Mike Warnke: Spiritual Fraud?

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Thursday 1st October 1992

Christian comedian Mike Warnke exposed in Cornerstone Magazine.

AMERICA'S biggest selling Christian comedian, evangelist Mike Warnke, made up his testimony concerning his life as a former satanic high priest - according to a leading Christian magazine. Further allegations were subsequently made about the financial affairs of Mike Warnke Ministries by an American newspaper which has resulted in the IRS revoking Warnke's charitable status. Promoters across the country have cancelled Warnke's concert appearances, while his record company, Word have announced a "suspension" in the sale of Warnke's albums and videos.

The American magazine Cornerstone published a 20,000-word feature which exposed Warnke as a spiritual fraud. The article, "Selling Satan: The Tragic Story Of Mike Warnke" alleged that Warnke fabricated his life as a Satanic high priest and that his personal life since conversion has been a long catalogue of moral disasters.

The article, took two years to research, exposes numerous discrepancies in Warnke's testimony. Amongst the Cornerstone allegations was that Warnke's claim to have met Charles Manson in January 1966 could not have been true, because at the time, Mason was in jail at McNeil Island. Cornerstone documents their article with photographs, one of which features a normal-looking short-haired Warnke which Cornerstone claims "was taken April 30, 1966 - right at the time Mike Warnke says he had waist length white hair, six-inch fingernails, and fifteen hundred followers." Cornerstone also documented Warnke's four divorces and discrepancies in his account of getting wounded in Vietnam.

Further accusations were subsequently made in the Kentucky newspaper Lexington Herald-Leader. Their 29th July edition carried a 4-page article "IRS targets finances of Mercer comedian's ministry" According to the Lexington Herald, the IRS (the US income tax body) has revoked Warnke Ministries' tax-exempt status it enjoyed as a charity because of financial irregularities over the way the organisation has been run. It claims that in 1991 Warnke received $303,840; ex-wife Rose Warnke received $291,840 and Ministry president Neale Hall (Rose's brother) received $214,000, totalling $809,680 - just about half of the 2 million dollars brought in by the organisation. The article claims that over the last seven years, the three have "received $3.5 million on top of royalties, housing and cars" and an annual pay rise of $30-40 thousand each.

Despite the ministry's claim to help a lot of people only $900 was given to charities last year, claims the article which also states that "while taking nearly $300,000 in salary and driving a luxury car, Rose Warnke says the ministry cannot afford to hire enough people to staff its national free-phone crisis line more than eight hours a day, Monday through Friday." A second article in the same edition quotes former employees alleging that Warnke used to take cash from offerings and that "often when they counted money from the shows, they found envelopes that had been torn open and emptied of money."

The allegations surrounding Warnke have resulted in bookings being cancelled amongst these are the Icthus Festival, Jesus Northwest and Creation Festival. Word Inc have issued two statements; the first issued soon after the Cornerstone allegations stated that "in response to recent allegations of the integrity of Mike Warnke's ministry, Word Inc met with Mike and conducted follow-up on the areas in question. Information the company received reinforces our confidence in his ministry." A second statement, issued on 6th August - after the Lexington Herald-Leader article, stated: "in light of recent accusations concerning the business ethics and financial integrity of Warnke Ministries, Word Inc again met with Warnke. After reviewing the reported information, Mike Warnke and Word Inc have jointly determined to suspend the sale and promotion of Warnke products pending the resolution of questions surrounding this matter. "Word Inc is grieved by the initial and ongoing allegations directed towards Mike Warnke. We are concerned for our friend and brother in Christ. However, there are many questions yet to be answered. At this juncture, we trust and believe Mike Warnke will respond comprehensively to these media allegations" the statement read.

As we went to press. Cross Rhythms received a 40-page package from Warnke which contains a statement and various documents from Warnke associates, allegedly interviewed by Cornerstone. Warnke's statement denies any allegations made by Cornerstone, but does not provide any satisfactory reasons for the differences between his testimony and the Cornerstone research.

Word (UK) have confirmed that Mike Warnke product has been "suspended". Jerry Johnson, International Manager for Word (UK) told Cross Rhythms that "Word Inc have requested that we suspend the sale of Warnke product" he said. "However, we are not recalling stock from our retailers, but if any retailer feels unhappy with this product we will accept returns."

N.B. The American magazine Cornerstone has no connection with Cornerstone House, publishers of Cross Rhythms. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Reader Comments

Posted by Kevin Robinson in Clearwater @ 14:55 on Jul 4 2017

Over 30 years ago my mother brought home the vinyl of the Satan seller and I've always remembered it. After reading some of the other posts it hit me... Whatever Mike did (good or bad) surely led people to Christ and I'm sure he has led more than myself or others. God is the one who will decide and I'm sure Mike has more bonus points than I do.

Posted by Allan in Washington @ 20:41 on Jun 19 2017

Whether it's true or not, what is important is how many people came to know Christ because of his message.

Posted by Terri in Tulsa @ 03:17 on May 2 2017

I had an old cassette tape of his testimony and gave it to a friend of mine that thought she was a witch because her name was Sinclair. I told her about God but until she listened to that tape nothing would convince her. After listening she accepted christ as her Savior and she along with her family was saved and baptised. Not to many years later she died at the age of 27. She's in heaven waiting for us thanks to Mike's testimony. Fake or real. That's my truth! I would gladly pay for another copy of it.

Posted by Terri in Arizona @ 18:41 on Apr 14 2017

I just watched Mr. Warnke's video which I have not seen for 25 years. It amazed me how much this man had an influence in my life over the last 25 years. Things I never forgot. Things I have used many times over and over again. I absolutely loved this video and he brought the message of salvation to many. My husband being one of them. Thank you Mike Warnke for your Words of Wisdom. You are not perfect but none of us are. I hope you are walking with the Lord and at peace in your life and with God. God bless you and keep you and may His peace shine upon you always. Terri

Posted by Paul R in Grove City OH @ 15:03 on Mar 15 2017

I've seen Mike 3 times, remember what Jesus said, if they call me Beelzebub, how will they treat you. The world is the world, I think for most of us, the workplace is our time to shine, and walk blameless, They look for our weak point to point out our wrong, don't give them any, walk the second mile with these people, let them see light in a dark world, Liberal Media will never give us a break, but the world will see the difference.

Posted by Marcia in Federal way @ 11:50 on Jan 18 2017

I heard Mike Warner in 1978 . Help me understands God love and what his son Jesus did for me with tears and laughter. Thank Mike for telling me that real truth..

Posted by Ralph Brown in Farmington @ 22:13 on Apr 4 2016

Mike has a great sense of humor who tells stories to teach his lesson. I has had one, I would like to know how I can buy all his recordings because I really enjoy them. They are entertaining but is valid and educational. weather the story or the characters are real, or really happened? who cares, the point is about the lesson you get out of it. I have read some controversy over his past, I don't feel its right for us to judge. His past is his privacy, what he chooses to share is privilege not a right. I don't condone falsifying but I don't believe in checking authenticity of peoples personal past either. there are a lot of reasons people might not want to share their past and privacy is Mikes right. Mike is a great preacher. He is really good at his work and should be appreciated for that. It was the first time I have ever heard a preacher who is actually fun and interesting to listen to. Thank you

Reply by YVONNE MALDONADO in TUCSON @ 03:27 on Jan 13 2017

I agree with you 100% Ralph Brown!!

[report abuse]

Posted by Lisa p a in United Kingdom @ 03:49 on Jun 15 2015

Well I just can't believe what I've just read about Mike warnke. I heard his testimony many years ago now. An was blown away by it. I thought it was an amazing testimony and got a lot from it as I have been down a similar path. A life of sin. I've fallen away from the path for many years now. But have in the past few weeks only just started back on the narrow path for christs forgiveness. I true lily do not know what to believe about this. But as others have said it is not our place to judge as God says judge not. I imagine mass amounts of people have come to kneel at the feet of Jesus. Through his great testimony. An only God knows the whole truth. It's so sad to learn all this. I only just found this out as I was looking up on here to listen once more to his testimony. A great Christian comedian I thought. Sad.

Posted by Jerry Fleming in United States @ 21:33 on Jan 23 2015

I am a Vietnam Vet and his tape Hey Doc has helped me a lot over the yrs. Thank you Lord for his tape.

Posted by Terri in Cincinnati @ 16:13 on Jul 15 2014

I do not know if he is a fraud or not but I do know I have no place to judge him or anyone else. I am constantly judged for things I am trying to overcome in my life and it does not feel very good. EVERYONE of us have fallen short. We all struggle, some of our sins are hidden from the world and we present things in a clean outward package while others have, for instance, a wt. problem for all the world to judge. The church as a whole has failed and wounded more than our own loved ones have wounded us. We have nothing to boast about and we will all stand before God one day . God help all of us.

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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