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Megachurch pastor receives standing ovation after insisting sexual misconduct claims are ‘flat-out lies’

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Worshipers at a suburban Chicago megachurch gave a standing ovation to a pastor after he flatly denied reports of his alleged sexual misconduct dating back decades.

The sanctuary was packed Friday night at Willow Creek Community Church as the Rev. Bill Hybels and elders told congregants about the findings from three inquiries conducted by church leaders into the claims, reported the Chicago Tribune.

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The newspaper reported on claims that Hybels, who presented himself a Harley-Davidson-riding “cool” youth pastor, elevated women to senior positions, which allowed him to prey on them — but the pastor paints himself as a victim.

“The accusations you hear in the Tribune are just flat-out lies,” Hybels told congregants.

“I was not afraid to come to this meeting tonight,” he added. “I know the heart of this church. I knew that you would give all of us an even hearing. You wouldn’t rush to judgment. I will do my level best if you allow me to continue to serve here until October when I will retire, — I’m going to serve my heart out.”

Hybels has said since 2012 that he would retire later this year as pastor of the South Barrington megachurch.

Guest speaker and author Bob Goff wrapped up Hybels in a bear hug during the “family meeting,” which brought worshipers to their feet for a standing ovation.

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Hybels has been accused of making suggestive comments, giving extended hugs and unwanted kisses, and inviting women to hotel rooms, and one woman claimed she had a lengthy consensual relationship with the pastor — although she later recanted.

Church elders appointed by Hybels and Willow Creek’s administrator conducted three reviews of the claims since they first were reported four years ago.

The nonprofit Willow Creek Association and the humanitarian Compassion International organization criticized the church’s handling of the investigations, and at least three leaders of the church-affiliated association resigned in protest.

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Church elders hired outside attorney Jeffrey Fowler to re-examine the case and two new allegations, but church officials never notified congregants of the claims or the investigations because they insist Hybels had been cleared.


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WATCH: Franklin Graham tells Jeanine Pirro coronavirus pandemic is because of people sinning

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Franklin Graham blamed sinners for the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic during a Saturday night appearance on Fox News.

Host Jeanine Pirro noted the growing death toll and wondered how God could let that happen.

"Well, I don't think it's God's plan for this to happen," Graham said.

"It's because of the sin that's in the world, judge," he argued.

"Man has turned his back on God, we have sinned against him, and we need to ask for God's forgiveness and that's what Easter's all about," he continued.

"This pandemic, this is the result of a fallen world that has turned its back on God," he added.

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Drought causing water shortage amid coronavirus crisis in Chile

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With historically low river flows and reservoirs running dry due to drought, people in central Chile have found themselves particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.

Years of resource exploitation and lax legislation have allowed most reservoirs in that part of the country to run dry.

"There are now 400,000 families, nearly 1.5 million people approximately, whose supply of 50 liters of water a day depends on tankers," Rodrigo Mundaca, spokesman for the Movement for the Defense of Water, the Earth and the Protection of the Environment, told AFP.

One of the main pieces of advice to protect people against coronavirus is to wash your hands regularly.

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Trump warns of ‘tough week’ ahead — after the United States surpassed 300,000 coronavirus victims

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US President Donald Trump warned Americans on Saturday to brace for a "very horrendous" number of coronavirus deaths in the coming days as the total number of global fatalities from the pandemic soared past 60,000.

As confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed 300,000 with more than 8,300 deaths, there was some encouraging news in Italy and Spain.

Europe continues to bear the brunt of the epidemic, however, accounting for over 45,000 of the worldwide deaths, and Britain reported a new daily high in fatalities.

There are now more than 1.17 million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world and there have been 63,437 deaths since the virus emerged in China late last year.

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