(reprint from Feb. 2, 1979 Christianity Today)

                        THE BEWITCHING OF THE CHURCHES

It is an embarrassment to have to write about the John Todd phenomenon (see 
page 38).  Several Christian leaders who travel the nation nonetheless tell us 
that Todd is the most talked-about topic of these days.  Letters continually 
land on editorial desks, asking in effect, "Is what John Todd is saying true?"
   No, it is not.  Todd was not at the pinacle of a witches' conspiracy for 
global conquest as he claims to have been.  He has not launched key organiza-
tions of the charismatic movement or the modern gospel music industry by 
signing a few checks for them from witch headquarters.  He has not been to 
many of the places (like Duke University and Viet Nam) he says he has been.
   His memory is fitful.  He cannot even seem to remember his right age from 
one reporter to the next.  Important details of the story he tells change from 
town to town.  In 1973 he was a hero among certain charismatics.  By 1978 he 
was well received as a supposedly converted witch by certain strongly anti-
charismatic fundamentalists.  Among them he tended to keep quiet about his 
former charismatic ties.
   Todd has told many people about his conversion under Baptist auspices in 
San Antonio in 1972, but he has not breathed a word about how as early as 1968 
he was a penniless storefront preacher in Phoenix who left trinitarian Pente-
costalism for the Jesus Only brand.  Instead he seems to indicate to his 
modern-day followers than in the sixties he was up to his amulet in witchly 
   Affairs?  He has had many, according to the evidence.  Indeed, even the 
"legitimate" witches blush:  he has, they say, given the craft a black mark.
   Some people call Todd an out-and-out liar.  Some think he is out to make 
Bible-believing churches look silly--a sort of witch's version of a practical 
joke.  Others think he is an emissary of Satan sent to confuse and divide 
Christians.  What we find almost incredible, and certainly depressing, is to 
learn of the number of Christians who have believed him.  It is for this 
reason that we are devoting so much space to the subject.
   Considerable evidence suggests Todd to be a sick man who must be helped 
before someone is shot to death.  He has exploited and abused those who have 
believed in him.  What is needed is for people to stop believing in him so 
that he can be helped.  In this respect his best friends may be his worst 
enemies.  Love and prayer, yes.  Submission, no.
   And what of the Christians who have been accepting Todd and his message?  
Realizing how they allowed themselves to be misled, they might become aware of 
how their defective love for brethren with whom they disagree made them easy 
prey for someone like Todd.  One can disagree with distinctive charismatic 
doctrines, with political decisions of President Carter, or with the nature of 
certain religious music without blaming it all on witches.
   We can learn too from the response to Todd.  Some of us are altogether too 
gullible--too quick to believe negative reports about those with whom we 
disagree, and not quick enough to believe substantiated negative reports about 
people who tell us what we were already inclined to accept.  Many unscrupulous 
individuals take advantage of gullible Christians who would not be duped by a 
Jim Jones, but then give credence to the claims of a John Todd.
   Those who accepted a key element in Todd's logic ought to be ashamed.  The 
absence of evidence does not prove that one is telling the truth.  If Todd 
said he fought in Viet Nam and murdered an officer in Germany but that no 
records are available because the Pentagon destroyed them, then our inability 
to confirm Todd's statements does not become proof that he is telling the 
truth.  Records could be lost or destroyed, but in that case the assertion 
remains unsupported.
   After one California pastor discovered some of the truth about Todd, he 
confessed in essence that he had allowed himself to be deceived, and he 
apologized for having had Todd in the pulpit.
   That is the kind of apology that needs to be heard from quite a few 

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                          THE LEGEND(S) OF JOHN TODD

Is witch-turned evangelist John Todd a prophet sent from God to warn America 
about an impending takeover by sinister forces, or a fraud?
   Fundamentalists across America disagree over the question, charismatic 
leaders are fighting mad, and some supporters are stockpiling food, stashing 
weapons, and building fortified "retreat" hide-aways in preparation for a last 
stand against the hordes of evil.
   Todd, 29, meanwhile has announced that he is through.  He told friends in 
the Los Angeles area last month that he has been shot at frequently and that 
his house was firebombed.  Therefore, he said, he will take no more speaking 
engagements;  he, his wife, and three children will head for a secret retreat 
   "I tried to wake up the people in this country," he is quoted as saying.  
"But they didn't want to listen."
   Until a year ago Todd was unknown in most church circles.  On January 1, 
1978, he joined independent Faith Baptist Church in Conoga Park, California.  
That same day he headed East where a speaking tour had been arranged by Pastor 
Tom Berry of the 3,000-member Bible Baptist Church in Elkton, Maryland.  The 
tour, which began with two meetings in the Elkton church, was prolonged as 
word spread about Todd's sensational revelations.
   "We've had many great preachers in our pulpit, but there was more talk 
around town after he left than with any other preacher we've had," reported 
Pastor Dino Pedrone of the Open Door Church in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, 
where Todd addressed more than 1,000 people last February.
   Pedrone, who had invited Todd on Berry's recommendation, recorded Todd's 
talks and circulated copies of them widely.  The church, he said, gave Todd 
about $1,000 for a rehabilitation center for ex-witches that Todd supposedly 
was establishing.  (Pedrone says he has reservations about Todd now, and that 
he would probably not invite him back.)
   In June, a reporter covered Todd's appearance at a large Baptist church in 
Zionsville, Indiana, and United Press International flashed the story across 
the nation.  Meanwhile, taped cassettes of his messages were being circulated 
everywhere, often anonymously.  And for every person with reservations about 
Todd, there were others, including Berry, who seemed convinced that Todd's 
messages were authentic.
   Berry has produced a manual, "The Christian During Riot and After Revolu-
tion," that incorporates Todd's views.  It includes a section on "the morality 
of killing," and tells Christians to buy weapons and ammunition, and to build 
   As Todd tells it, he was born into witchcraft and became a Grand Druid high 
priest in the Illuminati, a secret group of powerful conspirators, which, Todd 
says, plans a world takeover.  He says he was also a member of the "Council of 
Thirteen," one of the chosen few who rank just below the world-ruling Roths-
child family, Jewish bankers with roots in eighteenth-century Europe who Todd 
claims are really demons.
   Todd says he joined the army to establish covens of witches, that he became 
a decorated Green Beret in Viet Nam, and that he was later transferred to 
Germany, where he killed a former commanding officer in a two-hour shootout in 
Stuttgart.  He says the Illuminati got him out of jail and that the Pentagon 
destroyed all his military records.
   The Illuminati, Todd says, have already begun implementing their plans for 
a world takeover.  He says an upheaval is slated in the United States in 1979.  
Todd also publicly claims that President Jimmy Carter is the Anti-Christ, and 
that his sister Ruth Carter Stapelton is a leading high priestess of witch-
craft who taught Todd the finer points of the bewitching arts.  The President, 
Todd alleges, takes orders directly "from the Rothschilds."
   According to Todd, Carter would push through legislation that would outlaw 
private ownership of guns, remove tax exemptions from all churches except 
those associated with the National Council of Churches, ban conversion to 
another religion, and prohibit the storing of food and medicine.  The Roths-
childs, Todd alleges, will create a false fuel shortage, confiscate all guns, 
and call for the murder and torture of all Christians (whose names have been 
stored in computers).  Congress will be suspended and martial law established, 
with one policeman for every five people.  There will be economic chaos.
   To survive, Todd says, Christians must arm themselves, build up food 
supplies to last five years, hide in wilderness fortresses, and kill 
   The worldwide conspiracy is so extensive that Christians can trust no one 
today, not even America's best-known evangelical preachers and lay leaders, 
says Todd.  He charges that while he was a high-ranking witch he sent an $8 
million check to Pastor Chuck Smith of famed Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, 
California, to set up the Maranatha music company and launch "Jesus rock" 
music.  (Smith denied the charge in his church publication.)
   Todd claims that he delivered $35 million to founder Demos Shakarian of the 
Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship;  he alleges that Shakarian is a leading 
figure in the Illuminati.  The witches, Todd says, also helped build Melody-
land Christian Center in Anaheim, whose pastor--Ralph Wilkerson--is part of 
the conspiracy.  Todd similarly implicates the CBN and PTL Christian tele-
vision networks and their leaders.  He hints that glossolia, itself, is an 
invention of witches.
   In a recent attack, Todd alleged that television preacher Jerry Falwell, a 
non-charismatic, was "bought off" with a $50 million check during a trip to 
the Middle East.  (When some of his hard-core followers expressed dismay, Todd 
tried to have the remark erased from the tapes, according to an informant.)  
Falwell's church, Thomas Road Baptist in Lynchburg, Virginia, last month 
returned Todd's fire with a blistering editorial against Todd in the church 
newspaper, which is sent to many of Falwell's TV viewers.
   Incredible as it all seems, thousands of church members, including a number 
of pastors, have apparently accepted all or most of Todd's message as gospel 
truth--despite statements of outrage and denial by charismatic leaders, along 
with protests by experts in occult studies that Todd's accounts are simply 
   Most of Todd's listeners have assumed that he is also telling the truth 
about his conversion from witchcraft to Christianity, an event that took place 
in San Antonio in October, 1972, according to his testimony in numerous 
churches last year.
   He says he embraced Christianity after reading a Chick Publications tract, 
seeing the movie _The Cross and the Switchblade_, and being exposed to the 
ministries of a Christian coffeehouse and the Castle Hills Baptist Church.  
The church pastor at that time, Jack Taylor, affirms that Todd indeed had made 
a profession of faith, though little else was known about him.  Taylor later 
uncovered discrepancies in Todd's accounts and since has become a Todd critic.

   "Strange things began to happen" when Todd returned to California from his 
first eastern tour in early April, 1978, says Pastor Roland Rasmussen of Faith 
Baptist in Canoga Park.  Todd claimed several times that he had been shot at 
in the vicinity of the church parking lot.
   Todd told Rasmussen that he had gone through a period of backsliding.  He 
said he had sold occult books from a store he ran for a while in Dayton, Ohio, 
but emphasized he had never gone back into occult activity.
   Then one of Todd's friends in the congregation, occult researcher Mike 
Grifin, informed the pastor about a startling discovery.  Griffin had borrowed 
from Todd a recording made from a television newscast of a meeting the ex-
witch had conducted in Ventura, California.  Listening to it privately, 
Griffin heard more than the brief newscast since the taped cassette had also 
been used to record an earlier meeting where Todd was instructing would-be 
witches how to mix potions and cast spells.  Todd's own statements during the 
recorded class session indicate that it was held on March 3, 1976, in the 
Dayton store known as The Witches Caldron [sic], and that he had been involved 
in occult practices since at least the previous March. 
   (On the tape, Todd--his witch name is Lance Collins--makes such statements 
as "I feel witchcraft is more powerful than Christianity" and "we're not 
   Rasmussen called a meeting of the deacons on May 27, when they confronted 
Todd with excerpts of the tape.  The pastor also reminded Todd that he carried 
no gun--contrary to what Todd had told an Indiana audience from personal 
knowledge a short time earlier.  Todd, offering virtually no explanation, 
shrugged and left--after retrieving his automatic pistol that tumbled from his 
hip pocket when he got up from his chair.  On the next night, the church voted 
unanimously to eject Todd from membership and remove endorsement of his 
   Rasmussen was introduced to Todd in June, 1977, by Jack Chick of Chick 
Publications in nearby Cucamonga, and Rasmussen was in turn introduced to 
Berry.  Chick, a Baptist, says he first heard Todd in 1973 at a meeting of 
charismatic evangelist Doug Clark's "Amazing Prophecies" group.  Impressed, 
Chick featured Todd in several Christian comic-book stories.  Despite the 
controversy, he still believes Todd, though he admits to "not knowing what to 
believe" about Todd's charge that prominent charismatic ministers are agents 
of the Illuminati.

   Berry and four other prominent Baptist ministers, along with several 
associates, met with Todd at Villa Baptist Church in Indianapolis.  They later 
released a paper reaffirming their beliefs that Todd is genuinely born again, 
that he is sincerely trying to serve Christ, and that his accounts of 
experiences in the ruling circles of witchcraft "are reliable reports."
   Todd, however, hit the road again with a heavy schedule of meetings, some 
of them arranged by Berry.  At a closed meeting of nearly 3,000 pastors and 
lay leaders hosted by Berry in a Maryland restaurant, Todd again recounted his 
experiences as a witch and as a member of the Illuminati.  He also retraced 
his conversion in 1972 in San Antonio.
   But Todd apparently didn't tell everything.  CHRISTIANITY TODAY has 
learned, for example, that Todd showed up in Phoenix early in 1968 as a 19-
year-old storefront preacher with a wife named Linda and her four-year-old 
child Tanya.  While staying with relatives, he called Pastor James Outlaw of 
the Jesus Name Church and asked to be rebaptized.  Todd said he had been 
studying the teachings of William Brannam and wanted to be rebaptized in the 
name of Jesus only.  (Brannam taught that God manifests himself in different 
ways but is always Jesus.)
   Todd testified to Outlaw that he had been a witch while in "the navy" but 
was converted while attending a storefront Pentacostal church in southern 
   Outlaw says Todd disappeared and returned months later without Linda.  Todd 
explained that God had given them a prophecy to split up and seek other mates.  
The pastor says he and his wife admonished Todd about the error of such 
thinking but nevertheless helped him get a job as a busboy in a Mexican 
restaurant.  Then Todd disappeared again and did not return until late 1972 or 
early 1973.  Outlaw introduced Todd this time to Pentecostal Ken Long, a local 
leader of the Jesus movement who operated the "Open Door" coffeehouse.
   Long, who has since switched from Pentecostalism and become pastor of Bible 
Heritage Free Will Baptist Church in Phoenix, enlisted Todd as a coffeehouse 
worker.  "Things began happening," declares Long.  "John Todd did miracles."  
Long says he watched Todd heal a handicapped youth's leg.
   On one such excursion, Long and Todd met Sharon Garver in San Antonio.  She 
returned with them to Phoenix and married Todd in August, 1973.  Meanwhile, 
Long says he began getting reports that Todd was trying to seduce teenage 
girls at the coffeehouse.  (Two later confessed that they had sexual relations 
with him.)  Four girls revealed that Todd wanted them to form a witches coven 
and that he told them that he was still in witchcraft.  Long later removed 
Todd from the coffeehouse ministry.
   Todd drifted from job to job and then struck paydirt.  He gave his 
"testimony" for a Christian TV station.  He claimed that the Illuminati were 
financing some fundamentalist churches, that he had been the Kennedy family's 
personal warlock ("John F. Kennedy was not really killed; I just came back 
from a visit with him on his yacht"), and that he had witnessed the stabbing 
of a girl by Senator George McGovern in an act of sacrifice.
   More than $25,000 was pledged during the telethon and management offered to 
employ Todd--who was then, reportedly, packing a .38 snub-nosed revolver.  He 
eventually declined.  Doug Clark heard of Todd and invited him to appear on 
his "Amazing Prophecies" show.  Overnight Todd became a hit in charismatic 
circles in southern California, and he and Sharon moved to Santa Ana.
   Soon the Todds were hosting dozens of youg people at a weekly Bible study 
in their home.  A few young people were converted, said Sharon, but there were 
distressing things, too.  She said that Todd was blending elements of witch-
craft with his Christian teaching ad seducing some of the girls, several of 
whom confided in leaders at Melodyland Christian Center.  In an ugly confron-
tation with Melodyland church leaders around Christmas, 1973, Todd denied the 
charges and stormed out.

   Clark denounced Todd on TV, and the Todds headed back to San Antonio.  
Throughout their marriage Todd had been using drugs, says Sharon, and he was 
dropping in and out of witchcraft.  He spoke of trying to reinlist in the army 
(he had served from February, 1969, to July, 1970), and he obtained his army 
records.  (Although he is still telling audiences that the records do not 
exist, CHRISTIANITY TODAY has obtained a copy that shows he spent only twenty-
five days overseas--in Germany, not Viet Nam.)
   Family members say that Todd was witnessing to Sharon's relatives about 
Christ but at the same time was trying to enlist them in witchcraft, 
apparently for sexual reasons.  He made Sharon's teenage sister pregnant, 
alleged both Sharon and the sister.  The latter says she finally received 
Christ several months ago, but had been turned off to Christianity almost 
completely by Todd.  (Todd declined to be interviewed for this report.)
  Finally, the lanky 6'4" Todd left Sharon in mid-1974 and went to Dayton 
where he met Sheila Spoonmore.  The pair apparently lived together for about 
two years before getting married.  During this period Todd operated The 
Witches Caldron [sic].  He attracted the attention of local authorities when 
parents of teenage girls complained he was corrupting their children's morals.  
One 16-year-old finally agreed to tell the police what was going on at Todd's 
house and store.  She said that witchcraft initiation rites were carried out 
in the nude, and that Todd had forced her to have oral sex. 
   Todd pleaded guilty to contributing to the unruliness of a minor and served 
two months of a six-month sentence in a county institution.  Chick and a 
lawyer succeeded in getting him released early for medical reasons.  (He was 
said to be having seizures.)  He was placed on five years' probation which he 
promptly broke by leaving the state.  He travelled to Phoenix, where Ken Long 
got him a job as a cook in a steak house.  "Todd swore he was out of witch-
craft for good," says Long, "but after only two weeks on the job he was 
talking to two girls about plans to open up an occult bookstore."  Todd, 
however, abruptly left town, and Long has not seen him since.
   Todd's occult operation in Dayton held a temporary charter as the Watchers 
Church of Wicca under the National Church and School of Wicca, headquartered 
in New Bern, North Carolina.  Todd appealed to Wicca head Gavin Frost and 
civil rights specialist Isaac Bonnawitz [sic] to help him with the police 
problems in Dayton.  Both men investigated quietly, and Frost announced their 
findings in the Wicca news letter:
   "We found absolutely no foundation for the charges of persecution made by 
the Todds;  rather, we found a very negative situation conducted by an ex-
Satanist, ex-Christian priest as a cover for sexual perversion and drug abuse.  
Todd is armed and dangerous, and any activity by him should immediately be 
reported to the Church of Wicca."
   Todd's police record shows that a felony warrant was issued against him in 
New Mexico for passing a bad check.  He was arrested in Columbus in 1968 for 
malicious destruction of property.  He was treated for drug overdose at an 
army installation in Maryland in 1969.  A warrant for his arrest awaits him in 
Ohio, as does a judgement against him for $22,000 in a defamation case.
   Todd claims many of the police are associated with Freemasonry, an Illumi-
nati organization, and therefore should be considered enemies.  In an inter-
view, Berry said he thinks the theory is a plausible one.  The freemasonry is 
what forced Strom Thurmond off the Bob Jones University board after Todd 
spread the word that the senator is a mason.
   Todd was given psychiatric examinations twice while in the army.  His 
records indicate evidence of an unstable home background and possible brain 
damage as a result of beatings.  The second examination a few months later 
labeled his malady "emotional instability with pseudologica phantastica."  
Todd finds it difficult to tell reality from fantasy, says a medical report.  
It spoke of homocidal threats he had made on another, false suicide reports, 
and a severe personality disturbance.  It saw no hope for change and recom-
mended Todd's discharge.
   Pastor Clifford Wicks of the 850-member Grace Brethren Church in Somerset, 
Pennsylvania, cancelled Todd after he delivered the third of four scheduled 
messages in his church last month.
   Wicks said reaction to Todd was mixed and that some persons experienced 
revival.  However, Wicks reported one particularly disturbing reaction to 
Todd.  Some people in the community, expressing a sense of dismay and help-
lessness at the coming events as predicted by Todd, said:  "Pastor, we will 
not allow them to torture our families; we have decided that we will kill our 
children before that happens."
                                                             EDWARD E. PLOWMAN

The above was reprinted by permission, and may not be reprinted without per-
mission from Christianity Today.  For subscription information to Christianity 
Today, write P.O. Box 354, Dover, N.J. 07801.


CONCLUSION:  Without a doubt, John Todd has one of the most amazing stories 
about the international Satanic conspiracy of any person reportedly speaking 
for the Lord Jesus Christ today.  In 1978 we were flooded with cassette tapes 
of his talks in churches, but free speech is free indeed within the auditorium 
of a local church.  The complexion changes when rigidly put in black type on 
white paper, or broadcast over public communications media.  Therefore, when 
we were deluged with requests to present Todd's message over our radio 
ministry, we asked him to document everything he had said.  After the initial 
contact, when Mr. Todd agreed to be a guest speaker, providing documentation 
would be given, we never heard from him again.  Anyone can accuse others of 
anything, or promote himself to any desired degree, as long as he is not asked 
to prove it.  It was apparent to us from the questions fielded by Mr. Todd 
that he had been associated with witchcraft;  all other claims and statements 
had to be accepted strictly on faith that he was telling the truth.  Anyone 
making charges against so many prominent personalities should be willing to 
offer documentation.  We have no vendetta against John Todd.  We reprinted the 
preceding article because we were deluged by requests for information about 
him.  Perhaps the information from _Christianity Today_ will encourage him to 
refute these accusations with proof of past activities and associations.

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of 
God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."  (I John 4:1)

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