Creflo Dollar ofWorld Changers church, host of the ChangingYour World television program, is refusing to give a courtfinancial and counseling records in the divorce proceedings offormer boxing champion Evander Holyfield and his wife, Janice.Police were about to arrest Dollar for contempt of court when his lawyers filed an appeal in the case.
The boxer may have given a lot of money to World Changersbefore divorce proceedings began last year, The AtlantaJournal-Constitution said. Dollar preaches about prosperity, andhis services feature testimonies of people who have prosperedsince following his teachings, the paper said. Members arerequired to tithe and show church leaders their personalfinancial information.
Dollar says testifying in the case would violate the privilegeof privacy that clergy and those they counsel enjoy. He quoted aGeorgia state law saying that "every communication made by any personprofessing religious faith, seeking spiritual comfort, or seekingcounseling" to a clergy member "shall be deemed privileged."
The confidential relationship between a pastor and his or hermembers "is of vital importance," Dollar said. "Once a pastor testifies in adivorce action between two people who were members of his churchand that he counseled in an effort to save the marriage, thatrelationship is destroyed not only between those two members butbetween members generally."
The result is that people stopseeking counseling because they can not trust their religious adviser, he said.
"Would you or anyone else go to a minister, priest, or rabbiif you felt that your conversations might end up in courtproceedings some time later?" Dollar said. "Do weas a society no longer want a place where we can communicatefreely and trust that it will never be repeated? Do we as asociety want to have to guess about what communications can beshared freely and which should not be disclosed to our minister,priest or rabbi?"
People are divided in their opinions about Dollar, theJournal-Constitution said. Some note that Dollar "relentlesslyattacks the idea that Christians should limit their materialpossessions," travels to speaking engagements in a $5 millionprivate jet, and enters the 8,000-member church "like a rockstar." Others see him as a compassionate person who helps theneedy and whose "message of prosperity is twisted out ofcontext."