A Tennessee-based evangelist with a history of homophobia has been forced to take a “sabbatical” after several female employees brought forward claims of “harassment” and “inappropriate” behavior around them, reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Voice of Evangelism (VOE), a ministry group that was founded by Perry Stone in 1979 and went on to become a multi-million dollar organization, announced Thursday that Stone had taken a forced sabbatical in April after a vote by the VOE board of directors.
According to VOE’s spokesperson, John Rodriguez, two key reasons forced the board to take their action against Stone.
First, “Perry has encountered serious health issues related to spiritual and physical burnout,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
The board had Rev. Stone undergo a comprehensive medical exam, which revealed he was at high risk for a stroke.
Second, Rodriguez revealed claims of harassment made by female employees against Stone.
“A couple of employees at VOE requested to meet with the board of directors to address concerns of inappropriate words and actions,” Rodriguez said. “Upon review, the board determined that the issues were civil in nature and not criminal, but that the behavior deviated from the biblical standards set in place for VOE leadership,” he said. “So, the board unanimously initiated his current sabbatical. This action was not reactionary but with much prayer, and was set in place to uphold the highest standards of integrity and transparency.”
“I have asked God and my precious wife Pam to forgive me,” Stone added in Rodriguez’s statement. “And I humbly and sincerely ask those who are hurt or offended by my actions to also forgive me. It is my hope that by the grace of God we will all be able to walk in healing and restoration.”
Earlier this year, Stone made headlines after delivering a controversial sermon where he said he predicted coronavirus and declared it was God’s retribution for the United States allowing abortion and same-sex marriage.
“The Bible talks about going after ‘strange flesh,’” Stone said in his remarks. “There is a reckoning because the courts of the land passed a law to take an infant’s life, that it was OK, and for marriage, as we have known it to be changed into something we have never known. Both of their laws, biblically in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, are what God calls an abomination. And the Bible teaches us that God is long-suffering, he is not willing that any perish, he wants everyone to come to repentance, but there will be a time when the Lord says, ‘Enough is enough.’”