Ben Courson, 33, is the head pastor at the megachurch Applecare Christian Fellowship in Oregon. He is an international speaker who is the founder of Hope Generation, as well as a best-selling author. He has a TV show that is played in 180 countries, has a radio show that is played on 520 stations and has 154k followers on Instagram, gaining name recognition and influence every day.
He also has stepped down from leadership at his church after three former members have come forward alleging that he has engaged in sexual misconduct with them. Another woman has filed a police report claiming she was sexually assaulted by him, according to Rebecca Hopkins of the Roys Report, who broke the story.
In response to these allegations, Courson has shuttered his ministry page for time being, replacing it with a video that was also published to the church, where he confesses in part:
In some of my dating relationships, I have made mistakes, and I am truly sorry and deeply repentant. While it was always consensual, and there was never sex outside of marriage—there was never adultery—still, we let things go beyond what God requires of a relationship. When it comes to this area of women, I take full responsibility.
He further describes any other accusations of innuendo beyond what he admits to here as false and unfounded.
The women have a far different story. The Roys Report spoke to them, and they say that Coulson (who recently went through a divorce just two years ago after his wife says he committed adultery) initiated sex acts with them, frequently with no time wasted between meeting them and pressuring them to undress. One woman alleges:
He essentially pushed himself on me attempting to have a sexual encounter, if you will, but I didn’t let him. I was fully clothed but he was trying to put his hands in places I wasn’t comfortable with and I yanked away from him, and pulled myself off his couch and got the hell out of there.
Another woman says their relationship was consensual but was kept secret, with him insisting she delete the messages between them. “Looking back now, he definitely just did whatever he wanted, and I went along with it,” she said, as he told her that their sexual activity was allowable because he didn’t preach on it.
He said at the time he didn’t like to identify as a pastor, more like a motivational speaker. He said because he doesn’t speak on anything sexual that what he was doing was OK.
Apparently, Courson’s modus operandi was to be naked in the bedroom and rub his sexual organs against the woman until he ejaculated on her stomach.
Despite the acts being considered consensual by the parties, due to the nature of the clergy-layperson relationship, these ought to be considered abuse.
After the allegations were confirmed in June, Courson still preached the next Sunday while the elder team, including his father Jon Courson who is the Pastor Emeritus and handed him the reigns of the pastorate two years earlier, decided that this was not disqualifying behavior, but rather just disappointing behavior, and sought to keep it quiet.
They decided to keep him on staff and simply change his title from “Senior Pastor” to “Hope Generator” – resulting in two of the elders resigning over this unbiblical process and practice.
They also never told the congregation about any of this, and Courson continued to engage in public ministry for the next two months until he was exposed by Lorin Lynch on Instagram just a few weeks ago. (You should watch the whole thing. It is incredibly eye-opening.)
This resulted in the leaders finally telling the congregation the Courson version – that he went over the line a little bit, and all the other allegations are unfounded.
Still, for his personal growth, he has revealed that he is taking the next 6 months off from his pastoral roles to “learn and reflect and grow,” and then plans on coming right back there, restored and good as new.
Editor’s Note: For more information, and for a much deeper dive with more information, visit the Roys Report. If you know anyone else who has been involved with Ben in this way, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Julie Roys at her website.
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