265) 5th Sign – Iniquity Abounds

The psychological coping mechanism which explains how nominal Christians can separate the YHVH of the Old Testament from YHVH’s Savior in the New Testament also explains how Christians can blacklist non-believers while simultaneously white-washing Christian leaders who engage in sin, despite the overwhelming evidence of self- and other-harming behaviors wreaking havoc and destruction to a Christian witness.

maxresdefault-1Peter Ruckman, Sr., one of the strongest advocates of KJV Only, was divorced twice under a cloud of spousal abuse, married three times. His son and namesake, also divorced, murdered his 12 year old and 14 year old sons then committed suicide. Does not Ruckman Sr’s inability to manage his own house say anything about his qualifications as a religious leader? And yet he has such devoted followers that they call themselves Ruckmanites.

Evangelical pastor Ted Haggard ranted against the evils of premarital sex, adultery, and gay marriage. That is, until he was caught in a gay sex scandal in 2006…Haggard had been a client for years. 

image4764474xTed Haggard, the disgraced-then-redeemed evangelist from Colorado Springs, Colo., has admitted he’s a bisexual.

The revelation came in a profile of Haggard in GQ magazine’s February 2011 issue.

“I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual,” the pastor told the magazine.

Jim Bakkerperhaps the most popular televangelist in the 1980s…was brought down by…secretary publicly accused the televangelist of raping and drugging her. After Bakker resigned from his ministry, he was charged with accounting fraud and sentenced to 45 years in prison.

“The PTL Club” was once the most widely viewed religious program on television. Now, “The Jim Bakker Show”…only serves as a disappointing reminder of what used to be the largest cultural touch point in Christianity…

PTL’s quick plummet amid sex and money scandals resulted in a divorce between Bakker and Tammy Faye in 1992. In 1998, Bakker married his second wife, Lori Bakker, a youth minister who has written several books and hosted her own PTL show called “Life with Lori.”

Lori and Jim started hosting “The Jim Bakker Show” in 2003 in Branson, Missouri, and moved to Morningside in 2008…

Most of the attendees at the show aren’t visitors but rather members of the Morningside community who are renting or have purchased one of the condos on the property. These condos and other living accommodations are available for overnight stay for visitors, though, and there’s also onsite camping. Morningside amenities also include a chapel, a general store, a cafe, a center for pregnant women and a 15-foot-tall statue of Jesus.

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In the same way that Morningside looks like a set recycled from a failed television pilot, “The Jim Bakker Show” — at least in its current era — feels like a recycled attempt at former Bakker glory…

The show is bumbling and empty of substance. Hosts talk over each other and repeat the same phrases about faith and justice, particularly when it comes to the end times and how shunted conservatives are in today’s woke world. It’s very clearly only a show for a certain brand of conservative evangelical Christians who enjoy talk of the apocalypse and attacks on American Christianity — it’s just a shame the show is so boring, too.

Even the end-time prophetic preaching loses its appeal after a few minutes, particularly when there’s not much news about the apocalypse forthcoming.

Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO who became known for his close association with former President Donald Trump and his insistence the election was stolen despite no evidence backing up that claim, was a recent guest on “The Jim Bakker Show” for a three-part telethon. What did he have to say? Exactly the same script he’s been rehashing since the 2020 election, with the additional bemoaning of being “attacked” and “canceled” on the internet.

The rest of the program was essentially a cable TV shopping program for MyPillow products — fitting, as PTL has recently launched its own shopping program. The whole affair reeks of hopeless grabs at relevance. Jerry Jr. succeeded his father as head of Liberty University in 2007… By 2012, the once-ailing Liberty University had more than $1 billion in net assets…GOP presidential candidates sought to win his favor.

1xs7nf7vjl_xuthpujxcpxqJimmy Swaggart, a Pentecostal televangelist, got his start on television in 1975. In the 1980s, he teamed up with Reverend Jerry Falwell, Reverend James Robison, and Reverend Pat Robertson to use the Christian Right to shape the Republican party…

During the height of its powers in 1987, Jimmy Swaggart’s ministry was receiving over 4 million letters containing voluntary contributions totaling more than $120 million per year. Since the ministry was classified as a church in 1982 its earnings were tax-exempt.

Swaggart’s fall from grace happened in 1988 when it became public that he was cheating on his wife with a New Orleans prostitute…was an avid consumer of porn and experimented with BDSM / bondage, discipline, sadomasochism all while condemning such “immoral” acts. After a temporary dismissal from his ministry, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries launched a 24 hour-a-day television network entitled the Sonlife Broadcasting Network (SBN), on various cable TV providers and broadcast stations. He has written about 50 Christian books offered through his ministry including Expositor’s Study Bible,13 study guides, and 38 commentaries on the Bible.

As of January 2022 Jimmy Lee Swaggart’s net worth had dropped to only $15 million, significantly smaller than it was in the pre-scandal years. As of 2012, he and his wife live in one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in Baton Rouge, which includes three houses, a gazebo, a pond, and twenty landscaped acres.  Their 9,337 square-foot mansion boasts a four-columned Jacuzzi with a gold swan that spouts water into an eight-foot long tub.

Bill Gothard is famous for his homeschooling ministry, known as the Gothard Institute of Basic Life Principles. He promoted extreme submission of women…

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In 2014, more than 30 women accused Gothard of molestation and assault, including underage girls…Gothard was forced to resign from his ministry, though he resurfaced on the Internet with a blog in 2016.

20100428-tows-alamo-3-300x205-1Tony Alamo rocketed to fame in the 1970s for preaching a fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity….In 2009, Alamo was sentenced to 175 years in prison. The charges included sexual abuse, transporting underage girls across state lines for sexual purposes, pedophilia, marrying an eight-year-old girl, and child rape.

At 21 years old, [Bob] Coy…”was living the life of sex, drugs, and rock n rollat 24 years old…moved to Las Vegas…”I ran a strip club…”On the day after Christmas [1984], his brother Jim (who had recently married and “got religion”) let him crash in his living room after a wild party. Jim gave Bob a pillow, blanket, and Bible…After that day at his brother’s home, Coy says he hasn’t been the same…Coy quit his job at the casino and began working as an associate pastor at Calvary Chapel, Las Vegas. A year later [at the age of 30], Coy and his wife Diane moved to South Florida, founding Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, where he has become well known for his unique style of teaching and preaching.

When did he have time to train? Develop a good reputation?

“if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless…Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (I Timothy 3:1-7) 

Bob Coy was the most famous evangelical pastor in Florida. His Fort Lauderdale megachurch had 25,000 members, and George W. Bush even visited Coy. But it all came crashing down in 2014 when he admitted to multiple affairs and a pornography addiction. He resigned in disgrace.

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Bob Coy…was accused in 2015 of molesting a girl for more than a decade, beginning when she was 4 years old. Coy was never charged in the case and had already resigned from Calvary over an admitted string of extramarital affairs.

After his preaching career ended, he landed work managing the Funky Biscuit, a nightclub in Mizner Park in Boca Raton. The club now says that it has terminated any relationship with Coy and that the owners had no inkling he’d been accused of child abuse.

When a nightclub has higher standards than a church…

Dave Reynolds was a pastor at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church in Sherwood, Arkansas…40 years old when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found evidence that [he was]….visiting child pornography websites… In 2016, Reynolds was charged with 70 counts of possessing or viewing child pornography, a felony charge.

Doug Phillips was president of an extreme Christian-right group called Visit Forum Ministries. He was…an advocate of the Tea Party conservative political movement. Phillips argued that women must be completely submissive to their husbands and fathers. Daughters should not even have a say in who they marry…In 2013, Phillips was forced to resign after being publicly accused of sexual abuse and assault against a woman by masturbating on the woman multiple times while she cried and asked him to stop.

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Robert Tilton was a televangelist based in Dallas and Fort Lauderdale. It came out in 1991 that he was running a scam where he asked viewers to send him prayer requests, promising to pray over each plea. An investigative report found thousands of requests dumped in a garbage bin––but not until the televangelist kept checks, money orders, and cash for himself.

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What happens when those who are supposed to guide us away from sin become sinners themselves? Check out these pastors behaving badly to find out.

Fraud, private jets and a Lamborghini: 10 televangelists who have faced controversy

  • Kenneth Copeland, a Texas evangelist, came under fire for a viral “Inside Edition” video in which he defended his three private jets…He owns an airport close to his Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Fort Worth.
  • Louisiana minister Jesse Duplantis, who himself was implicated in Copeland’s jet scandal, has been in hot water for his own jet-setting lifestyle. He claims God told him he needs a private jet – specifically, a Falcon 7X, capable of carrying 12 to 16 passengers at speeds up to 700 mph. “Now, some people believe that preachers shouldn’t have jets,” Duplantis said in a video posted in 2018…In the same video, he showed off a photo of the three planes owned by his ministry.
  • As host of The 700 Club, Pat Robertson is one of the more visible televangelists to emerge on the national stage…In recent years, Robertson, 89, defended Trump before the 2016 election after a videotape emerged of Trump making vulgar comments about women. Brushing it off as “macho” talk, Robertson compared Trump to a phoenix. “They think he’s dead, he’s come back. And he came back strong,” he said on his show.
  • In the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, preacher Joel Osteen – who helms one of the largest churches in America with 50,000 members and a 600,000-square-foot stadium – was criticized for not welcoming hurricane evacuees into his Lakewood megachurch. A social media post from the megachurch claimed the building was inaccessible because of “severe flooding.” But locals…posting photos around the church showing streets that were easy to get to…brought negative publicity to the church and Osteen, who has a reported net worth of more than $50 million.
  • South Carolina megachurch pastor John Gray gave his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini SUV for their eighth anniversary in 2018…“God helped me to make my wife’s dream come true,” he wrote in an Instagram post showing off the luxury automobile.
  • Pastor Robert Jeffress has elicited much controversy for his sentiments toward the LGBT community, Mormons and Muslims…He was appointed one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers and gained national attention when he claimed that “God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un,” invoking the Bible’s book of Romans to do so.

Hinn has been a leading proponent of prosperity gospel theology since the 1980s, teaching that God rewards active faith with health and wealth.

Hinn’s financial practices have also been investigated twice by the federal government. The US Senate launched an investigation of Hinn, along with Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, and Eddie Long in 2007. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), then chair of the Senate Finance Committee, was shocked by the lavish lifestyles of American prosperity preachers, and expressed concern the IRS wasn’t doing its job enforcing existing rules against excessive compensation for leaders of religious nonprofits.

Hinn, according to some estimates, was receiving tens of millions of dollars in donations every year…An exact figure is unknown. Hinn’s televangelist organization is registered as a church, so it doesn’t report any financial information to the IRS.

The Senate investigation faced sharp criticism from a number of evangelical groups, including James Dobson’s Alliance Defense Fund (now the Alliance Defending Freedom), the National Religious Broadcasters, and Christianity Today.

The investigation ended in 2011 with no definitive findings…Grassley’s office said the investigation was successful…because Hinn was “instituting reforms without waiting for the committee to complete its review…” 

It is not clear whether there was any self-reform, though. Hinn’s ministry is not accountable to any outside group.

Hinn’s ministry came under investigation again in 2017. The IRS raided the televangelist’s headquarters in Grapevine, Texas. The agents had a search warrant saying there was probable cause to believe they would find evidence of tax evasion and “general fraud against the government” in the ministry’s offices.

A spokesman for the IRS told CT that the agency cannot legally confirm or deny whether that investigation is ongoing.

Neither Hinn nor his spokesman could be reached for comment on Friday.

Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn, who has been very critical of his uncle and of the prosperity gospel, said the big, splashy “renunciation” does fit a pattern.

“Over the years, he has consistently conceded to enough of a report or an accusation to gain enough trust—as if he’s admitting to it—to gain control over the narrative. He always wants to control the narrative,” Costi Hinn said.

Are you sickened yet? Or are you defensive? Making excuses, rejecting demonstrable evidence, accepting claims that they are suffering persecution from the enemy?

because they received not the love of the truth…God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (II Thessalonians 2:10-12)

Downfall will happen, not just to leadership – but to their like-minded supporters who are willing to gloss over sin because then they aren’t accountable either.

This utter self-centeredness is the essence of evil. This is why rich people will hardly enter into the kingdom of God while those of us who have been oppressed and broken by evil sing praises to the God who rescued us by cutting short and cutting off evil – most of all within our own self-destructive selves.

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