Pastor denies allegations of brainwashing

Pastor denies allegations

A Wiarton-area preacher who also teaches self-defence night courses in Owen Sound and Sauble Beach was the focus of a W-FIVE television broadcast Saturday which investigated allegations he brainwashed women in the Acton area into leaving their husbands and devoting their lives to his church.

“They’ve said we’re a religious cult,” said Pastor Andrew Paton in a telephone interview from Brampton Saturday, before he had seen the show.

“Unfortunately it’s me that looks bad right now because, you know, I have a good position in the community where I live up there.”

Paton lives near Wiarton but said in the interview he makes weekly trips to see his parents in Brampton and to preach to his tiny congregation of nine at his church in Ballinafad, near Acton.

W-FIVE reporter Victor Malarek investigated whether Paton caused women in his congregation to leave their families and devote their lives to Mount Zion Full Gospel Ministries.

Paton denied that six of the seven people in the church the day a camera was snuck in were women who no longer live with their families, as alleged on the show. W-FIVE alleged instead the women live together in two homes in Acton.

“It’s not true. Let me give you the correct details when I get back,” he said Saturday. He was referring to getting back from a meeting today with a lawyer about the broadcast.

He said the whole controversy is “about money.” He said the TV show was “misled by a family.”

The show focussed on Halton Hills resident Jim Sanderson and his adult children, who according to W-FIVE, believe his wife Alice, a Paton church member, has been “brainwashed.”

“I don’t have any enemies out there because I’ve always treated everybody with the utmost respect,” Paton said in Saturday’s interview.

“I’ve never had people come against me and say that I’d destroyed anybody’s family. We’ve always wanted to have men in our family.”

He said typically churches are filled with many more women than men.

“Do you know why? I think women are more broken and they’re more, they have more issues and problems maybe. You know, things that have happened to them in their life . . . .”

Asked about the allegation of brainwashing, Paton objected to the television program sending someone into the church with a hidden camera, though he added he had nothing to hide.

Asked whether it is true that he became a pastor over the Internet, as W-FIVE reported, Paton would only say Saturday he is taking an upgrading course now.

He confirmed the show’s reference to his five marriages was accurate. “But who wants to drag up all those things, you know, the mistakes you made when you were, you know, early 20s?”

Paton said he declined to be interviewed by W-FIVE on the advice of a lawyer. But he was featured in the broadcast speaking by phone to Malarek, who asked him, among other things, about the nature of a relationship he has with a 30-year-old woman who lives with Paton, who is almost 60, near Wiarton. She’s the daughter of two parishioners.

Past wives and his children who said they never see him were also interviewed.

W-FIVE also showed Paton slamming his pickup truck door shut when Malarek tried to interview him in person.

Saturday Paton said the report contains “false accusations that have been made against myself and the church.” He said these accusations have been made about him since last summer and that they’re related to a lawsuit he wouldn’t discuss.

Paton hadn’t seen the televised report and said he wouldn’t watch it. But he read an online report in a Georgetown newspaper called The Independent & Free Press, which quotes from a W-FIVE news release about the show and reveals some of the contents of the program.

– Source: Pastor denies allegations, Scott Dunn, The Sun Times (Canada), Feb. 23, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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This post was last updated: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 6:27 PM, Central European Time (CET)