Update: So, Bonnke's ministry got back to us with the original photo of Bonnke preaching. It was taken at a crusade in Jos, Nigeria, in 2005. The faked photo submitted to the Chron was of two separate events, in different cities, five years apart. Margo Williams tells us, " CfaN [Bonnke's ministry] is being entirely transparent as there is no intent to deceive."
The Houston Chronicle is having to rub some egg off its face Tuesday after it was revealed that a photo accompanying a story about evangelical preacher Reinhard Bonnke was altered by Bonnke's ministry, Christ for All Nations. The mini-scandal is picking up steam ever since it made journalists' beloved site, Jimromenesko.com.
Shame on Bonnke's organization. And we don't think the Chron can be blamed for Christ for All Nations' actions. This could happen to just about any publication. There but for the grace of God (who is apparently a drinkin' buddy of Bonnke's) go us.
The Chron's correction states that a representative of Bonnke's ministry told the Chron that the photo was a "combined" crowd shot of Bonnke speaking in Nigeria in 2000 -- the photo blended day- and nighttime shots of the crowd.
We have a call in to Christ for All Nations to get an explanation of why they faked the photo in the first place. It's one thing if they want to bullshit a bunch of people who believe Bonnke's claim about resurrecting a dead dude at one of his rallies -- people who probably wouldn't bat an eye at a photo of Bonnke riding a purple unicorn -- but don't pass off manipulated photos to the media.
Of all the stories the Chron has ever been embarrassed by, it's amazing that it was this one -- which we're sure the paper thought was just another innocuous religion story. And what amazes us even more is the rather straight-faced reporting of Bonnke's claims, and the local pastors who seem to support them. The article included a Sugar Land pastor who claimed that his chronic back pain was cured during a "church healing service." What's the point?
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Maybe now, after being on the receiving end of shenanigans, the Chron will investigate Bonnke. How much money does he rake in through Christ for All Nations? Where does the money go? Does he have any other financial interests? Has there ever been any litigation? Have his claims been called into question before? To us, that's infinitely more worthy a pursuit than giving front-page real estate to a guy who claims to have supernatural powers.
There are already a few online geniuses commenting on how the Chron should have noticed the photo was fixed, but that's pretty easy to say after the fact. The Chron is not the bad guy here.
We hope the woman from Christ for All Nations gets back to us, so they can explain just what they were thinking. But it's possible she's too busy playing mahjong with our dead Aunt Selma. In which case, we hope she says hi for us.