InTouch Ministries, the ministry founded by Southern Baptist pastor Dr. Charles Stanley, warns of a scam linking him to CBD product sales. 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: I’m Not Selling CBD
Charles Stanley and CBD? If that sounds far-fetched to you, you’d be right.
The ministry founded by the popular Southern Baptist pastor urged the public in a weekend statement not to fall for false reports connecting him and sales of new CBD products.
“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,” the ministry’s statement reads. “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 asked people not to click on posts, emails, texts or websites conveying the false information, .
“Scammers are attempting to trick you into giving your personal information or infect your electronic devices by using Dr. Stanley’s image,” according to the ministry.
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CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the active ingredients in marijuana but is derived from hemp, a cousin to the marijuana plant, according to Harvard Health. CBD doesn’t cause a high—a different ingredient called THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, causes the psychoactive effects produced by marijuana.
Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, but hemp with insignificant levels of THC was legalized in 2018. Federal regulation places certain restrictions on how it’s marketed. No CBD products can be advertised for treating any specific diseases or conditions.
Stanley announced last fall he was retiring as senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Atlanta and transitioning to pastor emeritus. His sermons are still broadcast online and on more than 2,600 radio and TV outlets through InTouch Ministries, which he founded in 1977. The 88-year-old has been focusing his energies there since stepping back from church ministry.
The church announced more than three years ago it had formed a succession plan in which the church’s associate pastor at the time, current Senior Pastor Anthony George, would succeed Stanley.
“I’m so grateful [God] saw fit to allow me to serve as your pastor for more than 50 years,” Stanley was quoted as saying in a Baptist Press article.
Stanley has been on staff at First Baptist since 1969, when he was hired as associate pastor. He was named senior pastor in 1971. He served two one-year terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1984-1986.
Stanley’s son Andy Stanley pastors an Atlanta-area megachurch of his own, North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. It’s one of the biggest churches in the country, with more than 30,000 in attendance each week at its campuses, according to the church’s website.
Andy Stanley was once considered his father’s natural successor, but the two parted ways when the elder Stanley and his wife divorced in 2000, according to CNN.
Anna Stanley told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she had endured “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.”Charles Stanley has not remarried and Anna Stanley passed away in 2014.
After the divorce, Charles Stanley resisted calls for his resignation and the church eventually voted to retain him as senior pastor. He and his son reportedly maintain a close relationship.
Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.
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.