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[Cornerstone Archives, Issue 48]
The John Todd Story
by Gary Metz
Perhaps, now more than any other time there is a need for Christians to be well grounded and secure in the truth, for Jesus warned that in the last days "many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people." (Matt. 24)
The Apostle Paul taught there would be men creating confusion and fear among believers concerning the very events of the last days. For this very reason, Paul was prompted to write to the Thessalonians. He advised them to stand firm in what already had been taught from the scriptures, and. when confronted with other teachings, "Test everything. Hold onto the good." I Thess. 5:21 (NIV) This we also must do when examining the claims of people such as John (Wayne) Todd.
John Todd, a young "evangelist," has gained a growing following, both here and abroad. He claims to have intimate knowledge of an international conspiracy to take over the world. The conspiracy is supposedly led by a high order of witches called the Illuminati,' in which virtually every major Christian leader and organization is involved. The suspicion and distrust this has created is almost unbelievable.
A sampling of the Christian leaders who are supposedly involved in the conspiracy include: C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson‑700 Club, Jim Bakker‑PTL Club, Oral Roberts, Ralph Wilkerson, Demos Shakarian, Chuck Smith, Walter Martin, Gordon Lindsey, Morris Curello, Andrae Crouch, Pat and Debbie Boone, Evie Tornquist, Honeytree, and churches of all kinds from Assemblies of God to the Southern Baptists, (Let us remember that God has warned us: "Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses." [1 Tim. 5:19] )
So, how did he receive this knowledge of a "conspiracy" and what is the message of John Todd? Let's hear John's story from his own material (his booklet Surviving Till the Trumpet).
"John Todd was born into a witchcraft family. John's real family name was Collins. The family name was changed from Collins to Todd shortly after the turn of the 20th century to avoid identification . . . Collins is the second most (un) holy name in witchcraft. John was initiated into witchcraft at 14 years of age . . . At 18 he was made a high priest and was in charge of his own coven. He requested permission to join the military so he could establish witch covens at military bases ... He was sent to Vietnam where he fought as a Green Beret.
"After finishing his duty in Vietnam he was sent to Germany. While there, John got into an argument with the officer who had been over him in Vietnam. This led to a pistol fight in which the officer was killed . . . On May 1, 1971, John was initiated to become a Grand Druid High Priest. He was given a thirteen‑state area to administer. He established his headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. He states that over 90% of politicians in that thirteen‑state area received financial support from him and took orders regarding political decisions from him . . . On August 1, 1972 he saw a chart giving the plan for world takeover."
The plans included electing Jimmy Carter president. The president was then to enact the following laws:
1. New Gun Law to take away guns from citizens.
2. Removal of tax exemption from churches.
3. Genocide Act. (If you convert someone from another religion to your religion, then you are tried for murder.)
4. Presidential Martial Law Powers.
5. The Anti‑hoarding Act." (Outlaws all food and medical supplies from being stored)
World War III‑Caused by Israel State battling over petrol, farmlands and chemicals, “ Plans for America . . . Calling for Helter Skelter.' (All trucks, trains, and ships stop. Charles Manson leads army of some 200,000 white prisoners and motorcycle club members to create mass insanity in the streets 6 months after his release by bombing churches, raping, murdering and other fear tactics.) ... Destroy the monetary system. (All money, etc. becomes worthless) . . . Destroy all cropland. 'There will be nothing south of the Mason‑Dixon line over two inches high to the Rocky Mountains.' . . .
"To make a long story short, John found himself on his knees at about 2 a.m. on Labor Day morning at a‑ coffee house, " where John received Christ as Savior.
"In recent months John has given great emphasis to exposing the plans of the Illuminati for world takeover."
Why is John saying these things? There are only three possibilities.
1. What he says is true‑and there fore of great importance.
2. What he says he knows is falseand therefore he is using lies and his persuasive abilities for personal gain.
3. What he says he believes to be true but is, in actuality, false; therefore he is deceived either by others or self (i.e., mentally disturbed.).
Is what he says true? Todd makes so many statements it would be impossible to examine them all. But what he says can be divided into two categories, that which can be verified and that which cannot. You determine the overall trustworthiness of a witness's testimony in the areas which cannot be verified by whether or not the witness is trustworthy in the areas that can be verified. Thus, if John can be shown trustworthy concerning verifiable things, we should be very careful to deny his statements concerning the nonverifiable. But if he is found untrustworthy concerning verifiable things, such as his own background, we would be foolish indeed to continue to believe his claimed knowledge of a conspiracy.
Is there reason to believe John is giving us false testimony? Yes; the only difficulty lies in knowing where to begin. Let's examine some rather significant discrepancies.
Concerning Todd's military history, he claims to have served as a Green Beret in Vietnam. But when one examines his military discharge papers there are no such records. Rather, he served as a general clerk/ typist one year, five months and days. (The Todd Phenomenon, or JTP, Darryl Hicks and David Lewis, 1979, p. 54‑55)
Regarding his story of the shooting and killing of an officer in Germany, again no such records exist. Rather, the records indicate that after having re‑enlisted for four years in Kansas,Todd went to Germany serving 4 months and 12 days. The stated reason for his discharge was classified as "Character and mental behavior disorder." (JTP, p. 55‑56)
Other discrepancies include the testimony of his former wife (a Christian) who claims that he "did not begin to speak about the Illuminati until after hearing of it on tapes, following his conversion. He had his ex‑wife, Sharon research the subject for him in the library [note: the Santa Ana Library]. Everything Todd says about the Illuminati can be gotten from books, except his references to Philip Rothschild and his attacks on Christian leaders." (JTP, p. 26)
A classic example of his habitual lying would be an incident at The Faith Baptist Church of Canoga Park. The incident started when a member of the church by the name of Mike Griffin had been given a tape by Todd. The tape was a recording of a newscast covering a meeting Todd had conducted in Ventura, Ca. But the tape had been used by Todd before, and on the end of the tape was a recording of a class John had given while he was managing an occult bookstore in Dayton, Ohio. Todd was teaching witchcraft and the date mentioned was "March 3, 1976." An excerpt from the tape included the following: "One reason witchcraft, I feel, is more powerful than Christianity, is it's got about 8,000 years up on it. It's got billions of people believing in it over that period of time. Christianity is a very new religion."
Now the pastor had been told by John that "he (Todd) had gone into a period of backsliding and had actually sold some occult books out of his store in Dayton," but John claimed, "I never went back into the occult."
So the pastor and the deacons met with Todd and let him hear excerpts of the tape. Todd said that the class was conducted in an effort to drum up business, explaining, "That was done in the store, and we just did it one time." Yet upon further review of the tape they found references to other sessions.
This, coupled with statements made on the East Coast by John claiming that the pastor of Faith Baptist carried a gun, which he did not, convinced the church that they needed to remove their endorsement of his "ministry," which they did on May 20, 1978. (A letter giving greater detail can be obtained by writing Faith Baptist Church, 7644 Farralone Ave., Canoga Park. CA 91304)
However, the story does not end there. For not only was John selling occult books and teaching witchcraft in 1976,but according to Christianity Today, Feb. 2, 1979, "he attracted the attention of authorities when parents of teenage girls complained he was corrupting their children's morals. one 16‑year‑old finally agreed to tell the police what was going on at Todd's house and store. She said that witchcraft initiation rites were carried out in the nude, and that Todd forced her to have oral sex," the final result being that he was "arrested for statutory rape and transporting a minor across the state line." (JTP, p. 81) According to Christianity Today, he was then convicted, served 2 monthsof a sixmonth sentence, was released for medical reasons, placed on probation which he eventually broke, and a warrant for his arrest still awaits him in Ohio.
Although this is only a very small part of the available material, it should be more than sufficient to show that he is not a trustworthy individual.
Therefore, since he is not telling the truth, it appears he is either purposely lying or deceived. After having read numerous reports from and about Todd,it would appear most reasonable that he is self‑deceived. Let me explain. According to his ex‑wife, Sharon, "the very few times John spoke of his childhood, it was one of neglect and‑I mentioned his mother once and he went through the roof‑he hates his mother. Apparently she's had a lot of men in her life because the three children were of different fathers. He spoke of going to school dirty, and the teachers would have to wash him, and I can see now why John needs attention because he didn't get it as a kid. I think all these things John supposedly professes to have been, I think he pretty much hated his life and wanted to be someone else, somebody that people could look up to and admire. John's basically an unhappy person." (JTP, p. 47‑48)
When Todd was in the army he was given two psychiatric examinations. They revealed evidence of "an unstable home background and possible brain damage as a result of beatings. The second examination a few months later labeled his malady 'emotional instability with pseudologica phantastica.' Todd finds it difficult to tell reality from fantasy says a medical report. It spoke of homicidal threats he had made on another, false suicide reports, and a severe personality disturbance. It saw no hope for change and recommended Todd's discharge." (CT, p. 42)
How did the man John Todd ever become so popular as to warrant all this attention by the Christian press? Unfortunately, it was with the help of Jack Chick, the only major Christian leader to support him. Jack Chick, the author of many fine Christian tracts, recently created a series about Todd. (John claims that Jack's tract "Bewitched" was instrumental in his "conversion.") Jack's materials are distributed to Christian bookstores throughout the nation. Therefore, the Todd message received immediate exposure. Soon, people began to write for his tapes and the message spread like wildfire.
So what has been the reaction of most of the Christian leaders accused by‑Todd? A few have written letters to those concerned discussing the accusations. But few really want to give the man any more exposure than he already has. Nor do they want to sue a brother, if indeed he is one.
The most thorough examination to be done on Todd was published in Christianity Today (Feb. 2, 1979). With the release of that article, Todd's popularity began to dwindle. At‑about the same time Todd had gone into hiding. In preparing for the "coming economic breakdown," he was constructing a secret retreat. According to local authorities, it was in the timberland, 50 miles from Hamilton, Montana, in an area known as West Fork Bitter Root River, Hues creek area. The Rev. Mark Blocher of nearby Corvallis said that it was in an area that was very difficult to locate even for local people. Ironically, the area John chose is also in an area where many unusual witchcraft and satanic groups live.
While in his retreat Todd continued to release tapes and newsletters. In his newsletters he would warn his faithful. An example is his February 1979 letter in which he said there were "60‑90 days to get all your food together," and that his survival newsletter could be purchased. "It will cost $20.00 for the year, but it will probably end in October, when it all ends," wrote John.
Such statements, of course, need constant revision. According to a close friend of Todd, Rev. Tom Berry, John is teaching that "We're not in a position right now for a revolution for at least the next several months." The plans for the conspiracy need major revision and the new plans are soon to come.. Todd told Rev. Berry that he needed to get back out to his sources to keep up to date.
The local authorities were concerned about Todd and his small following because they were heavily armed and located so near to satanic groups. There was a fear that if 'the groups ever met there would be bloodshed. Rumors had it that Todd might have illegal automatic weapons. The authorities went to investigate but found no such evidence. The fact that Todd was visited by the authorities appeared to have disturbed Todd because he soon moved. According to Rev. Berry he now lives in the Seattle, Washington, area.
Why are many Christians so easily misled? There are, of course, many possible reasons, but they fall into two basic categories.
First, there are those who believe what Todd says without testing it. Perhaps some are overwhelmed by it. This happens since a large percentage of the church has not been taught that they need to think for themselves. Now this is understandable while only an infant, but as you grow up you are expected to think for yourselves, to be able to make sound decisions. For example, the Apostle Paul admonished the believers in Thessalonica to be more like those in Berea for they examined and tested all things, before believing them. (Acts 17:11) Without this ability to test all things, you are unable to hold fast to that which is good. (I Thess. 5:21)
Second, there are those Christians who simply want to believe what Todd says. There is something inside all of us that desires to be exalted while seeing those we just don't like put down. This is called pride or sin. Our sinful nature loves to gain the "inside" knowledge on things. This is the technique Satan used against Eve in the garden when he said that she would receive "special knowledge," knowledge which she had no need of Paul rebuked those who sought to create foolish controversy, arguments and quarrels. He said, "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self‑condemned." (Titus 3:9‑11) Certainly, it isn't possible for us to want to believe evil reports about our Christian, brothers unless we are very sick ourselves.
When we examine the effects of the movement on its followers what do we find? When the church is spiritually healthy its very presence will draw people into a loving relationship with God, which will find expression by our love for one another. (Jn. 17:20‑23) However, sad to say this has not been the effect on Todd's following. For it has created a real fear and suspicion among Christians.
Now there is absolutely no evidence that the conspiracy John Todd talks about exists. But regardless, the idea of a conspiracy should not create a fear among believers. There have always been conspiracies and we know that there must be some "grand" conspiracy originating with Satan. But why are we so concerned about some future time of trouble when our Lord is at war at this very moment? Which war is of greater importance! If we are not sacrificing our will to that of the Lord and waging war against our flesh and the attacks of the enemy there can only be one reason: we have joined ranks with the enemy. If we haven't learned how to successfully deal with these present attacks, how can we expect to effectively deal with the more trying future battles?
Remember, if anyone had the right to be paranoid about conspiracies, it was the Apostle Paul. He had them directed at him personally. But Paul did not "fear him who can destroy the body but Him who can destroy the soul." His confidence was in God and that He would never "test him beyond that which he was able."
What have we learned from this? We need to pray for John Todd and his followers and not boost our egos by capitalizing on their human frailties. Rather we all need to repent of our se If ‑centered ness and seek to express our love for God by service to others. When this is actually put into practice then perhaps, people won't be so easily misled. *
Gary Metz, a close friend of CORNERSTONE, has in the past worked extensively with Dr. Walter Martin and the CRI (Christian Research Institute). Currently an elder of Resurrection Fellowship, located in Minot, North Dakota, Gary authored the preceding article.