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What we know about Cecil Newton and the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance

There are a lot of layers in the Cam Newton controversy — probably more than we realize and some of them, I’m sure, will be revealed with time. Others might drift silently to the bottom of the endless stacks of paper filled with documents, phone statements and the like.

Even more numerous than the layers are the opinions and, oh, boy, there are a lot of those, too.

Seemingly absent, however, from endless tirades and report after report of misconduct, are facts. The question remains: what do we actually know about Newton’s allegations?

One of the layers of the Newton story resides in Newnan, Georgia, where Cecil Newton, Cam’s father, is a pastor at the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance. Aside from the fact that the church name sounds like a cult, there would seem to be nothing spectacular about Cecil’s establishment. That is, until, the New York Times and ESPN made quite a link between the allegations against Cam and recent renovations done to his father’s struggling church. The NYT article reads …

Over the past year, he [Cecil] has struggled with Newnan officials about the condition of his church. The city has threatened to demolish it because it did not comply with building codes. Last week, a local newspaper, The Times-Herald, reported that the church had completed its work and was in compliance.

While ESPN quoted …

“If you’ve ever seen our church, you’d know we don’t have any money,” said Cam Newton’s mother, Jackie. “We have nothing.”

In light of a recent report by ESPN’s Joe Schad that Newton and his father indicated money was involved in the college selection process , the natural question in this layer becomes “Is there a link between Cecil’s recent ability to upgrade his church to the accusations that money was involved with Cam’s college selection?”

Winston Skinner and Elizabeth Melville, who covered the church’s struggles for some time for the Newnan Times-Herald, agree that if there is a link, it wasn’t pursued.

“To my way of thinking, and maybe I’m misjudging what I saw, but it didn’t seem to me that they (the Newnan City Council) were so concerned about the money as they were about the work getting done,” said Skinner. “This is a big project that the city of Newnan has really worked to try to upgrade substandard structures.”

Melville added that the goal of the Newnan City Council was to work with public properties like the Holy Zion church to keep them from being demolished.

In September, 2009, after two extensions were granted by city council, Newton claimed the church would be brought to code “within six months” after being classified as a “new construction”. According to Newnan’s Public Information Officer, Gina Snider, the new code meant that Newton would only have to adhere to three minimum requirements to keep the building from being torn down.

As for the work itself, Melville believed Newton was reportedly in the talks with an unnamed contractor who would do the work for the church Pro Bono, but it appeared that, after some time, that had fallen through due to the poor economy. In addition to four other churches, Cecil also owns a construction company.

Calls made to the Holy Zion church were met with error messages that the line had been disconnected.

So, what does all of this mean?

First of all, it doesn’t tell us directly that Cecil Newton was able to renovate his church using any alleged payments from his son’s recruitment. On the flip side, though, it doesn’t tell us that he didn’t, either. Often in a developing story such as this, when there’s smoke, there’s fire and there’s been an awful lot of smoke surrounding Cam Newton and his father.

I’m not saying anyone’s guilty, but there is, at least, a reasonable suspicion when you consider Newton’s troubled past and the complexity of the allegations.

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23 Responses to “What we know about Cecil Newton and the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance”
  1. thompgk says: Nov 10, 2010 11:44 PM

    Obligatory “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” reference when nothing can be proven.

  2. thezug says: Nov 10, 2010 11:45 PM

    So you briefly summarize what others have written, the gist of which is that there’s so far no evidence that money was used to upgrade any churches, and then you conclude with ‘where there’s smoke there’s usually fire’?

    I am supposed to regard this as insight, as worthy of my attention? Were you actually compensated to compose this wisdom?

    Good luck on your next pieces. Perhaps you can find a way to incorporate “a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush,” or “a stitch in time saves nine.” That’d be writin’!!!

  3. thompgk says: Nov 10, 2010 11:58 PM

    Linking his buying a stolen laptop with his dad getting funds to put some chairs in his community church is quite the stretch.

  4. skinnypigeon says: Nov 11, 2010 12:38 AM

    BK, thanks for connecting the dots. Unlike others, I don’t have the time or desire to read and listen to the regurgitation from BSPN, so thanks for “summarizing what others have written”.

    It’s only a matter of time before violations are proven. Auburn alums haven’t played by the rules for years, just ask Tommy T.

    The sad thing is that what will bring it all down has nothing to do with Cam’s on the field performance.

    Sucks to be an amateur athlete.

    Can you say vacated wins?

  5. That_DanRyan says: Nov 11, 2010 12:46 AM

    Do you get paid for putting together articles with no thought and little research?

    And people wonder why the media is distrusted and biased…

  6. nostalgiadr says: Nov 11, 2010 1:26 AM

    OK, I’ve been a close fan of another controversy – USC & Reggie Bush – so I understand the allegiances. And there’s a lot here that doesn’t pass the smell test. BUT why the heck do you throw in “church name sounds like a cult”? Really?! You’re story loses any credibility at that point. Do you know anything about news reporting? Wow!

  7. laughingman1 says: Nov 11, 2010 6:57 AM

    Hey, Ben. Your sheltered, white, middle-class cultural bias is showing. “name sounds like a cult”
    I admire your courage for displaying your ignorance in front of a national audience. Albeit not a very large audience.

  8. fightinmad35 says: Nov 11, 2010 7:13 AM

    This is one of the most ridiculous articles I’ve read in a long time. The insult to the name of the church is unnecessary. Does Muhammad Ali sound like an extreme fundamentalist terrorist? Does factual and proven information play any part in the media these days? I’m no conspiracy theorist or even an Auburn fan, but I recognize BS when I see it and this is BS at it’s steamy funkiest!

  9. soflatrojan says: Nov 11, 2010 8:04 AM

    Guys,
    on CFT the writers always add there two cents. It’s what makes this site interesting and comical at times. Wait until Kiffin does something and watch John Taylor go crazy.

    It does seem like as more information comes out someone or multiple people are trying to smear Newton’s name. I could very well be wrong but it appears that the NCAA has had this information for a few months at the very least and they have done nothing. I would think if they had taped conversations of Cam’s father working out payment arrangements it would be easy to track the money and he would already be ruled ineligible.

    I am sure the truth will come out in the end but I am going with innocent until proven guilty. That being said there is an awful lot of smoke.

    @Ben
    I agree with you, Holy Zion Center of Deliverance sounds like a cult.

  10. soflatrojan says: Nov 11, 2010 8:08 AM

    Another thing I don’t think Miss State is making this story up. I am sure someone did come to them and ask for cash in return for Cam. But that doesnt mean he was paid to go to Auburn.

  11. WingT says: Nov 11, 2010 8:31 AM

    I am having two problems with Cam Gate. The first one is whether or not Cecil took money for his sons’ commitment to Auburn. The NCAA is reviewing this, the fBI is looking at it and I am OK with the due process that will run it’s course. I will wait to hear what the results are. He may be guilty or he may be innocent – time will tell.

    The second problem I have here is that SOMEONE purposely leaked this info to the media, knowing that it would cause Cam and Auburn a tremendous amount of negative press. Someone leaked very confidential information about Cam’s academic issues. This is just so wrong on many levels.

    One thing is for sure. If Auburn plays Florida in the SEC Championship game you can expect Auburn to be motivated. It will be fun to watch.

    And next year when Auburn plays Miss St – hide the women and children, there will be blood on the field, lol

    Roll Tide

  12. soflatrojan says: Nov 11, 2010 8:48 AM

    WingT,

    I agree with you 100% on this;

    The second problem I have here is that SOMEONE purposely leaked this info to the media, knowing that it would cause Cam and Auburn a tremendous amount of negative press. Someone leaked very confidential information about Cam’s academic issues. This is just so wrong on many levels.

  13. omniusprime says: Nov 11, 2010 9:33 AM

    Follow the money NCAA! Rest assured that this Holy Zion Center of Deliverance is some kind of repulsive cult and that Cecil Newton is a fraud who will lie, cheat, steal and take bribes to get his juvenile delinquent thief brat Cam into the school who is willing to be the highest bidder. All of a sudden this corrupt preacher can fix up his rundown church even though it’s failing in getting membership? Yeah right.

    Better believe there’s a money trail to follow back to whomever paid the corrupt preacher and his thieving brat to play for Auburn and it needs to be investigated. Really disgusting that the fools who vote for the Heisman would ignore what happened with Reggie Bush so quickly, looks like they’re ready to vote for another tarnished Heisman winner.

  14. scardino says: Nov 11, 2010 10:22 AM

    @omniusprime

    He has not been ruled ineligible. If he wins and it is later found that he was ineligible, the Heisman award should be stripped from him.

    In the mean time, it is interesting watching this play out. As others have said, there are a lot of red flags being raised.

  15. blitz4848 says: Nov 11, 2010 11:35 AM

    What really is comical is how some here are quick to say guilty or innocent on zero proof but a lot of innuendo.

    On the other hand on even less evidence but plenty of so called common sense intelligence you feel the Gators have to be involved. It’s just too funny how you all want to talk out of both sides of your mouth.

    I hear–let the facts play out, let’s get past the smoke and see if there is a real fire storm. Why doesn’t that same common sense logic apply to linking the Gators to this story with again zero evidence?

    @SoFlaTrojan
    Arnett DeAnthony is committed to Tennessee NOT USC so should I surmise you don’t know what you are talking about? Just asking because that’s what you said to me about this topic and obviously every bit of what I stated was accurate currently.

  16. superfbfan says: Nov 11, 2010 12:26 PM

    @ blitz4848
    Right on man…its funny how some on here say ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and within the same paragraph make an off the wall accusation…folks if your going to take the high road remember its a one-way street!

  17. soflatrojan says: Nov 11, 2010 12:59 PM

    Blitz,
    Your right on Arnett he went a little crazy on Twitter. Some of the USC boards lit up that he had committed to us. Good get for UT. Oh and his name is DeAnthony Arnett. Your statement that USC cannot recruit nationally anymore is ludicrous.

    What have you stated that’s been accurate or proven o be accurate? That Urban was not involved on the leaks? Because that has not been proven one way or another. It does seem pretty obvious that UF was involved in leaking information about Cam and his test scores.

    Apparently someone who posts on Rivals knew the information about Cam and his cheating was going to surface 4 days before it hit the news. The funny thing is his brother is an employee of the UF Football team.

  18. cornerdenizen0 says: Nov 11, 2010 1:12 PM

    Omniusprimem who says:

    “Rest assured that this Holy Zion Center of Deliverance is some kind of repulsive cult and that Cecil Newton is a fraud who will lie, cheat, steal and take bribes to get his juvenile delinquent thief brat Cam into the school who is willing to be the highest bidder.”
    ———————————————–
    I hear you, man! The hell with athletes and their preacher fathers and run down churches.

    In fact, all these athletes from poor neighborhoods and their broke parents are simply the most corrupt people in all the land!

    I wish these athletes would do it the RIGHT way—like all good, fresh faced All-American boys do. They should pay tuition to attend expensive schools, go to class, and stay out of trouble.

    Then, after college, they can get jobs at places like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, or Lehman. Then they can steal piles of money in a good, clean, acceptable way!

  19. steelerdynasty2010 says: Nov 11, 2010 1:54 PM

    the funniest thing is that this is the only way MSU can be relevant

  20. blitz4848 says: Nov 11, 2010 3:08 PM

    @ SoFlaTrojan

    It does seem pretty obvious that UF was involved in leaking information about Cam and his test scores.

    Apparently someone who posts on Rivals knew the information about Cam and his cheating was going to surface 4 days before it hit the news. The funny thing is his brother is an employee of the UF Football team.
    ________________________________
    If you like speculation and great common sense logical conclusions…..” try this one on. ”

    Who had the most to gain in the SEC if Auburn had to vacate wins or not be considered for the SEC West championship—-answer “LSU”
    Billy Gonzalez the LSU rec coach was at Florida when Cam Newton was there. He had the info.

    Did he?–who the hell knows—I have 2 more “what if, who if ” scenarios but my point is there are “multiple” ways this info could have gotten out there “without” in your words…
    “it being obvious UF was involved in the leaking of info story.”
    What is obvious is noone knows anything for sure NOW and when they do the whole world will because this is now the “hot button issue”.

  21. justagirlinthaworld says: Nov 11, 2010 3:10 PM

    Seriously?!?!? Did I just click on The National Enquirer by mistake?? Shame on you.

  22. evieo says: Nov 11, 2010 3:26 PM

    I am surprised that posters continue to see a conspiracy among SEC members, knowing full well that such a link, if proven, is grounds for NCAA sanctions on the leaking person and school.

    There is another potential leaker that no one has mentioned – NIKE. They have a vested interest in James and stand to win a huge marketing payday if he gets the Heisman. They have the resources to connect the dots, diseminate true and false information, and not get caught.

    As another poster mentioned, follow the money on both sides of the story. There is enough smoke for a forest fire.

  23. jdlund327 says: Nov 11, 2010 3:34 PM

    Okay people complaining that the columnist said the church name sounds like a cult are being silly. It DOES sound like the name of a cult. It absolutely sounds like some whacked out Kool-Aid drinking cult. I am not saying that it is, and I highly doubt that it is. But come on, Holy Zion Center of Deliverance? If someone were to just tell me that name I’d assume that it was a cult.

    As for the article, yeah it could do more than summarize what has been said, but it isn’t saying one way or another. It isn’t accusing the Newtons. It comes close to it at the end, but it doesn’t. I have no idea what Cam Newton has or hasn’t done or whether the allegations are true. I have no idea, but you are being foolish if you are saying that there isn’t anything suspicious here. There’s definitely enough to make it worth looking into. And yeah the fact that suddenly this church was able to get the repairs it desperately needed around the time Cam was looking for a new school is worth looking into. Maybe some place did the repairs pro bono, I don’t know. Maybe the repairs weren’t major and weren’t that expensive, I don’t know. But is worth looking into.

    I will say that I gave these allegations little thought until Cam and Cecil Newton opened their mouths and talked about it. These two desperately need an attorney to teach them the phrase “no comment.” Because Cecil saying he “can’t confirm or deny” and Cam saying oh it was so long ago, I don’t want to look at the past, etc. is not helping their cause at all. They both looked guilty as hell. Maybe they aren’t, again I don’t know. But whether they are or they aren’t they should probably stop talking to the press.

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