Top 10 Fraudulent Religious Leaders

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6. Tony Alamo


Currently awaiting sentencing after conviction on ten counts of transporting minors across state lines for sexual purposes, Alamo faces a jail term of more than 100 years. In September, 2008, at the behest of city officials in Fouke, Arkansas, FBI agents raided the headquarters of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. Former members of Alamo’s congregation alleged child pornography, child abuse, other sexual abuse, and polygamy. Agents collected more than enough evidence to charge and convict Alamo, including hours of videotaped interviews with children living on Alamo’s compound.


7. Joe Barron


Among the most recent American evangelical escapades, Joe Barron made news in May, 2008, after he was arrested for soliciting sex with a minor. At the time, Barron numbered among forty ministers at prestigious Prestonwood Baptist Church—one of the nation’s largest and most profitable, counting 26,000 regularly tithing members. Police nabbed Barron after he drove from suburban Dallas to Bryan, Texas, where he expected to have sex with a thirteen-year-old girl. Police based their probable cause for the arrest on dozens of transcripts detailing explicit sexual dialogues between Barron and “the girl.” Reminiscent of investigative programs on NBC, the Bryan police used one of their own undercover detectives as the lure.


8. Paul Crouch


Was in it for the money. Founder and CEO of the world’s largest evangelical broadcasting company, Crouch hosted Trinity Broadcasting Network’s wildly popular variety show, “Praise the Lord.” In September, 2004, investigative reporters at the Los Angeles Times broke a series of stories about financial improprieties at TBN. Although the reporters found nothing criminal in the network’s fundraising and accounting practices, they did find a long list of unethical and deceptive procedures. During the investigation, a former employee also came forward, alleging he and Crouch had a long-term homosexual affair. The humiliation drove Crouch and TBN off the air.


9. John Paulk


First achieved widespread notoriety with his best-selling autobiography Not Afraid to Change. In the book, Paulk credited his conversion to Christianity as “the cure” for his homosexuality, and he immediately became the darling and big-time crony of James Dobson and associates, movers and shakers in “Focus on the Family.” In September, 2000, at the peak of his popularity and influence, Paulk saw himself splashed across front pages and television screens as he drank-up and flirted wildly with other male cruisers at a D.C. gay bar. After a few vain, silly attempts at denying the photos and charges, Paulk retreated quietly into obscurity.


10. Robert Tilton


Linking religion with success and wealth, Robert Tilton drew millions of viewers to his weekly broadcasts. In 1990, at the peak of its popularity, “Success-N-Life” commanded big ratings in all 235 American television markets, earning approximately $80 million per year. In 1991, ABC investigative reporter Diane Sawyer exposed a long list of Tilton’s shady practices, none of which were criminal but all of which were dishonest, crass, and decidedly unholy. By the end of 1993, Tilton and his show were off the air everywhere.

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