Jeff Testerman Pulitzer Prize Winning “Fabulist”!

Jeff Testerman Tampa Bay Times

Jeff Testerman
Tampa Bay Times

Nobody covers dirt better than Jeff Testerman,  the Tampa Bay Times’ veteran investigative reporter, says Creative Loafing Magazine.  Why is he now being accused of being a “fabulist”?  What is a fabulist?  a liar, especially a person who invents elaborate, dishonest stories.  When you are finished with this story, you will probably understand why.  Now remember this is only one story of many written by Jeff Testerman over the years for the Times that have proven to be full of fabrications and exaggerations.  Some of the stories put Testerman in court defending his stories before a jury and judge.  

Testerman is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist has made a career by digging deeply into issues of tampa-bay-timespublic interest often involving political corruption or corporate wrongdoing. However, Testerman known for his over-ambitious reporting, has been accused of embellishing and even fabricating his stories to sell newspapers.  The Tampa Bay Times, who employees Testerman is known to many in the Tampa Bay area for yellow journalism in the style of the National Enquirer.   A prime example from their archive is the “embarrassment of winning a 1985 Pulitzer Prize for an “investigation” of a local sheriff who was later exonerated by the court.  Who needs facts when you can make them up, many of Testerman’s co-workers would say!   The Times and Testerman have both been accused of violating the code of conduct for journalism,  which is to report news events and issues accurately and fairly, not manufacture it.

 

Belinda Clark 2014

Belinda Clark
2014

Over the years, the Times has resorted to questionable tactics that are even unethical and illegal, say journalism and legal experts in order to sell newspapers.  Jeff Testerman has been Tampa Bay Times leading investigative reporter for many years.  His penchant for getting the “scope” has led him in the the ‘weeds” on many occasions and even landed him in court defending himself from libel as in the case of the Seminole Indian Tribe.  Now some excuse his “over-ambitious” techniques as the price for getting “big stories of corruption in the community!  However, for every accurate story their have been others that were proven to be nothing more than Testerman’s ability to include some facts in his story to lend credibility to the conclusions he has drawn that are not only proven to be wrong but in some cases nothing more that slander.   One Times employee who knows Testerman said, “if Jeff said it, they probably did it and if he got the facts wrong, they probably deserved it anyway!”

The problem is not when Jeff Testerman or other Times reporters get a story right but how many danger reporters in the areapeople have been hurt when he gets it wrong?  In one of several libel cases brought against Testerman, he was caught fabricating sources and entire stories.  However, the Times did not fact checking Testerman stories and printed them anyway.    Testerman’s style is to write every story as if he was “god”.  He would become policeman, judge and executioner of his subjects as he wrote with absolute impunity. He had the reputation of being a  journalist with a grasp on all the facts.  He often drew conclusions about the story that later proved false.  However, Mr. Testerman was an award-winning reporter who never backed down from his assumptions even when he is proven wrong. Our search of the Time archive could not find one retraction made by Testerman in the years that he has worked for them.  Testerman seems to be so sure of himself that he will  rarely us the word “alleged” but rather writes his stories with impunity.  In person he can be a snake charmer or an ass.  When Testerman’s writes a story, one would wonder why bother having a hearing or trial, after all, the all knowing Jeffry Testerman has spoken!  This classless reprobate gives readers assurance that guilt is certain and the case should be closed.  After all, Testerman is always right and there is no need for a trial, just get the rope and “lynch them”!  

In one such series of stories written through out 2003, Mr. Testerman had investigated the “divorce of

Daryl Scott Akers (mugshot)

Daryl Scott Akers (mugshot)

one of Tampa Bay’s most popular pastors, Ron Clark of the mega sized Living Water Church located on I-4 across from the fair grounds. Testerman stories made the headlines of the Times as he reported that Clark had “embezzled funds and hid the money offshore”!  He reported he had evidence that Clark even had plans to flee prosecution and “flee to the jungles of Africa”.  The fact is Testerman was “creating a story” that simply had no facts to support it.  The truth is Clark was investigated by IRS because of Testerman’s stories .  Testerman does not tell you that his source for the story was Clark’s wife who used the made up story to try and gain an advantage in a custody battle with her husband.  After a year of being investigated by the criminal division of the IRS, Clark was cleared of any wrongdoing and Testerman’s source for the story, Belinda Clark was convicted of perjury.  In addition, Clark obtained full and permanent custody of both minor children in part due to Belinda Clark’s perjured testimony.  Once again neither the Times or Testerman failed to print a retraction or correction to his scurrilous stories.

Another bold headline story written by Testerman indicated that Clark had been accused of domestic violence by his estranged wife, Belinda Clark.  Testerman took the “scope” he obtained from Belinda and wove it into a story that the reader would have naturally assumed that ClarDefamationk would go to jail. Testerman’s story ends there.  He fails to inform his readers that a hearing was held in Pasco County  before Judge Linda Babb and that Clark that the allegations did not result in any charges and Clark was cleared of any wrongdoing.    The judge ruled that Belinda and her witnesses lacked “candor” and her story seemed to change each time she testified.  However, Testerman knowing the outcome of the hearing continued to repeat that Clark had been accused of domestic violence in other stories but never mentioned that no charges were ever filed in the case.  This is the Testerman style, he seems to believe that if he says something enough times that it will become true.  He never admitted in his articles that his assumptions about Clark were proven to be baseless and without merit.  Did that bother Testerman, probably not.

Testerman’s portrayal of Belinda Clark as the victim seemed to sell newspapers.  Their is nothing more outlandish than a preachers wife accusing him of wrongdoing!   It seemed to be apparent to Testerman that this was just an old fashion divorce by an unfaithful wife but that story does not sell newspapers.  However, by making the wife a victim of violence mixed with accusations of thousands of dollars stolen from a church and you got front page news.

The truth that came out in sworn testimony but was never printed in the paper was Belinda Clark was having an old fashion torrid sexual affair with a convict turned minister named Daryl Ackers.  Both

Pastor Ron Clark

Pastor Ron Clark

Belinda and Ackers worked at the Carpenters Home Church with Pastor Karl D. Strader.  Belinda was the principal of the church school and Ackers was the prison and visitation minister.   Belinda was hiding her affair in order to get an advantage in the divorce and custody hearings.  She wanted to get $4,000 a month in permanent alimony,  keep custody of their two minor children along with several thousand dollars in child support.  Her efforts backfired on her and her lover Daryl Ackers was caught selling narcotics and had to testify in his prison orange jumpsuit and shackles.  His testimony confirmed their drug fueled love affair.   He asked Belinda to wait for him to get out of prison to marry him.  He was carried out of court professing his deep love for her.  You think this would have been salacious enough to make the paper but it didn’t.  Why you might ask?  Testerman had already made Clark out the villain in his story and was not wiling to admit his assumptions were wrong.

In the end, Testerman stopped reporting on the Clark’s when Judge Linda Babb charged the source of his stories with perjury.  A fact that was printed by the Times rival newspaper the Tampa Tribune.   Belinda Clark was convicted of conspiring together with her sister-in-law, Linda Clark-Gestrin (Clark’s sister) to deceive the court by fabricating stories and coordinating their testimony for nearly a year.   Both Mrs. Clark and Gestrin were implicated in “suborning perjury” which resulted in a trial and conviction of Belinda Clark where she was sentenced to one year in jail but later the judge suspended the sentence since it was her first criminal conviction.

Part II

Linda Gestrin city commissioner High Springs Fl

Linda Gestrin city commissioner High Springs Fl

Apparently Belinda Clark’s conviction for perjury in a Pasco County Court had a dramatic affect on her claim for permanent alimony and custody of the Clark’s two minor children. Belinda lost custody to her husband of both minor children along with nearly $2000.00 a month child support.   Florida courts rarely gives a husband “sole custody” of minor children.  In addition, Belinda was ordered to pay child support for their care.

In the matter of permanent alimony, court records indicated that she could have received up to $4,000.00 per month but the Judge ruled that she was entitled to no alimony.  apparently, Pastor Clark was forced to file for divorce when Belinda, his of 25 years ran off with the Clark’s minor children after her sexual affair with a convict turned minister turned convict again,  became public   Florida does not have “legal separation” and there is no legal way for one parent to get custody of minor children from another parent except after filing for a divorce.  Clark said in court that he was forced to file and try to get custody of the children when he did not see them for months.  Once Clark filed the divorce papers,  his wife, Belinda started her accusations of wrongdoing against her husband.

Reverend Karl Strader

Reverend Karl Strader

Pastor Clark later testified in court that he did not want a divorce and hoped he could reconcile with his wife.  He stated “She is the first and only girl I have ever loved”.  He went to say “I could forgive her of the affairs but when she took the children away for months and I knew when the children told me what they were seeing their mom and boyfriend doing,  I knew that I had to file the divorce and try to get them home.”

Evidently, Pastor Clark’s fears about his children’s welfare were founded in truth.  In court testimony it became evident that  Belinda was having an affair with a convicted con man and drug dealer Reverend Daryl Akers. Akers, was a convicted felon who reportedly “got religion in a Florida prison”. Subsequent to his release, he was hired by the Reverend Karl Strader and his son . Reverend Stephen Strader to be the outreach minister for the church.

Reverend Karl Strader is the pastor of the 10,000 seat Carpenters Home Church which was one of the

Carpenters Home Chruch

Carpenters Home Chruch

largest churches in America during the 1990’s but has since collapsed and is only a few hundred people.  The demise of the church was caused in large part by the The Reverend Strader’s son, Daniel Strader age 37,  who defrauded many hundreds of the churches senior members of millions of dollars in an fraudulent investment scheme.  He plead innocent but was convicted 238 felony counts and sentenced to 45 years in prison in August 1995.  The evil and wicked deeds of Dan Strader and his 238 counts of theft, fraud and racketeering have haunted Carpenter’s Home Church in Lakeland for years.

Apparently Rev. Strader had hired Daryl Ackers to do visitation in the prisons and homes of the members.  Ackers was a convicted felon who found religion while in prison.  In addition, Strader had asked Belinda Clark to come serve as the principal of the large school located at the church.  While attending a staff meeting Ackers and Clark met one another and a sexual affair ensued.  After months of secret meetings in seedy hotels the affair became public.  Belinda Clark’s husband, Pastor Ron Clark was pastor of one of Tampa’s largest churches called Living Water.  He was forced to file for divorce in order to get custody of the couples two minor children who had disappeared with their mother and her boyfriend.  This resulted in a very public and messy divorce that made it into the local papers.  A year long battle in the court ensued.  Clark obtained a “bifurcated divorce” after within a few months of filing the paperwork.  However, the custody and alimony issues were not settled for many months.

Reverend Karl Strader

Reverend Karl Strader

Judge  Babb stated in her final ruling in the custody battle that “no evidence” was ever presented to the court to substantiate their outlandish accusations made against Dr. Ronald Clark by his now ex-wife and his sister, Linda Gestrin.  The fact that both Belinda and Mrs. Gestrin had made up the stories about Pastor Clark and  Belinda’s conviction for perjury committed in the case also had a dramatic affect on the judge’s ruling.  Belinda’s claim for permanent alimony of nearly $4,000 per month was denied by the court.   As for custody of the Clark’s two minor children, the judge ruled in favor of Pastor Clark and gave him “permanent custody” of both children even though Florida courts seem to always rule in favor of the wife.  In addition, Belinda forfeited about $2000.00 a month child support and was also ordered to pay child support for their care.   The judge had already granted Pastor Clark a “bifurcated divorce” around August 2003 but had reserved on the matters of alimony and custody until nearly a year later.

Also contained in the judges final ruling was that much of Belinda Clark’s testimony and that of Pastor Ron Clark’s sister,  Linda Clark Gestrin’s testimony was not considered by the judge as truthful or credible.  Belinda Clark paid a high price for her lying to the court.  One person who was in the courtroom when the ruling was given said ” I wonder if she would have had that affair if she would have known what it was going to cost her?”    Testerman did not report any of the judge’s decision to the public.

Finally,  after a year-long criminal investigation by the IRS was suddenly closed by the Justice

deathphoto1Department when the only witnesses, Belinda Clark and Linda Clark-Gestrin, with any information about the alleged wrong doing by either Clark or the Living Water Church board of trustees were accused of Perjury.  Testerman was provided with a copy from the United States Justice Department to Dr. Clark indicating that the case was closed but chose not to report write an article about that fact.    It is apparent that Testerman and the Times probably did not report the way this who story ended to the readers since the Times had printed so many articles for the past year and a half “accusing and implicating Clark of criminal wrongdoing”.

The truth true about the Clark’s divorce probably would not have garnered the “headlines” or got Mr. Testerman another nomination for a “Pulitzer Prize” if he had written the real story.   Belinda Clark had an “old fashion sexual affair and she got caught.  All she wanted to do was cover her moral failure by making her husband the story and it almost worked”.  said Pastor Clark’s lawyer, renowned Tampa attorney,  Arnie Levine said in a TV news interview when asked about the Clark’s divorce.   Levine went on to say ” I am satisfied that anyone who is interested in the truth would come to the same conclusions as the judge in this case”.   How many other stories that were written by Mr. Jeff Testerman over his illustrious career were true?  No one will ever know.

 

 

Advertisements

Testerman’s Con on Tampa Bay (part one)

Testerman’s Con on Tampa Bay (part one)

The Truth About Jeff Testerman 

Written by Brett James (free-lance reporter) trialbypress.wordpress.com

(2005, 2012 updated and re-published)

Jeff Testerman Tampa Bay Times

Jeff Testerman
Tampa Bay Times

TAMPA BAY-   Jeff Testerman was an award winning, Pulitzer Prize star of the St. Pete Times. However, he seemed to make a habit of only telling the parts of his investigative reports that fit his story line.  Many have said he sensationalized his articles to get attract readers and sell newspapers!   He is quoted as saying “I am not in the business of telling the truth but a story that sells papers”. 

In one particular series concerning the Seminole Indian Tribe , Testerman and the Times faced a lawsuit for libel from a powerful Indian Tribe in Florida.   The Seminole Indian Tribe responded with scathing comments about Testerman and the Times in their Tribal Newspaper.   Testerman was accused of writing articles with manufactured or exaggerated evidence and he was accused of the unethical way he tried to gather his evidence.  Testerman wrote a belligerent attack on the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida, However, he had finally met a powerful and wealthy adversary whose operations are financed by tribal casinos.  There deep pockets were probably deeper than the Times and they were not going to take it lying down.  Testerman and the Times had misjudged the tribe for the last time.  Testerman’s investigative reports were on public trial and the Seminole Indians had their own media outlets to spread the story.   Testerman was brought to his knees and humiliated some said at it cast a long, dark shadow on all the articles that he has written, said many who heard the facts.  The Seminole Tribe prevailed in the courts splint decision.  

In another investigative report where Testerman seemed to base his entire story on questionable

Pastor Ron Clark 2014

Pastor Ron Clark
2014

investigative techniques, half-truths and innuendos occurred when Testerman set out to destroy a prominent Tampa minister, Pastor Ron Clark of Living Water Church in 2003 and 2004.  His stories made front page news and were read by tens of thousands around the world.  The problems with the story line he created was they proved to be false.  Pastor Clark was in the middle of a divorce with his wife of 25 years, Belinda Clark.  Pastor Clark sister, Linda Clark Gestrin had joined her sister in law, Belinda in making serious charges concerning Pastor Clark’s handling of church finances.  As a result of their accusations, it became apparent that Mr. Testerman had a “juicy story” that could win him another “Pulitzer”!   After all, everyone is interested in a “crooked preacher” story.  However, just as the Seminole Tribe discovered the truth about Mr. Testerman, so did a group of college journalism students that took the time to verify his stories.  His accusations were bogus at best and probably should have resulted in another “libel suit” but Pastor Ron Clark and the church did fight back.  I will explain just how we came to this conclusion that Pastor Ron Clark was vilified by Testerman with his “fictional story line”.  Here is the basis for our conclusions.

deceptive journalism cartoonI investigated this story with a group of students as an assignment for our journalism class in 2005.  As an idealistic student with a passion for writing, I wanted to “learn” from the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalism skills of Mr. Testerman.     I traveled to Dade City, Florida to read for myself the court records of the divorce proceedings.  Hundreds of hours of sworn testimony were on record.  I interviewed witnesses, court observers as well as Living Water Church members and board members who knew Pastor Clark best.  I was also able to track down a few relatives and they gave me insight into Pastor Clark and his sister Linda Clark Gestrin.  It became very apparent that most of what Mr. Testerman wrote in the TIMES was either half true or not true at all.

I was able to read a copy of the “depositions” of the Clark’s, Gestrin and other prominent witnesses.   I was shocked at the discrepancies between the “St. Pete TIMES” articles and the actual court records.  Mr. Testerman’s stories imply that Pastor Clark was involved in some nefarious activity, but Arnie Levine, one of Clark’s attorneys said in a TV interview, “Mrs. Clark was caught in an affair with the Rev. Daryl Akers and this is just an old fashion divorce”. Deposition testimony supports Mr. Levines statements. Reverend Daryl Akers, who is an an inmate in the Florida State Corrections system, was convicted on drug sale charges and could not be reached for comment.  However, the court records indicate that he was called to testify in the Clark’s divorce and admitted to having an ongoing “sexual relationship” with Mrs. Clark.  He indicated that he met her while they both served on the staff of the Carpenters Home Church with Pastor Karl Strader.

 

Belinda Clark 2014

Belinda Clark
2014

Akers was brought to court by prison guards and was wearing a prison orange jumpsuit, white slippers and was shackled both hands a feet as he testified.  Akers is awaiting sentence on numerous felonies and will spend years behind bars.  Akers apparently used his “status” as a minister for a cover during his drug deals.  He told the court that he would be a much better “dad” for the Clark’s two minor children than Pastor Clark.  He was angry that “Belinda had broken up with him when he was convicted and jealous that she already is living with a new boyfriend, Ronnie Fraley.  Akers was drug from the courtroom by Bailiffs and was crying.  Mrs. Clark had no comment on her love affair with Akers but confirmed that her new boyfriend was Ronnie Fraley.  When asked if exposing her children to men like Akers was a good influence on young teenagers, she responded that he was always nice to them”.   Mr. Testerman attended the same hearing but failed to comment on Akers testimony but did report the accusation made by Belinda Clark that her husband had been “stealing $400, 00.00 from the church and hiding the money in an offshore account”.  The

Daryl Akers 2014 mugshot arrest indecent exposure

Daryl Akers 2014 mugshot
arrest indecent exposure

fact that she could not provide any evidence to support her claims was not included in his story.

Testerman’s headlines did prompt a full criminal investigation by the IRS into Pastor Clark and the churches finances.   However, after a yearlong investigation the inquiry suddenly ended when Belinda Clark was lying to the court in testimony about her husband and was convicted of Perjury by Judge Linda Babb.  She faced a one year sentence but it was suspended since it was her first criminal offence.  She will serve it on probation.  In addition, Belinda Clark was caught by court an official passing notes to witness’s on how they should testify in a deposition and was subsequently convicted of contempt of court.  Again, Mr. Testerman did not report on Mrs. Clarks trial or conviction and never reported the IRS had dropped the case against Pastor Clark.

yellow-journalism It is apparent that Jeff Testerman’s articles did not remotely resemble the narrative of several hundred hours of court testimony and his story about Pastor Clark was not remotely true.  This was my first introduction to the seedy, dark world “yellow journalism”.    Yellow Journalism is the practice of writing stories to attract readers with sensational headlines, exaggerations during the turn of the 19th century in New York City.   In fact, the Pulitzer Prize was named after Joseph Pulitzer who was the leading proponent of “yellow journalism” in the early 1900’s in New York City.  His skilled use of “bogus” stories dominated the headlines and sold millions of copies.  An endowment from his vast earnings created the “Pulitzer Prize”.  How ironic is the fact that Mr. Jeff Testerman had won a “Pulitzer Prize” for investigative reporting!

Most of Testerman’s stories followed closely in the writing style of Pulitzer with sensational stories and “outlandish headlines.  In the case of Pastor Clark, he was able to sway public opinion and stir up an IRS investigation with his stories about the pastor of one of the largest churches in Tampa Bay.  Newspapers sales went up during the Clark’s divorce case.   Clark was the pastor of a flock with thousands attending the church that sat on Interstate 4 across the Fair Grounds.  Clark had been a highly respected leader in the community had his name and reputation tarnished by Testerman’s penchant for “making up the news rather than reporting it.

Clark, who earned his doctors degrees from Oral Roberts University, was also the founder of a great humanitarian medical organization, Global Medical Relief.   Among other awards, Clark and Global Medical were nominated for the prestigious “Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Prize” in 1997 for his humanitarian efforts especially on behalf of children in developing countries.  His nomination was based in part for building one of the most advanced hospital for children in all of China in the mid 1990’s. The 120 bed children’s hospital in Shenyang, China took 4 years to complete and was estimated to be worth 50 million dollars.  Clark’s organization donated the finished hospital to “children of China”.

Clark was also well-known in Florida political circles since he was as a friend of both Democrats and Republicans.  It is reported he was a close friend of 4 term Tampa Mayor Dick Greco and the current Mayor Bob Buckhorn.   Under Mayor Greco, Clark and the church were honored with a “Mayors Proclamation” on behalf of the city for his outstanding humanitarian efforts.  In addition, he was honored by Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Senate.  Mayor Bob Buckhorn appointed Clark a “goodwill ambassador” to China in 2011 and Clark’s behind the scenes efforts with the Chinese brought Chinese trade to the port of Tampa.

After 9/11, Mayor Greco and the city commission asked Pastor Clark to address the city at a prayer vigil held at “packed out” Tampa Bay Times Arena.  Later, Mayor Greco was heard referring to Pastor Clark as “Tampa’s Pastor” for always being a help in times of crisis.  Clark was called on to comfort the city at the tragic death of Judge Harry Coe.

Some have speculated that it was Clark’s stature in the city was what caught the attention of Times reporter, Jeffrey Testerman.   It seems Testerman could see “blood in the water” with Clark’s story and one Times insider said “it didn’t hurt that the Clark story sold papers!  Little to no regard was given by Testerman or the Times regarding the subsequent “fallout” in the religious community or the impact that it would have on the city much less the Living Water Church.  This type of journalism is what give journalist a bad name and why the Tampa Bay Times is regarded as a “rag newspaper” by most people.

Linda Gestrin city commissioner High Springs Fl

Linda Gestrin city commissioner High Springs Fl

Testerman’s penchant for half-truths or fabrications in his story became very clear when I read the court transcripts regarding the “criminal perjury” charges and resulting trial for Belinda Clark during the divorce trial.  It appears that Belinda Clark and Linda Clark Gestrin had conspired together to “fabricate the allegations “made against Pastor Clark.  Both were caught passing notes during testimony and lying to the court.   They were accused of “suborned perjury” in the same court room where they had made the serious charges against Pastor Clark.   After the short criminal trial, Belinda Clark was convicted of contempt of court and perjury on February 24, 2004.   The Tampa Tribune  printed an article in their Law and Order section detaling her crime.   As one reporter wrote, “A judge has found former Living Water Church co-pastor Belinda Clark guilty for contempt of court and perjury or lying under oath after she was caught in several lies while testifying as well as passing notes to a witness (Linda Clark-Gestrin) in order to influence testimony…”  during a hearing to address visitation issues between her estranged husband, Ron Clark, and the couple’s teenage children.She faced one year in jail and a fine.  However, Circuit Court Judge Linda Babb “suspended the sentence” because it was her first criminal conviction.  However, the impact of the perjury resulted much of the testimony of both women was “stricken from the court record”.  In addition, Linda Clark Gestrin was physically removed from the courtroom and not allowed to return for the rest of the case.

The “inside witness” of Mr. Testerman was Linda Clark Gestrin.  This was revealed when Gestrin inadvertently sent documents that she said she had taken from Pastor Clark study and sent them to Testerman, the IRS and Clark’s own attorney, Dennis Alfonso by mistake.  The problem seemed to be that the documents were not real.    After his client’s perjury conviction,   it was implied that Mr. Hogwind, Belinda Clark’s attorney may have “coached” both women in their testimonies and apparently tried to influence the Clarks children to make up charges or misconduct by their dad.  This was revealed when the children testified in their custody hearing that he had told them what to say.  However, these allegations were dropped when Pastor Clark obtained permanent custody of both their minor children.  These facts never appeared in the St. Pete Times.

Gospel Ministers: Slandered, Reviled, and Maligned

By Dr, Robert Morey

(Submitted by reader)

george whitfieldFaithful men of God have always been the object of vicious attacks from hateful and malicious people. They have always been maligned, slandered, denounced, called every evil name in the book, and accused of all wickedness. Yet, biblical history and Church history remembers these great men of God while their critics are forgotten forever.

In the same way, modern men of God who stand solidly for the truth of the Gospel against liberalism, Islam, the cults, the occult, and, yea, against all unbelief, are maligned and slander on every hand. But the foundation of God remains secure. The gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church or her faithful ministers of the gospel.

Whitefield is remembered today as a man mightily used by God in one of the greatest times of Revival in English history. His ministry is credited with saving England from suffering a bloody revolution like the French Revolution.

While George Whitefield is praised today, he was often maligned and persecuted in his own generation. Rev. Reeves wrote an insightful article on the abuse heaped upon Whitefield during his ministry.

Let all true ministers of the gospel take note that if Whitefield, Spurgeon, and, indeed, our Lord himself, did not escape slanderous abuse and malicious attacks, they why should we think that we shall escape persecution.

The following is part of the Dudley Reeves’ article “George Whitefield in Scotland” (Banner of Truth, no. 162, March 1977, pgs. 27-28)

————————————————————————————————————–

A third valuable lesson that Whitefield taught Scots was to receive personal abuse and spiritual opposition with patience and humility.

In 1742, Whitefield suffered an onslaught of pamphlets aimed against him. This was no new experience to him, for in the six years he had been a minister there had possible been as many as 160 pamphlets directed at him in England and America, in addition to the sermons, magazine articles and news reports attacking him and his work. The Scots Magazine itself had joined in the jibes before Whitefield became known to Scotland I person. Many of the 160 pamphlets were written by fellow ministers, many contained scurrilous personal abuse and some had descended to the indecent and the obscene.

In 1742 the Secedes’ understandable anger towards Whitefield turned into inexcusable abuse. In June, Adam Gib, one of their ministers, published his 75 page pamphlet against Whitefield. Part of the title reads:

“A WARNING against Countenancing the Ministrations of Mr. George Whitefield…Wherein are shown, that Mr. Whitefield is no minister of Jesus stocks and pilloriesChrist; that his Call and Coming to Scotland are scandalous; that his Practice is disorderly and fertile of Disorder; that his whole Doctrine is, and his Success must be diabolical; so that People ought to avoid him from Duty to God, to the Church, to themselves, to Fellow-men, to Posterity, and to him.”

In 1744 a Seceder accused Whitefield of “dreadful Error, flagrant Enthusiasm, gross Delusion, and horrid Blasphemies” and making “filthy lucre” his chief aim.

Though Whitefield continued to be the object of abuse elsewhere, in Scotland there was less criticism after 1750…In a letter to Lady Huntington, Whitefield was able to write,

God be praised for the many strippings I have met! It is good for me that I have been supplanted, despised, censured, maligned, and separated form my nearest, dearest friend. By this, I have found the faithfulness of Him, who is the Friend of friends.

slander1700sWhitefield’s patience and humility while under fire from several quarters must have been a good example to many Scots. Surely others felt as one Aberdeen minister wrote of Whitefield in 1741,

His calmness and serenity under all he meets with, yea his joy in tribulation is to me so surprising, that often think, the Lord sent him to this place, in particular, to teach me how to preach and especially how to suffer.

Conclusion

Let us all learn from Whitefield to embrace slander and gossip as proof of our ministry. Rejoice for great will be our reward in heaven when men revile you and say all manner of evil against you falsely