There will be more than a few people rubbing there hands with glee today as details emerge of an eight year adulterous affair involving a Christian fundamentalist ‘Bishop’ who, it would seem, was fundamentally flawed.

Hardline Christian fundamentalist, Michael Reid, 64, has quit his various roles as church, school and moral leader after it emerged that the outspoken ‘Bishop of England’ has been involved in an adulterous affair with the music director of his church based in Brentwood, England.

Apparently the ‘Bishop’ and married mother-of-two Sheila Graziano, 49, have been ‘making sweet music’ together for some eight years, and news of the affair only came to light when Bishop Reid’s wife of 36 years allegedly caught the couple.

The hypocrisy of Michael Reid and Sheila Graziano is obvious. In his role as Bishop of England, and leader of the Christian Congress for Traditional Values (CCTV), Reid has been happy to stir anger with provocative comments such as describing gay people as “filthy perverts,” and more recently a billboard that read “Gay Aim: Abolish the family.”

Graziano, serving as music director at the Peniel Church, has clearly shared those views. Back in 2006 she commented on a Daily Mail story about Pope Benedict’s urging Anglicans to oppose any moves to legalise “weak and deviant” unions (gay marriage).

“I believe that the only rightful sexual relationship is between a man and woman in a monogamous marriage. We need more Church leaders who are not afraid to stand up and be a voice for God’s principles.” Wrote Graziano.

This story positively oozes the kind of sleaze and hypocrisy that the media love to run with. The cliche of the Bishop ‘bonking’ the organist is irresistibly juicy ‘news’, and with Reid making a swift escape (with his wife) to Arizona my suspicions are that more lurid and unpleasant sensations surrounding the Bishop may yet come to light.


This is, of course, nothing new. So called ‘men of God’ have been falling from grace for as long as it’s been possible to do so. But there’s an underlying issue here that I find more troubling than tabloid gossip that ordinarily surrounds a revelation like this, and that is the apparent lack of control and accountability these men are subject to. Apart from God in heaven, who do these men answer to? Who advises them and brings them to book should the need arise?

By all accounts Bishop Reid did not take kindly to any sort of criticism, a trait that seems uncomfortably common among Pentecostal church leaders. A quick Google will reveal some truly awful stories about Michael Reid and the way he has dealt with people who have questioned his leadership over the years. But if the congregation aren’t allowed to question the leadership then doesn’t that make the church a cult, or at least so close to a cult as to be indistinguishable?

When the CCTV, headed by ‘Bishop’ Reid, put out their infamous “Gay aim” billboard earlier this year, I checked their website to see who else was in a position of influence within the organisation. Kensington Temple’s, Pastor Colin Dye, was named as ‘co-founder’ of the group so I decided to email the Revd Dye and ask him if perhaps it would be wise to reign in the Bishop who was clearly prone to unpleasant and unnecessarily confrontational outbursts. (You can read that email in the comments here.)

His first response seemed somewhat defensive. However, in a telephone conversation with me this afternoon, Revd Colin Dye was keen to put as much distance between himself and the ‘Bishop’ as possible.

“I’d not heard or participated in the CCTV for quite some time, knew nothing about this poster, and the point is that he [Michael Reid] wouldn’t necessarily go and involve people in the committee meeting and say this is what we want to do and have you got any ideas. He would just sort of act independently on that.” Claimed Pastor Dye.

“I haven’t had a conversation with him in ages, and I had no idea he was putting posters out in the name of CCTV.” He continued.

Dye went on to tell me that he himself resigned from the CCTV this morning on learning the news of Reid’s affair. Even if his words could be viewed with a degree of skepticism given the obvious desire to not be associated with ‘Bishop’ Reid at this time, Dye’s comments do rather suggest that the church, particularly the Pentecostal church, is open to a lot of abuse from rogue leaders.


I’ve personally come across one such abuse. A relatively high profile Pastor of a local church has for years enjoyed an unchallenged place at the top of a church he created. As part of the Elim Pentecostal group, this particular pastor has often times been embroiled in unpleasant dealings with those who have dared question his authority, methods or practices. Like other rogue leaders he surrounds himself with weaker people who are only likely to ‘toe the line’ or face certain replacement just as those who have questioned him in the past have been.

“We discovered by bitter experience that the Elim organisation has protective mechanisms in place for the leaders (shepherds) but nothing for the sheep. It is assumed that the shepherd must always be right.” One former member told me. They took a complaint about the pastor through Elim channels and were “given the brush-off at this the highest level in Elim.”

With the severity of their accusations about the pastor in mind I asked them why they had chosen to not seek justice through the courts, especially given the apparent presence of a compelling dossier of evidence against him.

“One major problem about bringing the whole unsavory situation into the public arena is that God’s Kingdom would suffer disgrace.” I was told.

While I understand that, I can’t help but feel that such an attitude is merely cowardice disguised as deference to God, and that in choosing to “leave it at the cross” Christians are, in some part at least, responsible for the continued damage that abusive, dishonest and hypocritical leaders will do.

In effect, what I’m saying is that the Christian community as a whole brings itself into disrepute by its willingness to ignore or allow the behavior of rogue leaders to go unchecked and unpunished.

I would suggest that in this recent scandal surrounding ‘Bishop’ Michael Reid, there were no shortage of signs that the man had gone off the rails, or at the very least had stepped outside the bounds of creating a constructive challenge to the public at large.

His hateful tirades set him up for this spectacular fall and while the fingers of blame are pointing squarely in his direction at this time, I feel that the Christian community as a whole should perhaps embark on some self examination of the way in which they let this ‘Bishop’ spin so spectacularly out of control.

JULY 08 UPDATE: After resigning from the Church Bishop Reid apparently withdrew his resignation and simply withdrew from his pastoral duties. It would seem this was a strategic move to ensure he was in a strong legal position against his former church whom he is now in dispute with over salary payments, property rights and other financial dealings. Reid himself is actively looking for a senior pastoral role within another church.

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Moral ‘Bishop’ resigns after affair is unearthed
Forum discuss the multitude of sins of the ‘Bishop’
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Falwell from grace
[Audio] BBC Radio 4 report the Bishop sex scandal story