Selling Satan

The Tragic History of Mike Warnke

By Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein

Copyright 1992 by Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein

Mike, Sue, and Campus Crusade

On June 2, 1966, Mike Warnke joined the U.S. Navy. During the time he was there, he and Lois stayed in touch by letter. According to Warnke's official story, boot camp is where he meets two Christians who are such a bold witness for Christ that the ex-Satanist converts to Christianity.

According to his service records, Mike Warnke graduated from boot camp August 22, 1966.[48] His fiancee, Lois, and the Schrader family attended graduation. "I went down with a friend and gave Mike a St. Christopher medal," says Lois. There was a fifteen-day leave after camp ended. During this time Lois noticed a change in Mike. "He was different. He was carrying a Bible. I asked him about it, and he said he'd found Christ at boot camp. He was real excited about being a Christian, finding God." Within days Mike told Lois "he'd had this Christian conversion and he had to go on. That this was it. I didn't see him anymore after that."

The Satan Seller, once again, tells a different story. There is, of course, no mention of Lois Eckenrod before or after boot camp. Instead, when Warnke returns home from boot camp, he begins dating Sue Studer, a fellow Rim High Alumnus who was soon to become his first wife. "I turned around and was surprised to see Sue Studer, the girl who had always dated the football heros. Sue was still as pretty as ever."[49]

Warnke writes that he then told Sue of his recent conversion to Christ, and to his delight Sue replied she, too, had become a Christian. "Sue had worked on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ at the Arrowhead Springs Headquarters."[50]

In The Satan Seller, Mike Warnke says that he was chased by Campus Crusaders attempting to convert him when he was the campus Satanist. However, Lois and several others do remember Mike Warnke taking some interest in religion and Campus Crusade before boot camp. "I remember him starting to get interested in religion," Lois says. "He'd go up the hill to Campus Crusade's headquarters."

Just how early Mike dabbled with Christianity is unclear, but at least one witness says she saw him proclaiming faith in Christ in 1965, a whole year before The Satan Seller says he became a Christian. Charlotte Tweeten,[51] a 1964 Rim graduate who attended Valley College, told Cornerstone, "It was in the fall of 1965. I know that because by winter I had already left school. Mike Warnke came up to me while I was sitting there drinking coffee and started proselytizing me. It was the born-again thing. Mike was doing his religious think and Sue Studer was with him."

On September 7, 1966, Mike Warnke reported to Hospital Corps School in San Deigo.[52]

Mike gives us our choice of stories as to why he chose to become a medic. In The Satan Seller he writes he joined the Hospital Corps because "I could be of more use to God mending guys than swabbing decks."[53] On the album Hey, Doc!, he says he joined the Hospital Corps because of drugs and nurses: "Dope and women...for pay...far out!"[54]

In late 1966, Warnke graduated from medic school and, after training with the marines at Camp Pendleton, went to work at the naval dispensary in San Diego.[55] Marriage records show Mike and Sue Studer were married May 13, 1967, in Crestline.[56] Soon after, the couple moved onto San Diego's Louisiana Street.

While in San Diego, the Warnkes visited Scott Memorial Baptist Church, pastored by now well-known church leader and author Tim LaHaye and his wife, Beverly. In The Satan Seller, Warnke offers one version of what happened when the LaHayes visited the Warnke home. Mike says he told Tim LaHaye about the illuminati.

I had already told him I had been to an occult conference. "There were some weird guys that seemed to be the real backers of the whole thing....I heard the word Illuminati."[57]

"The conversation really wasn't like he put it in his book," says Dr. LaHaye.[58] "I brought up the term Illuminati first. I had been reading a book on the subject, and I tried testing him to see if he really knew anything about it. He didn't seem to have ever heard the word before."

"Mike gave us a little of his testimony," says Beverly LaHaye,[59] who is now the head of Concerned Women for America. "He said a book about the leaders of the Satan church had disappeared off his shelf when he became interested in Christianity." Dr. LaHaye sums up, "His type of personality tells stories for effect, not for accuracy."

Mike in Vietnam