Jewish Journal


July 9, 2009

‘Sex, lies and Lutheran pastor’—he still hopes to preach



Remember when ShawWow! pitchman Vince Offer getting royally hosed by the hooker he allegedly beat to pulp? Well, this story is way, way wilder.

From the Star Tribune:

Three years into a relationship that started with him watching her dance and progressed to money for sex, the Rev. Mark Ostgarden contemplated a proposal from exotic dancer Bunny Byington.

How about the Lutheran pastor quit paying her and they consider their relationship an affair instead?

But it wouldn’t be long before Byington’s need for cash allegedly forced her to extort $7,000 from him in exchange for her concealing their escapades from his wife and church.

Now Ostgarden’s 19 years as a Lutheran clergyman in Valley City, N.D., have come to a quick end after he felt forced to tell police in Moorhead, Minn., about 46-year-old Byington’s extortion of money from him to keep quiet about their relationship.

At this point I happened to look over at Bunny’s beautiful mug, left, and, combined with the details of this affair, found myself absolutely mortified. Not that Ostgarden’s actions would have been more any more acceptable if his lady friend had been a real looker. But, I mean, Bunny looks like the kind of shady figure that you’re certain to avoid in a dark alley—or even a busy street in broad daylight.

At least it appears that Ostgarden wasn’t married. Oh wait. That’s in the next paragraph:

He paid her the money in two installments this spring, slipping the cash under the door of Byington’s Moorhead apartment. On June 5, Byington said she wanted still more money. When the pastor said he couldn’t meet her demand, Byington made good on her threat and exposed the relationship to his wife and church.

She also sent the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America bishop a photo of the pastor on a bed wearing only his underwear and a T-shirt, according to charges filed against Byington last week in Clay County District Court.

Ostgarden, 52, resigned as associate pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Valley City, on June 5, the same day he called police about Byington.

“I know I’ve hurt a lot of friends and family,” Ostgarden said in a phone interview Tuesday.

The story goes on to say that Ostgarden hopes the sex scandal won’t prevent him from finding a pulpit or pastoral position in the future.

Good luck with that. It’s tough enough for clergymen to find jobs after they’ve gone through a divorce. Try explaining this own during that second interview, or better yet when the whole congregation meets to vote on your hiring.

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