Iconic Southern Baptist Pastor Charles F. Stanley, who led the 13,000-member First Baptist Church Atlanta in Georgia for more than 40 years before retiring last September, wants the world to know that he has not started a CBD oil business, and any claims that he has can be dismissed as a “scam.” Social media scam is using the Baptist preacher’s name to advertise gummies, oil. In Touch Ministries posted a 'SCAM ALERT' on their website warning people Dr. Charles Stanley's name was being used in an attempt steal people's private information.
Charles Stanley says websites claiming he’s now selling CBD oil are scams
Iconic Southern Baptist Pastor Charles F. Stanley, who led the 13,000-member First Baptist Church Atlanta in Georgia for more than 40 years before retiring last September, wants the world to know that he has not started a CBD oil business, and any claims that he has can be dismissed as a “scam.”
“In Touch Ministries has received reports that scammers have been posting Dr. Charles Stanley’s image, falsely reporting that Dr. Stanley is beginning a new business venture in CBD oil. Some of the articles even utilize fake Fox News headers to appear more convincing. However, none of it is true. IT IS A SCAM. Dr. Stanley has not begun any new venture,” the ministry founded by Stanley announced in a statement over the weekend.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, the “second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis,” also known as marijuana. While it’s an “essential component of medical marijuana, it’s derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant,” according to Harvard Health. Even though CBD is one of hundreds of components found in marijuana, taken alone, it does not cause a “high.”
Stanley’s team urged followers to avoid sharing any personal information with websites connected with the “deceptive posts” that have been exploiting his likeness.
“PLEASE DO NOT CLICK ON THESE DECEPTIVE POSTS, EMAILS, TEXTS, OR WEBSITES. Scammers are attempting to trick you into giving your personal information or infect your electronic devices by using Dr. Stanley’s image,” the ministry warned.
On Dec. 10, 2017, Stanley announced a succession plan for his ministry, naming Anthony George as the church’s future pastor. Approximately three years later, as COVID-19 marched across the nation killing hundreds, Stanley announced in September 2020 that he would retire and become pastor emeritus.
“I have no doubt there are many great days ahead for the First Baptist Church of Atlanta. My hope is that the greatest days are still ahead,” he said.
Stanley became senior pastor of First Baptist Church Atlanta in 1971 after a hard fought battle for the position, according to CNN.
His son, Andy Stanley, was once his father’s heir apparent, but later founded his own church and is senior pastor of the multi-campus North Point Community Church in Georgia, one of the largest churches in the country.
The elder Stanley met another hurdle when the veteran preacher’s wife, Anna, officially divorced him after 40 years of marriage in 2000, saying she experienced “many years of discouraging disappointments and marital conflict. . Charles, in effect, abandoned our marriage. He chose his priorities, and I have not been one of them.”
While many in the Southern Baptist Convention called on him to step down over his divorce, Stanley refused to give up his role as senior pastor.
“God said you keep doing what I called you to until I tell you to do something else,” he told CNN. “I got that straight from the Lord. . I was simply obeying God.”
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Charles Stanley: Not Selling CBD
Charles Stanley has been spending more time with family since he stepped down as pastor of First Baptist Church Atlanta in 2020. He has continued his schedule of preaching on TV and radio with In Touch Ministries. And he is working on a book about prayer that will be released this fall.
He has not started a new business selling gummies and other products infused with cannabidiol (CBD), a compound extracted from the marijuana plant.
Enough people thought the longtime Southern Baptist pastor, considered one of the best evangelical preachers of his generation alongside Billy Graham and Chuck Swindoll, might have gotten into the CBD business, however, that In Touch Ministries released a warning on Saturday: “IT IS A SCAM.”
“Dr. Stanley has not begun any new venture,” the official statement said. “Scammers are attempting to trick you into giving your personal information or infect your electronic devices by using Dr. Stanley’s image.”
In Touch Ministries staff have reported the false advertising to Facebook and other social media sites selling “Charles Stanley CBD gummies” and “Charles Stanley CBD oil,” but new ads—with the preacher’s name superimposed over a large marijuana leaf, or the preacher’s name next to a spilled pile of glistening gummy bears—have appeared to replace them.
“Our social media team has been working with Facebook to quickly remove these false ads as soon as we are alerted to them,” Seth Grey, an In Touch Ministries spokesman, told CT. “Unfortunately, as soon as one ad is removed, another pops up in its place.”
And just to be clear: “This is false and Dr. Stanley does not endorse anything like this,” Grey said.
The false advertisements seem to have started back in April, beginning simultaneously on multiple websites registered in Iceland. Some of the sites were started right before the scam began, while others have previously advertised the same CBD products with other celebrities’ names, including Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart.
A second wave of websites, designed to look like news outlets with names like “24×7 News” and “Big News Network,” pretended to review the product in May and June. Each piece ended with a large red button to buy the product.
The promotional material was all written in garbled English, infused with health and fitness buzzwords.
“Charles Stanley CBD Gummies are one of the most selling and effective health improvement products that are constituted from various herbal and natural ingredients that are pure and natural to help consumers to get over various mental and physical health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, mental headache, sleeping disorders, acne issues, heart diseases, etc.,” said one website.
Another explained that with this miracle product, “one’s wellness, namely in terms of inflammation and related health consequences is believed to gradually reverse with time.” The phrase “health consequences” linked to an advertisement on another site designed to look like a news report on a safe herbal ingredients.
One of the fake reviews said that “Charles Stanley CBD Gummies Gummies have 600mg of unadulterated, top-notch CBD to assist you to really feel extraordinary without the substantial!” and concluded, “CBD is as of this moment astonishing the us.”
The artificial English, snake-oil promises, and nonsense “reviews” serve as a backstop for the social media ads, providing an appearance of legitimacy to convince computer algorithms and anyone doing a quick Google search that Charles Stanley CBD gummies do, in fact, exist.
They don’t, but these scams do work, according to consumer protection advocates. The Better Business Bureau has documented more than 400 people taken in by CBD scams in the US in the last five years.
Some lose only a little money: $6, $12, $13.95.
Others, signing up for a “free sample,” agree to pay shipping and handling and then later find their bank account charged hundreds of dollars month after month. There is no established estimate of how much money is stolen this way every year.
In some cases, however, the product does exist. It’s just the endorsement that is not real.
The Charles Stanley CBD ads link to gummies and oils that are actually sold by a company called Smilz, which is owned by a self-described “serial entrepreneur” and “mind/body transformation guru,” named Jas Mathur. According to an advertisement designed to look like an article in USA Today and other media outlets, “Jas is a testament to a hidden truth of progress: one can only behave according to what they believe they can do and when he sets his mind, Jas can do anything.”
Whether Mathur is behind the ads claiming Stanley’s endorsement for CBD products or there are other parties involved is unclear. The company’s public relations firm did not respond to a request for comment.
It has become common for scammers to bait their hooks with fake celebrity endorsements, according to the BBB. The consumer advocacy group warns people to “Be skeptical of celebrity endorsements” and “Resist being swayed by the use of a well-known name.”
Scammers seem to choose famous people with a very broad fan base and a well-established reputation for reliability. Actors Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Anniston, and Sandra Bullock have all had their names and images misused in this way. The fact checking site Snopes investigated whether Tom Selleck is a spokesman for CBD oil. He is not.
Tom Hanks’ name has been used to sell CBD twice, sending the actor to Instagram to make a statement.
“I’ve never said this and would never make such an endorsement,” wrote the star of Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Sleepless in Seattle, and Toy Story. “Come on, man. Hanx!”
Before Stanley’s fake endorsement, at least three Christian leaders have been used to sell CBD products: Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and T. D. Jakes, all Christians with popular television programs.
Stanley did not address the scam during his televised sermon on Saturday, but he did preach about the dangers of deception.
“When the Holy Spirit is within you, you’ll have foresight,” he said. “You’ll be able to see things that look like one thing when they’re another. You’ll be able to discern deception and know that what you’re seeing is a lie.”
Stanley said we can ask God to help us recognize counterfeit promises of “joy and peace and happiness and prosperity” as “one big Satanic lie.”
Is Dr. Charles Stanley Selling CBD Oil? In Touch Ministries Warns of ‘SCAM’
First Baptist Church Atlanta’s former Pastor Dr. Charles Stanley has become part of an Internet hoax that he is selling CBD oil (cannabidiol) in a new business venture. The scam ad uses a picture of the notable pastor in an attempt to gain personal information from those tricked into clicking. According to the Harvard Medical School, CBD oil is the second-most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana).
Dr. Stanley’s In Touch Ministries, which he founded, posted a ‘SCAM ALERT‘ on its website, warning people about the scam that has been circulated throughout Facebook, emails, websites, and text messages.
Dr. Stanley isn’t involved in any such venture, according to In Touch Ministries’ site, which warns, “In Touch Ministries has received reports that scammers have been posting Dr. Charles Stanley’s image, falsely reporting that Dr. Stanley is beginning a new business venture in CBD oil. Some of the articles even utilize fake Fox News headers to appear more convincing. However, none of it is true. IT IS A SCAM. Dr. Stanley has not begun any new venture.”
In Touch Ministries told followers to always check its website for updates regarding Dr. Stanley: “For news and information about Dr. Stanley, please always check here on intouch.org or on In Touch Ministries’ official Facebook page first.”
Dr. Charles Stanley Recently Stepped Down
The 88-year-old Stanley announced last September that he was officially stepping down and gave his successor Dr. Anthony George the reigns to the church he had served at for over 50 years. Dr. Stanley has remained at the church as Pastor Emeritus. The bestselling author who said he doesn’t believe in retirement told his congregation during his successor-search plan announcement, “As you know, I don’t believe in retirement. It’s not biblical.”
After serving as the associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Atlanta for two years, Dr. Stanley took over as senior pastor in 1971 following what was described in a CNN article as a “bruising battle.” A battle that “inflamed tensions so much that his family received nasty, anonymous letters and deacons warned his father that he would never pastor again,” the article said. Dr. Stanley was the President of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1984 and 1985.
Majority of Pastors Call Legalized Marijuana Wrong
A recent Lifeway Research study revealed that 78% of Protestant pastors say that smoking marijuana is morally wrong although it has been legalized in almost one-third of the United States.
The study also showed that 76% of the pastors conducted in the Lifeway’s survey say that marijuana use shouldn’t be made legal within the states. Only 10% of evangelical pastors indicate favor for national legalization.