October 2, 1931 |
Passaic, New Jersey, US
|Other names||Dr. Morris Cerullo|
|Occupation||Televangelist, inspirational speaker, missionary, author,|
|Religion||Judaism, then Christianity (Pentecostal)|
|Children||David (b. 1952)
Susan (b. 1954)
Mark (b. 1957-1993)
|Founder, Morris Cerullo World Evangelism
Founder, Morris Cerullo Schools of Ministry
Early life and ministry
Cerullo, whose evangelistic ministry is based in San Diego, was born in Passaic, New Jersey to a Russo-Jewish/Italian family, and still describes himself as "a little Jew preacher." His parents died in an automobile accident when he was two years old. By virtue of being of half Jewish parentage, he was then raised in an Orthodox Jewish orphanage in nearby Clifton, in which he claims to have been led out of by heavenly messengers. This experience then led him to believing in Jesus Christ at age 14. From this experience, he began preaching the gospel at the age of sixteen, after claiming to have seen a vision from God, in which he witnessed people suffering torments in Hell. He attended and graduated from divinity school in New York state in 1953, and began ministering with the help of his then soon-to-be bride Theresa. In the early 1950s, he was ordained in the Assemblies of God.
Schools of Ministry
For many years Morris Cerullo conducted repeated "Schools of Ministry" in several countries like Mexico, Brazil, The Philippines, Korea, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Indonesia, Netherlands and many others. During these "SOMs" one of the days of the conferences he would preach in an open air crusade, or a large theater/arena, and lead people in a commitment to Jesus Christ and then would pray for healings to happen in the crowd. He would have the school of ministry students test the genuineness of the reports from the people's testimonies. After the large mass meetings he would charge the "SOM" school of ministry students to reach out to their countryman with the same message being inspired by the results of the public rally. Cerullo often stated that not he, but Jesus Christ was the healer. He would encourage faith in, as he would say, "the written and the living word of God."
The Cerullos are the parents of three children, David (b. 1952), Susan (b. 1954) and Mark (b. 1957). Cerullo still travels as a missionary, and in the 2014 World Conference, he stated that God told him that 'Prophets never retire!'. Cerullo and his son David, who serves as Inspiration Network's CEO, were both featured in a May 23, 2009. Charlotte Observer article.
In 1990, Cerullo purchased, from the United States Federal Bankruptcy Court in Columbia, South Carolina, the assets of Jim Bakker's bankrupt ministry, PTL. These assets included the Heritage USA Christian theme park in Fort Mill, South Carolina which he purchased in partnership with Malayan United Industries (Berhad). After a dispute with his business partners over his issuance of discount cards to the theme park, the Malaysian entity bought out Cerullo's interest in Heritage USA.
The Inspiration Network (INSP)
As a part of his agreement to purchase Heritage USA, the bankruptcy court also approved Cerullo's $7 million offer to purchase PTL's cable television network, The Inspirational Network, which was renamed INSP-The Inspiration Network and transferred into a new, separate entity, The Inspiration Networks. Cerullo's son, David, has served as the corporation's President & CEO, and as a member of its board of directors since its formation. In 2005 he was elected to serve as its chairman. The organization, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, is currently building a new multi-million dollar broadcast headquarters facility known as "The City of Light" in Lancaster County, South Carolina. This was opened on March 1, 2009.
Cerullo has proven to be a highly controversial figure, with concerns being raised about his fund-raising practices. Over the years Cerullo has been criticized for the manner and style of his fundraising practices in the developed countries to finance his mission work.
As a Christian of Jewish origin, he has carried a few evangelistic campaigns targeted at the Jewish community, drawing some condemnation from anti-missionary organizations and claims of deceptive practices.
While no charges were brought against Cerullo's ministry, Cerullo was found to have underrepresented his income for 1998 through 2000. However, on August 8, 2007, the US District Court, Southern District of California ordered that the indictment be dismissed as a consequence of the prosecutor's inaccurate explanation of the Duberstein test to the jury. An extract from the ruling was published on Cerullo's website.
Cerullo's activities in the United Kingdom have attracted considerable critical attention, particularly during the early 1990s.
In 1991, British authorities suspended the license of a satellite station for broadcasting the program, Victory with Morris Cerullo. The license was reinstated after the station agreed to precede the program with the disclaimer, "Morris Cerullo World Evangelism cannot substantiate the claims made by those participants featured in this programme," and advising all persons suffering from illness to seek medical attention.
Following Cerullo's Mission to London in 1992, a documentary on the BBC, Newsround, reported that a lady called Audrey Reynolds stopped taking medication for epilepsy (although she was never instructed or advised to do so by the ministry) after she believed herself to have been healed during Cerullo's rally. She subsequently died following a seizure in her bath. The story was also reported in a Christian newspaper. Another report from this crusade claimed that Cerullo pronounced a four-year-old cancer sufferer to be free from the disease, yet she died from it just two months later.
Cerullo has claimed that giving money to send evangelistic booklets to Jewish people would result in family members becoming Christians. Rev Dr Chris Wright, principle of All Nations Christian College, denounced Cerullo's methods as "spiritually perverted and pastorally disastrous". The Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was quoted as being "deeply distressed by missionary tactics specifically targeted against Jews".
Subsequently, Cerullo was challenged on British television to produce his three best examples of claimed miraculous healing for scrutiny by a panel of doctors. Their final report was "there is no evidence that anything has occurred that is outside the realm of normal clinical experience".
Cerullo did resign from the Evangelical Alliance in 1996 after the Advertising Standards Authority upheld four complaints against him relating to his claims of being able to offer miraculous healing to the disabled. Following Cerullo's resignation, Britain's then largest church, Kensington Temple, also left the Alliance in protest.
In 1999, the Christian Channel, a UK cable channel, broadcast an advertisement for one of Cerullo's European rallies which claimed that "Satanic hordes" had "occupied the principal palaces of power." As a result, the channel was fined £20,000 for breaching advertising codes requiring political impartiality, for denigrating other religious beliefs, for potentially frightening viewers, and for making statements prejudicial of "respect for human dignity".
Cerullo was expelled from India in 1992 after disturbances erupted at one of his rallies. The Times of India reported, "A so-called miracle healer, Morris Cerullo, who prefers to call himself a man of God, was declared 'persona non-grata' and bundled out of the country by Calcutta police this morning after mass healing services on Park Circus Maidan yesterday evening turned into a fiasco when members of the crowd stormed the dais challenging the efficacy of his healing power". A later article in the San Diego Union Tribune declared that "Cerullo worked a crowd of 30,000 – many of them sick – into a frenzy for two hours and then pronounced them cured, prompting many in the crowd to call him a cheat".
- Zeigler, James R. (2002). "Cerullo, Morris". In Stanley M. Burgess. The new international dictionary of Pentecostal and charismatic movements. (Rev. and expanded ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House. p. 472. ISBN 0310224810.
- Surging ministry, growing questions, Charlotte Observer, May 23, 2009
- A Man of God or a Fraud
- Article about Cerullo from "Deception In The Church" website
- Missionaries dupe Jewish newspapers across country
- Archived October 24, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Tomasson, Robert E. (August 14, 1991). "Chronicle". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
- Google News
- Haville, Mark (June 1997). "Giving their lives to the faith". Evangelicals Now. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
In 1992 Christians were shocked by the death of Audrey Reynolds, a 25-year-old from Clapham in London who died after attending Morris Cerullo's Mission to London. Audrey drowned in her bath having abandoned her epilepsy medication
- Clip of Cerullo claiming the healing on YouTube
- Haville, Mark (June 1997). "Giving their lives to the faith". Evangelicals Now. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
Another sad case from the Mission to London 1992 was that of the beautiful four-year-old African girl Natalia Barned who had neuroblastoma (a childhood cancer growing above the kidney). She was pronounced healed by Cerullo after she showed an absence of pain. The following day Cerullo led the congregation in thanks to God for healing of the cancer. Tragically, within two months, she had died of that same disease
- Brown, Andrew (1993-08-06). "Church press rejects Cerullo's adverts: Fund-raising tactics scandalise the evangelical mainstream". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
(Quoting fundraising letter from Cerullo) ...If you send in pounds 10 for the salvation of 2 Jews, then I believe God will return to you the salvation of 2 of your family members. God honors his spiritual laws. What you sow is what you harvest. This is what I am believing God for.
- Intotruth.org, Quoting the Christian Herald of December 23, 1995, The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld four complaints about advertisements by Morris Cerullo that offered miraculous healing to the disabled.
- Prasch, Jacob (2001). "A tribute and modern history lesson". Christian Witness Ministries. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
...which saw Cerullo resigning from The Evangelical Alliance after he was found guilty of all four charges against him by the UK Advertising Standards Council (sic)
- Andrews, Cecil (April 29, 2008). "'Mandate 2008' with Colin Dye: Another cause for concern". Take Heed Ministries. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
In a move that could signal a major split in British Evangelicalism, Kensington Temple, claimed to be the biggest Church in Britain, has resigned from the Evangelical alliance. The move is a sequel to the recent resignation of evangelist Morris Cerullo from the EA. A press statement from Colin Dye, the church's senior pastor said, "For some time I have felt the Alliance was not adequately representing the concerns of Pentecostals on the radical end of the evangelical spectrum. I had hoped that the Alliance would indeed prove itself broad enough to carry the full breadth of opinion that wished to rest in it. But despite recent assurances and moves towards total acceptance of a greater diversity within the Alliance, I find the handling of the whole Morris Cerullo affair to be too telling to ignore"[dead link]
- Powell, Philip L. (June 1999). "Unmasked... Colin Dye". Contending Ernestly for the Faith. Christian Witness Ministries. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
Dye ... has in fact withdrawn London City Church from the Evangelical Alliance because the latter presumed to inquire into the finances of Morris Cerullo's missionary organisation
- Independent Television Commission (December 1, 1999). "Television Advertising Complaints Reports – Morris Cerullo Rally". Ofcom. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
The Christian Channel finally accepted that the advertising breached ITC rules ... The ITC upheld the complaint and instructed the Christian Channel not to broadcast the material again. In the light of the previous breaches of ITC rules by the Christian Channel, the ITC imposed a financial penalty of £20,000.
- It was impossible to conduct any kind of service by Morris Cerullo and his team but then a Pastor called Octavio Newis who is in the service of the Lord since 20yrs had a meeting with all the top officials and made impossible possible. Pastor Octavio Newis also got a slot in this crusade to preach the word of God. He had organized a huge crusade in Mumbai which was a huge success. Thousand were healed and many more gave their life to Jesus. Andrews, Cecil (April 29, 2008). "Mandate 2008 with Colin Dye: Another cause for concern". Take Heed Ministries. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
A front-page feature article in The Times of India [India's largest selling newspaper] on 17 October 1992 reported that "A so-called miracle healer, Morris Cerullo, who prefers to call himself a man of God, was declared 'persona non-gratia' and bundled out of the country by Calcutta police this morning after mass healing services on Park Circus Maidan yesterday evening turned into a fiasco when members of the crowd stormed the dais challenging the efficacy of his healing power". The article went on to declare that "For indulging in undesirable activities Morris Cerullo was put on a plane bound for the US this morning". It was reported that the crowd became restive as Mr Cerullo could not prove his healing power. However, it must be said there have been many incidents of religious intolerance in India (even though by law a person has the right to choose his religion in India). A recent violent example is the burning alive of missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons by Hindu militants. Graham Staines and his son perished in the fire.
- "Morris Cerullo's misadventure in India". Skeptic Tank. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
Last Friday the Indian government banished Cerullo for causing a riot. The riot started as his inability to heal people, contrary to his promises, became apparent; Cerullo had lured 30,000 people to a meeting in Calcutta (!), among them hundreds of invalids and sick people, some of whom had arrived in ambulances. The crowd tolerated Cerullo for two hours, which, judging from the previous post, is no mean feat, but when he had the audacity to state that everyone(!) present was healed, the trouble started. Judging from the article I read, the occasion was quite a drama with the enraged relatives of the afflicted climbing onto Cerullo's stand and accusing him of being the charlatan he is. Due to the timely(?) intervention of the police, the crowd failed to tear Cerullo to shreds.
- Morris Cerullo World Evangelism Home Page
- Who is Morris Cerullo Home Page
- Morris Cerullo Helpline Home Page
- Controversial American evangelist Morris Cerullo returns to Britain for one final 'crusade'
- Morris Cerullo at the Internet Movie Database