Religion has its pros and cons. It can help those who are going through a hard time to not only find inner peace but to remain faithful to themselves and others. The spiritual guidance can heal and reveal one’s true self. But what happens when the ones who are chosen to guide us through the righteous path is corrupted? We look up to them and consider them our friend and family. What happens though, when they themselves are sinners? Here, we have gathered the stories of 10 such pastors who were designated to help others rid themselves of their sins but instead became sinners themselves.
1. Creflo Dollar
In 2016, the story of an Atlanta-based minister came to the spotlight after he requested his followers for a small donation of $300 each. Pastor Creflo Dollar needed the donation to purchase a $65 million private jet. Why, you would ask? He wanted the jet to spread the good news of the Gospel worldwide in a safe and relaxing manner. Although the pastor received backlash from the local community, his trusted followers made his dream come true. According to the Creflo Dollar Ministries, they collected enough funds to acquire a Gulfstream G650.
The pastor was also arrested in 2012 after his 15-year-old daughter went to the police claiming that her father had choked and punched her. Dollar denied the charges, which were later dropped.
2. Jim Bakker
Jim and his wife, Tammy Faye, were living an amazing life and even led an evangelistic empire called Praise The Lord (PTL) during the 1980’s. The successful couple managed to fund their religious television programs through their followers. At one point, they held the record for the highest rated religious show in the country. But on December 6, 1980, Bakker and his former church secretary Jessica Hahn had a sexual encounter in a Florida hotel room.
Bakker paid Hahn over $350,000 to keep their encounter quiet, but when things went public, it helped bring down the entire PTL ministry. Bakker was also indicted on federal charges of mail and wire fraud, as well as conspiracy to defraud the public.
3. Jimmy Swaggart
On February 21, 1988, Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, a fellow television evangelist, gave a stunning live TV confession. He confessed to specific incidents of moral failure to the audience and then turned towards his wife to apologize for bringing disgrace, humiliation and embarrassment to the family and congregation. When the Sunday morning service came to an end, hundreds of members surrounded him, fell to their knees and forgave him. The live TV confession came after he was caught with a prostitute in a New Orleans hotel in 1988. A year before his live confession, Swaggart had blamed Jim Bakker for indecency.
His confession, which was accepted by the congregation, allowed him to keep his $12 million a year, 10,000 employee religious empire together. However, in 1991, he was linked to another prostitute, which was followed by several lawsuits, ultimately bringing down the Swaggart empire.
4. Eddie Long
Eddie Long was a respected member of his parish in the Atlanta area until 2010. That was the year that four former congregants came forward with lawsuits that alleged that Long used his position, power and wealth to lure them into performing sexual acts while they were teenagers. Long denied the allegations and assured his followers that the was innocent. The internationally known televangelist settled the case out of court eight months after being accused, but passed away in 2017 from cancer.
5. Cardinal Bernard Law
Cardinal Bernard Law was a former Boston archbishop who was forced to resign in 2002 after reports came out that he and other bishops covered up child abuse by priests for years. Despite his knowledge of young boys being mistreated and sexually abused, Law allowed abusive priests to remain in parishes. He abused his moral authority and for years covered up sexual abuse lawsuits with multimillion-dollar settlements. Law passed away on December 20, 2017 at the age of 86.
6. Aimee Semple McPherson
Aimee Semple McPherson was a glamorous woman and an evangelical preacher during the 1920’s. She was known worldwide for her theatrical church services and groundbreaking radio broadcasts. On May 18, 1926, Aimee Semple McPherson went to Venice Beach, Los Angeles. Her female assistant tagged along but had to take a short trip to a nearby hotel to make a phone call.
Upon her return, the evangelist was gone. Her followers stormed the beach as word got out about her disappearance. A young man mistook two dead seals for her body and swam into the sea, only to drown. For five weeks, no one knew about McPherson’s whereabouts, until June, when she re-emerged in the small town of Agua Prieta on the Mexico-Arizona border. She claimed she’d been kidnapped and tortured. Her fanbase increased as people believed she was resurrected, but as authorities unraveled the truth, McPherson’s story started falling apart. In 1935, she was charged with perjury but was later acquitted.
7. Ted Haggard
Ted Haggard was a former megachurch pastor and former National Association of Evangelicals chief whose life took a turn for the worse in 2006, when a gay prostitute claimed that Haggard had paid him for sex. When the news about his affair with the gay man went public, Haggard admitted to buying methamphetamine, but said he threw it away. The allegations made him resign from the influential National Association of Evangelicals and he was also barred from speaking publicly for a year.
8. Marcus Lamb
Marcus Lamb was a famous televangelist, who in 2010 went live and admitted to cheating on his wife. The reason he decided to go public was the fact that there were three people who were aware of his affair. The three unidentified people said they would expose the story of his affair if the couple’s ministry did not pay them $7.5 million. His followers gathered around him in support, describing that the extortion attempt was a “direct attack from the devil”.
9. Wilton Gregory
Archbishops are supposed to teach people how to live a modest life, however, Wilton Gregory, an Atlanta archbishop, forgot that part. He only realized his mistake though, after facing harsh criticism. Wilton Gregory, who was believed to be a down to earth man, was building a lavish mansion worth $2.2 million in an upscale Atlanta neighborhood. After local newspapers picked up the story, the archbishop canceled his plans and acknowledged to his followers that he had come to his senses.
10. Peter Popoff
Peter Popoff was an 80’s televangelist who became rich by ripping off his fellow churchgoers. Popoff made people believe that he could cure anyone and rid them of their diseases just by asking the heavens for help. Sadly, many fell for his fraudulent cure, with nowhere else to turn. Later, investigations revealed that Popoff was wearing a wire, through which his wife was feeding him information about his so called “patients”. He was able to fool hundreds and amass quite a fortune before being caught.
Popoff was caught in 1986 after a team of freelance debunkers took a radio scanner to a Popoff revival. There, they overheard Popoff ‘s wife, Liz, feeding him names and illnesses. Today, Popoff sells items such as cheap bottled water through late night infomercials.
The lord does not always work in mysterious ways. These men and women, who chose the path of God, thought they could get away with anything. Sadly, they were wrong.
What do you think of this list? Share your thoughts with us through the comments section.