Charles Ward “Chuck” Smith is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, which now includes thousands of congregations worldwide, some of which are among the largest churches in the United States. If ever he had used this kind of influence for good! Well, there is little danger of that, and Smith has instead opted for the “deranged fundamentalist moron” approach to things (John Todd used to claim that Smith was an Illuminati lord, but that is a different story). In his 1978 book End Times, for instance, Smith predicted that the generation of 1948 would be the last generation, and that the world would end by 1981 at the latest (though he also stated that he “could be wrong” although “it’s a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief,” although he somehow didn’t jeopardize his worldly wealth). Calvary Chapel did arrange a New Years Eve service in 1981 for their followers to wait for the end to occur in accordance with Smith's prediction, and lost some followers when it failed to pass.
But Smith didn’t give up, and he has continued to connect disasters, including 9/11, to divine wrath against homosexuality and abortion.
Calvary Chapel is best known as a central player in the Jesus freak movement (which also spawned e.g. Morris Cerullo, Russell Doughten and Mike Warnke), and rose to power largely by catering to hippies and alternative groups in the 60s. The movement is also partially responsible for inflicting Christian rock upon the world and – not the least – Ray Comfort, who started out as a Calvary minister.
Smith has also raised some controversy for buying influence at and sponsorship from government institutions, including army bases, to preach his hate and doom. That should have been a scandal, but somehow it hasn’t really been received as such.
Diagnosis: Evil, old lunatic who wields scary amounts of power but may, fortunately, be too deranged to be able to employ it to maximum effect. Still.
Note: Chuck Smith passed away in October 2013, but I had written most of this entry before I noticed. I hence decided to post it anyways, even though Smith is strictly speaking disqualified.