By John Pierce
When news that terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden had been found and killed by well-trained Navy SEALs, members of Christian Bible Fellowship Church in Newville, Penn., were particularly proud that their pastor once served among that squad of heroes.
It turns out, however, that Pastor Jim Moats bought a gold Trident medal at a military surplus store and had been lying to his congregation for five years. When he told his tale to The Patriot-News, a Harrisburg, Penn., newspaper, he got caught.
According to a Religion News Service release, retired SEAL Don Shipley, who is entrusted with maintaining a database of all SEALs, confronted the pastor. Moats confessed to having never served as a SEAL or setting foot in Vietnam — and having never been waterboarded — as he claimed.
In a far-reaching professional indictment, Shipley told the newspaper: “We deal with these guys all the time, especially the clergy. It’s amazing how many of the clergy are involved in those lies to build that flock up.”
Wow. But it’s hard to argue against such claims.
No profession has more academic misrepresentation that Baptist clergy and those from other traditions without an accreditation system. Then there are other preacher tales that get out of control.
Like Liberty Seminary’s Ergun Caner, who after 9/11 hit the mega-church trail with his glowing and growing testimony of an Islamic-Jihadist-turned-Christian-Fundamentalist. It turned out that only the second half of that claim was true.
The bright spotlight over the pulpit seems to be blinding to some who occupy that space. As Moats confessed, his greatly embellished military career was “an ego-builder” that resulted from getting “caught up in moments.”
When reading stories about Christian leaders like Moats and Caner, who get caught up in such strange self-absorption, my first thought is that they have the wrong kind of friends. Everyone, especially clergy, needs collegial relationships with honest and trusting souls who would never let you get by with such nonsense.
Well, got to go. My latest covert assignment from the C.I.A. just came in. Will post more when mission accomplished.
Oh, wait. I read something, somewhere about not bearing false witness.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.