AKRON- For several decades Televangelist Ernest Angley has pastored Grace Cathedral in Cuyahoga Falls.
Best known for his faith-healing services, Angley has maintained a loyal following with his ministry and an online bible college.
But in his special reports for the Akron Beacon Journal, columnist Bob Dyer reports that scandalous accusations against the pastor created a split within his church.
“This all began when an associate pastor of the church quit and he told friends and family that he had been inappropriately touched by Reverend Angley for seven years and couldn’t take it anymore,” Dyer told FOX 8 News on Tuesday.
Dyer said he was sent a two-and-a-half hour audio recording of a special service in July during which Angley, 93, responded to several explosive allegations.
“Reverend Angley stood up and denied being homosexual,” said Dyer, who explained that the recording started him on a two-month long journey in which he spoke repeatedly with 21 former church members who shared alarming experiences they claim have taken place within the church.
“The more folks I talked to, the easier it was to find additional people, most of whom were willing to let me use their name which was the key to the whole thing,” said Dyer.
Many of the people quoted in his Akron Beacon Journal articles allowed Dyer to use their names.
“The most appalling thing I heard from former members was that Reverend Angley has so much sway over his members that he can talk them into getting vasectomies or abortions. He doesn’t believe people should bring children into the world and I talked to a number of people who begrudgingly got vasectomies and abortions,” said Dyer.
“There was one woman in particular who struck me. She said the church told me to go get an abortion. I sat there in the waiting room; I couldnt do it. I walked out, went back to the church and they continued saying I should get an abortion; you don’t want to bring a child into the world and she went back and had it the second time,” he added.
FOX 8 reached out to Reverend Angley for a response to the Beacon Journal articles.
We were given a verbal comment from a receptionist, who refused to give her name.
“Reverend Angley is not interested in responding to the article. It is a bunch of lies. It has not hindered us. We have been blessed in each service with crowds.”
Dyer said before publishing his stories he did get to talk with Angley for 90 minutes in his church office.
“About the abortions, he said he didn’t really take a stand on abortion. The church was taking no stand he did. When I asked him about the vasectomies, he said when people ask for my advice I tell them and eventually it lead into a conversation about why people should not reproduce. He claims that the world is too evil; you shouldn’t bring children into it,” said Dyer.
“Most of what I asked him about he denied; although he did admit to examining men before and after vasectomies. I said, ‘you are not a medical doctor. Why are you doing this?’ He said, ‘well I have to check for the swelling’ and he said in most cases he can pray and the swelling goes away and if that doesn’t work he sends them to a doctor and in most cases the doctor is very grateful he is helping out,” added Dyer.
When asked by FOX 8 if he felt 21 people was a fair representation of the thousands who have attended Angley’s church, Dyer said he believes there are many more.
“When I have 21 people telling me pretty much the same thing, some of them having left 25 years ago, some of them who left two months ago, the stories are very, very similar. When you listen to them and hear the passion in their voice and the enthusiasm they have for getting this story out there, it’s tough to think that there… as a matter of a fact since the first couple of stories have run I have gotten many many contacts, emails and phone calls from other former members who said, you nailed it– if you need more information, here’s my name and number give me a call,” he told FOX 8.
Dyer admitted he has also heard from angry supporters of Angley.
“As I expected, I have heard from some folks who are very upset, quoting bible versus and telling me I am going to be in big trouble long-term; but I have been amazed that the percentage of support has been about 98 percent. I mean most of the people who contact me are telling me congratulations, this needed to be told, many of them ex-members. So, I have been, I guess, surprised about how few angry parishoners have contacted me.”
Dyer also said he believes the stories have not surfaced earlier out of fear.
“I think the main reason we haven’t heard about all of this sooner is people are scared. I mean even people who have left the church are very fearful, many of them to talk about it. I mean he wields tremendous clout within the church. Folks do what he tells them to do in many cases. The thing I kept hearing when I asked why it hadn’t been brought up before is people are afraid.” explained Dyer.
FOX 8 News searched for, but was unable to find any civil suits or criminal charges that have ever been filed against Angley in Summit County accusing him of inappropriate physical activity.