During the early 1970s, Todd was one of a handful of speakers making the rounds in evangelical Christian circles warning young people against the occult. Like two other of those speakers, Hershel Smith and Mike Warnke (whose claims of being an ex-Satanist have likewise been disproved), Todd claimed to have been a Satanic high priest before his conversion. In one meeting between Todd and Warnke, the two had a backstage confrontation and Todd accused Warnke of stealing his testimony regarding the Illuminati.
John Todd resurfaced in the evangelical Christian community in late 1977, this time claiming the existence of a vast Satanic conspiracy led by an order of witches called the Illuminati and including such well-known Christian figures and organisations as C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and the 700 Club, Jim Bakker and PTL, Oral Roberts, Ralph Wilkerson, Demos Shakarian, Chuck Smith, Walter Martin, Gordon Lindsey, Morris Cerullo, Andrae Crouch, Pat Boone and his daughter Debby, Evie Tornquist, Honeytree, and churches ranging from Assemblies of God to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Todd claimed to have served as a Green Beret in the Vietnam War; in fact, his discharge papers list him as a general clerk/typist and do not record him having been in Vietnam. Army medical reports referred to "emotional instability with pseudologica phantastica" (compulsive lying), difficulty in telling reality from fantasy, homicidal threats he had made on another, false suicide reports, and a severe personality disturbance.
Several evangelical Christian ministries investigated Todd's claims, found them ludicrous, and published articles documenting their findings; these include Cornerstone magazine, the Christian Research Institute, Christianity Today magazine, and the book The Todd Phenomenon by Darryl E. Hicks (with an introduction by Mike Warnke). Independent Baptist churches withdrew their speaking invitations and cut off contact.
John Todd (occultist)