Sociopaths like to cloak themselves in a mantel of respect. They seek careers, or pretend to have careers, in fields that people associate with good character, trustworthiness, and authority, such as law enforcement, the military and the clergy.
Pursuing a career in religion or spirituality is particularly useful for sociopaths. People tend to trust religious figures simply because they are religious figures, which puts a sociopath several moves ahead when trying to scam someone. A sociopath claiming an inside track to God has a very powerful tool when it comes to manipulating people.
Plus, for a sociopath, a career in the clergy is easy—the primarily visible job requirement is an ability to talk. With typical inborn charisma, and a willingness to lie about other credentials, the sociopath is a shoo-in.
Lovefraud has written about several pseudo-members of the clergy whose behavior has certainly flouted the Ten Commandments:
Anthony Owens claimed to be bishop of a fellowship of more than 100 non-denominational churches, which was a lie. He was married to eight women at the same time.
Rabbi Fred Neulander founded the largest Jewish temple in southern New Jersey. He was convicted of arranging the murder of his wife.
Terry Hornbuckle founded a megachurch in Arlington, Texas. He was found guilty of raping three women, two of whom were parishioners.
Then, of course, there’s Fred Brito, who impersonated a Catholic priest, even performing a couple’s wedding, when he had no religious training whatsoever.
Lovefraud readers have told us of more cases. AlohaTraveler says her “Bad Man” had been a pastor for an Assemblies of God church in Seattle. Another woman has built a website about the real reason a reverend abruptly departed from the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale, Florida—an extramarital affair with her.
Even sociopaths who aren’t clergy put religion to work in their manipulation. Here are some examples from the Lovefraud mailbag:
- A woman married a guy who was a “Christian” teacher (her quotes) in schools for 14 years. He abandoned her after six months and started an affair with another woman, all the while talking about reconciliation. She then found out she was his eighth or ninth wife, and he had previously been convicted of bigamy.
- A guy met a woman in a Christian chat room on the Internet. He was in the process of getting a divorce; she claimed she was also. He left everything and moved to her state to be with her. She taught at a Christian school half-days, and would meet him—for sex—after work. She was still married.
- Girl starts dating guy when she is 18. They belonged to the same Christian faith, which did not allow premarital sex; all their dates were chaperoned. When she was 20, they had a fairytale wedding. That night, he raped her, then started gaslighting her, and convinced a doctor that she was crazy, until she ended up on psychotropic drugs.
- A woman’s ex-husband claims to be a Christian minister. “The church is a fraud to bilk people out of money. He helps the other pastor get money from poor people who can’t afford it,” she writes. “When he raped me and tried to kill me, and when he and his daughter broke into my house, well the cops saw him wearing preacher pants and didn’t believe me.”
- Woman meets a guy on a Christian singles site—they both sang, did music ministry, and had an “intense desire to serve the Lord.” They married, started their own church, then she finds out he owed $30,000 in child support and was addicted to hardcore porn. He became physically abusive.
- Woman marries a 51-year-old Catholic school teacher who is an Episcopalian priest, retired military, widowed after 29 years of marriage. Two months into the marriage, his son moves in with them. The son was selling and using cocaine, and her new husband—the priest—was in business with him.
Predators are everywhere
Lovefraud has heard of many more cases in which sociopathic predators were fishing for victims in churches and on religious dating websites. We’ve heard of sociopaths who quoted the Bible, prayed every day, and emotionally tortured their families.
And then there are the sociopaths who use religion as a reason to keep bleeding their victims. Christian religions, and New Age spiritualism, embrace the concept of forgiveness. Sociopaths use this to claim that they’ve “found God” who has forgiven their transgressions, and you should too.
The key point here is that just because someone claims to be Christian, religious, or otherwise spiritual, does not mean he or she is automatically trustworthy. If your instincts are telling you that something is wrong, no matter what the context, pay attention.