Rev. Jim Moats of Newville, Pennsylvania wore a gold Trident signifying that he was a Navy SEAL. His congregation at Christian Bible Fellowship Church also believed that he had served in Vietnam.
But all that was a lie. Even though he knew his church believed it, he never corrected them.
He finally came clean when people outed him this past weekend:
Don Shipley, a retired SEAL who lives in Chesapeake, Va., said he is one of a few former SEALs who are entrusted by the Navy with maintaining the database containing the names of all SEALS. The database cannot be accessed by the public.
Moats was never a SEAL and never had set foot in Vietnam, Shipley said. The information can be verified through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, he said.
Shipley called Moats on Saturday night to confront him about the issue.
“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,” Shipley said.
Shipley said Moats’ story about being re-assigned to kitchen duty and about being waterboarded were lifted from the Steven Seagal movie “Under Siege,” while his reference to being hit by SEAL instructors was vintage “GI Jane.”
He eventually sat for an interview with The Patriot-News:
Does he deserve any credit for coming clean? Debatable. Seems too little too late for it to be meaningful.
Shipley says there are no plans to prosecute him even if that were an option:
… The pastor has been outed through the Internet in what Shipley said is a form of street justice.
“I don’t lump him in with the worst of the worse. He’s just despicable. Some of these guys are total criminals. I think just having his ass spanked is enough for him that he won’t do it again any longer…” Shipley said.
Wow… so now we know what happens when you factcheck a pastor. Even though this is a drastic case, it highlights the problem of how church leaders can get away with saying just about anything they want — and people will blindly follow them — because they are “men of god.”
Pastors convince their congregations of stories that have no basis in evidence all the time. Is this really that different?
(via Christian Nightmares)