“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust (Psalm 91:1-2).”
BEFORE INTRODUCING myself to Pastor Dean Odle on the afternoon of November 9, 2017, I had already greeted several other presenters in the room, but unlike Flat Earthists Darryle Marble, Jeran Campanella, Bob Knodel, and Rob Skiba, our story does not end at the first annual Flat Earth International Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Oh no—for Dean Odle of Opelika, Alabama, it is only the beginning.
The photograph which documents our meeting is not so dissimilar from any other taken that day. My hair is slightly disheveled and both arms are crossed, and though I recall Odle’s rosy cheeks in person, the flash of my camera seems rather to highlight his gray goatee under a gleaming bald head. Smiles fill both of our genuinely happy faces, and the photo further serves my memory right that Odle’s hand was gently pressed upon my back. Judging by that brief moment alone, no one would have reason to suspect the objections to come. Truth be told, I had never tasted a single sermon, and would not even hear him speak until the following morning.
Controversy enveloped my first Dean Odle experience. A New Age mystic and self-professing Persian woman who advocates a flat-earth revolution because “it awakens the divine feminine within all of us…as our only real tool for balance,” whereas, in her words, “the globe is distorted and really masculine and very degrading to the feminine,” stood defiantly with shouts of protests and religious blasphemy. Her name was Marmar Queen. Odle verbally returned fire, and Queen was shown the door—but certainly not soon enough. The angry texts which were thereafter fired back and forth backstage between Odle and his fellow conference presenters, most of whom argued that the pastor’s comments were sorely out of line, would have been legendary, Odle told me a few weeks later over the phone—if they were ever made known.
Even over the phone I could hear him grin. “And I’ve saved every text message.”
Whatever truly happened behind the scenes—whether Odle was muscled out of future appearances or allowed to return—is not clearly known. Jeran Campanella’s scathing retaliation video, titled Antichrist Revealed by False Prophet Pastor Dean Odle, is enlightening as to the tone and accusatory attitude of Odle’s fellow presenters. Certain, however, is Odle’s immediate announcement that he would no longer have any part in Robbie Davidson’s Flat Earth conferences. Rather, to bandage his bruises, Odle soon thereafter announced a conference of his own. During our phone conversation, he said it like this: “I told Robbie he needs to knock off his nonsense.” Though Davidson refused to knock off his nonsense, he continued promoting Odle on his channel and, as I’d come to learn, Odle’s up and coming Auburn conference was nothing less than a Davidson affair.
It is not however his protested sermon, nor our casual portrait together, which instigated my investigation into the troublesome world of Dean Odle. It began the moment I opened my mouth to say hello. I even formed the proper pronunciation with my lips, but as memory serves me, another onlooker within his small circle of admirers beat me to the punch. He was apparently bothered by the conversation that I had intruded upon, because he sharply asked of Odle: “As a minister, do you even have personal accountability?”
Dean stumbled. I thought I heard an oh and uh as he adjusted his response. He then grinned, and with a charming southern accent, said: “It’s not a problem. I keep myself accountable.”
This was my introduction to Pastor Dean Odle. If the mere fact that he operated a ministry in his own name was not enough to turn my immediate gaze elsewhere, I have since heard him brag a countless number of times: “I’m the pastor of my own church. Nobody can fire me.”
The answer is no. Pastor Dean Odle does not have accountability.
Fire and Grace in Opelika consists of less than twelve loyal adults. Online, he currently numbers 12,000 inquisitive subscribers. A YouTube subscriber cannot fire the self-appointed prophet of Dean Odle Ministries—nor can he shepherd them. They can only unsubscribe.
FROM THE VERY beginning my investigation into the flat earth has focused on two completely separate claims. There is, of course, the claim as to the shape of the Earth itself, and then there is the behavior and the method behind the claims of its adherents—particularly the leaders of the very movement which bears its name. I have never found a reason to blur these two lines together, nor confuse them. One is a truth—a particularly intimate one for this author and many. It is what I have intimately referred to as the joyous cosmology, an unmapped geography which is generously informed by the Testimony of God in the pages of His Word. The latter administers the very tactics which seeks to shroud and bury—in no uncertain terms—what remains of Protestantism. The Church of Rome has set its sights on ending the reformation, and so far, the Pope is winning. The war being waged here is a bitter one, and certainly nothing short of awe-inspiring. Even here in the joyous cosmology “New Evangelists” have organized an offensive which is not so objectionable to the enemies of Christ. Shoulders may now be yoked between the Christian and non-believer—all so that some sort of “greater unity” may be felt. Here in the Movement, the battle against Scientism is provably yet another tragic compromise against a human history of calamitous compromises. Make no mistake about it, the ecumenical Jacuzzi of Flat Earth is yet another sweat lodge among a road of many—and it leads to Rome.
I arrived at the first annual Flat Earth International Conference ill-prepared. I had left home without my notebook and pen, which is so unlike my very nature that to be seen without one was perhaps matched only by the additional oddity of having never been separated from my twin sons, both three years of age, since the moment of their birth. I was, however, successful in securing a pen and notebook from my publisher and then sat eagerly in the second row of the conference hall, directly behind Flat Earthists Patricia Steere and Mark Sargent—notebook open and pen in my hand.
I was only recently referring to my notes again, while in preparation to write this, and it is quite evident, from the moment Robbie Davidson opened his conference at 9 am, that the reality—or should I say spirit—behind this movement quickly set in.
After scribbling pen strokes of dissatisfaction over Davidson’s opening comments, namely that he compared the movement which bore his conference to Martin Luther’s reformation, he then went on to define it. His reformation would be one in which all religions and sexual orientations would be welcomed with open arms.
It is here where my scribbles trailed off into wisps, and soon thereafter to an abrupt end. And it wasn’t even 9:15 in the morning yet. An entire weekend remained. To this day, the rest of its pages remain empty. A period followed by dot-dot-dot still suffices.
AS THE INNOVATIVE mind and craftsman behind the Flat Earth International Conference, Robbie Davidson is accepted by most as the Christian leader of this Movement. His YouTube channel, Celebrate Truth—which runs twenty-four hours per day and seven days a week—falsely advertises itself as a source of Biblical truth. And yet, when it comes to Davidson, it is truly difficult finding any rationale as to what he deems as Biblically true. He gladly hosts Torah-observant Rob Skiba as one source of Biblical truth and then afterwards Gnostic Zen Garcia. His calloused doctrine further annotates Pastor Dean Odle as an option for Charismatics. When one considers why he would assemble them together into a confederacy which he promises will combat Scientism, the muddied waters of his Biblical falsities is further blended and the road to Rome is that much more advanced.
Davidson confessed to an interviewer: “What I find interesting about this phase is I have never ever been on one side fighting the war against Satan or Scientism and had so many people backing me that don’t even believe in the Bible.”
This is the reformation of Robbie Davidson and the very trumpeting call which gives marching orders to the Movement. Such statements not only seem to compliment his reformation, but give aptitude to it.
Flat Earthist Nathan Roberts, whom Davidson regularly promotes, has equally summed up the terrible tragedy of this Movement. In yet another mind-numbing YouTube video, Roberts enters a Target department store and rips the pages from a children’s science book, notably for teaching kids about the geocentric globe earth worldview of Ptolemy. He has already made a reputation among Christian Creationist ministries for falsely prophesying against Answers in Genesis and quite separately for intending to incite riots. He was thrown from a hotel in Myrtle Beach, which was sponsoring Dr. Robert Carter of Creation Ministries International, after two separate confrontations off camera. Robert’s regurgitated display of emotional adolescence serves as the typical bullying tactic which he and his strongmen prefer in order that they might then cry martyrdom from those who oppose them. Among his followers, Roberts preference for claims of martyrdom is a shtick which never grows old.
In response to his Target critics Roberts claimed:
“Something that releasing that video and doing that video revealed to me is how imperfect Flat Earthers really are—there’s so many Flat Earthers out there that want to control Flat Earth like they own it or something. Flat Earth is owned by the Creator. This movement is a movement of God. This is His truth and He’s revealing it however He wishes to, to those that He’s given the ability to understand it. So I’ve had several people ty to come against me within the Flat Earth community and something that I would like to say is that you should be careful to pick your battles because….Flat Earthers cannot control or own Flat Earth. We do not own it. We can’t control it. It is what it is. We are simply the messengers.”
He then offered to send out a free t-shirt, inscribed with 200 Bible verses outlining Hebrew cosmology, to anyone who did the same. Within days he escalated the issue and threatened to bring fascism to Flat Earth by burning books. Among his support base, I did not see any concerns for the thousands of satanic deceptions on sale he passed up in Target in order to find a children’s science book about globe Earth. How very tragic for the Movement.
Movement Flat Earthists often display by their own words and actions—particularly their methods of holding hands with apostates and blasphemers—that Paul was not speaking facetiously when he wrote of a people who “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator (Romans 1:25).” These, he said, were “Men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness…” How ironic for a Flat Earthist.
“And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? “Romans 2:19-21)”
Nathan Roberts, by the way, is a shameless promoter of Pastor Dean Odle, and has often visited Fire and Grace in Opelika to prove it—video camera pressed upon his own face the entire time.
In his article for TruthKeepers, titled They Love Error More Than Truth, C.H. Fisher might as well be referencing the who’s who of heretical teaching at Robinson’s conferences when he writes: “Professing Christians are fawning over every heretic, heresy, heretical book, and blasphemous movie. They will race off to conferences with a speaker lineup that reads like a “Who’s Who” in false “ministers of righteousness.” The truth floats on by them, but they eagerly reach out, grab, and gush over every falsehood. But they will not rejoice over or promote truth. Further, they refuse to invest any time and energy defending anyone who presents truth when they are under attack. So God sends His messengers to warn them just as He sent prophets to apostate Israel. But will they listen? They will not listen.”
Robbie Davidson ended the first annual Flat Earth International Conference by premiering his latest documentary, Scientism Exposed 2. Considering the films wandering, mostly aimless narrative, which often ping-pongs between the assembling of Davidson’s Scientism team across the United States matched with the airport and rental car journey which the Canadian personally takes his viewer on, it is an odd little film, especially considering it ultimately serves as a commercial for Dean Odle’s church. In fact, its grand finale brings Davidson’s journey to the basement of Fire and Grace church in Opelika, Alabama—just in time for a worship service. Here the ecumenical stew of Team Scientism is finally and fully assembled. Roll end credits.
If there were ever a more appropriate time to announce Davidson and Odle’s devotion to the other, it was then—at Robbie Davidson’s reformation.
BERT FONDLY remembers watching the Apollo 11 moon landing on television with his father. When President Nixon called astronaut Neil Armstrong from a landline telephone his father retorted, “What a joke!” His father was a hardened War veteran who served in the European theater and, according to Bert, “was an army ranger with a knife handed to him and the word KILL stamped onto his forehead.” Suffice to say that Bert made no inquiries as to why his father laughed at America’s defining moment, nor did his father wish to elaborate. But the memory stuck. Even in school, “I never believed we lived on a spinning ball,” Bert confessed over the phone, “and it wasn’t because of a belief in the Bible.” Years later he found himself taking a tour through NASA. “I was in the studio where they had all these planets and stuff set up, and they were huge, you know, bigger than me, as big as a small house with railroad tracks running around it.”
Bert asked questions.
To his tour guide he said: “This is where you make the space movies, right?”
To which his guide ferociously retorted: “No, we need to make models of everything we find in outer space!”
Bert was promptly removed from NASA. It was a 108 degree day, but his experience in the headquarters of deception gave him the chills.
“When I got saved in 1980, I was a carpet installer,” Bert recounted. “In my stupid little trade the Lord had me places and took me places that most men have never seen.” His profession brought him into Trump Tower and the White House, quite memorably Bill Cosby’s mansion, and he was even called to floor a Masonic Hall. The Masons however—like NASA before them—turned his skin ice cold. After the hairs turned up on his arm, he called his boss up and said he wouldn’t do it. “They knew I was a Christian and talked about Jesus all the time, and so they’d give me gigs like that.” But of all his gigs, nothing quite prepared him for the house of Dean Odle.
There are various reasons why Bert was magnetically attracted to Odle. The most obvious is Dean Odle’s coming out about flat earth. And yet in turn, it is clear that Odle was attracted to Bert—at first. Among other common interests, Bert had lived off grid. He knew how to hunt. He knew how to survive in the mountains. Put it in slightly other terms, Bert had the right sort of skills for an apocalypse survivalist. So in the summer of 2016 Bert drove his wife down from Michigan to Alabama to meet Pastor Odle, where they would remain within his inner circle for several months. What he found there was a man and his followers preparing for the apocalypse. This much was to be expected. His surprise, however, came when he immediately learned they were doing a terrible job at it.
“I went by his house every day twice a day,” Bert reminisced, in order that he might be part of the preparation. “Every one of his people, they’re setting up their end time property hideout.” For example, “Every one of them wants to buy a cow to have cow. Cow gives 8 gallons of milk per day. The cow has to be impregnated in order to have milk. Cows need to be bred either by a bull or artificial insemination which, given an apocalyptic scenario, I don’t believe that the later will be available. If you can successfully impregnate the dam it will be 283 days before she-calves and you get milk. Gestation length varies by age of dam, breed, and sex of the calf. Gestation length ranges from 279 to 287 days. For most breeds, 283 days is common. Cows carrying bull calves tend to have a slightly longer gestation compared to cows carrying heifer calves.”
When it came time to feed Odle’s six dogs, Bert was instructed to dump their food on the concrete steps and fill a 5 gallon bucket with water. Among the constant brays, somebody then had the idea of starting a rabbit farm, despite Bert’s suggestion that egg-laying hens were the way to go. “You get eggs every day, and if push comes to shove, you can knock one off for meat.” Regardless, Odle wanted rabbits as part of his apocalypse preparation, so he went out and got himself three—a male and two female. To this effect, Bert said, “Rabbits gestate for only thirty days, and usually have litters of between 4 and 12 babies, depending on the breed. Once the babies are born, the doe can mate and get pregnant again as soon as the following day. You could potentially end up with thousands in no time!” And yet, despite Odle’s devotion to punctuality, Bert can only conclude, “If the rabbits did what they are good at he should of had several hundred thousand” by now.
On yet another occasion, Bert arrived at Odle’s property to find that Odle and Kevin Wilkinson had brought two 80 lb bags of swimming pool salt into the house. The pool salt had been purchased for its sale price but its purpose, they informed him, was for the salting of meat. Despite his pleas that pool salt on meat was an epically bad idea, they insisted that research had backed up their decision.
Dean Odle was a whole mess of “loosy-goosy survivalist ideas for the apocalypse. Where they come up with them, I have no idea. So bottom line no-one has done their homework.”
Then of course there was the issue of the water well in Odle’s backyard. Dean desperately needed a hand pump. Though Bert eventually found what he was looking for, there was unfortunately another hick-up. Among all the incompetence, Bert sighed, “I got run off before I could hook it up.”
BERT FOUND much more than pool salt in the Odle household. One might easily conclude he found far more than he or anyone else bargained for. “The blinds and curtains were always drawn so that little or no daylight got in there, and there were two or three locks per door. Kevin Wilkinson did all the rewiring and let me tell you, it’s an electrical hazard, a wire-nightmare in the fuse box—a fire waiting to happen.” But it was the guns and the ammo which gave the oppressive household its most defining character.
“They were always buying ammunition,” he said. “On my first day there I was shown his weapons.” Among them were various rifles and Glock 9mm semi-automatics. Bert was introduced to a walk-in closet which adjoined Dean and Nancy’s bedroom with a guest room measuring 6 feet by 6 feet with a ceiling 8 feet tall, all of which was stacked wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling with ammunition. The apocalypse was coming, and as the latest member of Odle’s congregation, Bert had to learn how to use the AR-15. Bert has often wondered if the New Testament Apostles instructed their converts in the same sort of training. I do too.
Bert started carrying a .38 caliber 5-shot police issue revolver around town while evangelizing with the crew. At Fire and Grace, carrying arms was the thing to do. Regardless, they’d make fun of him for it. He was often asked: “Why are you only carrying a 5-shot?”
“Because I only need on shot,” he’d say in a half-hazard joking way.
Odle and Wilkinson chortled over what they perceived to be a total lack of competence in the man who’d come down from Michigan. And yet Bert could never wrap his head around the complete incompetence in Dean Odle’s faith—and his understanding of who Jesus really is, what He came to do, and just as importantly, what He expects of his disciples. Bert often asks himself this rhetorical question: How can someone be a self-appointed apostle, preacher, and prophet, holding every office imaginable, and yet still claim faith while clinging to an AR-15, the Glock on his hip, and the unknowable rounds of ammunition horded in his closet?
When sizing up Bert’s .38 caliber, Paul Frick simply couldn’t understand why he refused ownership of an AR-15.
Bert shrugged, “I’ve got a Psalm 91.”
Frick looked confused. Most would. If someone were to ask Bert to explain why Psalm 91 was his gun slinging weapon of choice, he’d likely begin at the hour of his birth, “when the Catholic priest was called in for the last rites,” and proceed from there. But rather than simply explaining Psalm 91 or holding Frick’s hand through the twists and turns of his own life, Bert did better. He led him through the Bible, outlining the protection which God gives to His people. There’s “the story of Elijah, how the Lord brought him bread and meat twice a day and had him posted up next to the brook Cherith, giving him water during a drought.” He told Frick “how God gave the Hebrews after they left Egypt manna from heaven, and quail, and in the wilderness water split from a rock.”
Frick’s response: “Do you think that stuff really happened?”
Bert eventually stopped wearing his police issue revolver altogether, “because really, the whole church started looking really goofy. It definitely wasn’t a good witness in the community.” But Dean Odle’s current hometown testimony alone is not the concern. I have heard this from Bert multiple times, on every occasion we have chanced to speak on the phone. “Dean definitely parallels Koresh standing in opposition to the government stock piling weapons and ammo and looking into the camera and snarling….you come to my house…I will kill you—all backed up with his BIBLE. I saw that with Koresh and Jim Jones.” To this Bert concludes: “It’s all adding up to the same thing—Jonestown or Waco.”
But for Bert, there was one more item of interest in the house of Dean Odle. By the front door he kept a scat pack. Inside his scat pack was enough MRE’s to last for days, with a water filter for drinking. Bert has long pondered in his mind, when that moment arrives, will Dean Odle stay or will he go?
ONE DAY Dean Odle and his brother were out riding a motorcycle. The motorcycle broke down and they both ended up taking a long walk. They were alone and without help. That’s when the werewolf appeared.
The werewolf started following them.
Dean had already been spotting werewolves around his house. He even set up a large trap and was successful in catching the neighbor’s dog. The werewolf on the side of the road, by the way, eventually turned back into a man. I can’t help but wonder if Dean and his brother apprehended the man and let him in on the fact—or rather inquired of him, if he knew he was indeed a werewolf.
Bert said, “It’s one story after another like that. He went to a church to preach and Satanists were out in the parking lot shooting at him. Another day he went down to a pond and the Satanists started shooting at him.” Then of course there was that time when Dean asked Bert to take a drive with him. He had a hankering for Chinese food—and a scope. The horror set in before Bert even had the opportunity to digest the chow mein. On the car ride Dean bragged about the scope he needed for his AR-15 rifle so that he could “take guys out at 1,000 feet.” With lunch still settling in, Dean bragged of wanting to snap rabbit’s necks with a door hinge which he hoped to hang from the wall. But when it came time to buy the scope for his AR-15 rifle, he let the store know it was for hunting deer.
“Deer season came and went and Dean never caught a deer,” Bert said. “Inconsistencies abounded.”
One can only hope he doesn’t take aim at a man whom he suspects of being a werewolf.
YOU LIKELY haven’t heard of Rebecca Brown. If Brown had Melinda believing Satanists and werewolves were potentially waiting to pounce upon her around every corner, it’s because the Odle’s practically made her books a prerequisite. “Dean uses fear tactics for mind control,” she said. For her entire tenure in Alabama, Mel was afraid of the dark.
“If you read her books that’s where Dean gets all his ideas on how Christians have demons, and how demons can transfer to people simply from touch or objects given to someone. A woman from his church gave me a purse. She and her husband were not getting along. I noticed that I became snippy with my husband and I was reading those Brown books at the time so I summed it up to the purse being cursed.” When Mel told another church member about the episode, she agreed—the purse was cursed.
After returning from a woman’s fellowship with Nancy Odle, Mel entered the Odle’s house before climbing into her own car. Her nerves danced with the headlights as she drove through the darkness for home. Mel had only recently finished reading one of Rebecca Brown’s books which describes such a drive down a dark country road, except in her book a werewolf appeared in the middle of the lane and caused the protagonists car to shut down. From there, the spiritual battle with the werewolf began. Next day, in Mel’s Opelika reality, Pastor Dean Odle informed both Mel and Nancy that he’d spotted a werewolf behind one of the other cars in the yard.
Mel asked: “How do you know it was a werewolf?”
“It was too big to be a dog,” he said.
“I never remember anyone talk about werewolves,” Bert recalls, except for the Odle’s. “Nobody else was pushing it.”
One thing the entire though admittedly small congregation of Fire and Grace could mutually agree upon—in Opelika, Satanists were everywhere. Marlene Frick told Mel that a woman whom she’d had a falling out with astral-projected into her room during the middle of the night and gave her a pill to take. For whatever reason, Frick ingested the pill and went back to sleep. She later woke up violently vomiting, but was so sick, Frick claimed, that she couldn’t get out of bed. Marlene Frick indulged Mel in the tall-tale after she encountered the husband of her astral-projected foe in the parking lot of a grocery store. The two remained in the car so that the New Ager could do no further harm to them.
In yet another Grace and Fire tall-tale, Patrick Taylor’s wife Cherie discovered that her best friend was a witch. After she called their relationship off, demons took control of her house. Paul and Marlene Frick had already lost their house because they said it was demon possessed, and let it go back to the bank. Nobody at Fire and Grace, it seemed, could conjure the right sort of spirit to protect them.
For their entire stay, Bert and Mel listened to every sermon and mid-week blog talk. Most of the shows were about demons and the demonic realm—the usual reality which filled their homes like furniture. “But we also stayed in our Bibles, so it wasn’t as scary for me, but being around them several times a week for hours at a time hearing this stuff constantly,” Mel said, including how the government was coming for them, but “my husband, he didn’t buy into it.”
The point was to “get everybody scared so that Dean can save you,” Bert added. And while this is completely true, it is strange non-the-less, since even Dean Odle, according to his own testimony, cannot fend off the demons himself. He once wrote: “There was also a growing demonic oppression that came over me as the pastor and I could not shake it off even in prayer. This went on for several weeks and the demonic darkness was so strong that I almost resigned from the church because I was convinced that God’s blessing had left.” Elsewhere, Odle testifies, “all of my binding, fasting, and praying only subdued it [some deep dark depression] for short periods of time.” Furthermore, “in addition to the demonic oppression I experienced; accidents, sickness, and strife also steadily increased in my family.”
“If it wasn’t for my husband and him knowing God’s Word,” Mel recounts, “I would have been sucked into the delusion. Those books are wrong.”
One such misguided doctrine reared its ugly head when the Odle’s informed Mel that she was expected to go through their demonic deliverance program on the twisted notion that everybody, including Christians, are inhabited demons. Odle described it to me that our body is a temple with many rooms, and though the Holy Spirit may inhabit one room, demons might fill the others. The problem with the deliverance papers is that Dean and Nancy Odle want to know intimate details about a person’s life. Dean and Nancy Odle want to know how many times a day someone masturbates. “He wants to know anal sex, names of every person you slept with,” Bert said, “same-sex sex—boy-boy, girl-girl—how often you masturbate, molestation, raped by anyone including family.” So Mel filled out the papers—all fourteen pages—and turned them in against her husband’s advice.
Next, she was expected to have her demons cast out. Mel requested that Nancy Odle and another woman take part in the demon slaying. And yet the rites of deliverance, Mel came to learn, could only be accomplished through the Odle husband and wife team. “Every member of his congregation has been through his deliverance,” Bert said. “They’ve all been through it.” Even the young kids took part in the ceremony. Furthermore, the Odle’s insisted that Bert take part in the program.
“When I told them Robert said he had repented of his sins and was delivered through Jesus Christ and therefore didn’t need deliverance,” they insisted that Bert had demons too. If Bert refused to fill out the paperwork, the Odle’s would then be incapable of holding him in bondage. Andrea Wilkinson had confessed to them that her own mother read over the deliverance papers and sharply told her that she and Kevin were in a cult.
For Mel, the deliverance never happened. “I think that was God’s protection over me,” she said. “But now they hold all my deepest darkest secrets and sins in the palm of their hand.”
MELINDA HAS since attempted to forget her tenure in Opelika, but the guilt and the emotional scars remain. “It was my idea to go out there based on what they were preaching. I thought it would be like the first century church out of the Bible—that we would be like-minded believers expanding the kingdom of God and seeing people flock to Christ. But very quickly it started looking and feeling like the dysfunctional family I grew up in.” And much like a dysfunctional American family, it came to a head over a game of football.
I have since read Pastor Dean Odle posting online that he sees himself in the vein of David Wilkerson, a New York City based preacher. Perhaps this is what otherwise attracted Odle to Bert because, as it turns out, Bert spent almost a decade serving at Wilkerson’s side.
“With Wilkerson, you could feel the anointing—whenever you got close to him,” Bert said. “There never was any joking around or laughing.” Bert walked the street of New York with Wilkerson. He was in his house. He ate with him. Wilkerson’s church used Bert’s apartment as a hospitality house, and it was regularly filled. From 1985 to 1993, Bert was regularly seen standing among his circle of admirers. “And when Wilkerson said something, it happened. Wilkerson went into his supply closet and would give you anything you needed.” After Bert felt God’s call to Louisiana, Wilkerson supported him for years with dedicated prayer and messages. Perhaps for this reason, Odle accused Bert of being a David Wilkerson worshiper.
Dean Odle would often say: “We are not Wilkerson worshipers here.”
The irony, Bert told me, is that Dean Odle is looking for the fame of Wilkerson. “Dean was always bringing up that he was a male model, and that they wanted him for a movie or something but he refused.” Bert then pondered that fact. “I think he still wants that fame and that glory. That’s why he’s always talking about it.” He is in fact not only describing Odle, but countless somebodies who have made a habit of plastering their face on camera, almost daily—and often multiple times a day—so that they might be admired by their many subscribers. “Dean would have to beat the kids at football. He would even broadcast himself. He’d take the ball from them and then yell [in the third person]: ‘Runs 138 yards and makes the touch down, and nobody can come close to him! He’s always got to be one click better than the other guy.”
Tensions mounted over Mel’s job at Lowe’s, which was now requiring her to work Sundays. “Of course, I discussed all of this with Nancy and Dean,” she said. Choosing Sunday church over employment, Mel gave Lowe’s a two week notice, but she was now out of a paycheck. When Fire and Grace offered Bert and Mel money, and on several occasions, they politely said no. “After saying no so many times Dean mentioned he would be doing a sermon on Ananias and Sapphira, as if we weren’t being honest with our finances.” Mel believes the Odle’s were ultimately concerned that they would become financially dependent upon the church, and if not, then it was proof in the pudding that they were clearly holding back. Regardless of the Odle’s perceptions—and perhaps fears—Bert and Mel were confident that the Lord would supply their needs. Over the phone, Bert recounted numerous times when the Lord miraculously stepped in to deliver provisions, and in the most unexpected ways, including a sizable check from Wells Fargo bank for no other reason than treating him unfairly when attempting to purchase a house several years earlier.
“That’s how the Lord works when you have faith,” Mel agreed with her husband.
In December of 2016 Bert posted on Facebook that football was the new golden calf. Perhaps unsuspecting that the straw had broken the camel’s back, Kevin Wilkinson clicked the like button. Come Wednesday night at Fire and Grace, Dean Odle locked all the doors, and then proceeded to publicly dismantle Bert and Mel in front of his entire congregation.
Odle, in his usual fashion, was fuming. But in the corner of Bert’s eye, Nancy Odle had a snarl on her face, and her blood was boiling. During Odle’s verbal flogging he turned to Bert and asked: “Did you post this knowing that my wife just posted 26 pictures of football?”
Marlene Frick then added her own contribution to the sermon. She told on Andrea Wilkinson’s husband.
“Kevin liked it,” she said.
Odle snarled, “Oh, well, we’ve got to have a talk with Kevin too.”
“Dean was always up on game scores,” Bert recalls. “Nancy would blow of fellowship over football. They were going to have a big Christmas party. I asked Dean about this and Dean says he celebrates Christmas because his mother got saved on Christmas. There are double standards everywhere.”
“You guys live with too much zeal,” Odle concluded of Bert and Mel from the pulpit. “I used to have zeal like that, but I don’t have it no more.”
He then accused Bert of having the spirit of Absalom.
“Absalom—Absalom,” Bert thought about it over our phone conversation. “Dean believed I was attempting to steal his kingdom—and it was all over football.”
Mel recalls of that night: “When Dean turned Wednesday night prayer into a scolding session for Robert and I—honestly, I thought we would be hanging out with them the next day because that’s how my family was.”
At the end of the meeting Odle approached Bert and asked if he was okay.
Bert said he was fine. But when they climbed into the car that night, Robert simply said to his wife, “We’re done. And we’re not going back.”
“We walked out, got in the car, left, and never came back,” he told me. “What Dean did was not biblically correct, especially for a pastor. Come Sunday morning, we never heard anything. Come Tuesday night radio show, Dean texted and asked where I was. I never got back to him.” Bert thought on it some. “I haven’t gotten back to him since.”
“I believe they would have eventually destroyed my marriage,” Mel concludes, “knowing I was controllable.”
VIOLENT DUST STORMS, BITTERLY COLD BLIZZARDS, several blown tires, and a fire plagued my family’s month long drive from the central California coast to Dean Odle’s hometown. We had arrived so far as Tulsa, Oklahoma when I was promptly warned by three separate friends not to go on. According to Odle’s latest sermon, he was on a killing rampage again.
On February 27, 2018, while dressed in camo and speaking enough absurdities to fill this entire article, Odle warned: “I’m gonna tell you if—like I said, if I’m on the street corner preaching the gospel and somebody wants to come up and kill me, go ahead and try. My life is in God’s hands. But if you want to come to my state, my home, my neighborhood, harm my family, my neighbors, come in my church, kill my friends and family and church family—no, no, no, you will have a fight on your hands. You will have a flat out war.” He would soon thereafter add: “You know nobody, listen, Keven and I—we don’t want to shoot anybody. We don’t want to take anybody’s life. We don’t want that to happen. But I promise you, it comes down between some-some blue helmet pedophile thug and my wife, can somebody say, pile of hot brass?”
What became painfully apparent about Fire and Grace church is that the Gospel according to Dean Odle was worthy of killing others for—even on street corners while witnessing—but certainly not laying down of one’s own life, as Jesus and the Apostles and generations of Christians had.
We continued on to Opelika anyways. One week in Opelika, we would quickly come to learn, is several days too many.
With Pastor Ted Nienstedt at Kevin Wilkinson’s house
THE WEEKEND of our arrival was met with a heaping of southern barbecue. At Fire and Grace, Ted Nienstedt was to be ordained as pastor. This was of course the ultimate purpose of our visit. Nienstedt had stood among Odle’s small circle of admirers when I arranged a hand shaking several months earlier at Davidson’s Flat Earth Conference in Raleigh. I didn’t even get around to speaking with Ted until its sunset hours, but in as little as a month, Ted would call me up in California to see if I might consider supporting him in planting a church—and rather ironically, in the city where we all three met. After agreeing to attend its premiere, we quickly began talks of working together. Further weekly phone calls would continue dreaming up the possibilities. It was during these discussions when I came to learn that his proposed ministry would fall under subordination of Dean Odle Ministries.
Dean Odle wore jeans and a t-shirt depicting Rocky Balboa robed with a victorious American flag when I arrived, and the dogs were braying in the back, just as they had in Davidson’s film. Talk of Satanists and preying witches, the need for guns and—quite memorably—Odle’s unidentified movie star friend, who apparently claims there are reptilians secretly running Hollywood’s corporate offices, filled the conversation. Why he is still confidant with a man who willingly signs contracts with reptilian overlords and then stars in their movies for mass manipulation and a pocket filled with money was never addressed. Regardless, Odle’s ultimate point was memorialized. The backwoods pastor of a basement church in Alabama has the sort of inside-scoop connections which reveal all. Home preparation was still a fashionable subject, particularly his antique cellar in the backyard, and the meat he’d been smoking since the night prior gave sweet aroma to the sort of apocalypse which might be fended off with horded rounds of ammo, pool salt, and a door hinge for rabbit killing. The grounds itself however looked no better groomed than Bert’s own testimony—no cows, no rabbits, no chickens, nor finished cellar to speak of—despite being run off over a year earlier.
After narrowly losing a game of corn hole to Odle, Paul Frick asked if I believe in the Gap Theory. As an added component, he wanted to know what my thoughts were on Mount Meru, an extra-Biblical component of Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, and if I believed Satan had once ruled from it before the documented creation week. In truth, I knew what he was referring to. On July 18, 2017, Odle had given a sermon titled The Dome, the Throne & Skyfall, which blended his compromised Gap doctrine with Hindu mythology and the North Pole, and then topped it off with Adele’s theme song for the Daniel Craig James Bond movie. I found it strange that a pastor who advocates literal interpretations of the Bible—that being an immovable flat earth—who has even attempted to incite an online fight with Dr. Danny Faulkner over his and other modern Creationists preference for blending the natural revelation of astronomy with the Bible, has chosen the natural revelation of geology himself. Henry Morris already hammered those nails in the coffin—leaving only modern day Gnostics to endorse it. Much to my own embarrassment, the conference which Odle had invited me to speak at, and which I presumptuously agreed to, was later named after the Adele song.
I promptly said no.
I furthermore added, “You know, it’s dangerous to use natural revelation, such as geology, to interpret the Bible. It is natural revelation which got Christians into this globe-earth compromise to begin with,” and was barely capable of finishing my short speech before Frick cut me off.
“But Dean says….”
Ted Nienstedt quickly, and might I say obediently, nodded in agreement with Frick. “Well, if Dean says…..” He then thought about it, still nodding. “That sounds Biblical. Yes, that sounds about right.”
Naturally, my disagreement garnished Odle’s attention. He entered the conversation with stern teeth and concentrated eyes. Just so that there wouldn’t be any further complication, he said, it would be best if I addressed my own beliefs on eternal security, for which he was not favorable towards. In short, he wanted to know if I were a Calvinist. This seemed to gather the attention of his entire church, because the weight of their eyes seemed to press upon me as I considered my answer.
For the record, Paul Frick did not ask my opinion on Adele.
I SAT down at Dean Odle’s kitchen table later that night with Frick, Wilkinson, and Nienstedt, and this is what he said.
Government agents and killer drones are coming to assassinate him while he resides in his home. But his followers needn’t worry. Dean Odle will stand his ground. He has enough weapons and ammo to kill the agents and the drones when they arrive—he’ll kill every single one of them. How does Dean Odle know this? Thus sayeth the Lord.
The spirit whom he calls God told him so.
On January 10, 2012 Dean Odle dreamt rather vividly of Pope Benedict. “I never saw his face,” Dean wrote in an article dated, oddly enough, on January 1, 2012—ten days earlier; “because as I looked at his face his skin disappeared and he became a walking skeleton.” The following morning the Holy Spirit told Odle the point of his dream was that “Pope Benedict will die VERY soon.” As with any prophecy of a spirit-filled charismatic, complications soon arose. Pope Benedict did not die. He simply resigned. Rather than admitting his guilt, that he had indeed falsely prophesied in the spirit of another god, Odle confessed to later revising his work and adding to the words which his spiritual informant had told him. Rather than simply claiming, “Pope Benedict will die VERY soon,” his canary included a second possible option: “or step down due to his own feebleness.” Perhaps the spirit did not know which would occur—or Odle simply lied about it. God only knows.
I sat there at his kitchen table with my back pressed up against the back door, slowly switching my eyes between every man present and Odle’s “live by the sword” prophecy matched with the animated memory of watching Waco, Texas unfold on the television. Only this time I saw the faces of the women and the children of Dean’s front congregation caught up in the flames of his making. Everyone present around that kitchen table was armed—except for me, of course. One even had a bush knife on his belt. I’d brought a pen and a notebook to an AR-15 gunfight.
Odle wasn’t simply describing a dream—one he would regurgitate with an air of bragging rights throughout my week in Opelika. It was the vision and prophecy of a self-appointed apostle, prophet, and priest—but in more accurate terms, it was the aspirations of a manipulative madman. Just consider what is on the line here; Dean Odle’s reputation. That should frighten anyone. I sat there in his kitchen thinking, Dean Odle intends to make it happen. I sincerely hope Pastor Dean Odle seriously rethink his position.
Next time, should he see it through, Odle will not be able to correct his prophecy with visions of Benedict. It will be left to his surviving followers to change it for him.
TWO OR three nights later, Mrs. Hadley was lying in bed and—for the first time in her life—she felt something evil tug at her toes. By her own testimony, my wife had never experienced anything more dark and sinister than an outed fuse box or her own shadow. Moments later, as she lay there paralyzed with fear, the same something tapped on her forehead. The next morning she told me all about her terrible encounter.
I then let her in on my own.
I too felt an evil presence at the foot of the bed, as if it were staring down upon us—as if it had been alerted to our present whereabouts and, more importantly, wanted further invitation into our lives. Kevin and Andrea Wilkinson had persisted in telling us stories of the Satanist who broke into their home—the crack head intruder who could only be repelled by the speaking of tongues. I’ve never prayed in counterfeit tongues. If I ever do, it will be the Biblical tongue-speak of another human dialect so that the Gospel might be spread. In the meantime I pray to Jesus, both publicly and privately, in my own native tongue—and that is enough. Unlike the spirit which Odle conjures his power from, I have never encountered demonic oppression which cannot be shaken by the power of Jesus. With the Holy Word of God as my testimony, I never will. So right then and there, I did just that. I lay in bed and commanded the wicked spirit—by which I have no doubt the Odle’s had invited into our lives—to leave. To say it left is to speak a gross injustice against the power of the true Holy Spirit.
During my weeklong visit I heard the same sort of stories which so many other witnesses could write a book upon. I too was told by Andrea Wilkerson how her parents admonished her poor discretion in joining a cult. Mrs. Wilkerson even delivered the news with an air of bragging rights. We didn’t stay another week in Opelika, despite the nonrefundable reservations we held. But we didn’t care. We’d already parked our camper there several days too many. The campground manager said we could cash in the second week upon our return visit.
I told her there wouldn’t be one.
In short, we listened to Andrea’s mother and promptly left, having never drunk the Kool-Aid they offer as part of their deliverance program. The following week I let Odle know I wouldn’t be part of his Skyfall conference either. And if to make matters worse, I presented him with at least a dozen Scripture verses.
Odle offered none in return.
Rather, and immediately thereafter, Dr. Dean Odle’s tongue set the fires of Gehenna ablaze. His devoted followers eagerly joined the ongoing rites, while others peered in with suspicion.
THE DAY after Odle’s online rampage began, I called the Pastor of Fire and Grace in Raleigh, North Carolina while parked near Lexington, Kentucky. Tears filled his sentences. “There’s nothing that can be done about it now,” he spoke into his grief. “It’s too late.”
And then I stood by listening in to the exploding mortar from Fort Knox while Ted Nienstedt comforted himself with these words: “Dean speaks for God. Dean is a prophet. Dean speaks for God.”
ON MAY 10, 2018, Odle turned his attention on the youngest daughter from his previous marriage. What he had to say is truly stunning.
“I’ve told people all the time any one of my children or step-children, any one of them, if they need to come home they can come home, but they better come home humble. They better not have an attitude with me, because attitudes will go right back out the door. But you come back and you say, You know what Dad, I blew it—I was wrong—I sinned against you—I sinned against heaven—I need help; I will help you.” He then adds: “My rebellious daughter…might have come back from Chicago, but she’s still in the pig pen. When I told her the other day, I said, You know what, until you make things right with your father you are not right with God, I don’t care how long you go to church. You won’t admit your wrong to me—you won’t come to me and say, Dad, dad, I blew it, I treated you wrong, I treated people wrong, I lived in sin, I sinned against you and against heaven, you won’t do that, then you’re still rebellious. You’re still in the pigpen. You’re still bound by demons, and I hope she listens to this, Caitlin Rebecca.”
This is nothing short of a public shaming, and it should be noted at present that—of his two daughters through his former marriage to Susan (Dean also fathered two step-daughters with her)—only Caitlin does not share a Facebook friendship with him. And though one might presume it is Caitlin who defriended Dean, it is not beyond the realm of plausibility to speculate if Dean blocked her.
The month prior—that would be April of 2018, for the record—Odle’s uncontrolled tirade in a Christian based Flat Earth group, aptly titled Flat Out Grace, led to him blocking the pages founder and administrator. For refusing to bow down to his belief and rather, maintaining a doctrine of eternal security, she was falsely and publicly accused of heresy. She also would end up the subject of public shaming—a routine practice in Odle’s YouTube sermons. Concerning Dean’s habit of serial blocking those whom he attacks, she wrote: “I just found this out—if you write a bad review he will block you so your review goes away!”
Pictured clockwise: 1-2. Dean Odle’s graduation from Pilgrims University 3. Pilgrims University Theological Seminary, Nigeria flyer 4. Dr. Dean Odle 5. Bishop Cosmo
1. Robbie Davidson’s “Flat Earth & the Bible” endorsed teachers (including Nathan Roberts, Zen Garcia, Rob Skiba, Dean Odle, and Davidson) 2. Dean Odle’s school of ministry
THEY’RE CALLED diploma mills and for good reason. For a tuition fee you too can receive a sheet of paper which states you earned a degree rather than an actual education. It’s fast. It’s easy. And it’s completely compatible for seekers of the professional counterfeit. There is of course a small complication—if you happen to be a fake, a phony, or a fraud. You might be found out.
Dr. Dean Odle has been discovered. The National Universities Commission has closed down Pilgrims University in Nigeria, from which Odle received an honorary Doctorate, and in a recent report, has catalogued Pilgrims as number 19 on its list of “Degree Mills” which have not been licensed by the Federal Government. “For the avoidance of doubt, anybody who patronizes or obtains any certificate from any of these illegal institutions does so at his or her own risk,” the publication reads. “Certificates obtained from these sources will not be recognized for the purposes of NYSC, employment, and further studies.” The commission said the relevant law enforcement agencies have been informed for necessary action.
In his article Name it and Frame it—Phony Doctorates in the Church, David Kowalski writes: “I believe phony doctorates are a moral scandal in the church today. Many ministers are deliberately misrepresenting their academic qualifications with fake degrees.” This complete and willful subversion of morality is particularly known in the muck and mire of which Charismatic, Pentecostal, and Word of Faith preachers dig for inspiration. Kowalski fingers Fred Price, T. D. Jakes, Ron Kenoly, Rodney Howard-Browne, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Norvel Hayes, Billye Brim, and Benny Hinn as diploma mill graduates. Southern Baptist and televangelist Jerry Falwell is certainly not overlooked. Though Dr. Dean Odle has also joined the ranks of Kent Hovind (known among his devoted followers as Dr. Dino), let us not overlook Kermit the Frog, whose doctorate was bestowed upon him by Southampton College in New York.
While writing this piece I attempted to contact Bishop Cosmos, who oversaw Odle’s education, for further comment. Mr. Cosmos has yet to reply.
A BACK injury forced Vito’s career as a law enforcement officer of Los Angeles County into early retirement. Thirteen years later, within a matter of months before my initial handshake with Odle, Vito discovered the Prophet from Opelika online while typing Flat Earth Pastor into his search engine. He told his wife all about it, “but it wasn’t until after the conference [in Raleigh] that the two of us really started getting excited about him,” she said. “We had decided that we wanted to break into the Flat Earth community through him.” For Mrs. Vito, a prominent worship leader in Austin, Texas, it wasn’t merely the fact that he was preaching Flat Earth from the pulpit. As devoted Charismatics, “he reminded us of the Pentecostal church.” After reflecting on this mystical quest, his wife confessed over the phone, “But we never had a truly Biblical marriage. Our marriage was falling apart.”
Mrs. Vito recalled coming home from work, “and he was adamant about Odle and how Odle is a real church and my church wasn’t a real church.” The year prior Alex Jones had sat in the seat of discussion which Odle would later fill. “He was into supplements and the Trump election—Truther stuff.” But as the Prophet from Opelika crept in, his Truther quest became “lots of salvation issues.”
I had the opportunity to interview leadership from their church in Austin, where Mrs. Vito attended and served on the worship team for several years. Their closest friends described Vito as a hybrid of Alex Jones and Flat Earth extremism. It wasn’t that Vito was attracted to ideas, one friend told me, but “attracted by strong personalities so that he might imitate and adopt them as his own.”
Soon after Vito began watching Odle online, her friend notes, his obsessiveness set in. “It wasn’t that we weren’t interested in hearing conspiracy theories. He was short tempered. He would just yell at people. If we’d open up our Bibles and tell him, ‘But this isn’t what the Bible says,’ he’d demand, ‘This is what Dean says!’” She was wise enough to look into Odle and rightly conclude, “Dean doesn’t care about the person or the process of winning a soul.” After further discussion, even Vito agreed that Odle struggles with concepts of love and the fruit of the spirit. But what did that matter, Vito concluded, when “Odle just cares about truth.” After attempting to start a men’s group with another Flat Earthist friend—a gathering intended to impart the wisdom and authority of Dean Odle—it quickly fell apart. In the end, Vito alienated his friends until nobody wanted to be around him. For Vito, “everyone was lost.”
Together they moved into a new Austin based home in the spring of 2018, and as a birthday present that June, Mrs. Vito arranged a week-long vacation in Opelika so that he might attend a church service at Fire and Grace and have dinner with the Odle’s. Besides, Vito was convinced that his second baptism—the first being while he was an infant—was not good enough. Despite his families concern, Vito insisted the baptism which had followed his divorce was not real. The Prophet from Opelika however was real. He needed Odle and only Odle to baptize him. They arrived one month after Dean had publicly humiliated his daughter. In turn, Odle would soon thereafter turn his gaze upon Mrs. Vito.
According to sources who know nothing of the Odle’s, the Vito’s lives unraveled the very month of their visitation. In fact, Vito became belligerent. In Opelika the demons set in. It was the deliverance papers which “set on the weird spiritual warfare,” his wife said. In Opelika the two succumbed to verbal fighting during the middle of the night. “This was before he was baptized by Dean,” Mrs. Vito said. “I wanted to call upon Jesus. My husband wanted to call on Dean Odle.”
Actually, it was the week of their visitation when she first recalls hearing Dean’s announcement that he intended to open his very own school—though the school of ministry’s Facebook page contains its very first post on April 4th. When they returned home, Vito decided that God had called him to be a pastor as a mirror image of Odle. That call would fall under the banner of the Fire and Grace school of ministry. The deadline for applicants was August 1.
“We emailed our stuff in only days before the deadline,” Mrs. Vito recalled.
However, Vito had no desire to simply attend online. The Odle’s school of ministry also offered a residential option. Vito wanted that one. Furthermore, he was not pleased that his wife applied alongside of him. “That set him off,” she said. “He thought I was being competitive.”
Within a week of sending the applications in, Odle told Vito over a phone conversation, “I’ll just tell you now, you’ve been accepted.”
“And I just never received any correspondence,” his wife recalls. “They didn’t even answer my admissions questions. My husband didn’t give a pastoral reference like he was required to do. He simply told Dean, ‘You’re my pastor.’”
In Vito, Dean found the perfect candidate. Unfortunately, his wife was not. Though the health of their relationship was always unstable, that was “really the turning point of our marriage. I didn’t become evil in my husband’s mind until he wanted to be a pastor and discipled under Dean.” By August it was official. Vito had set his sights on Alabama—perhaps permanently. A married couple—both of whom were fellow Flat Earthists and dedicated Dean Odle followers—tried mediation, but the Alabama issue could not be resolved.
Vito’s irrationally bizarre behavior dramatically materialized. Soon after their return from Opelika Vito began attending a cult group called Glory House. “It’s a church of five people,” his wife said. And though his Facebook page will testify Vito’s insistence that he found Christian counseling for real, their Flat Earthist friends—also devoted followers of Odle—attended a Glory House session with him and saw what they identified as Occult symbols and blatant witchcraft. Despite the presence of a counterfeit spirit within the halls of Glory House, as testified by Dean’s own followers, Vito relished in what he claims to be a miraculous healing of his hand there.
By August Vito was chasing his wife around their house in hopes of casting demons out of her, often screaming: “Jezebel, how did you get into my wife? You have no place in her! Let me lay hands on you!” After an argument over his move to Alabama, Mrs. Vito cried in bed and then made her way to the prayer closet. While she was on her knees, and with her head tucked into her lap, Vito burst in and began forcefully shoving her on the back, yelling: “In the name of Jesus, I command the spirit of unworthiness and abandonment to come out of my wife!”
When Mrs. Vito sought Biblical marriage counseling through a church, Vito stood up and preached to the marriage minister over the issue of Calvinism. It was after their counselor admonished his misinformed theology that Vito was, in his wife’s words, set off. Dean Odle speaking for God became the conversation piece. “They don’t know fully about Odle,” she said of her counseling session. “They just saw the weird twisted call my husband says he has to be in Alabama.” Their counseling lasted one session. Vito had no reason to return.
By this time “he was lashing out at family, telling them they’re all sinners,” she said.
Vito’s wife became desperate. After she shared everything going one with another girlfriend in hopes of finding somebody to turn to for help, Vito began texting her friend. According to those texts, a spirit was personally informing Vito concerning the intimate details of Mrs. Vito’s friend. These particulars included her supposed sex life, a marriage bed which had been defiled with a third party member, “lust and whoredom.” When Vito was called out on his false words from the spirit whom he claimed as God, he took yet another stab at it, and tried to compliment her in the spirit as a good woman.
“Well, which is it?” her friend insisted.
Vito informed his family that he expected to die in Opelika. Dean expected blood. Though eye-witness testimony stresses that Vito was well beyond rationale by the time his decision was made, a text message conversation with his family affirms that loved ones were attempting to rally him back into the dutiful responsibility which he was expected to uphold, as a declared follower of Christ, with his own wife and family. From what I have read of them, Vito stood firm on the position that Satanists were after Dean Odle, and Odle needed him for protection, even if it meant deserting his own family to guard the prophet.
“His plan is to become ordained, start his own church, and to call it God’s Army,” Mrs. Vito’s friend told me over the phone. “He has a plan to do all of this, but for Vito, it can only be done under Dean.”
In what begins as a stunning display of the manipulation tactics which the husband and wife pastors of Opelika are known for—and the fear of discovery which likely paralyzes them—Mrs. Vito e-mailed pastor Nancy Odle kindly asking for prayer over their marriage. “I was asking for prayer but reaching out,” she explained. “You’re supposed to be our pastor, so will you pray for us and our marriage? Things are not well.” Nancy Odle suggested marriage counseling. Mrs. Vito kindly asked if friends of theirs, who had already partaken in mediation between them, could be present in the room while the call was made. Nancy would not permit anyone else to join the conversation. Naturally, this did not sit well with Vito’s wife. The Odle’s clearly had something to hide. Mrs. Vito then offered another neutral couple. The prophet from Opelika finally wrote her back.
“Dean ripped into me,” she said.
On August 16, Dean wrote:
“This is Pastor Dean. In all my years of ministry, I have never had someone being counseled try to dictate the participants of who attends my counseling sessions. Frankly, you have some serious control issues that you need to deal with. My offer to talk with you and your husband about your marital problems did not include an invitation to people that I do not know. This is not a court hearing. If this is a problem for you, then we can call off the counseling session.”
Mrs. Vito e-mailed back a day later, thanking Dean for the message and reminding him that they would continue praying for the ministry. “That set them off,” she said. “The soothsayer Jezebel Spirit thing started.” Nancy took her campaign to Facebook and Dean to his YouTube sermons. Pastor Kevin Wilkinson added to the indoctrination with Jezebel posts of his own. According to the Odle cult and the shocking online shaming which followed, Vito’s wife was a conniving and manipulative witch exhibiting the spirit of Jezebel—certainly not deserving of her husband. As if the outlandish spirit of Jezebel doctrine could possibly be outdone, for Pastor Nancy Odle, Vito’s wife was the soothsayer who followed Paul. Even the Odle’s narrative changed—as it often does. The pastoral husband and wife team apparently picked up on this Jezebel spirit when Vito and his wife visited in June. In short, the counseling session was called off. And then Pastors Dean and Nancy Odle separated Vito from his wife and family with the failed promise that he might become an honorable pastor by committing the deed.
“Anything they say,” she explained, “he believes and regurgitates.”
Perhaps more-so, it is Dean’s cult initiation. His closest disciples, though they are still few in number, have drunk the Kool-Aid. I’ve never met Vito. What I know of him comes through witness accounts and his own online declarations. But there is an undeniable fact here. Vito vowed before God to honor and cherish his wife. So while Odle publicly slandered and shamed her, the man who aspires to shed his blood as a sacrifice for Dean reverently bowed his head with a reverent amen or two, and likely murmured: “Dean speaks for God—Dean speaks for God.” In other words, Dean threw Vito’s wife under the bus, and Vito praised him for it. His followers did too.
According to Mrs. Vito, Mr. Vito has gone back and forth on whether or not he’s selling the house. “He said he’d be selling the house, so I moved out, but then he found a tenant.” Mrs. Vito lives now in an apartment across town with her daughter.
Vito arrived safely in Opelika. And he took the dog with him.
The happenstance of Dean’s home wrecking couldn’t be more perfectly or cleverly time. He committed his evil in broad daylight. After prepping his online congregation for the purposes of Vito’s arrival—and more importantly, Mrs. Vito’s dismissal—Vito was introduced at Odle’s Skyfall conference as his personal compatriot and bodyguard, perhaps to further validate the Pastor’s own starring role in a Rebecca Brown novel. He committed evil so that his Skyfall presenters—Robbie Davidson, Rick Hummer, Matt Long, Nathan Roberts, and Ted Niendstedt—as well as its attenders, might know of his misdeeds among their loveless truth-talk; that they might callous their consciousness and allow the evil to seep even deeper within their hearts.
“The wicked scheme against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them, but the Lord laughs, seeing that their day is coming (Psalm 37:13).”
DEAN ODLE’S house was engulfed in flames. Bert recalls of his dream, “Fire was coming out from the clapboard siding. It was like the perfect fire from a gas stove.” The dream in question happened only a couple of days before their Wednesday night football confrontation—and it has since stuck with him. Bert attempted to put the fire out with a hose but found nothing more than a trickle. It was the sheep however in a pin which remains with him. Odle’s only apocalypse flock, or rather his congregation, was “huddled in the corner like he was scared, tore up and bleeding. It wasn’t dead. But it was tore up and bleeding bad—you know what I mean?” With the unquenchable fire before him, Bert did the next thing within his power. He got on the phone and called Frick.
“Frick never picked up,” he said.
This is of course a dream. It is only a dream. But it is so much more than a dream, because the yet-unknown fate of Odle’s cult is a nightmare which many of us share. We often consider the blood which he expects—perhaps even seeks—as self-assurance of his own authenticity. I still often think about the prophecy which he gave that day in his kitchen. But whether or not Pastor Dean Odle will stand his ground and die in the flames or grab his scat-bag and run is not yet known. Those who have experienced his cult first-hand can only stand by our television screens and wait for that unfolding moment of horror—and pray it never happens.
“Looking back on my dream of Odle’s house burning, it seems as though the fire started from within, the way it was coming out from the clapboard siding.”
But let’s not simply talk about Odle’s war, because as a self-appointed prophet, Pastor Dean Odle and members of his congregation are on dangerous ground—eternally speaking. The Apostle Paul warned the elders of the church at Ephesus: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:20).” So be on your guard.
In Scripture Twisting, Dr. Henry Krabbendam wrote: “The often-reported immediate ‘conversations’ with God seem to give the impression not only that they possess a source of truth beyond the Bible, but also that they are exempt from following acceptable methods of Biblical interpretation. This should evoke protest. Not only is the Bible sufficient, but also the proper principles of interpretation are universal, and therefore binding upon all.”
It is however difficult—and at times, impossible—to pull a malnourished steward away from their own delusion when they have in fact convinced themselves that the person of their idolatrous devotion speaks for God. For these reasons and more Jesus warned us of the many false Christs to come. Men are attracted to charisma and the illusion of extra-Biblical landlines to the Lord. Earl Paulk, who later fell into a sex scandal, not only involving his brother’s wife, but fathering a child with her, spoke in defense of his actions: “But, a prophet is not to be judged.” And elsewhere we hear the warning of the self-appointed prophet, “Touch not the Lord’s anointed!”
In The Agony of Deceit, Michael Horton wrote: “So long as the preacher waves his Bible under the bright lights, or has an altar call, they do not object to what he says, even if he preaches doctrines as dangerous to the soul as those propagated by the liberals he so cheerfully mocks.”
I therefore ask my readers to consider the words of Deuteronomy: “If a prophet…appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder and through it leads the people astray, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dream.”
And then of course there is the online pastor to consider. When asked about this very pestilence in the world today, Pastor John MacArthur first quoted Hebrews verbatim:
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17).”
MacArthur then quipped: “You tell me how a flat screen pastor lives an example to back up his message and how he cares for the souls that are sitting out there staring at the screen. That is a million miles from the model of a pastor.”
Biblically speaking, Pastor Dean Odle fails the test—miserably. The Apostle Paul’s message to Titus so eerily confronts the Pastor from Opelika that one might wonder if it had be written directly for the purposes of discrediting Odle. Here Paul writes:
“If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake (Titus. 1:6–11).”
Very few people remain within the locked doors of Dean Odle’s Opelika church. Except for the Kool-Aid kids, “almost everyone that has gone to his church has left,” Bert said. “And it’s never Dean’s fault. The church with his brother fell apart. The church with his ex-wife fell apart.” And only months before his arrival at the first annual Flat Earth International Conference in Raleigh, his church had split in half. “Odle brought me in to do outreach and all that—to build the church. Dean is in the business of churches now. He’s got that church in Colorado and up there in Raleigh. I think that’s his whole new gig. Viewing Dean’s pages looks like he’s running around the country ordaining folks. I don’t know for sure, but these church’s seem to be taking on the name “Fire and Grace.” So these churches probably are required to TITHE back to Dean 10% of their take. It’s the age old pyramid scam.””
Bert concluded, “Behind the keyboard warrior mentality and live streams, you don’t know what these people live like. There’s no accountability. There’s no accountability whatsoever. People don’t see what goes on beyond the internet.”
IN THE SPRING of 2017, Jodi Sloan was invited to partake in the Dean Odle experience by one of his faithful evangelists. Quite tragically, it is Odle who would serve as her filter to the Flat Earth movement. At their introduction Sloan asked Odle reasonable questions about the scientific aspects of a motionless, circular plane. Rather than answering them, he blocked her, and then made a public spectacle of Jodi. His online congregation then praised him for it as they often do. Dean Odle speaks for God.
“Buh bye troll,” he wrote.
I’ll wait for the applause to end.
Actually, I’m getting somewhat ahead of myself, because Dean had first referred her to his website. That’s when Sloan began pouring through his content, perhaps in hopes of understanding his position better. And not surprisingly, what she found there was repulsive.
“It wasn’t so much the things he said that disturbed me,” she told me during our interview, “but the manner in which he said them.”
Jodi Sloan then started up a page on Facebook. She calls it Dean Odle Ministry is a Fraud. Dean Odle would thereafter publicly refer to her as “the witch who has a Facebook page against me.”
None of this should come as a surprise. Any woman caught opposing Dean or Nancy’s authority, let alone questioning it, is easily targeted as a Salem-stylized witch exemplifying the Jezebel spirit. Dean has given these titles to Jodi for the nodding amens of his cult. But Jodi certainly won’t be the last. This is not the end of the story by any means. And besides, it is but a shadow of Odle’s disturbances at best. Pastor Dean Odle of Opelika, Alabama, leaves a trail of wreckage wherever he goes. More men and women will step forward. They will find Jodi’s page—or rather, she will find them, and possibly even you. After all, Jodi found me. Her page is devoted to the stories they tell. And as each account of his manipulative and oppressive behavior trickles in, Dean will try to use them to the best of his advantage—to manipulate and oppress. Odle has a habit of publicly shaming anyone who opposes him. For Odle and the loyal members of his inner cult, stories of his abuse are twisted and contorted as undeniable proof that he is indeed anointed and empowered by God’s Spirit in a strange and bizarre back alleyway of witches and Satanist.
Can you hear it? Listen closely. Right this very minute the curtains are drawn and the doors are locked at a little church in Opelika, Alabama, while hundreds of Dean’s loyalists all over the world, likely in every habitable continent, are eagerly contemplating who he might shame next for their own personal indulgences. Right this very moment some of his cult loyalists are reading these very words, and they’re filled with disgust. No, no—they’re not angry with Odle. They’re enraged that someone out there would dare expose him and bring the darkness they call holy to the light. And so they bow their heads reverently, proclaiming:
“Dean Odle speaks the truth. Dean Odle speaks for God.”
“And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).”
I wrote this article for Mrs. Vito and only for Mrs. Vito—and also that one or two others might be warned of the Odle’s and saved from a similar fate. My own reputation is not my concern. This is dedicated to Mrs. Vito…..
….and to all the Mrs. Vito’s.