Lately there have been plenty of news stories about religious leaders involved in crimes.
On October 5th members of First Sixth Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas, voted to remove their pastor after they learned he changed his name to escape his criminal past. According to the Southeast Texas Record, church members distributed a petition to remove Rev. Donald Tousaint because "the congregation was unaware that Toussaint was charged with capital murder, kidnapping and armed robbery in 1982 for his role in the robbery of a convenience store, which ended in the deaths of two people."
Also last week Catholic priest Kevin McAuliffe pleaded guilty to embezzling $650,000 to fund his gambling habit. McAuliffe took money from multiple church accounts during an eight-year period and manipulated church financial records to hide his thefts.
This week the press is reporting more of the same. On October 11 three significant crime stories were reported involving two pastors and one ex-pastor.
CBS News reported that Joshua Drucker, a former youth pastor, was convicted of murdering two former friends in 2004.
The Tennessean reported that Pastor Rickey Reed of First Free Methodist Church was caught on camera breaking into one of his parishioners' homes to steal medications. Jean Harris told The Tennessean that after she confronted the pastor for breaking into her house, church members told her not to report Reed to the police.
This fraud is not just an American problem. Jamaican pastor Joan Brown was arrested for smuggling drugs. According to the Jamaica Observer, Brown was arrested while storing 113 ganja pellets in her stomach.
Fraud in the church has existed since the early days of the church. Apostle Paul wrote, "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows." - 1 Timothy 6:10
In January a report in the International Bulletin of Missionary estimated that Christian religious leaders would embezzle $34 billion in 2011. Tragically, that is more money than will be spent on world missions this year.