07 April 2011

Shocking Religious Scandals

The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker
On March 19, 1987, the Reverend Jim Bakker resigned as chairman of his PTL ("Praise the Lord") organization in the midst of a sex scandal and behind some daunting tax problems. Getting his start with Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network and The 700 Club, Bakker and his wife Tammy Faye were cozy at the forefront of the televangelist boom, promoting a new sort of church personality grounded, it seemed, in equal parts faith and celebrity. But the Bakker's time at the top wouldn't last. Pictured: Bakker embraces a supporter in the wake of his decline, 1988. 
A New Mess for a New Pope

When Joseph Ratzinger was made Pope in 2005, becoming Pope Benedict XVI, he set out a "zero tolerance" policy toward clerical abuse. Today, the Vatican is embroiled in yet more abuse scandals, this time stemming partially from the Pope's native Germany and even involving the brother of the church's top leader. Benedict's brother George Ratzinger, 86, has admitted to physically punishing pupils decades ago, all while new allegations of sexual abuse in Germany surface. Pictured: Benedict and George on a walk in 2008.  

Los Angeles Archdiocese's $660 Million Abuse Settlement 

 The largest legal payout from the Catholic church's sex abuse scandals (thus far) came in Los Angeles in 2007. A group of plaintiffs, who alleged they were sexually abused by members of the clergy, were awarded nearly $800 million in total financial settlements. In Boston, the church settled for $157 million, while in Portland, Oregon, a $129 million settlement was agreed upon.

Rev. Paul Shanley Defrocked for Child Abuse

The epicenter of the sexual abuse scandals that have plagued the Roman Catholic Church for years was, for a time, Boston, Massachusetts, where Rev. Paul Shanley was removed as a priest by Pope John Paul II and served jail time stemming from decades-old abuse allegations. Shanley started his career in the 1970s as something of a church progressive, authoring works like "Changing Norms of Sexuality," but in 2005 was found guilty of the rape of a male minor after a victim came forward as an adult. Shanley was charged with 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery, and upon being convicted was sentenced to 12-15 years in jail.

Milingo's Repeated Offenses

In 2001, Milingo went on to ordain four married bishops, an offense for which he was excommunicated. Three years later, in 2004, Milingo ordained four more married bishops and was ultimately reduced to the "lay state," making the participation by the faithful in any future celebrations by him illegal. Pictured: Milingo performing a mass in Italy, 2002.  

Warren Jeffs Attends Court Hearing In Nevada

In 2006, one-time president and prophet of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Warren Jeffs was arrested in Nevada on charges based on allegations of arranging marriages between men and underage women. Jeffs was one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted before his capture and was sentenced to 10 years to life on November 20, 2007, after being found guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice for using his power to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marriage with her 19-year-old cousin. Pictured: Jeffs held by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department SWAT officers during an extradition hearing on August 31, 2006.

Elijah Muhammad: Plagued by Quarrels

Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad (center), head of the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975, was a constant center of controversy and allegations of violence, most notably tied to the assassination of Malcolm X. After a very public split with the civil rights leader, many believe Muhmmad may have ordered Malcolm X's murder, which occurred less than a year later and of which three Nation of Islam members were later convicted. Muhammad denies all involvement, though fellow NOI member Louis Farrakhan later said that the group's "incendiary rhetoric" may have led to the killing. Pictured: Muhammad watches Malcolm X speak at an annual Muslim convention, 1961.  

Mike Jones Had a Story

Jones first went public with his allegations on a Denver radio show, later saying, "It made me angry that here’s someone preaching against gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex." Haggard admitted to buying drugs and receiving a massage from Jones, but maintains that he did not use the drugs and the two never had sex. In 2007, Haggard underwent a "restoration" process with a team of ministers, followed by a redemption-oriented press tour. Haggard has since returned to churches despite 2009 allegations that he carried on an affair with a young male church member for many years. Pictured: Jones at a book signing for his book, I Had Something To Say: The Art of Ted Haggard's Fall, the title of which is a reference to Haggard's middle name and the name by which Jones knew him, Arthur or "Art." 

The Rocky Marriage of Juanita Bynum and Thomas Weeks

National evangelist Juanita Bynum and her former husband Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III made waves across their religious community with a tumultuous marriage, beginning with a high-profile televised wedding and a successful ministry. But on August 21, 2007, Weeks brutally beat Bynum in the parking lot of the Renaissance Concourse Hotel, and was charged with aggravated assault. Weeks was given three years probation and 200 hours of non-church community service, and the couple divorced in June of 2008. Pictured: Bynum performing in 2007.




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