October 7, 2009
From conspiracy to murder, serial molestation, indecent assault, battery, child pornography, fraud, extortion, money laundering, tax evasion, soliciting prostitutes, drug talking and the list goes on. I think the words arrogance and irony sum up this list, but maybe not in all cases ……
1) Cardinal Groer & Bishop Kurt Krenn [1936-].
Groer was Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna from 1986 – 1995. Just as he was about to retire Greer was engulfed in a sex scandal when 13 young men lodged charges of sexual abuse against him. He refused to make any comment and left to become a Prior of a Benedictine Abbey. Krenn ran a priests seminary – Sankt Polten Diocese – near Vienna. Both men were controversial for their ultraconservative views Krenn defended Groer during his abuse allegations and later refused to appoint an independent ombudsman to investigate any future cases. In 2003 the body of a church seminarist was found floating in the Danube. Following which police seized a computer from the church and found immoral videos and 40,000 disturbing images of child pornography, bestiality and photos of seminary priests in homosexually suggestive poses. Krenn downplayed the whole uproar and called the poses childish pranks. Krenn very reluctantly resigned in Oct 2004.
The Roman Catholic Church officially requires its clergy to be celibate. The religion deems homosexuality – including between consenting adults – to be a sin. At the US conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 Bishops voted for all allegations of a sex crime, by a priest against a minor, to be reported to the police. They also voted that anyone found to have committed these acts should not be given a ministry although they were not to be defrocked.
2) Henry Lyons, born in 1942 a former president of the National Baptist Church 1994-8 the largest Afro-American religious group in America. Problems began for Lyons in 1997 when his then wife set fire to a $700,000 house he owned with another woman. From here investigations were made into his finances and in 1998 he was charged with 1 count of racketeering 2 counts of grand theft, fraud, extortion, money laundering and tax evasion. He initially protested his innocence and claimed the charges were racially motivated. However in 1999, he was sentenced to 5 ½ years for misappropriating over 4 million dollars from the NBC. After 4 months of his release in 2003 he returned to preaching and has repeatedly tried to regain his position of president of the NBC with his latest attempt in Sept 2009; when Lyons was in office at NBC he had made it an infringement for anyone to sue the church, however he brought a law suit against the 2009 election due to its alleged violation of the group’s constitution.
In 2007 he was a founding member and subsequently president of the General Baptist State Convention of Florida. One of the core value statements listed on their web site is credibility; we value the need to restore credibility to the church’s work to bring salvation and healing to the world with pure hearts and motives.
3) Jimmy Swaggart, born in 1935 a Pentecostal Preacher and Televangelist Swaggart started preaching from a trailer in 1955, became a licensed preacher in 1959 and by the 80’s had grown his following by way of radio and TV to a peak of 8 million weekly viewers across the globe. Swaggert spoke very forcefully against sexual sins and gave his own particular thoughts on what the bible was saying by way of what he called ‘divine revelation’ stating “That which the Lord gave to me, which I believe sheds more light on that which was originally given to Paul, pertains to the manner in which the Holy Spirit works within our hearts and minds.
In 1988 he was accused of soliciting a prostitute which he vehemently denied until the evidence was so strong that he admitted to some of the claims. Seemingly overwhelmed by remorse he gave a tearful 1,900 word apology speech on a TV broadcast. Swaggart left the church he was with and after a 3 month break from preaching returned declaring “if I don’t return to the pulpit this weekend, millions of people will go to hell.”
In 1991 he was again caught with a prostitute but this time rather than apologise he took to his pulpit and said “the Lord has told me it is flat none of your business.”
4) John Geoghan 1935-2003 a former Roman Catholic priest in Boston Mass. Geoghan was defrocked in 1998 after a 30 year career and in 2002 found guilty of indecent assault and battery. The scandal surrounding the case was very much concerned with how Catholic dioceses throughout the USA had covered up a serious number of cases of sexual abuse on young boys. In the case of Geoghan he had been sent to 6 new parishes following accusations of child molestation, with his past hidden and victims secretly paid off. Although he was sent for counselling and rehabilitation during this time he had an estimated 130 credible accusations against him by the end of his priesthood. In Sept 2003 the newly appointed Archbishop in Boston authorised payment of $85 million to 552 victims of molestations by priests in the Boston Archdiocese.
Geoghan was murdered in his prison cell by a fellow inmate.
5) Mary Sue Hubbard 1931 – 2002 Mary Sue was the 3rd wife of L Ron Hubbard marrying him in 1952. She was a leading figure in the Church of Scientology which Hubbard founded in 1953. In 1966 in response to extreme negativity from press and government officials Hubbard created the ‘Guardians Office’ [GO] whose job it was to tackle any “threat of great importance” by way of gathering intelligence from perceived enemies taking legal action and balancing public relations. Mary Sue was enlisted as controller and issued hundreds of writs against the media, raised a campaign against psychiatry, Interpol the IRS, numerous other government agencies and dissident scientologists. In 1976 in an operation named ‘Snow White’ Mary Sue wrote a letter approving the theft, by one of their agents, of IRS files regarding litigation strategy and non FOI [freedom of information] data regarding the Church of Scientology and tax exemption claims. The agent was caught and later made a full confession. This led to a raid on GO by the FBI and subsequent conviction on the grounds of conspiracy to 9 members of the Church of Scientology including Mary Sue who received a 5 year sentence eventually only serving 1 year and a $10,000 fine.
Mary Sue remained as controller of GO until 1981 when a Messenger of her estranged husband told her that her position was untenable.
6) Prem Kumar later ‘Swami Premananda of Trichy’ born in Sri Lanka in 1951. Kumar was a well known spiritual teacher in Sri Lanka starting his 1st Ashram there in 1972 before moving to India and setting up an Ashram in Tamil Nadu, India in 1989. The Ashram declared itself to be a place where anyone could qualify for the spiritual life and learn to live simply, giving service and doing good to fellow human beings. For the next 5/6 years the Ashram welcomed many spiritual seekers and visitors, it also took in several hundred destitute children who lived and studied there. However in 1997 after an investigation and trial Kumar and 6 others were convicted of several counts of rape and a single count of murder. Kumar was given a double life sentence.
Kumar maintains his innocence and it is claimed by some eminent officials that the judgement is highly controversial.
7) Rabbi Fred Neulander born in 1941 a 6th generation Rabbi and founding member of M’Kor Shalom Reform Temple in New Jersey which opened in 1974. A husband, father of three and respected member of the community Neulander returned home from his synagogue on Tuesday 1st November 1994 to find his wife Carol beaten and lying in a pool of blood. He called 911 but at no time made any attempt to go near his wife or help her. A lengthy investigation ensued with Neulander as prime suspect, eventually he was brought to trial on the grounds that a woman with whom he had been having an affair testified that she had insisted that Neulander leave his wife but that he had complained that divorcing his popular wife would compromise his credibility and authority as a spiritual leader even possibly causing him the loss of his job as a Rabbi.
On the eve of the trial the actual killer confessed stating that Neulander had paid him $18,000 which he had divided between himself and an accomplice. Although always claiming his innocence in 2003 Neulander was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 30 years life imprisonment.
8) Sun Myung Moon born in North Korea in 1920 also known as Father Moon, Rev. Moon & Dr Moon. In 1954 Moon founded the Unified Church and declared that – he is the Messiah and the 2nd coming of Christ and is here to fulfil Jesus’ unfinished mission. He teaches the ‘Divine Principle’ which is his own interpretation of the Bible. He also states that he is the True Father that his [3rd] wife is the True Mother and his children are the True Children. He is described as massively wealthy to the tune of 3 billion dollars, but with no obvious means of obtaining this much income. In 1971 he moved to the USA and was considered somewhat of a religious lunatic / cult leader of the ‘Moonies’ – who allegedly brainwashed teenagers & college students draining their funds and cutting them off from their families. There are also suggestions that some were beaten. In 1982 he was jailed for 18 months for tax evasion and conspiracy. In the same year he started the right wing conservative Washington Times newspaper which he owns and funds. Controversy has always surrounded Moon but this hasn’t deterred congressman and presidents [Nixon Bush Clinton …] from engaging in his company with father Bush going on a ‘world tour’ with him in1996.
In 2004 at an Ambassador for Peace Dinner a coronation of himself and his wife was held with both being [literally] crowned and Moon donned the King of Peace. In his speech he said “…..have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity’s saviour, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.
9) Ted Haggard was Head of the National Association of Evangelicals from 2003 -2006 and senior Pastor for the New Life Church. Haggard it appears was clear about his position on many issues of morality including homosexuality declaring “we don’t have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It’s written in the bible.” In Nov 2006 he was leading a charge to ban gay marriage in Colorado when the gay prostitute he had been seeing for the previous 3 years stepped forward apparently having just become aware of who his client was and being appalled by his hypocrisy. Initially Haggard denied all allegations against him including taking methamphetamine until the evidence was overwhelming. At this point he resigned all his positions of power and agreed to undergo counselling for his sexually ‘deviant’ behaviour. In 2007 Haggard sent an email, where he asked for donations to be made on his behalf to ‘Families with a Mission’ this was to help him support his family whilst he and his wife were pursuing degrees.
On a CNN interview in 2009 Haggard admitted to having had a second sexual relationship with a male church volunteer. When asked whether he considered himself to be heterosexual or gay he said that his therapist had described him as a heterosexual with complications.
10) Warren Jeffs born in 1955 and former president of the Fundalmentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints based in Utah. Jeffs followed the FLDS tenet of ‘Celestial Marriage’ and taught that a church member needed at least 3 wives to get into heaven and that the more a man had the closer he was to heaven. It is claimed that Jeffs had around 70 wives some of which were as young as 12 when they married. In addition Jeffs was the only person in the church allowed to perform the marriage ceremony and was responsible for assigning wives to husbands plus he had the authority to reassign wives and children to other families if the men did not fully conform to the church beliefs. In 2006-7 he was charged with allegedly arranging marriages with adult men and underage girls and 8 additional counts of sexual misconduct with minors. He was found guilty of 2 counts of rape as an accomplice and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Jeffs later admitted to committing immoral actions with a sister and a daughter.
In 2007 he resigned as leader of the church and confessed to his followers that he in fact was not the chosen prophet.