And now, AATTP presents… 10 bible-thumping right-wing ‘Christians’ caught in the act of flaunting their power for sex or money.
Scandal among the very religious is nothing new: in the history of mankind, one finds hundreds of instances. From the Bacchanalian scandals of ancient Rome to Sister Aimee Semple McPherson’s “disappearance” to Jimmy Swaggart’s extracurricular activities, those who claim to be beyond reproach have been exposed as liars. These scandals prove that the ones who speak out against sin are often indulging in it behind the scenes. When they are found out, it’s often a perfectly apropos comeuppance.
For many, when we see these purveyors of hypocrisy fall, we nod knowingly and chalk up another win for perfect karmic conclusions. While this sort of thing happens with prominent members of other faiths, it is seeing smug “Christians” fall into their self-made traps that feels the most satisfying.
The men — and it’s almost always men — who preach to thousands about the sins they must avoid in order to be taken in at the Pearly Gates, seem to be vulnerable to those very sins. Usually lust and greed are the most tempting sins, prompted by the love of power.
The Bible has something to say about all of those but these men cherry-pick that book when it comes to their own lives.
10 right-wing “Christians” fall from grace:
Below, we present 10 professed Christians — some men of the cloth, some politicians — who have been caught in the act of flaunting their power for sex or money. Their eventual downfalls are gratifying both for those of us who deride their hypocrisy and for actual Christians who are sick of seeing their religion dragged through the mud.
10. Earl Paulk – The pastor of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church in Atlanta, Georgia, Paulk fathered a child with his brother’s wife. The truth came out in 2007, when a court-ordered paternity test revealed that the man who was referred to as Paulk’s nephew, was actually his son.
But that was only collateral damage in a lawsuit filed by a former church employee. Mona Brewer said that Paulk had coerced her into a 14-year affair by telling her that it was “her only path to salvation.” There were also accusations from other women and that Paulk had molested children, including his grand-daughter. Earl Paulk was also linked to illegal activities along with fellow pastors Oral Roberts and Paul Crouch. All three were said to be anti-Semitic white supremacists.
Paulk died in 2009, disgraced. His illegitimate son is now the head pastor of the church.
9. Jerry Pittman – Pittman was the pastor of the Grace Fellowship Church in Fruitland, in Tennessee. The pastor had a real problem with his son being gay. So much so, that he asked several deacons of the church to assault Jerry Pittman, Jr. and his boyfriend as the couple arrived to attend services in September of 2011. One of the deacons was Pittman Jr.’s uncle.
He and two other men physically assaulted the two young men, punching and smashing them into their car. They were also yelled at and mocked by the deacons and bystanders. The couple had attended the church many times before, which made the attack even more puzzling. When Pittman the Elder was arrested for stealing from his estranged wife (who supported her gay stepson) it became clear that the gay couple had only been tolerated because of her influence. The theft? Pittman stole copper from his estranged wife’s scrapyard. At least three times.
The pettiness of Jerry Pittman clearly goes against the words of the God he purports to serve.
8. Phill Kline – Former Kansas Attorney General Kline is an extreme fundamentalist. When he was elected to his office — which he held from 2003 to 2007 — he blew off his actual duties and, instead, focused on Planned Parenthood. He filed charges, dozens of them, against both PP and Dr. George Tiller. All of the charges were eventually dismissed, deemed to be harassment. But his victims didn’t leave it at that. They filed complaints against Kline, which lead to an official investigation.
On October 18, 2013, Kline was indefinitely stripped of his law license in the face of “clear and convincing evidence of professional misconduct.” Some of that misconduct included keeping confidential files in a box at a staffer’s apartment, misleading a grand jury, knowingly using false information and violating the public trust.
Kline ended up teaching law at Liberty University, where his kind of crazed evangelism is more important than a silly law license.
7. Vance McAllister – Another politician running on “family values,” McAllister was caught a month after his election snogging an aide. That may be a record. After winning his seat by asking voters to pray for him and using the Duck Dynasty
imposters stars as props, McAllister went to Congress to represent the largest district in Louisiana (which includes my old hometown of Monroe).
Barely a month after he arrived in D.C., a video surfaced of McAllister and an aide (who also happened to be the wife of a friend) kissing in his Monroe office. The usual tearful apology followed. McAllister is now being challenged for his seat by Zac Dasher, the nephew of Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson.
It looks like Vance McAllister will be sent back to Louisiana to fade into obscurity.
6. Mark Driscoll – The founder of Mars Hill Church, a megachurch in the Seattle-Tacoma area, Driscoll has been accused of “creating a climate of fear through his verbally abusive language, lack of self-control and arrogant domineering attitude.” He is also been excoriated by Christian extremists for his “liberal” views. Several pastors working under Driscoll at Mars Hill have filed charges with the church’s Board, citing his lack of self-control, verbal violence, domineering attitude and quick temper.
Church members must sign a “covenant” agreeing to submit to “discipline” by church leaders. Driscoll’s interest in the sex lives of church members has also called into question his suitability as the church’s leader. The Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability is investigating, though some MH pastors question their objectivity. Ya think?
Driscoll’s fate is still being debated but there is no doubt that he and his ministry have been permanently stained.
5. Eddie Long – The pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church succumbed to two temptations: lust and greed. Long was involved in a Ponzi scheme with another man, convincing 13 of his congregants to invest almost $1 million. They eventually recovered most of the money in a 2014 settlement.
That’s only one of two scandals involving “Bishop” Long, however. In 2011, four young men filed lawsuits charging sexual coercion by Long who is, naturally, a vocal critic of gay rights. Pictures surfaced of Long posing in tight shirts, muscles bulging. These were sent to the boys, their lawyer charged, as part of the molestation that began when the boys were only fourteen. The case was settled in May of 2014, with Long reportedly paying $15- $25 million.
Long has been silent about the charges and the settlement.
4. Jonathan Saenz – Anti-gay crusader Saenz is based in Houston, where he regularly fights against any sort of LGBT rights. He was a fan of Arizona’s law to protect business owners from having to serve those awful gays. He is a peddler of ridiculous myths about LGBT people, favoring the old “slippery slope” argument.
He supports “pray away the gay” programs despite studies that indicate it is useless and even harmful. It’s rather poetic, then, that Saenz’s wife left him in 2011. For a woman. Soon after, he became the president of the anti-gay group, Texas Values.
It must really gall him that he has shared custody of the two children.
3. Roy Ashburn – A California state senator representing the Bakersfield area, Ashburn was arrested for drunk driving in May of 2011. He was leaving a gay bar. Three days later, after much “soul-searching,” Ashburn admitted that he was gay. The divorced father of four had been a staunch anti-gay legislator, voting against California recognizing gay marriages from other states and a bill to establish Harvey Milk Day.
LGBT advocates call Ashburn is the biggest hypocrite ever, railing his statement that he voted the way his constituents wanted. Nice. Blame your constituents.
Ashburn lost his seat to Jean Fuller in the next election, fittingly disappearing into the dust of Kern County.
2. Jim Bakker – With his wife, Tammy Faye, Bakker was the head of the PTL (Praise the Lord or People That Love) Network. Their earnest brand of evangelism was beamed into over 13 million homes. And those viewers were very giving, helping the Bakkers build a multi-million dollar Christian empire.
All it took to topple that empire was Jim’s tryst with a church secretary, Jessica Hahn. Jim had to pay her for her silence to the tune of $265,000. But rival televangelist Jimmy Swaggart — no angel himself, mind you — found out about the indiscretion, forcing Bakker to turn over his ministry, network, amusement park and all, to Jerry Falwell. Bakker was facing bankruptcy and charges of homosexual encounters and hiring prostitutes. That was the least of his problems, though, as he faced 24 charges of defrauding his followers. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison but only served 5 of them.
Now 74, Jim Bakker is on TV hawking survivalist kits. Which he calls “Love Gifts.” Really.
1. Bob McDonnell – The newest addition to our list of un-Christian “Christians,” is the former governor of Virginia. McDonnell ran on a platform of “family values” (don’t all the best hypocrites?) and was easily elected to the office. In the spring of 2013, rumors began to surface of McDonnell and his wife accepting gifts in return for political favors.
One donor in particular gifted the McDonnells with golf clubs, shopping sprees, use of his car and vacation home, paying for their daughter’s wedding and even paying off the couple’s loans. Johnnie Williams was the CEO of Star Scientific, Inc., whose new drugs received attention and promotion from the McDonnells. Bob, ever the good “Christian” male, blamed his wife, who he said was “attracted” to Williams. It made no difference.
Bob McDonnell was found guilty on 11 of 14 counts. Of course, there will be an appeal. But McDonnell, once held up as a rising star in the GOP, is surely finished in politics. Then again, with the GOP’s propensity to brush off felonies committed by their membership, who knows?
These are just 10 of the more recent right-wing Christians who have fallen from grace… for the moment. We all know that being involved in a scandal doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a career. Look at David Vitter. Also known as “Diaper Dave.” He’s not only still a Senator, he is looking to take Bobby Jindal’s job as Governor of Louisiana.
But it sure is nice to see some of these men get their comeuppance. A little Schadenfreude never hurt anyone. Lord knows, the right gloats when one of our guys gets nabbed!