By Bernal E. Smith II, [email protected]
Television talk show host and former talk radio personality Thaddeus Matthews is accustomed to fighting battles stemming from his sometimes over-the-top antics and methods of dealing with people and topics on his shows. Recently, he found himself in the victory lane.
Following two arrests in March, Matthews has been cleared of charges related to a harassment complaint filed by Fred McWilliams and of a subsequent violation of probation charge. Matthews also is now on probation for five years after accepting a plea deal stemming from charges of sexual exploitation of a minor after posting – on his Facebook page – a photo of a child being sexually abused by an adult.
Matthews contended he posted the photo to get law enforcement to pursue the abuser and to seek assistance for the child. He pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence, avoiding both jail time and having to register as a sex offender.
“I would have gone about it differently,” Matthews told The New Tri-State Defender. “My intentions were to assist the child that was clearly being abused. I went through a three-year legal battle and understand that I went about it the wrong way, but my goal is always to bring truth to light and help those who can’t help themselves.”
Never a stranger to drama or battles (legal or otherwise), court records show Matthews having been convicted of 14 charges, both felony and misdemeanor, over the past 25 to 30 years.
“In my younger years I definitely was not a saint and I’ve made some mistakes in life, but if you look over my history in recent years my focus and efforts have been on serving this community,” he said. “I’ve helped many people without any news or fanfare, just out of the kindness of my heart and from my personal resources.”
Earlier this year, Matthews again found himself on the locked-up side of a jail cell. He faced multiple harassment charges after McWilliams claimed Matthews threatened him on his show, posted nude photos of him, threatened to “kick his ass” and followed him to various places around the city. In an interview on WREG, McWilliams said, “I can’t sleep peacefully, can’t eat peacefully…can’t move about the city without wondering if I will be attacked.”
McWilliams himself is embroiled in a legal battle, accused of embezzling over $1 million from the United Supreme Council Masonic organization and allegedly spending $240,000 on Grizzlies tickets and numerous other extravagant items. It’s been a little over a year and the case remains open, moving through the legal process.
In McWilliams’ case against Matthews, a hearing was set for June 5. McWilliams did not show up and the case was dismissed. However, Matthews’ arrest in March had already led to a filing of violation of probation charge and the scheduling of a hearing. The hearing was held and the charge was dismissed since the harassment case had been dismissed earlier.
Bottom line: the way was cleared for Matthews to continue his nightly show on SVP TV/Comcast 31 and to launch a new venture.
Matthews’ latest pursuit is the opening of a new church. Yes, you read that right. A church, not a Church’s Chicken franchise, but a real live bona fide church complete with musicians, choir and members. And, of course, he is the leader of the flock – the ‘Man of God,’ minister, pastor.
Anyone remotely familiar with Matthews’ show and rhetoric knows that he has been one of the city’s biggest critics of area pastors and churches.
“I’ve always been a minister and have preached the gospel for some time. I’ve raised some hell in my day but I’ve always been rooted in the Lord and felt it was time to actually pursue the ministry in a bigger way,” said Matthews.
“Many of the things I’ve done in the community were an extension of my ministry, buying furniture, food, clothing and helping families in need.”
The new church is named Naked Truth Liberation and Empowerment Ministries. Its pastor is known for his raw and uncut views and has – on several occasions – posted naked photos of some who have riled him.
“We’re at 843 West Raines Rd., the old Abundant Grace Church,” he said. “A preacher, who is also an entrepreneur, owns the building and has renovated it. We lease it from him for our Sunday morning service. Our congregation is small but growing because of the reach of my television show.”
When pressed, Matthews said he has about 100 members, but has had as many as 200 show up for Sunday morning service. He’s been holding services since July 3.
What’s the mission of the ministry?
“To extend what I’ve always done: empower people with the truth, the raw naked truth and liberate them from the bondage of traditional churches. Naked Truth provides an alternative to what people have been getting and, of course, you know I am going to keep it all the way real!”