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Ohio televangelist used slave labour to run his restaurant

Ohio televangelist used slave labour to run his restaurant

Last month a federal judge ordered 95-year-old Cuyahoga Falls televangelist Ernest Angley, above, to pay more than $388,000 (£299,000) in damages and back wages to a group of employees forced to work at Angley’s Cathedral Buffet as unpaid volunteers.

Following the court order Angley announced that he was shutting the buffet.

US District Judge Benita Pearson said that Angley and his managers at Cathedral Buffet encouraged members of his church, Grace Cathedral, to work at the buffet without pay. The for-profit restaurant used volunteers to save money and the volunteers felt pressured to provide free labour. The judge wrote:

The volunteers’ work was clearly integral to the Buffet’s operations, in that they did work that was necessary to the operation of a restaurant, such as cleaning, bussing tables, stocking the buffet, chopping vegetables, and operating the cash registers. It is hard to fathom that a restaurant could operate without such work being completed.

The Labor Department filed a lawsuit against Angley and the buffet in 2015 following an investigation spurred by an article in the Akron Beacon Journal. Its lawsuit said Angley and the buffet violated the Fair Labor Standards Act through its use of volunteers and did not document the volunteers’ work.

Angley maintains he and the buffet staff did nothing wrong and that the claims put forth by the government violate the First Amendment.

The Labor Department also cited Angley in 1999 for the same thing. The buffet paid $37,000 in back wages at the time and agreed to comply with labour laws.

Of the amount Pearson assessed against Angley and the buffet, half will go towards back wages of the employees, while the other half were assessed as damages, since the judge determined the defendants acted in “bad faith” by reverting back to using unpaid labour.

Pearson noted in her findings that members of Angley’s flock testified that they felt pressured into volunteering at the buffet.

In his announcements, Reverend Angley would suggest that Church members had an obligation to provide their labor to the Buffet, in service to God, and that a failure to offer their labor to the Buffet – or to refuse to respond to phone calls … seeking volunteers – would be the same as failing God.

Following the Labor Department’s 1999 investigation, Angley and his supervisors appeared to comply with the law. At some point, though, Angley told his staff that workers would need to return their pay cheques due to financial hardships at the buffet.

Two volunteers testified they still had to pay taxes on the cheques they returned.

Pearson was unpersuaded by arguments from Angley that the buffet served a religious purpose.

Cassandra Blondheim

Angley is no stranger to controversy. In 1999, his ministry paid $100,000 to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the family of a teenage girl, Cassandra Blondheim, 15, who worked as a volunteer at the restaurant. She was stabbed to death by a fellow church member, Shane Partin, who received a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Prosecutors said Partin, then 27, was angry that the 15-year-old girl rejected him.

In the lawsuit, Blondheim’s family members said Partin was merely reprimanded after the girl’s initial complaints of sexual harrassment. After she complained a second time, Partin was fired but later allowed to come back and volunteer at the restaurant.

In 2014 Crooks and Liars reported that former members Angley’s Grace Cathedral accused him of forcing them to have abortions and vasectomies. And they said that he sexually abused boys in the church, which he denied.

In the first part of a six-part series, the Akron Beacon Journal said that church members had provided it with a recording of a recent church service where Angley addressed accusations that he had inappropriately touched a former pastor.

I’m not a homosexual. God wouldn’t use a homosexual like he uses me. He calls me his prophet, and indeed I am. They called Jesus a homosexual, did you know that? And still do. Because he was with men.

Angley conceded that he had examined male congregants’ genitals to see how well their vasectomies had gone.

They had their misgivings. Sure, I’d have them uncover themselves, but I did not handle them at all.

Becky Roadman, who left the church, told the paper that:

None of us have kids because he makes all the men get fixed. You’re not allowed to have babies there.

Angley also pushed women to have abortions, according to multiple former members. One of those who left, Angelia Oborne, said that Angley advised a friend to think of the foetus inside her as:

A tumor. She was four months pregnant and she sat in the [abortion clinic] waiting room and told her baby that she was so sorry that she was doing this. I know another girl — she won’t come forward — but she was forced into having four abortions.

Greg Mulkey was a prominent member of the church, and featured on Angley’s TV broadcasts as a singer in the Hallelujahs. He said that Angley had a selfish motive for discouraging children.

He doesn’t want people to have kids because it would take their time and money away from the church. He really forced people into abortions through scare tactics, as if he were a medical doctor. It turns my stomach.

In the second part of the series, the Beacon Journal talked to Shane McCabe, who said he was molested by Angley.

“I was sexually abused there,” McCabe said, recalling that Angley “basically blew me off” when he confronted him about it years later.

He asked if I had told anybody. I said no. He said, ‘Let’s keep it a secret. This is the way we need to handle it because God’s mercy is great’.

The paper asked Angley why he counseled church members to keep quiet about abuse by him or others. He replied:

They shouldn’t talk about it, but they can do something about it. But they ought not to spread it abroad, you know, because that hurts others.

21 responses to “Ohio televangelist used slave labour to run his restaurant”

  1. barriejohn says:

    For a ninety-five-year-old, he has amazingly youthful hair. Must be the power of prayer.

    Nope, not at all artificial-looking:

    http://ohio.com/polopoly_fs/1.531081.1413298235!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_500/day1-angley-4.jpg

  2. L.Long says:

    So a bunch of deluded dimwits did not have the brain power to figure out this preacher was evil, and now some want compensation for being deluded and unable to reason!???!!
    Don’t get me wrong this preacher is evil as only gawd could inspire! But did he use a gang of armed hoods to FORCE these dimwits into doing this shit!?!?! No? Then where is this ‘feeling forced to do….’ coming from??? OH! I see! They are ‘sincerely held belief.’ Right that referred to as ‘being stoopid!’
    YES! punish the evil one as much as possible, as far as his victims? If over the age of consent…tough!!!

  3. Lurker111 says:

    @ L.Long: That was pretty much my first reaction, too.

  4. gedediah says:

    @ L. Long

    Churches are full of vulnerable people who are easily duped by the likes of Angley. That doesn’t make it their own fault.

  5. L.Long says:

    So gedediah I get into my car as a delusional dimwit and say something really stoopid like ‘jesus you drive’ and close my eyes! So the people I kill, it aint my fault because I’m stoopid and can be convinced of stoopid crap really easy??? Sorry it is their fault!!! No one FORCED them into working for free or getting their balls cut or whatever, so if they don’t like it, they can quit!!! The only religious people I feel sorry for and will help are the kids as they are very venerable because of their dimwitted parents!!!

  6. barriejohn says:

    In many cases of modern-day slavery, the victims are either illegal immigrants, or people with other problems including mental health issues. In this case it looks as if religion was the central factor, but I would never blame the victims without knowing more about what was actually going on. For one thing, mental capacity aside, religious brainwashing, or indoctrination of children, is extremely powerful, akin to hypnosis in my view, and although some see the light and manage to break free from its control, others seem completely unable to do this. There’s only one culprit here, I’m afraid, and that’s Mr Angley.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Angley

  7. barriejohn says:

    Ernest’s aeroplane has caused some raised eyebrows, though it’s only used for “The Lord’s Work”, as we all know. Some debate about it, and pics, here:

    https://www.airlinepilotforums.com/regional/42136-747-200-cak.html

  8. Paul says:

    So he can get gawd to cure AIDS but can’t get his rug to look like real hair or make his own hair grow back.
    What a truly awful man.
    I tend to agree Barriejohn that the hold that people in religious authority have over their flock is truly mesmerising and very hard to break. The mind games, emotional and other forms of blackmail and control, the verbal and physical weapons these people use, often make for very miserable lives (to others).

  9. Daz says:

    @L.Long

    Members of a social species will believe almost anything if there are enough other members assuring them that it is rational to do so. For all we may wish to promote rational, logical reasoning, if we forget that basic fact of human nature and claim that people are stupid for doing one of the things which defines their very species, it is us who are acting irrationally.

    Furthermore, your analogy is false. Most Christians aren’t taught that it is rational to believe that God or Jesus will perform such obvious and visible tasks. They’re taught that if he intervenes at all he will do so by influence, not by direct action. Those “mysterious” ways of his. And they are taught that it is rational to believe that God has wishes and commandments which should be obeyed. So, no; within the context of the belief system in question, it would not be rational for a person to believe that Jesus would in any literal sense drive their car for them—but within that context it would be rational for them to believe that God wants them to do certain things, and that an ordained minister has the authority and knowledge to tell them what those things are.

  10. Paul says:

    So he can get gawd to cure AIDS but can’t get his rug to look like real hair or make his own hair grow back.
    What a truly awful man.
    I tend to agree Barriejohn that the hold that people in religious authority have over their flock is truly mesmerising and very hard to break. The mind games, emotional and other forms of blackmail and control, the verbal and physical weapons these people use, often make for very miserable lives (to others).

  11. L.Long says:

    I see what you say DAZ ! And I will say what I told one of my bosses….If you are claiming that those who are doing these acts are NOT delusional or mentally off & are intelligent and should not be considered stoopid then I will agree and accept that I am now declared a genius master mind by their behavior! Sorry but if you go hunting bear with a BB-gun, don’t try convincing me you aint stoopid, nature will show who is!

  12. Trevor Blake says:

    Religious organizations are exempt from labor laws and disability laws.

    Let me state clearly and three times in a row that I do not necessarily support this, but it is a fact.

    Let me state clearly and three times in a row that I do not necessarily support this, but it is a fact.

    Let me state clearly and three times in a row that I do not necessarily support this, but it is a fact.

    Having stated clearly and three times in a row that I do not necessarily support this, but it is a fact, I hope people can understand that it is a fact (albeit not one that I necessarily support) that religious groups are exempt from labor laws and disability laws.

    Did you know that religious groups in the USA are exempt from labor laws and disability laws? It’s a fact.

    Maybe religious groups in the USA should not be exempt from labor laws and disability laws. But they are.

  13. remigius says:

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that religious groups are exempt from labor and disability laws. Can anyone confirm this?

  14. remigius says:

    ‘Sorry but if you go hunting bear with a BB-gun, don’t try convincing me you aint stoopid…’

    The Second Amendment enshrines the right to arm bears. Anyone who goes hunting an animal that can legally shoot back is, as far as I’m concerned, stoopid.

  15. Cali Ron says:

    L.Long: “The only religious people I feel sorry for and will help are the kids as they are very venerable because of their dimwitted parents!!!” Most of those dimwitted parents started as vulnerable (not venerable-so much for the genius part) children when they were indoctrinated. Extremely intelligent people sometimes do stupid things, that doesn’t mean they just became stupid people. I was an indoctrinated believer and I wasn’t stupid. I believed many crazy things while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and graduating at the top of my class.

    Maybe the world you live in is black and white, but the rest of humanity lives in a world of greys, where subtlety and nuance matter, where circumstances beyond your control or understanding cause unintended results, where societal and familial influences and pressures cause people to do things they might not otherwise do. Your BB-gun analogy completely misses the target. “If you are claiming that those who are doing these acts are NOT delusional …” Actually, I am claiming the opposite, religious indoctrination is a form of delusion and over half of Americans (and a larger percentage of humanity) suffer from it. Do you not understand the complexity of human beliefs and behavior or do you just refuse to accept that such complexities exists? So, according to you most Americans are just a bunch of stupid people who deserve to be taken advantage of because they are STOOPID, myself apparently included. You may be an atheists, but you certainly lack the empathy or understanding to be a humanists.

  16. Daz says:

    @Trevor Blake:

    Clearly, given the judge’s decision, laws which aim to prevent people being coerced into working for zero wages are not laws which religious organisations are exempt from.

    @L.Long:

    Allow me to misquote Steven Weinberg. “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have sensible people doing sensible things and stupid people doing stupid things. But for sensible people to do stupid things, that takes religion.

    It’s still the rather naive generalisation that it was before, but as a succinct “slogan,” it’s good enough, I hope, to get my point across.

  17. Paul says:

    OT
    But where’s the health and safety bods when you need them

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r6iFqjnl7s0

  18. dnsbubba says:

    Another idiot who thinks the First Amendment is a dodge.

  19. Michael says:

    @barriejohn

    Considering that neurologists have pretty solidly linked religious belief two a certain type of brain damage ( atrophy of the critical thinking centers of the brain and the ability to tell the difference between reality and fiction), I am willing to label anything that exploits really just Believers as an explication of the mentally disadvantaged. First he damage their ability to think correctly, and then he took advantage of the damage he caused. Truly evil and sickening.

  20. Paul says:

    @Daz
    Apologies I couldn’t resist a further misquote.

    A wig that looks like a plastic mat is an insult to human dignity. With or without a wig you would have sensible people with sensible hair and sensible bald people without hair. But for sensible people to look stupid, that takes a wig.

  21. Brian Jordan says:

    None of us have kids because he makes all the men get fixed. You’re not allowed to have babies there.
    And that’s congregants, not priests. Must be a first for any religion!

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