In 2016, Danny Ray Johnson was elected to state office. The fast talking biker-preacher known as "The Pope" paints himself as a 9/11 hero. He says he raised the dead! But our seven month investigation uncovered a much different picture: Attempted arson. Another mysterious fire. Alleged bootlegging and molestation in the church. For years, Johnson broke laws. Now he helps make them. What happens when the institutions we rely on look the other way? How does a liar slip through the cracks into a position of power? This six-part series attempts to find out. From Louisville Public Media.+
Welcome To The Pope's House
Meet Danny Ray Johnson, Kentucky's fast-talking preacher-turned-politician who is known as the Pope. He paints himself as a 9/11 hero, healer of the sick and miracle maker. Behind this persona — cultivated, built up and fine-tuned over decades — is a web of lies and deception. A mysterious fire. Attempted arson and false testimony. Alleged molestation in his church.
From Bastrop To Bullitt
Like Forrest Gump, "The Pope" just so happens to be in the front row, playing a pivotal role in America’s biggest moments. Time after time. Decade after decade. He's held some of the country's loftiest titles. Or not. In this episode, find out about his early days, his first brush with the law and his alligator. Yes, his alligator!
An Empire Built On Blind Faith
Go inside the Heart of Fire Church and meet the motorcycle-friendly congregation and gun choir. Check out the fellowship hall — or biker bar — and learn more about Johnson's dark past.
An Accusation Of Molestation
A teenage girl thought of Johnson as a second dad. Her family trusted the pastor. But in 2013, he allegedly molested her. Hear her story. And listen to Johnson's extraordinary response.
When Our Institutions Fail
Over and over, there were warning signs for law enforcement, political leaders and others. What happens when the institutions we rely on look the other way? How does a liar slip through the cracks into a position of power?
The Pope's Wife
We knew the story wasn't over at the end of the last chapter — but no one could've known what would happen next.
Very well done!!
Awesome hosts, great music, and I loved the recordings mixed with the storytelling. Really well written and produced. I hope to hear more like this soon.
I wish it was longer, had more substance & got this man out of office. This just made me think of another criminal in power that’s going to stay in power, wreak havoc because of their stature or position & destroy lives until the people around them can no longer ignore the behavior...then it’s too late. I gave the podcast 5 stars despite this because these small country towns are incestuous to the point that right & wrong changes based on who you just had a beer with, sat beside in church, went to school with or slept with last night or last week. Their cognition is so narrow, they can convince each other of nearly anything. I’m glad I was born a world removed away from people like this, but damned if I can understand how mainstream can ignore it.