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6/22/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Praying Mantids of Christianity

This short collection is not intended to be comprehensive, and unfortunately this particular breed is no endangered list. So, please feel free to add more examples in the comments section.

Televangelist Jim Bakker founded The PTL ("Praise The Lord") Club and preached on television with his wife, Tammy Faye. A sex scandal forced his resignation. Later, he was convicted of fraud and conspiring to commit fraud charges for crimes committed while leading PTL. He served about five years of his 18-year federal prison sentence before being released on parole.

Darlene Bishop is co-pastor of the Solid Rock Church in Ohio. She also hosts the inspirational TV program "Sisters," which she says is broadcast in 200 countries. In 2006, the grown children of her late brother sued Bishop, claiming she convinced him not to seek medical treatment for throat cancer. He died, and the suit alleged she, as executrix, mishandled his estate. Bishop has called the allegations "lies." She did admit in a deposition, however, that she had never been diagnosed by a doctor with breast cancer, despite her claims that God cured her of the disease.

Paul Crouch, left, is chairman and president of TBN, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which broadcasts religious programming to an estimated 100 million people around the world. He is pictured here with television faith healer Benny Hinn. In 2004, published reports said that in 1998 TBN had paid a $425 thousand settlement to a male former employee to resolve a sexual harassment allegation against Crouch. The network called the accuser a "liar" and said it paid the money to avoid a lengthy lawsuit.

Richard Dortch was right at Jim Bakker's side throughout the heyday of The PTL Club. He often hosted its daily television program. Later, he pleaded guilty to charges related to fraud that occurred while Bakker ran the PTL Club ministry in the 1980s. Dortch now advises people how to avoid the behavior that got him into trouble. He also hosts a nightly TV program, "You And Me -- America's Prayer Meeting."

He was once proclaimed one of the most influential evangelicals in America. But in November 2006, after a former male prostitute alleged Pastor Ted Haggard had regularly engaged in sex with him, Haggard was removed from his position as pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. He also lost his leadership position in the powerful National Association of Evangelicals. At first Haggard denied the allegations but later admitted to "sexual immorality." He entered a three-month period of intense religious counseling, after which one of the pastors involved declared Haggard to be "completely heterosexual."

Billy James Hargis (1925-2004) is regarded as one of the original members of the Christian Right movement that emerged in the late 20th Century. He preached against communism, liberals and segregation, among other things, on his Christian Crusade's radio and TV programs. Hargis fell from the national spotlight in the early 1970s when he was accused of sexual impropriety with students at a college he had founded. He denied the allegations, but left the school and moved to southwest Missouri to continue his ministry, albeit to much smaller audiences.

Kent Hovind, founder of the Creation Science Evangelism Ministry, became well known for his advocacy on radio, television and the Internet of "Young Earth" creationism. It teaches, among other things, that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth simultaneously. In 2004, Hovind was interviewed by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen on his HBO "Da Ali G Show." Hovind was convicted of a number of federal tax offenses and was sentenced to ten years in federal prison.

Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) was, arguably, America's first evangelist superstar. She was also the first evangelist superstar to get caught up in controversy. She traveled the country preaching the gospel before huge audiences, generating widespread newspaper coverage. She founded the "International Church of the Foursquare Gospel," which had public service as a main principle. She had a radio program in the late 1920s and '30s. In 1926, however, McPherson disappeared for several weeks, at the same time a man with whom she was rumored to be having an affair vanished. McPherson later claimed she had been kidnapped, although that could never be proven. Then, in 1944, she died of an accidental overdose of prescription barbiturates.

Arnold Murray, pastor of Shepherd's Chapel in Gravette, Ark., denies he is racist. But he has generated controversy for his view that Jews are children of Satan. He appears on a daily television program that he broadcasts via satellite. His detractors have widely distributed a videotape which purports to show Murray pulling a gun on someone who yelled "blasphemy!" during a sermon. The picture, however, goes dark before any gun is seen.

Televangelist Peter Popoff uses infomercials to sell his "Magic Spring Water," which he claims can cure physical and monetary ills. He was a wildly successful faith healer until 1987, when skeptic James Randi produced evidence suggesting Popoff was a fraud during an appearance on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson."

Randall Radic wasn't really a "televangelist" until after he was arrested and charged with selling his church in Ripon, Calif., along with a house the church owned, and then keeping the money. Then he was on TV quite a lot. Radic got a plea bargain and accompanying light sentence when he agreed to testify against a cellmate who confessed to murder. Radic later signed a book deal to write his life story.

Don Stewart uses infomercials to instruct people how to cope with their health and financial problems. His answer is "Prosperity Prayer Handkerchiefs." Stewart distributes them for free, but the accompanying instructions tell people to send money to Stewart to ensure the handkerchiefs work. For this, Stewart has become the subject of criticism from those who do not believe in the healing powers of his handkerchief.

Pentecostal preacher Jimmy Swaggart was a wildly popular televangelist in the 1970s and '80s, until he was photographed with a prostitute in 1988. His resulting "I Have Sinned..." sermon was quite powerful, but did not prevent his being defrocked by the Assemblies of God Church. The last time Swaggart made headlines was 2004, when he criticized same-sex marriage by saying, "I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain. If one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died." Swaggart is the cousin of singers Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley.

Jim Whittington, who presently hosts "The World Deliverance Telecast," formerly headed an organization called Fountain of Life Ministries. He spent ten years in prison after being convicted of defrauding a woman, Valeria Lust, out of nearly $850 thousand while he appeared on television for Fountain of Life. At sentencing, the judge told Whittington: "You've picked the last flake of flesh from the carcass of the widow you defrauded."

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35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tip of the iceberg.

-freedy

Huey said...

As I recall Jimmy Swaggert was defrocked as he was caught AGAIN just a few weeks later. He was since been caught again about once a year or so. What a hypocrite! What a con-artist!!!

(Wish I was that good! Think of the money!!!)

DUG said...

I had 'heard' but have never been able to confirm, that after his "I have sinned" routine to his congregation, that another time he'd been caught he'd told his 'flock' that "god told me it's flat none of your business"

Does anyone know for sure if this was said-? (and not publicized)

Lorena said...

Freedy:
Tip of the iceberg.

Lorena:
Freedy, I am waiting for that book you are going to write outing a bunch of hypocrites still in ministry.

Anonymous said...

My personal arch-nemesis: Earl Paulk. I was a member of his Decatur, GA, megachurch for 13 years until I left in the early 1990s. He and other members of his family have been accused of sexually molesting women in their congregations since the 1960s and right now he is headed for a trial in Atlanta because a woman he molested said he told her "god said having sex with him was an integral part of her salvation," and since he had groomed her for years to do his bidding.... unfortunately, we're not talking a few women over the years, folks, we're talking probably hundreds. Right now the EP lawsuit is all over the local Atlanta TV channels and has been followed by the big Atlanta paper for years. Hopefully this time justice will be done and Paulk will do jail time. In the court depositions, his own granddaughter confessed he had molested her when she was 7. This scumbag is a sexual predator in a Pentecostal suit. Google him and see what you come up with. Even more amazing, he still has current church members who stick up for him.

Anonymous said...

Lorena,I could write a book on the ministers I worked under for twenty years.

One was a pedophile/con-artist'who raped the boys in his halfway house.
One preacher I use to play keyboards for,was found in a motel room dead after two young men strangled and robbed him.
Led worship at a church for five years where the pastor's wife had an affair and got pregnant,....they're divorced and he drives a limo now,..(these are a few)
-freedy

Aspentroll said...

Check out Benny Hinn. This guy is making millions of dollars with his bogus healing routines on TV. People are checked out prior to his healing program on stage, if they are in wheel chairs they never get up on the stage. Kinda reminiscent of God hates amputees. This guy deserves some severe discipline. Having said that, "They all do".

Anonymous said...

Hey, that big fat POS, Falwell should be in that lineup.

stevie said...

Hi

The only difference between those guys and most of us here is honesty - we gave up xtianity when we stopped believing :-)

Its my firm conviction that the preachers are more likely to lose their faith than their flock. After all, they have to get up time after time - whether they are "right with god" (as pentecostals say) or not. Of course, the sheep won't notice and he'll still be told how powerfully the spirit moved and it'll only reinforce their cynicism.

Once their faith has collapsed many of them they have no useful skills and no better chance of making a good living. Its also much easier to keep going than admit what they really think - the social reinforcement of being an important player makes it difficult to back out. So, many keep going and a small minority are discovered only when some "sinful" behaviour is exposed.

I became a xtian in my mid-teens and became an atheist six or seven years later. Its only as an atheist have I been able to make sense of the actions and attitudes of some of the "ministers" and "leaders". It maybe cynical of me but I am certain that half of them had long since ceased to believe but had no way out.

Steve

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget The Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown fame. He murdered all his hugh flock with poisoned coolaid.

eel_shepherd said...

Whatever became of Marjoe Goertner, the child prodigy evangelist/preacher who got a conscience and made a movie about the behind-the-scenes reality of "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show"-type revival/faith-healing tours? Is he still out there somewhere (2007) being famous for something?

.:webmaster:. said...

Here you go Eel: Marjoe!

Anonymous said...

After reading those, I try to remember how far away from perfect my actions are and then I remember that it will be God who will judge me on my actions, thoughts, forgivenesses and how I admit to all around me that I am an imperfect person but I am HIS! One other thing if you don't have people catching you or accusing you of your wrong doings it just means that Satan doesn't think you can do him any harm in this life and He will leave you alone! Praise God for being forgiven by just HIS GRACE!

Anonymous said...

After reading the articles above, I want you to think about this:

If these are the reasons you are a Christian or are not, then you have never read your Bible to find out what a Christian really is all about. Christians are not people who follow men, they are people who follow God. I'd rather be Christian (a real Biblical Christian) and have been wrong about what happens in my death than I would to have not been a Christian and spend an eternity in hell.

Anonymous said...

Man, these anonymous christians all sound the same. Same old banter; pathetic rhetoric and biblical quotes. Boring! New material please! -Wes.

J. C. Samuelson said...

I'd rather be Christian (a real Biblical Christian) and have been wrong about what happens in my death than I would to have not been a Christian and spend an eternity in hell.

With respect to your statements here, it would behoove you to think about the following:

1. What do you know about God apart from the Bible?

2. Do you think those who have different beliefs from you should suffer for an eternity?

Just think about them.

webmdave said...

You seem very happy that these brothers and sisters fell.bUT Temptation is for you too, take heed least you fall while reaching for the stars.

webmdave said...

We must be careful of being quick to judge fallen preachers whether they men or women. Never forget that the Bible warns of the possibilities of such. Also, until you have been where they have been and achieve what they have achieved you dare not judge them. Get to be a follower of God and Christ and not fallen leaders or men. What about the thousands and millions that truly live what they preach and are true role models by every standard? May God change us and help us all to be true believers and help our hurting world and prepare for Jesus soon coming. Oh Lord have mercy on this sinful and perverse and perverted generation.

webmdave said...

Dave K.: "We must be careful of being quick to judge fallen preachers whether they men or women."

Nonsense. We have every right to judge bad behaviour, be it that of mortals or gods. By the terms of your own mythology, Eve supposedly earned that right for all of humanity when she bit into that magical piece of fruit.

"Never forget that the Bible warns of the possibilities of such."

The Bible also mentions Talking Snakes™. Kindly Fed-Ex one to Me at your earliest convenience.

webmdave said...

I'd rather be Christian (a real Biblical Christian) and have been wrong about what happens in my death than I would to have not been a Christian and spend an eternity in hell.

With respect to your statements here, it would behoove you to think about the following:

1. What do you know about God apart from the Bible?

2. Do you think those who have different beliefs from you should suffer for an eternity?

Just think about them.

webmdave said...

Man, these anonymous christians all sound the same. Same old banter; pathetic rhetoric and biblical quotes. Boring! New material please! -Wes.

webmdave said...

After reading the articles above, I want you to think about this:

If these are the reasons you are a Christian or are not, then you have never read your Bible to find out what a Christian really is all about. Christians are not people who follow men, they are people who follow God. I'd rather be Christian (a real Biblical Christian) and have been wrong about what happens in my death than I would to have not been a Christian and spend an eternity in hell.

webmdave said...

After reading those, I try to remember how far away from perfect my actions are and then I remember that it will be God who will judge me on my actions, thoughts, forgivenesses and how I admit to all around me that I am an imperfect person but I am HIS! One other thing if you don't have people catching you or accusing you of your wrong doings it just means that Satan doesn't think you can do him any harm in this life and He will leave you alone! Praise God for being forgiven by just HIS GRACE!

webmdave said...

Here you go Eel: Marjoe!

webmdave said...

Whatever became of Marjoe Goertner, the child prodigy evangelist/preacher who got a conscience and made a movie about the behind-the-scenes reality of "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show"-type revival/faith-healing tours? Is he still out there somewhere (2007) being famous for something?

webmdave said...

Hi

The only difference between those guys and most of us here is honesty - we gave up xtianity when we stopped believing :-)

Its my firm conviction that the preachers are more likely to lose their faith than their flock. After all, they have to get up time after time - whether they are "right with god" (as pentecostals say) or not. Of course, the sheep won't notice and he'll still be told how powerfully the spirit moved and it'll only reinforce their cynicism.

Once their faith has collapsed many of them they have no useful skills and no better chance of making a good living. Its also much easier to keep going than admit what they really think - the social reinforcement of being an important player makes it difficult to back out. So, many keep going and a small minority are discovered only when some "sinful" behaviour is exposed.

I became a xtian in my mid-teens and became an atheist six or seven years later. Its only as an atheist have I been able to make sense of the actions and attitudes of some of the "ministers" and "leaders". It maybe cynical of me but I am certain that half of them had long since ceased to believe but had no way out.

Steve

webmdave said...

Hey, that big fat POS, Falwell should be in that lineup.

webmdave said...

Check out Benny Hinn. This guy is making millions of dollars with his bogus healing routines on TV. People are checked out prior to his healing program on stage, if they are in wheel chairs they never get up on the stage. Kinda reminiscent of God hates amputees. This guy deserves some severe discipline. Having said that, "They all do".

webmdave said...

Lorena,I could write a book on the ministers I worked under for twenty years.

One was a pedophile/con-artist'who raped the boys in his halfway house.
One preacher I use to play keyboards for,was found in a motel room dead after two young men strangled and robbed him.
Led worship at a church for five years where the pastor's wife had an affair and got pregnant,....they're divorced and he drives a limo now,..(these are a few)
-freedy

webmdave said...

My personal arch-nemesis: Earl Paulk. I was a member of his Decatur, GA, megachurch for 13 years until I left in the early 1990s. He and other members of his family have been accused of sexually molesting women in their congregations since the 1960s and right now he is headed for a trial in Atlanta because a woman he molested said he told her "god said having sex with him was an integral part of her salvation," and since he had groomed her for years to do his bidding.... unfortunately, we're not talking a few women over the years, folks, we're talking probably hundreds. Right now the EP lawsuit is all over the local Atlanta TV channels and has been followed by the big Atlanta paper for years. Hopefully this time justice will be done and Paulk will do jail time. In the court depositions, his own granddaughter confessed he had molested her when she was 7. This scumbag is a sexual predator in a Pentecostal suit. Google him and see what you come up with. Even more amazing, he still has current church members who stick up for him.

webmdave said...

Freedy:
Tip of the iceberg.

Lorena:
Freedy, I am waiting for that book you are going to write outing a bunch of hypocrites still in ministry.

webmdave said...

I had 'heard' but have never been able to confirm, that after his "I have sinned" routine to his congregation, that another time he'd been caught he'd told his 'flock' that "god told me it's flat none of your business"

Does anyone know for sure if this was said-? (and not publicized)

webmdave said...

As I recall Jimmy Swaggert was defrocked as he was caught AGAIN just a few weeks later. He was since been caught again about once a year or so. What a hypocrite! What a con-artist!!!

(Wish I was that good! Think of the money!!!)

webmdave said...

Tip of the iceberg.

-freedy

webmdave said...

Lets not forget The Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown fame. He murdered all his hugh flock with poisoned coolaid.