Profile of a Predator Pastor
This post begins a series of articles dealing with the scourge of predator pastors. In this first of the series, we will address a particular predator pastor. In future articles, we will deal with how these men turn into the monsters they are, why God allows men like this to get into the ministry in the first place, how these wolves find such easy prey in the sheep, who enables these wolves to prey on the sheep, how the wounded can find healing, and what can be done to protect the sheep from predators in the future. We hope it will help!
Is it right to expose an unrepentant pastor in such a public forum as the blog portion of the Internet? This was a question that needed to be answered in my own mind before I set out to write this post. I am not God. Vengeance is not mine. And God did not commission me as His special agent in this matter. So, how can I possibly justify this post?
When a pastor becomes a predator, and when that predator pastor continually attempts to find a new pulpit, and thus new victims, then those who have something to say must speak up. Further silence would be sinful. God’s sheep must be protected from wolves in shepherd’s clothing.
In this case, the predator pastor continuously seeks new pulpits. I have personally been involved in exposing him to two different pulpit committees. A friend of mine got him removed from an interim position in a third church. I was told about a fourth church he applied for, and he currently serves as the assistant pastor and Christian School Administrator in Indiana.
I wrote a letter to the pastor of the church in Indiana. I received no response. If I receive a response, I will note it on this blog. But in the meantime, the case is too grave, the situation too serious, to warrant any further delay. This predator pastor will not stop until he gains another pulpit.
It is impossible to know what church might be next. If, in some small way, this post can be used to alert someone to this dangerous man, then it will have served its purpose. This author has lived in silence with the terrible truth for nearly eighteen years now. I have no personal need to put this out on the Internet. Contrary to what this man has already said, we are not attacking him because he is so “on fire for God”. Despite his charm, despite his impressive resume (which conveniently excludes at least one former church that would expose him for what he is), this man is not a “Man of God” as he would have you think. Nor is the purpose of this article to prevent the work of God. Just the opposite in fact. The purpose of this article is to further the work of God.
The “work of God” as we term it, the ministry of the church, is greatly hindered by predator pastors such as this man. This article is motivated by a desire to see the work of God advanced. And exposing this man will greatly advance the health and prosperity of any church that might be infected by a predator such as this. Dragon slaying is a Christian occupation.
So, the purpose for writing an article like this, and posting it on the Internet where it can easily be discovered by some unsuspecting pulpit committee should be, shall we say, obvious? In this article, we are not trying to destroy a man’s reputation. Rather, we are pointing out the fact that this man has destroyed his own reputation, and refuses to live with it. More importantly, we are protesting the fact that this man, who has already destroyed several lives, continues to seek other lives to destroy. We trust that our protests will not fall on deaf ears.
Nothing that is said here should be misconstrued as a refusal on our part to forgive this pastor. I cannot speak for all who comment, but I can speak for myself. It took many years to deal with his sins in my own heart. As I write this, I believe with all my heart that, by the power of God, I have forgiven him. I know for certain that his sins against us do not compare to our sins against Christ. If Christ has forgiven me, and I believe He has, then I must forgive this man. To refuse him forgiveness would only add sin to the sins that I must be forgiven of. And furthermore, it would bar me from the forgiveness God offers in Jesus Christ. Besides, when I consider what God has forgiven in me, forgiving this man is easy.
Now, down to business. John W. Price pastored the Freedom Baptist Church in Terre Haute, Indiana, for about ten years. My family and I first began to attend the church when I was in the seventh grade, and the church was approaching their third anniversary. At the time, the church met at Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge in Terre Haute, and was building a new building south of town.
The church experienced phenomenal growth, mostly through the hard work of the people and the charisma of the pastor. For the third anniversary, the church hit a record of over 300 people in the morning service, which was also the first service in the new building. Over the next five years, the church grew to high days above five hundred, added an education wing and a gymnasium, and became somewhat famous throughout the Midwest.
I loved Freedom Baptist Church. And I loved and admired John Price. He was my pastor. For those of my old friends reading this post, I know that we don’t like to admit that we ever liked him. We need to be honest here. Sure, he gave us plenty of reasons to hold grudges. But there was a time when he held our highest admiration. He was our pastor.
And that is exactly what makes his crimes so very heinous. It is one thing for a thirty-five year old man to fall in love with a teen-aged girl. While it seems absurd and unnatural, and forbidden by law, yet a case like that somehow pales in comparison to a pastor who, because of the admiration of those who follow him, takes the opportunity to lure teen-aged girls.
Yes, John Price is a thief. His financial crimes have been well documented in other places (1). If his only sin was embezzlement, perhaps we wouldn’t feel quite so strongly about keeping him out of the ministry. But his crimes against teen-aged girls far outweigh his other failings.
Now, John Price denies any of this. When confronted with this information recently (2) Price claimed that he left the church with every bill paid. And he called preposterous the charges of intercourse with a fifteen-year-old girl (3).
But he did this. There was a day when I became very suspicious that something was going on that shouldn’t be. I heard the low voices – his voice, husky with passion, and another’s… a girl’s voice. Then, silence. My body tensed. I grabbed a club in my hand, and headed down the hallway. I came to the place where the voices were. Afraid, I put down the club. When I looked around the corner, John Price had stepped back. His hands were on her shoulders. He stepped back against her, pulled her to him and put his arms around her. He held her, and she held him. He pulled her close and moved towards her lips…
And I exploded. I stepped around the corner, and screamed at him. Get out of here. Get out now. Surprised, he looked at me. He tried to act like he didn’t know what I was talking about. But I would have none of it. You leave, right now! Go! I pointed at the door. Then, he tried his bully tactic. “You calm down, David. Now sit down. What is your problem?” You know what my problem is. You pervert. Then, the shocked, hurt routine started. He was “as pure as the driven snow, of course”. “I was just giving her a hug and a kiss! I always do that! I’m her pastor!”
Finally, he left, though reluctantly. I wasn’t convinced. I was eighteen. I was stupid, but not that stupid. I knew the difference between a “good-bye” hug and what he was doing, tucked away as they were in a corner.
The next day, I was “talked to”, and told that Price was very “hurt” that I would think so badly of him. I was told that he considered resigning because of the accusation. Good, I said. He should resign. I should have called the police. In fact, I still think I should. He definitely should resign. He shouldn’t be a pastor. Not here, not anywhere.
What more can I say? I saw what I saw, and it was no illusion. At the time, the girl denied vehemently that there was anything happening. So, I dropped it. About five months later, I witnessed Price sitting on a couch between two teen-aged girls, tickling them. I went to various people in the room. They saw what I saw, but they refused to believe anything was going on.
I am ashamed to say that I did nothing. I should have called the police. I should have called the deacons of the church. I should have called other pastors. I did not. Was it fear? Was it intimidation? Was it shame that kept me from it? Whatever it was, I did not do what I should have done.
Some time later, both teen girls confirmed my suspicions. They told me of many, many sexual encounters in his office, in his van behind the church, in his home while babysitting, in their own home. He offered to pay for an abortion for one who thought she was pregnant.
One girl was willing to file charges. The other was too afraid. And so, John Price is a free man. John Price can deny these charges, because they have never been proven in court. John Price can call these charges preposterous. But, on my honor, this happened.
I wonder where else he will do this. Maybe he already has. Maybe there are others. Maybe not. Price does not believe that we are serious, dead serious, about keeping him out of the ministry. So, this might come as a surprise to him, that we are out here, and we won’t go away. I’m guessing that there might be some out there who are willing to put their name on a comment, and show their support of this article. You maybe can’t vouch for everything here, but you could say something. I’m sure that you are willing to vouch for the fact that John Price should not be in the ministry. Maybe I’m wrong. I would invite you to make a comment on this post. Spread the word. I know that several of you read this. Go ahead and say something. It’s safe! I’ll leave comment moderation on in order to insure integrity, but all comments will be posted unless they are absolutely inappropriate.
What about you, John Price? I know you’ll be reading this. Will you take the opportunity to clear your name? Or to smear mine? Either way, you are welcome to comment here.
Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
If you are considering John Price for a pastoral position, or for that matter, for any position, please hear what I am saying. Please contact me. This is important.
(1) A major news source did a report in the early 1990’s on Price’s financial mismanagement of Freedom Baptist, mismanagement that led to the eventual bankruptcy and foreclosure of the church property to attempt recovery of around $750,000 in debts. ***(Edited October 11, 2006) I have been informed that the church did not declare bankruptcy, nor did it foreclose. The leadership of the church sold the property in order to settle all debts, which (if I understand correctly) were paid in full.
(2) Two weeks ago, a church in Michigan that was considering Price for the pastorate confronted him about this information. He, of course, denied everything, stating, “I’m as pure as the driven snow!”
(3) Charges were filed at the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office in Terre Haute, Indiana.
This post was edited by the author on March 21, 2012. Names were removed.
Labels: John Price