Fallen Leaders Gallery 11

Fallen Leaders Gallery 11

11. ROBERT TILTON (Christian)

Robert Tilton, 1980s televangelist, threw away prayer requests and kept millions in donation money.

Offense: Tilton became a popular televangelist in the 1980s with his show, "Success-N-Life." ABC-TV's "Primetime Live" program reported in 1991 that Tilton's ministry threw away nearly 10,000 pounds of prayer requests without reading them, while pocketing money or valuables sent as donations by viewers. A master of religious marketing, Tilton generated an estimated $80 million a year for his ministry, the Word of Faith World Outreach Center Church in Dallas.

Consequence/Punishment: Tilton repeatedly denied the allegations of his misconduct. In 1992, he sued ABC for libel, but the case was dismissed. Several donors sued Tilton on fraud charges, but none were successful. Tilton's viewership and donations declined dramatically, which required him to stop paying for airtime for "Success-N-Life" in 1993.

Effect on Community: Donors, many of whom were in desperate financial situations when they sent money to Tilton, lost their money and were deceived about the prayers they hoped for. In 1999 Tilton's church was sold for $6.1 million. He continues to make millions of tax-free dollars at his new church, Christ the Good Shepherd Worldwide Church, in Hallandale, Fla., and lives comfortably on oceanfront property.


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