation were told that the police- with a camera crew in tow- had come to arrest their pastor, Reverend Melford Elliott. Other churches in the area were scenes for more arrests, which included the Rev. Robert Golson, pastor at Prince of Peace Baptist Church; and the Rev. Vincent Peterson, pastor at Providence Baptist Church. In the video, sheriff deputies are shown handcuffing the pastors who continued to preach before placing them in the backs of patrol cars.

Little did any of the church-goers know that they were actually unpaid extras in a staged event, the making of a film, part of a project called "Defending the Faith." The website says that the goal of the dramatization is to make people more aware of what it takes for pastors to defend the Christian faith beyond preaching on Sundays. According one source:
A seven-minute YouTube video created by the KAZ radio television network documents each arrest, with the theme song to the reality legal series "Cops" playing in the background. In each arrest, sheriff's deputies enter the church with the KAZ film crew in tow, approaching the pulpit during the pastor's sermon and telling him he is under arrest for "defending the faith." The pastors go willingly, but often respond by saying they will continue defending their Christian faith until they die.
After the mock arrests, Edra Frazier, marketing coordinator for the project explained to members of the church that the whole thing had been the making of a marketing tool.
Sheriff Steve Barry and his deputies had agreed to participate. Deputies on the video gave realistic interviews, portraying themselves as conflicted about arresting the pastors. It' all very authentic and convincing.
One thing they had forgotten to mention to the police. As part of the marketing, however, the video of the arrests were immediately uploaded with any explanatory information that the events were simulated arrests. 

According to one site, Frazier thinks things came off very well:
“In terms of marketing, it has been very successful because it is creating a buzz. People are asking ‘why are those pastors being arrested’ and are digging a little deeper to find out what’s behind the arrests. We do, however, need to do a more adequate job of tagging the posts with production information.”
Production information in this case means information explaining that it was all complete and deceptive fabrication. (It should be mentioned that even now there is not explanatory captioning accompanying the YouTube video.)

In a press release, Sheriff Barry was quick to make things clear.
“I want to clarify that none of the arrests were real. It was all part of a skit that went along with the pastors’ sermons that day. I knew it was being filmed, but I thought it was only going to be shown to the congregation.
He said he was very glad to help out the community religious leaders. Soon enough he would have some regrets.
Once it got out there on the Web, people were commenting about how disgusting we were to interrupt church services to effect an arrest.”
He claims that he had no idea that the video would be shown outside of the immediate congregation and certainly not without full explanation. According to a sheriff's statement, the problem lay not with the whole idea but that the film was so widely distributed.
“Had I known these videos were going to be viewed on websites I certainly would have asked for a caption or disclaimer so those viewing would know they were not real arrests.”
Even if the videos had been responsibly captioned, there would have been other problems, such as language barriers. Most importantly, the sheriff apparently sees nothing improper about using his deputies, police automobiles and equipment- all tax paid- to help tax-exempt churches make what is clearly being used as deceitful religious propaganda. 
Sheriff Barry said:
“I feel we have an obligation to the community as part of our community policing and community relations. It took nothing away from their assignments and it was a good way to continue building relationships.”
In an attempt to smooth ruffled feathers, the sheriff has one more thing to say.
“Just so everyone knows more simulated arrests are to take place in the next few weeks”
Predictably, the news of the arrests flew around the Internet much faster than the truth. Cynics would argue that that was the intention all along, that and self-promotion. As one comment read:
It's become the thing to stage fake persecution events like this in America, since as the most powerful religious institution in the country by far, it's the only way for Christians to maintain the critical impression that they're persecuted. Unfaked oppression is hard to come by in the US when 3/4 of Americans and 90% of Congress are Christian. Thus staged events are so important.
The videos were deliberately posted on YouTube by the churches to look as if the events were real, with no indication they were staged, so the idea is spreading that this really happened. (Easier to say "oops" later).
And Akron police are happy to spend taxpayer dollars to help them do it.
Imagine the unmitigated uproar if the police had been agreed to stage an arrest of an imam at a mosque to be used to promote the idea of Muslim persecution in the US? Picture the outrage over police participating in the fake arrests of rabbis outside of synagogues to show how pervasive Antisemitism is?