Kevin Adell, the white owner and CEO of the Word Network, which is billed “the largest, African American religious network in the WORLD,” has apologized for sharing a meme that depicts him pimping popular black preachers.
“When I set out to create The Word Network 20 years ago, it was my goal to provide a platform that would spread the word of God and continue to build His kingdom by providing hope and inspiration to those who felt hopeless and voiceless, but I didn’t build this ministry alone. The Word Network is only where it is today because of stellar, committed visionaries, who are passionate about changing lives and making our world a better place. I am grateful beyond measure for each and every one of them,” Adell began in a statement released through The Foster Jones Group and shared with The Christian Post on Friday.
“With that said, the recent allegations made against me, based on a visual that wasn’t created by me, were clearly disturbing and don’t depict who I am, nor my character. To Bishop George Bloomer, whom I have tremendous respect for, worked with for nearly a decade, called a friend over the years and shared many laughs, I apologize profusely. I, too, am hurt by the allegations from someone who I held in the highest esteem and partnered with to spread the gospel,” he continued. "I have also sought counsel from African American clergy, many who comprise The Word Network, and others who I respect and are not affiliated with the network."
Adell’s statement comes weeks after he refused to apologize to Bloomer, 56, a longtime televangelist and founder of Bethel Family Worship Center in Durham, North Carolina, who is at the center of the allegations against him.
Bloomer alleged that in September, Adell texted a photoshopped image of himself dressed as a pimp surrounded by well-known black clergy he called “hoes” to various staff members, many of whom are black, according to a Change.org petition. While Bloomer said he told Adell that the meme wasn't funny and to get rid of it, Adell allegedly responded by saying Bloomer was being too sensitive.
Bloomer recently left the network as a result of the meme controversy but Adell disputed that charge as well.
Adell said Bloomer "quit the network … because he wanted more air time" and Bloomer didn’t want to make adjustments to the show as suggested by staff. Bloomer, Adell argued, was trying to stir up controversy with the meme "to get support to hopefully make changes so he could get back on the air."
Adell further noted that more than 95% of his 160 employees are African American.
In an interview with CP on Friday, apostle W.J. Rideout III, senior pastor of All God’s People Church in Detroit, Michigan, said his show on The Word Network was also canceled due to a disagreement with Adell. Rideout also said he didn’t buy the CEO’s apology.
“That wasn’t a true apology coming from Kevin Adell, that’s a third party apology. …Kevin Adell don’t apologize. Kevin Adell has pride. … He’s the type that feels like he’s right even when he’s double wrong. I’ve been around him, I’ve worked under him. This guy lies in his sleep, lies when he stands up, he lies when there is no reason to lie. Nobody should trust Kevin right now,” added Rideout, who led a protest at The Word Network’s Southfield, Michigan, headquarters a week ago.
Rideout said he posted a petition that has more than 5,000 signatures, including more than 200 pastors, calling for African Americans to boycott The Word Network. He said he also planned to protest on Sunday at the America’s Center in St. Louis, Missouri, where the 112th Holy Convocation of the Church of God in Christ will be held.
“I’m asking the Church of God in Christ and Bishop [Charles] Blake to pull The Word Network out and off of the Church of God in Christ, discontinue using his services because this is a white racist owner of a network when we’ve got black owned networks that they could use and they are preachers,” Rideout said.
Black owned networks such as the Impact Television Network led by Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, Rideout said, should be considered more viable options.
“These are black-owned networks that people haven’t totally respected like they should have,” Rideout asserted.
“The Word Network is a racist owned network. Kevin Adell, he used to cover 87 million viewers, he doesn’t cover that many anymore. He’s lying to the people. Comcast cut him down to about 45 million viewers,” he said.
Rideout added that The Impact Network is now covering 87 million viewers and noted that Jackson, “loves the people of God and is not narcissistic.”
“Why would the grand old Church of God in Christ not want to deal with him versus dealing with a white racist guy and a network who is painting black faces?” he asked.
In 2016, media giant Comcast dropped The Word Network for Impact Television in lucrative markets of black Americans on the East and West Coasts.
At the time, Comcast representative John Demming told FierceCable the company opted to reduce distribution of The Word Network in the Western and Eastern portions of the country based on viewer consumption patterns. Another Comcast representative, who only identified herself as Ronnie, told CP The Word Network was being replaced with Jackson's Impact Television Network because the Impact Network offers more variety in its programming.