Understanding the Phenomenon of Tom Papania

Letter to the Editor

Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2005 10:56:03 +1000
From: [Name & e-mail address hidden]
To: Brian Karjala
Subject: Tom Papania

Hi Brian,

Thank you for your information on Tom Papania.

I am from Australia and attend an Assembles of God church.

Tom Papania came to our church last year as part of an Australian tour which also included another larger church in Sydney and one in Melbourne as well.

I was initially very excited to see Tom speak at our church, not only because I was going to see a real 'mafia-man', but also because I had finally managed to convince my mother (who is not a Christian) to come to my church for the first time. We were both amazed by his story and I must admit that I never would have suspected he was a fake. However, my mother (who comes from an Italian background), said she was suspicious because his story was not really consistent with what she knew about the mafia.

So we both decided to do some research on Tom on the internet and quickly discovered that Tom Papania's testimony is - at best - questionable. I was quite annoyed by this as the church now has absolutely no credibility in my mother's eyes.

I asked the pastor of our church why they got Tom Papania to speak when there is so much controversy surrounding him. The pastor's response was that he was aware of the allegations against him and that "most of it is coming from one source - someone who appears to have a vendetta against him". Unfortunately, no effort was made to see wether or not that "one source" was actually telling the truth!!

I have known the Pastor of our church for a long time and know that he is a genuine, trustworthy and diligent leader. But in my opinion his apparent lack of interest and concern over Tom Papania was a serious error of judgement.

But as disappointed as I was by the Pastor's responses (or lack of it), I was even more disappointed by the reactions I got from some of my friends in the church.

In general they fell into four categories:

1. Those who automatically assume that Tom Papania is telling the truth, and therefore anyone trying to put him down is basically not on God's side (ie: "anyone who takes a genuine stand for God is going to be shouted down / attacked by the world & the devil" etc).

2. Those who cant seem to understand why it is likely that Tom is a fake when I explain the whole story to them (and if they do agree that he could be a fake they cant seem to understand why it is so important).

3. Those who are living a flat-out, busy life who concede that Tom may have been a fake but in the scheme of things it's not really of much importance now as it is in the past and they don't have the time / energy to investigate the matter for themselves, and would prefer not to anyway as they are more concerned with the "here and now", and "living life to the fullest" so they can achieve their "God given destiny".

4. Those who simply don't listen to me because they think that every speaker who comes into large churches like ours is thoroughly reference checked and investigated beforehand, so it would be simply unthinkable that a false teacher could get in.

So this whole thing has left me very frustrated!!

I was beginning to forget about the whole thing until I noticed about a month ago that Tom Papania was back in Australia, this time speaking at another large Pentecostal church in Melbourne.

I have thought a lot about how all this could happen. In my opinion Pentecostal churches are more susceptible to someone like Tom Papania because they tend to want to put on a show and so are always looking for the big names and incredible stories etc. Therefore when the opportunity comes to have someone such as Tom Papania speak, they seem to focus more on the opportunity itself and less on the validity of the speaker.

Also, I would suggest that a Pentecostal audience is more likely to believe him because they are slightly more driven by emotions, feelings and hype than by facts and logic.

Whilst I am upset by the whole thing, I am not going to let it interfere with my Christian walk. I believe that it is my responsibility to support the church and accept that we are living in a world with many false teachers and unfortunately the odds are that we will come across them from time to time. All we can do now is accept what happened and be more careful from now on. And most importantly: GET THE WORD OUT THAT TOM PAPANIA IS A FAKE. Your website is very valuable in this respect!!

Keep up the good work.


[Name withheld]


Discerning Christians like the above gentleman are not always easy to find in these times.  Too many people prefer lies over the truth, just as the Holy Scriptures predicted would happen:

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.  But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
(2 Timothy 4:3-5; New Testament)

When Tom Papania told people that the allegations against him "truly come from one main source" he was in fact referring to himself as that main source!

Listen to Tom's own voice as he confesses that there are problems with his "Christian" testimony...

View a 2001 news report of Tom on YouTube (courtesy of NBC's New York affiliate station):

Tom Papania Exposed

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