Lies in the Pulpit?

Hoping to capitalize on the attention given the Navy SEALs who raided Osama bin Laden's compound, many men have come out of the woodwork claiming to be ex-SEALs—not all of them legitimate. The most recent is Jim Moats, a Pennsylvania pastor who for five years told his Newville congregation that he was an ex-SEAL who fought during the Vietnam War.

Moats' story was exposed when he was mentioned in an article in an Harrisburg Patriot-News profiling residents who had served as SEALs.  A real ex-SEAL read the story and questioned Moats' story. Although he served in the U.S. Navy, Moats never saw combat, nor was he a Navy SEAL. Admitting to to his church, Christian Bible Fellowship Church, that he had lied about his career, Moats said his father was wounded while serving in the Navy during World War II, that his sons served in Iraq and that being a SEAL was a "dream."

“I bring a shame and a reproach upon the name of Christ," Moats said. "I bring a shame and a reproach upon my church, and I bring a shame and a reproach upon my family."

Don Shipley, a retired SEAL in Chesapeake, Va., who exposed Moats' deception, said some of the details in the pastor's story came from a Steven Seagal movie and noted that this was not the first time he had encountered a pastor faking a career in the SEALs.

"We deal with these guys all the time, especially the clergy," Shipley said. "It's amazing how many of the clergy are involved in those lies to build that flock up."

He noted that such stories do not often hold up under the scrutiny of the internet age.

“The pastor never thought anyone outside of his small community would see [his false claims],” Shipley said. “He doesn’t understand how the Internet works.”

— The Register, UPI, TIME

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