An explosive investigative report in the Akron Beacon-Journal has uncovered allegations of forced abortions, forced vasectomies, and sexual abuse at a well-known Ohio megachurch, all under the direction of pastor and television preacher Ernest Angley.
The Beacon-Journal began investigating 93-year-old Angley and his Grace Cathedral megachurch two months ago, after rumors began swirling through the Akron community about a major schism in the congregation brought on by allegations of sexual abuse.
The controversy was sparked after former Associate Pastor Brock Miller, 29, abruptly quit his job on July 4. Miller told friends and family that he was leaving because he had been “violated” by Angley for seven years and could no longer bear the abuse, even though the church was his family’s sole source of income and paid for his house.
Miller told family members that Angley once had him strip nude for a “special anointing” that involved Angley “touch[ing] him all over.” Other former church members reported similarly disturbing incidents, including graphic questions about men’s genitalia during counseling sessions, and personal inspections of members’ sex organs after vasectomies – which were highly encouraged by Angley, who believes God wants his faithful to remain childless in order to better serve the Lord.
Vasectomies weren’t the only thing highly encouraged by Angley in his pursuit of a child-free congregation. A number of women told the Beacon-Journal that Angley all but forced mothers to abort children they wanted to carry to term.
“None of us have kids because he makes all the men get fixed,” said Becky Roadman, 32, who quit the church last year. “You’re not allowed to have babies there.”
Angelia Oborne, who left Grace Cathedral a year-and-a-half ago, says she was also robbed of her opportunity to have a baby under pressure from Angley. “My husband and I can’t have children because my husband had a vasectomy,” she told the Beacon-Journal. “We were looking at getting it reversed, but I’m 35 years old and … may not be able to have children anymore. And that breaks my heart, because that choice was made for me, because of the brainwashing, the mind control. We weren’t allowed to have children. If you turned up pregnant, it’s almost as if you had sinned.”
Oborne told the Beacon-Journal that Angley told a friend of hers to think of her unborn child as “a tumor” to make it emotionally easier to abort.
“She was four months pregnant and she sat in the [abortion clinic] waiting room and told her baby that she was so sorry that she was doing this,” Oborne said. “I know another girl — she won’t come forward — but she was forced into having four abortions.”
Another former parishioner, Mimi Camp, said that she and her husband joined the church after they had already had two sons. While the boys were apparently tolerated, when Camp became pregnant for a third time, her husband became angry. During the ensuing argument, he quoted Angley as saying, “It’s against God’s will for anyone to have a child.”
When the couple notified Angley of their pregnancy, he told then they had no choice but to abort the baby. “[H]e went into some sort of vision and said, ‘Thus sayeth the Lord, if you have this child it could take your life or be retarded and you won’t be the mother to your other two children,’” Camp said.
Camp reluctantly agreed to the abortion, but found herself putting it off.
“I actually waited until I was 15 or 16 weeks along,” she said. “I was taking my prenatal vitamins and everything because I just didn’t want to do it.
“I kept getting pressured,” she said. “The church recommended the abortion clinic. The first one I went to, I got up and walked out. I couldn’t go through with it. Then some higher-ups from the church were saying, ‘You know, you’d be doing the right thing. You really need to go through with it.’ And I went ahead and did it.”
“It was terrible,” she said. “It was absolutely gut-wrenching.”
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Angley denied the allegations in a 90-minute interview with the Beacon-Journal. “I can’t regulate their lives,” he said. “But I can advise them about things if they ask me.”
Mike Kish, an usher who was also present for the interview, chimed in, “I would hate to even bring a child into the world at this point, being a parent, just having common sense…If you look at the condition of this world … it just seems to be going downhill.”
“It really is. It really is,” the pastor agreed. “I wouldn’t want to be brought into this world now.”
But Greg Mulkey, a previously high-ranking member of the church who defected some years back, told the paper that he believes the motivation for the forced vasectomies and abortions was mostly about money and control.
“He doesn’t want people to have kids because it would take their time and money away from [the church],” Mulkey said. “He really forced people into abortions through scare tactics, as if he were a medical doctor. It turns my stomach.”
“When you tell another man to have a vasectomy, and you’re not a doctor, and you have influence over that person, you’re taking away their humanity. [It’s] his way of controlling everyone,” he added. “It’s very scary stuff.”
To read the rest of the shocking allegations against Angley, along with his responses, read the ongoing series at the Akron Beacon-Journal here. (Warning: Graphic content.)