Midweek Cuckoo: Dr. K.A. Paul
Anand Kilari, or Dr. K.A. Paul as he likes to be known, is the self-styled “Billy Graham of India”. Born a Hindu in southern India, but now based in Houston, Texas, this evangelist is an accomplished spin doctor and kook of note. He never seems to tire of holding press conferences to talk about how humble he is, and is not beyond hiring a major Public Relations firm to manage his publicity. He even bought a Boeing 747 to use in his ‘global peace efforts’, and proudly boasts that the only other privately owned 747 is Airforce One. He’s even gone so far as to name the craft Global Peace One.
Kilari’s most recent debacle involved convincing US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert to meet with him to discuss the Mark Foley issue. Kilari claims that he convinced Hastert to resign during their meeting. Hastert refuses to comment, other than to claim he was duped into the meeting and that he disagrees with Kilari’s point of view. Naturally, Kilari brought a camera-wielding assistant with him, and was quick to publish pictures of himself with the Speaker. Heaven forbid he should miss out on a publicity opportunity.
Does this sound like a humble man of God who lists his inspirations as Mother Teresa and Ghandi? If you’re not convinced yet that K.A. Paul is an attention-seeking fraud, have a look at this list of his misadventures:
- He claims that his doctorate is an honorary one, but the director of the Bible school from which he claims to have received it has no record of it ever being awarded.
- He has previously claimed another ministry’s leper colony as his own, going so far as to videotape the colony for use in his own promotional videos, and using it to lure unsuspecting volunteers over to India on false pretences.
- He flew people around in Global Peace One despite crew members refusing to work in what they called a “flying death-trap”. The plane itself had previously had numerous incidents while under the operation of China Airlines, including one serious incident that caused it to plummet 31,500 ft before recovery, and resulted in significant damage to the aircraft. The plane was also notoriously under-maintained by Kilari’s organization, and eventually had its operating certificate suspended in 2005. It now sits unused in Tijuana, Mexico, still waiting to be repaired. Note that you can still donate money towards airplane fuel on Kilari’s site, though.
- He’s notorious for leaving a trail of unpaid bills related to the aircraft, including not paying for the training of his pilots, or for fuel, maintenance or airport handling costs.
- He interfered with a murder investigation in India, whisking off three of the witnesses for a rally in the middle of the investigation.
- Nine of his American volunteers were arrested in India for an illegal rally that got out of hand, and he fled to America on the first plane he could catch, leaving them in India to organize their own release.
- He brought 10 ‘orphans’ over from India to the US for a series of fund raisers, in his flying death-trap. When one of the girls fell ill and had to be admitted to hospital, he flew off with the 9 remaining girls, leaving her completely alone. When the hospital raised a fuss and brought in the media and the courts, he claimed that they were having problems bringing the orphan’s guardian to America, and that without the girl’s de facto mother she was in bad shape. This was all news to the girl’s actual mother, who was certainly alive and well and thought her daughter was still at boarding school.
- He accepted $850,000 from the Friends of the Isreali Defense Force to fly them to Poland and Isreal for a Holocaust Memorial. As it’s illegal for a charity organization to charter flights, he had them declare it a donation. When he told the FIDF that they could only take them as far as Poland, or would have to take them to Syria before taking them to Israel, they understandably grew suspicious and pulled out of the agreement. Dr. Paul kept the money, claiming that because it was a donation, he didn’t have to give it back. The real reason he wouldn’t give it back is because he’d already used it to have the plane repaired and inspected in preparation for his own planned flight to Syria.
- He claims to have been the man responsible for dictator Charles Taylor relinquishing his presidency of Liberia, and says that Condi Rice and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo are trying to steal his limelight. He also claims to have counseled Guy Philippe, Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein, and to have stopped five wars.
- He denies working for Indian minister PJ Titus, despite Titus describing him as the “business side of the ministry”, and including a photo of him in his autobiography, sitting at Titus’s desk. He had full access to Titus’s mailing list, and used it to send emails to Titus’s flock, discrediting the minister and encouraging the congregation to donate money to himself.
- He hired people to beat him up in public at a Gospel Crusade Meeting, and tipped off CNN that there would be a newsworthy event, to garner public sympathy.
- He wrangled an invitation to the Southern Baptist Convention, and when he got up on stage promptly began soliciting donations, which is strictly against convention protocol.
- In 2005, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a ministry watchdog, terminated Kilari’s membership, on the grounds that his ministry did not have a fully functioning board of directors, and that adequate controls were not in place to ensure that donations and resources were actually being used for their proper purpose.
The list goes on, and you can read the full expose on Kilari from the Houston Press. It paints a grim picture indeed, labelling him “an egomaniac with a doctored past and an obsession with an airplane that receives more money than starving orphans in India”. Kook indeed, and apparently more than a little bit of a crook besides.