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The Bizarre Story of an Embattled Youth Pastor Who Jumped a 45-Foot Cliff to Evade Police


"His story just continues to get stranger by the moment."

For the past decade, 30-year-old Matt Pitt has distinguished himself as a popular youth pastor. Over the past year, however, the preacher has fallen from grace. After experiencing legal problems in 2012, a bizarre run-in with police this month has landed him back in the headlines -- and behind bars.

In an effort to flee authorities on Aug. 20, Pitt reportedly jumped off a 45-foot cliff -- and survived. The wild chase is as odd as the reasons why he was being sought by authorities in the first place.

The faith leader, who founded The Basement youth ministry in Alabama, first had run-ins with police in September 2012. At the time, he pleaded guilty to attempting to impersonate a police officer, the Huffington Post reported (he had apparently been using a flashing blue light to pull over cars on an interstate).

While he was initially punished with one year in jail, this was eventually replaced by two years of unsupervised probation and a $1,000 fine. But his troubles didn't end there, as the latest accusations against him may count as a violation of this probation.

In June 2013, he was again accused of impersonating a peace officer. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but he wasn't willing to surrender. Two months later, on Aug. 20, he gave what the Huffington Post called a "bizarre" interview with WVTM-TV.

The exchange went for more than 12 minutes. In it, the embattled faith leader repeatedly denied impersonating a police officer and showed the reporter an honorary badge he said he was given. To say that the interview was a bit confusing would be an understatement.

"If I wanted to impersonate a police officer, here's what I would do. I'd quit hiring them. I hire them to be at my events. I've hired every city and every county," he said. "I've paid every one -- how do you have 50 officers at my event that have seen lights in my car? Not my car, somebody who was authorized."

Later in the exchange, though, it seemed as though he had, indeed, used the honorary badge. Or, at the least, he seemed to be defending its potential use.

"I did not pretend to be anything, because guess what? They made me an officer. I have a badge. You know why I have it? Because I couldn't believe that they would give that to somebody," Pitt added.

Watch the confounding interview below:

Following his exchange with WVTM-TV, Pitt very literally ran from authorities. While fleeing, he reportedly jumped a 45-foot cliff in an attempt to escape. But his efforts were to no avail, as he was inevitably detained (alleged video of police clashing with his wife at the family home has also emerged).

"He is lucky that cliff didn't take his life," Jefferson County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Randy Christian said in an interview with Al.com. "For his family's sake and for his I am truly glad he is okay. As I said before, going to jail may very well have saved his life."

His mother apparently took to Twitter to ask for prayer for her son, seemingly describing the injuries he sustained during the chase and jump:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/MissyPitt/status/370403292243038208"]

Many are wondering what's causing the pastor to act in such a manner. Pitt mentioned in his television interview that he was once a drug dealer and an atheist and that he had no intention of becoming a Christian. Of late, some have claimed that he is using drugs, but this has not been confirmed. The results of a recent drug test have not yet been released.

Officers claim that Pitt continued to present himself as a police officer, allegedly telling authorities at the time of his arrest that he works for the sheriff.

"His story just continues to get stranger by the moment," Christian added. "You can draw your own conclusions as to why."

On Tuesday night, The Basement ministry met for the first time since its founder's Aug. 20 arrest. Al.com reports that 100 people assembled at the B-Studio, a local warehouse. During the meeting, a telephone recording was allegedly played on which Pitt said he would soon be released from jail. But he was denied bail hearings earlier in the day.

According to accounts published in the Christian Post, some responded to the arrest by claiming that Pitt has been "going down the wrong way" for quite some time. These critics seemed less-than-surprised by what was unfolding.

Pitt's The Basement was founded back in 2004. It's name is derived from its origins, as the ministry was founded in his parents' basement in Roebuck, Ala. Young people came to the home to hear Pitt detail his personal transformation and theological views.

After just a year, Pitt, who has been married for the past three years, moved to larger churches and arenas, with The Basement becoming one of the largest youth worship services in the U.S., Al.com reports.

Featured Image Credit: WVTM-TV

(H/T: Huffington Post)



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