The Bible loves a good redemption story, but forgiveness only goes so far. These religious leaders who fell from grace shocked the world when their crimes and scandals became public. The fallen pastors and leaders include famous men like Ted Haggard, one of many anti-gay activitists caught being gay, and Tony Alamo, who was sentenced to 175 years in prison for pedophilia and marrying an eight-year-old girl.
The pastors who have fallen into sin have all kinds of excuses: it wasn't technically illegal, it was a youthful mistake, it was a conspiracy orchestrated by the Vatican. But none of that excuses the hypocrisy of religious "authorities" preaching one standard for their flock and then flaunting those rules in their private lives.
The names of fallen pastors are famous, from Bill Gothard to Jim Bakker. And don't forget Josh Duggar––apparently molesting his own sisters isn't one of the things the Duggars can't do. Once you finish reading about pastors who fell from grace, see how they rank on the all-time list of the most drastic falls from grace in history.
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Tony Alamo rocketed to fame in the 1970s for preaching a fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity. When his wife died in 1982, Alamo went a little crazy. He displayed her embalmed body for months and claimed she would rise from the dead. And it only got worse from there.
In 2009, Alamo was sentenced to 175 years in prison. The charges included sexual abuse, transporting underage girls across state lines for sexual purposes, pedophilia, marrying an eight-year-old girl, and child rape. Alamo's defense: he was framed by the Vatican.
- Age: 86
- Birthplace: Joplin, Missouri
- Photo: YouTube
Bob Coy was the most famous evangelical pastor in Florida. His Fort Lauderdale megachurch had 25,000 members, and George W. Bush even visited Coy. But it all came crashing down in 2014 when he admitted to multiple affairs and a pornography addiction.
He resigned in disgrace––but the worse was still to come. In 2017, Coy was publicly accused of molesting a four-year-old child. Police sat on the accusation for months and dropped the inquiry without interviewing Coy. The case is still ongoing.
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Fred Phelps founded the Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist ministry that became notorious for protesting the funerals of gay people and gay pride events. It is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Phelps had a brush with the law in 1994 when he was convicted of disorderly conduct, and 1995, when he was convicted for assault and battery.
In 2009, the United Kingdom banned Phelps from entering the country. But ironically, it was Phelps's 2013 excommunication by his own church that probably felt like the biggest fall from grace for the minister. He was voted out for having a "change of heart" about his religious beliefs, and he died a few months later.
- Age: Dec. at 85 (1929-2014)
- Birthplace: Meridian, Mississippi, United States of America
- Photo: Youtube
Dave Reynolds was a pastor at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church in Sherwood, Arkansas, until he was caught looking at child pornography. Reynolds was 40 years old when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found evidence that someone in Sherwood was visiting child pornography websites. The culprit was none other than Pastor Reynolds.
In 2016, Reynolds was charged with 70 counts of possessing or viewing child pornography, a felony charge.