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A preacher finds himself in hot water...with photos
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Professor Locs, aka Charles Easley, is an educator who explores race, class, gender, sexuality, media and popular culture with humor and insight. His column is published here each Wednesday. Opinions expressed are solely his own. Click here to read his blog.

We live in a time when clergy have seen their share of scandal. So it is through this filters that one minister finds himself in the middle of an online hullabaloo.

Bishop Larry Trotter thought he was simply sharing a family moment when he posed for a picture while taking a bubble bath with his granddaughter. But somehow the photo got posted on Instagram, and that’s when things got crazy.

Holy hot tubs, Batman!

Trotter is a high-profile minister of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago, where he governs a following with more than 8,000 members. And as for the picture, he said it was all innocent fun and that he is dismayed by the ugly insinuations people are sharing.

“The vulgarities have been terrible,” he was quoted as said.

The bishop is referring to comments made on social media sites, where the picture has been described as “sick” and “inappropriate,” and where Trotter has been called a “pedophile” and “child molester.”

For my grandmother’s 90th birthday, I prepared a video tribute, which called for me to review a mountain of family pictures. But among the photos showing cookouts, Easter Sundays and life on their farm, I found none of me bathing with our grandparents.

But I digress. Back to our story.

Trotter was invited to the John Hannah Morning Show to explain his side of the story. Trotter said his granddaughter and her parents were visiting when he decided to take a bath with swim trunks on. (Now to each his own, but I typically do not bathe in swimwear.) Anyway, Trotter said that when his granddaughter wondered into the bathroom and asked to play in the bubbles, her mother put the girl into a swimsuit, placed her into the tub for a few minutes and snapped the picture.

This all sounds pretty innocent so far, right?

Trotter said the picture got posted by another family member who had access to his Instagram account. (See, this is what happens when you have modern grandparents. My grandmother cannot work a camera, much less open a social media account…lol.)

This is not the first time the bishop has seen controversy involving his granddaughter. In September 2012, he used the child to stage a mock crucifixion, cross and all, to protest a teachers strike.

There are cultures where children, men and women walk around in various stages of nudity. So, I have to wonder, are we being a bit puritanical in our sensibilities. I mean, it’s not like they were in a sunken tub with candles, rose petals and a bottle of Cristal chilling in a bucket.

Trotter’s picture has even been mentioned on the Honorable Elijah Muhammad Teachings Testimonial Facebook page, where it shared this caption:

“NO SIR BISHOP TROTTER!!! No man should ever ever ever take a bath with a female in his family or friends. That’s only for a man and his WIFE! This is totally inappropriate behavior!”

I mentioned earlier the video tribute to my grandmother. The most compromising picture I came across was one of me in the buff screaming my lungs out as someone was changing my diaper. Frankly, I was more embarrassed by the ’70s picture of me in cutoff jean and a lop-sided afro flanked by my sisters wearing afro puffs where we looked liked a broken-down, country-ghetto version of The Jacksons….lol.

Times are definitely different. We have kids nursing and texting at the same time, grandparents with Instagram accounts and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad with a Facebook page. Go figure!

Posing for a picture while bubble bathing with his granddaughter may not have been the best PR move, but Trotter’s daughter -- the child’s mother -- was involved in the picture taking. So is this not just a case of a “Modern Family” grandfather getting stuck in the middle of some Victorian-era values?

What are your thoughts?

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October 4, 2015
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