Sacked Survivor pastor: I didn't steal!
Christianity Today is frequently asked to cover more "Christians in the media," especially those in the midst of their 15 minutes of fame. In the last few years, not a few writers have pitched us stories on the Christians of reality TV. We've noted a few of these folks in the past, and now one of them is back in the news.
Unless you're Clay Aiken, being a reality TV contestants rarely means fame and fortune. But for John Raymond, life has been especially difficult since Survivor: Thailand. See, you probably didn't even remember John Raymond. He was "Pastor John," who lasted all of three days on the 2002 show before being the first one kicked off the island. (CT interviewed him shortly thereafter.)
It's hardly a surprise that Raymond didn't make the upcoming Survivor All-Stars series, which starts Sunday after the Super Bowl. "John was one of those exceptions—he was the 'first-off' who you hate to see go," Survivor host Jeff Probst told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "You knew he was going to be a great character because he had such strong opinions about life. But you only have 18 slots, and he didn't have enough time on the show to have an impact or be memorable enough for people to instantly 'get' him."
Too bad: Perhaps Raymond could have used the work. It turns out that he was fired last May as executive pastor of The Harvest, a 2,700-member Assembly of God church in Slidell, Louisiana. (That's a pretty big church for the denomination: the average is 131 members.)
Now Raymond is suing the church—not for firing him, but for the reasons given for the dismissal. According to the suit, as reported by the Times-Picayune, Elder Michael Dunn told church member Ronald Boelter that Raymond was ...