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US Evangelist Crashed Car after Mid-Afternoon “Double-Shot Whisky Binge”

From the Australian Telegraph:

A VISITING American evangelist who claims healing powers has walked from a NSW court without even a fine despite driving 110km blind drunk and crashing into a parked car.

Self-claimed “prophet of God” Jason Hooper – touring with Hillsong protege Ben Hughes – declared God had forgiven him for his double-shot whisky binge that ended in a mangled wreck on the Mid North Coast.

…Police revealed Hooper had allegedly been drinking double shots of scotch before driving his rented Commodore to drive to Coffs Harbour. At 4pm, he slammed into the parked Hyundai on the Pacific Hwy, Macksville.

Given these cirumstances, the name of the religious ministry which brought Hooper to Australia is somewhat unfortunate:

Hooper is on a working visa and is in Australia an east coast church tour with Pour It Out Ministries.

Hooper got off lightly: he could have been sent to prison, but the magistrate, a certain Wayne Evans, called the crash “a sobering offence” and accepted that Hooper’s tearful explanation that he had acted out of character due to “financial and other pressures”. Evans’ decision has not been popular, though, and Hooper has perhaps made things worse for himself with a self-serving statement:

“I’ve worked it out with the Lord. I was wrong,” Hooper told The Sunday Telegraph.

The website for Pour It Out Ministries is currently closed and “under construction”, which again leaves an unfortunate impression. The ministry is run by two revivalists, named Ben and Jodie Hughes; Ben Hughes studied at Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney, although this blog suggests that media reports calling him a “Hillsong protegé” are exaggerated.

Hooper has a troubled background: according to his testimony here, he was “saved” after he had been “shot in both legs” and sent to prison; he claims to have then led a mass healing revival within the prison itself. He later became a revivalist with Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries, although he is currently “itinerant”. This link to Joyner could be useful, though: Joyner has played a central role in “restoring” errant evangelists such as Jim Bakker and Todd Bentley. Joyner, Bentley and Hooper appeared together in an event entitled “Power and Glory of the Kingdom” back in February.

Of course, humans are weak and you can find scandals involving religious professionals in any setting. However, such occurrences are particularly problematic for Joyner’s strand of neo-Pentecostalism: those who lead revivals are supposed to be empowered by God to heal the sick and to convey prophetic messages from God – Joyner himself recently prophesised an earthquake on the west coast of the USA, to be followed by a general economic collapse. That doesn’t mean that these especially-empowered evangelists are without sin, but one struggles to see how this self-image can be compatible with an act of reckless endangerment through alcohol abuse. Leaders of the movement are not shy about claiming to have supernatural insight into the future prospects and inner character of particular evangelists, as was seen when C. Peter Wagner gushed over Bentley.

Hooper’s website is currently still available, although parts of the site have been removed. Google cache, though, shows endorsements from Ryan Wyatt of Abiding Glory Church & International Ministry Base; Jeff Jansen of Global Fire Ministries International; Paul Keith Davis of WhiteDove Ministries; Bobby Conner of Eagle View Ministries; James Levesque of Engaging Heaven Ministries; and from Rick Joyner:

Jason has been a key part the MorningStar team for several years. He provided important and effective leadership in his position as manager of our Multi-media department, and was instrumental in leading two of the most powerful moves of the Holy Spirit in our history. He is a revivalist with a powerful miracle and healing ministry and helps to raise the faith barometer wherever he goes.

Hooper also lists some “pastoral recommendations”, from Tim Stevenson (Horizon Church, New Zealand), Trevor Baker (Revival Fires, UK – “Jason Hooper was recommended to our church and ministry by Rick Joyner at Morningstar”); Jacob Martin (the Hope Centre); and Andrey Shapovalov (Tranformation Center Church, Seattle – he’s an ally of anti-gay activist Ken Hutcherson). Some of these names are also listed as his “friends in revival”, alongside Todd Bentley, Robin McMillan (a MorningStar pastor), Jake Hamilton (of Jesus Culture, “a new breed of emerging revivalists”), Jerame Nelson (Living at His Feet Ministries), and Ben & Jodie Hughes. One wonders if in the Hughes’ case, “ex-friends” would now be a better description

(Hat tip: Bene Diction)

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