Evangelist Scandals


Following is a summary of scandals related to Christian evangelists since 2000.   Scandals within the Roman Catholic church are beyond the scope of this list.

John Paulk

John Paulk (no relation to Earl Paulk) is a former leader of Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conference and former chairman of the board for Exodus International North America.   His claimed shedding of homosexuality is also the subject of his autobiography Not Afraid to Change.   In September 2000, Paulk was found and photographed in a Washington, D.C. gay bar, and accused by opponents of flirting with male patrons at the bar.   Later questioned by gay rights activist Wayne Besen, Paulk denied being in the bar despite photographic proof to the contrary.   Initially, FoF's Dr. James Dobson sided with Paulk and supported his claims.   Subsequently, Paulk, who himself had written about his habit of lying while he openly lived as a homosexual, confessed to being in the bar, but claimed he entered the establishment for reasons other than sexual pursuits.   Paulk retained his Board seat for Exodus, however he did so while on probation.   Paulk did not run again for chairman of the board of Exodus when his term expired.

Paul Crouch

Paul Crouch is the founder and president of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, or TBN, the world's largest evangelical Christian television network, as well as the former host of TBN's flagship variety show, Praise the Lord.   In September 2004, the Los Angeles Times published a series of articles raising questions about the fundraising practices and financial transparency of TBN, as well as the allegations of a former ministry employee, Enoch Lonnie Ford, that he had a homosexual affair with Crouch during the 1990s.   The Times spoke with several sources that claimed that other evangelists such as Benny Hinn, Jack Hayford, and Paul's son Matthew were aware that an affair had taken place. TBN denied the allegations, claiming that Ford's claims were part of an extortion scheme and that the Times was a "left-wing and anti-Christian newspaper" for publishing the articles.   In 2005, Ford submitted to and passed a lie detector test on the ION Television program Lie Detector (TV series).

Douglas Goodman

Douglas Goodman, an evangelical preacher, and his wife Erica were pastors of Victory Christian Centre in London, England.   The church was one of the largest in the United Kingdom.   He came into notoriety when he was jailed for three and a half years for the sexual assault of four members of his congregation in 2004.   VCC was closed by the Charity Commission but his wife Erica started a new church Victory to Victory in Wembley.   Douglas has upon his release resumed full pastoral ministry alongside his wife.

Kent Hovind

Kent Hovind is an American Baptist minister and Young Earth creationist.   He is most famous for creation science seminars, in which he argues for Young Earth creationism, using his self-formulated "Hovind Theory."   He has been criticized by both the mainstream scientific community and other creationists.   In 2006, Hovind who also has a reptuation as a tax protestor had been charged with falsely declaring bankruptcy, making threats against federal officials, filing false complaints, failing to get necessary building permits, and various tax-related charges.   He was convicted of 58 federal tax offenses and related charges, for which he is currently serving a ten-year sentence.

Ted Haggard

Ted Haggard was the pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado and was the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) from 2003 until November 2006.   Haggard's position allowed him occasional access to President George W. Bush.   In 2006 it was alleged that Haggard had been regularly visiting a male prostitute who also provided him with methamphetamine.   Haggard admitted his wrongdoing and resigned as pastor of New Life church and as president of the NAE.   The high-profile case was significant also because it immediately preceded the 2006 mid-term elections and may have even affected national voting patterns.   In January 2009, Haggard admitted to a second homosexual relationship with a male church member on CNN-TV and other national media, and when asked, would not directly answer a question about his other possible homosexual relationships.

Paul Barnes

Paul Barnes is the founder and former senior minister of the evangelical church Grace Chapel in Douglas County, Colorado.   He confessed his homosexual activity to the church board, and his resignation was accepted on December 7, 2006.   He started the church in his basement and watched it reach a membership of 2,100 in his 28 years of leadership.   This scandal was notable because it was similar to Ted Haggard's (above), it occurred in the same state (Colorado) and around the same time (late 2006).

Lonnie Latham

In 2006, Latham, the senior pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church and a member of the powerful Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, was arrested for "offering to engage in an act of lewdness" with a male undercover police officer.

Gilbert Deya

Kenyan-born Deya moved to the United Kingdom in the 1990s and started a number of churches.   He claims to have supernatural powers that allow him to make infertile women become pregnant and give birth.   However, police investigations in the UK and Kenya concluded that Deya and his wife were stealing Kenyan babies.   Deya was arrested in London during December 2006 and as of January 2010 he is currently fighting extradition to Kenya.

Richard Roberts

In October 2007, televangelist Richard Roberts (son of the late televangelist Oral Roberts), was president of Oral Roberts University until his forced resignation on November 23, 2007.   Roberts was named as a defendant in a lawsuit alleging improper use of university funds for political and personal purposes and improper use of university resources.

Earl Paulk

Earl Paulk (no relation to John Paulk) was the founder and head pastor of Chapel Hill Harvester Church in Decatur, Georgia from 1960 until the 1990s.   A number of women from the congregation came forward during the 1990s claiming that Paulk had sexual relations with them.   Some of these claims have subsequently been proven correct.   Moreover, Donnie Earl Paulk, the current senior pastor of the church and nephew of Earl Paulk, had a court-ordered DNA test in 2007 which showed that he was Earl's son, not his nephew, which means that Earl and his sister-in-law had had a sexual relationship which led to Donnie's birth.

Coy Privette

Privette is a Baptist pastor, conservative activist, and politician in the U.S. state of North Carolina.   Privette was president of the Christian Action League and a prominent figure in North Carolina moral battles.   In 2007, Privette resigned as president of North Carolina's Christian Action League and from the Board of Directors of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, following revelations on July 19 that he had been charged with six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution.

Thomas Wesley Weeks, III

Weeks married fellow evanglist Juanita Bynum in 2002, but they separated in May 2007.   In August 2007, Weeks physically assaulted Bynum in a hotel parking lot and was convicted of the crime in March 2008.   The couple divorced in June 2008 and Weeks remarried in October 2009.

Michael Reid

Bishop Michael Reid (born 1944) is a Christian evangelist in Essex, England and founder of Michael Reid Ministries who resigned from the role of pastor at Peniel Church in April 2008, after admitting to an eight-year extra-marital sexual relationship.   The scandal was widely reported online and in UK newspapers.   He has since re-developed an itinerant evangelistic ministry and has been speaking at a number of churches in the UK and overseas.

Joe Barron

Joe Barron, one of the 40 ministers at Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in the United States with 26,000 members, was arrested on May 15, 2008 for solicitation of a minor after driving from the Dallas area to Bryan, Texas, in order to allegedly engage in sexual relations with what he thought to be a 13 year-old girl he had met online.   The "girl" turned out to be an undercover law enforcement official.

Todd Bentley

Canadian Todd Bentley rose to prominence as the evangelist at the Lakeland Revival in Florida, which began in April 2008.   Bentley claimed that tens of thousands of people were healed at the revival, but a June 2008 investigation by ABC Nightline could not find a single confirmed case.   Bentley took a short break after the program was broadcast, but returned to leading the meetings.   However, in August 2008 he stepped down permanently when it was revealed he was separating from his wife, Shonnah, and was in a relationship with Jessa Hasbrook, a member of his staff.

Tony Alamo

On September 20, 2008, FBI agents raided Tony Alamo Christian Ministries headquarters as part of a child pornography investigation.   This investigation involved allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse and allegations of polygamy and underage marriage.   According to Terry Purvis, mayor of Fouke, Arkansas, his office has received complaints from former ministry members about allegations of child abuse, sexual abuse and polygamy since the ministry established itself in the area, and in turn, Purvis turned over information about the allegations to the FBI.   Investigators at the scene plan to conduct a search of ministry headquarters and the home of Alamo and interview children present on the compound.   In late July 2009, Alamo (who had a previous conviction for tax evasion in the 1990s) was convicted on ten counts of transporting minors across state lines for sexual purposes, sexual assault and other crimes.   On November 13, 2009, he was sentenced to the maximum punishment of 175 years in prison.

Michael Guglielmucci

Australian Evangelist Michael Guglielmucci spent two years claiming he was battling terminal cancer. He preached about his battle and performed songs he wrote detailing his daily struggle, frequently with the help of an oxygen mask. In 2008 it was revealed that Guglielmucci was faking the cancer in order to cover symptoms of stress created by an addiction to pornography which he had kept from his wife and children.

Ergun Caner

Ergun Caner grew up in suburban Ohio, but after 9/11, presented himself to churches and other organizations as having been raised and trained in Turkey and Egypt as a militant jihadi to wage war in the US. He and his brother Emir authored books explaining Islam to evangelicals containing many basic mistakes, displaying a rudimentary rather than expert understanding of the religion. Ergun's prominence and popularity propelled him to the position of dean at the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School of Liberty University. In early 2010, Reformed apologist James White questioned Caner's claims to have debated Muslim scholars and representatives of virtually all religions on college campuses across the country. Legal documents located by Christian and Muslim bloggers demonstrated the fraudulence of Caner's constructed life narrative. Sound clips from his preaching contained supposed quotes in Arabic that turned out to be gibberish. Liberty's subsequent investigation resulted in Caner's not having his contract renewed for the position of dean in the summer of 2010, demoting him to professor. He took up a new post at Arlington Baptist College in 2011.

George Alan Rekers

Penn Bullock and Brandon K. Thorp of the Miami New Times reported on 4 May 2010, that on 13 April 2010, Christian leader George Alan Rekers was photographed at Miami International Airport returning from an extended overseas trip with a twenty-year-old "rent boy", or gay male prostitute, known as "Lucien" (later identified as Jo-Vanni Roman). Given his opinion on homosexuals and homosexual behavior, the scandal surrounds Rekers' decision to employ a homosexual escort as a traveling companion, and how that runs contrary to Rekers' public stances on such issues.

Rekers claimed that Lucien was there to help carry Rekers' luggage as Rekers had allegedly had recent surgery, yet Rekers was seen carrying his own luggage when he and Lucien were spotted at the airport. On his blog, Rekers denied having sex with the man. In subsequent interviews, Roman said Rekers had paid him to provide nude massages daily, which included genital touching.

Eddie L. Long

In September 2010 several civil complaints were filed against Bishop Eddie L. Long by men that stated Mr. Long used his position as the church leader to entice or coerce the men into consensual sexual relationships in exchange for money, travel and goods. At a press event on 26 September 2010 Bishop Long stated he would fight the civil complaints in court and would not comment on the allegations. On 27 May 2011, Bishop Long settled the matter out of court. The Canadian documentary series, Sex Scandals in Religion covered the Long case.

Marcus Lamb

In December 2010, televangelist Marcus Lamb, the founder of the Daystar Television Network, admitted on television that he had been involved in an extramarital affair several years prior. He further alleged an extortion scheme against him. In late 2010 and early 2011, three former Daystar employees filed a series of lawsuits against Lamb and his wife, Joni, making allegations ranging from financial mismanagement in relation to the affair, to sexual harassment, and to wrongful termination.

Vaughn Reeves

Special Judge Dena Martin ordered former pastor Vaughn Reeves to serve consecutive six-year terms for each of nine fraud counts, in a scheme that cost about 2,900 investors $13.1 million. Among aggravating factors, Martin found Reeves targeted people over age 65 and used religion to influence them. Reeves' attorney plans to appeal.

Investigators said Reeves and his three sons used their now-defunct company, Alanar, to trick about 11,000 investors into buying bonds worth $120 million secured by mortgages on church construction projects. Instead, Reeves and his sons diverted money from new investments to pay off previous investors, pocketing $6 million and buying luxuries.

Stephen Green

Stephen Green, a former Chairman of the Conservative Family Campaign who attends an Assemblies of God Church, is head of Christian Voice, a Conservative Christian pressure group in the UK.

In January 2011, Green's former wife, Caroline Green, accused him of repeatedly physically assaulting her and their children, including one incident where he allegedly beat her with a weapon until she bled, and another in which their son allegedly required hospital treatment after having been beaten with a piece of wood.

Albert Odulele

In February 2011, televangelist, founder and senior pastor of Glory House London, Dr Albert Odulele was charged with two counts of sexual assault, one involving a 14-year-old boy and another on a 21-year-old man. Although he initially denied the charges, he later pleaded guilty and confessed that he had been battling with his sexuality for many years. He was subsequently sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court, London, to 8 and 6 months in prison to run concurrently. He will be on the sex offenders register for 5 years. He is currently serving his sentence.

 

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