Story Archive

Untrained Seal

The Rev. Jim Moats of the Christian Bible Fellowship Church in Newville, Pa., had been letting his congregation believe that he had been a U.S. Navy SEAL. After Osama bin Laden was killed, the local newspaper interviewed local SEALs, including Moats, about the SEAL team that got the terrorist. After the story was published, readers smelled a fraud because the stories he told were actually from the Steven Seagal movie Under Siege. When confronted, Moats admitted he was never a SEAL, and had bought his gold Trident medal at a military surplus store. “It was my dream” to be a SEAL, Moats said, but “I don’t even know if I would have met the qualifications.” How could he not know? “I never knew what the qualifications were,” he admitted. “We deal with these guys all the time, especially the clergy,” said actual former SEAL Don Shipley, who helps maintain the confidential data base of all SEALs. Shipley says he doesn’t think Moats should be prosecuted, because derision by people who find out about the fraud online is a form of “street justice” that has brought Moats dishonor and shame. “I think just having his ass spanked is enough for him that he won’t do it again any longer,” he said. (RC/Harrisburg Patriot-News) ...Wilco, sir!
Story Update: Believe it or not, as of May 2021 Moats is still the Senior Pastor at the same church. The church says “He unashamedly preaches an ‘old fashioned message’ for a ‘new fashioned’ people”. Presumably that includes forgiveness and “Thou shall not bear false witness.”
Original Publication Date: 29 May 2011
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 17.

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