The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
Another day, another Evangelical pastor caught in some sort of sex scandal. Today’s black collar criminal
is Corey Butler, pastor of Jesus is the Way Christian Center in DeKalb, Illinois. The 34-year-old Butler was arrested after the “Illinois Crimes against Children Task Force learned child pornography was being distributed from a computer at Butler’s address.” Butler was charged with “possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography.” If convicted Butler could spend up to 30 years in prison. While Butler admits being on an adult porn site, he denies possessing or distributing child pornography.
Butler is represented by attorney Tom Benno. Benno stated :
“He admitted to being on the porno site, which is absolutely inappropriate because he’s a pastor. What I was led to believe is it was all pop-ups.”
“For him to get a $10,000 debond, which means $1,000 and an ankle bracelet, it leaves me to believe that it’s not a slam-dunk case. If he really was a predator, if he really was a pedophile, I wouldn’t have taken the case. But more importantly, the judge would not have let him out.”
Benno needs to use a little bit of imagination here. I can think of other reasons why Butler received such a low bond. Some judges think that pastors are pillars of virtue and morality, incapable of molesting children, sodomizing teenagers, or looking at and distributing child pornography. As regular readers of this blog know, pastors are capable of evil, immoral, despicable behavior. In fact, it seems, anecdotally, that Evangelicalism has a big problem with pastors who molest children, have sex with teenagers, carry on with church members, or surf porn sites as they prepare their Sunday sermon. Pastors are, in every way, human. They are not special, nor are immune to temptation. Just like the uncircumcised, unwashed Philistines they try to convert, pastors are capable of behaving in ways that most decent people consider “sin” or wrong.
In an interview with DeKalb police after his arrest, Butler admitted to possessing the material, as well as allowing others to view and download it, according to court records.
Butler said he now denies ever possessing or distributing child pornography, and admits only to visiting an adult porn site.
Aside from the possibility of pop-up ads, Benno said Butler might be the victim of a set-up.
“A lot of time there are stings,” he said. “There are also things called entrapment, where they go on the site, they pose as kids and the post stuff up there. All the person has to do is click once and they go, ‘we gotcha.’ ”
Ah yes, the good pastor was entrapped. While entrapment is certainly a possibility, usually those who scream entrapment are trying to avoid personal responsibility for their behavior. Butler admits to being on an adult porn site, yet he continues to preach at his church. Hey pastor, no matter how much porn you look at during the week, we know that Jesus is with you on Sunday! Sadly, the fact that he is still preaching is a perfect illustration of how many church members, when their pastor finds himself is a sticky wicket, refuse to see the man of God as a flawed, frail human who is quite capable of doing what he is accused of. Again, pastors are not above the fray. They are not morally superior. The “qualifications” for a pastor are found in 1 Timothy 3. I’ve never met one pastor, including myself, who met the qualifications set forth by the Apostle Paul. These qualifications are not goals to obtain or ideals, The Bible says is 1 Timothy 3:2, a bishop then must be. Not hope to be, but must be. Perhaps it is time for Evangelicals and their pastors to admit that regardless of what the Bible, God, or the Apostle Paul says, pastors are cut from the same cloth as the rest of us. Some of them can behave in ways that result in them being thrown in the hoosegow, not because they were preaching the gospel, but because they are lacking morally and ethically,
In 2011, Butler faced public scrutiny over stating on school board election nominating papers that his name was Dr. Corey Butler:
Butler says he received a degree from Northern Illinois University, and master’s and doctorate degrees from New Song Christian University, although no information about a school with that name could be found online. NIU officials say they have no record of him receiving a diploma.
He said his degrees were earned through Open Door Church in Hammond, Ind., which he said is run by a college accredited through another institution. Butler said he did not remember the name of the accrediting institution.
“My degrees are exclusively religious degrees,” Butler said. “They are for the purpose of ministry. I did not go to what some would call a ‘traditionally’ accredited university such as Northwestern or things of that nature.”
Butler explained he never received a diploma after never officially withdrawing from some classes in his final semester, which then lowered his GPA, he said.
“My NIU degree is a lot of pish-posh because I fulfilled all of the graduation requirements through NIU,” Butler said.
In other words, Butler is lying. Either he has the degrees he says he has or he doesn’t. Instead of producing his diplomas, transcripts, or contact information for the schools, Butler cues the music and starts a one man dance. It’s quite clear Butler is a liar, and if he will lie about his educational background, a lie that has no legal ramifications, he most certainly will lie about possessing and distributing child pornography.
Here’s “Dr.” Butler’s info from LinkedIn:
There is no internet listing for New Song Christian University. According to the aforementioned news report, Butler said his degrees came from An Open Door Church in Hammond, Indiana. Why then are they not listed on his LinkedIn page? Based on what information is available, it is unlikely that Butler has any degrees and is guilty of repeatedly lying about his educational acumen. Again, if a man will brazenly lie about his education, a “sin” that has no legal ramifications, one could easily conclude Butler would most certainly lie when facing criminal charges that could send him to prison. Even if Butler is found innocent, would anyone want a pastor who can’t tell the truth? Evidently, in DeKalb, Illinois, at least for the people who gather at the Holiday Inn on Sunday to hear Butler preach, the answers is YES.
This isn’t a matter of Butler making a mistake. The Jesus is the Way Christian Center website states:
Dr. Corey D. Butler, a native of Chicago Illinois was called to preach at the age of four years old. Dr. Butler formally began his ministry at the age of 12 when he preached his first sermon in 1992 Dr. Butler matriculated through the Chicago public school system and graduated from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL. Dr. Butler also completed the Masters and Doctorate program at NSCU.
During his tenure at Northern Dr. Butler organized a campus bible study ministry named Jesus Is The Way Campus Outreach Ministry. In 2003 pursuant to his graduation from N.I.U., Dr. Butler spoke with his Pastor and Spiritual Father Dr. Meredith D. Shackelford who confirmed and affirmed his pastoral call. Dr. Shackelford Later That year Dr. Butler was Officially Ordained and Installed as Founder and Senior Pastor of Jesus Is The Way Christian Center. In the summer of 2004 Jesus Is The Way Christian Center held it first services as a church. Dr. Butler accepted his call to the office of the Apostle and now serves as establishmentarian and presiding Apostle of the Fountain of Life Fellowship. Dr. Butler in his apostolic capacity serves as spiritual father, advisor and covering for churches nationally and internationally.
Dr. Butler has and apostolic mandate to Teach, Train, Impart, Activate and Release the members of the Body of Christ into their destinies…
As I was looking for other information about “Dr.” Corey Butler, I stumbled upon a Ministry of Helps Application for Jesus is the Way Christian Center. Evidently, if someone wants to be involved in the ministry of the church or leadership capacity they must meet the following qualifications:
Evidently, “illegitimate sexual habits” doesn’t include surfing porn sites and downloading and distributing child pornography. I also found it interesting that the application mentioned tithing twice. A perfect story, played out by numerous men in various cities, all which seem to have two crucial components, sex and money. I hate to be blunt, but it really is all about the penis and the Benjamins.
Butler’s pastor and spiritual father is “Dr.” Meredith Shackelford. Shackelford has a doctor of ministry degree degree from Friends International Christian University (FICU), an unaccredited institution incorporated in Arkansas and located in California. According to FICU’s website:
FICU is an International University with more than forty affiliate centers across the United States and around the world. Friends International Christian University has one of the most preeminent alumni in the world. A few of our graduates are Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potters House, Bishop Clarence E. McClendon, Harvest Fire Ministries & Siloam Bible College Ron Kenoly- Award Winning Singer/Songwriter, Helen Baylor – Grammy Nominee, Ira Hilliard – The New Light World Outreach and Worship Centers, Bishop Don Meares, President of ICLC, to mention a few.
FICU offers lifetime learning credits, a sure sign that an institution is either a diploma mill or lacks rigorous academic standards. The doctor of ministry program costs $3,600 plus the cost of books. There is no thesis requirement and the class schedule includes such heavyweight classes as:
- Leadership & Church Management
- Rational Pastoral Theology
- Advanced Homiletics I
- Advanced Homiletics II
- Ministry Internship
- Church Records
- The Church Library
- Church Officers
- Sacred Music Philosophy
- Sacred Music Methodology and Pedagogy
- Sacred Music Contemporary
- Practicum In Sacred Music
- Advanced Choreography II
- Creative Project in Religious Dance
- Philosophy Of Religious Dance
- Practicum In Religious Dance
- Advanced Audio Production & Editing
- Advanced Video Production & Editing
- Advanced International Missions Communications
- Independent Study in Audio Communications
Here’s Corey Butler’s testimony of call to the ministry (link no longer active):
In 1998 just prior to starting his college career then, Minister Corey D. Butler received a prophetic word from his pastor, Apostle Meredith Shackelford and the Prophetic Presbytery of An Open Door Church. The word stated in no uncertain terms that Min. Butler would not look for bible studies to attend but he would start them. It was from this prophetic word that Minister Butler was apostolically released to fulfill his purpose in DeKalb. Almost one year later Minister Butler was sitting with friend talking about the word when the Lord spoke to him clearly, Its Time. This word brought back the vivid words that were spoken over his life the year prior. There was uneasiness in his spirit so he immediately conferred with his pastor for permission, instruction and direction. With the apostolic approval of his leader and his release God begin the prophetic journey of Jesus Is the Way Christian Center…
…Time progressed and God revealed himself in many ways to Minister Butler and Jesus is the Way Ministries. In May 2003 now, Elder Butler completed his matriculation at NIU and graduated. While leaving DeKalb there was a feeling of incompleteness because there was no one to continue the work that he has started. The summer that preceded his graduation was trying. Elder Butler was in a state of confusion, but in a miracle moment at the An Open Door Churchs Anniversary Elder Butler and Apostle Shackelford walked pass each other pivoted and they both turned. Apostle Shackelford spoke two words Go Preach! It was from this prophetic word that the certainty of Jesus Is the Way Ministries was obtained. Returning to NIU in the fall, Elder Butler proceeded to speak with his leader before he left for DeKalb. This conversation was a sudden, yet pivotal shift for Elder Butler. While in conversation with Apostle Shackelford, God had instructed Shackelford to ordain Elder Butler and release him to start his own work. This word was not well received by Elder Butler, but after God spoke firmly and said Who are you to argue with my will! He abdicated. The work began on the new church. As he left Shackelfords office God spoke and said Jesus Is the Way Christian Center. It was from this place the labor began to organize the new church. The fall of 2003, marks the beginning of Jesus Is the Way Christian Center.
Butler’s attorney, Tom Benno, is a “professional wrestler in the Gladiator Aztecs Lucha Libre International league known as GALLI.”