The Pope's Long Con-logo

The Pope's Long Con

NPR

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.

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.
More Information

Location:

Louisville, KY

Networks:

NPR

Description:

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.

Language:

English


Episodes

The Pope's Wife

3/5/2018
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We knew the story wasn't over at the end of the last chapter — but no one could've known what would happen next.

Duration:00:16:24

When Our Institutions Fail

12/14/2017
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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?

Duration:00:16:33

An Accusation Of Molestation

12/14/2017
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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.

Duration:00:16:33

An Empire Built On Blind Faith

12/14/2017
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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.

Duration:00:19:42

From Bastrop To Bullitt

12/13/2017
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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!

Duration:00:23:29

Welcome To The Pope's House

12/13/2017
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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.

Duration:00:17:32

Coming Soon

11/29/2017
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What happens when the institutions we depend on fail at every level? What happens when lies go unchecked? From the pulpit to the statehouse, one man claims to serve his fellow man. But does he? Find out in this series from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and Louisville Public Media.

Duration:00:00:30