An anti-gay pastor in Alabama has been arrested after admitting to molesting at least one underage boy.
John Martin, lead pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church, has reportedly given anti-gay sermons on the evils of homosexuality since 2010.
But on June 23, Martin, 41, broke down in the pulpit and confessed to church members that he had abused young boys, New York Daily News reports.
After church members contacted the authorities, Martin was arrested on four felony counts of sexual abuse.
“We have identified several potential victims,” Angie Hamilton, an assistant district attorney in Lauderdale County, told AL.com. “We believe other charges are forthcoming.”
Hamilton said that Martin had abused at least one boy under the age of 16.
She also said that Martin had worked in other states prior to moving to Lighthouse, and that prosecutors and investigators “believe there may be other young people that he may have had contact with.”
According to court records, Martin abused at least one underage boy multiple times at his home and while on a road trip, and sent the boy explicit text messages.
Court records also showed Martin referring to the abuse as an “affair,” and that prior to confessing to his congregation he had told his wife and checked himself into a psychiatric unit.
Martin is being held at Lauderdale County jail on a $60,000 bail. Each felony charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and a lifetime on the sex offender registry.
Lighthouse Baptist is a conservative congregation, one that rejects same-sex marriage and considers homosexuality and transgender identity to be a ‘perversion.’
“We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman,” the church’s website states. “We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery or appearance.”
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