In Ohio’s Grace Cathedral, the Rev. Ernest Angley says he can heal the sick in the name of Jesus. The televangelist is famous for it.
But a stunning series of reports from the Akron Beacon Journal has thrown a spotlight on what many former members of the Cuyahoga Falls church say is a terminal illness plaguing Angley’s empire.
That illness, they say, is Angley himself.
Even for those who don’t know Angley’s church, the allegations are shocking. The 93-year-old televangelist has torn apart families, pressured congregants to get abortions and vasectomies, and turned a blind eye to sexual abuse within his congregation, according to former church members who spoke to Akron Beacon Journal reporter Bob Dyer. There are also allegations of abuse at the hands of Angley.
Pam Cable, who left the Cuyahoga Falls church in 1988, told Dyer that Angley is a “monster.”
The church denies the allegations. On Tuesday, the Christian Post reported, Grace Cathedral called the stories from 21 of its former followers “a bunch of lies.”
The allegations come from several longtime members of the church, some of whom held leadership positions within it. According to the report, former associate pastor Brock Miller, who resigned July 4, told his friends that Angley touched him inappropriately for seven years. According to a friend who spoke to the Beacon Journal anonymously, Miller said he was told the touching was a “special anointing.”
The week after his departure from Grace Cathedral, Miller was shunned at the altar of his former spiritual home. His former fellow pastors called him a “proven liar.”
Writes Dyer: “The dispute exploded on July 13, when Angley and two others in his camp addressed the situation in a 2½-hour open service.” Here’s a snippet of that sermon, from the Beacon Journal:
Angley himself weighed in next, calling Miller’s allegations “dirty lies [from] someone who committed adultery.”
The 93-year-old preacher added, “Brock has been … getting drunk. He was like a zombie. I gave him four hours [in a meeting], but it didn’t do any good. There was not enough to work with.”
Usher Mike Kish joined the parade, telling the congregation, “You’re not fighting flesh and blood. You’re fighting the devil himself, straight from the pits of hell.”
…Added Kish: “Brock Miller’s claims to being homosexually molested — they sound like some kind of horror-flick gay porno thing. The stories are just unbelievable.”
Since that sermon, Dyer writes, “a tear has ripped through the 3,000-seat auditorium.”
Others who left the fold was also shunned. Angelia Oborne spent two decades at Grace before leaving. She told the paper that Angley “divides and conquers families.”
Another former congregant named Kenny Montgomery said that he divorced his first wife when he wanted to leave the church and she didn’t. He remarried, but his own parents didn’t attend the wedding “because it wasn’t ‘of God’ and it wasn’t ordained by Ernest.”
Several others who spoke to the paper described public shunning at the church and the breakups of their marriages or family estrangement stemming from decisions to leave the fold. The shunning and family break-ups have discouraged others to leave the church or speak out.
Multiple former members of the church, speaking both of their own experiences and of others, said that the church’s leadership discouraged its followers from having children and pressured members to have vasectomies or, should they become pregnant, abortions.
“Angley controls virtually every aspect of their lives, from deciding what they read and watch on TV to whom they will marry and when,” Dyer writes.
Although Angley’s national influence has waned since the days when he was inspiring, among other things, classic comedy routines, the pastor’s former followers say the extent of control he had on them runs deep. It’s so strong that many former members referred to the church as a “cult.”
The six-part series runs through next Sunday. You can read what’s been published so far here.