Former pastor leads Police to body of woman he killed


Northwest Florida Daily News reports…

“Human remains were retrieved Friday from the back yard of an Ocean City home formerly owned by pastor James Flanders.

Bones believed to be those of 37-year-old Marie Carlson were just where Flanders had told authorities the day before that they would find them.

He took investigators to 714 Revere Avenue Thursday to show them where he’d buried Carlson after literally squeezing the life out of her.

Officers from four agencies spent hours carefully removing the remains to allow for their shipment to Pensacola, where the Medical Examiner’s Office will positively identify them, said Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mike Card.

The identification will conclude a search for the 37-year-old Carlson that began on Oct. 17, 2011 when her ex-husband, Jeff Carlson, reported her missing.

It will also clear the way for Flanders, once the popular pastor of Calvary Emerald Coast Church, to secure a plea deal that ensures he will serve no more than 15 years in prison for killing Carlson.

Jeff Carlson said Friday there is great relief in finally recovering his ex-wife’s body, but no joy in seeing Flanders use its recovery to finagle a deal with the State Attorney’s Office.

“I want people to understand that yes, as a family we all agreed to presenting the deal as an option, but that doesn’t mean we’re happy with it,” Jeff Carlson said. “That was the only way we were going to find out what he did with her remains.

“That he will only serve 15 years is a travesty.”

The deal was finalized in Okaloosa County Circuit Court Thursday when Judge William Stone accepted Flanders plea of guilty to the charge of manslaughter and agreed to cap the sentence at a maximum of 15 years.

Flanders could also be sentenced to a minimum guideline sentence of just over nine years and has asked the judge for the opportunity to argue for a downward departure even from that.

A sentencing hearing will be held July 19. State Attorney Bill Eddins has already said he will seek to have the 15 year maximum imposed.

The plea deal was brokered over several days of negotiations, Eddins said.

Flanders confessed to prosecutors during the discussions that he had killed Carlson during an argument by placing her in “a tight bear hug” and hanging on until she stopped moving.

Afterward he buried her in the back yard on the west side of the home.

Carlson was living with Flanders and his wife, Tanya, at the Revere Avenue address at the time of her death.

She was in what Tanya Flanders described to a church friend a “sister wife” relationship, with the Flanders, a police report said, and bore a child, Grace, shortly before she died.

Jeff Carlson said Grace is presently under the care of Tanya Flanders and Carlson family members have exhausted almost all efforts to wrest custody away.

Tanya Flanders is unhappy that the family is even allowed court-ordered video visits with Grace.

“She feels that they shouldn’t be allowed even that,” Carlson said.

Tanya Flanders is not considered an accomplice in the disappearance or death of Marie Carlson, Eddins said.

Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office, Medical Examiner’s Office, FDLE and State Attorney’s Office were all represented Friday at the Revere Avenue residence. Card, who acted as spokesman for the group, said each agency was playing a particular role in the excavation.

Remains were found fairly quickly into the search, Card said, but once they were located the pace of the digging slowed dramatically.

“We’re literally using tongue depressors and toothbrushes,” Card said at about 10 a.m. “It’s a very slow, meticulous process.”

A forensic anthropologist was brought on scene to assist in removing the remains, Card said. He said such care was taken to preserve the evidentiary value of any items found.

The commotion at the residence, complete with a cop directing traffic, crime scene tape and an FDLE van, disrupted the calm of the quiet residential neighborhood. Passersby stopped to ask assembled media what was going on.

Polly Yates, who has lived on Revere Avenue for 34 years, was distressed by the whole scene.

“I’ll be glad when it’s all over,” she said. “It’s beyond me how this can happen.”

Jeff Carlson, who now lives in Colorado, still holds fond memories of his ex-wife, whose passing can now be memorialized in proper fashion.

“I never stopped loving her,” he said. “She wanted to go her own way, and I had to respect that.”

The couple had a daughter of their own, Paris, who is about to turn 12. She’s old enough now, Jeff said, to begin to understand the horrors her mother endured.

“I’ll have to deal with the after effects,” he said.”



Murdered pastor’s girlfriend charged


The Macon Telegraph reports…

“As the accused killer of Otis Redding’s grandson Brandon Parker remains in jail, Tracia Hubbard’s niece said the couple had a history of violence.

Hubbard went before a judge Saturday afternoon at the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center where she is being held without bond in Parker’s killing.

At about 1:30 a.m., Parker, 33, a church pastor whose father is Dexter Redding, son of the late singer, was fatally wounded in the neck after he and Hubbard reportedly had been arguing.

After the couple had gone out downtown, they wound up at Hubbard’s house at 739 Grosso Ave., where she lived with her mother, according to the arrest warrant.

Hubbard, 48, is accused of getting a .380 caliber revolver from her car and firing the fatal shot, the warrant states.

Monday, Hubbard’s niece, Joslyn Clayton, said her aunt was not only kneeling beside Parker’s body when Bibb County deputies arrived, but she was performing CPR.

A Bibb County sheriff’s news release states Bibb deputies administered CPR on the scene.

“Deputies didn’t have to administer CPR because he didn’t have a pulse when they got there. He passed when she was working on him,” Clayton said.

Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones, who knows both Parker and his girlfriend, said Hubbard had medical training and had worked for two doctors.

Hubbard also held a job at the M.A. Evans school where she trained students to march in the band and regularly carried the school banner in parades.

“It’s a tragedy,” Jones said of the killing.

Clayton said the shooting early Saturday was not the couple’s only violent episode.

“There was actually a history of domestic abuse that a lot of people didn’t know about,” Clayton said. “She had broken bones and was on crutches a couple of months ago after he pushed her off a porch.”

Attempts to reach the Parker and Redding families were not immediately successful.

Bibb County court records did not document any history of violence, but it is not yet clear whether authorities were called to a disturbance between the two.

“They must have kept it under wraps,” Jones said. “I didn’t hear anything until Brandon was dead.”

Jones stepped in for Parker in a ceremony honoring the young pastor’s maternal grandfather, Pastor Jacob Parker.

About 12 hours after Parker’s death, Jones accepted a proclamation renaming a portion of Elm Street for the longtime pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Jones said he frequently heard from the younger Parker.

“Anything I’ve done in this community, Brandon Parker called to congratulate me,” Jones said.

Due to Monday’s state holiday, it will be Tuesday at the earliest before an autopsy is performed on Parker’s body.”



Hey Paula


The Christian Post reports…

“Longtime televangelist and senior Pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, Paula White offered her followers an Easter Sunday deliverance from a spiritual death sentence for a $1,144 “resurrection seed” she says was set by God.

Preaching the story of Lazarus who Jesus resurrected from the dead in John 11:38-44, White promised believers in a video appeal that if they would sow the seed and have faith, she believed deliverance would come.

“I don’t know what is dead. I don’t know what the enemy sent a death to. I don’t know what decision that caused death to come upon whatever the situation you’re facing, but I do know that God has sent me to you to bring resurrection life. To tell you that I believe that as we put our faith together before Easter Sunday on March 27, there’s gonna be resurrection life in your life,” said White.

“The grave clothes are coming off,” she continued. “Whatever residue of death. Whatever residue is holding you back, it is coming off.”

White then revealed to her audience that she didn’t normally request a specific amount in monetary donations but said God was very specific about the amount required for the so-called resurrection seed.

“There’s someone that God is speaking to, to click on that donation button by minimizing the screen. And when you do to sow $1,144. It’s not often I ask very specifically but God has instructed me and I want you to hear. This isn’t for everyone but this is for someone. When you sow that $1,144 based on John 11:44 I believe for resurrection life,” said White.

For those who couldn’t afford her specific request for the resurrection seed, White encouraged them to give smaller donations.

“You say, Paula, I just don’t have that, then sow $144. I don’t have that. Sow $44 but stand on John Chapter 11:44,” she asserted.

White then promised that in return for sowing the resurrection seed, donors would receive special prayer cloths that could possible cause special miracles, signs and wonders.

“And when you do, there are prayer cloths that we have anointed that we have prayed over, that are going to be a point of contact. In Acts 19, the Bible says, Paul prayed over these prayer cloths and they brought forth special miracles, signs and wonders. There have been times that I have taken prayer cloths that have been anointed as a point of contact. I put them in my loved ones sneakers, I put them under their bed. I put them on parts of my body that I believe God for healing,” said White.

“And it was the most dire, distressed, absolutely devastating circumstance. I would stand in faith that that miracle was gonna come forth and I would watch God do it. God has never failed. I can sit here and say this. There is not anything in my life that I’ve prayed according to the word of God and I’ve not seen God answer,” she continued.

White was quick to note, however, that donors who sow a resurrection seed should not expect God to respond like a “sugar daddy.”

“Cause there are things I’ve prayed out of ignorance or asked out of my own desire and I said God, but your will be done. ‘Cause I knew, His word is His will. See His will is for whatever is dead in your life to come back to life. How do I know? John 10:10. Jesus came to give you life and give you life more abundantly,” she said. “So click on and minimize that screen and right now sow your miracle resurrection seed as we stand in faith together and I believe God for your miracle.”


Christians vs Lyle Shelton


The Sydney Morning Herald reports…

“In an all-Christian edition of Q&A, Australian Christian Lobby leader Lyle Shelton was confronted over a visiting American ally accused of equating gay rights with the rise of the Nazis in a panel debate that traversed everything from indigenous disadvantage to terrorism.

Mr Shelton, appearing on the program’s panel for the second time in eight weeks, was confronted by an audience questioner over his support for visiting Christian author and broadcaster Eric Metaxas and the American’s apparent comparison of gay advancement with the failure of churches to oppose the rise of the Nazis. “Do you think these comments are acceptable in a tolerant society such as ours, and are similar comments what we have to look forward to in an upcoming plebiscite debate on same-sex marriage?” audience member Daniel Comensoli asked.

Mr Shelton said Metaxas, the ACL’s guest for its national conference, had been taken out of context. But he added that in modern debates, he agreed with the American “in terms of the church being silent about certain cultural trends and going along with things which are contrary to the teachings of the church, whether it’s on marriage or something like that”.

“That’s the context with which Eric was making that point and I think it’s a good point because I’m very concerned that the church isn’t speaking up enough on this issue, because it’s a big social justice issue, it’s a big public policy issue and it has implications for the future of society, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and particularly for the freedom of children to be allowed wherever possible to know their mother and father and this is the sort of public policy that will change that.”

Of Metaxas, whose final Australian appearance on his “Fearless” tour is at Scots Church in Melbourne on Wednesday April 27, Mr Sheldon said: “There’s not an anti-gay bone in his body. He’s not anti anyone. He’s a lovely man but he believes marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Fellow panellist Julie McCrossin rebuked Mr Shelton in response: “I do feel it’s introducing to the Australian conversation an intensity and a savagery that is not normally part of our pluralistic society. As we move forward towards this question of whether we have equality under the Marriage Act or not, we don’t want to descend into this kind of brutality.”

Church shooting murder


CBS Philadelphia reports…

“Police are investigating a deadly shooting inside a church in Montgomery County. District Attorney Kevin Steele said at least one shot was fired following an altercation between two church members.

It happened shortly before 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the Keystone Fellowship Church along the 400 block of Stump Road in North Wales.

The victim was identified as 27-year-old Robert Braxton from Montgomeryville. Steele said the identity of the shooter will not be released at this time. He expanded to say authorities are investigating to see if the shooting was justified under the law.

“We have to look at the forensic evidence we have and then we’ll have to make determinations,” Steele said.

Police say Braxton was shot at least once in the chest and was rushed to Lansdale Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Steele said at the time of the shooting, an upward of 100 people were in the church.  Police confirm no one else was injured in the shooting.

Breeana Somers, a three year member of the church was attending the service when things got out of control.

“I guess a fight broke out and gunshots broke out,” she said. “The guy pulled a gun.”

Somers said it was a typical service when she heard multiple gunshots.

“We were worshiping, and you hear three different gunshots,’ Somers told Eyewitness News. “Everybody kind of went on the floor and was hiding.”

Somers said this isn’t going to stop her from attending service next week with her family.

“I’ve never feared for my safety. I work in the city too and that happens a lot more, and I think this was an isolated incident, and I think this isn’t going to happen again.”

According to authorities, no one is in custody, but the individual involved is cooperating with police and being questioned.

An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.”



Great Scott


The Sydney Morning Herald reports…

“Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has defended the right of a Christian commentator to make controversial statements concerning homosexuality, which have included likening the advancement of gay rights to the rise of Nazism in pre-war Germany.

“I respect everybody’s opinions, I just hope and wish others would do the same,” he said, after speaking at the Australian Christian Lobby conference. “I have always respected everybody else’s faith and always sought to respect everybody else’s view.”

The ACL has been criticised for inviting conservative American commentator Eric Metaxas as keynote speaker at Saturday’s event in Sydney. The author and radio host has drawn parallels between the current push for equality and the Church failing to stand up to the Nazi party.

He is also a supporter of gay conversion therapy and claims “normalising” homosexuality is an attempt to break down all sexual boundaries.

The Treasurer’s speech to the 600 people attending the ACL’s “Cultivating Courage” conference focused on the importance of marriage and the family, which he called “the most sacred national institution”. “To protect our country, to protect our society, to protect our economy and to protect our children, we must protect the family,” he said.

He thanked the “millions of people … who I know pray earnestly for our political leaders”.

“I’m a big believer in prayer, I’ve seen the impact of it in my own life and I know it works,” he said.

But the Treasurer declined to discuss further his own strong Christian beliefs. “My faith is not my politics. My faith is an important part of who I am, as it is of every human being, whatever their faith might be. Judge me on my policies. My faith is my business.”

ACL managing director Lyle Shelton told the conference that it was becoming harder to be a Christian in Australia. “We face false slurs and labels, designed to demonise us into silence,” he said.

“Bigot, homophobe, hater, are just some of the pejorative terms that have been used to characterise us ordinary Australians, who simply believe that marriage [should be] between a man and woman.”

A small group outside the Wesley Conference Centre staged a protest in favour of same-sex marriage and gay rights. Cat Rose, from the Community Action Against Homophobia, criticised Mr Morrison’s decision to speak at the ACL event. “We’ve got no problems with the Christian lobby but all they do is talk about gay rights and how to stop them,” she said.

Conference attendees were asked to “refrain from going outside at any time” to avoid protesters.

Mr Shelton also criticised public support from large corporations, including Telstra, for marriage equality. “If you work for a big corporation like Telstra, you’d better keep your head down because you might end up with a tap on the shoulder by the diversity officer,” he said.

“Such has been the capitulation and capture of corporate Australia by rainbow politics.”

In 2014, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten used his appearance at the ACL conference to make a case for marriage equality and argued that freedom of worship did not mean freedom to vilify.”

Cake fake? – updated*


KXAN reports…

The openly gay pastor who filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods over a gay slur on a cake was sued himself a few weeks earlier.

Wednesday, KXAN obtained a copy of the lawsuit from the Travis County Clerk’s Office claiming Brown defaulted on a $27,000 student loan.

The petition was filed March 11, 2016 by a student loan trust, and said Brown stopped paying on the student loan issued for the 2007-2008 school year at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.

Numerous calls and emails to Brown and his attorney have not been returned.

KXAN has not seen or heard from either of them since Monday when they called a press conference, and said an employee in the bakery wrote a derogatory word below the phrase “Love Wins.”

Whole Foods filed a counter suit claiming Brown was lying, and released surveillance video of him checking out with the cake in his hands. In the video, the sticker on the cake box Brown says he did not remove, is in a different spot.

Tuesday, KXAN reporter Chris Sadeghi went to Brown’s attorney’s office, and could see the cake box sitting on a conference table through the window.

Someone came out and told him they were not ready to comment, and were still reviewing the Whole Foods video.

Wednesday, KXAN went by Brown’s address listed on the student loan lawsuit which is the AMLI apartment complex on East Riverside. It is also the address Brown lists on his church website. The page says the Church of Open Doors meets in the AMLI social hub.

A manager at the complex told KXAN Brown’s church does not meet there.”



Pic:Kaplan Law Firm/The Dallas Morning News

Exorcism assault


The New Zealand Herald reports…

“A nurse has described a bizarre community exorcism in Auckland where a travelling pastor allegedly punched her in the face to cleanse her of demons.

Ketina Chivasa, who works at Auckland City Hospital, said the close-fisted punch was so hard she became dizzy, her face swelled up and she suffered a two-day headache.

“It was slap, slap, slap, punch, punch, punch, as he said: ‘I’m going to hit this demon out of you’,” Ms Chivasa claimed.

The event, at the Te Atatu South Community Centre on April 3, was targeted at Auckland’s African community.

It was led by Pastor O Moyo, head of the UK-based Divine Apostolic Ministries.

Pastor Moyo was advertised as a “Prophet of God” who could deliver people from spiritual attacks, demons and dysfunctional marriages.

He told the crowd of about 40 that all but three of them were possessed by demons, Ms Chivasa said.

The pastor went on to punch or slap at least 20 people and later asked for donations, she claimed.

“It was pure witchcraft and just crazy.”

Ms Chivasa, a 34-year-old mother, complained to police. They spoke to several attendees but did not find enough evidence “to warrant further investigation”.

According to Ms Chivasa, the pastor:

• Punched one young woman after telling her a demon was preventing her from getting married.

• Kicked a man in the back while he was lying on the ground.

• And hit some people so hard they fell to the ground.

Ms Chivasa said others did not complain to police because they believed they were being “healed” by the pastor.

Another attendee corroborated Ms Chivasa’s account of the event on condition of anonymity, citing fears of being shunned by Auckland’s close-knit Zimbabwean community.

The woman said many Africans believed in demons and bad spirits and would never speak out against their church congregation.

Two other attendees contacted by the Herald hung up after saying they weren’t allowed to talk about the event.

The event was organised by Zimbabwean community member Peter Muponda and promoted through social media.

When asked about the alleged assaults, he said: “I don’t have any comment about that” and referred inquiries to Pastor Moyo.

Multiple emails and phone calls to Pastor Moyo and all five numbers listed on the Divine Apostolic Ministries (DAM) website were not returned.

Mr Muponda did not respond to numerous follow-up calls and text messages.

According to its website, DAM is a UK-based Christian movement with branches in Australia and New Zealand.

The site says Pastor Moyo is now in Sydney “delivering the enslaved from the bondage of the Evil One”.

Auckland University Associate Professor Quentin Atkinson, who is studying the evolution of religion, said the idea people can become possessed by demons is tied up with witchcraft that is “very common throughout the developing world”.

Demonic forces are deemed very powerful and that can allow people to justify extreme rituals, he said.

“The range of rituals that are associated with exorcisms is enormous and constrained only by your imagination,” Mr Atkinson said.

In 2007, a 22-year-old Wainuiomata woman died during a botched exorcism when her family poured litres of water into her eyes to lift a curse. Five people were convicted of manslaughter after trial.

Ms Chivasa alleged Pastor Moyo asked people to line up at the Auckland exorcism, told them to close their eyes and then “started slapping and punching them in the face and chest to cast out their demons”.

When she threatened to call police, Ms Chivasa claims she was told by a fellow attendee that she would be “hated by the whole community”.

Later that night, she decided to call police anyway.

Police followed up but the case “did not meet the evidential sufficiency threshold to warrant further investigation,” Detective Inspector Bruce Scott said.

Attendees told investigating officers they were invited to take part in a “cleansing ritual” in which they were touched on the forehead or upper body.

“Some described having fallen to the floor, but described this being as a result of being overwhelmed from the ceremony, rather than as the result of any assault,” Mr Scott said.

No offences had been identified but the case would be reassessed if anyone else came forward with allegations of assault, Mr Scott said.”


Politics returns to Hill$ong


Christian Today reports…

“Sadiq Khan, Labour candidate for the Mayor of London, has been wooing Christian voters with a series of church visits.

Over the last few Sundays Khan has gone out of his way to visit London’s most prominent churches. If elected on May 5, he would London’s first Muslim mayor.

The MP for Tooting spent yesterday afternoon at the Dominion Theatre in central London for Hillsong’s service.

Last Sunday Khan spoke at King’s Cross Church and thanked Christians for their work in supporting London’s most vulnerable people. In an interview with Christians on the Left director Andy Flannagan and vicar Pete Hughes, Khan urged the church to vote in next month’s election. “Hopefully it will be for me,” he added to laughter from the congregation, which is predominantly made up of 20s to 30s. Hughes said the church would invite Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith as well.

In mid-March the mayoral candidate visited Oasis Church and met founder and pastor Steve Chalke. Khan described it as an “inspiration to see the kind of positive impact church community outreach projects can have on our city”. The church said it had invited Zac Goldsmith to speak but had had no reply at the time.

Khan has a seven point lead in the polls with around a quarter of Londoners yet to decide which way to vote.

He has faced accusations of links to extremist individuals and groups which he blasted as “desperate politics” in an interview with Christian Today.

The church visits are not the first time he has explicitly praised Christian social action. He told Christian Today: “I see in my own community [in Tooting] the contribution the churches make towards food banks and towards youth work.

“They check up on old people and make sure the community comes together on big days, but they don’t stop people coming to food banks because they are not Christian. They don’t stop people using the youth facilities because they are not Christians. That is the best way to show people your faith.”




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