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John Todd (1949-2007; aka John Wayne Todd, John Todd Collins, Lance Collins and Christopher Kollyns) was a fundamentalist Christian apologist and a convicted rapist and child molester. He was a 1970s sensation on the Christian church circuit claiming to have been born into a family of witches who groomed him for eventual placement on a high council of Druids known as the Illuminati. His tall tales were used as source material by Jack Chick for several of his tracts and comic books on the occult. During the time he said he was a Satanist (circa 1968) he was actually a storefront preacher and follower of the "Jesus only" theology of William Branham (so should we conclude that Jesus-only baptism is a form of satanism?). Ironically, during some of the time after he claimed to have converted to Christianity (circa 1976) he was running a Wiccan bookstore.
John Todd claimed that a conspiracy of witches and druids was in control of world events, and that they were about to enact a plan to stamp out "Bible-believing Christianity" and make witchcraft the official religion of the United States. Why witches and druids would band together, and why druids would be part of a conspiracy to make witchcraft (wicca?) our official religion, rather than druidic paganism, is unexplained.
He further claimed that he knew of all this because he himself had briefly been placed on the high council of the Illuminati, but then converted to born again Christianity and was now going to blow their cover and warn the Christian world of their plans. He appears to have gone through two periods on the evangelical circuit making these claims. During the early 1970s he was making the rounds among Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, the same grounds frequented by Mike Warnke. He reappeared during the late 1970s on the independent Baptist church circuit making the same claims, and in addition denouncing the Charismatic movement as a creation of the Illuminati. In between he seems to have returned to witchcraft for a couple of years.
He was, for a short while in 1978-79, a hot topic in Christendom. The apparent reason seems to be because his "testimony" dovetailed nicely with conspiracy theories then being circulated by the religious right about then-President Jimmy Carter. John Todd said Jimmy Carter was the Illuminati's main man, who they intended to place in power as the Antichrist. Jimmy Carter was in fact a born-again Christian, but since when did the religious right let facts get in the way of their political agenda?
He also claims to have started Christian Rock as part of the Illuminati's plan to take over the churches with rock & roll's Satanic beat, with a $8 million (or $4 million - his testimony changed from time to time) dollar check from Illuminati/Witch HQ to Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, which is just stupid.
One of Todd's claims was that Raymond Buckland, Gardnerian witch, founder of Seax-Wica, and prolific author, was not only a professor of anthropology at Cambridge University, but was hand-picked by Philippe Rothschild to head the Illuminati. In reality, Buckland isn't an anthropologist, has never taught at Cambridge, and at the time of Todd's claim, was working as a flight attendant for British Airways.
Another fun allegation made by John Todd: "Phillip Rothschild ordered one of his mistresses to write an 1100-page book that would describe to all witches how they would take control of the World through the Illuminati: It's called Atlas Shrugged."
John Todd eventually started making wild claims that many large fundamentalist Christian ministries were funded by and secretly promoting the agenda of the Illuminati, at which point he was investigated by Christianity Today and Cornerstone magazines and found to be an outright fraud (surprise!). A book from an evangelical Christian publisher, The Todd Phenomenon by Darryl Hicks and David Lewis (New Leaf Publishers, 1979), looked into and debunked Todd's claims.
Jack Chick's comic book Spellbound features Todd appearing under his claimed "witch name", Lance Collins. Spellbound claims the entire rock music industry is controlled by witches, who cast spells on the master tapes to cause evil spirits to follow all the recordings thus produced, resulting in kids becoming demon possessed from listening to rock & roll. The comic concludes with a good Christian record and book burning, during which a young born-again convert shouts "WOW! I feel F R E E!" upon seeing her heavy metal albums going up in smoke. Chick's comic book The Broken Cross, featuring two evangelists busting up a Satanist cult that had taken over a California town, also cites Todd as its primary source. An early version of Chick's anti-Dungeons and Dragons tract "Dark Dungeons" encourages readers to burn their occult books "including C.S. Lewis and Tolkien".[note 1] After people called B.S. on both of those Christian authors being so labeled, Chick said John Todd had been his source for this but removed it from later versions.
The Children of God cult (now The Family International) seem to have also promoted Todd and his claims via COG member and Todd supporter Joseph "Doc" Marquis, who claimed to have been a former "Illuminati" member himself. The book Every Knee Shall Bow by Jess Walter, probably the definitive work on the Randy and Vicki Weaver saga, says that John Todd was a guest at the Weavers' home in the early 1980s when they still lived in Iowa, where Todd gave a ranting speech on the global conspiracy.
Dramatic fall from grace
In 1987, Todd was arrested for the rape of a University of South Carolina student and further charged with molesting two child students of the karate school where he worked. He was sentenced to 30 years, but was released in 2004 to the Behavioral Disorder Treatment Unit run by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, where he died on November 10, 2007.
- If you must, there is a website by a fan who continues to believe in his claims, with a lot of his taped speeches archived in mp3 format for your edification here.
- Speak of the Devil: Entry on John Todd
- Quoted on this website by an apparent Todd supporter
- Walter, Jess. Every Knee Shall Bow: The Truth & Tragedy of Ruby Ridge & The Randy Weaver Family, HarperCollins, 1995.
- See the Wikipedia article on John Todd (conspiracy theorist).