God is continually shaking His church, removing corruption and deception of all forms. But we must be bold enough to accept the blame for giving charlatans (men of god) a platform.

Al Capone, a notorious criminal  once controlled all of Chicago in the 1920s. The  gangster, we are told, bribed the city’s mayor, bought the police and presided as king and demi-god over an empire of casinos, brothels and motels and smuggling operations. He dodged bullets for years and lived above the law. In fact, he went by the sobriquet “Untouchable” because no one could confront or bring him to justice.

Before he finally went to prison in 1932, he justified his actions, saying: “All I do is satisfy a public demand.” He refused to accept responsibility for the unwarranted pain, fear and a general state of insecurity his reign inflicted on the people just because he knew mayors, policemen and community leaders who supported him while he breathed fire. That was the notorious Al Capone.

As preachers of the gospel (I am one of them)  in today’s world, we may not know how many unbelievers reject the gospel because they see the church supporting quacks, fraudsters, thieves, whoremongers and homosexuals, who parade themselves as men of God. These supposed men of God swagger, brag, lie, flatter, bribe, steal and tearfully beg their way into our lives. Sadly, we applaud them.

I religiously hate to compare any minister of God to a gangster (like Al Capone). But the sad truth  we must be prepared to face is that today, there is a handful (well, maybe more) of unscrupulous preachers who share some of Capone’s despicable traits. They are notoriously and gravely greedy. They are masters of deception and manipulation. They have bought their way into the charismatic religious sub-culture and used hypnotism, disguised as charisma, to control major Christian TV networks.

Like Capone, their days are numbered. Accept this truth: Their days are numbered. Justice and nemesis will soon catch up with them. Amen.

These false prophets probably all started out with genuine call from God, but unwittinly allowed success to destroy them. They were lured away from the true path and faith by fame and money. And when their ministries mushroomed, they resorted to compromise, adding the mundane practices of the Canaanite and the voodoo of Egypt to keep their machines rolling. Now, in the midst of the Great Recession (Global Meltdown), God is closing in on them.

But before we rejoice that these ‘men of god,’ are being removed from their pulpits and yanked off the airwaves, let’s pause for a while and reflect. How did these false preachers achieve such fame? You care to know? We all supported them knowingly and unknowingly.

We were all gullible. When they said: “The Lord promises you untold wealth if you will simply give ten thousand naira right now,” we were quick to donate and waited for the pouring down of blessings. We became lazy, not willing to ask useful questions. ‘If I give and refuse to work, what happens?’” God forgive us.

We were the undiscerning ones. When they said: “I need your sacrificial gift today so I can repair my private jet,” we didn’t ask why should a servant of God not be humble enough to fly coach class to a Third World nation or anywhere in the world? God forgive us.

We were the foolish ones. When it was revealed that they were living in immorality (which some actually do), mistreating their wives and children or populating cities with illegitimate children, we listened to well-laid out lies from their paid PROs instead of demanding that God’s servants and ministry leaders act like Christians. God forgive us.

We were the feeble-minded ones. When they begged for N2 million more in donations because of a budget shortfall, we didn’t feel comfortable asking why they needed that N100,000 a night hotel suite. In fact, if we did question it, another Christian was quick to say, “Don’t criticize! The Bible says, ‘Touch not the Lord’s anointed!’” God forgive us.

We are asked to donate for church buildings, foreign missions, building of universities (which is now the fad), hospitals, etc. When completed, most church members are excluded from the services provided by such institutions because such cost a king’s ransom.

We have treated these charlatans like Al Capone—as if they were untouchable—and as a result, their corruption has spread throughout charismatic churches like the plague. Our movement is eaten up with materialism, pride, deception and sexual sin because we were afraid to call these Bozos what they really are —insecure, selfish, egotistical and emotionally dysfunctional.

If we had applied Biblical discernment a long time ago, we could have avoided this mess. There is no way we can know how many unbelievers rejected the gospel because they saw the church supporting quacks who swaggered, bragged, lied, flattered, bribed, stole and tearfully begged their way into our lives—while we applauded them and sent them money.

When well-meaning Christians quote 1 Chronicles 16:22 (“Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm,” NASB) to cover up corruption or charlatanism. They do horrible injustice to Scripture. This passage does not require us to stay quiet when a leader is abusing power or deceiving people.

On the contrary, we are called to confront sin in the spirit of love and honesty—and we certainly aren’t showing love to the church if we allow the charismatic Al Capones of our generation to corrupt it.

It is high time we said no to the untouchable preachers of our time.

•Shallom Ufforth is a member of The Apostolic Church, Oshodi Area, Shasha District, LAWNA Territory, Nigeria.