Morris Cerullo – Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Tax Fraud

18 07 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – September 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 9 – Morris Cerullo Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Tax Fraud – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow
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Morris Cerullo

Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Tax Fraud

MORRIS

More bad news for the highly anointed within the rarified air of the international charismatic leadership, Mr. Cerullo has been indicted by a federal grand jury on July 10, 2005 “on three counts of filing false individual income tax returns.” (1)

According to the newspaper report Mr. Cerullo somehow managed to underreport his income by $550,000 during the years 1998-2000. If he is convicted, which in all fairness he has not yet been, he faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Why should we care about what Cerullo has done? What impact does it have on our lives as individuals? Individually whether he is convicted or not will have little obvious effect on our personal lives, however what he does as a recognized “Christian” leader around the world does impact our witness as the people of God. Mr. Cerullo has been a very visible and prominent entity speaking in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ on a global scale for a long time. His moral failure is simply more fodder for the enemies of Christ to use in attempting to bolster their case against the claims of Christianity.

The Origins of Morris Cerullo

Like all the so-called “healing” evangelists Cerullo makes the claim that he was supernaturally appointed by God when he was a child:

The Holy Spirit revealed the truth of Jesus Christ as the Messiah to Morris Cerullo when he was only 14-½ years old, living in a Jewish Orthodox orphanage. God sent two angels to supernaturally lead him into the outside world on the first leg of a spiritual journey which has taken him to the very forefront of worldwide evangelism. (2)

Not only does God speak to him but his prophetic annunciations come with a special anointing of God’s Presence. He received a divine, supernatural call from God to preach at the age of fifteen when God took him into the heavens and revealed Himself to him by a supernatural vision. (3)

Every one of these roving healers claim that God has supernaturally brought them into their ministries. Kenneth E. Hagin wrote in his book I believe In Visions how as a young teenager he literally died three times and went to hell three times. On his third descend into hell he cried out to God and was saved. (4) Before Hagin’s tall tale the most widely revered of the healers, William M. Branham claimed to have been visited by angels and heard an audible voice which was his call into ministry. (5) Benny Hinn’s story of his supernatural dealings with God are well chronicled in the book The Confusing World of Benny Hinn. (6) A.A. Allen tells of how he shut himself up in a room and fasted and prayed to God until He came to him. Allen says that God revealed to him thirteen things that if he would do them it would cause the miracle healing power of God to manifest. (7) After Branham and before Allen there was of course the godfather of greed, Oral Roberts who has testified for over fifty years how “God” anointed his right hand with healing power (he started on the healing circuit in 1947). I would be remiss if I did not also mention Robert Liardon, whose claim to fame started with his alleged trip to heaven as an eight year old boy. His story, which is filled with unbelievable heavenly accounts, is written in his best selling book I Saw Heaven.

I mention all of the above individuals to simply point out that all of them make some outrageous claim, often trying to outdo one another concerning either how God called them or how He gifted them with some form of special anointing. In other words, each healer has his or her shtick and Cerullo is no different from the rest of the herd of heretics. Like all the rest he has seen angels, heard voices, no one else heard, been taken to heaven and thus we must accept that he is divinely qualified and empowered by God’s Spirit.

Not only does Morris claim to have divine healing power, his website makes the following claims regarding this man:

Dr. Morris Cerullo, Apostle and Prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ, is a man on the move for God. He is a man whose entire life is dedicated to fulfilling the call of God to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every living creature. In 1982, God gave him a specific call in Porte Alegro, Brazil when He said, “Son, build Me an army.” This army is made up of Nationals trained to take the Gospel to their villages, cities, states, and nations with the same anointing that rests upon Dr. Cerullo’s life and ministry. (8)

Morris makes the claim to be both an “Apostle” and “Prophet” of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only this he is a man with a “specific call” from God Almighty. Armed with this specific call Morris founded: Morris Cerullo World Evangelism. His website enlightens us on the scope of this humble work:

Morris Cerullo World Evangelism is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of seven (7) committed and dedicated Christians men and woman with a common goal and vision to reach the lost of this world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism is known as the ministry upon which the sun never sets! At any given time, on any given day, somewhere in the world, ministry is going on under the banner of MCWE. Over the years, Dr. Cerullo has established and maintained tremendous relationships with “his sons and daughters in the Gospel” and his preaching, teaching, training, prophetic ministry and counseling is in great demand around the world. (9)

You’ve Read the Hype, Now Here Are the Facts

Morris the “Apostle” 

I like to eat cheese; doing so does not make me a mouse. Morris can claim to be an Apostle but that does not make him one. The mental wards are filled with people with delusions of grandeur, people who claim to be the President, Queen of England or even Jesus Christ! Cerullo can claim to be anyone or anything he likes, but as my sainted granny used to say “the proof is in the pudding.”

The Bible lays out some very clear and distinct marks which must be present in order for someone to claim that they are in fact biblical Apostles. Let’s take a quick look into the Gospel of Mark concerning the Apostles:

1. The Apostles responded immediately and unconditionally to the call from Jesus. Mark 1:18,20; 2:14.

2. The apostles left everything when Jesus called. Mark 1:18,20.

3. Jesus called the apostles to be His companions, to be an eyewitness to His ministry and to preach what He taught them. Mark 3:14

I might add that of the original twelve all were martyred with the exception of Saint John. I could also throw in that none of them were extravagantly wealthy, (unlike Cerullo). In its simplest and broadest terms an “Apostle” is one whom God has sent on a specific mission. If a Christian missionary goes into a city and establishes a church where there was none before, it might be loosely considered an apostolic work. That is far different than claiming one is an Apostle in the same sense as the New Testament Apostles, which is the teaching of today’s Apostolic Movement, which includes Cerullo.

The Book of Acts gives us some four insights regarding the requirements to be considered a true Apostle of the Lamb:

These special messengers or delegates were called by God. Because of that, there were some very specific requirements for an apostle. After Judas betrayed Jesus and killed himself, another apostle was selected and this selection process gives us the requirements to be an apostle. This process can be found in Acts 1:16-26. We’ll see there are basically four requirements to be a true apostle.

The first requirement  is to be a messenger. The name itself means messenger, so a requirement to be an apostle is to have a message and to deliver the message to the people. This was the “ministry of an apostle: and is spoken of in verse 17 of the text when Peter talks about Judas.

The second requirement  is a formal training period. The training is done by Jesus and covers a time of about three to three-and-a-half years. We get this from verses 21-22 of our text. As Peter and the group are trying to decide who to select to replace Judas, they only consider men who were with them and Jesus from the time of John the Baptist to the time that Jesus ascended into heaven. It’s estimated that from the time John the Baptist baptized Jesus to the time Jesus ascended was about 3 to 3.5 years. These men were with the group and personally trained by Jesus during this time.

The third requirement  is the person had to be a witness of the resurrected Jesus Christ. As the requirements are continued in verse 22, Peter says, “must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.” In other words, they had to personally witness (see) Jesus after Jesus arose.

The fourth requirement  and final requirement is that God, not man, selects the person. Remember part of the definition of the word is that the apostle is “sent forth with orders.” It’s God who gives them the orders and sends them forth. Notice in verse 24 through 26 during this selection process, they prayed and cast lots, leaving the final decision up to God to control the lots and the lot fell upon Matthias. (10)

Cerullo does not meet any of these biblical requirements. However, some may try to argue that the Apostle Paul was not one of the twelve, he did not literally walk with Jesus nor was he there as a witness of His resurrection, ergo God has other “Apostles” which are not so narrowly defined. Well let’s take a few moments and consider Paul:

1. Paul was truly a messenger. He went on three primary missionary journeys and he wrote much of the New Testament. He clearly meets the broad definition of the word apostle and his ministry was one of a messenger. Also, Paul carried a very specific message, the letters of the New Testament.

2. To meet the second requirement, Paul would have had to have been trained by Jesus Christ just as the others apostles were. Notice what Paul says in Galatians 1:15-18. After he was called to be a messenger (to preach as he says in verse 16 of Galatians chapter 1), he didn’t confer (talk with) flesh and blood. Paul didn’t even go to the other apostles (Galatians 1:17). If he didn’t confer with flesh and blood, then he must have conferred with the Spirit-the Holy Spirit of god. We get an indication that Paul went out into the desert of Arabia and then after three years, started his ministry (Galatians 1:17-18). Paul was personally trained by the Spirit of the Lord for the 3-year period. Paul even tells us that what he is giving us, he got from the Lord (I Corinthians 11:23).

3. But, to be a true apostle, Paul would have also needed to be a witness of Jesus after the resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15: 4-8, Paul mentions the resurrection of Christ and Paul mentions all the people who saw Jesus after the resurrection. In verse 8, Paul says he saw the Lord as well. Paul goes on to say he was born out of due time and he feels he is not worthy to be an apostle because of the persecution he has done to the church, but because of the grace of God, he did see Jesus and is an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:8-10).

4. Finally, we need to see if God personally called Paul to be an apostle. Notice the verse in Romans 1:1. If you have the true word of God, a true translation, the verse will read, “Paul a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,  Notice he says, called “to be” an apostle. He’s not just called an apostle, like a name, but he is called to the specific office of an apostle.  This same phrase is repeated in 1 Corinthians 1:1. Galatians 1:15 also says Paul was called by God. We see the start of Paul’s calling Acts 9:1-20. (11)

Paul meets the biblical requirements and what is more he demonstrated to those who doubted his Apostleship the “true signs of an Apostle” (read 2 Cor. 12:12). Paul’s claim was backed up by true signs and wonders wrought by the Holy Spirit through him.

Mr. Cerullo can call himself an “Apostle,” others may refer to him by that title but the biblical facts speak for themselves, Cerullo is not an apostle. At best he is self-deceived into thinking he is one or at worst he is a false apostle sent by Satan in the guise of a minister of righteousness (read 2 Cor. 11:13). In either scenario the results spell tragedy for himself and those who follow him.

Morris the “Prophet”

It is bad enough to claim to be an Apostle, but he also lays claim to be a “Prophet” of our Lord too. The Bible sets forth one basic standard for a prophet— 100% accuracy when one says they are speaking the word of the Lord (read Deut 18:20-21). God allows no wiggle room or margin of error for anyone who dares to say “thus saith the Lord” or “the Lord told me.” Anyone who does make such statements and they do not come from the Lord and do not come to pass that individual is not to be listened to, followed and is to be considered a false prophet. With this caveat in mind lets look at a few of Cerullo’s prophetic revelations:

“Take up your pen and write. I want you to warn my people. There are 5 major crises that are coming in the next decade of destiny, the 1990’s “ The world will be experiencing the greatest economic turmoil in the history of humanity.”….one of the greatest crises we have ever experienced.” It will be an incredible financial crisis and it’s going to plunge the world into a state of great turmoil and perplexity.” We’re going to see in this decade a complete collapse of the present worldwide monetary system.” It will make the Wall Street crash of 1929 seem like a picnic.” And that crisis will come before the year 1994. “ (12)

Morris gave this prophetic word in September, 1985, it is twenty years later and this alleged Word of the Lord failed to come to pass by any stretch of the imagination. Almost all of you reading this newsletter were alive in 1994 and none, zip zero nada of what the Lord revealed to Morris was fulfilled. Here is a more recent example:

“God showed me at the beginning of 1995 that He was taking us to a strategic level of warfare prayer. He gave us this revelation: God revealed to me that the Decade of the Holy Spirit is closing. He showed me that for three years there will be a new manifestation of true intercession of God’s people rises [sic] to heaven, God will begin to release the flood gates of heaven. God is bringing His intercessors to the frontlines of evangelism! He has strategically placed intercessors in key positions worldwide, where He will use them to effect changes, in the spirit, that will result in a worldwide harvest of souls! But in the midst of this darkness, God has shown me that this is the hour for the Church to unite as a mighty force to launch the greatest prayer assault in the history of the church against the satanic forces now working to establish dominion and control over Europe.” (13)

I am not going to waste your time by parsing everything “God” showed Morris in this encounter. If he is correct, then the ministry of the Holy Spirit ceased or was about to cease. Can anyone show me where His ministry officially began (hint read Genesis 1:2) or where the Bible says His ministry will close? As for the so-called “prayer evangelism” concept, that is pure nonsense. People are not “prayed” into the kingdom of God. People are saved by the means of grace God has given the Church, and prayer is not a means of grace. They are saved by the foolishness of preaching (read 1 Cor. 1:21). Nowhere does the Bible teach that through special intercessors people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. At best our Lord did say that we are to pray that the Lord of the harvest send out laborers (read Matt. 9:38) i.e. workers, people who are obeying the command of their Master by preaching the Gospel to every living creature (read Mark 16:15). The bottom line is this; Cerullo lied in the name of the Lord and delivered false and misleading information he claims was given to him by God. Again we are faced with only two possible conclusions: (1) Morris is self-deceived and unwittingly deceiving others, or (2) is a false prophet, a tare amongst the wheat sown by Satan to lead God’s people astray.

“Dr.” Morris Cerullo

He claims to be an Apostle and we have seen that he is not. He has claimed to be a Prophet and again he failed the test. Is he a Doctor of Divinity and Humanities? No, not really. His doctorate is an honorary one bestowed on him by another fraud who happens to be the Founder an President of Oral Roberts University, yup you guessed, Oral Roberts gave Morris the degree. (14) On Cerullo’s website he is referred to as “Dr. Cerullo” in almost every paragraph. Why? To give the undiscerning the false belief that Morris is a biblical scholar and theologian when the fact is that he has no earned degrees in biblical studies for any accredited seminary!

Every claim this man makes about himself is a lie. He is neither an Apostle, nor a prophet and even his doctoral degree is worthless. What we do know is that he may be going to jail for attempting to defraud the Federal government out of their rightful share of taxable revenue. This latest grand jury indictment merely echoes a lawsuit brought against Morris by two of his own ministry executives in 2000:

John Paul Warren’s suit, filed last month in San Diego Superior Court, is the second such lawsuit this year against Cerullo, a 68-year-old San Diego-based evangelist known for his cable network and worldwide crusades. Another former executive sued in March, saying he resigned after confronting Cerullo about unspecified “fund-raising abuses.” Both suits were filed by the same lawyer. Cerullo, whose ministry says it has trained 1.3 million people around the world in Christian proselytizing, says the claims are completely false. “The Bible teaches us not to take our brothers to court, “Cerullo said. Warren’s suit says Cerullo reneged on a promise to give each $1,500 donor a satellite dish allowing access to the ministry’s Global Prayer Satellite Network. To Warren’s knowledge, none of the donors received a dish, according to the suit. The lawsuit also accuses Cerullo of hiring Warren for the unstated purpose of gaining access to the confidential 5,000-name donor list that Warren had built up during his 20 years as a minister in Northern California. The lawsuit says Cerullo hired Warren in 1998 with a promise to make him “second in command” and “successor” when Cerullo retired at the end of 2000. Instead, it says, Warren was given a lesser position and was fired in October 1999 after confronting Cerullo about “several integrity issues.” Warren’s lawyer, Dean Broyles, said Cerullo routinely coaxed money from donors by promising to spend it in certain ways, then didn’t follow through. “Both of my clients were very high up within the organization and they were privy to and personally observed a lot of ethical misconduct within the industry,” Broyles said. “In my humble opinion, that’s why they’re no longer there.” Broyles’ other client, Harry Turner, accuses Cerullo of taking back his bonus and saying bad things about him after Turner confronted Cerullo about his fund-raising methods. Turner, who was senior vice president with Morris Cerullo World Evangelism, resigned in December. (15)

Although these two individuals did not prevail in court against Cerullo I believe their accusations helped focus the vigilant eyes of Uncle Sam on this deceiver. If you know anyone who is currently supporting this man and his Sinistry I would urge you to share these facts with them. I equally urge us all to pray for Mr. Cerullo that our merciful Lord would open his eyes and grant him a repentant attitude. ♦

Copyright © 2005   Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. Obtained from the San Diego Union-Tribune July 13,2005 via the http://www.religionnewsblog.com/11670

2. Obtained from http://www.mcwe.com/aboutus.php?SessionId=33f440af97b2d8623b7c78710b4b480b. Bold type added for emphasis.

3. Ibid. Bold type added.

4. This account can be found in the book I Believe In Vision, Kenneth E. Hagin. Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK.

5. His account can be read in Gordon Lindsey’s book Twentieth Century Prophet.

6. You can order a copy of this excellent resource on Mr. Hinn by contacting http://www.pfo.org.

7. Obtained from http://www.jackieandsusan.com/Gospel_Forefathers/gh_titles/AA_Allen.html.

8. Obtained from http://www.mewe.com/aboutus.php?SessionId=33f440af97b2d8623b7c78710b4b480b.

9ibid. Bold type added.

10. Obtained from His Clear Path Ministries, P.O. Box 241962, Montgomery, AL 36124-1962.

11. Ibid.

12. Cerullo, Morris 5 Great Crises, Morris Cerullo Ministries cassette tape, September 1989.

13. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism web site, Copyright 1999 by Morris Cerullo World Evangelism. This “word” was given by Morris at the MORRIS CERULLO WORLD EVANGELISM EUROPEAN SPIRITUAL WARFARE PRAYER CONFERENCE May 27-31, 1999 Earl’s Court, London, England. Underlining added.

14. In fact with just a little digging around one can quickly learn that almost every charismatic leader of renown received their doctorate from Oral Roberts. Whether it is Marilyn Hickey, Joyce Meyer, Jesse Duplantis, etc…all of these are fake degrees given by a fake-healer to deceive the ignorant into believing these individuals are in fact biblical scholars when in reality none of them have any actual accredited degrees from accredited seminaries.

15. Obtained from http://religionnewsblog.com/11669.

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Paul Crouch’s Possible Peccadillo

10 06 2009

 

Truth Matters Newsletter – Oct 2004 – Vol 8 Issue 10 – Paul Crouch’s Possible Peccadillo by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

To my knowledge our ministry is the only one to have put together a book on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and their founders Paul and Jan Crouch. DMI has been keeping our eyes peeled on the Crouches and the goings on at TBN and so it came as no big shock to me when we began to receive reports about Mr. Crouch’s possible homosexual activities. The reason I was not shocked by the reports was because I remember years ago when Paul used to come out from behind the curtain dressed in clothing that must have been purchased from the same tailor Liberace used. This combined with the sad fact that the other “Christian” superstars of the cathode ray tube all fell into some form of immorality or another. The Church has had to suffer the shame of the sexual escapades of Jimmy Baker and Jessica Hahn, if you will remember men came forward and spoke that Mr. Bakker had also made homosexual advances to them as well. (see http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/fridaynews/fridaynews030606.html ). Who can forget the saga of Jimmy Swaggart with the prostitute Desiree Dupree. America watched Jimmy’s tearful confession (only later to be caught again soliciting) and the Church saw another megastar bite the dust. Of Course before Swaggart was forced to confess his sin, it was not voluntary, he expose a fellow minister, Martin Gorman:

Swaggart that Marvin Gorman had been having extramarital affairs. Swaggart saw Gorman’s small but growing ministry as a threat to his own and made Gorman’s indiscretions public. This led to Gorman’s downfall and subsequent defrocking by the Assemblies of God… Swaggart, who initiated the complaints against Gorman, had the favor returned when Gorman hired a private detective to follow Swaggart and caught him on film leaving a cheap motel with a prostitute outside of New Orleans. Although the Assemblies of God voted to put him in therapy and relieve him of his ministry for one year, Swaggart refused this directive and demonstrated his staying power by continuing his ministry, claiming to retain his international audiences as well.

Robert Tilton’s  fall from grace occurred at about the same time as these other highly anointed men of faith & power began to fall. Currently Mr. Tilton is on wife number three. Time does not permit us to delve into Mr. W. V. Grant’s jail time or Larry Lea’s downfall all three of which were exposed nationally on Prime Time hosted by Diane Sawyer. When we consider the sordid past of charismatic religious leaders with great wealth, large viewing audiences, multitudes of devoted followers and little or no personal accountability we see the old adage coming true “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It seems that history may be repeating itself in the life of Paul Crouch, the “last-man-standing” in the fight for televised glory. The following is taken from the Los Angles Times:

Televangelist Paul Crouch Attempts to Keep Accuser Quiet-

By William Lobdell LA Times Staff Writer

Televangelist Paul Crouch, founder of the world’s largest Christian Televangelist Paul Crouch, founder of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting network, has waged a fierce legal battle to prevent a former employee from publicizing allegations that he and Crouch had a sexual encounter eight years ago.

Crouch, 70 is the president of Trinity Broadcasting Network, based in Orange County, whose Christian programming reaches millions of viewers around the world via satellite, cable and broadcast stations. The source of the allegations against him is Enoch Lonnie Ford, who met Crouch at a TBN-affiliated drug treatment center in 1091 and later went to work for the ministry.

After Ford threatened to sue TBN in 1998, claiming that he had been unjustly fired, Crouch reached a $425,000 settlement with him. In return, Ford agreed, among other things, not to discuss his claim about a sexual encounter with the TV preacher.

But in the last year, Ford has threatened to go public with his story, prompting a flurry of legal maneuvers–conducted in closed court hearings, sealed pleadings and private arbitration.

In court pagers, Crouch has denied the allegations, and ministry officials have described Ford–who has a history of drug problems and has served time for a sex offense–as a liar and an extortionist. At stake are the public image of one of the world’s most successful televangelists and, potentially, the fortunes of the broadcasting empire that Crouch and his wife, Jan, built over the last 31 years. TBN and Crouch went on the legal offensive after they learned that Ford had written a book manuscript that included an account of the alleged sexual encounter.

In a dramatic flourish, Ford had appeared at a TBN broadcast studio in Costa Mesa, minutes before the start of a “Praise-a-thon” fundraiser, and without comment, handed Crouch a copy of the manuscript.

Ford’s lawyer later told ministry officials that they could keep the work out of public view by buying the rights. After some discussion, he suggested that $10 million might be a reasonable price.

While negotiations continued, Crouch sued to enforce the 1998 secrecy agreement and obtained a restraining order barring Ford from seeking a publisher for his book.

Orange County Superior Court Judge John M. Watson also granted Crouch’s request to conduct the case in secret, sealing all documents and expunging any mention of the suit from public court records. Both side eventually agreed to let a private arbitrator decide the matter. In June, the arbitrator ruled that Ford could not publish the manuscript without violating the 1998 settlement – an act that could subject him to monetary damages.

This account of the controversy is drawn from interviews with friends of Ford’s unsealed court records, correspondence among TBN lawyers and a copy of the arbitrator’s confidential ruling. The arbitrator’s decision contains details about the 1998 settlement and Ford’s manuscript – both of which are under seal. Records and interviews show that even as they battled to keep Ford’s story from leaking, TBN lawyers worried that details would eventually come out.

I am absolutely amazed that Lonnie hasn’t gone to Penthouse or Dianne [sic] Sawyer with his manuscript, notwithstanding the [judge’s] injunction, “TBN attorney Dennis G. Brewer Sr. wrote in a March letter to the network’s other lawyers.

In a subsequent letter in May, Brewer mentioned the anguish that Ford’s accusations had caused Crouch’s youngest son, Matt, when he learned of them in 1998. Brewer wrote that the younger Crouch had told his then-law partner, David Middlebrook: “I am devastated; I am confronted with having to face the fact that my father is a homosexual.” Middlebrook and Matt Crouch have denied that there was such a conversation.

Millions of Viewers

Paul and Jan Crouch started TBN in 1973, using a rented studio in Santa Ana. Over the next three decades, they built a worldwide broadcasting network by buying TV stations and negotiating deals with cable systems and satelite companies. Today, TBN’s 24-hour-a-day menu of sermons, faith healing, inspirational moves and other Christian fare reaches millions of viewers from Spain to the Solomon Islands.

Paul Crouch is the driving entrepreneurial force behind the network and one of its most popular on-air personalities. He and Jan, his wife of 46 years, have cultivated a folksy on-screen image as a devoted couple. TBN officials have long been concerned about how Ford’s allegations could affect the network, which relies heavily on donations from viewers. Officials said they were particularly worried about possible comparisons to the scandal that brought down televangelist Jim Bakker in 1987.

Bakker resigned from his PTL Ministries in 1987 after admitting to paying a secretary $265.000 in ministry funds to be silent about an earlier affair. Bakker later went to prison for bilking donors.

TBN officials said they were careful not to pay Ford with ministry funds in 1998. They declined to say whether the money came from an insurer, Crouch personally or some other source.  Ford 41, said he could not discuss his manuscript or his allegations against Crouch but he did provide basic facts about his background and his time at TBN.

Ford, whose father and grandfather were ministers, grew up in Fairfax County, VA., moved to California in 1989 and worked in a string of jobs that included jewelry salesman, produce clerk and gas station attendant. For years, he struggled to kick a cocaine habit.

In 1991, he checked into a Christian drug treatment program in Colleyville, Texas, on a TBN-owned ranch. It was there that Ford met Crouch. In 1992 the network hired him to work on a phone bank in Orange County. Ford said he also ran errands for the Crouches and drove Paul Crouch to appointments.

Ford repeatedly ran into trouble with the law, but TBN stood behind him. In 1994, he pleaded no contest in San Bernardino County to having sex with a 17-year-old boy and served six months in jail, according to court records. TBN took him back after his release. In 1995, he pleaded guilty in Orange County to possession of cocaine and served about 30 days in County Jail. Again, TBN took him back.

Lake Arrowhead Cabin

The Alleged sexual encounter between Ford and Crouch occurred in the fall of 1996, according to Sandi Mahlow, a Tustin housewife who met Ford in a Fullerton church 10 years ago and became a close friend. Mahlow, 50, who helped Ford write his manuscript, said he broke down in tears after returning from a weekend spent alone with Crouch at a TBN-owned cabin near Lake Arrowhead. Mahlow said Ford told her that he and Crouch had engaged in sexual acts.

Lonnie had a lot of bad traits; one thing he isn’t, and that’s a liar,” Mahlow said. She said she helped Ford with his manuscript for no pay, as a favor to a friend, and has no financial interest in the book. After the alleged encounter, Ford continued to work at TBN. For a time, he lived rent-free in an apartment at the network’s Tustin headquarters, according to Mahlow and another friend of Ford’s, Diane Benson, who met him at an Anaheim church 14 years ago.

A third friend of Ford’s said that in October 1996, about the time of the alleged Arrowhead encounter, ministry officials gave her a $12,000 check to pay back money Ford owned her. The woman spoke on condition that she not be named, saying she feared retaliation.

TBN officials acknowledged that the ministry paid some of Ford’s debts. They said the network commonly extends such generosity to employees in financial trouble. Within weeks of the Arrowhead trip, Ford tested positive for drug use and was arrested for violating terms of his probation. While Ford awaited sentencing, the ministry again came to his support, urging the judge not to impose more prison time.

Ford “has continuously shown a very positive attitude regarding whatever we have asked him to do,” wrote Ruth M. Brown, Paul Crouch’s sister and TBN’s director of personnel. “He carried out his duties cheerfully and always tries to do more than asked.”

The judge sent Ford to the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, a drug treatment facility in the state prison system.

In August 1997, Jay Jones, TBN’s director of telephone ministry, wrote prison officials that Ford would have a job with the network after he got out, despite his “extended leave of absence.” But Ford said that after he was released in February 1998, he was told he no longer had a position at TBN. “There comes a point in time when you have to say, ’Enough is enough,” said John Casoria, a TBN layer who is a nephew of the Crouches.

Ford responded with his threat to sue. The settlement followed.

Despite TBN’s efforts to keep Ford’s charges secret, they surfaced in an unrelated 1998 lawsuit. A former bodyguard for TBN personality Benny Hinn testified in a deposition that during a European bus tour that year, Hinn had told a group of associates about a sexual relationship that Paul Crouch had with his chauffeur.”

The witness, Mario C. Licciardello, quoted Hinn as saying: “Paul’s defense was that he was drunk.” Hinn and six others mentioned by Licciardello, who died in 2000, told The Times that Hinn never made such remarks. However, Rick Jones, a retired police officer and ordained minister who worked for Hinn, said he heard Hinn talk about Crouch’s alleged homosexual relationship on that bus.  Jones said he was disgusted by the talk and “got up and walked away. I didn’t want to hear gossip.”

Asking $10 Million

Meanwhile, Ford began to have second thoughts about keeping silent. Last year, with Mahlow’s help, he wrote his manuscript, titled “Arrowhead.” Friends said Ford wanted to expose what he viewed as Crouch’s hypocrisy.  They said he also needed money and hoped to earn some by selling the manuscript. It’s unclear how Ford spent his 1998 settlement, but today he leads a modest existence, living in a room of a Lake Forest home and working as a mortgage salesman.

Ministry officials learned of the book in April 2003, when Ford walked onto the set of TBN’s Costa Mesa, broadcast studio and handed a copy of the manuscript to Crouch.

Ford’s attorney, Eugene Zech, said that Brewer, the TBN lawyer, called him the next business day. In court papers, Zech said that Brewer asked “if Ford might be willing to accept $1 million in exchange for the manuscript.”

Zech said in the court filing that he suggested $10 million. When the parties went to arbitration, Crouch’s lawyers argued that publication would violate the 1998 settlement and cause irreparable damage to Crouch’s reputation. Ford’s lawyers argued that the secrecy agreement was overly broad and violated his free-speech rights. Arbitrator Robert J. Neill ruled that Ford’s right to make his allegations public “was sold to [Crouch] for $425,000.” Ford “bargained away his right to speak on certain matters and now suggests that his right to free speech trumps that bargain…[His] right to discuss these matters was bought and paid for. He relinquished that right.” Paul Crouch Jr. , a TBN executive and the televangelist’s oldest son, said that despite the favorable ruling, he wished his father had never entered into the settlement with Ford. Crouch said advisors persuaded his father that it would be cheaper to settle than to litigate. He said TBN was particularly anxious to avoid negative publicity because the ministry was celebrating its 25th anniversary that year. “In hindsight, we should have fought Lonnie tooth and nail, “the son said in an interview. “We should have drawn the battle lines right there.”

Upon receiving this article I contacted TBN with some questions. I wanted a clearer explanation as to why TBN would pay $425,000 to “a liar.”? I have trouble accepting the TBN version that it was their 25th anniversary and they did not want any bad publicity. If Mr. Ford is lying then TBN has a whole team of lawyers with which to nail his blackmailing behind to the door, so to speak, so why didn’t they do it? After all, Paul merely has to tell his devoted fans that this is just another of a series of attacks by the devil against the mightiest tool in God’s arsenal, i.e. TBN and himself as the captain of the ship. Also, why did TBN continue to rehire Mr. Ford who in the words of the TBN ministry officials have described Ford–who has a history of drug problems and has served time for a sex offense–”as a liar and an extortionist.” Also, why did TBN pay off a $12,000 debt that Ford owed? TBN responded that it “commonly extends such generosity to its employees.”  Oh really?  I have read every written article about the Crouches and TBN and I have never come across anyone else who has experienced this largess TBN!

In my letter to TBN I also asked them about the comments attributed to Mr. Hinn, First, I wanted to know how Benny leaned of the incident. Did Paul “confess” his fault to him? If so, then why did Hinn break his oath as a pastor and tell others what was confessed to him? Or were Paul’s homosexual dalliances common knowledge among the upper echelon at TBN? Worse yet how do they answer Mr. Hinn’s charge of Crouch being “drunk,” as if it was an acceptable excuse for this moral slip? It is well documented that the latest and biggest of the 30 homes owned by TBN comes complete with a temperature controlled wine cellar. Why would any self-respecting Pentecostal have a wine cellar? There is no known Pentecostal denomination that approves of the use of alcohol even when celebrating the Lord’s Support!

Lastly, I find it curious indeed that the TBN lawyer offers Ford a million dollars for the manuscript, his attorney seemed to think it was worth closer to 10 million and off to court they went.

In all fairness to Mr. Crouch, he is innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof is on the accuser. Yet if I were in his shoes, which I thank God I am not, I would have never agreed to pay a blackmailer. I’d demand my day in court and turn around and sue the accuser for slander. The fact that Crouch did not respond in this manner makes me believe there is more than a modicum of truth to Mr. Ford’s story. It has long been rumored that the Crouches do not sleep in the same bed and often not in the same house. In the September issue of  Truth Matters  you might have wondered why Paul was not awakened when Jan was being mystically levitated in her bed. She did not even make mention of Paul being there in bed asleep next to her.

We heard a saying in seminary “bad theology makes for a bad doxology,” which simply means bad doctrine leads to bad lifestyle and even worse endings. I end this article by directing you to http://www.google.com  where you can find and read the TBN response. You are free to come to your own conclusions regarding Mr. Crouch. For me and my house, we would not trust Crouch as far as we could throw him.  ♦

The YouTube video has been removed, but you can still see the video here:  http://www.archive.org/details/Fox4InvestigatesTrinityBroadcastNetworksPaulCrouch

See YouTube video report on the Scandal here:

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthis/hi/dates/stories/february/21/newsid/_2565000/2565197.stm

2. Obtained from http://hirr.hartsem.edu/ency/Televangelism.htm

3. Obtained from http://www.wchstv.com/abc/primetimethursday/dianesawyer.shtml

4. Taken from the Yahoo News at http://www.yahoo.com  Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

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