April 26, 2005

Some believe power got the best of their pastor

The Dallas Morning News

09:51 PM CDT on Monday, April 25, 2005

By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News

ARLINGTON Pacing next to a kitchen table-size lectern in his $3 million church, Terry Hornbuckle often warned his congregation about demons.

Daily life was a fight against the basest human urges, he would explain to hundreds gathered at Agape Christian Fellowship in southeast Arlington. In one of his self-published books, Mr. Hornbuckle called it "Psychological Warfare."

It was a battle the sharply dressed, charismatic preacher told the growing crowds that he could help them win as long as they followed his advice and Scripture.

Now, former church members fear that Mr. Hornbuckle, who is free on bail on sexual assault and drug charges, has fallen prey to the demons he so eloquently preached against. He has denied the criminal charges.

"He's not a man of God," said Kevin Thornton, a former church member who became disenchanted with Mr. Hornbuckle in part, he said, because of the church's emphasis on money. "It really upsets me when people abuse their power."

If the criminal charges are valid, the pastor's story is a familiar one, said Ole Anthony, head of the Trinity Foundation, a Christian watchdog group based in Dallas. It's not unusual for huge nondenominational churches that preach the gospel of prosperity in which followers are asked to donate to their church or pastor expecting God to provide financial success in return to disintegrate as a result of accusations of their leader's indiscretions, he said.

Posted by kshaw at April 26, 2005 07:47 AM