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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Pastor defends Tom Jones church
Tom Jones
Pastor Jack dresses up as Jones during his services
A US preacher who has set up a church dedicated to the Welsh sex symbol and crooner Tom Jones has denied using religion in vain.

Pastor Jack Stahl said Jones's "soulful, spiritual and supernatural" voice helps him contact God.

The minister, based in Sacramento, California, uses his music in baptisms, marriages, funerals and exorcisms.

"I'm using his voice to get in touch with God and there's nothing wrong with that," he said.


Jones is not the first personality to have a church dedicated to him. He shares the honour with Elvis Presley and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.

The Welsh singer, who has been nicknamed The Voice, has enjoyed hits with songs like It's Not Unusual, Delilah and What's New Pussycat.

It's not the lyrics of his songs, it's his voice which is soulful, spiritual and supernatural
Pastor Jack Stahl

He was big in the 60s and 70s, when it was not unusual for adoring female fans to throw their underwear at him on stage.

However such behaviour is not encouraged by Pastor Jack, as he is known, who dresses up as Jones while conducting his services.

He said he discovered Jones in 1969 when he was only six-years-old watching the This is Tom Jones television programme.

"Instantly, I became hypnotised by that gyrating god and it was almost as if angels had surrounded me," he told the World Service's The Beat programme.

"So it just made sense that years later when I started my own ministry that I would incorporate the angelic voice of Tom Jones in it."

He said it was more to do with the quality of Jones's voice than his songs' lyrics that made his singing special.

"It could be Sex Bomb and still to me I will almost openly weep," he said.

"It's not the lyrics of his songs, it's his voice which is soulful, spiritual and supernatural."

He said he was not dogmatic about Jones and encouraged people at his non-denominational church to use whatever vehicle necessary to "get in touch with their higher power".

But he insisted he did not consider Jones to be a God.

"He is a mortal," he said. "He's a person like any of us. I don't think of him as being a deity."

When interviewed recently about Pastor Jack's church, Jones said he did not object to it.

"It's weird, but a positive thing," he said. "I inspired Pastor Jack. He saw the light through me, so it works."


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