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10 Prophets Who Went to Prison



"The truth is ugly so we put our prophets in prison." Charles Manson

Maybe that's why Bible study is so popular in the joint, eh?

Here is a list of 10 religious leaders (some may even call them prophets) who did time behind bars: ---


10. Joseph Smith

According to the LDS Church, "Joseph Smith was unjustly confined in Liberty Jail from December 1838 to April 1839."

Apparently, Missouri didn't take too kindly to Mormons back then. Whatever the real reason for his imprisonment, the Mormon church's first prophet did time in the slammer. In fact, Joseph Smith was later killed inside the Carthage Jail.

9. Warren Jeffs

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced to at least 10 years in prison after being convicted of being an accomplice to rape.

It's too bad more of these prophets can't see their criminal charges coming. With as much as they talk to God, you'd think that would be part of the program.

But then again, maybe Jeffs DID see his arrest coming. He was apparently partying it up in Las Vegas just before he got caught. Nice, Warren, nice.

8. Jim Bakker

Famous televangelist Jim Bakker was convicted of 24 counts of mail and wire fraud in 1989.

He somehow emerged from prison just a few years later almost acting like he had done nothing wrong. At least he had time to read up on his Bible verses while he was in the can.

If you want to avoid being duped in the future, here's a fun eHow article on How to Spot a Fraudulent Televangelist.

7. Matthew Hale

White supremacist church leader Matthew Hale was sentenced to 40 years in prison for trying to have a federal judge killed.

The best part of this story is that during his sentencing hearing he recited the Star-Spangled Banner. Ahhh, a man who loves his God AND his country. How could somebody like this ever end up in prison?

6. Charles Manson

Mr. Helter Skelter orchestrated some of the grisliest murders in our nation's memory.

That's what happens when a wackaloon gains control of a cult. If anyone ever truly personified evil, Charlie deserves that honor.

5. Sun Myung Moon

Founder of the Unification Church, Sun Myung Moon was imprisoned for a year after being convicted of tax evasion in 1982.

Just another man of God who is really good at getting people to give him money.

4. Jacques Robidoux

Jacques Robidoux is one of the most baffling cases of religious fanaticism that has ever landed a "prophet" in prison. As a leader of a Massachusetts cult called "The Body," Robidoux let his own son die because he believed he was being tested by God. Or Satan. Or whatever.

This sad, sad headline from boston.com says it all:

Religious sect member convicted of murder in starvation of son

3. Tony Alamo

This freaky-deaky dude was convicted of sexual abuse of children. He was reportedly a strong supporter of polygamy and of the FLDS Church formerly led by Warren Jeffs. So, it's really no surprise that they both ended up behind bars.

If you want to read something sickening, see this story about the perverted prophet by the Huffington Post: Tony Alamo, Evangelist, Sentenced To 175 Years For Sex Crimes

2. Henry Lyons

Henry Lyons, former president of the National Baptist Convention, was sent to prison for stealing millions.

Later, as a free man, he tried to regain control of the convention and even filed a lawsuit against it.


1. Howard Douglas Porter

Friends sometimes kill friends if enough cash is at stake. Just because your friend happens to be a preacher, really doesn't mean much.

At least not after you read this bizarre tale about Howard Douglas Porter: Preacher Found Guilty Of Murdering Rancher

"You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Now everybody's crazy."

Because we began with a quote from the prophetic Mr. Manson, it seemed appropriate to end with one, too.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also want to read 7 Sex Scandals That Stunned Salt Lake City.

What do you think about these prophets who went to prison? Why do so many religious leaders turn out to be whack jobs? Tell us in the comments.