Perry Stone, a Tennessee-based evangelist with a history of homophobia has been forced to take a sabbatical after admitting to inappropriate behavior around women.
Stone founded Voice of Evangelism in 1979, a ministry group that has gone on to become a multi-million dollar organization. The group announced Thursday that Stone–who hasn’t preached in three months–took a forced sabbatical in April after a vote by the VOE board of directors.
According to the group’s spokesperson, John Rodriguez, two key reasons forced the board to take action. First, “Perry has encountered serious health issues related to spiritual and physical burnout,” Rodriguez said in a statement. The board forced Rev. Stone to undergo a comprehensive medical exam, which revealed he was at risk for a stroke.
Second–and more tellingly–Rodriguez also brought to light 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 admitted. “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.”
Further details of Stone’s behavior with women have not been made public.
“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, Perry Stone raised eyebrows in a sermon where he declared the COVID-19 pandemic retribution for marriage equality.
“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.’”