Ever since Joseph Smith founded the Morman church by announcing, “Listen up, everyone. I just spoke to God and He wants me to be his emissary on earth. Oh, and he also wants me to have a ton of chicks,” it’s been wise to avoid such preachers…
As a general rule, anyone with a religion that says “God wants me to have all your stuff” or “Jesus wants you to get naked with me” probably isn’t on the up-and-up. That would especially prove true of Philip Livingston.
He’s a former concrete contractor who pretty much sucked at the concrete business. Over a 20-year period, he was sued 30 times. He ran up a $60,000 bill for unpaid child support, owed $150,000 in back taxes, and owed his creditors another $200,000 before he finally decided concrete wasn’t among his core competencies, and business geeks like to say.
So he launched a second career was a preacher, but that didn’t turn out so well either.
He started leading a small prayer group at Willow Creek
Community Church in suburban Chicago. The problem is that he began to tell parishioners that God placed hidden messages in their dreams, and only he could decipher them.
That didn’t sit so well with the fine people at Willow. So he broke off to start his own church, Light of the World Ministries.
It was never very big, consisting of only a few dozen members. But if Livingston behaved like a weirdo at Willow, he was about to let his weirdness reach full bloom at his own church.
He began holding prayer sessions with parishioners, claiming he could heal them of everything from drug addiction to yeast infections through the laying of hands and prayer.
At first, he conducted these sessions fully clothed with his wife present. But then God naturally told him that it would work way better if he and the parishioners did this naked — and fondled each other — with his wife of out of the room.
The problem began when he felt especially feverish about curing Linda Ericksen, the wife of Livingston’s assistant pastor. He thought that for her to be truly cured, she had to stay at Livingston’s house for a month, remain naked all day, and receive 2-3 daily sessions of fondling therapy just to make sure the devil didn’t show up in her urinary tract. Or something like that.
But after a while, Ericksen began to get creeped out by the preacher. So Livingston convinced her husband to banish her and get an separation. Ericksen responded by getting a court order to keep Livingston and her husband from having any contact with her child.
She also happened to mention that during her month of intensive therapy, she saw Livingston with two naked girls — one 10 and one 13 — in his home.
Livingston’s claimed he only got religiously naked with consenting adults, but a judge has ordered him to stay away from at least three kids.
Police are now investigating to see whether he’s a true man of God or — gasp! — some kind of pervert. We’ll keep you posted.
See our last story from the Bad Clergy file: Rev. Mark Bidwell Invites Man Over for Meth & Sex, But the Guy Dies.