Textbook Manipulation From The Pulpit By Jon Courson

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70 Responses

  1. John Donne says:

    It usually works, until it’s picked by the larger media or some national publication, in other words the hole in the dyke becomes too large to be able to plug it any longer with just a finger of silence and manipulation.

  2. Michael says:

    Actually, I’ve been a part of stories that were in national publications and the AP wire…and it still worked…

  3. Linn says:

    I sat under a guy like this, except it was all about not touching the Lord’s anointed. Then I went overseas and everything in the church imploded: he had a mistress whose son was on staff, he had other affairs in his previous churches, and they let him go without a word because they feared community backlash. Instead of expressing true, godly sorrow, these folks seem to either go the “love and forgive me, I’m only human” or “I’m still your spiritual authority and don’t you forget it!”

    The older Courson might have been restored to ministry if he had gotten good counseling and restoration over a period of time. That might have given Ben a better model to emulate.

  4. Michael says:


    I’m sure “touch not the anointed” is coming next…

  5. bob1 says:

    pretty predictable

  6. Xenia says:

    What I can’t stand is when a fallen pastor is forced to resign gives his farewell speech and compares himself to an Old Testament character. “David sinned big time, but God said he was His beloved! Me too!”

    I wish they wouldn’t accept resignations, either. I wish they were plain fired. I wish those boards would say “You can’t resign because we are firing you.” That should be on their resume when they go shopping for a new church to commandeer. People resign for a lot of reasons, many admirable. But “Fired” will take some explaining and maybe some background checking. I’ve seen the worst scoundrels allowed to resign and next thing you know, they are ruining some other congregation. (I am not referring to my former CC pastor, just to be clear.)

  7. Michael, help me get this right. Ben as been accused of sexual assault, enough for someone to file a police report. Is Courson implying that such a person is either a grumpy bear or grissly bear?

  8. Michael says:


    People that file police reports are “coming against the church’.
    People that take police reports and patrol abuse seriously are grumpy bears and grizzly bears.

    I was born grumpy and grew into grizzly… 🙂

  9. Michael says:


    In this case and so many others…the board serves at the pleasure of the pastor…

  10. Steve says:

    For these pastors to come after their own flock and call them pharasees and using the wheat and tares parable as a defense to keep the grips of power is beyond hypocritical.

  11. parker says:

    It seems there is a whole “Me Too” movement going on among unfaithful church leaders when they try to compare themselves to David and make it all okay.

  12. Linn says:

    They also forget how much of God’s corrective discipline affected David. Not only did he lose his son, Amnon raped Tamar and then rebelled against the kingdom. The kingdom was divided after David’s death. There was never a king without issues after David’s death. God takes our sin seriously and he sends correction.

  13. Mr. Potato Head says:

    Aside from the obvious sexual sin and abuse of women…I can’t believe Jon has been running this weird alliteration schtick with the goofy dramatic voice and the repeating of everything twice for decades and people eat it up like it’s Ben n Jerry’s.

  14. Becca says:

    Hiding their heads in the sand,
    ignoring everything, pretending nothing happened, making everyone even more confused and divided.
    I’m just sick over the fact that Jon continues to put out his
    videos and calls himself “papa Jon”.
    How dare he refers to himself as “papa”!
    A papa protects his flock not feed them to the wolves. “In the last days, if possible even the elect would be deceived.”
    We need to seek purity, keep your eyes on Jesus, because Jesus is coming to take home His pure bride.

  15. BlueSky says:

    Groan. I must have been in some kind of mind bent parallel universe back in the day when I held Courson and others in that club as annointed teachers. I once had his study bible and his little book on Jonah. Gave them to the Goodwill some years back. Now I can’t even stand to listen to him, he comes across as super creepy. And that laugh, I percept it as trying to emulate Chuck Smith’s laugh. And why is he called “papa Jon”…to emulate “papa Chuck”.. I have noticed over the recent years he even talks like him, he didnt used to talk that way.
    This seems common with some, one of my other old favorites was Greg Denham, but if you listen to him he sounds like Greg Laurie, who he was mentored by a bit.
    And then there’s the one I got saved listening to all those years ago, Raul Ries. Oh well, ‘ nuff said. Sadly my cynicism regarding “church” still runs deep..
    Forgive for my rant.

  16. Linn says:

    Just an aside, but “papa” in Spanish means “pope” or “potato”-take your pick.

  17. Nathan Priddis says:

    In light of the Parable of the Tares involved angels descending from Heaven;
    ..”..and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do inequity. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”.. I would be afraid to invoke that Parable .

    That felt ill advised. That felt like an omen of death.

  18. EricL says:

    He really thinks this is all a joke, doesn’t he? He can’t stop laughing throughout his message.

    I’m sure he thinks that fake laugh comes across as hokey and down-to-earth, but it feels more like the creepy laugh of someone who knows that he’s been pulling the wool over their eyes for decades and is convinced that it will continue to work. And he doesn’t stop with it. He bares his teeth in a fake smile and laughs with practically every sentence. In real life, away from the camera and the spotlights and microphone, I doubt Courson cackles non-stop.

    I appreciate genuinely happy people who are quick to laugh and lighten the day for those around them. I doubt Courson is really that kind of person.

  19. Janet Linn says:

    I listened to Jon Courson on the radio for many years in the eighties. His voice does sound, very different now than it sounded then. I hadn’t noticed it before, but his laugh and tone does sound very much like the late Chuck Smith. This is the first I’d heard that he had adopted Pastor Chuck’s ‘papa” title as well. It’s almost as though it’s all just s!one and mirrors behind a curtain – like The Wizard of Oz story. It’s very creepy.

  20. Okay, I got 2/3 through that video and had to stop because of the faux laughter. Anytime a person serves as a threat to the flock, they must be dealt with. Especially leaders who hold power and authority over the congregation. Not “received” as if it doesn’t matter what people do. That’s chaos! This is sad to see. Several years ago I had to release a fellow pastor who was (and is) my friend because of some actions that were very unwise. It was hard to carry out, but it took me 5 seconds to come to the decision because of the flock.

  21. parker says:

    I had heard of Jon Courson for years. When I finally tuned into him on the radio, it took me about 2 minutes to realize that this guy is an actor and he’s doing a bit. I understand he has done very well for himself playing this part. He is on full display in the above video.

  22. josh hamrick says:

    That is one creepy video. Doesn’t even matter what he’s saying, just the voice and mannerisms are so…odd? Wow. Never seen this guy. That’s weird stuff.

  23. Em says:

    One wonders IF these personality boys really are Believers…?
    They seem to take liberties with God’s Word that a God fearing person would never take

  24. Kevin H says:

    I had never listened to Jon Courson before this video. I don’t know if this video is anything like his normal delivery and manner of speaking, but something is very eerily wrong here. It is almost as if he’s under the influence of another spirit as he puts on his show meant to manipulate and deceive his listeners.

    This is all so very creepy and sickening.

  25. Steve says:

    I agree with all the comments here. I’m suspicious that Jon may be under the influence of some kind of drug. I’ve never smoked pot before but this kind of behavior is what I would expect from a weed smoking pastor who is self medicating to ease the reality that he doesn’t want to see or accept.

  26. Michael says:

    Jon is recovering from Covid and is said to be fighting cancer…so he may be medicated.
    He has always talked like this…
    There is no evidence of pot smoking at all…

  27. Kevin H says:

    Well, that sure is a strange way of speaking. Now maybe it’s possible that this is his normal way of speaking, but it’s hard to fathom that one could have become so popular speaking in a manner that comes across feeling very contrived and for show….. and that laugh….. just so unsettling.

  28. pam says:

    He was recommended to me from a friend to listen to his teachings and I just could not handle his voice his mannerisms his laugh . Evidently I was in the minority as he had a steady flock .

  29. covered says:

    I remember when Bob Coy fell and even when all the issues were made public, he had 1,000’s of fans who wanted him to remain as their Pastor. While Jon has a large following, he doesn’t seem to be convincing the masses that he still has the charisma to carry on long term. I think between him and Ben, people are tired of pretending everything is ok. I also believe there are a couple up and coming churches in the valley now that can give Applegate a run for their money.

  30. JD says:

    I listened to it and will say it again as one who worked with the mentally ill for years:
    He’s nucking futs. Cuckoo. Crackers. Brain Fried. Someone’s spiked his Cu Cu Coco Puffs.
    Only a full frontal lobotomy would suffice.

  31. BlueSky says:

    Older days…

  32. Officerhoppy says:

    Classic JC handling of scripture. Taking one word and using it out of context and authorial intent to make his own personal point. Let’s be honest. We were once entertained by and applauded his unique handling of scripture. We thought he was a man who could speak to his generation. But now we (I) see it was nothing more than a manipulative tool. Could it be that he actually believes what he says? I dunno.

  33. Officerhoppy says:

    I remembe his preaching the passage in Matthew 22 “… expert in the law, tested Him with a question: 36“Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?”

    37Jesus declared, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    He used the worship “hang” to preach about Jesus hanging on a cross. Creative to be sure. But when it comes to explaining the meaning of scripture, creative is not always a good word to describe a pastor’s style.. My hermeneutic is grammatical, historical and redemptive. By grammatical I mean God chose to communicate in words and sentences. And words and sentences have meaning. To be “creative” with their meaning is a scary thing IMO. Applications may vary but not. interpretation. IMO

  34. Officerhoppy says:

    Should read “he used the word “Hang”

  35. Nathan Priddis says:

    There’s nothing crazy about JC or his delivery style. It’s a packaged overall brand. Friendly, self depreciating, jocular even.

    Prior to listening to JC, I was exposed to Reconstructionism, plus Presbyterianism repackaged as a non-denom. Lets remember that Rushdooney wanted homeschool kids to grow up and lead a violent society. Death to Democrats, college professors, people caught having affairs, etc. Killum..killum all in the name of Christ.

    Or..jocular glad handling JC. (As a then much younger man) In hindsight, all the major second tier CC’s had a package.

  36. To Nathan’s point about the JC brand, we as a culture are highly brand-driven. It’s a way to gain a sense of identity and belonging. Everything is packaged because we love the packaging…sometimes more than what we are supposed to find within the package.

  37. filbertz says:

    Jon’s delivery is similar to what I remember from my years @ACF, but perhaps exaggerated a bit due to his aging. Yes, it is awkward for the uninitiated and those of us separated by time…

    The bigger issue is the manipulation–the subtle warning to avoid listening to or joining with those who judge others or hold them accountable to biblical standards. The sloppiness of handling texts and lifting out the word or phrase and stitching up his own message is classic JC. He has always used biblical texts to say what he wanted to emphasize–a bully pulpit with built in credibility on loan from Jesus.

  38. Laura Figueroa-Scott says:

    I am not familiar with Mr. Courson but the tone of this video clip is pure shiny-suited-used-car-salesmanship. And what’s with all the sibilant S’s?

  39. Alan says:

    That’s Jon Courson?

    As an outsider — isn’t his cadence and delivery clearly an imitation of Chuck Smith.

    I never listened to him and not much to Chuck but …

  40. victorious says:

    There are so many disturbing things about Jon and the promotion of his prominence in Calvary Chapel leadership circles that I am going to journal about them in order to engage them in a healthy way.

  41. Kevin H says:


    The imitation of Chuck Smith is one of the first things that hit me, too, even as I also have never listened to Chuck much. But the similarity was uncanny. Then the exaggerated and excessive manner was just creepy.

  42. Em says:

    As i read the thoughtful comments prompted by this post….
    Totally agree with the observations on Pastors comparing their “flaws” to David of the OT- David was able to humble himself, confess his trespassing to his Creator AND take his punishment
    I am reminded of the chicanery in the world of politics…. OR
    Ha ha ha ha ha? As a certain veep would say

  43. Shoshana says:

    I am terribly bothered by Ben’s treatment of Necia in his public statement. He disrespected, defamed, and dishonored her, all in the name of “sharing” his pain. This was not a humble man sharing his heartache – this was a calculated, angry man hoping to manipulate his audience into supporting a false narrative. Shameful!

  44. Em says:

    IMHO – good observation, Shoshana! ! !

  45. Chryssa says:

    I can’t wait until the sexual version of “but, I didn’t inhale,” is used during the Ben and perhaps Jon investigations. The Coursons have been speaking from the book of I-Say-Uh since the ’70s, and this disturbing video is exhibit A. I’m seriously grossed-out. Michael’s statement about the board serving “at the pleasure of the pastor,” keyword: Pleasure. Heaven weeps.

  46. UnCCed says:

    You just wait!!!
    Should big CCs start to dwindle, then the narrative will be it’s proof of the upcoming rapture and “they were not of us,” blah blah.

  47. Officerhoppy says:

    Unfortunately CC’s and vs x vs teaching are diminishing. The split in cc didn’t help. Generally, evangelicalism is in decline and unlike the 60’s and 70’s mainline churches are seeing growth because they are a little less conservative. The pendulum is swinging the other way.

  48. Bob Sweat says:

    Is Officerhoppy who I think he is? Not Ben Harper……

  49. Officerhoppy says:

    Yes i think i am!!

  50. Anne says:

    “At the pleasure of the pastor” is straight out of the original Calvary Chapel Distinctives. The CC board’s purposes were to fulfill legal requirements of establishing a church, and in CC particularly, to support & protect the head pastor as god’s anointed one chosen to lead the body. Smith was ferociously opposed to the board having any power over holding pastors accountable! Jon learned every trick he knows from Smith.

  51. Julie Piper says:

    All these pastors become rich. Yet Jesus had only the clothes on his back . He chose poverty! Why would all these evangelical pastors become wealthy! Isn’t he our example???? That is as disturbing to me as the abuse of power. And yes he’s taking advantage of his popularity and leadership. The two usually go together. Financial abuse and sexual abuse. No wonder they like Trump…

  52. Martha says:

    I looked and looked for Jon’s acknowledgement of Ben’s sin. Nothing. I looked for some acknowledgement from the pulpit that first Sunday. Nothing. The complicity in the coverup sickens me. I can no longer listen to his voice. I pray for repentance of all involved for their own souls’ sakes and the sakes of their children and grandchildren. I pray for the healing of those who have been abused.

  53. Donald says:

    Oh thank goodness you’re praying for their repentance Martha! What would we do without you?

  54. Nonnie says:

    Donald, that comment was creepy. I read Martha’s comment as a person with a sincere heart who has been hurt by the Coursen’s and hopes for the best from them. I read your comment, went back and read Martha’s comment and I have come to the conclusion that you are just a creep.

  55. Officerhoppy says:

    You might have been a little quick to jump on Donald. Not defending either Jon or Ben, we Christians are quick to throw other believers—especially pastors—“under the bus. We should be praying for Ben and Jon. We say a pastor is not different than the rest of us, so why do we get our nickers in a twist when they act like us?

    Again, I am not defending either Jon or Ben. I was a pastor at ACF for 7 years an an elder for about 17. I haven’t attended there for over 25 years. There were some things done that just didn’t sit right. But that doesn’t mean I will ever stop praying for them.

    Just my thoughts

  56. Nonnie says:

    Officerhop, Please read again what Martha wrote and then Donal’s comment to her. He was mocking a woman (Martha) who (if I understood her comment correctly) said she hoped for repentance and prayed for them, but was sickened by their lack of acknowledgement. I was not commenting on what the Coursens’ did or didn’t do, but rather on how D mocked Martha, who, from her comment, appears to have been in the congregation and was very hurt by the Coursen ministry. That was why I said what I said to Donald.

  57. Officerhoppy says:

    Thanks for the clarification. My apologies

  58. Martha says:

    Thank you, Nonnie. You got what I was trying to say. I abhor what the Courson’s have done. I do believe that they are not beyond the grace of God, which is for us all. If not for the grace of God, there go I. But there needs to be repentance for the grace of God to have any effect.

  59. Julie Piper says:

    I’m not sure about Jon. But I loved this tape!! He’s I hope right. And Ben should be love and excepted. And he should be receivied. But he shouldn’t be a pastor!!!!

  60. Michael says:

    They are both disqualified .

    Love Ben, but keep him away from your young people…

  61. Greg t Enright says:

    the issue is not Ben or Jon’s sin….that suprises no one. They are sinners. The issue is the intentional and ongoing nepatunistic coverup of Ben’s sexual sin as senior pastor of the flock…..led and orchestrated by non other than Papa Jon. Acting like nothing happened and continuing to preach regarding sexual purity. Here is truth: either all the young girls that came forward to accuse Ben of sexual assault, and the two elders that immediately quit, after having been in the meeting with Joe, Jon, Ben and one of his accusers, ARE ALL LIARS or what happened is true. It is one or the other. You decide. I have spoken individually with all of the accusers and elders and their stories are independently identical. Ben is nothing short of the WOLF that Paul warned us about.

  62. Shanna says:

    You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Jon Courson is a loving, sweet, Godly man, who is battling cancer! John 8:7 KJV “ He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her” James 1:26 NKJ “ If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” James 4:11-12 “Brothers and Sisters do not slander one another, anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law, and judges it, when you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement of it. There is only one law giver, and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy, but you- who are you to judge your neighbor” No one knows what really happened, and gossiping and saying cruel things about him is ungodly! Mathew 7:1-2 KJV “ judge not that ye not be judged, for with what judgment ye Judge, ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.
    God has used Jon Courson to bring me closer to God along with thousands of others over the years, and that is what should be said of this man.

  63. Michael says:

    Who was using Jon Courson when he crushed the faith of many who got closer to him than the pews?

  64. Alan says:

    Actually Paul made it very plain that we must judge within the house I Co 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” There he was speaking of the gross sexual immorality within the church that was brazenly accepted.

    I think we must judge those who act with impunity in our midst.

  65. Michael says:


    You beat me to it.

    I am going to write more on this…odd that folks know one set of verses by heart and seem to not know of the other…

  66. Andrew Hieronymus says:

    Wow so much judgement from people who probably consider themselves Christians.. this time s America where we are innocent until proven guilty but based on a mere accusation of sin a group of haters have jumped on the opportunity to smear a pastor and his son. You guys don’t even have any proof behind what you say you base your comments on rumor and hearsay not fact which is super shameful and then begin to pick apart the father whose integrity is not even in question here. If you all put as much effort into the work of God America would be changed instead you chose to backbite and murmur and complain about things you don’t have any certainty about very sad and pathetic. Get off your high horse and start telling others about Jesus and Gods love which can make a difference in this world instead of mincing through the latest gossip columns which only reflects that your ugly heart is far from God.

  67. Michael says:


    You are an idiot.
    There is abundant evidence that both are disqualified from ministry.

  68. Andrew Hieronymus says:

    Wow proof of my point anyone who disagrees with you gets disregarded as an idiot so profound michal thanks for the lack of respect and grace.. proof where can you actually give references to anything credible or are you just pulling this proof out from your imagination?

  69. Michael says:


    This has all been laid out in other articles and in other places…Julie Roys has some good work on it.

    I live in Southern Oregon…and Jon and ben’s ways have been known to many of us for decades.

    I have no respect for people that allow abuse because of idolatry…I have grace for the victims.

  70. Andrew Hieronymus says:

    Victims.. abuse have you read their testimonies they sound more like disgruntled girlfriends no one was raped or abused even from their testimonies no law was broken that’s why the DA dropped the case based on lack of evidence. Let the Lord deal with any morality issues instead of jumping into a self righteous pose as if you have no sins. Sounds to me like you want to put pastors on a pedestal where they don’t belong they are human men who make mistakes and just like us they too need God’s forgiveness and will be sinners until the day they die.

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