Cook: What is Tim Reid's crime?

Cook: What is Tim Reid's crime?

January 12th, 2012 by David Cook in Opinion Columns

"Enough is enough," Mayor Ron Littlefield said not long ago. "This is an insult to churches. He is the moneychanger in the temple.

"I've had it with Tim Reid."

Since the Christmas Day shootings outside his Market Street church, Reid's ministry has collapsed like it was plagued with leprosy. City inspectors, court-ordered injunctions, eviction letters have hit the church -- all designed to shut down Mosaic and its youth group Club Fathom.

"They've pulled the wrath of God down on us," Reid told me.

The mayor's angry, and I'm proud of that. We all ought to be.

But the problem is that Tim Reid and Mosaic are not the problem.

And I'm not so sure this hasn't become more about religion than gangs, since I can't find an answer to one important question: What exactly is Reid's crime?

Is it downtown violence? Between 2006 and 2009, police say they responded to 344 service calls at or near Mosaic.

"The majority of them are from all the other bars around us. Anything that happens around that 400 block [of Market Street] gets blamed on us," said Reid.

Do you know another place with lots of crime?

So much so that, in 2010 alone, police answered 3,624 calls, issued nearly 200 citations (37 for felonies) and made 264 arrests, all in response to a total of 112 assaults, 86 fights, 110 thefts?

Any guesses?

Hamilton County schools.

Reid also has been criticized for allowing secular music groups singing explicit lyrics to play concerts. Why, then, is no one criticizing local radio stations? Or other downtown concert halls? It's not like they're listening to Lawrence Welk.

There was the invitation for Club Fathom's Christmas Eve party that featured a swimsuit image of what has to be the jolliest Santa I've ever seen. I believe her belly-like-a-bowlful-of-jelly shifted northward.

But no one is criticizing the hyper-sexualized culture we live in.

Step outside Mosaic's doors. Walk about two blocks away to the Majestic theaters. You think the films they show would make St. Paul smile?

And there's Mosaic's BYOB ad.

"Bring your own Bible," Reid explained.

"Unforgivable," said the mayor. "It is an unbelievable statement for a pastor to make."

I understand why that troubles people. But we must remember that Reid is working with kids who might join the Bloods, not the Boy Scouts. Meek and mild nativity scenes are not going to get them into church doors.

And do we really want to start judging churches on how offensive their statements are? If so, I'd like to begin with some testimonies from the gay and lesbian community in Chattanooga.

Reid's financial statements have been criticized. What would happen if we opened the books on every Chattanooga church and let come to light the way they spend their money?

On Christmas Eve, Club Fathom held a party. You throw a party for teenagers on Christmas Eve? Reid and the church mice ought to be the only ones there.

Instead, hundreds show up. It's like we've got a city of orphans.

"We believe that the gang problem can ultimately only be solved by a lifestyle transformation and that Jesus Christ is the only person who can bring about this transformation," Reid said in a news release.

I believe he believes this. I've known Reid for more than half my life; we talk every few years. He's willing to risk his life -- he's heard his own house is going to get shot up -- to care for kids who probably need only one hand to count the positive things in their life.

Shutting down Mosaic will solve nothing.

The problem is somewhere else. The problem is thinking that Mosaic is the problem.

David Cook can be reached at davidcook@blumail.org.