Myles Munroe: Preacher who outraged many with his views on women and gays

Munroe founded the Bahamas Faith Ministries International in the 1980s; quickly becoming an influential religious leader among evangelical Christians, giving sermons around the world

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The Independent Online

Myles Munroe was a pastor, best-selling author and motivational speaker who wielded a huge influence on millions of evangelical Christians round the world.

He died in a plane crash, along with his wife Ruth and daughter Charisa and members of his Bahama Faith Ministries.

The Bahamian Prime Minister, Perry Christie, paid tribute: “It is utterly impossible to measure the magnitude of Dr Munroe’s loss to the Bahamas and to the world. He was indisputably one of the most globally recognisable religious figures our nation has ever produced. His fame as an ambassador for the Christian ministry preceded him wherever in the world he travelled.”

Severe weather was thought to be a factor in the crash. Heavy rain was buffeting the region when the Lear 36 Executive Jet exploded on impact with a crane at the Grand Bahama Ship Yard and plunged into a junkyard below as it was approaching Freeport. A commercial flight on the same route had turned back around the same time because it was unable to land.

Munroe was born in 1954 into an impoverished family of 11 in the suburb of Bain Town in Nassau, where one schoolteacher labelled him as stupid. He became an evangelical Christian in his teens a after studying at Oral Roberts University, the Christian liberal arts school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he graduated in Fine Arts, Education and Theology in 1978, going on to gain a Master’s in administration from the University of Tulsa.

He founded the Bahamas Faith Ministries International in the early 1980s; the charismatic pastor quickly became an influential religious leader among evangelical Christians, giving sermons around the world. He was also a motivational speaker and the author of numerous books, including the 2008 bestseller God’s Big Idea: Reclaiming God’s Original Purpose for Your Life.

Munroe and his entourage were travelling to Grand Bahama to attend the 2014 Global Leadership Forum that he organised. He had planned to have dinner in Freeport about 90 minutes after his plane’s scheduled arrival with the US’s former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young. Munroe’s wife, Ruth, was also on the plane, along with his daughter and his second-in-command at Bahamas Faith Ministries, Richard Pinder, as well as the group’s youth ministers, Lavard and Rudel Parks, and their young son Johannan.

His career was not without controversy:  in March this year he was criticised by his country’s Foreign Minister, Fred Mitchell, for comments about the LGBT community in the Bahamas. Munroe had said that Mitchell’s support of LGBT people in the Bahamas didn’t “represent the majority of the convictions of the Bahamian people.” Mitchell replied, “Once again Dr Myles Munroe has returned to a theme he does not understand and obviously which he has no knowledge.” Mitchell said Munroe’s “absolute stupidity and wilful deceit is parading around in the pulpit disguised as theology.”

In September Munroe again stirred controversy at home, following a gay pride event. In a statement entitled “Homosexuality – Phobia or Principle”, people, he said, have “hijacked” and “raped” the civil rights movement with their fight for LGBT rights.

Backed up by quotations from the Bible, he also proffered alarming views on womanhood. “The male was created by God to create what he wants,” he said. “The woman you are looking for, brother, does not exist. She is in your head. Your job is to take the raw material you married and cultivate her into the woman in your head. So if you have been married for 20 years and you still don’t like the product you get, that is your fault.”

Munroe was especially influential in Africa,  arguing that African nations are underdeveloped due to the poor quality of their leaders. “Leadership determines everything in life,” he said. “Nothing happens without leadership. Whether you are talking about an organisation, church or nation, everything depends on leadership for success. Leaders determine the quality and attitude of their followers. If your country is not effective, it is the fault of its leaders not its people.”

A regular traveller to Latin America as well as Africa, Munroe was also chief executive and chairman of the International Third World Leaders Association. “The greatest tragedy in life is not death,” he wrote, “but a life without a purpose.” He believed that “Death can never kill an idea. Ideas are more powerful than death. Ideas outlive men and can never be destroyed.”

Myles Munroe, preacher: born Grand Bahama 20 April 1954; OBE 1998; married Ruth (died 2014; one daughter deceased, one son); died Grand Bahama 9 November 2014.

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