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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor JD Hall Arrested on DUI and Gun Charges

jd hall

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.

Jordan “JD” Hall, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Sidney, Montana, and publisher of the Fundamentalist polemics site Protestia, was arrested on May 11, 2022, and charged with driving under the influence and carrying a concealed weapon while intoxicated.

Religion News Service reports:

A Montana Baptist pastor who has spent years warning that liberals were taking over the Southern Baptist Convention and evangelical churches, was arrested on DUI and weapons charges.

Jordan Daniel “J.D.” Hall, pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Sidney, Montana, and publisher of the online Christian polemics site Protestia, was arrested on May 11 after a traffic stop. According to a copy of the initial offense report obtained by Religion News Service, Hall was charged at 11 p.m. with driving under the influence and carrying a concealed weapon while intoxicated. The DUI charge is a first offense, according to the report. A Sidney police officer observed Hall driving in a bike lane and pulled him over.

Hall allegedly had slurred speech, stumbled and had poor balance, according to a copy of the complaint filed against him, which was also posted online. During the stop, police also allegedly found a concealed handgun. The pastor performed poorly on a field sobriety test, according to the police report, but a breathalyzer did not find evidence of alcohol in his system.

The Montana pastor is best known for his role as a writer for online site Pulpit&Pen, where Hall criticized what he saw as liberal and worldly influences affecting the evangelical church and especially the Southern Baptist Convention. Among the site’s targets were Bible teacher Beth Moore, former Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore (no relation), former SBC President J.D. Greear and Tennessee preacher and Trump supporter Greg Locke.

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In 2014, Hall announced plans to back away from his involvement in SBC conflicts, following the death of the teenage son of one of the church leaders he criticized. Hall and other critics had ridiculed the 15-year-old online, in what radio talk show host Todd Starnes called “theological thuggery.”

“In one sense, I am reaping what I sowed. When you live by the sword, you die by it,” said Hall in in 2014, according to Christianity Today. He had also apologized for criticizing the teenager.

Hall had become active in SBC conflict in recent years — joining other critics who claim the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has turned liberal — and had planned to attend the upcoming SBC annual meeting in Anaheim. The pastor claimed that “me and my boys will control the mics and rebuke is on the agenda.”

The pastor recently filed for bankruptcy, claiming he could not afford to pay legal fees in a libel lawsuit, according to Montana news reports. A transgender activist has sued Hall for libel, claiming “an article about her damaged her reputation,” the Longview News-Journal reported.   

Hall pled not guilty to the charges. He has also been assessed a $585 fine, according to the Daily Montanan, and has a court date set for mid-July. 

After Facebook banned the Pulpit&Pen, the site was renamed “Protestia.” Hall also heads the Gideon Knox Group, which runs a church-based collection of media sites and other media ministries, including the Polemics Report, the Bible Thumping Wingnut podcast network, and an AM radio station. He also founded the Montana Daily Gazette, a conservative news site.

Fellowship Baptist released the following statement:

The following statement from Fellowship Baptist Church is made in response to the events of the evening of May 11th, 2022 involving Pastor Hall, and subsequent findings and decisions made by the church.

Pastor Hall tenured his resignation to the church Thursday after being charged with DUI on Wednesday evening. There was no alcohol in his system and he blew 0.0 on the administered breathalyzer. However, police insisted Pastor Hall failed the administered field sobriety test. Pastor Hall has suffered from documented vitamin D deficiency, which can result in poor coordination, slurred speech, word displacement, etc. This medical issue has been discussed openly for some time and has been the subject of our church’s prayers. Nonetheless, Pastor Hall felt responsibility for bringing the stain of rumor upon the church and thus offered his resignation.

The deacons and elders met yesterday and rejected his resignation in consultation with three well-respected and Godly pastors of other churches, as it was unanimously determined that, as no alcohol was used and Pastor Hall’s coordination/health issues have been well known, this unfortunate incident was not ministerially disqualifying. The deacons, elders, and consulted pastors were apprised of Pastor Hall’s prescription medication, health issues, and spiritual, emotional, and physical state, and expressed great concern for his health and overworking.

The Church Council met soon after and likewise rejected Pastor Hall’s resignation. The council determined Pastor Hall was exhausted, potentially addicted to working, and must rest, do nothing for 3 months, and change his phone number (to not be bothered by outsiders). Additionally, the Council determined that church elders will handle Pastor Hall’s responsibilities along with a former church member (who had moved away) and lay pastor. Church leadership will place Pastor Hall’s wife in charge of when after that period he is well enough to go back to work, in consultation with the elders.

Subsequently, the congregation was apprised of the situation in a special business meeting after services Sunday. In a unanimous vote, they likewise rejected Pastor Hall’s resignation and voted to affirm the Church Council’s findings.

Pastor Hall spoke to the congregation to say he would submit to their requests, would come or go at our pleasure, and agreed to remain in his office at our request. He cautioned us solemnly to be ready for what enemies of Christ would do with his situation and to brace themselves. The congregation spoke openly to assure Pastor Hall he should not be ashamed, that we do not care what the world thinks, as that we know the truth.

Please pray for Pastor Hall and his family during this incredibly stressful season.

Hall blames a severe Vitamin D deficiency for his DUI-like behavior. Even if this is true and it causes impaired behavior, Hall had no business driving an automobile.

Hall will use his arrest to fuel his belief that he is being persecuted by nefarious outside sources or Satan.

If I was making a Top 100 list of Christian Assholes, JD Hall would be Top 5.

Fundamentalist Pastor JD Hall Brags About Breaking the Law

Fundamentalist J.D. Hall “Apologizes” to LGBT Community

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: J.D. Hall and Fred Phelps, Two Peas in a Pod

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Black Collar Crime: Baptist Pastor Roscoe Cooper, III Charged with DUI

roscoe cooper iii

Roscoe Cooper, III, pastor of Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, was charged yesterday with DUI.

CBS-6 reports:

A prominent pastor and vice chair of the Henrico County School Board was arrested for driving under the influence early Saturday morning.

Virginia State Police arrested 43-year-old Roscoe Cooper III around 1 a.m. on I-64 west of the Gaskins Road exit in the West End.

Cooper was charged with driving under the influence.

However, state police have not yet released the details surrounding Cooper’s arrest.

Cooper, who is the school board’s vice chair and represents the Fairfield District, is well known in the Richmond metro area.

He comes from a line of family clergy members and is the pastor of Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church in eastern Henrico County.

Close friends and clergy members are asking the public not to rush to judgment.

“We are put on a high pedestal and sometimes people cannot accept that we all have issues,” Sharon Broaddus, a family friend, said. “They expect the pastor to be perfect with no problems. What the church and the Christians should do now is rally around Pastor Cooper.”

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Here’s Cooper’s Jesus-worthy bio from the Rising Mount Zion’s website:

Dr. Roscoe D. Cooper, III, a third-generation of spiritually powerful preachers, is a twice scholar graduate of Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia from which he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and Philosophy and a Master of Divinity Degree from the esteem Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology, graduating Cum Laude. Additionally, he sought to show himself approved, completing post-graduate study at the Chicago Theological Seminary, and in 2013, received a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Richmond Theological Seminary.

​​Richmond born, reared and educated, his achievements and recognitions are noteworthy throughout the state, country and world in which he has readily and successfully combined his evangelistic duties with the concerns and needs of the community.  He is the recipient of numerous honors and rewards as an Outstanding Education Orator, a Prolific Communicator and Leader, Minister of the Year for four consecutive years, and a keynote speaker at the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education of the National Baptist Convention USA.  Additionally, he has been honored and recognized by the Richmond NAACP, served as a community representative to the Congressional Black Caucus Discussions in Washington, D. C., a productive President of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Richmond and Vicinity, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Capital Area Health Network, is a member of the Religious Advisory Committee of Virginia Senator Mark Warner, an invited participant in the Educational Seminar in Israel, and the elected Henrico County School Board Representative for the Fairfield District.

His first pastorate was at the Long Branch Baptist Church in Woodford, Virginia where he honorably and diligently served for three years.  In 2003, he was called to the historical Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church – Hartman Street, Henrico County as Pastor.  Since his arrival at Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church, the church has continuously embraced a direction of spiritual growth, and has revolutionized, strengthened, and excelled in every aspect of its existence under his leadership.  Pastor Cooper has more than quadrupled the membership, birthed several new ministries, and executed a comprehensive short and long term building and renovation plan, resulting in the funding and construction of phase 1 of a multi-million dollar sanctuary and administrative wing within his first ten years, refurbished the interior and exterior of the old buildings and the surrounding grounds to absolute condition and beauty.

He is a devoted family man who is a called  servant of God who is focused and inspired by the promises of God, unchained by the cross, intentionally lives his creeds, treads the path of excellence, credibly inhabits his sermons, and unashamedly proclaims the Word of God each time he stands.  Consistently, he nurtures the spirits, minds and hearts of his congregants with the powerful and unadulterated Word of God that encourages everyone to seek first the Kingdom of God, walk in His Way, take up the cup of salvation, and thank and glorify God for all things.

In spite of the indelible manifestation of God’s favor on this branch of Zion and its people, and the teaching and preaching of the Good News Gospel, he remains and encourages others to remain humble,   study and witness the Word of God, and purposely relish the challenge to dare to make a difference!   It is evident that he is spiritually anointed, socially engaged, and academically prepared for the task at hand—to teach and preach the Good News Gospel, bring souls to Christ and soundly lead the flock that God has given him.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:

A Henrico County School Board member accused of driving under the influence early Saturday is also facing a charge of refusing to take a breath test to determine the alcohol content in his blood, according to court documents.

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The DUI is a misdemeanor. The breath-test charge is a civil violation that accuses Cooper, 43, of “unreasonably” refusing to provide a breath sample, according to court records.

According to Sgt. Steve Vick with Virginia State Police, Cooper was stopped just before 1 a.m. on Saturday on westbound Interstate 64 just west of the Gaskins Road exit.

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Cooper, who is the pastor at Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church in Henrico, has other driving-related charges pending in Henrico General District Court. There’s a pair of charges from June 30 that accuse him of driving 43 mph in a 25 mph zone and of driving without a license, according to court records. Cooper also faces a charge of driving 38 mph in a 25 mph zone on July 19.

Update

Channel 6 reports:

Cooper was arrested after a state trooper reported seeing a car on I-64 west driving in two lanes.

The trooper stopped the suspect, Cooper, and said he smelled like alcohol.

According to the arrest documents, Cooper admitted to having two drinks.

The arresting trooper said Cooper seemed nervous, was fumbling around and could not find his wallet or license.

Records show Cooper blew a point 0.10 on the breathalyzer test at the scene, so he was charged with drinking and driving, handcuffed and taken to jail. The legal limit in Virginia is 0.08.

According to the arresting docs, he was given another breathalyzer test, but barely blew on the tube three times, ending with a deficient sample. As a result, he was charged with refusing to take a test.

When asked if he had considered resigning from the school board, Cooper was defiant Thursday evening.

“I’m not convicted of anything. What am I resigning for?” Cooper asked. “I’ve still got a job to do and I’m excited about this year. There are great possibilities and potentials.”

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A November 15, 2017 Channel Six story reports:

Pastor and Henrico School Board member Roscoe Cooper III received a six-month suspended jail sentence after he was found guilty of driving while intoxicated. Cooper’s driver’s license has been suspended for a year.

Cooper was arrested in August after a Virginia State Trooper reported seeing Cooper’s car driving in two lanes along Interstate 64 west in Henrico’s West End. The trooper stopped Cooper and reported the Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church pastor smelled of alcohol.

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Bruce Gerencser