The people of God have had to endure “preachers gone wild” since biblical times. When Eli was the Judge and High Priest over Israel, his sons Hophni and Phinehas were sleeping with women at the temple and running wild in lust and perverse behavior (1 Samuel 2:22-25) . They were unrestrained in their behavior, and saw no need to repent of their physical and spiritual adulterous behavior. This resulted in the judgment of God (1Samuel 3:11-14).
Even now in the 21st century in the church, we have some “preachers gone wild.” They are generally driven by the lust for fame, sex, and money. Unfortunately, today in the church world integrity, morality, humility, and anointing take a back seat to showmanship, talent, pride, and those who can draw big crowds and money. They look to be “Sunday’s best” by being the hottest preacher or singer instead of living holy every day of the week and presenting their bodies to be living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God which is their reasonable service (Romans12:1).
In the last couple of years there have been scandals of pastors caught in immorality. Why is this? The American church has been caught in the trap of pursuing the most popular, crowd-commanding preacher to put it on the map instead of praying and seeking the face of God to see if the Holy Spirit has endorsed the preacher or not (Acts 13:1-3). For the most part it seems like churches are not trying to build the kingdom of God through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, but through devilish sensual earthly wisdom (James 3:15).
These scandals of immorality on the pulpit range from adulterous affairs, to sexual assaults against female members, even murder. Believe me, the Catholic Church is not the only church that has its sex scandals of molestation. Pentecostal and Charismatic( among other Christian denominations) circles have been touched heavily by sexual immorality also.
Just recently, like something written out of a soap opera, Houston pastor Tracy Bernard Burleson of the First New Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Houston, Texas was accused of killing his wife. Police state that Burleson paid his 20 year old stepson, William Darnnell Fuller, to kill his stepmother Pauletta Ross Burleson. Mrs. Burleson was found dead from a single gunshot that pierced her head and neck. Along with the arrest of Pastor Burleson and William Fuller, a third person, Tyonne Marie Palmer-Pollard, was arrested for tampering with evidence. Palmer-Pollard was having an affair with both Pastor Burleson and William Fuller at the same time. Also to note, before being murdered, Mrs. Burleson was aware of the multiple affairs her husband had with other women. Both Pastor Burleson and his stepson Fuller are being held without bail. Fuller has already confessed to the murder.
In the last couple of years, there have been other preachers who have made the dishonorable mention list of preachers gone wild. A few are: Terry Hornbuckle, Sherman Allen, Anthony Hopkins, Sergio Alvarizares, Ted Haggard, and Paul Cain.
On August 28, 2006 Terry Hornbuckle, pastor of the mega-church Agape Christian Fellowship Church in Arlington, Texas was convicted of raping and drugging three women. Two of these women were members of Hornbuckle church. Not only was it found that Hornbuckle was a rapist, but that he also smoked meth. He even smoked meth with one of his victims, drugged her then raped her! He ended up receiving a fifteen year prison sentence. Hornbuckle before being exposed publicly received counseling privately from several ministers in the area. One of the ministers was Pastor Sherman Allen of Shiloh Institutional Church of God in Christ in Fort Worth, TX. It can be said that Allens’ counseling Hornbuckle was a bad idea. Allen has been accused of assaulting women and sexually abusing them. How can somebody that has same perverse spirit lead someone else to deliverance? This is hypocrisy and an abomination before the eye’s of the Lord! Thirty five women accused Allen of beating them with a paddle. Some even said that this paddling turned into sexual abuse. The presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, Bishop Charles Blake, suspended Allen because of this. However, despite being suspended by Bishop Blake, Allen has continued to pastor his church and has changed the name of the church to Shiloh Institutional Church and has dropped the “Church of God in Christ” at the end.
Allegations of abuse go all the way back to 1983 for Allen. Lawsuits have been filed against him with criminal charges pending. Yet, he continues to pastor like nothing ever happened and is still unaccountable to leadership. Its business as usual with his church and some of the big name preachers still run to his conferences despite his “major character flaws and issues.”
In Portland Oregon, October 2007, police arrested Pastor Sergio Alvarizares for allegedly sexually abusing eight women in his congregation. Alvarizares was held on one account of rape in the first degree, two accounts of attempted rape in the first degree, and ten accounts of sex abuse in the first degree. He was later sentence to three years of prison in June 2008, after pleading guilty to attempted rape and third degree sexual abuse of sexually assaulting five women.
The next preacher to commit heinous acts of sexual immorality and murder is Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins a traveling evangelist (some had consider him a prophet) from Alabama. He was arrested by police during a revival at Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Jackson, Alabama for the murder of his wife. Anthony Hopkins killed his wife after she caught him having sex with a teenage relative in 2004. He eventually stuffed his wife’s body in a freezer. It wasn’t until 2008 that his step-daughter led the police to her mother’s body. On May 21, 2010 Hopkins was sentence to life in prison , he was convicted for murder, sodomy, and sexual abuse.
Male church leaders not only get caught up with women, but with sleeping with other men. In 2006 Ted Haggard, the pastor of New Life Church, a mega church in Colorado Springs, Colorado was exposed when he was caught having an affair with a male prostitute. Paul Cain, a noted Prophet, was exposed in 2004 engaging in long-term homosexual activity.
These problems are prevalent because of the lack of accountability, discernment, spiritual fatherhood and mentoring, and lack of correction. Pride, arrogance, prayerlessness, the love of money and the lack of a repentant heart is causing preachers to go wild in sin.
No one can take glory for somebody falling into sin. We are one body in Christ. Therefore, when a leader blatantly sins against God it affects the whole body, brings a reproach, and profanes the name of the Lord. As saints of God we must strive to be a positive witness so that our light might shine in a dark world.
Let us keep this in mind: if we have not fallen, it is only by the grace of God. Through humility He gives us the grace to live a victorious lifestyle in Him (James 4:6-7). Preachers let us take our eyes off popularity and fame, and keep them on Jesus Christ who is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24).
Remember, His grace is sufficient to keep us saved, and not go wild!
- Sherman Allen/COGIC sexual abuse trial looms
- Pastors and Adultery
- Southern Baptists screen out sexual predators