Christianity in General
May 21, 2019
How the hell can anyone still be shocked by the sex crimes of ‘holy’ men?
WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) — A community is in shock after authorities arrested a Wilson pastor and charged him with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
This is all part of an ongoing joint investigation between the Wilson Police Department and the FBI.
Prior to his arrest, Daniel Heath, 33, served as an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Wilson for three years, and before that, youth minister for seven years.
Heath’s arrest warrant states he encouraged a 16-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity, and “perform sexual activities to herself for the purpose of producing material containing a visual representation depicting this activity.”
Authorities allege this all took place between December 2017 and April 2019.
It’s unknown if the victim is connected to First Baptist Church.
“This is a very hurtful time,” Henry Skinner, Chairman of Deacons at First Baptist Church said. “We’ve had to wrap our arms around each other, because of the feelings of hurt and grief.”
Skinner worked closely with Heath at the church. He said Heath was active as an associate pastor and youth minister, attracting members from all generations, especially young people.
“A younger group of individuals, who may or may not have been churched before, found their way here, and a found a place of worship and learning, and bible study that enriched their lives, and helped meet their needs,” Skinner said. “Daniel [Heath] was a part in recruiting that.”
Skinner said they’re embracing Heath’s family and the entire congregation at First Baptist Church to move forward together.
“A faith community lives on trust,” Skinner said. “A faith community has to trust in each other. They have to believe in each other, and when that is betrayed, when that falls away, it hurts.”
A federal indictment was also filed against Heath.
FBI officials told CBS 17 the case they investigated involved a victim from Texas.
May 18, 2019
An American pastor from New Jersey backed by a British former clairvoyant is running a network that gives up to 50,000 Ugandans a “miracle cure” made from industrial bleach, claiming drinking the toxic fluid eradicates cancer, HIV/Aids, malaria and most other diseases.
The network, led by pastor Robert Baldwin and part-funded by Sam Little from Arlesey in Bedfordshire, is one of the most extensive efforts yet to distribute the “miracle cure” known as MMS, or “miracle mineral solution”. The Guardian has learned that poor Ugandans, including infants as young as 14 months old, are being given chlorine dioxide, a product that has no known health benefit and can be extremely dangerous.
Baldwin, 52, is importing bulk shipments of the components of MMS, sodium chlorite and citric acid, into Uganda from China. The two chemicals are mixed to produce chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleach used in the textile industry.
The American pastor has “trained” about 1,200 clerics in Uganda on administering the “miracle cure” and each in turn uses it to treat about 50 congregants, usually after Sunday service. As an inducement, Baldwin is offering smartphones to those clerics who are especially “committed” to spreading the bleach cure.
Baldwin operates under a ministry he founded called Global Healing. The “church” advertises itself as “using the power of Almighty God … to greatly reduce the loss of life” in Africa.
Yet in a phone conversation with Fiona O’Leary, a campaigner against quack medicine who spoke to him while posing as a freelance journalist, Baldwin said he distributed the bleach through churches to “stay under the radar”.
“We don’t want to draw any attention,” he said during the call, a recording of which has been heard by the Guardian. “When you draw attention to MMS you run the risk of getting in trouble with the government or drug companies. You have to do it low key. That’s why I set it up through the church.”
He added that as a further precaution he uses euphemisms on Facebook, where he raises money through online donations. “I don’t call it MMS, I call it ‘healing water’, to protect myself. They are very sophisticated. Facebook has algorithms that can recognize ‘MMS’.”
Baldwin, who trained as a student nurse and is understood to have no other medical expertise, said he chose Uganda because it was a poor country with weak regulation. Speaking from New Jersey, where he is based, he told O’Leary: “America and Europe have much stricter laws so you are not as free to treat people because it is so controlled by the FDA. That’s why I work in developing countries.”
He added: “Those people in poor countries they don’t have the options that we have in the richer countries – they are much more open to receiving the blessings that God has given them.”
Asked how babies and children were treated with MMS, he said the dose was reduced by half. “Little tiny infants can take a small amount, they will spit it out. It causes no harm – they just get diarrhea.”
The Guardian contacted Baldwin by phone in New Jersey and asked the pastor to explain his work in Uganda. He said: “We use natural healing therapies to help people – that’s something Christians do.”
Then he said: “I don’t think it’s a good idea to be talking to the media right now.”
Asked what doses of bleach he was using in Africa, he abruptly ended the call.
Tennessee pastor who was facing 72 years in prison for repeatedly raping his adopted daughter, 14, is jailed for just 12 after dozens of parishioners show up to court to support him
May 15, 2019
The group, which calls itself “We Support Rape”, thinks the good reverend should be free to fuck his daughter as much as he wants.
A former Tennessee pastor who repeatedly raped his adopted teenage daughter has been given an effective 12 year prison sentence after dozens of parishioners showed up to court to support him.
Prosecutors had sought the maximum term of 72 years behind bars for 41-year-old David Richards, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
But a judge cited his longtime ministry and the support he still receives as mitigating factors after more than 30 people showed up to support Richards at the sentencing last week.
Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword also pointed to the fact he had started a Bible study for fellow inmates at the Knox County Detention Facility.
The victim was 16 when she reported the abuse by her sole guardian, saying it began two years earlier.
Amber Richards, who chose to speak publicly after the February verdicts, said in her victim impact statement: ‘I wanted to throw my body away.’
Joined by her biological parents she added: ‘Not a day goes by that I don’t, in some way, think of what he did to me. I firmly believe if given the opportunity, he would victimize another young girl.’
She told authorities where they could find DNA evidence at her home and said Richards had texted her about taking their relationship ‘to the next level.’
Authorities said they found her mattress stripped bare and his phone factory reset, but they were able to recover his DNA.
But Richards, who continued to maintain his innocence, claimed his young victim made her allegations of sexual abuse because of his strict parenting.
May 14, 2019
The hate-spewing pastor has repeatedly called for the deaths of gay people and prayed for the death of Barack Obama.
Steven Anderson, a bigoted pastor known for his anti-gay sermons and celebrations of violence against his enemies, has been banned from Ireland following public outcry over his impending appearance later this month.
Anderson, who runs Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona, was supposed to preach in Dublin on May 26 as part of a multinational tour, according to his website.
But after an online petition to “prevent the hate pastor” from appearing in Ireland garnered more than 14,000 signatures, an Irish judge tapped a never-before-used exclusionary order from the country’s 1999 Immigration Act to ban him, according to the BBC.
“I have signed the exclusion order under my executive powers in the interests of public policy,” said Irish Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan in a statement.
Anderson hasn’t made many headlines for a few years, but the vile content of his sermons seems to cause an uproar wherever he decides to preach. In 2016, he was arrested and deported from Botswana after joining a local radio station to declare that gays and lesbians should be killed. He was also banned from South Africa, which declared he and his congregation “undesirable persons,” according to CNN.
Another sermon he was supposed to give in Amsterdam this month was also stymied, as officials in the Netherlands last week moved to bar Anderson from entering that country, too, according to local media.
Previously, he prayed for the death of former president Barack Obama, and celebrated the gunman who killed 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando in 2016. At the time, the gunman claimed he did so in the name of the Islamic state.
Anderson’s hateful sermons, which include calling Jews “anti-Christs” and using homophobic slurs to promote violence against the LGBTQ communities, has landed him and his congregation in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups. According to a “doctrinal statement” on Anderson’s website, his congregation “opposes worldliness, modernism, formalism, and liberalism,” and “believes that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination which God punishes with the death penalty.”
But he fell off the mainstream radar after his 2016 comments, until earlier this year, when a fellow extremist pastor named Donnie Romero resigned from his post in Texas after allegations that he solicited prostitution. During a sermon in January, Anderson elaborated on the allegations against Romero, whom he had preached with: “Basically, the major sin involved was being with prostitutes, and then there were also marijuana and gambling that were also discovered,” Anderson said on Jan. 3.
Anderson didn’t respond to HuffPost’s request for a comment for this story.
May 3, 2019
LEXINGTON COUNTY — A former church pastor has been arrested on child sex charges stemming from incidents dating as far back as 1996, according to police in Lexington County.
William Oswald, 56, of Prosperity, was arrested and charged on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, the South Congaree Police Department said Tuesday night.
Additional details about the arrest and allegations were not immediately available, but police said the charges stemmed from when Oswald lived in South Congaree from 1996 to 2001.
Oswald is jailed on six counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, according to Lexington County jail records, one of which involves a child under the age of 11 and three of which involve a child between the ages of 11 and 14.
Oswald was a part-time pastor at a church in Newberry, the South Congaree police chief told WIS.
First-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, which involves a victim under the age of 11, carries a minimum of 25 years in prison and up to life, under South Carolina law.
April 27, 2019
PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. — Authorities say a 38-year-old youth pastor at a now-defunct South Florida church coerced a girl into having sex with him by threatening to turn her family in to immigration officials.
The Sun-Sentinel reports Luis Clarke assaulted the 15-year-old girl over six months in 2016 and 2017 while he was a part-time youth pastor at Abrazo tu Sueño Church (“I Embrace Your Dream” in Spanish) in Pembroke Pines.
Clarke was arrested Thursday. He’s charged with 25 counts of sexual battery of a minor and false imprisonment.
Pembroke Pines police Capt. Al Xiques says Clarke once forced a 15-year-old boy to watch him assault the girl. The boy went to police on April 3.
The report says Clarke admitted to two sexual encounters with the girl.
A lawyer for Clark wasn’t listed on jail records.
Minister at secretive North Carolina church is sentenced to 34 months prison for running unemployment fraud scheme dubbed ‘God’s plan’
April 21, 2019
- Word of Faith Fellowship minister Kent Covington has been sentenced to 34 months in prison for his role in a fraud scheme
- Covington pretended to lay off workers at his businesses and had them collect unemployment benefits to replace paying actual salaries
- Prosecutors say many of Covington’s employees were Word of Faith Fellowship members and he used his position in the church to force them to comply
- The scheme resulted in more than $250,000 in fraudulent claims being made between November 2008 and March 2013
A minister at the secretive Word of Faith Fellowship in North Carolina has been sentenced to 34 months in prison for his role in a fraud scheme that was dubbed ‘God’s plan’.
In 2008, Kent Covington laid off workers at his struggling manufacturing business so that they could collect unemployment benefits.
However, the employees continued to work at the company and their unemployment checks replaced their actual salaries.
At Covington’s sentencing on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger said that the minister had shown a ‘cynical disregard to the law’ and that his actions ‘undermined the entire unemployment security structure of the state’.
Around 150 of his friends, family and members of his church attended his sentencing, according to WLOS.
Prosecutors say Covington and his employee, Dianne McKinny, later put the scheme into place at another of his companies – a stone fabrication business by the name of Integrity Marble & Granite.
It resulted in more than $250,000 in fraudulent claims made between November 2008 and March 2013, according to the original indictment in the case.
Word of Faith Fellowship leader, Jane Whaley, was named in a court document as someone who ‘promoted’ the scheme.
April 10, 2019
TWIN FALLS — Four men were arrested over the weekend in a joint investigation between Twin Falls police and Homeland Security to catch sexual predators online.
Jeffrey Scott Davis of Rupert, Robert Allen Barney of Meridian, Aaron Evans of Twin Falls, and Solomon Peppley of Nampa were taken into custody on Saturday and arraigned on Monday after police said they attempted to meet with officers posing as underage teen girls.
Davis, 55, was charged with enticing a child through the internet after a Homeland Security investigator responded to a Craigslist ad Davis posted, according to the affidavit. Through text messages, an investigator posed as a 14-year-old girl.
Officers gave Davis an address to meet at after Davis asked the girl if he could perform a sex act on her and her friend, police said. When Davis arrived at the address, he was taken into custody.
Davis has been jailed on a $150,000 bond.
Evans, 26, was charged with enticing a child through the internet and possession of a controlled substance. Police said Evans responded to a fake profile on the social media website “Skout” and arranged to meet up with an investigator posing as a 14-year-old girl.
He also asked the girl if she smoked marijuana and told her he had some in his possession, according to court documents.
When Evans was taken into custody at the address given to him by the officer, he admitted to police that the conversations were sexual but said he only wanted to “make out” with the girl. Police found 3.9 grams of marijuana in Evans’s possession, according to an affidavit.
Evans was jailed on a $200,000 bond.
Barney, 39, was charged with enticing a child through the internet and driving under the influence after responding to an ad from a Homeland Security investigator on the website “Whisper,” according to court documents. Police said Barney had conversations about performing a sex act with an officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.
Barney was jailed on a $175,000 bond.
Peppley, who court documents said is a 23-year-old children’s pastor for a church in Nampa, was charged with enticing a child through the internet and sexual exploitation of a child after he responded to a Craigslist ad posted by investigators, according to an affidavit.
Peppley has volunteered in the midweek children’s program at Crossroads Community Church in Nampa, but was not a pastor there.
The Crossroads Community Church’s Facebook page posted a statement, saying the man was never alone with children and was not a staff member.
The number of people who have no religion has risen 266 per cent – one third of the population – in three decades
April 5, 2019
- People with no religion accounted for 23.1% of the U.S. population in 2018
- By comparison, Catholics make up 23% and Evangelicals account for 22.5%
- The three are now statistically tied as the largest religious groups in America
- Meanwhile, mainline Protestant Christianity has seen a 62.5% decline in believers since 1982, to now account for just 10.8% of the U.S. population
The number of Americans who identify as having no religion has risen 266 percent since 1991, to now tie statistically with the number of Catholics and Evangelicals, according to a new survey.
People with no religion – known as ‘nones’ among statisticians – account for 23.1 percent of the U.S. population, while Catholics make up 23 percent and Evangelicals account for 22.5 percent, according to the General Social Survey.
Those three groups now represent the largest the religious groups in America.
The survey has tracked a broad swath of American trends since 1972, offering comprehensive insight into the evolving face of religion over more than four decades.
Ryan Burge, a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University who analyzed the data, said that experts have several theories about why the number of ‘nones’ has risen so dramatically in recent decades.
‘One of them is that many people used to lie about what they were,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘Many people were (always) atheist or non-religious, but it was previously culturally unacceptable to not have a religion in America.’
March 26, 2019
A former Jehovah’s Witness is using stolen documents to expose allegations that the religion has kept hidden for decades.
In March 1997, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Jehovah’s Witnesses, sent a letter to each of its 10,883 U.S. congregations, and to many more congregations worldwide. The organization was concerned about the legal risk posed by possible child molesters within its ranks. The letter laid out instructions on how to deal with a known predator: Write a detailed report answering 12 questions—Was this a onetime occurrence, or did the accused have a history of child molestation? How is the accused viewed within the community? Does anyone else know about the abuse?—and mail it to Watchtower’s headquarters in a special blue envelope. Keep a copy of the report in your congregation’s confidential file, the instructions continued, and do not share it with anyone.
Thus did the Jehovah’s Witnesses build what might be the world’s largest database of undocumented child molesters: at least two decades’ worth of names and addresses—likely numbering in the tens of thousands—and detailed acts of alleged abuse, most of which have never been shared with law enforcement, all scanned and searchable in a Microsoft SharePoint file. In recent decades, much of the world’s attention to allegations of abuse has focused on the Catholic Church and other religious groups. Less notice has been paid to the abuse among the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian sect with more than 8.5 million members. Yet all this time, Watchtower has refused to comply with multiple court orders to release the information contained in its database and has paid millions of dollars over the years to keep it secret, even from the survivors whose stories are contained within.
That effort has been remarkably successful—until recently.
A white Priority Mail box filled with manila envelopes sits on the floor of Mark O’Donnell’s wood-paneled home office, on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland. Mark, 51, is the owner of an exercise-equipment repair business and a longtime Jehovah’s Witness who quietly left the religion in late 2013. Soon after, he became known to ex–Jehovah’s Witnesses as John Redwood, an activist and a blogger who reports on the various controversies, including cases of child abuse, surrounding Watchtower. (Recently, he has begun using his own name.)
When I first met Mark, in May of last year, he appeared at the front door of his modest home in the same outfit he nearly always wears: khaki cargo shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, white sneakers, and sweat socks pulled up over his calves. He invited me into his densely furnished office, where a fan barely dispelled the wafting smell of cat food. He pulled an envelope from the Priority Mail box and passed me its contents, a mixture of typed and handwritten letters discussing various sins allegedly committed by members of a Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Massachusetts. All the letters in the box had been stolen by an anonymous source inside the religion and shared with Mark. The sins described in the letters ranged from the mundane—smoking pot, marital infidelity, drunkenness—to the horrifying. Slowly, over the past couple of years, Mark has been leaking the most damning contents of the box, much of which is still secret.
Mark’s eyebrows are permanently arched, and when he makes an important point, he peers out above his rimless glasses, eyes widened, which lends him a conspiratorial air.
“Start with these,” he said.
Among the papers Mark showed me that day was a series of letters about a man from Springfield, Massachusetts, who had been disfellowshipped—a form of excommunication—three times. When the man was once again reinstated, in 2008, someone working in a division of Watchtower wrote to his congregation, noting that in 1989 he was said to have “allowed his 11-year-old stepdaughter to touch his penis … on at least two occasions.”
I was struck by the oddness of the language. It insinuated that the man had agreed to, rather than initiated, the sexual contact with his stepdaughter.
After I left Mark’s house, I tracked down the stepdaughter, now 40. In fact, she told me, she had been only 8 when her stepfather had molested her. “He was the adult and I was the kid, so I thought I didn’t have any choice,” she said. She was terrified, she told me. “It took me two years to go to my mom about it.”
Her mother immediately went to the congregation’s elders, who later called the girl and her stepfather in to pray with them. She remembers it as a humiliating experience.
Her stepfather was eventually disfellowshipped for instances that involved “fornication,” “drunkenness,” and “lying,” according to the letters. But according to the stepdaughter, his alleged molestation of her resulted only in his being “privately reproved,” a closed-door reprimand that is usually accompanied by a temporary loss of privileges, such as not being allowed to offer comments during Bible study or lead a prayer. The letters make no reference to police being notified; the stepdaughter said her mother was encouraged to keep the matter private, and no attempt was made to keep the stepfather away from other children. (Calls to the congregation’s Kingdom Hall—the Witness version of a church—for comment went unanswered.)
By the time the letters were written, the man was attending a different congregation and had married another woman with children; he is still part of that family today. Near the end of the final letter in Mark’s possession is a question: “Is there any responsibility on the part of either body of elders … to inform his current wife of his past history of child molestation?”
Mark O’Donnell’s childhood was an isolated one. His parents, Jerry and Susan, had started attending Jehovah’s Witness meetings in the mid-1960s. Another couple from Baltimore had told them of Watchtower’s prediction that the world would end in 1975, bringing death to all non-Witnesses and transforming Earth into a paradise for the faithful. In 1968, just after Mark was born, Jerry and Susan were group-baptized in a swimming pool in Washington, D.C. Mark was an only child, and he inherited his father’s peculiar love of record-keeping. Mark would show up to meetings at the Kingdom Hall with a briefcase full of religious texts.
As in any religion, there’s some variation among Jehovah’s Witnesses in how strictly they interpret the teachings that govern their faith; Mark’s upbringing seems to have been especially stringent. As a child, he attended at least five meetings a week, plus several hours of private Bible study. On Saturday mornings, he joined his parents in “field service,” knocking on doors in search of converts. He was taught that most people outside the organization were corrupted by Satan and, given the chance, would try to steal from him, drug him, or rape him. Mainstream books and magazines were considered the work of Satan. If he broke any of the religion’s main rules, he could be disfellowshipped, meaning even his own family would have to shun him.
Throughout Mark’s childhood, he heard elders cite Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever holds back his rod hates his son.” Mark’s parents took the lesson to heart and beat him frequently. The religion forbids celebrating birthdays, voting, serving in the military, and accepting blood transfusions, even in life-and-death situations. Witnesses were encouraged to devote themselves to bringing more converts into the religion before the end of the world arrived. “Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property” to spend their last days proselytizing, said a Watchtower publication in 1974. “Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world’s end.” Some Witnesses stopped going to the doctor, quit their jobs, or ran up debt.
But piety, Mark noticed, did not always translate to morality. When he was 12, Mark became suspicious of a local Witness named Louis Ongsingco, a flight attendant who would bring home Toblerone bars for the local Witness kids and invite them to his apartment to act out religious plays. Mark noticed Ongsingco touching young girls in a way that made him uncomfortable. He told an elder about his concerns. But rather than take action against Ongsingco, the elder told him what Mark had said. Days later, Ongsingco pulled Mark aside and scolded him.
Mark’s instincts seem to have been right. In 2001, one of Mark’s childhood friends, Erin Michelle Shifflett, along with four other women, sued Ongsingco for sexual assault. The cases were settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Ongsingco died in 2016.
To Mark, the lesson was that for all the emphasis the elders placed on moral purity, there was no greater sin than speaking out against other Witnesses.
March 19, 2019
A former youth pastor at an Estero church is back behind bars after being caught in a hotel with the same girl he was previously arrested for having inappropriate contact with.
According to law enforcement, Jerred Peacock was caught in a hotel last year with the same girl he is accused of sexually assaulting again.
Peacock had a “no contact” order with the girl, but he has continued to contact her after the arrest last October.
He is being held without bond on a new sex assault charge.
March 4, 2019
PITTSFIELD, Ill. — The pastor of a Detroit, Ill., church has been arrested on sex abuse charges.
Charging documents show that Jeffrey S. Krupinski, 51, was charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault in Pike County Circuit Court. The charges allege that Krupinski touched a 14-year-old girl for sexual gratification. The incident reportedly took place July 4.
The Detroit Christian Church’s Facebook page said Krupinski’s first day at the church was July 1.
Court records show Krupinski was arrested Oct. 26.
If convicted of the Class 2 felonies, he faces three to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
He posted $4,500 on Friday to be released from the Pike County Jail. He was ordered to not have contact with any person under age 18 nor the accuser in the case.