Tag Archive: Clergy Sexual Infidelity

Clergy Sex Crimes: The Stunning Number of Black Collar Crime Reports

black collar crime

It should be clear to everyone by now that Evangelicalism has a huge problem with sexual abuse and sexual misconduct. Hopefully, the Black Collar Crime series has forever shut the mouths of those who self-righteously claim that Evangelicals don’t have the same sort of sexual abuse problem as the Catholics do. I hope, anyway — but way too many Christian zealots are oblivious to their flies being unzipped. Bob Gray, Sr, the retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple in Longview, Texas, loved to rail against the Catholics over their sexual abuse scandal. Gray, Sr, blindly believed that Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches didn’t have such problems. Evidently, in the mind of Gray, Sr, IFB doctrine is a condom of sorts that protects preachers, evangelists, missionaries, youth pastors, and deacons from committing sex crimes. Of course, we now know that the condom has a hole in it, and IFB leaders are just as likely to molest children, assault teenagers, and sexually manipulate congregants as are Roman Catholic priests. Gray, Sr, knows this, but he ignores it, choosing instead to protect serial adulterer David Hyles and fellate a blow-up doll of accused adulterer Jack Hyles. Countless sex scandals have rocked the Hyles wing of the IFB church movement, yet little is said publicly by men such as Gray, Sr. Wouldn’t it be great if IFB newspaper The Sword of the Lord ran a regular Black Collar Crime column? You know, calling sin, sin, as IFB preachers are wont to do. It should be thoroughly embarrassing to Evangelicals that an atheist’s blog and the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s monthly newsletter do more good in this regard than The Sword of the LordChristianity Today, and CHARISMA Magazine combined.

Recently, Marja asked:

Thank you for your diligence with this [Black Collar Crime] series. You have collected so many examples of black collar crime it’s stunning. Did you have any inkling of this while you were a pastor? Do you think there is something uniquely Christian about this, as it were, or do you think this is a dynamic that is prominent in any community in which you have strong patriarchalism tied to imperatives of religious obedience?

The Internet has fundamentally and forever changed how the public hears of and responds to allegations of sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other sex-related crimes. The same can be said for offending pastors, evangelists, missionaries, professors, and traveling singers. Before the Internet, a preacher could commit all sorts of crimes, and, if not caught red-handed or reported to the police, he could escape punishment. Why? First, many parishioners simply refused to believe that THEIR pastor could ever do such things! This kind of thinking remains a problem to this day. I have posted more than a few stories about offending pastors that have attracted people heaven-bent on protecting their pastor. They will demand I take the post down, saying their pastor couldn’t have committed the crimes he is accused of. I try to remind them of the fact that, according to the Bible, King David was a “man after God’s own heart,” yet he had a sexual affair with Bathsheba and later had her husband murdered. Rarely does this work — these preacher-worshipers refuse to see the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Second, before the Internet, a God-loving, sin-hating predator could quietly leave one church and move on to fresh hunting grounds. His old church was glad he was gone, end of story. A good example of this is the sordid story of David Hyles. David was the youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. His father, Jack, was the pastor. At the time, First Baptist was the largest church in the United States. David was accused of having sex with teen girls and adult members. When his behavior reached a level where it could not be ignored, David was shipped off by his father to Garland, Texas to pastor Miller Road Baptist Church. The elder Hyles said nothing to people at Miller Road — a church he himself once pastored — leaving them in the dark about his son’s sexual proclivities. And, as sure as the sun comes up in the morning, David Hyles returned to his predatory ways, fucking his way through the church.

Third, IFB preachers/church leaders were taught to protect their church’s “testimony” at all costs. “There are souls in need of saving,” the thinking went. “If people find out about what our pastor/deacon/youth pastor/bus driver/school principal did, why they might not want to come to our church!” I know of countless scandals that were swept under the rug, all in the name of protecting the church’s reputation. Victims were often disbelieved and, far too often, blamed for what happened to them. Sometimes, church leaders would withhold from congregants allegations against their pastors. I know of one church which has had three sex scandals over the past twenty-five years, yet the pastor and church board have never given congregants a full accounting of what happened. The pastor, from the pulpit, encouraged people to “trust” him, that he was taking care of matters. This resulted, of course, in one man committing crimes TWICE at the same church over the course of two decades. So much for taking care of things.  Fortunately, the second offense landed the offender in prison.

Fourth, it was hard to get to local law enforcement and prosecutors to take seriously allegations of criminal sexual misconduct against clergymen. Pastors were often viewed as pillars of their communities, men of virtue, character, and moral integrity. Sadly, some legal authorities who should have known better, believed that clergymen were above the fray; that it was impossible for such “godly” men to commit such crimes. Case in point is the late Mack Ford. Ford operated IFB boys’ and girls’ homes — detention centers — in Louisiana. He was repeatedly accused of criminal behavior, yet he astoundingly escaped prosecution. (Please see Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for Girls.) Countless children were harmed by Ford and people employed by him, yet local authorities refused to investigate or prosecute.

These four things, and others, provided cover for clergy sexual misconduct — and other crimes too. Over the years, I would hear whispers about this preacher or that preacher, or hear that Pastor so-and-so suddenly resigned from his church in Ohio and moved in the night to Florida. Such men were accused of everything from molesting children to running off with their secretary, yet I know of only two men who were arrested, prosecuted, and served time in prison for criminal behavior. Sadly, far too many offending preachers had a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

While I don’t think such behaviors are uniquely a “Christian” problem, I believe that certain Evangelical beliefs and practices make such things more likely. First, Evangelicals are known for preaching against sex — any and all sex except for married, one man/one woman, monogamous, missionary-position sex. Puritanical views on sex breed sexual dysfunction and deviancy. It has been my observation that the louder some preachers preach against certain sexual sins, the more likely it is that they are doing the very things they preach against. One such preacher I know spent years having sex with his secretary every Saturday in his office. Bus workers would gather on Saturdays to visit their routes and canvass for new riders. After everyone left the building, the pastor and his lover would hit the carpet. Imagine this! Prior to having adulterous sex, this pastor would lead workers in prayer and give them a short devotional from the Bible. And then on Sundays, he would rain Holy Hell down on the heads of congregants, warning them that God hates sexual sin. (All pastors are hypocrites, but this man took the cake.)

bob gray jacksonville

Bob Gray, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, still clutching his King James Bible as he leaves jail

Second, Evangelical pastors wield great power — authoritarian and patriarchal in nature — over their congregations. Most churches are pastored by one man. In some Evangelical circles, pastors have total control over their churches, deciding everything from who can/can’t be a member to how the money is spent. (There are, by the way, Biblical proof texts supporting this kind of “rule,” but I’ll leave that to another day.) Suffice it to say that way too many churches are controlled and lorded over by their pastors. Now, this in and of itself doesn’t necessarily lead to criminal behavior, but some authoritarian pastors, drunk with power, do cross moral boundaries and commit crimes. It is not uncommon for Fundamentalist churches to be pastored by narcissistic men or sociopaths. Take for example the other Bob Gray — the former pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. This Gray molested children and preyed on women for fifty years. His church was one the largest in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. I considered him to be one the best pulpiteers I ever heard. I loved to hear him preach. (I vividly remember a sermon he preached on being filled with the Holy Spirit.) Gray was not found out and arrested until near the end of his life. He died awaiting trial for sex crimes. Gray ruled his church with a rod of iron. I have no doubt that there were whispers about “Bro. Gray” over the years, yet out of fear or not wanting to cause a scandal, people said nothing. Authoritarianism will do that, silencing people who see and know that their pastors are perverts or abusers.

Thanks to the Internet and to countless victims unwilling to be silenced, it is now much harder for Evangelical preachers to escape punishment for their crimes. With great courage, victimized men and women share their stories, even when the statute of limitations precludes their abusers from being prosecuted. Light dispels darkness, and as long as I am among the living, I intend to write about clergy sexual misconduct, publish first-person stories about clergy abuse, and publish Black Collar Crime posts. The Evangelical sex scandal is in its infancy. I have published over 500 Black Collar Crime stories. This, I am certain, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Steven Anderson’s “New” IFB Movement Erupts Into a Food Fight Over Donnie Romero

steven anderson

I recently wrote a post detailing the resignation of Donnie Romero from Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Romero’s wife had called Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona to come to Fort Worth and help deal with her husband and his sinful behavior. According to Anderson, his wife accused him of cavorting with prostitutes, smoking weed, and gambling. Romero admitted his sins and duly resigned from the church, telling them that he and his wife planned to stay on as members.

Anderson and Romero are part of a group they call the “New” IFB (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist). Founded and controlled by Anderson, the ‘New” IFB church movement believes that the “old” IFB church movement has moved away from its core beliefs and practices. While this is true is some instances, there is very little difference between the churches of these groups. Both groups are cultic; both are Evangelical in doctrine; both are conservative politically; both practice personal separation (from the world) and many of the churches practice secondary separation (refusing to fellowship with churches/pastors who have connections with compromising churches/pastors/colleges); both are evangelistic; both believe the Bible is inerrant (and many use only the King James Bible); both believe they alone are True Christians®. One thing is for certain, Steven Anderson is the de facto pope of the “New” IFB church movement.

Anderson quickly made his way to Stedfast Baptist and just as quickly appointed a new pastor by the name of Jonathan Shelley. Shelley currently pastors Pure Words Baptist Church in Houston, Texas — a “New” IFB church. Shelly’s bio page states:

Pure Words Baptist Church is an independent fundamental King James only baptist church pastored by Jonathan Shelley. Jonathan married his wife, ****, in 2009 and they have three children, ****, ****, and ****.

Jonathan was raised in a Christian home and saved at age five and baptized at age 14. He grew up in large non-denominational churches and had a zeal of God but not according to knowledge. Before his first son was born, Jonathan began to diligently study the Bible and realized he needed to make some changes. He soon became King James only and eventually started to attend an independent fundamental baptist (KJV Only) church in his area. Jonathan was rebaptized in 2015 at Arden Road Baptist Church. In 2016, Jonathan moved to Faithful Word Baptist Church to train to be a pastor. During this transition Jonathan has been blessed to have had the opportunity to preach over 150 sermons, lead soulwinning marathons, go on mission trips to Jamaica and Mexico, and memorize dozens of chapters of the Bible.

Jonathan’s vision is to reach the entire Houston area with the gospel, train soulwinners, develop and send out evangelists and pastors, and reach foreign countries with the gospel.

Anderson will argue that Shelley was appointed by the church, not him, but it’s clear that Anderson wanted his man to be pastor, and he persuaded the men of the church to ordain Shelley and make him their pastor. I say the men of the church, because the women of the church had no say in the matter. Anderson held a three-hour meeting with the men of Stedfast Baptist, a meeting women and children were not permitted to attend.

The choice of Shelly as pastor has caused a bit of controversy among “New” IFB churches. Unbeknownest to me until yesterday was the fact that Donnie Romero was also the pastor of a mission church in Jacksonville, Florida called Stedfast Baptist Church of Jacksonville, and of Stedfast Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. According to Anderson, most of Romero’s “sinful” behavior took place in while he was visiting the church in Jacksonville. Anderson also alleges that money is missing from one or more of the churches.

adam fannin

Adam Fannin

Into this junior-high lunch room food fight comes a man by the name of Adam Fannin. Fannin leads the congregation in Jacksonville, and according to Anderson is best buddies with Donnie Romero. Anderson subtly implies in one video that Fannin may have involved himself in Romero’s sinful behaviors. What’s hilarious about this mess is that the various parties have taken to calling each other out with YouTube videos. Here are a few of the recent videos posted to YouTube. Enjoy!

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These videos clearly show that the “New” IFB church movement is no different from the old one. Bickering children, they are. The good news is that the women won’t be blamed for what’s happening. Oh wait, the latest rumor is that Romero’s wife is culpable in his “sinful” behavior. True IFB behavior: let a preacher get caught in sexual sin and there will always be someone who will blame his spouse or the person he had sex with. According to many of the YouTube comments, Romero is a true hero, a man of character for admitting his “sins.” Gag me with a spoon, will ya? There is nothing noble about Romero’s post-scandal behavior. He got caught. End of story.

Anderson preached at Stedfast Baptist Church today, solidifying his position as pope of the “New” IFB. In his sermon he called the church in Jacksonville trash; trash that needed to be taken out. What a man of God, right? Here’s the video of the church service and Anderson’s sermon:

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About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Ohio Baptist Megachurch Pastor Victor Couzens Admits Having Multiple Affairs

victor couzens

Victor Couzens, pastor of Inspirational Bible Church – City of Destiny in Forest Park, Ohio (near Cincinnati), finds himself facing allegations that he had affairs with several (Christian) women.

Bishop Paul S. Morton, founding presiding bishop of The Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International which encompasses some 5,000 churches and 1 million members — Couzens sat on the board of  FGBCFI — released the following statement:

bishop morton statement

Five years ago, Morton, himself, was outed over having a “secret” daughter. Here’s his “confession”:

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As is common these days, Morton blamed “Satan” for being outed.

Black America Web reported, at the time:

Last week Obnoxious TV posted a story with claims that pastor and award-winning gospel recording artist Bishop Paul S. Morton had a secret child.

The site accused the 62-year-old preacher of having a 39-year-old daughter name Ane’tra Hawkins that he “did not claim” for more of her life. He is also being accused of denying his daughters existence years ago in fear of jeopardizing his plan to become a pastor.

….

Now Bishop Morton is speaking out to Jawn Murray’s AlwaysAList.com to defend himself.

“While in my early 20’s, prior to pastoring and being married, I did have a very short-lived relationship with a Ms. Elaine Hawkins. A few months after the relationship, she informed me she was expecting a child,” Bishop Morton recalled.

The daughter she was expecting is now 39-year-old Ane’tra, who he provided financial support for. His family, including his three children and wife Dr. Debra B. Morton who is also a pastor, were aware of his other child all along.

“I wish I could tell you that I did right all my life, but I can’t. I have made some major mistakes and this is one of them,” Bishop Morton said about having unwed sex as a young preacher.

Ane’tra supplied the documents to ObnoxiousTV which shows that when she turned 15, her mother asked for financial support. Bishop Morton had the courts institute a legal agreement to determine the financial commitment that he would be required to make until she turned 18.

It wasn’t until Ane’tra was 18 that the preacher decided to ask for a DNA test after, “additional financial requests were made and threats of public exposure.” Ane’tra’s mother denied the request and as a result, Bishop Morton decided that “all contact and financial support” would end.

Ane’tra is now married with three children of her own so the reasons for her coming forward now are unclear. Bishop Morton’s reps think that the move is financially motivated.

“That was one major mistake that I made that I did correct. But people don’t mention the correction,” said Bishop Morton, before emphasizing: “People like mess!”

Bishop Morton believes that this entire ordeal was done to attack his integrity and credibility.

“I know what the devil is trying to do, he wants to take my influence,” he explained. “I know that I have been living a Godly life for God.”

….

Back to Couzens, father of six,  and his affairs. According to the Christian Post, one of Couzens’ lovers, Andrea Garrison, thought the good pastor was in a monogamous relationship with her and wanted her to move in with him:

Morton’s apology came after Andrea Garrison, a 29-year-old New York City model who said she had a long-term sexual relationship with Couzens and planned to move in with him as recently as last month, publicly demanded that Couzens apologize to her for allegedly getting engaged to another woman and lying about the nature of their affair.

“I felt stupid, I felt used, I’m hurt, [he] publicly humiliated me, tried to lie on me, tried to tell people I got no receipts. I got more receipts than you could ever imagine,” Garrison explained in an interview with Larry Reid Live on Wednesday where she presented photos of them together as recently as this summer.

“Church checks, [evidence] from other women coming at me with receipts. It’s a lie. It’s not cool,” she insisted of the evidence she has to back up her story.

Garrison stood by her story in an interview with The Christian Post on Monday morning and shared explicit evidence of the relationship she had with Couzens.

She said she was intimate with Couzens as recently as three weeks ago and was led to believe that she and the megachurch preacher began a steady relationship in April after enjoying an on-and-off sexual relationship since 2011.

She was devastated to learn recently, however, that her relationship with the pastor was not exclusive.

“I never knew that there was another girl [fiancee’]. As far as I knew, whenever I would ask he would always say I was the only one. He didn’t want me sleeping with anybody else. He didn’t want me doing this. He didn’t want me doing that. I was the only one. He would fly me out constantly between New York and Cincinnati. He would fly me out to Miami. You know we would spend more time together, he would have me come to the house for like a week. I would cook, clean, do laundry,” Garrison told Reid.

….

Couzens’ bio on his ministry website describes him this way:

Bishop Victor S. Couzens is a native of Dayton, OH.  He is the first child of Victor Lee and Sherri Couzens.  He began his Preaching Ministry on May 12, 1991 at the age of 14 at the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Dayton, OH and his Pastoral Ministry in May 1996 at the age of 19 at the Greater Demascus Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton, OH.

He has been the recipient of the Ohio Humanitarian Award by the former Governor George Voinovich, a member of the Governor’s Task Force on welfare reform, and a community liaison concerning non- violence.  Bishop Couzens has also served as a member of the Northern Kentucky University African American Advisory Board, Springfield Township Strategic Planning Committee, National Heritage Advisory Board, been featured guest on B.E.T and a host and co-host on The Word Network.

“Bishop of the Year” is the award his Cincinnati faith colleagues have bestowed upon him.

Bishop Couzens ecclesiastical affiliations include: Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, and E.M.A.C (Elijah’s Mantle Apostolic Covering). He previously served as the third vice president of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. – Young Pastors and Ministers Division.  He attended the historic American Baptist College in Nashville, TN and received his Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies degree with a concentration in Leadership and Ministry from the Cincinnati Christian University. Bishop Couzens holds a Masters of Art Degree in ministry from the Indiana Wesleyan University and a DMin from United Theological Seminary.  During his DMin studies he held the distinction of being the first seminary student to lecture at United Theological Seminary in recent history.

Dr. Couzens is the Senior Pastor of the Inspirational Baptist Church located in Cincinnati, OH since July 2000.  In May of 2002 he led Inspirational in a $1.3 million dollar building project and relocation.  The church has experienced explosive growth under Dr. Couzens anointed preaching and teaching. The church has grown from a 300 active membership to more than 5000 in the last ten years.  Bishop Couzens has introduced Inspirational Baptist Church to the Purpose Driven Church Model, expanded the ministries administrative support staff, introduced and implemented more than 45 new ministries.  Dr. Couzens is leading the church to be a community focused church through our “Make A Difference” efforts which continue to result in hundreds of families being fed, hundreds of families receiving gasoline, and hundreds of families receiving rent and mortgage assistance.  Inspirational Baptist Church is recognized as one of the fastest growing churches in the tri-state. The ministry of the church has been viewed weekly by thousands on local network television and by millions on the Word Network and the Impact Channel.  Dr. Couzens continues to reach the masses through innovation and relevance.

The phenomenal growth of the ministry prompted Dr. Couzens to heed to the unction of the Holy Spirit and seek out additional space for the ministry to grow and expand.  In August 2007 Inspirational Baptist Church purchased a 14-acre water park in Forest Park, OH formally known as Surf Cincinnati.  On Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009 the church moved into their 12 Million dollar new multi phase facility which includes a 1600 seat worship center, youth ministry facility with a gymnasium, skating rink, volleyball capabilities, a children’s ministry facility, a sports-plex, miniature golf course, race car track, cafe, production studio and daycare. The building is affectionately known as “The City of Destiny”.

Dr. Couzens has been featured in newspapers, magazines and several other publications including Who’s Who in Black Cincinnati. This national publication highlights African American professionals who are considered exceptional. Dr. Couzens spiritually covers over 200 churches in South Africa, Kenya, and the Philippines ordaining 300+ Bishops, Pastors, and Elders.

….

I wonder if they will add, “and he likes to have sex with hot models” to his bio?

Based on everything I have read, the sex between Couzens and these women was consensual. The only person who might be offended is God, and he evidently didn’t say anything.  As of the writing of this post, Couzens is still the pastor of Inspirational Bible Church. Should he be fired or resign, one thing is for certain, as sure as the sun rises in the morning, after a short period of repentance, reflection, and scheming, Couzens will rise again and reenter the ministry. There will always be a church somewhere who will give a “fallen” preacher a second, third, or fourth chance.

For more information on clergy infidelity, please read, Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?

Southern Baptist Luminary Frank Page Retires After Admitting a “Morally Inappropriate Relationship”

frank page

Frank Page, CEO and president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee, retired after admitting he had a “morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.” Page has also called his behavior an “indiscretion” and a “personal failure.” I find it interesting that the word SIN is never mentioned. Why is that? After all, Southern Baptists are big on calling out the sins of others. How about calling a spade a spade; that Page’s “indiscretion” is actually a sin against his wife and his God. Just keeping it real, Baptists.

Baptist Press reports:

Frank S. Page has resigned as president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, effective today (March 27) over what is described as “a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.”

Florida pastor Stephen Rummage, chairman of the Executive Committee, released a 300-word statement Tuesday afternoon (March 27) on behalf of the EC’s officers noting the circumstances of Page’s resignation:

“Last evening, the officers of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee met via phone conference with Dr. Frank Page during which he announced his plans for retirement. Today, I spoke with Dr. Page and learned that his retirement announcement was precipitated by a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.

“This news will, we understand, bring great sorrow. I have shared with the Executive Committee officers what Dr. Page shared with me, including Dr. Page’s repentance and deep regret that his actions have caused pain for others.

“My heart is broken for Dr. Page, his family and everyone affected,” Rummage, senior pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., stated. “I believe I speak for the entire Executive Committee in saying that we are committed to provide them the spiritual and emotional support they need in the coming days. We also recognize the stewardship we owe Southern Baptists and the watching world to communicate with truth and candor and to honor the Lord in our actions and decisions.

“I call upon all Southern Baptists to pray for everyone involved in a situation like this, and especially for Dr. and Mrs. Page. Please pray for the Southern Baptist Convention and all that is entrusted to the Executive Committee.

“As officers, we are committed to provide leadership that the Southern Baptist Convention will recognize and trust. To those ends, in keeping with our Executive Committee bylaws, we will be working on a plan to provide for interim transition in the wake of Dr. Page’s immediate departure and also to conduct a search for the next president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee. I am personally counting on the prayers of Southern Baptists, as I know are all who serve on our SBC Executive Committee.”

Page released a statement as well Tuesday afternoon:

“It is with deep regret that I tender my resignation from the SBC Executive Committee and announce my retirement from active ministry, effective immediately. As a result of a personal failing, I have embarrassed my family, my Lord, myself, and the Kingdom. Out of a desire to protect my family and those I have hurt, I initially announced my retirement earlier today without a complete explanation. However, after further wrestling with my personal indiscretion, it became apparent to me that this situation must be acknowledged in a more forthright manner. It is my most earnest desire in the days to come to rebuild the fabric of trust with my wife and daughters, those who know me best and love me most.”

Page, 65, as EC president, has held a key role in coordinating the work of the SBC’s national ministries, encompassing two mission boards, six seminaries and other entities, overseeing a Cooperative Program budget of nearly $200 million yearly. Page’s work also included building relationships with 42 state and regional Baptist conventions and 47,000-plus Southern Baptist churches in all 50 states.

….

 

Why I Write The Black Collar Crime Series

black collar crimeThe Black Collar Crime series is in its ninth month, having published almost two hundred fifty reports of clergy and church leader misconduct. Using Google Alerts, I receive immediate notice any time a news story about clerical malfeasance is posted on the internet. It is important that these stories receive wide circulation. Victims need to know that there are people standing with them as they bring to light that which God’s servants have done in secret.

I realize that these reports are often dark and depressing, but the only way to dispel darkness is to turn on the lights. Clergy who prey on congregants — especially children — must be exposed, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison. By leveraging this blog’s traffic and publishing these reports I am serving notice to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges: we are paying attention, and if you fail to provide justice for victims, we will hold you accountable.

Sadly, many clerics have enormous power over people. How else do we explain that repeat abusers of children and sexual predators such at Lester Roloff, Jack Patterson, and Mack Ford — to name a few — never spent a day in jail for their crimes? Mack Ford, in particular, spent decades physically and psychologically destroying teenagers, yet, thanks to his connections in the community, he was never prosecuted for his crimes.(Please see Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for GirlsTeen Group Homes: Dear IFB Pastor, It’s Time for You to Atone for Your SinWhat Should We Do When Religious Freedom Leads to Child Abuse?)

Sometimes these seemingly untouchable predators are brought to justice, but not before the public puts pressure on law enforcement and prosecutors, forcing them to act. The sordid story of abuse at Restoration Youth Academy is case in point. Decades of reports about abuse were filed with local law enforcement, yet nothing was done. Yes, they finally acted and the perpetrators are now in prison, but what do we say to the hundreds of children and teenagers who were ritually abused before prosecutors got around to doing their job?

I am sure that this series will bring criticism from Evangelical zealots, reminding me that accused/charged clerics are innocent until proven guilty. While they are correct, all I am doing is sharing that which is widely reported in the news. In the nine years I’ve been writing about clergy misconduct, I can count on two fingers the number of pastors/priests/religious leaders who were falsely accused. Two, out of hundreds and hundreds of cases. The reason for so few false accusations is that no person in his or her right mind would mendaciously accuse a pastor of sexual misconduct.

People often believe that “men of God” would never, ever commit such crimes. One common thread in the crimes committed by Jack Schaap, Bill Wininger, Josh Duggar, David Farren, and a cast of thousands, is that family and fellow Christians were absolutely CERTAIN that these men of God could/would never commit the crimes with which they were charged. Even when presented with overwhelming evidence, their supporters, with heads in the sand, refuse to believe that these servants of Jesus did the perverse things they are accused of. (Please see What One IFB Apologist Thinks of People Who Claim They Were AbusedEvangelicals Use ‘We Are All Sinners’ Argument to Justify Sexual Abuse)

Secondary reasons for this series have to do with exposing the lie that Evangelicalism is immune to scandal. I remember when the Catholic sex scandal came to light. With great glee and satisfaction, Evangelical preachers railed against predator priests and the Catholic Church who covered up their crimes. Now, of course, we know that Evangelicalism is just as rotten, having its own problem with sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups. Evangelicals love to take the high moral ground, giving the perception that their shit doesn’t stink. Well, now we know better. Not only does Evangelicalism have a sexual abuse problem, it also has big problem with pastors who can’t keep their pants zipped up. (Please see Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)

I am receiving an increasing number of threats from people defending their religious heroes. Threats of legal action are common, even though all I am doing is republishing stories publicly reported by news agencies. Last week, a pastor featured in one of my reports contacted me and said that reporters had it all wrong. As I do with everyone who asserts they are being falsely accused, I told this preacher that he could give his version of the facts, sign his name to it, and I would gladly add it to the post. Usually, this puts an end to any further protestations. Most often, the accused want to bully me into taking down my post. In this preacher’s case, he provided me his version of events and I gladly added it to my post. After adding the information, I decided to investigate this pastor further. I found more information about his past indiscretions and crimes. I dutifully added them to the post. I have not heard anything further from the good pastor.

I am not immune from making mistakes, so if you spot a factual error in one of stories, please let me know and I will gladly correct it. If you come across a story that you would like me to add to this series, please use the contact form to email me. Please keep in mind that I need links to actual new reports in order to add them to this series.

Some of this story was previously published in March 2017.

Black Collar Crime: Judge Rejects Calvary Fellowship Pastor Jacob Malone’s Plea Agreement

jacob malone

Other posts about Jacob Malone: Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jacob Malone Plans to Admit He Raped Church Teenager and Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Jacob Malone Sentenced to 3-6 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault

Fourteen months ago, Jacob Malone, pastor of Calvary Fellowship in Downington, Pennsylvania was arrested and charged  with raping and impregnating a teenager who lived with his family. Since his arrest, Malone has remained in jail awaiting trial. On Wednesday, Malone appeared in court expecting the judge to approve his plea deal. Instead, Judge Jacqueline Cody rejected the plea, saying, “Given the facts of this case, I’m not going to accept this plea.”

Philly News reports:

Calling the circumstances “way too serious,” a Chester County judge Wednesday rejected a plea deal that would have imposed a two-year jail term on a former pastor accused of raping and impregnating an 18-year-old who considered him a surrogate father.

….

Jacob Matthew Malone, 34, had been a pastor at Calvary Fellowship, a nondenominational church in Downingtown, when he gave the teen alcohol and had sexual intercourse with her while she was intoxicated, he admitted. Sexual contact, which also included touching and kissing, occurred almost daily during the teen’s senior year in high school.
The teen, who met Malone at age 12 when he was her youth pastor in Arizona, did not have a father in her life, and Malone invited her to stay with him and his wife in their home in West Whiteland Township. She helped look after Malone’s three children.

In March 2016, the young woman gave birth to Malone’s daughter, whom she called “a sweet, beautiful, and intelligent little girl,” in a statement she read at the Chester County Justice Center on Wednesday. Now 20 and living in Arizona, she addressed “Jake” and said he took advantage of her “mentally, physically, spiritually.”

She recounted regular occurrences before school and before Malone left for work at the church,  “as I lay in bed not moving hoping you would get the message that I didn’t want it.”

She said she wanted more than a two-year sentence for Malone, whom she said she had thought was a “godly man,” but “you were something else when no one was watching.”

The girl had told police Malone began to sexually assault her in the fall of 2014.

Under terms of the rejected agreement, Malone would have pleaded guilty to corruption of minors, institutional sexual assault and endangering the welfare of children.

When the judge asked District Attorney Emily Provencher why the plea did not include the more serious rape charges, she said there was a question as to whether the commonwealth could prove the absence of consent.

On Wednesday, Malone, wearing shackles, bowed and shook his head while the woman read her statement before he addressed the courtroom. He did not say he forced himself on her, but he said he had made “mistakes” and should be held responsible for the sexual contact.

….

Malone resigned in November 2015 after church leaders confronted him about the teen’s pregnancy and he admitted he had impregnated her. He had worked at the church for about 18 months.

….

In January 2016, police in West Whiteland Township asked for help locating Malone, who they believed fled to avoid arrest. When he returned to the United States from Ecuador, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested him on Jan. 18, 2016, at Newark Liberty International Airport.

It was unclear whether plea negotiations would continue or the case would proceed to trial.

Previously,  I reported that Malone planned to admit raping the girl. Evidently, the good pastor had a change of heart.

Where the Calvinistic Rubber Meets the Road: Is Dr. Ian Campbell in Hell?

ian campbell

Last January, noted Scottish pastor Ian Campbell committed suicide by hanging himself after being admitted to the hospital for a drug overdose. Campbell, a member of the Free Church of Scotland — a Calvinistic sect — pastored Point Free Church in Point, Isle of Lewis. According to the Point Free website, Campbell:

contributes to the e-zine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Reformation21, and is a frequent contributor to Ligonier ministry’s Tabletalk magazine. He is a weekly columnist for the local paper, the Stornoway Gazette.

Now that her husband’s body is lying cold in the grave, Campbell’s wife has publicly stated that her pastor husband had sexual affairs with seven church women. In a March 5, 2017 Daily Mail article, Neil Sears had this to say about Campbell’s alleged affairs:

When a leading church minister died in unexplained circumstances on the Isle of Lewis, the close-knit community was in shock.

Tributes to Reverend Dr Iain D Campbell, 53, came from around the world, while shops on the island closed for his funeral in January.

But it has emerged the father-of-three hanged himself after his 54-year-old wife Anne accused him of having up to seven affairs with churchgoers at the same time.

And now she has called on their church to kick out the women for adultery – even hiring herself a public relations professional.

The Free Church of Scotland, often referred to as the ‘Wee Frees’, is investigating while the accused women are understood to be instructing lawyers to help declare their innocence.

Dr Campbell was a leading light in the church – which has strict teachings on the sanctity of marriage and ethics of suicide – in Stornoway.

The minister had been a senior official in the Free Church and minister of the Point Free Church in Lewis, which is off the Scottish mainland’s north-west coast.

….

A source said: ‘It is said Anne was suspicious about Iain’s activities, and confronted him at the manse [a Scottish vicarage] allegedly after finding compromising emails in his computer trash files.

….

‘Anne is wanting all this to go in front of a church court and for them to throw them out of the church for adultery.

‘It will cause havoc with their marriages and the entire Free Church.

‘Even though she’s a widow people are saying Iain had a difficult home life and there’s a lot of anger towards her.’

A source close to senior church figures said: ‘There was never a whisper of a rumour about affairs until after he died – on such a close-knit island they would have been very difficult to keep secret.

‘Yet Anne has supplied names of these alleged mistresses to the church. If she is right, he had been leading an extraordinary double life for years.

‘This is a widow talking about her own late husband.

‘It’s now in the hands of senior Free Church ministers on the island – James Maciver, who conducted the funeral, and Callum Macleod.

‘This is a terrible human tragedy it is difficult to resolve.

‘A dead man can’t be disciplined and can’t defend himself.

‘Suicide is wicked, but it is possible he feared he was about to be ruined. I am hearing there is real evidence to back up these extraordinary claims.

‘But the greater fault would be with Dr Campbell who, as a minister, had a duty of care.’

They said that, if the women admitted affairs, they may be allowed to continue receiving communion. But the source added: ‘It would never be forgotten on the island.’

The women accused of affairs or their families refused to comment or made denials.

In an obituary for Dr Campbell, long-serving Free Church minister Professor Donald Macleod had written: ‘Too late, we know that he was in pain, and sometimes pain is more powerful than faith, and more powerful than reason, and altogether too much for the balance of our minds.’

….

A spokesman for the Free Church on Lewis confirmed the allegations had been made, saying the church was ‘taking these very seriously and acting on them’.

Last night a public relations professional hired by learning support assistant Mrs Campbell made no attempt to deny any details of the story, but said: ‘The family has lost a husband and father.’

According to the Scotland Herald, Campbell not only committed adultery, he also fathered a child with a woman who is not his wife. The Herald also alleges that these allegations could reach as far back as the 1990s.

There are no winners in this story. If reports are true, Campbell was living a double life, one that his wife had knowledge of before he died. While it is likely that his suicide was related to the threat of being exposed as an adulterer, we will never know for sure, because Campbell didn’t leave a note. It’s clear that Campbell’s wife Anne is hurt and angry and she is taking it out on the women who had sexual relationships with her husband. Anne Campbell’s allegation are sure to cause great havoc and damage, both in and outside of the Point Free Church. Worse, the Campbell’s adult children must not only mourn the death of their father, but also deal the fallout from their mother’s allegations.

Campbell’s duplicitous life and suicide are a real conundrum for Evangelical Calvinists on both sides of the pond. Ministerial colleagues, parishioners, and friends all praised Campbell for his devotion to Christ during his fifty-three years on earth. Campbell wrote numerous books, along with articles for Calvinistic publications. He was loved and well-respected. Now that it is known that Campbell committed suicide, and according to his wife he was screwing his way through the female church membership, I wonder what lengths Calvinists will go to square what he said with how he actually lived and ended his life.

Calvinists believe that Christians must persevere to the end to be saved. Despite all of their talk about grace, Calvinists preach a conditional salvation that requires those who say they are Christians to live lives of good works until death. Those who don’t persevere until the end — people such as myself — never were true Christians. (Actually, since I am still among the living, it is p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e that I could return to the faith, that is IF I am one of the elect.)  I wonder how Calvinists will square Campbell’s ‘works’ with their theology and the clear teachings of the Bible. Consider:

There is nothing ambiguous about Galatians 5:19-21:

 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

or 1 Corinthians 6:9,10:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

It is with stories such as this one that the Calvinistic rubber meets the road. Campbell and his fellow Evangelical preachers — in Puritan-like fashion — view themselves as proclaimers of God’s standard of morality. Asked if homosexuals or same-sex married couples are Christian and will go to heaven when they die, I am sure that, to the man Campbell and his Calvinistic brethren would say no. Will they say the same about Campbell, a self-murderer and adulterer?

We Love Stornoway published (link no longer active) the following obituary for Campbell:

The tragic death of the Reverend Iain D. Campbell has cast a gloom over the island of Lewis such as it has never known in my lifetime; and the gloom is not confined to Lewis.  Iain was a well-known figure in Evangelical circles throughout Britain, and beyond, and tributes have already come in from the USA and elsewhere.

‘He could have adorned pulpits in the largest cities in the world,’ writes Dr. Geoff Thomas of Aberystwyth, ‘or become a professor in an American seminary, but he valued the community which nourished and nurtured him, and he shared their values.’  To that community he dedicated his life, and from it he drew the strength that supported his wider ministry.

….

Iain D. Campbell was a brilliant communicator, in constant demand as a lecturer and conference-speaker.  He had a quite extraordinary fluency of speech, but the fluency was disciplined by clarity, precision and careful arrangement.  The delivery was effortless, though often passionate, the mastery of the subject complete, and while there was no trace of arrogance he spoke with the Bible-derived authority of a true preacher.

But he was also a master of the written word, as his many publications show, and the Free Church recognised this by appointing him Editor of its magazine, the Record, not only once, but twice.  He was still serving in this capacity at the time of his death, and one of the most poignant memories we shall carry is that his very last issue (the February one) contains a photo of him in the prime of a splendid manhood, looking perfectly at peace with himself and the world.  His editorship avoided controversy, but it reflected faithfully both the growing diversity within the Church and its links with the wider Christian world; and his own contributions consistently dealt with the profoundest themes at a level which was well within the compass of an intelligent laity.

Iain D was a rare combination: an academic and a natural preacher, and all who knew him assumed that sooner rather than later he would be appointed to teach at the Free Church College.  Such opportunities did indeed arise and I, for one, devoutly wished to see him as either a colleague or a successor.  My attempts to persuade him failed, to my chagrin, and now to my lasting regret, but the College’s loss was Point’s gain.  He was inducted there on 21st August 2009, and as in his previous charges of Snizort (1988-95) and Back (1995-2009) his preaching quickly rekindled enthusiasm for the Christian message, and people who had lost their spiritual appetite found themselves once again looking forward eagerly to their Sundays and to preaching which fed their minds and stirred their souls.  Thanks to the marvels of modern technology these sermons were heard all over the world and within hours of his death an American pastor was writing, ‘I never met or heard Dr Campbell in the flesh, but I knew him from sermon audios, and the sermons I heard told me all that I needed to know of the man. The reason for his high reputation was obvious.  He was a man of transparent piety, for whom the Bible and the God of the Bible was a Being with whom he was familiar.  The Bible irradiated everything he said, and every application he made of Biblical truth seemed so searching and personal, even though he did not know those whom he addressed.  He knew men’s deepest needs and he addressed them with gentleness and compassion as one who felt for them, and wanted them to have the comfort of Christian peace.  His death is a loss, not only to his immediate family and to the congregations he pastored, but to the wider church across the world.’

….

Iain D would have risen to eminence in any profession (and once toyed with the idea of becoming an SNP candidate for the Scottish Parliament), but he chose the Christian ministry, and in that chosen field he became a giant.  Yet, for all the consummate ease with which he presented himself in public, he was a very private man who seldom shared his feelings, and he exuded such an aura of calm competence that none of us thought to ask, ‘Are you OK?’  Now, too late, we know that he was in pain, and sometimes pain is more powerful than faith, and more powerful than reason, and altogether too much for the balance of our minds.  Bereft of him, we are traumatised, our hearts bleeding, our minds stunned and our prayers turned into protests.

I find myself swirling in a vortex of questions, narratives, disinformation, regrets and fears. St. Paul assures me that ‘God works all things together for good,’ but never has my faith in that great promise been so severely tested.  How He can turn this grievous loss into good, I see not.  But grace shone brightly in the life of Iain D. Campbell, such grace does not let go, and if it leads me home we shall soon be with the Lord together.

The obituary stated that Campbell was “a man of transparent piety.” Evidently, not. The obituary also said Campbell “knew men’s deepest needs.” To that, all I can say is, indeed.

While men such as David Robertson have attempted to cut off public discussion of Campbell’s immorality, this story remains a hot topic in some Calvinistic circles. From my perspective as a former Evangelical Calvinist and a pastor, this story is a reminder that preachers can and do have secret lives. (The same could be said for all of us.) It seems clear, at least to me, that Ian and Anne Campbell’s marriage was troubled and that Ian found love in all the wrong places. As mentioned numerous times in the Black Collar Crime series and other posts, Evangelical pastors, evangelists, missionaries, elders, deacons, and Sunday School teachers — supposedly pillars or morality and virtue — can be every bit as “worldly” and “sinful” as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world.

These men of God preach thundering sermons about the sins of Adam’s race, call on all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, yet they themselves cannot live according to what they preach. Campbell leaves a legacy that says, now that his adulterous affairs have been exposed, do as I say, not as I do. In other words, Campbell was a hypocrite. And that would be fine, if it weren’t for that fact that Campbell, along with his fellow Calvinistic pastors, pompously dare to demand that everyone live according to the anti-human moral precepts and teachings of the Bible. When these so-called mouthpieces of God are found out to be less than their bio suggests, it is certainly fair for unbelievers such as myself to point out the hypocrisy. If Evangelicals don’t like having their sins exposed to the light of day, I suggest that they quit exposing what they believe are the moral failures of believers and unbelievers alike and admit that they are every bit as “fallen” as the rest of us.

From an atheistic and humanistic perspective, I feel sad for Anne Campbell and her children. The stain of their father’s and husband’s sin and death will be with them forever. Anne Campbell will always be viewed as a woman who extracted some sort of payback by exposing her husband’s affairs. Silent while her husband was living, Anne has unleashed her scorn and wrath on those who dared to let her husband into their beds. It will be interesting to see if the Point Free Church can survive this scandal.

Ian Campbell’s body lies in a grave, returning to the earth from whence it came. His secrets and his tragedy live on, but he does not. There is no hell, so no eternal punishment of fire and brimstone await. The only hell is that which Campbell left behind.

Note

The Free Church of Scotland, a Fundamentalist sect that is Calvinistic and Evangelical in belief, has one hundred congregations with a total membership of about 12,000.

My editor sent me the following  comment:

Humans are such complex characters. It is probably unfair that we ask more of certain people than we do of others – clergy, office holders, others in high positions – and of ourselves. Of course, we despise certain characteristics in ourselves, even as we continue to engage in the despised behaviors. But we expect those to whom we admire, and those who have sought high positions, to be better than we are. I am reminded of your post just yesterday when your congregant objected when you admitted you knew what it was to lust after a woman.

I concur. It is time for Evangelicals to stable the moral high horse, and rejoin the human race. Then posts such as this one won’t need to be written. The story then is that of a bad marriage, a scorned woman, and a man who couldn’t keep his pants zipped up. It is probable that Campbell’s religious beliefs fueled his suicide attempts. Campbell broke his marriage vows, as countless people do, but such lapses don’t normally lead to suicide. Throw religion, particularly Evangelical Christianity, into the mix and that changes everything. Imagine the depths of Campbell’s guilt, fear, and shame. It is not hard to imagine a follower of Jesus, in a moment of despair, turning to suicide.

Why Evangelical Church Members Have a Hard Time Believing Their Pastors Do Bad Things

timothy keller quote

Why is it that many Evangelical Christians have a hard time believing that pastors, evangelists, parachurch leaders, Christian university presidents, and other notable Christian leaders commit crimes such as sexual assault, rape, child abuse, murder, and fraud or otherwise engage in behaviors deemed by faithful Christians to be sinful?  Every time I write a post about a pastor or some other Christian leader committing crime or behaving in ways that make them out to be hypocrites, I end up getting comments and emails from people objecting to my publicizing the story. Often, these objectors leave comments that suggest that they have some sort of inside knowledge about the matter, and once the “truth” comes out the accused will be vindicated. Other objectors will take the “they are innocent until proven guilty” approach, subtly suggesting that these kinds of stories should not be publicized until there has been a trial and a conviction. With righteous indignation they attack me, the messenger, for daring to publish anything about the stories, warning me that God is going to get me for causing harm to his servants and his church. And when the trials are over and convictions are handed down, do these same people return to this site with heads humbly held low, confessing that they did not know these men and women as well as they thought they did? Of course not. If anything, they will demand forgiveness for the offender. After all, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, right?

Last year, I remember a number of people getting upset with me over my publicizing on Facebook their pastor’s criminal behavior. He didn’t do it!. I KNOW this man! I’ve been friends with him for 20 years! He led me to Jesus! It’s just the word of a confused teenager against the word of an honorable, devoted man of God. It was interesting to watch all these outraged people disappear once multiple girls came forward from several churches and said that this pastor had taken sexual advantage of them. Why is it these church members had a hard time believing that their pastor committed felony sexual crimes?

When Jack Schaap was accused of carrying on a sexual affair with a teenage girl he was counseling, scores of outraged members and supporters of First Baptist Church in Hammond Indiana came to this blog and declared Schaap’s innocence. These are the same people who, to this day, believe that Schaap’s father-in-law, Jack Hyles, never carried on with his secretary, and these same people, while not condoning David Hyles’ heinous crimes, demand that he be given favorable treatment since God has forgiven him. Who are we to condemn, if God has forgiven him, they said. He that is without sin let him cast the first stone! Judge not!

Bob Gray, the one-time pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville Florida, was accused of sexually molesting young children. Countless Gray supporters said that their pastor could never do such a thing, yet we now know that it is likely he had been a sexual predator for most of the fifty years he spent in the ministry. How is it possible that a pastor who was considered by many, including myself, to be a Holy Ghost-filled man of God, could, for decades, sexually harm children, yet no one know about it (or at least was willing to report it)?

Last week, Justin White, pastor of First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana was arrested on felony charges of insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Come to find out, White was a heroin addict. I found myself asking, how is it possible that a man could preach three times a week and lead a large church while on heroin? Those must have been some pretty awesome and inspiring sermons. Did church leaders know that White had a heroin problem? It seems likely that they did. In 2015, White went out of state for thirty-two days to a rehab center, returning clean to a none-the-wiser church congregation. If news reports are to be believed, White’s recovery was short-lived, resulting in him committing insurance fraud to pay a $11,000 debt he owed to a drug dealer. Despite the evidence and White’s subsequent resignation, there are congregants who believe that their pastor is innocent of all charges. Why do these church members, and others like them, have such a hard time believing that the man who stands in the pulpit on Sunday can be someone other than who he says he is?

These same people have no problem believing that non-Christians commit all sorts of crimes. When newspapers report the crimes of unbelievers these followers of Jesus shake their heads and say, if they only put their faith and trust in Jesus all things would become new for them. In their minds, Jesus is an antidote for bad and criminal behavior. And, to be honest, he often is, or least the idea of Jesus is an antidote for behavior deemed sinful or unlawful. Countless alcoholics and drug addicts clean up after having a come to Jesus moment. While I could write much about why this is so, the fact remains that in some instances having some sort of conversion experience leads people to change their ways. If Jesus really is the antidote for sin and the answer for what ails us, why then do so many Christians fall (or run) into behaviors that are considered sinful or criminal? Why is there no difference behavior-wise between nonbelievers and believers?

The reason then that Evangelicals have a hard time believing their pastors could ever commit the crimes they are accused of is because they think — despite evidence to the contrary — that people are protected from moral and ethical failure by their Christian salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside them. This is why the Black Collar Crime series is so important. The series is a public reminder of the fact that religion, in and of itself, does not make anyone a better person. It can, and perhaps at times does, but there are countless people who are nonreligious or who are members of religious sects Evangelicals have deemed false who live exemplary lives. Religion is not a prerequisite to goodness. And because Evangelicals refuse to understand this, they find it difficult to accept that the men and women they hold up as pillars of morality and virtue can really be perverts and criminals in disguise.

While we should generally trust people, we should not do so blindly, and therein lies the problem for many Evangelicals. They are taught to obey those that have authority over them. They are reminded that gossip is a sin and that church members should not believe an accusation against an elder (pastor) unless it can be firmly established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Jack Hyles was fond of saying, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. Countless Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers have used this very line to turn back whispers about their sexual infidelity or criminal behavior. You keep your mouth shut now. If you didn’t see it happen, you have no business talking about it. I’m sure former IFB church members can remember blistering sermons about gossip and about the dangers of speaking badly about the man of God. Remember those boys who mocked the man of God in the Bible? Why, bears came out of the woods and ate them. Best keep your tongue quiet, lest God send bears to eat you. How often do Evangelicals hear sermons about not touching God’s anointedMind your own business, church members are told, and let God take care of the preacher. If he is sinning, God will punish him. But here is the problem with this kind of thinking: God doesn’t punish sinning preachers. They just keep on sinning and sinning and sinning. They will keep on molesting little boys and girls, raping teenagers, and sleeping with vulnerable congregants until real flesh-and-blood human beings make them stop.

Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, yet did nothing. They were more concerned about the testimony of the church than they were the victims. Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, conducted their own investigations, and once finished, buried the accusations or elicited a promise from offenders that they would never, ever do again that which they were accused of. After all, since Jesus has forgiven them, shouldn’t the church? The short answer to this question is HELL NO! When clergy commit criminal acts that harm other people, they must be held accountable. This is why states have mandatory reporting laws. When church leadership hears of reports of possible criminal sexual misconduct they are required to immediately report these actions to law enforcement. It is not their responsibility to investigate or mete out punishment. We have a legal system that is responsible for investigating crimes and bringing offenders to justice. I wish more churches would be prosecuted for failing to report. If a handful of church deacons or elders had to spend time in jail for not reporting or covering up crimes, perhaps this would put an end to these men and women placing their religious institutions reputations above the welfare of those who have been victimized.

I spent twenty-five years in the ministry. From the time I was fifteen to the age of fifty-one, I was a member of the preacher fraternity. I know what went on behind closed doors. I know about scandals, sexual affairs, fraud, and suspected criminal behavior. I know where the bodies are buried. I know the real story behind Pastor So-and-So’s abrupt call to a new church. I know why certain missionaries had to come home from the field, never to return. I know that preachers are not any different from the people they pastor. Yes, most pastors are good people. Yes, most pastors generally desire to help others. What is also true is that some pastors are lazy and see the ministry as a way to make a quick and easy buck. It is also true that some pastors watch pornography and have sexual affairs with people in and out of their churches. People are people, and the sooner that church members understand this, the better. Stop putting pastors on pedestals. Stop thinking that pastors and their families are in any way better than anyone else. They are not, and I wish that pastors would stand before their congregations on Sundays and be honest about this.

The reason they don’t, of course, is because few congregants want honesty and transparency. Instead, they want pastors who are victorious over sin. They want pastors who are above the fray. They want winners! They want men and women they can look up to as examples of moral purity and virtue. Years ago, I remember admitting in a sermon that I knew what it was to lust after a woman. My objective was to let congregants know that I was just like them, that I was not in any way morally superior to them. After the service a man came up to me and told me that he was upset over my confession. In no uncertain terms, he let me know that he didn’t want to hear about my sins or failures. He wanted a pastor who was a shining example of holiness and righteousness. In other words, he wanted me to be God. Needless to say, this man did not last long in our church. He quickly found out that I was, like the apostle Paul, the chiefest of sinners.

Have you ever attended a church where the pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, or some other revered leader in the church was accused of criminal behavior or sexual misconduct? How did the church respond to these accusations? Were some of the members unwilling to believe that the accused could do the things he or she was accused of? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

Black Collar Crime: Omega Fire Ministry Worldwide Bars Members From Talking About Their Pastor’s Sexual Affairs

johnson sulemanOmega Fire Ministry Worldwide leaders have barred church members from talking about what Apostle Johnson Suleman does with his johnson behind closed doors. Premium Times reports:

The Omega Fire Ministry Worldwide has barred members from making further comments or statements on the alleged sexual relationship involving its overseer, Johnson Suleman.

In a statement issued by the Directorate of Media, the church said commentaries on the matter had overstayed their relevance and the members should no longer allow themselves be distracted by it.

“It has become imperative that we advise all Omega Children and Christians Worldwide to put an end to the ongoing media war that we have engaged in,” the church said in the statement seen by PREMIUM TIMES.

“Every wise person would know that this is not a battle of humans but one between the Kingdom of God and that of darkness.

“Therefore, nobody is permitted further to issue a statement or comment on the matter. All Facebook Live Videos on the issue should also stop forthwith. It is advised that we spend our time concentrating on more relevant issues that bothers on the Kingdom.

“We are well aware were all these are coming from and we will deal with it spiritually.”

The statement came just as a second lady, who identified herself as Queen Esther, came forward on Sunday to speak about an alleged sexual relationship with Mr. Suleman (popularly known as Apostle Suleman).

For the most of last week, Mr. Suleman and a Canada-based singer, Stephanie Otobo, traded accusations over allegations of sexual affair, forceful abortion of pregnancy, and breach of marriage promise.

….

On Sunday, Mr. Suleman’s spokesperson, Phrank Shaibu, declined further comments on the matter.

But in several videos posted online by Celebration TV, the church’s television arm, Mr. Suleman told his congregation that those behind the allegations would be destroyed within 24 hours.

One of the videos was uploaded on You Tube on Saturday.

“God just told me something. And in 24 hours, marine will be disgraced publicly. Marine…I’m not just prophesying on you, I’m prophesying on myself. In 24 hours, the truth will be exposed,” Mr. Suleman told his church members amidst cheers.

“In 24 hours, the marine kingdom will be disappointed. Kingdom of the water and their representatives, that made themselves available tool will be disgraced. And they shall know that it’s the ‘I am that I am’ that sent me.

“We don’t fight with our mouth; we fight with our knees. We can’t do certain things and still carry the anointing that we carry, no we don’t do that nonsense.

“If I’m true or not true, real or not real, 24 hours. I’m tough mehn, I’m tough. You don’t see me preaching? Do I look shaky? Do I look worried? Get a better agent.

“If the devil wants people to start doubting you, he attacks your reputation. We know this.

Additionally, Sahara Reporters reported:

Johnson Suleman, the controversial Nigerian pastor at the center of an adultery scandal gave a $76,000 brand-new Mercedes-Benz 450 GL to Nollywood star Daniella Okeke in 2016, an official Lagos State website shows.

Ms. Okeke was previously named by Stephanie Otobo, Apostle Suleman’s estranged lover, as being one of the other women in his life.

For her part, the actress in 2016 proudly displayed the Mercedes-Benz SUV GL 450 on her Instagram page in front of a brand-new house where she parked it.

After her name was revealed by Ms. Otobo at a press conference covered extensively by Saharareporters, some Nigerians invaded Ms. Okeke’s Instagram questioning the source of her wealth given that she has not featured in any prominent movies in recent years.

The more inquisitive among them took advantage of a new website for vehicle registration in Lagos State which unveils the ownership of any vehicles by its number due to a bug on the webpage, and discovered that one of Ms. Okeke’s most prized possessions, the posh Mercedes-Benz car, is registered to “Apostle Suleman Johnson.”

This discovery is the second window into the pastor’s private life following the one opened by Ms. Otobo, but he has vigorously denied the amorous relationship she claims to have had with him.

Last week, Ms. Otobo was arrested and detained by Apostle Suleman, who procured some federal police officers to rough up the woman.  She was behind bars for a few nights.

Ms. Otobo had insisted that Apostle Suleman impregnated her following sex romps in Italy, New York and Nigeria.  The pastor denied the allegations and threatened to sue SaharaReporters for reporting the story.

….

In a rebuttal on Friday, the law office denied that Mr. Keyamo, its Head of Chambers, was actively involved in the matter, as he has been in Abuja.  It described the pastor’s allegations of a conspiracy against him as pathetic, ludicrous and a nonsensical smokescreen.

Among others, the chambers revealed that the pastor paid millions into Ms. Otobo’s account and that it has pictures of him exposing his private parts, evidence of which it said would emerge in court.  It also stated that other victims of the pastor have started to come forward to tell their stories, armed with proof.

Pastor O. Jermaine Simmons Flees Naked From Female Church Member’s Bed When Her Husband Comes Home Unexpectedly

o jermaine simmons

Perhaps Simmons should re-title his book, She Needs a Man and I’m Available

The Washington Post reports:

Pastor O. Jermaine Simmons stood before his congregation and asked for forgiveness. But he also tried to reconcile the man his parishioners had known for a decade with the adulterer being laughed at in church circles and the media.

Since he took over as pastor in 2005, more than 4,000 people had joined Jacob Chapel Baptist Church in Tallahassee. It had added 27 ministries, focusing efforts on the homeless in Florida’s capital and ministering to youth.

And Simmons had just released his first book, “I Need a Man,” a Bible-based paperback on modeling “Godly manhood.”

Then Simmons’s affair with another man’s wife went public in dramatic fashion: On Jan. 17, the 36-year-old pastor — a married father — found himself cowering naked behind a fence, hiding from a gun-toting husband who’d stumbled on the affair, police say.

“What I want from God, I have already received — that’s his forgiveness, ” Simmons told his congregation five days later.

….

According to a Tallahassee police report, officers were called to the Sienna Square Apartments by a woman who said her husband had a gun — and was looking for her lover.

The naked man behind the fence was Simmons, who was also her pastor, she told officers.

She wasn’t sure where her husband was.

But she knew he was angry — and armed.

The pastor had come over to the woman’s house to “talk over starting a business, patents and trademarks, and providing less fortunate kids with clothes and shoes,” she told officers, according to the police report.

Instead, they ended up in her daughter’s bed, having sex, police said.

That same day, the woman’s 6-year-old son had gotten sick at school. Administrators couldn’t reach the woman, so they called her husband instead.

He picked up the sick child and headed home — where he found his wife cheating with their pastor, police said.

“The man yelled ‘I’m gonna kill him’ and went to their room and got a small handgun,” according to the police report.

Simmons ran out of the apartment naked and hopped a privacy fence behind some shrubs, the report said.

But his car keys and his clothes were inside the house with the woman and her enraged husband.

O. Jermaine Simmons is the pastor of Jacob Chapel Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida.

Slut-Shaming Unmarried Pregnant Baptist Women

sexual sin

It is commonly believed by most Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church members that unmarried members are virgins and that they do not masturbate or have lustful thoughts. Listening to preaching multiple times a week, daily reading the Bible and praying — along with cold showers — are sure antidotes for sexual sin. When the preacher’s daughter someday marries the deacon’s son, everyone will think that both of them are pure as the driven snow, with thoughts of only serving Jesus. This is the myth that is promoted in Baptist sermons, books, and on websites. It has no basis in reality, but people sure do believe it. After all, if getting saved turns sinners into new creations and gives them a desire to love and follow Jesus, why, any thought of hormone-raging Fundamentalist young adults engaging in any sort of promiscuity is preposterous. As is often the case, reality paints a far different picture.

In recent years, a plethora of Fundamentalist ministries have begun ministering to those with addiction problems. Based on the number of ministries geared towards helping Christians addicted to porn, one can easily conclude that Evangelicalism has a huge porn problem — easily the size of John Holmes, AKA Johnny Wadd. If Jesus is the cure, the solution, and the answer for what ails the human race, why are there so many Christians committing what Evangelicals consider sexual sins? Why are there so many IFB preachers and church leaders who can’t keep their pants zipped up or have Google search histories that would make Hugh Hefner blush? Why are the biggest hypocrites on Sunday the men standing behind the pulpits of Evangelical and Baptist churches?

No matter how many moral scandals rock Evangelicalism and the IFB church movement, their pastors, church leaders, Sunday school teachers, evangelists, bloggers, and culture warriors continue to present Christianity as some sort of superior way of living. Never mind studies and anecdotal stories that suggest otherwise, these purveyors of Evangelical truth continue to say that Jesus is the only way to keep unmarried young adults from committing fornication. Just say YES to Jesus and NO to physically and emotionally satisfying romps in the hay.

fornicationSo what happens when church teenagers and young adults ignore the moral standard or, in a moment of understandable passion, give way to sexual desire and fulfillment? Most of the time, as long as the keepers of the chastity belts do not find out, these fornicators and pleasurers will continue to engage in behaviors that — according to their parents, churches, and pastors — will land them in hell. As one aged preacher tried to impress on us young preachers: a stiff prick has no conscience. Once aroused, sexual desire usually wins the battle. On those Sundays when pastors rage against immorality, frothing at the mouth and pounding the pulpit as they wage war against normal, healthy sexual behavior, those who have given into their desires will be drowned in seas of guilt, shame, and fear. Sometimes these fornicators will make their way down to the front of the church, and kneeling at an old-fashioned altar, they will promise God that they will never, ever spank the monkey or engage in any behavior remotely considered sexual. If need be, they will pluck out their eyes. Yet, come Saturday night they will be tempted to break their vow. While some will hold out, most will engage in the very “sins” they confessed the week before. Why? Not because they are in any way morally inferior or weak. Much like drinking and eating, desiring sexual fulfillment is every bit a part of what makes us human. It is these preachers of abnormality who are the problem. Instead of teaching sexually aware young adults how to handle their sexuality and how to engage in thoughtful, satisfying sex, these deniers of human nature do everything possible to shame and guilt people into obedience.

Since no one in Evangelical churches is committing fornication and everyone is waiting to have sex until they are married, there is really no need for church young adults to be taught about birth control. As a result, it is not uncommon for church girls to get pregnant or for young adults to come down with sexually-transmitted diseases. How do pastors and churches respond when such things occur? Often, not very well.

I want to conclude this post with several stories that I think will illustrate how some Evangelical churches handle sexual indiscretions.

One of the teenage girls in the first church I worked in became pregnant. Here is how the pastor handled it. He told the girl that she must immediately marry the father. She was also told that because she was no longer a virgin she forfeited her right to a church wedding. Only her family would be permitted to attend the wedding. No announcement would be made to the church about it. And if these prohibitions were not bad enough, the pastor informed the pregnant teen that she would not be permitted to wear a white dress. She had sullied the name of Jesus and as a result she would be required to wear an off-white dress. Much like wearing a red A, it would be clear to everyone that this girl had violated the holiness of God. Marked forever as one who could not wait, she would carry shame the rest of her adult life. Perhaps, in time, her fellow church members would forget her scandalous behavior, but, for now, she had to bear the weight of her indiscretion. The severity of the punishment was meant to be a deterrent. Church girls, seeing how severely _______ was punished would think twice before letting some boy have his way with them.

One church I know of required exposed fornicators and pregnant unmarrieds to stand before the church and confess their sins. I remember one young woman weeping uncontrollably as she admitted having the sex that led to her pregnancy. Sadly, this kind of slut shaming still goes on today. Described as church discipline, it is really an attempt — through fear, shame, and guilt — to make sure that any other prospective fornicators toe the line. Who wants to stand before the church and have her — it is almost always teen girls and young women — secrets exposed for all to see?

As many former pregnant out-of-wedlock Evangelical women will attest, some churches subscribe to the out of sight, out of mind way of handling fornication. Unmarried young women who find fornicationthemselves in the family way are often shipped off to Christian boarding schools or homes for unwed mothers. Since their pregnancies are viewed as acts of rebellion against God, the Bible, and Evangelical morality, it is hoped that intensive authoritarian indoctrination and control will force slutty Baptist women to see the error of their way and recommit to following the Evangelical moral code. While they can never regain their virginity — unlike salvation, once virginity is lost it can never be regained — these fornicators can have their sexual indiscretions washed in the blood of Jesus. Once washed in his blood, their lives will once again be pure.

While I may have been a card-carrying Evangelical and a subscriber to narrow moral strictures, I never heaped shame, guilt, or fear upon the heads of those who failed to measure up. Part of the reason was that I knew about the moral failings of more than a few Evangelical preachers. I also knew that I was not without sin. I readily admit that my preaching — at times — was quite hypocritical. As with many Evangelical preachers, I sometimes used the pulpit as a way to confess my sins and atone for them. What better way to assuage one’s guilt and shame over a perceived moral failure than to admit before the church — in a generic, nonspecific way — that I understood their moral struggles and failures. More than a few church members were upset by my honesty concerning lust. These faux pillars of moral virtue wanted a preacher who could be inches away from a hot naked woman and not be tempted to touch. They wanted a man who was above the fray, a man so holy and righteous that having a front row seat for a wet T-shirt contest would not cause arousal or heightened sexual desire. After admitting that I knew what it was like to lust after a woman, the super saints moved on to other churches, oblivious to the fact that their new pastors were no different from me. Now I am in no way suggesting that I cheated on my wife. I didn’t. But I am saying that I always understood what it was to be a normal, healthy heterosexual man. One time, my child-molesting Evangelical grandfather publicly objected to a sermon I preached on the sin of mixed bathing. He told me that he could go down to the beach and look at women wearing bikinis and never have a lustful thought. I looked at him and told him that I did not believe him and that perhaps he needed to be examined by a doctor. I do not believe for a moment that a man — in particular an Evangelical man — can watch a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot and not have sexual thoughts. Thinking otherwise is a denial of human nature and abnormal. I knew then, as I do now, that it is normal and healthy to have sexual thoughts, and that having these thoughts does not make someone a bad person.

As an Evangelical pastor I frequently dealt with members who had some sort of moral failing. While I certainly held to the Evangelical interpretation of the Bible’s moral teachings, I understood that no one was perfect. People are going to make mistakes — including having sex before marriage and getting pregnant. When one of the unmarried women of the church found herself pregnant, I did not berate or heap shame upon her head (though I am sure my preaching likely had this effect). Once the deed is done, there is no way to undo it. The only question that mattered was now what? Instead of publicly shaming unmarried women — again, men are almost always given a free pass — I did what I could to help them make the most of a bad situation. What possible good could ever come out of publicly humiliating someone because of some sort of moral failure? Surely it is better to help them pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.

Of course, I now understand that the real solution is to distance oneself from religious moralizing and puritanical sexual beliefs. These Bible thumping liars help no one. Guilt, shame, and fear only lead to more of the same. The solution is to get away from those whose goal in life is to destroy human nature and self-worth. The 1960s birthed a sexual revolution that continues to this day. There is no going back, and the sooner Evangelical churches and pastors understand this the better.

Having lost the battle against heterosexual immorality, Evangelicals are now focused on LGBTQ people and their “sins” against God. Preaching with all their might about those evil queers, Sodomites, and reprobates, these keepers of moral purity fail to see that they are driving scores of millennials and thoughtful older people away from their churches. To these preachers of puritanical morality I say, keep up the good work.