As I am writing about Bryan Loritts I thought I would step back and explain how destructive Loritts was to myself when it came to evangelicalism and church. I went from a period of admiring him to realizing he is a conman. This is the story of how a 24 year old grad student went from looking up to Bryan Loritts to realizing he is a fraud.
“Fraud is like any other virus. The fraudster will go somewhere else and mutate the fraud. We are constantly adjusting our algorithms to look for fraudulent behaviour.”
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Matthew 7:15 NIV
This blog has told a lot of stories over the past few years. From Community Evangelical Free in Elverson, Pennsylvania to the Evangelical Free Church of Blairstown, New Jersey. Those and others were hard to process. And this blog continues to tell a lot of stories as time moves on. And some like that situation I had with former Sovereign Grace’s Redeemer Arlington stand out and made a dark impression on my life. But in telling the stories here at The Wondering Eagle there is one that this blog stumbled into that was equally devastating for my view of the church, faith and more. And it deals with Bryan Loritts
Bryan Loritts and Campus Crusade for Christ
When I was in Campus Crusade for Christ the Loritts were talked about from time to time. Bryan was a feature on the preaching circuit of Crusade. When I attended Marquette University in 2000 I went to the San Diego Christmas Conference that December. It was the first time I saw Bryan Loritts preach. If you have not he is probably one of the most gifted preachers you will see. His expository sermons are near flawless and he knows how to captivate a crowd. I was 24 at the time and sitting in a darkened ballroom and Bryan Loritts was speaking to the group. In a loud baritone voice in a packed ballroom of college and graduate students he was asking, “Where are the men today?” In a crescendo he spoke about how its time for men like me to get off the fence and live Biblical lives and be sold out to Jesus. The room echoed with his voice and you could hear a pin drop. After he spoke Campus Crusade sold tapes (yes I am dating myself) of sermons preached. People like me paid money to get Bryan Loritts talks. Going forward I actually encouraged people to listen to him. People would trade John Piper, Matt Chandler and for myself I encouraged others to listen to Bryan Loritts.
It was either 2001 or 2002 but I went to the Crusade Christmas Conference in Minneapolis. It was called TCX – The Twin Cities Experience. As the guy who planted the Marquette University Crusade chapter I encouraged others to go to the event. When Bryan Loritts was on the agenda I was delighted and in another ballroom 2,000 miles away from San Diego, California I listened to Loritts preach again. Bryan Loritts briefly spoke before his talk about a church plant he was going to do in Memphis, Tennessee. He spoke about how Memphis needed Jesus and racial reconciliation. When he gave his talk I actually noticed that he gave the exact same sermon that he did in San Diego. It was verbatim. But as Bryan Loritts gave his talk, I was processing it again. Loritts hung out with the college kids and I spoke with him in the lobby of the Minneapolis Hilton. As we shook hands I told Bryan Loritts how much I appreciated his talks. I mentioned that he gave the same talk in San Diego earlier, and he gave me a look. At the time I was a naive kid. When I was speaking with Bryan I encouraged him and wished him well in his church plant in Memphis. I thought to myself how fortunate that church is going to be to have Bryan Loritts lead the plant. At this stage I had a deep amount of respect for him and thought highly of him. He struck me as someone deeply Godly and was inspiring. At this stage in life I was deeply naive. A fool, and a Christian that acted like a moth to a light.
Looking Up to Bryan Loritts and Having an Exchange with him on Email
In 2009 I descended into a faith crisis that lasted for about five years. As I dealt with the situation I was bothered by the corruption I was seeing in evangelical ministries. The Sovereign Grace Ministry network was exploding and I was clashing with someone who tried to get me involved in the last SGM church plant in the Washington, D.C area before the scandal broke. It was during this time that I stumbled across something that impressed me. At his blog Bryan Loritts took on Douglas Wilson and his comments on racism. Even in the midst of a faith crisis and working through it I recalled Bryan Loritts preaching. I had a deep amount of respect for him and I reached out to him at Fellowship Memphis. I asked him in an email exchange why are so many evangelical pastors and more tolerating sex abuse and other scandals? I asked him in an email will he speak out about the Sovereign Grace Ministry scandal? Shortly afterward Bryan Loritts wrote me back. In the note back he accused me of engaging in gossip. This occurred in March of 2013. When I got that response I was disillusioned. It made no sense. It confused me. Is this the same Bryan Loritts I interacted with and heard him preach? You can see that email exchange in, “An Email Exchange with Bryan Loritts in March of 2013 Helps Shine Light on the Alleged Cover Up of Rick Trotter’s Voyeurism in Fellowship Memphis.” But I was baffled. Why would Bryan Loritts be silent about sex crimes in a church? Why wouldn’t he speak out? Well three years later I would learn why. It was because Bryan Loritts was involved in covering up sex crimes in Fellowship Memphis.
The Fellowship Memphis Scandal of Voyeurism and Child Pornography and Bryan Fleeing
It was one of the darkest emails I received at this blog. In August of 2016 a victim of a deviant sex crime at Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis contacted me. She proceeded to tell me of a dark scandal. The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis main newspaper also covered part of it. Bryan Loritts co-pastored Fellowship Memphis with John Bryson. Bryan Loritts brother-in-law was Rick Trotter who also led worship at one of the locations of Fellowship Memphis. Rick Trotter was also into voyeurism and recorded people including underage children and in the process manufactured child pornography inside a church restroom in 2010. Bryan Loritts knew about the history of his brother-in-laws voyeurism and sex crimes. Loritts own children were recorded and Bryan did not take the issue to the Memphis Police. Bryan banned his brother-in-law from his home but did not report him to the police or tell his church community. Bryan, out of his greed put his career and book publishing ahead of his own family. This blog considers him an abject failure of a man and a father. When Rick Trotter was caught one of those in the know wanted to tip off the Memphis Police to the sex crime. Bryan Loritts attempted to use a membership covenant to invoke church discipline on a person only to realize that the person did not sign a membership covenant. What happened under the leadership of Bryan Loritts and then John Bryson is that Fellowship Memphis covered up the sex crimes of worship leader Rick Trotter. The church went through the illicit recordings and contacted the women who were recorded and made them forgive Rick Trotter. Fellowship discouraged the females from going to the police. The crime was put on them and the church communicated that they didn’t want Rick Trotter’s life destroyed. And then they let him go where he supposedly went into sex addiction counseling in Georgia.
The scandal hung over Bryan Loritts and followed him around the country. Like Jonah Bryan Loritts fled the situation. Rick Trotter then went onto another church in Memphis in 2011 as a part time contractor and then went full time in 2015. He was hired knowing the situation that took place at Fellowship Memphis. He resumed his voyeurism for about three years inside a Presbyterian Church plant before he was caught. He was abruptly fired and the police were contacted. This blog told the story of Bryan Loritts, Rick Trotter and Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Church. The Memphis Commercial Appeal wrote about it and this blog also has kept up with the story as Bryan Loritts has fled. Bryan Loritts has never owned his role in the cover up. Loritts continues to bully the victims in Memphis as he scans social media and has tried to silence them. The question that needs to be asked is does Bryan Loritts still have the child pornography from the situation? For a deep dive into Fellowship Memphis you can read the following post in, “The Sordid Tale of Rick Trotter, Bryan Loritts, John Bryson and Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Presbyterian Church” And you can read the Memphis Commercial Appeal article in, “Former Grizzlies announcer Rick Trotter reportedly recorded women at another church in 2010.” When I learned of what Bryan Loritts did in the Fellowship Memphis scandal I destroyed all the sermons from Bryan that I hung on to.
Bryan Loritts Speaking at my Former EFCA Church – The Bridge Fresno
As Bryan Loritts fled he did something that shocked me. After fleeing from the crimes he was involved in covering up he was working at restarting his preaching career. He fled to California where he took a position at Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Mountain View in the Bay Area. And what happened? What had to take place? Well he went and was scheduled to preach at an EFCA church that I once called home. When I was there it was called Fresno Evangelical Free and today is The Bridge Fresno. When I saw this I felt sick. This is the church that I had my first Bible study in, and the church I was baptized in. This church had problems a year earlier they bungled a prayer request and request for help as my Mom was dying in the nearby hospital. It begs the question what good is a church that doesn’t take care of the sick or bury the dead? Why does it exist? Well Bryan Loritts was scheduled to speak in July of 2018. You can see the advertisement up above and read about it in the following post, “The Memphis Commercial Appeal Asks If Memphis Police Mishandled the Rick Trotter Situation? Plus The Bridge Fresno Advertises and Prepares for Bryan Loritts to Speak on July 8, 2018.” And when I tried to reach out to the staff of my former church they ignored me and blocked my emails on their server. It was disheartening and continued to teach me that a church I loved and admired was also corrupt. It was a bittersweet pill to swallow. Prior to 2017 this is a church that I had a history with and respected. Bryan Loritts taught me that my former EFCA church had some deep issues and was quite corrupt.
What Bryan Loritts Actually Taught Me From 2000 Until 2020
In December of 2002 I thought highly of Bryan Loritts. Today in the late spring of 2020 I view him as a grifter. A conman making money off people’s emotions. Religion is a business for Bryan Loritts. He’s not someone one should take seriously. But Bryan once tried to teach me about getting off the fence and living boldly for Jesus. But let me tell you what I learned from Bryan Loritts over the past 20 years.
- Bryan likes to play with people’s emotions and toy with them.
- Bryan is about making money and that is what faith is all about. Its about making money and duping people.
- Bryan is all about image. He cares about his image and as the Rick Trotter situation illustrates he will throw his own flesh and blood under the bus if he can publish another book or speak at another conference.
- Bryan taught me that many churches cover up sexual crimes. Its the modus -operandi for many. Lets just call it business.
- Bryan taught me that while he likes to speak of racial -reconciliation he exploits the issue of racism for personal gain. If he was serious about racial reconciliation he wouldn’t live in an affluent suburb while talking about the inner city.
- Bryan showed me that much of evangelicalism is corrupt. Its a business and these issues are systemic and part of a bigger problem set.
Almost twenty years ago Bryan challenged me and other college and grad students to get off the fence. In that context I have and I have ended up pushing back against evangelicalism. Bryan showed me as to how corrupt he was and it also revealed why organizations like my former EFCA church or Cru (formerly Campus Crusade which is close to Crawford Loritts and other elements of the Loritts family) are corrupt. It was a painful lesson. But in some ways I feel like that guy who was sending money to that preacher on television who was caught in that drug or prostitution sting. I feel like I was had. And that is why Bryan Loritts was so destructive.