‘It’s Amazing How Many of the Clergy Are Involved in Those Lies’ May 10, 2011

‘It’s Amazing How Many of the Clergy Are Involved in Those Lies’

Rev. Jim Moats of Newville, Pennsylvania wore a gold Trident signifying that he was a Navy SEAL. His congregation at Christian Bible Fellowship Church also believed that he had served in Vietnam.

But all that was a lie. Even though he knew his church believed it, he never corrected them.

He finally came clean when people outed him this past weekend:

Don Shipley, a retired SEAL who lives in Chesapeake, Va., said he is one of a few former SEALs who are entrusted by the Navy with maintaining the database containing the names of all SEALS. The database cannot be accessed by the public.

Moats was never a SEAL and never had set foot in Vietnam, Shipley said. The information can be verified through a Freedom of Information Act request from the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, he said.

Shipley called Moats on Saturday night to confront him about the issue.

“We deal with these guys all the time, especially the clergy. It’s amazing how many of the clergy are involved in those lies to build that flock up,” Shipley said.

Shipley said Moats’ story about being re-assigned to kitchen duty and about being waterboarded were lifted from the Steven Seagal movie “Under Siege,” while his reference to being hit by SEAL instructors was vintage “GI Jane.”

He eventually sat for an interview with The Patriot-News:

Does he deserve any credit for coming clean? Debatable. Seems too little too late for it to be meaningful.

Shipley says there are no plans to prosecute him even if that were an option:

… The pastor has been outed through the Internet in what Shipley said is a form of street justice.

“I don’t lump him in with the worst of the worse. He’s just despicable. Some of these guys are total criminals. I think just having his ass spanked is enough for him that he won’t do it again any longer…” Shipley said.

Wow… so now we know what happens when you factcheck a pastor. Even though this is a drastic case, it highlights the problem of how church leaders can get away with saying just about anything they want — and people will blindly follow them — because they are “men of god.”

Pastors convince their congregations of stories that have no basis in evidence all the time. Is this really that different?

(via Christian Nightmares)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • This is called ‘stolen valor’. The attempt to use military service to secure Christian privilege is not uncommon – see the Soledad Cross, Mojave Cross, and Utah state trooper memorials to name a few. The problem is that many veterans organizations promote that stolen valor rather than working against it.

  • Justin

    Looks like this was a sort of rural congregation. Rural churches and any church in the south like their Pastors to be men with a violent history as long as the violence was done in the name of Patriotism.

    I cannot hear phrases like “He’s just despicable” without thinking of that animated film from last year. Maybe we can get this guy into a sequel: Despicable Me, Too.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I think just having his ass spanked is enough for him that he won’t do it again any longer…” Shipley said.

    O Noez: Shipley used a naughty word. He is probably an agent of Satan. We must rally around our preacher to fight off this Satanic assault.


    Now, if some of the many Christian apologists who claim to have been atheists would come clean…

  • Silent Service

    Having his ass spanked? HA! All they’ve done is embarrass him a little and any idiot willing to try to steal the SEAL’s valor is too stupid to be dissuaded by embarrassment. I hate to admit it but I’m going to cheer when his ass gets kicked, and eventually it is going to get kicked hard.

  • Drew M.

    In my experience, anyone who volunteers that they are a SEAL or Special Forces is lying about it.

    Legitimate badasses don’t brag.

  • Peter Mahoney

    If this pastor wants to claim that he has been waterboarded, then as his penance he should volunteer to have himself waterboarded. (While reciting a two Hail Mary’s and one Our Father.) Then his sins will be absolved.

  • Alexis

    He said several times that it was wrong, but he never once apologized. I think that he’s not really sorry that he lied, but really sorry that he got caught.

  • jose

    Here’s what I want to know: why is everybody so proud about having served in the Vietnam war? Why is that such a good thing to have done and to show off? That war proved to be a disgrace to your country. Everybody who went there should hide it and be embarrassed by his/her involvement. Not pointing fingers, not blaming anyone, I really don’t understand it.

  • Mihangel apYrs

    the guys who served in Vietnam were conscripted, and, while were responsible for atrocities, their political and military masters were responsible for the ultimate war crimes.

    I am a Brit, and too young to have been part of the anti-war movement, but I see that it is necessary to re-evaluate the silence that ‘Nam veterans suffered, they weren’t responsible for scenario….

  • Michael

    What a strange exercise in apology. He sounds genuinely relieved, rather than sorry or ashamed at all. It illustrates well what a pathetic ritual is revered as “repentance.” He might as well be saying “The me of before was a terrible person! I’m definitely not that person any longer! Isn’t forgiveness awesome? Give me your money again.”

  • Breaking news. Pastor claims to have been a ninja. Congregation accept this at face value.

    Nobody likes to be conned. Maybe now that this guy has owned up he can also start telling the truth about the deity he’s suckered people into paying to worship. Or is that too much to ask?

  • Brian

    I’m only 67, but I’ve never met a christian who was not a liar and a hypocrite.
    “Sell ALL that I hath and give to the poor? You must be nuts!”
    “Visit the imprisoned? Minister to the sick? Clothe the naked? I’d rather be a goat!!”

  • Drew M.:
    “In my experience, anyone who volunteers that they are a SEAL or Special Forces is lying about it.
    Legitimate badasses don’t brag.”

    True, my mother’s cousin was a Green Beret in Viet Nam, although for *years* he claimed that he was cook in the Army. In the early 1990s, I found out, what he really did in Viet Nam. He won’t talk about it, and seems to be *very* opposed to war and the “war-nography” since the first Gulf war.

  • One more thing…
    The same guy, my mother’s cousin, seems to be an atheist, but doesn’t talk about that, either. His standard canned response when dealing with some of the more religious relatives is that he’ll believe in that nonsense when god/jesus/whatever comes over for lunch.

    Hmmm… maybe he reinforced my growing atheism since my childhood.

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