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 Paul Heimbuch in Springfield @ 04:56 on Sep 27 2019

People will believe what they want despite how wrong it is.

Posted by Robert @ 03:15 on Sep 24 2018

I remember driving over 100 miles, one direction, to see him speak. When this all came out, I felt betrayed and totally stupid.

Posted by russell in keyes @ 20:25 on Aug 9 2018

I was baptized in Organ state and was a hitchhiker traveling north from California and the brothers in Christ who baptized me one of them had a cassette and played Mike Warnke for me to listen. I latter bought new cassettes of this funny man. His silliness may have got him in trouble at times but God has ways of reminding us He is in control

Posted by Mary Mogg in Evansville, In @ 05:21 on Mar 24 2018

I remember seeing him twice in Indiana. Must say he was very convincing. I never questioned it because I was a new convert. Thank goodness I had people to help me not to believe everything he sd in his concerts. I never knew what happen until I seen this. Pray God, sets him free.

Posted by Mike LaPonte in Fredericksburg @ 23:05 on Oct 6 2017

His entire ministry was based on lies.
I read his book in the 80s, I should have questioned the timeline. Then the expose came out in the 90s. It felt like a betrayal.
The truth is always important and the ends do not justify the means.

Posted by Jinnie C. in Eugene, Or @ 00:20 on Sep 6 2017

In the recent past my brother was sharing with me about Mike and the supposed fraud. I've heard his testimony, listened to his preaching, and his humorous ways of telling stories. I'm not sure that I believe he is a fraud only God knows. Either way Mike has been an instrumental piece of music in God's orchestra. I still remember one story he used the name Demona in as a secretary to the devil. Oh Mike was so funny. I hope none of this is true, but even if it is, so what, Many have come to Christ and only Christ can judge Mike, me or any of us, for that matter. I pray you are still walking with Jesus Mike, and I thank you for your stories, and for your faith, at the time I listened to you, you made a huge impact on my life. Thank you. And P.s., if the fraud is true, well than I forgive you.

Reply by Gerry in Winston-Salem NC @ 18:59 on Dec 19 2017

Mike will read your email and write you back if you contact him.

[report abuse]

Posted by Adele L Hayes in Zeeland @ 07:10 on Aug 15 2017

Back on Nov. 4th,1978 I believe I have the right date, Mike Warnke was in Omaha Nebr. He gave an alter call & I stood up I was PG @ the time W/my first child, I knew very little about the Bible & when I asked Jesus Christ into my life, my daughter leapped in my womb, I don't really care what the media say's about Mike, He'll have to answer to God. all I know is that if it wasn't for that night in Omaha Nebr. I would not have Salvation tonight. So no matter what I thank Mike for his stories even if they aren't ture, I was brought to Jesus that night so many years ago....Thanks Mike Warnke

Posted by Greg Ritter in Amherst @ 13:43 on Jul 18 2017

It makes little differents to me if his testimony is real or fabricated all I know is that his tapes have given me so much strength in my Christian walk Thank You Mike for all that you have done cause I know that my salvation is real

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.

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

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