NY Authorities Reveal Cause of Death of Ex-Hoodlum Megachurch Minister Who Died Mysteriously in Hotel Room

The Reverend Zachery Tims was a troubled young man before he was

“miraculously saved, instantly delivered from drug addiction, and called into ministry,”

according to his megachurch, New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida.

When Tims was fourteen, the young hoodlum was convicted of attempted murder and went to juvie for two years. After finding God, though, he eventually came to be idolized by a congregation of more than 7,000 — and by a broadcast audience of millions via “the largest African-American religious network in the world.”

In 2006, Tims published a book called It’s Never Too Late: How a Teenage Criminal Found His Divine Destiny and Became an Entrepreneur and Pastor of a Thriving Church with a Global Ministry. In it, he thanks Jesus Christ for saving him. Tims saw his own turnaround as a miracle and as living “testimony” that was instrumental in letting others know that

God is in the recycling business and can change a messed-up life and make it beautiful.”

That was until the Lord, in His mysterious ways, guided Tims to a Manhattan hotel room, where He (or was it Satan?) smote the televangelist in August of 2011.

Now we finally know what killed Tims: he went on a drug binge and overdosed.

The New York Medical Examiner’s Office released the cause of death Thursday after a drawn-out legal battle by the Apopka preacher’s mother, Madeline Tims, to keep the cause sealed.

The NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner’s release says Tims died of “acute intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine and heroin.”

Zachery Tims lived his whole adult life selling — literally selling  — how God saved him. But God clearly didn’t, and Mr. Tims died alone in a hotel room like any unsaved two-bit junkie.

The truth of his existence is no longer so shiny and sellable. Tims’ book is still available on Amazon, brand new. Those wishing to learn about the Almighty’s powers and kindness can get the hardcover edition for the special bargain price of $4.35.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • paulalovescats

    That’s cold.

  • Terry Firma

    Acknowledged. I have some sympathy for people with serious drug addictions; no disrespect intended to them. Jesus-selling bullshit-peddlers and deceivers? They can bite me.

  • $84687101

    Sad.

  • CottonBlimp

    It’s very easy to call out anti-gay preachers as hypocrites when they fuck rent boys, but in many ways this kind of hypocrisy is just as damaging.

    People with drug addiction have a real problem, and the people giving them false hope and easy answers are not helping them.

  • smrnda

    Definitely. Look up the program ‘teen challenge’ which marketed itself to courts as a drug treatment program, but which was 100% just a “Jesus is the answer one size fits all” cult program. Or the whole 12 step religion, which people keep selling as effective based on anecdotal evidence but which doesn’t have very good stats. Drug addiction is a medical problem that actual doctors and people using real science exist to solve.

  • CottonBlimp

    True dat. So much of the anti-drug crusade was formed from outright bullshit.

    For instance, much of the modern popular conceptions of addiction were based on a 1960s era experiment with rats and heroine, which found that the rats, if allowed, would obsessively take heroine instead of food or water until they died.

    But a much more recent experiment (dubbed the “Rat Park”) found that rats didn’t even care to take heroine, and would even overcome addiction, when they were living in a healthy, stimulating environment where they were able to socialize. The rats in the previous experiment might have resorted to drug use just because of the trauma of being isolated in cages and tortured daily – and so naturally our policy on drug addicts is to throw them in jail.

  • caprica

    That’s right. And the sooner we stop criminalising this serious medical issue, and start treating it as we do any other condition, the sooner people won’t be shamed out like this guy. It’s shameful that his mother tried to hide the facts, (of his death) and I’m left to wonder about her motives.

  • African RockFish

    Teen Challenge, otherwise known as “sobriety through slave labor and Bible study.”

  • toth

    Wow, Terry. That’s unnecessarily cruel of you. He may have been a con man, but he clearly had a real problem that he didn’t get help for, and “Mr. Tims died alone in a hotel room like any unsaved two-bit junkie” sounds disturbingly gloatish.

  • icecreamassassin

    You know, I see your point. There is a tone in this that I don’t really appreciate, but honestly I can’t point my finger on it.

    But if there is any snideness here, I imagine that it’s manifesting itself from some anger at the guy. I mean, when you think about it, he absolutely had a problem. Beyond pretending that some divine, supernatural entity helped him overcome his problem, *he did his damnedest to convince others that this divine, supernatural entity* could help OTHERS overcome their problems. He explicitly promoted a solution that just would not work, and likely in place of solutions that may have worked (e.g. secular counseling, rehabilitation programs, etc.).

    What he did in his life could be perceived as DANGEROUS. Some people who otherwise may find ACTUAL HELP may have been swayed by him to find FALSE HELP and potentially end up in the same, sad situation that he ended up in.

  • Terry Firma

    ^ What he said.

  • MsC

    And what he did with his life may have prevented him from getting real, substantial help that could have saved his own life. If it got out that he had not only relapsed, but needed more than his God to get and stay sober, there goes the business. So he stuck with what wasn’t working to keep the image up.

  • smrnda

    Let’s also think of how many people this guy probably *did not help* with their drug problems since he was promoting a phony solution, and how people touting faith based solutions lead people away from sensible drug treatment plans and programs.

  • MsC

    I think the point is that he had been elevated — and elevated himself — as somehow “above” the unsaved two-bit junkies because of his religion, because he claimed to have the one-size-fits-all answer. But many addicts in recovery know that trying to differentiate yourself from other addicts — whether it’s through religion or “I’m not like them, I’ve never gotten arrested/gotten a DUI/been fired from a job.” — is the way denial, relapse and hitting bottom lie.

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    Zachery Tims lived his whole adult life selling — literally selling — how God saved him. But God clearly didn’t, and Mr. Tims died alone in a hotel room like any unsaved two-bit junkie.

    I don’t see this sentence as cruel, just direct. Tims *did* use his experience to build a religious empire, he *did* write a book about it and offer god as a solution, he *did* die of a drug overdose, like many drug abusers.

    Cruel INMSHO would’ve been saying something like:

    Zachery Tims was a con-man who robbed poor seniors of their last pennies even while living high on the hog with hookers, blow and fast cars (3 of which, hookers and/or cars, he wrecked on Interstate 69), all the time lying his lies through his lying smug mouth about how God “saved” him. The sonovabiatch died alone in a hotel room after snorting a lethal mixture of coke and heroin off of a pile of dead hookers, unlike the two-bit junkies those dead hookers were. Good riddance for wasted trash. Unfortunately, his victims will turn to another of thousands of other religious con-men and -women, never learning the honest truth that the likes of Tims are lying scum who deserve the hell they preach about for the pain and suffering they promote here on Earth so they can live large for the “lord” aka their bank accounts.

  • ShhhImReading

    Just so you know, my downvote is for how you talk about prostitutes. I know you were purposely trying to be harsh, but sex workers deserve so much more empathy, if not outward respect.

    Otherwise, I think you make a fine point.

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    Damn! I can’t even parody a cruel response without getting a down vote. Glad I didn’t include [redacted], [redacted] and [redacted] in the post like I originally planned!

  • ShhhImReading

    Just leave the hookers out of it.

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    Don’t you mean: “Just leave the [redacted] out of it.”?

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    Damn! I can’t even say “Just leave the [redacted] out of it” without getting a down vote.

  • MindofGod

    Everything in life is a choice. You do not have to be a prostitute. If you are, it is ultimately through choice. I don’t respect the people in the “profession” just because of its pitiful nature or dangerous side effects.

  • smrnda

    Screw the ‘choice’ rhetoric. People with college educated parents living in low-crime affluent areas full of good schools and cultural institutions have choices. Everybody else is stuck with a few shitty choices where they try to pick the one that’s not the absolute worst.

    People end up as prostitutes because of economic desperation, where any talk of *choice* is a meaningless abstraction. Plenty of people get forced into prostitution as well.

    The other thing is, given that marriage has, historically, often been driven by economic reasons, *marriage* has just been a form of prostitution throughout most of history, so I see no reason anyone should judge or shame people who have sex for money. If you don’t like prostitution, make sure there are better economic opportunities. If you don’t like compulsion, fight for rights for sex workers to prevent them from being pimped. All moralizing has ever done is dehumanize sex workers.

  • onamission5

    There is nothing inherently wrong with having sex. There is nothing inherently wrong with giving someone money. But put the two together and suddenly, somehow, it’s a pitiful thing with dangerous side effects?

    If prostitution is dangerous, it is because people who do the work lack any semblance of social support or legal protections for violence done to them. Fix that, and you fix the problem.

  • RedGreenInBlue

    “There is nothing inherently wrong with having sex. There is nothing inherently wrong with giving someone money. But put the two together and suddenly, somehow, it’s a pitiful thing with dangerous side effects?”

    THIS ^^^.

    And it is particularly ironic that doctors used to perform “vaginal massage” on female patients, ostensibly to cure hysteria – and in the days before publicly-funded healthcare, no doubt they were paid well for their troubles. Providing sexual relief for money? Sounds like sex work to me… but hey, maybe it was respectable when men did it! :-/

  • Chris Harmon

    they even created special tools to help them cure women of their *hysteria*, some women had weekly appts with their doctor….

  • Alierias

    if your parents sell you to a pimp when you are just a kid, that’s no choice. If you take what you think is a job as a nanny, or dancer, or waitress, and find yourself imprisoned, with your passport taken away, in some god-forsaken hellhole, which happens to thousands of girls around the world every week, that’s also no choice. If you are abducted, and/or raped, and your family abandons you as “shamed” or tries to kill you to defend the “family honor”, what choice do you have? Spoiled first worlders might have a “choice” to be a sexworker, but trust me, millions don’t.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Sex trafficking and prostitution are not synonymous.

    Sex trafficking is really, really, really bad. We all agree on that. Kidnapping, assault, and rape are serious crimes for a reason. “Honor crimes” are also a travesty, and no one should be forced into prostitution because her selling her body is the only skill she has.

    But what those have to do with sex work, freely chosen, confuses me. Yes, most women don’t like sex work and given the choice, wouldn’t pick that as a job. Some will, however. Why are you denying them that choice of career, instead of regulating and licensing it while going after those who enslave and rape women and girls?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    part of the complication in sex work stems from the fact that many johns do not want female sex workers to like their jobs- it’s part of the “thrill.” many men who use sex workers like to know that they are making a woman do something she would not normally do, except for financial need/desperation.

    imho, this comes from the reality that many men who use sex workers do so because they are odious men, the sort who can’t get dates because their hatred of women is palpable and obvious to women in the dating pool.

    i’m not sure how to address that reality, even as i totally support legalization and regulation of sex work, making it safer for all involved.

  • smrnda

    This is true, which is also why so many sex workers get abused or killed for thrills by some john. The most prolific serial killer in US history Gary Ridgeway did that.

    I think better regulations and such would put sex workers in a position where clients could get screened, and if prostitution was legal with less stigma, a guy who did that could get reported and arrested, the same as someone who ordered a pizza who decided to punch the person delivering it.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    That is a complication, and one I have no idea how to address either. I guess work on other fronts- the whole “we need to teach men that women are people too” thing- is the best we’ve got, and that’s a long, tedious, difficult task.

  • http://appsapps.info/ app

    Everything in life is a choice. You do not have to be a banker. If you are, it is ultimately through choice. I don’t respect the people in the “profession” just because of its pitiful nature or dangerous side effects.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    no, it doesn’t. it sounds like the proper degree of condemnation for a man who most likely was paying for a drug habit by lying to gullible people and pretending he had answers and ways to help them when clearly he did not.

    i was married to a drug addict before i came out. they will say anything, and do anything, to con you out of money for drugs. he did to me, at great cost to me personally and others.

    while i am in COMPLETE agreement with the above posters who are arguing that addiction is a MEDICAL condition and not a “moral” or “spiritual” one, i refuse to defend drug addicts who steal from people to support their habits. are the drugs “making” them do it? maybe. but in the end, we all have to accept responsibility for our actions, however addle-brained we were when we did them.

    his church was likely populated with at least some poor people struggling to feed their children or keep a roof over their heads. he’s one of the “prosperity” xtians, and a more disgusting bunch is hard to find. “give me money (that i don’t have to tell you what i’m really doing with) and Gawd will reward you 100 fold!”

    despicable. doubly so b/c the people he was fleecing were the sort who most opposed drug use of any kind.

    if anything, Terry was too mild.

  • Fallulah

    I was thinking about this last night. “The Church” has always been known for helping the dregs of society (criminals, drug addicts, etc). Nowhere else to turn? Turn to JESUS!

    But really the cure they are offering is a lie, an easy solution and its all veiled in fraud. Sure it can bandage the issues you are having…but look at Ted Haggard and this guy, obviously it doesn’t offer lasting cures. Also, there are so many rules and regulations that go along with getting help from the church.

    I think the Atheist cause would benefit from saying we welcome all people from all walks of life. Criminals, addicts, mentally ill…you got a problem? Yo I’ll solve it! Plus instead of superstitious solutions like, “pray harder!” we can offer the expertise of psychologists, scientists, philosophers….great thinkers are all on OUR SIDE. We have a plethora of resources!

    What do you people think??

  • Malcolm McLean

    You’d just end up running a non-religious / quasi religious therapy cult. There are lots of examples, from acupuncture to Zen.
    Generally addicts grow out of it. At some point, usually in middle age, they realise that they are ruining their lives, and take the decision to stop. Treatment or other intervention may work occasionally, but often does as much harm as good, because triggering the drama around clinic admissions, abstinence programs, backsliding, readmission,, is very reinforcing for a lot of addictive behaviour.
    The term “the Church” normally means the Catholic Church, which has controls which, whilst they can never be entirely effective, mean that this sort of thing is much less likely to happen.

  • baal

    Do you have a mechanism for those “controls” by which the church is miraculously better than other programs?

  • Spuddie

    And there is not one of these methods which is religious run which has shown to be any more effective than any other. Claiming Catholics or any other church based program is more or less likely to have the same results is not based on anything but wishful thinking.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    biochemical addiction is not something you ‘grow out of.’ there are millions of older addicts in this country who prove how wrong you are in that assertion.

    addiction is a medical condition that is best treated with medical science first, and therapy second.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I worked with 210,000 addicts before I retired early in order to save my own life from the consequences of chronic stress. During that time, I saw a few wonderful things, and I saw far too many ghastly things. It left me scarred. I came to appreciate the astonishing power of addiction, and its capricious nature. It took back whichever addict it wanted, whenever it wanted. It took people who had been working hard in every possible way to stay sober, and it left alone people who were being casual and negligent with their efforts, and of course it took many who were negligent and spared many who were diligent.

    The point is that our best efforts were feeble, and the results were consistently inconsistent. If addiction were to have a mind, it was unimpressed by our efforts. It did whatever the hell it wanted.

    I’ve been out of the field for about ten years now, and the only thing I see that has improved is there are more secular programs available as options instead of the classic god-oriented 12-step programs. So far, I haven’t seen convincing data that our secular methods are any less ineffective than any other. That’s how I see it, not in terms of one method being more effective than another, but one method being maybe a little less ineffective than another. Treatment for addiction remains a much bigger failure than treatment for cancer.

    I hope down to the bottom of my broken heart that I’m wrong. I really hope that I’ve missed the news about some new method that actually helps better than the collection of futilities we’ve tried so far. People are constantly making claims about how their new method is very effective, but then it just limps along like all the others, and people keep dying. There’s so much pain and misery in addiction that there’s a lot of money to be made by coming up with new straws for the desperate to grasp. I’m open to convincing evidence of something that actually works.

    Mr. Tims’ addiction never left him. It was just in remission. When it came back it was just as strong as it would have been if he had never stopped. As alcoholics in AA often say, “My disease is doing push-ups in the next room.” So far, we have no scientific explanation for this effect; it’s just demonstrated again and again whenever a long-time recovering addict starts using again. The disease quickly makes up for lost time.

    It doesn’t matter what method Mr. Tims tried, or what method he sold to others. So far, none of the methods anyone is using work well. They’re all feeble and unreliable. So let’s not condemn him for what he tried and what he sold. It’s moot.

    Let’s just feel sad for another human being who died in pain, confusion, loneliness, self-shame, and despair. If we are smug about him, we are whittling away at our own humanity. Let’s not do that.

  • onamission5

    Thanks for this, Richard.

  • smrnda

    This may seem a bit cynical of me, but I sometimes think addiction cannot be solved, just managed, and that maybe the best thing to do is just get someone some cleaner drugs that don’t have such drastic effects. A friend of mine who used heroin died of an OD despite program after program. I also know someone who remains alive on a program that just accepts the person will be on methadone for life.

    On addiction – what you say about remission tends to be true. It can take years of drug use to establish addiction in the first place, but re-establishing addiction seems rather quick.

    I hate referring to drug users as ‘junkies’ or ‘crackheads’ because they’re real people, not just addicts.

  • Alierias

    Thank you for your work with the addicted. You are 110% correct saying that addiction is never cured, or dead, only beaten back for that day. Every day is a battle.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i’m sorry i missed it when this thread was live, as there is so much worth discussing in it. thank you, Richard, for your efforts. i know you made a positive difference.

    i will say that addiction is a problem in our world… because the Powers that Be want it that way. any number of writers have explored the sad truth of this fact, from a lot of different angles. but it’s beyond clear: our society doesn’t fund the programs that have high rates of success (or at least, higher) ON PURPOSE. imho, the main reason why is b/c there is HUGE money to be made treating addicts. treating them like criminals (prison-industrial complex). treating them like junkies who need to switch to a ‘better’ drug (BigPharma). treating them like a political football, for personal gain (pretty much both parties in this country). treating them like desperate people turning to awful things, when moderate alternatives like pot are totally possible (i’m looking at you, Obama DoJ, Holder).

    more money for treatment and counseling are not the only answer. but we really don’t even bother to make an honest effort, in most cases. i have a lot of rich friends who ‘experimented’ with addictive substances in their youth and they all have the same habits and problems they had back in the day. the difference is $$$. they can afford to clean up, in one way or another, and cover over their continual problems with drugs. the poor are merely fodder for the industries i mentioned, and that’s why they continue to suffer. neither group really has access to a logical system by which they could potentially managed their biochemical conditions that have resulted from drug abuse.

  • TheGodless

    I am sure you have probably heard of it, but there is a promising “treatment” for Heroin addicts that seems to work more often than not at breaking the addiction and is ripe for scientific study, but of course is currently illegal in the US, called Ibogaine and then of course science has already given many addicts freedom and normalcy by way of Subutex or Suboxone. Since this replacement drug therapy is not abusable in it’s film form, it seems to have a higher rate of success and it almost immediately stops withdrawals and the desire for addicts to seek and use. From the short time it has been in existence, Subutex appears to be a decent replacement therapy. Besides these more recent treatments, science does seem on the verge of discovering a way to break the addiction at the root of the problem in the mind. It has been done with mice, but not yet made it’s way to us humans yet.

  • invivoMark

    “Zachery Tims lived his whole adult life selling — literally selling — how God saved him. But God clearly didn’t, and Mr. Tims died alone in a hotel room like any unsaved two-bit junkie.”

    That’s remarkably judgmental language, there, and uncalled for. Mr. Tims may have really believed the lie he was telling people, and he may have been struggling for a long time, trying to live up to the name he had made for himself while cutting himself off from real help.

    We just don’t know enough details of his life to judge him.

  • ShhhImReading

    I agree. I don’t think this man was ever free of addiction, he simply found a new one: Jesus. When you don’t correct the fundamental thing that needs a “drug,” the addict won’t be free of any addiction, and will easily “backslide”.

  • randomfactor

    He may not even have been free of the original addiction. A ready source of money like a ministry can buy you a whole lot healthier place to take drugs. So can a prescription pad preprinted with your name.

  • http://appsapps.info/ app

    It wasn’t Jesus that he traded his addiction to drugs for. It was attention seeking. That is what replaced the drugs and provided the extra endorphins. He could have just as easily gone into politics to get that same kind of attention and the endorphins it would have provided, or taken up running or something else that would have provided it to him. He was an addict the whole time, since childhood, most likely.

  • brian t

    “And he’s climbing a Speedball … to Heaven!”

  • John Conolley

    The phrase “two-bit junkie” bothers me. Junkies are our fellow human beings, and they can’t have had an easy time of it.

  • jen

    Exactly. You wouldn’t say “two-bit diabetic.”

  • freeethinker

    diabetics do not usually have a choice.

  • jen

    Are you referring to type 2 diabetes, the far more common form which is strongly influenced by body weight? Addiction is a disease. Just because something has a behavioral component doesn’t mean you can just snap out of it.

  • Robert Jory

    You have to use it before you become addicted to it.

  • TheGodless

    This is simply and scientifically untrue. Some people have a genetic predisposition to become addicted. People that have this predisposition are addicted before they ever use. This is why a person without the genetic predisposition can use and stop.

  • Robert Jory

    Ok, so the mother used and the addiction is passed on to the baby because it entered their system as well. At what point does the child at what ever age use for the first time? If they don’t use then it shouldn’t be a problem. If they are suffering from withdrawal how do they know what to use to get their fix? So again I say, they have to use before they’re addicted.

  • http://appsapps.info/ app

    They don’t have to use to become addicted. Anybody with a genetic predisposition to addiction are already addicted to the increased endorphins they get through any activity that will provide it, be it drugs, alcohol, sex, internet usage, procrastination, gambling, sky diving, food, being in the public eye (attention seeking), exercise, work, criminal behavior, or whatever. And some hop from one thing to the next when the one doesn’t do it for them any more. Seems like this guy hopped from criminal behavior to drugs to attention seeking and back to drugs again, an addict to the extra endorphins, the whole time. He never learned to live with that addiction safely, so he didn’t know where to turn when he needed the extra boost of endorphins he was jonesing for, when the attention seeking failed him. He didn’t know he had to vary the activities and stay away from the fatally dangerous ones. He was never given a list of safe alternatives to give him that extra boost he needed, when he needed it. One of the reasons why the 12 step programs work for some people is because it trades one addiction for another (alcohol or drugs for attention seeking), where they get their fix by getting people to pay attention to them at the meetings. That becomes their new source for their high.

  • freeethinker

    yes type 2 can be influenced by overweight but i would bet most cases are not caused by it and i did use the word “usually” to indicate there are exceptions. he had a choice not to get into drug taking in the first place, didn’t he? he would have been aware of the possible consequences but chose to ignore the risks, didn’t he?

  • Peter Naus

    Just to clarify your point here… By far the overwhelming majority of type 2 or late-onset diabetes is obesity.

    I don’t have the exact figures in front of me, but here in Australia, more than 80% of t2 diabetes is obesity. And I’m not just picking on the fatties. We’re talking food quantity as well as quality, and exercise is THE contributing factor.

    Diet and exercise are actually the magic bullet. Both of these are choices.

    Speaking as someone with chronic intractable pain, I’m completely unable to exercise, so despite extreme dietary restrictions, my own T2 markers are now in the critical zone, and I truly don’t have a choice. (Well, I guess I could’ve chosen a different route home all those years ago, and avoided a date with a stationary vehicle in the middlle of the road, but as The Oracle said in The Matrix, sometimes we can’t see beyond our own choices!)

    Now, fighting opiate addiction, chronic depression, and without acceptable pain management, my choices, like all others in a similar situation, are almost non-existent. And I’m one of the lucky ones!

    Still, the overwhelming majority of future diabetics DO have a simple choice right now. As do all drug users/abusers. The choice isn’t easy, but it IS simple.

  • god free zone

    he had a choice.

  • http://toperfectlaughter.wordpress.com Jace Paul

    Addiction is highly heritable and a bona fide mental illness. It isn’t clear how much of a “choice” he had. In any event, atheism has the burden of proof and the brilliance of reason on its side. To resort to cheap “got ya!” shots over a man’s untimely death isn’t a good argument, it’s juvenile behavior.

  • Robert Jory

    The man said one thing and died doing the other. It’s no cheap shot to point that out.

  • TheGodless

    And that is a typical addict behavior (saying one thing, doing another) and not indicative of person’s addiction-free morality and ethics and since addiction is a mental illness, there is no way around this not being a cheap shot and there is no way rational people should be buying into the punitive myths that sadly continue to be societal norms.

  • Terry Firma

    No disrespect was intended to drug abusers and addicts. I spent some of my formative years around seriously addicted people and have always retained a basic empathy for what they’re going through.

    I have no such warm feelings for Jesus-loving hypocrites who sell a glossy fake reality of themselves and invite others to join the cult. “Believe in the Lord and you can too can be saved and share in his wealth” — all based on a lie, and if not on a lie, a delusion.

    By dying as he did, Zachery Tims revealed himself to be just another bullshit artist behind the curtain. Yet again, the great Oz turned out to be a mere man — and not one worthy of admiration, let alone emulation.

    By perpetrating the falsehood that addicts will be saved if only they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, he kept them from getting actual professional treatment. To me, that’s the real travesty here.

  • MindofGod

    Do you feel compelled to shoot up speedballs? No? Then the wiring in your brain is fine and you shouldn’t be troubled that you don’t succumb to addiction. I rather think it’s poetic justice for his deceit. He never changed; just pretended to.

  • Croquet_Player

    Relapse is a danger for recovering addicts. I feel very sorry for him. I have real concerns about the “higher power” aspect requirement of many 12 step programs.

  • RedClownshoes

    I know the tone sounds harsh but I can understand where Terry is coming from. I’m willing to bet this is not the first time Tims did this. Addicts tend relapse until they get real help, and may even relapse then. So that would mean that the whole time Tims was preaching how god cleaned him up and turned is life around he was still getting high. So he was selling a cure to people that didn’t cure him and may have prevented others from seeking better help.

  • onamission5

    If he’d died from the effects of an untreated mental illness, I would bet there’d be a lot less gloating and a lot more discussion of how toxic the ideology of salvation can be, especially for people with serious prior problems.

    Look, I get that he was a bullshit peddler. But somewhere along the way someone sold to him what he ended up selling as a cure all, somewhere along the way someone convinced him that their snake oil was the salve for his ills. I think he is a victim here as much as those who were taken in by his preaching. I take no pleasure in his death.

  • jen

    Terribly sad that he never got any real treatment. I guess you become invested in perpetuating the idea that you were ‘instantly delivered’ and neither you nor those around you have any motivation to do anything that will actually help.

  • Dave

    Would he do any better had he not become a Christian? To quote some research:

    Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation. Unaffiliated subjects were younger, less often married, less often had children, and had less contact with family members. Furthermore, subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide. In terms of clinical characteristics, religiously unaffiliated subjects had more lifetime impulsivity, aggression, and past substance use disorder. No differences in the level of subjective and objective depression, hopelessness, or stressful life events were found.

    An addict relapsing shouldn’t be particularly surprising.

  • Stev84

    Replacing the addiction to drugs with an addiction to religion isn’t helping either.

  • Guest

    Fuck you Terry Firma. Your journalistic integrity is nil, your writing is shoddy, and now you’re gloating over a man’s untimely death. You are the reason blogs have no future in atheism.

  • OhioAtheist

    I take no joy in this man’s death, regardless of his religious beliefs or personal failings.

  • Randy Wanat

    Religion != Recovery

  • Richard Thomas

    If there is a silver lining, maybe some of the fleece for the faith healers will think twice after reading this.

  • Darren Wilson

    It won’t change any of their parasitic practices as long as the money keeps coming in.

  • Stephen Rowley

    I just feel sorry for the guy tbh

  • http://toperfectlaughter.wordpress.com Jace Paul

    Imagine
    if a popular atheist died in a similar manner. The theists would be
    jumping all over it as an example of how atheism must have been related
    to addiction, and no doubt reveling in the person’s demise.

    Such
    behavior would be wrong from theists and it’s wrong here. We’re
    supposed to be more rational and I daresay compassionate than this. I’m
    disappointed.

  • http://toperfectlaughter.wordpress.com Jace Paul

    Science is the reason for my atheism and the scientific perspective on addiction is that it’s complex, highly related to genetics, and indeed a form of mental illness. We should recoil at the idea of mocking the mentally ill, especially for no other end but to score a cheap “got ya!” point over theists.

    The man may have been a con artist, and for that he should be roundly criticized. But to suggest causation between his theism and his addiction is unscientific and frankly, reeks of a baser human motive than the pursuit of truth.

  • Mario Strada

    I am not sure I have read any correlation between theism and addiction in Terry’s piece and it didn’t occur to me to judge him in that context until I read your post.

    The first thing that came to my mind where reading the news of his demise was simply that this is a guy that built an image and a company, as well as a ministry, on his becoming sober at the hand of Jesus. And it turned out to be false. Jesus didn’t cure him at all.

    Now, I don’t know if this was the first time since he was “cured” that he decided to party in that hotel room (which could be a cause for his demise. If I took the kind of done I needed back when I was using today, it would kill me on the spot) or if he was doing it frequently.
    If this was a unique relapse, I’d be more willing to be forgiving of his ministry, but if he was doing it frequently while counseling others as the “junkie that was saved by Jesus” he deserves all of our contempt.

    From personal experience, I tend to believe he had been doing this all along. I don’t know with what frequency, but ex addicts rarely restart with Speedballs. It takes a lot more planning to do that. It tells me that very probably this was something he did rather frequently.

  • Derrik Pates

    And since his mom was apparently pretty adamant about the ME’s office *not* releasing the report detailing his cause of death, methinks she had some idea about what was really going on.

  • Terry Firma

    Are you for real? Could you please direct me to the passage where I suggest a causation between Tims’ God-belief and his addiction?

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    But only if the atheist had built his atheist career on overcoming his drug addiction with the help and intervention of, say, Richard Dawkins and The God Delusion. What are the odds of that?

    Otherwise, it can’t be considered equivalent.

  • http://toperfectlaughter.wordpress.com Jace Paul

    But many of us do indeed claim that atheism and rational thinking are morally and intellectually superior to theism. I think it’s rather the basis of just about any appeal from the FFRF, American Atheists, etc.

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    I think you are comparing apples to quarks.

    Religious hucksters such as Tims offer supernatural healing and financial bounty (i.e. rewards from god) for supporting their ministry in a spiritual lottery system (money in, to their pockets) that they never have to actually have to pay out (god must be testing you or the devil is attacking you).

    FFRF and AA don’t. They fight to prevent further incursions of religion into our secular government. The donations they take in have to pay out to ads, lawyers & etc.

    No fair comparison can be made that they are equivalent.

  • http://toperfectlaughter.wordpress.com Jace Paul

    I think my point is simply this: atheism has the burden of proof and the brilliance of rational thinking on its side. There’s no need to try to link this man’s theism to his addiction. Criticize his charlatan ways and the dearth of proof for faith healing, absolutely. But nothing is gained from delighting in another human being’s demise, except perhaps a selfish feeling of superiority for a man who, sadly, has no opportunity to change at this point.

  • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

    No, you don’t get to do that. You actively and directly compared two sets that are not comparable and then, when faced with that error, you go off in another direction.

    Tims himself linked his addiction recovery to his religion. What more causation do you need?

    Additionally, no fair reading of my responses on this thread, even the tongue-in-cheek “cruel” comment, can be considered to “delight” in this man’s death.

  • http://toperfectlaughter.wordpress.com Jace Paul

    I’m referring to Terry’s tone, not yours. In any case I’ll gladly abandon the comparison as an error and hope that will satisfy your desire to resolve the debate.

  • Terry Firma

    “There’s no need to try to link this man’s theism to his addiction. ”

    Agree one hundred percent. And I didn’t. You’re making this up. Not what I expected from someone so eager to present himself as “rational.”

  • A3Kr0n

    Sounds like a possible suicide to me. He was an experienced drug user, not a young person just getting started.

  • smrnda

    Now and then you can end up with product that’s stronger or more concentrated than you’re used to, and mixing cocaine and heroin isn’t a wise choice. I can’t be totally sure it isn’t suicide, but an OD isn’t too improbable.

  • A3Kr0n

    Yes, that is another good possibility.

  • Mario Strada

    For starters, speedballs kill. They are much more dangerous than the two drugs taken separately.

    If he wanted to kill himself (like the posters above imply) he would have used only heroin. A lot of it. It would have been much less painful. A speedball, depending on quantity can be a pretty bad experience.

    To me this is accidental. It’s possible the good preacher did this on “special occasions” and this time he got caught by a very pure dose or that he did it often and this time he was unlucky or his body gave out. (it not impossible, I had a heroin habit for 5 years, but kept a job, paid my bills, run a company at some point etc. The only difference is that I had to spend 1 to 3 hours a day searching for my fix).

    I don’t think Terry was too heavy handed or disrespectful with this guy. His kind of hypocrisy is far more dangerous than what regular people may engage into.

    As I said, I was a junkie for many years (many years ago) but I wasn’t writing self help books on how to get off junk.

  • Archer

    I don’t like the tone of Firma’s article. Zach Tims may or may not have been a hypocrite. Firma certainly is not in a position to know. It’s possible that Tims believed what he was teaching but succumbed to the power of drugs.

  • Neko

    I was in the process of writing something similar when you posted this pithy response.

    Agreed.

  • http://toperfectlaughter.wordpress.com Jace Paul

    Ah, yes, but where’s the fun in a nuanced position tempered by compassion? Making assumptions permits us the momentary thrill of gloating over a man’s untimely demise.

  • kaydenpat

    Is it necessary to mock him after his death? Yeah, he was a hypocrite but still. Also what does the fact that he was an “ex-hoodlum” have to do with his overdose? Dying from a drug addiction happens to people from all walks of life.

  • Mario Strada

    I think that was the way he described himself that way. It was part of his hypocrisy.

  • Terry Firma

    Zachery Tims sold himself as an ex-gangster who was saved by Jeebus. He marketed the hell out of his troubled background in promoting his ministry and his book. But when I mention that he’s a former hoodlum, I’m “mocking” him? Huh.

    You imply you want more understanding and less coarseness in this debate, but you were happy to upvote the “Fuck you Terry Firma” comment above. Huh, squared.

  • Matt D

    That’s a shame, as not only was he collecting money by telling people of a “cure” that never worked, he was also clearly using his wealth to maintain (if not increase) his addiction.

    Losing access to all that money and power might have saved his life, if anyone had bothered to point out his hipocrisy. I have serious doubts that he was able to hide it from everyone until this overdose occured, especially when his mother made the effort to hide the truth from others. If he was, than we can only hope people learn a lesson, and maintain better relationships with their spirtual leaders than simply listening to what they say without any scrutiny.

  • $925105

    Just another bullshit artist conning people out of money to fund his drug habit. Karma’s a bitch, ain’t it?

  • diogeneslamp0

    The religious industrial complex is all about making money. The reason why conservative Christianity is more powerful in America compared to other developed nations is because Americans are greedy– excuse me, I meant they aspire to prosperity– and the religious industrial complex has figured out how to exploit that economic, materialist aspiration, how to sacralize it, to sanctify it, to dress it in flowery Biblical words that take a material greed and call it a spiritual need– that take a crass class aspiration, a mean, grasping want and tell people it’s sacred– because God understands your wanting what other people have, God approves, God approves so strongly that your greed is morally superior to the other graspers, better than they, above them, lifted up, sanctified– because you deserve it more, you do. You want that Mercedes? God wants you to have it.

    If you can learn to sacralize American greed, perfume it with incense and Bible passages, combine it with sex-terror, the fear of death, sexual and economic envy, hatred of the Other, and resentment of the “parasites” who hold your audience back from getting what they deserve– whip those together and you’ll get a private jet and your own network.

  • Robert Jory

    Come! The Lord will save you! Just give me all your money and drink this koolaid…

  • WalterWhite007

    Skydaddy works in mysterious ways that no one can understand or know say the faithful ….EXCEPT….when those same faithful are telling you how skydaddy wants you to live your life.
    Skydaddy is so mysterious sometimes it’s almost like it isn’t there!

  • Matt Ranson

    I don’t like using personal tragedies to further atheism. Laughing at Ted Haggard for having gay sex is one thing given his outspoken opinions of gays, but to take a shot at a man that died because of his mental illness is different.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I’m glad someone noticed.

  • Without Malice

    Is the pulpit populated by anyone other than hypocrites, going all the way back to the beginning, where the great leader sent out his seventy followers telling them to take no money, or food, or extra clothing while he kept Judas around to take care of his own money. Where did that money come from? How come we don’t read in the gospels the stories of Jesus passing the plate around? And really, it seems that every time you turn around Jesus is in someone’s home chowing down on a free meal. What’s up with that? The guy really seemed to like taking advantage of other people’s hospitality.

  • Matt Ranson

    For all we know this may have been a one time slip up. It’s common for former addicts that slip up to end up overdosing. The reason is that with these drugs, especially opiates, addicts build up a huge tolerance to these drugs. This tolerance recedes when they quit. Then when they slip up and go on a binge, they take the same dose that they used before quitting. Therefore, a person in that situation is at a high risk of overdose.