A Christian Fraud Returns

A Christian Fraud Returns April 2, 2014

When I was a Christian as a teenager in the early 80s, Mike Warnke was a big star in that world. He was a stand up comic who claimed to be a former Satanic high priest, but a few years later he was shown to be a fraud by a pair of Christian journalists. But it seems he’s now making a comeback, with a little help from Rick Joyner.

Warnke is going to be speaking at an event called the 50+ Joshua and Caleb Generation Gathering, put on by Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries. The website praises Warnke as a man of God with no mention at all of the fact that he was shown to be a liar:

Mike Warnke – “I’ve known Mike for many years. When I first heard him speak, I thought he was the funniest man I had ever heard. We need humor, and we’ll need more of it as these times unfold. Yet we also need the other great devotion Mike has—saving the lost and delivering those who are in bondage.” ~Rick Joyner

As Richard Bartholomew notes, Joyner also helped resurrect the career of Jim Bakker. In fact, he bought the Heritage USA theme park that Bakker and his ex-wife Tammy Faye used to defraud people back in the 80s and that is where this conference is being held. So he might as well feature one con man on the grounds built by another.

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  • tsig

    Old con men never go away, they just make another altar call.

  • Reptile Dysfunction

    When I was a Very Young Christian, many years before Ed’s era, there was a

    glut of musicians who made the rounds of the revival meetings, some selling

    their autobiographies. They all claimed to have been in Satan’s grasp, sinking

    deep in sin, playing jazz in smoky clubs every night until they heard the good news

    & came to Jesus. The music in the churches on those evenings was often more

    interesting than usual.

  • matty1

    Heritage USA theme park

    Is it just me or does this sound, really, really horrible? I shudder to think what kind of rides this theme park has – one where you sit on a cart and are slowly moved past films of various political speeches maybe.

  • matty1

    Oh and wikipedia lists it under abandoned theme parks. It seems a lot of what was there has been demolished and/or sold off and what is left is a hotel and a cluster of buildings they rent to various churches.

  • dingojack

    “The website praises Warnke as a man of God with no mention at all of the fact that he was shown to be a liar:”

    For Fundies — aren’t ‘man of god’ and ‘liar’ synonyms?


  • D. C. Sessions

    The website praises Warnke as a man of God with no mention at all of the fact that he was shown to be a liar:

    They had to keep his list of qualifications short, so they skipped the common ones.

  • John Pieret

    We need humor,

    Don’t worry … you’ve been providing the rest of us a lot of it, practically every time you open your mouth. But a word of advice … if you want to be truely funny, stop trying to turn the US into a theocracy. Then we can alll just sit back and laugh.

  • caseloweraz

    And speaking of comebacks, whatever happened to Marjoe Gortner?

  • ruthstl

    Come and I will make you phishers of men.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … delivering those who are in bondage.

    I can’t help but visualize big vans packed with deliciously writhing bottoms half-wrapped in leather, rope, and chains…

  • tbp1

    There is nothing fundies, or conservatives (largely overlapping but not synonymous groups), can do that they won’t be forgiven for as long as they pretend to be sorry and say the right things about God, gays, guns and abortion. And Obamacare.

  • dingojack

    Pierce R. Butler – bearing in mind Rick Joyner’s (et al.) kink, I’m visualising a van full of ‘Leeds Leather lovelies, deliciously, deliciously deranged’*.

    That’ll get them crying out for Jesus!



    * See: John Cooper Clarke

  • Michael Heath

    I went to a Christian youth meeting in South Bend, IN when I was in my mid-teens back in the mid-1970s. Mike Warnke was the featured speaker. He did at least two sermons at that event, perhaps more. I remember his spiel because it was one the first encounters I had from a church leader who didn’t behave like a loyal member of the John Birch society. The musicians at that same festival were also feebly trying to ape secular rock and folk artists.

    There I bought Mr. Warnke’s biography; it was very titillating. I recall the book being a lousy argument to become a devout enough Christian that you better separated yourself from the ‘the world’. That was a major conservative Christian initiative of that era given the predominance of drugs, sex, and rock and roll – which was even infecting devout congregants by the mid-1970s.

    Instead the book effectively promoted the pleasures of promiscuity. I sensed Warnke was cynically leveraging a sheepish marketplace that didn’t want a book to scare them deeper into Christianity, but instead would provide them with a guilt-less way to get-off on Warnke’s sex-fueled narratives of evildom. From that perspective I think he was successful.

  • dingojack

    A sermon something like this?

    Surely that would right up their alley*.



    The Devil’s Playground (1976). Writer/Director: Fred Schepisi. Tom Kennelly as Father Marshall

  • bryanfeir

    Four years ago, Fred Clark at Slacktivist wrote a blog entry (TF: The Illuminati). He talks about Selling Satan, the 1990s book by the ‘pair of Christian journalists’ mentioned above that demolished Warnke’s career at the time, including comments by the authors that show how… poor Warnke actually was at being a con man.

    Formidable chronological problems exist in [Warnke’s alleged memoir] The Satan Seller, totally apart from the historical investigative research which appears in this book. These discrepancies could have been uncovered by anyone else in the past 20 years … with minimal research. But nobody took the time to do the math.

    “Formidable chronological problems,” in that paragraph, is a euphemism for “clumsy, obvious and flagrant lying.” This is what fascinates me. Mike Warnke’s success as a lying con artist was not due to his skill as a snakeoil salesman. It was due to his stumbling across an audience desperately eager to spend its money on snakeoil.

    He also makes note of an entry about Mike Warnke’s meeting with Tim LaHaye, one of the authors of Left Behind and husband of Beverly LaHaye. In particular, LaHaye, Bircher conspiracy nut that he was, may have inadvertently given Warnke the extra bits to add to his story to take him from a small town ‘escaped from a coven’ con-man to a full-bore ‘Satanists are infiltrating our country!’ con-man.

  • wscott

    I’m embarassed to admit I bought Warnke’s schtick back in the early 80s.

    I remember his spiel because it was one the first encounters I had from a church leader who didn’t behave like a loyal member of the John Birch society.

    I think that was a large part of his appeal: he was hip & cool, and he had “street cred” (all BS, we know now). And he had a sense of humor, about teh church and abaout himself; some of his comedy routines weren’t awful, like his Navy boot camp stories. So you could stay in church, but still feel like a rebel compared to those Stuffed Shirts over there.

  • wscott

    I will be curious to hear if Warnke maintains his bullshit I Was A Satanist High Priest line, ignores it and the thorough debunking it received, or plays the Penitent Sinner card.