the Southwest Radio Church Of the Air L-150 P.O. Box 1144 Oklahoma City, Okla. 73101 TH
Southwest Radio Church
Of the Air L-150
P.O. Box 1144 Oklahoma City, Okla. 73101
THE LEGEND(S) OF JOHN TODD
(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
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 Revolution,"
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 HAPPEN'
"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.
SUPPORT FROM CLERGY
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.
A MATTER OF RECORDS
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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