Fundy Pastor Caught Lying About Being A Navy SEAL

Meet Jim Moats, BJU grad and pastor of the Christian Bible Fellowship Church of Newville, PA. It seems that Jim wanted to really wanted to impress his church and make them believe he was a real tough guy. So he told them all he was a former Navy SEAL who was decorated for his valor in Vietnam. Only problem is…he wasn’t. In fact, He had never even been to Vietnam.

Whoops.

As reporter Liz Goodwin writes:

Moats told his church for five years that he was a former SEAL, and even once wore the elite program’s gold Trident medal around town. He elaborated on that tale when his local paper contacted him last week as it was reporting a story about the rigors of SEAL training in the wake of the SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.

Among other things, Moats said he was subjected to waterboarding when he trained at Little Creek Amphibious Base in Virginia Beach in 1971 and was assigned dishwashing duty for his bad attitude. “I had almost no discipline. I was as wild as they came. That was my nemesis,” he told the paper. “They weren’t looking for a guy who brags to everyone he is a SEAL. They wanted somebody who was ready but had an inner confidence and didn’t have a braggadocio attitude.”

Several former SEALs wrote into The Patriot-News casting doubt on the reverend’s account of his service.

One of the SEAL’s also added this:

“We deal with these guys all the time, especially the clergy. It’s amazing how many of the clergy are involved in those lies to build that flock up,” said retired SEAL Don Shipley. Shipley also speculated the waterboarding and kitchen details came from the action depicted in “Under Siege.”

So he not only lied and wore medals that he hadn’t earned but he also took his plot points from an R-rated movie that contained strong violence, language and brief nudity?

For Shame, Fundy Pastor! For Shame!

35 thoughts on “Fundy Pastor Caught Lying About Being A Navy SEAL”

    1. I feel like a new man. This first posting was made possible only because I was reading my iPad at the dinner table rather than talking to my wife. (It was also made more challenging as it kept autocorrecting my email address, turning it into an invalid format.) that said, I will still relish my firstness, and pray that the rest of you will come to understand that dinner table conversation is overrated.

        1. Arggh. I just tossed my ipad. Not only was I not first (and I refreshed the page to make sure!), but I boasted about being first in the ghetto that is the news section. I will now crawl away in shame and vow never to ignore my wife at dinner again, not even for the siren call of being first.

  1. So sad that he didn’t find his sufficiency in Christ and Christ alone but chose to lie to make himself look more important. Truly a faulty understanding of the Gospel. We are joint heirs with Christ. We are forgiven, accepted, treasured. We don’t need any qualifications; we don’t need to pretend we’re “more” than we are because God loves us utterly.

  2. The remark about this problem being common among the clergy intrigues me. When I was at grad school – at a school with historic affiliations to the United Methodist Church – the rumor was that the div school students accounted for, by far, the highest number of disciplinary problems of any school in the university. When I was at law school, the affiliated div school – one of the leading div schools in the nation – appeared to be populated (if their students’ questions at jointly sponsored panel events were any indication) largely by idiots. And don’t get me started with the preacher boys at FundyU.

    These experiences combined – though particularly the ones at the more liberal schools where I thought people would be smarter – have dramatically lowered my expectation for ministers. Was it always thus?

    1. There has always been a minority of people who have entered the ministry not to serve but to be served and to gain standing in the community. These are they who claim degrees they do not have (‘Dr.’ C.I. Scofield), make up spectacular testimonies (practically everyone who claims to have been a witch before conversion), and experiences they never had. This is because they are seeking attention. Other pastors do that by childish behaviour, denying the virgin birth, preaching sermons about sex, etc.

      1. “Doctor” Schofield lied in order to sell books. Many fundies leaders know about this lie and will not reveal it to their churches. Also they don’t denounce the Schofield Reference Bible. So much of the fundie establishment is involved in the cover-up.

        1. It was quite common at the time to assume that a notable pastor had a doctorate – C.H. Spurgeon was sometimes referred to as ‘Dr. Spurgeon’, which he corrected. Scofield did the reverse and put the letters ‘D.D.’ after his name. It’s not so much selling books as creating a persona, a public image as a scholar.

    2. Part of it, at least in fundy circles I think, has to do with many that think they have some sort of calling to something “higher”, when in reality there is pretty much no such thing anyway, and further, a great many that go into “ministry” have little to no deep understanding of the truth of scripture.

      This is why I believe in having a plurality of elders at a church, personally, and having people preach that may not even have a degree but have a wealth of knowledge about and experience with living the Christian life. Nobody’s head gets too big if there’s no single “man ‘o gawd.”

      1. Absolutely. I am one of four elders, two of whom have formal training from Seminary or Bible college. One of the others is a medical professional, and the other a businessman.

  3. I do not think I have ever met any SEALs. I have met some BUDs washouts though.

    I did meet a Green Beret once. I talked to him for a long time. He mentioned in passing that he was active-duty Army. Someone else told me what he did in the Army.

    On the subject at hand, I think fundy pastors are used to altering the truth so much and have been doing it for so long without any consequences that they think they can get away with things like this.

  4. I knew a guy in college who claimed that the CIA tried to recruit him to be a sniper/assassin. He also claimed to have written music that was used in a Broadway show, rode bulls, and had a black-out rage during an attempted mugging while he was at HAC. Somehow I seriously doubt any of those things actually happened.

    This type of stuff happens elsewhere as well. I recall a congressman recently being caught lying about serving in Vietnam.

    I met a guy this weekend who said that he was in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) for a while. I found it suspect since it is my understanding that you have to be an Israeli citizen to be in the IDF. He was recounting how he saved the lives of 19 soldiers by shooting a girl that was approaching a checkpoint with an IED on her. Maybe true; probably not.

    1. Of course if you ARE an Israeli, chances are you’ve been in the IDF – they have national service there! I was at Seminary with a fellow who was an officer in South Korea on national service, and the most exciting thig that happened to him was a total fiasco when his men panicked and started shooting with their eyes closed – and therefore shooting each other. Which is likely to be true because it reflects badly on him!

  5. That’s funny. This church is very close to my house, but I’ve never heard of him or his church. I’ll make a derogatory link on my Facebook page and see if any of my faithful fundie friends say anything.

  6. Will he resign, get fired or keep his job? Fundies are inconsistent when punishing people. Sometimes one gets punished; sometimes an apology is good enough. The difference between getting punish and getting a slap on the wrist is often depends how well connect you are, your position in the church, if you are wealthy or attractive.
    There does seem to be an incentive for fundies to lie about their lives. One might call it β€œThe Unshackled Syndrome.” Fundies love a good testimony. The more deviant your pre-saved life, the better.

    1. Ergun Caner, President of Liberty Seminary (as was) was discovered to have basically made up his testimony, which was that he was born in Turkey, raised in radical Islam and trained in Jihad, and that he came to America in his teens having learned about America by watching ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’.

      Turns out he was born in Sweden, not Turkey, came to America when he was a very small child, and brought up by his ethnically Swedish mother who quit Islam when she divorced his father – when Caner was 6. He never left the US as a child and was brought up in the state school system.

      Caner still teaches at Liberty, and there has been a concerted effort to cover up the fact that he lied and basically made up the story to get ahead.

  7. In the 19th century there was ‘Maria Monk’, a Canadian woman who claimed to have been a nun and told stories about debauchery in a convent that ensured massive sales of her book – it is basically pornographic (I have a copy hilariously illustrated with stock pictures that bear little if any relation to the text). In the 1970s and 80s we had a positive epidemic of people claiming to have been involved in witchcraft – for example Audrey Harper, who claimed that she had been recruited into satanic witchcraft while she was a prostitute living on the streets of London, and had been initiated in a ceremony involving the sacrifice of a baby (there are so many things wrong with this story – most notably that if you’re a bunch of respectable people in a commuter town the LAST thing you are going to do is get some hooker you don’t know from Eve and have her present when you murder a baby!). And now we have Ergun Caner, fake ex-Muslim (and on the other hand you have Muslims claiming to have been Christians who have no understanding of basic Christianity). What is the common theme? The group that Christians are most worried about at the time! Catholics in the 19th century, the New Age in the 70s and 80s, and Islam after 9/11 (which coincidentally is when Caner started calling himself ‘Ergun Mehmet’ instead of ‘Michael’ and pushing his fake testimony).

  8. The radio in my car here in the UK comes on automatically when you start the engine. Heading off to church at the base chapel yesterday imagine my surprise to hear a very American voice say “fundies” on BBC radio 4. I thought I heard “fundies” again and then I realized I was listening to a former Navy SEAL in an interview about his mission to expose men who claim wrongly to have been SEALs. Now, I have seen a few posts here by British Pastor, but at that point I had no idea this story had crossed the pond. The SEAL, Don Shipley, did give credit to Jim Moats for owning up to his deception. I missed the bulk of the interview, but one comment he made sticks with me:
    “Everybody hates an eye witness.”

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