People go to church for spiritual growth and a sense of community. For one Ohio congregation, that sacred space became a nightmare.
How can you tell the difference between a church and a cult? Here’s a big clue: If your pastor is urging you to abort your wanted pregnancies or pressuring you to sterilize yourself against your wishes, then all signs point to the latter.
Former members of Grace Cathedral allege that this is exactly what their pastor and televangelist Ernest Angley wanted them to do, and the accusations only get more disturbing from there, including claims from a former pastor who says Angley touched him inappropriately and that the abuse persisted for seven years.
Whether the allegations are true remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: When Angley addressed the accusations in a service that lasted for more than two hours this summer, he did not sound like a man in good mental health. One of his congregants audio recorded the service and handed it over to the Akron Beacon Journal, and holy cow, this man is not doing himself any favors.
He vehemently denies he is a homosexual and compares himself to Jesus:
“I’m not a homosexual. God wouldn’t use a homosexual like he uses me. He calls me his prophet, and indeed I am. They called Jesus a homosexual, did you know that? And still do. Because he was with men.”
As disturbing as that is, it’s the only allegation Angley has thus far denied. Concerning the issue of sterilization and abortion, he’s purposely vague on the former point, saying:
“I’ve helped so many of the boys down through the years. They had their misgivings. Sure, I’d have them uncover themselves, but I did not handle them at all. And I would tell them how that would work. And they’d have to watch it. I’d have some of them come back to me that I felt needed to. And I would tell them, I would look at them, their privates — I, so I could tell how they were swelling.”
Here he seems more concerned that people will think he is gay than that he pressured men who had “misgivings” about sterilizing themselves into doing it anyway.The accusations regarding the issue of forced abortions are just as disturbing, and many members are speaking out about it now. One former member, Angelia Oborne, recalls multiple incidents involving friends of hers.
“She was four months pregnant, and she sat in the [abortion clinic] waiting room and told her baby that she was so sorry that she was doing this,” Oborne said. “I know another girl — she won’t come forward — but she was forced into having four abortions.”
As far as Angley’s purported motives go, the idea is that children take up too many resources — read: money — from the church.
These disgusting accusations blow my mind. I myself am not religious, but I don’t begrudge it in other people. If Angley truly did behave this way, then I don’t think he has any right calling himself a Christian, and he shouldn’t be allowed to lead a dog to a fire hydrant let alone lead a bunch of families to spiritual salvation. Even a heathen like me knows that Jesus was a stand-up guy who was all about welcoming children into the flock.
I’m also a big fan of reproductive rights, so allegations like this hit me right in the ovaries. Having the right to choose extends to choosing to keep a pregnancy or to keep your reproductive organs intact, and Angley supposedly showed a blatant disregard for that out of greed.
Angley has been at the helm of his ministry since 1957, which means the number of people he’s had influence over is staggering. Many of them say their lives were ruined by his actions. It’s been said that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” so let’s hope that by speaking out, some of them will finally have some peace.