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

Reader Comments

Posted by Veda Moral in Hayesville N.C @ 19:59 on Oct 27 2013

I grew up hearing Mike's testimony.We all were moved and toutched by what he used to be..a satanist preast and then went on to meet the Lord as his savour.His ability to make you laught...and preach the gospel was encourging to my young christian life.He came to our town..at that time..Ft.Pierce Fl. to our civic center.Out side were those professing to be witches and satanic worshipers protesting against Mike.I went to the side walk where they stood news cameras there too..to witness Gods love and plan of salvation. This day ill never forget.My heart breaks today Oct.27 2013...as I read that Mike had made all of his testimony up.MY HEART DOESNT WANT TO BELIEVE THIS.AND IS DIVIDED.BUT ONE THING I DO KNOW TRUE...THE BODY OF CHRIST HAD BETTER NOT THROW STONES...FOR WE HAVE ALL SINNED.I LOVE MIKE...I BELIEVE IN HIM.AND I FORGIVE HIM AS WELL.MIKE...IF YOU ARE ABLE TO READ MY MESSAGE? PLEASE KNOW THIS....GODS LOVE AND FORGIVNESS IS YOURS FOR THE ASKING...AND HE HAS GIVEN YOU AN AMAZING GIFT IN SUCH A POWERFUL WAY TO SPREAD HIS WORD....I BEG YOU MY BROTHER IN CHRIST...IF THESE ALLEGATIONS ARE TRUE...PLEASE MAKE THINGS BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR GOD RIGHT.AND GET UP FROM THIS...AND MOVE ON.THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS...AND GOD...AND THE NODY OF CHRIST AND THE UNSAVED...NEED YOU. LOVE YOU IN CHRIST MOKE... VEDA MORAL.

Posted by Edgar Peluffo in Ocala, Florida @ 23:19 on Sep 9 2013

I first heard of Mike Warnke while I was on active duty in the U.S. Air Force. I was stationed in the Philippines from Jan. 81-July 82. I was 19 years old, my MOS was 81152 Law Enforcement. I got saved in 80 as a senior in high school. Going overseas was a shock to me especially when I was involved in a shooting at the main gate. I was very alone, when one of my friends gave me a tape of Mike Warnke, often times not being able to sleep I would tune things out by plugging in my Walkman, and would listen to Mike over and over again. You helped me to get through that trying time. It broke my heart later when I heard about the events, and began to pray for you, because I knew if God has used you to speak to speak into my heart He wasn't through with you yet. I thank God for the ministry gift you are to the body of Christ. Be blessed my brother, be forgiven. I love you, and am looking forward to seeing many more good things from you. I'd like to meet you some day. Please reach out. Thanks Ed Peluffo.

Posted by Ron in Wittmann,AZ. @ 03:30 on Jul 11 2012

Well,the Word of God tells us that our sins will find us out. It also tells us that we all have sinned and fallen short,and to forgive. I think Mike can and has asked the Father for forgiveness, He could make a comeback as a comedian. Peter came back as an apostle. Jimmy swaggart is coming back,God can use anyone that will humble themselves and allow God to use them. The Word of God says we reap what we've sown,If we keep trying find fault every body(thats not say Mike Warnke is innocent)somebody is going to find some dirt on you,and you ain't gonna like it. Pray that God will reistablish his ministy under a new anointing. Because God is in the reistablishing bussiness.

Posted by Blessing Ponicsan in Colorado @ 03:33 on Dec 16 2010

This is sad - I really enjoyed Mike Warnke growing up and being a part of things that we could relate to...I heard new comedians on the Christian radio station, and I thought what a cool gift to give to my husband along with this comedian I knew at Christian Festivals when I was a kid - It was realy easy to get wrapped up into the previous decades - and whether these accusations or wrong or right - not our place to judge - still love Mike like Jesus does :)

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

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