List of religious leaders convicted of crimes

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This is a list of religious leaders who have been convicted of serious crimes before, during or after their period as a religious leader.

Violent crimes[edit]

Non-violent crimes[edit]

  • Jim Bakker - Created the PTL organization. Convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges after illegally soliciting millions of dollars from his followers.[24]
  • Hogen Fukunaga - Founder of Ho No Hana who was given a twelve-year jail sentence for fraudulently gaining 150 million yen from his followers.[25]
  • Kent Hovind (Dr. Dino) - founder of the Creation Science Evangelism ministry. Willful failure to collect, account for, and pay over Federal income taxes, knowingly structuring transactions in Federally-insured financial institutions to evade the reporting requirements, and obstructing and impeding the administration of the internal revenue laws.[26][27]
  • L. Ron Hubbard - Founder of Scientology. He was convicted of petty theft and ordered to pay a $25 fine in San Luis Obispo, California 1948[28] and in 1978 was convicted of illegal business practices, namely, making false claims about his ability to cure physical illnesses in France. He was sentenced to four years in prison, which was never served.[29][30][31][32][33]
  • Jesus - A first century preacher central to Christianity.[34] Sentenced to death by crucifixion on the orders of Pontius Pilate. [35]
  • Luc Jouret - A founder of the Order of the Solar Temple. He was convicted in Canadian Federal Court of conspiring to buy illegal handguns.[36]
  • Henry Lyons - Former President of National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Convicted for racketeering and grand theft.[37]
  • Barry Minkow - Head pastor of San Diego's Community Bible Church, and founder of the Fraud Discovery Institute, who had turned to religion and entered the ministry after release from prison for the notorious ZZZZ Best fraud, returned to prison in 2011 for further acts of securities fraud while serving as a clergyman.[38]
  • Sun Myung Moon - Leader of Unification Church, imprisoned for criminal tax fraud in the 1980s.[39]
  • Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – later called Osho. Fined $400,000 and given a 10-year suspended sentence following a plea bargain agreement in which he made an Alford plea to (1) a charge of having concealed his intent to remain permanently in the U.S. at the time he applied for his visa extension and (2) a charge of having conspired to have followers stay illegally in the country by having them enter into sham marriages.[40] Deported from the United States.[41][42][43][44][45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jury Convicts An Evangelist Of Tax Evasion". The New York Times. 1994-06-12. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  2. ^ CNN
  3. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (2004-02-27). "Ex-Leader of Japan Cult Sentenced to Death in Gas Attack". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-20. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Sect Leader Who Allegedly Sought Virgins Found Guilty on Sex Charge". AP. TAOS, N.M: Fox News. 15 December 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "New Mexico Apocalyptic Sect Leader Gets 10 Years in Sex Case". AP. Las Vegas, N.M: Fox News. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  6. ^ "Paedophile politician released". New Zealand Herald. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Matthew Hale gets maximum 40-year sentence". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2005-04-07. Archived from the original on 2006-02-14. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  8. ^ "US polygamy sect leader sentenced". BBC News. 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  9. ^ "JMS leader sentenced to 6 years". Korea Herald. 2008-08-13. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  10. ^ "Cult leader jailed for more sexual abuse". Melbourne: The Age. 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  11. ^ "TIME". TIME. 1981-08-31. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  12. ^ Brockman, Norbert. Lenshina Mulenga Mubisha, Alice Dictionary of African Christian Biography. 1994. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
  13. ^ "Ohio Executes Cult Leader for 5 Killings". CBS News. 2007-10-26. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  14. ^ Linder, Doug. The Charles Manson (Tate-LaBianca Murder) Trial. UMKC Law. 2002. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
  15. ^ Livesey, Bruce. the salafist movement. Frontline. 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
  16. ^ Notable Names Database. Fred Phelps entry.
  17. ^ Southern Poverty Law Center. Timeline of the life of Fred Phelps, Sr.
  18. ^ "Guru gets lifers for 13 rapes". The Times of India. 2005-04-05. Archived from the original on August 28, 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  19. ^ Haley, Jim (December 4, 1979). "Businessman guilty of 2 morals charges". Everett Herald. p. 1A. 
  20. ^ "Chilean colony sex abuser jailed". BBC News. 2006-05-24. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  21. ^ Colin A. Ross (1995). Satanic Ritual Abuse: Principles of Treatment. University of Toronto Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-8020-7357-3. 
  22. ^ "BLACK SECT LEADER GETS 18-YEAR TERM". The New York Times. 1992-09-05. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  23. ^ "Sect leader sentenced to 135 years for molesting children". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 2004-04-22. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  24. ^ "A Look at Some Fallen Religious Leaders". SF Gate. 2006-11-03. Archived from the original on September 24, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  25. ^ "Foot cult leader sentenced to prison.". United Press International. 2005-07-15. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  26. ^ Indictment, United States of America v. Kent E. Hovind and Jo D. Hovind, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, case no. 3:06CR83/MCR (dated July 11, 2006; filed at 12:55 pm, July 11, 2006).
  27. ^ "Kent Hovind, ‘Dr. Dino,’ guilty on all counts". Pensacola News Journal. 2006-11-03. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  28. ^ Miller, Russell. Bare-faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard, p. 142. London: Joseph, 1987. ISBN 0-7181-2764-1
  29. ^ St. Petersburg Times. 1999-03-29 Archived from the original on 2011-05-01. Retrieved 2009-07-28.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ Boca Raton News. 1982-12-12 Retrieved 2009-07-28.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ The Age. 1978-02-21,2428446&dq=l+ron+hubbard+convicted+france. Retrieved 2009-07-28.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  32. ^ Davies, Lizzy (2009-05-25). "Church of Scientology goes on trial in France". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  33. ^ "Church of Scientology on trial in France". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2009-05-26. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  34. ^ Vermes, Geza (2003). The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin. ISBN 014100360X. 
  35. ^ Levine, Amy-Jill (2006). "Introduction". In Levine, Amy-Jill; Allison, Dale C.; Crossan, John D. The Historical Jesus in Context. Princeton Univ Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00992-6. 
  36. ^ Farnsworth, Clyde H. (1994-10-16). "Canada Seeks Money Trail Of Secret Cult". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  37. ^ "'Time to pay the piper' for preacher convicted of grand theft". CNN. 1999-03-31. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  38. ^ "Barry Minkow heads back to prison". The Los Angeles Times. 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  39. ^ "Moon Conviction IsUpheldbyCourt". The New York Times. 1983-09-14. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  40. ^ Gordon, James S. (1987). "The Golden Guru". Lexington, Massachusetts: The Stephen Greene Press: 199–201. ISBN 0-8289-0630-0. 
  41. ^ Staff (2007). "Oregon History: Chronology - 1952 to 2002". Oregon Blue Book. Directory and Fact Book compiled by the Oregon State Archives. Retrieved 2007-11-22. 
  42. ^ Staff. "Wasco County History". Oregon Historical County Records Guide. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved 2007-11-22. 
  43. ^ "Acharya Rajneesh". Contemporary Authors Online. Thomson Gale. September 5, 2003. 
  44. ^ Staff (1990). "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh". Newsmakers 1990. Gale Research. pp. Issue 2. 
  45. ^ Staff (2007). "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh". Almanac of Famous People, 9th ed. Thomson Gale.