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Questions?

Is there a question you’d like me to answer or a subject you’d like me to write about ? If so, here’s your chance. If you have a question you’d like me to answer or a subject you’d like me to write about , please leave your request in the comment section. Any subject…ask away.

Doing this from time to time helps me understand what is important to the readers of this blog. I have plenty of subjects to busy myself with, but I would love to hear from you,

Thanks in advance for helping me improve  this blog.

Reformers Unanimous: Is This Where Josh Duggar is Getting ‘Treatment’ For His Sex Addiction?

duggar family reformers unanimous

Is Reformers Unanimous where Josh Duggar is seeking treatment for his porn addiction?

I originally wrote this article in October 2013. Since it is rumored that Josh Duggar is seeking addiction treatment at Reformers Unanimous (RU) Residential Recovery Center in Rockford, Illinois, I thought readers might be interested in what I have written here. Since I originally wrote this article, RU has changed their website and some of the links no longer work.

Reformers Unanimous is the Fundamentalist Baptist version of a self-help group for church members who have addiction issues and “life” problems. Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches like First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, Newark Baptist Temple in Heath, Ohio, Monclova Road Baptist Church in Monclova, Ohio, and High Street Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio,  have a Reformers Unanimous chapter.  According to the Reformers Unanimous (RU)  website, RU has 680 chapters in the United States and twelve foreign countries.

The Newark Baptist Temple website describes the purpose of RU this way:

Stories of Victory: RU tired of hearing the “war stories” of people who have no real freedom in their life? If so, try RU! Every week, our students share how God has changed their lives through real-life, relevant stories.  This weekly 40 minutes of encouraging testimonies will get your weekend started off just right.

Great Teaching: RU tired of talking about problems and doing nothing about them? If so, try RU! Every RU class ends with a 30-minute teaching lesson that will explain valuable principles from the Bible that are integral to your recovery process.

Complete Curriculum: RU tired of being told what’s right and not being given the tools to determine what is right? If so, try RU! We have one of the best comprehensive curriculums in America.  It is one of the best-selling, too!  Thousands of people have used our curriculum to learn the truth about addictions and Christian apathy.  For more information see the back cover for our personal recovery curriculum.

Motivational Awards: RU tired of trying to find the stamina to do the right thing in the face of mounting adversity? If so, try RU! We will not only encourage you and help you to do the right thing, but we will also motivate you to do so.  Though an award system is just a small way of doing this, it is evidence of a program that believes in acknowledging accomplishment and rewarding participation.

Free Personal Counseling: RU tired of having to get advice from people who know little about your struggles, or RU tired of having to pay hourly fees to hear yourself talk? If so, try RU! We offer free group and individual spiritual counseling on a wide variety of topics from addiction, to marriage, to finances, to family, and many other areas.  You will have a leader, a helper, a director, an even the pastor.  The pastor of this hosting church could make himself available to support your many needs in life.

Well-trained Local Leadership Staff:  RU tired of attending programs where the leaders and volunteer workers have the same problems as you? if so, try RU!  Our leaders have been set free from the power of sin and can speak openly about it.  They do not seek anonymity.  They proclaim earnestly that Jesus is the reason for their freedom, and they have been well-trained to use our program and its tools to get that salvation message to you and to those whom you love.

Exciting Children’s Program: RU tired of trying to find someone to help you with your child’s issues while you are still trying to deal with your many issues in life?  If so, try RU! We will not only care for your children while you attend our class, but we will entertain, teach, and develop your children to help them avoid the same pitfalls that ensnared many of us.  They will enjoy games, prizes, snacks, play time, awards, great teaching, and many other things.  Our “Kidz Clubs” are the weekly highlight of most every child that attends.

Residential Treatment Centers: RU tired of trying to find residential treatment that is effective and affordable? If so, try RU! We operate a beautiful 100-bed facility for men and a gorgeous 40-bed facility for women at our headquarters in Rockford, Illinois.  We are also aware of many RU type transitional homes that may be available for your use.  To learn more, visit ruhomes.org.

Local Church Support: Steven Curington believed, as does the pastor whose church hosts our meetings, that the local church is God’s support group.  It is designed by God to meet the spiritual needs of all people.  When the spiritual needs of people are met, then other needs fall in line and become easier to manage.  We as a program, strongly encourage you to visit the church that hosts this meeting for addicted people.  Something must be different about this church if they are so willing to have this program for you.  Why aren’t others?

Reformers Unanimous also operates treatment centers they call Schools of Discipleship. According to RU’s Schools of Discipleship website, the treatments centers offer:

…a six-month intensive discipleship program for men and women with troubled lives. We provide a reconstructive learning atmosphere where the non-functioning person can be trained in a supportive environment of discipleship consisting of: study, mentoring, Bible education, and work place training.

RU’s website states that the Schools of Discipleship program has a 80% success rate after one year and 79% of those who are “victorious over addictions” are gainfully employed after one year.

Reformers Unanimous is operated by North Love Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois. Dr. Paul Kingsbury (calling himself Dr. because he has an honorary doctorate from Ambassador Baptist College, a college founded by IFB pastor Ron Comfort) is the pastor of True Love.  Kingsbury was called to preach under the ministry of Jack Hyles, attended Maranatha Baptist Bible College, and graduated from Hyles-Anderson College.

RU has a medical staff that  (link no longer works):

advise Pastor Kingsbury, and the North Love Baptist Church on decisions that arise in the ministry related to health care for the addicted, mental health, communicable diseases, and medical liability.

The medical staff doctors are Dr. Morris Harper, Dr. George Crabb, Dr. Timothy Gaul, and Dr. Maureen Gaul.  Crabb is located in Florida, the other three doctors are located in Pennsylvania. (as far as I could ascertain from a cursory web search)

RU also has an advisory board made up of nine men, including Illinois State Senator Dave Syverson.  There are no women on the advisory board.

Until a few years ago, I had never heard of Reformers Unanimous (RU). My former drug-addict son asked me if I knew anything about RU. He had  attended a RU meeting with his cousin at the Newark Baptist Temple in Heath, Ohio. I told him I had never heard of RU. He then told some “interesting” stories from the RU meeting he attended.

After hearing this, I decided to take a closer look at RU. The rest of this post will focus on a booklet published by RU titled DSM One: Diagnostic & Spiritual Manual. This booklet provides a birds eye view of RU’s addiction philosophy.  DSM One is written by RU medical staff advisory doctor George Crabb.

On the copyright page, Reformers Unanimous attempts to stop people like me from reviewing their literature by stating:

Any written or published critique, whether positive or negative, may not quote any portion of this book without written permission of the publisher to avoid any discrepancies in context.

After contacting my crack legal team, I am confident that RU’s attempt to scuttle a review of their materials has no legal basis and is contrary to the doctrine of fair use. (See Electronic Frontier Foundation FAQ) This review is done on a non-commercial basis and is meant to be a critique of the teachings found in DSM One.

According to the back cover of DSM One, the purpose of the book is:

Churches today, along with Reformers Unanimous (RU) chapters around the world, are filled with hurting people struggling with serious personal problems. Many church and RU leaders find they are unprepared to deal with these people that have very serious non-physical problems because the psychiatric world has proclaimed themselves to be the master of this domain. As a result, psychiatric terminology has invaded the church and their RU programs. Most Biblical counseling training provides little to no education regarding these terms and little to no training on what the Bible says about these non-physical problems. Dr. Crabb’s desire in writing this booklet is to help the Christian leader understand the practical implication of these terms and what the Bible says about these non-physical problems of life. Dr. Crabb takes the mystery out of these terms and clearly presents the Biblical viewpoint.

The purpose of Reformers Unanimous and the DSM One is to help IFB church members (virtually all the RU chapters are sponsored by IFB churches) who are hurting and struggling with serious personal problems. Crabb and RU is concerned that the psychiatric world and its terminology has invaded IFB churches and the RU program. The DSM One book is RU’s attempt to give pastors the tools necessary to help church members who have “serious non-physical problems.”  Crabb wrote the DSM One to help pastors and church leaders “understand the practical implication of these terms and what the Bible says about these non-physical problems of life.”

According to the back cover, the DSM One book, “takes the mystery out of these terms and clearly presents the Biblical viewpoint.”  While it is “slightly” encouraging to see IFB churches admit they have the same problems that the “world” has, it is their methods and desired outcomes that I have a problem with.

The DSM One has sixteen chapters and three appendices. The book covers:

  • Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Abnormal
  • Addiction
  • ADHD
  • Bulimia
  • Codependency
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Kleptomania
  • Multiple Personality Disorder/Disassociated  Identity Disorder
  • OCD
  • Pedophilia
  • Phobia
  • Shame
  • Tourette’s Disorder

The appendices cover:

  • Seven Biblical Things to Do on a Daily Basis
  • The Best Way to Study Your Bible
  • Reformers Unanimous Ten Principles

If I had to sum up RU’s position:

  • The Bible has the answer for every problem you are facing
  • The reason you are _______________________ (fill in with one of the disorders/problems mentioned above) is because you are unwilling to submit to God and the authority of His Word, the Bible
  • True, lasting victory over ______________________ can only come through submitting oneself to the teachings of the Bible (as interpreted by RU, George Crabb, and the local church pastor)

Dr. George Crabb, the author of DSM One, has little to no training in the field of psychiatry. He is an osteopathic internist and states he is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. When I originally wrote this post Crabb was not listed as a member, but he is now listed as a member in good standing. Crabb is an IFB pastor’s son. His father was the pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Warren Michigan.  When I originally wrote this post I was able to find active web links for Antioch Baptist Church and Antioch Baptist Academy. Those links no longer work. (I did find that there was a sex scandal that resulted in the pastor, Christopher Settlemoir, being arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 7-15 years in prison for child sexual assault. The victim sued the church and you can read the sad, sordid story here and here.)

The lack of psychiatric training is not surprising for those of us raised in the IFB church movement. The psychiatric and psychology community are routinely demonized by IFB pastors and are considered tools of Satan used to keep people from submitting to the authority of God and the Bible. Crabb is pretty much like the actor in the Holiday Inn commercial. He is not a psychiatrist, but he is a Bible-believing Christian with a medical degree. Since Crabb believes virtually all mental health problems are a problem of not submitting to the authority of God and the Bible, there is no need for any serious training in the mental health field.

Notes

Gawker article on Josh Duggar and Reformers Unanimous

Entertainment Tonight article on Josh Duggar and Reformers Unanimous

Rockford Register Star reports:

The Duggars have a history with Reformers Unanimous, speaking at its national conference in Rockford in October 2014. But, Brad Woodbury of the organization’s development team would not confirm that Duggar entered treatment in the Forest City.

Woodbury went on to say that the residential program, which costs $7,500, is voluntary and work-based. Members are responsible for tasks like cooking and construction. Reformers Unanimous in Rockford has men’s and women’s residential treatment programs, with room for 40 men and 20 women. The length of stay in its long-term addiction treatment center is approximately eight to 10 months.

“The residential program is for people who need to be in a place where they can grow in their relationship with Christ,” Woodbury said. “We do not focus on the addiction. It’s about your walk with Christ.”

Songs of Sacrilege: Your God

This is the fifty-fourth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please leave the name the song in the comment section or send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Your God by Cheryl Wheeler.

 Video Link

Lyrics

Is your God the same God who’s working with the Pope?
Is it the same God suspicious of Tinky Winky?
Is it the God corralling virgins into herds of 72,
deciding where to send them when the glorious martyrs are through?

Is your God the same God who’s burning the science books
and trampling lives to hoist the right to life signs?
Or is he running the breeding program from the Temple by the lake
till one big in-bred family will be an entire state?

Are they his priests who can’t keep from buggering little boys?
Is it your cash retaining their attorneys?
I guess he had to overlook the nastiness with the tykes,
to keep the grace of marriage from the clutches of fags and dykes.

Is your God the same God who won the Superbowl?
I hope it’s not that loser God the Eagles had.
Or is your’s the God decreeing all the women wear a sack,
and presiding over stonings and beheadings in Iraq?

Is your God commanding you
to tell everybody what to do,
to kill your brain and praise his name
and bury the bastard who’s not the same,
and spew your heinous and hateful shit
like something holy was driving it
to take over all the earth and skies above?
Oh mercy, whatever happened to the GOD of love?

Songs of Sacrilege: One True God

This is the fifty-third installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please leave the name the song in the comment section or send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is One True God by The Austin Lounge Lizards from Austin, Texas.

 Video Link

Songs of Sacrilege: Sunday in Reality

This is the fifty-second installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Sunday in Reality by Cynthia Carle.

Video Link

 

Songs of Sacrilege: Wages of Sin

This is the fifty-first installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Wages of Sin by The Rainmakers, a Kansas City, Missouri-based original rock band.

Video Link

Video Link

Lyrics

I was praying last night when an angel broke the line
She said “I’m gonna have to put you on hold for a time”
I said “Hold like Hell, let me talk to the Boss”
She said “Sorry sucker (sinner), it’s the Boss’s day off”
And I realized then that the wages of sin
Was two bucks an hour and working weekends

I was ignoring the thief who was lashed to the cross
He cried “Help me get this son-of-a-bitch off”
I said “I would if I could, I can’t so I won’t
Well I wouldn’t want you messing your hair up, so don’t”
And I realized then that the wages of sin
Was all the lumber you can carry, all the nails you can bend

The wages of sin, the price that you pay
Is worrying and fretting every second of the day
If Heaven is guilt, no sex and no show
Then I’m not sure if I really want to go, Oh

The wages of sin, the reward of fear
Is worrying and fretting every second of the year
The Church and the State, your God and Countrykind
One gets your body, the other gets your mind

Mary, Mary Magdalene, how ’bout a date?
You’ve been wasting your time staying up so late
Your boyfriend’s dead, the word is you’re a whore
Just about then I heard a knock on the door
And I realized then that the wages of sin
Was a bad reputation and too many friends

The wages of sin (repeats)

Are You a Christian?

what is a christian

JC Ryle, a 19th century Anglican Bishop, wrote a tract about the marks of a Christian:

But still after every allowance, here we find boldly painted six marks of being born of God. Here is an inspired Apostle writing one of the last general epistles (1 John) to the Church of Christ, telling us that a man born of God, Does not commit sin, Believes that Jesus is the Christ, Does righteousness, Loves the brethren, Overcomes the world, and Keeps himself. I ask the reader to observe all this.

The Bible basis for what Ryle says is found in I John:

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Denominations, pastors, and individual Christians explain, or should I say explain away, these verses in a variety of ways. Some take the verses exactly as they are written, even though their lives are a direct contradiction to what the verses say. Others go to the Greek text and say that these verses say one thing in the English text but another thing in the Greek text. They do a lot of explaining to get away from what the English text clearly says. It seems to me that the writer of 1 John (and keep in mind some scholars think 1 John is a fraudulent text) is very clear. You SAY you are a Christian? Here is the standard to judge yourself by. Do you measure up? If not, you are NOT a Christian.

1 John contradicts other books of the Bible. 1 John and the book of James set a very different standard for what a Christian is than Paul does in his writings. Christians go to great lengths to harmonize, smooth over, and mediate the conflict, but since I am not a Christian I have no need to make everything “fit.”

I ask myself, if a person who had never had any contact with Christianity was stranded on an island and only had the book of 1 John to read, what conclusions would they come to? Would they say that salvation is by grace through faith, not of works lest any man should boast? I doubt it.

So much of what is called true, orthodox “Christianity” is actually someone’s interpretation of what the Bible says.  As the centuries click by, the interpretations become more complex and varied. It is almost impossible to get a Christian to see that what they call true, orthodox Christianity is actually a man-made religion, shaped and molded over centuries.  For the most part, modern Christianity is Paul’s version of Christianity and not Jesus’ version. I suspect the essence of the Judaistic Christianity of Jesus has been irretrievably lost.

Some may ask, since I am an atheist, why do I bother with matters concerning the Bible and Christianity? First of all, I like talking about these things. Second, our culture is deeply influenced and sometimes controlled by Christianity, and how Christians interpret the Bible affects our culture. Third, Christians tend to evangelize and preach at non-believers, so it is fair to hold them to the same standard they hold others to. Based on the verses above, it is quite evident that no Christian measures up to the Bible standard of what it means to be a Christian. Thus, no Christian is a true Christian.

I also know there are a lot of readers who are somewhere between leaving Christianity and agnosticism/atheism. They are still struggling with what they believe or don’t believe. Do they still believe the Bible, and if they do what parts? Do they believe Jesus existed at all? If they do, do they believe what the Bible says about him? Post like this one are meant to help them settle some of the issues they are struggling with.

For those of you who are or were a Christian, how did you or your pastor explain the 1 John verses mentioned above?

Repost, revised and corrected

Bruce Gerencser CLAIMS He Once Was a Christian

false christianI have been blogging since 2007.  When I started blogging, I was an Emerging church, red-letter Christian who, along with his wife, was desperately seeking for a church that took the teachings of Jesus Christ seriously. (please read But Our Church is DIFFERENT!)

Our search took us to many churches. We found that Christian churches, regardless of the name on the sign, were vapid, empty places, filled with good people who were more concerned with church amenities and programs than following Jesus. We came to the conclusion that whatever Christianity might have been 2,000 years ago, it died long ago. In its place has grown up an institutionalized church more concerned with power, money, and right beliefs than following after the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Christ.

The last church we attended was the Ney United Methodist Church, pastored by a fine young pastor I greatly admire. By this time, we were already at the back of the church with one foot out the door, and in November of 2008 we turned around, put the other foot out the door, and walked away from Christianity.

There was nothing wrong with the Ney United Methodist Church or its pastor Ron Adkins. Great people. Kind people. Good people. And, just like every other Christian church we visited.  We came to see that what churches really are is social clubs, especially here in rural NW Ohio where churches are often filled with people with similar last names. The churches are like a family reunion every Sunday.

I pastored for the last time in 2003. After being badgered by several colleagues in the ministry about using the gifts God had given me, in 2005 I candidated at several Southern Baptist churches in West Virginia. While both church wanted me to consider being their pastor, it became clear to both Polly and I that we no longer wanted to be in the ministry.  Between 2003 and November 2008, various Christians who knew me labeled me as burnt out, depressed, under an attack by Satan, or a good man gone bad. I was still viewed as a Christian, but due to my changing theology, many of the Evangelicals that knew me now considered me a liberal. Those of you began reading this blog in 2007 will remember my word battles with Pastor John Chisham, aka PastorBoy,  over the gospel and salvation. (Chisham is now divorced, remarried, and no longer a pastor)

Like many Evangelicals who become an atheist, I took a long, bumpy, winding train ride to get to atheism. I started out as an Evangelical, then a Progressive Evangelical, then an Emerging Church Evangelical, then a Red-Letter Christian, then a Liberal Christian, then an Universalist, then an Agnostic, and I finally arrived at the Atheist station.  Polly arrived at the station not too long after I did.

All told, I was a Christian for almost fifty years. I spent three of those years in Bible college, preached for thirty-three years, and pastored churches for twenty-five years. During this time, no one ever said, I doubt Bruce is a Christian. No one ever doubted my commitment to Christ or my desire to follow Jesus.

But, now it is different. Because I am now an atheist, Christians are quick to say I never was a Christian or that I was a false prophet, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. How else to explain my story, right?

Some Christians take a different approach. They question my character, my truthfulness. They say things like, IF Bruce Gerencser’s story is true, or Bruce Gerencser CLAIMS he was a Christian. If you search the internet, you will find claims like this on blogs and forums. Several years ago, Lee Shelton, the Contemporary Calvinist wrote:

Bruce Gerencser, an atheist who claims to have once been a Christian…

This is a classic example of the passive-aggressive approach Christians take with me when they read my story. They seem to be unable to accept my story at face value, Of course, I know why. My story doesn’t fit their neatly defined theological grid.  Lee Shelton is a five-point Calvinist, and since I didn’t persevere in grace that means I never really was a Christian.  I was a temporary believer, not one of the elect to whom God has extended his special, discriminate grace. Of course, I could just be on a time-out and some day I will return to Christianity and persevere to the end.

Here’s what I think. Many Christians find my story threatening. They wonder, if a man like Bruce Gerencser, a lifelong Christian and a pastor, can fall from grace or live a long life of deception, perhaps this could happen to me too.  None of the people who called me pastor or considered me a ministerial colleague ever doubted that I was anything but a dedicated, sold-out for Jesus Christian. So, either I really was what I claim I was OR I am the best liar and deceiver who has ever lived.

Everywhere I look, I see agnostics and atheists who were once devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Pastors, youth directors, worship leaders, missionaries, deacons, evangelists, soulwinners, bus workers, and Sunday school teachers; on fire, filled with the Holy Spirit Christians. Thousands of former followers of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords read this blog. Were all of these washed in the blood Christians deceived, never having tasted the goodness of God?  Would a scientist doing a study on this group  conclude that they were false Christians? Of course not. In every way they were once numbered among those who followed the lamb wherever he went. When Jesus said follow me, they cast their nets aside, forsook all, and followed him. No matter what they now are, the past can not be erased by the wave of a magic theological wand.

The Anatomy of an Unaccredited Christian School

pace cartoon

clip from PACE used by many Christian schools and homeschoolers

Originally written in 2014

In this post, I want to take a look at State Line Christian School, an unaccredited fundamentalist Christian school that is operated under the auspices of the Lewis Ave Baptist Church in Temperance, Michigan. I know nothing about this school or church, and everything I write in this post has been gleaned from the church’s or school’s website.

Lewis Avenue Baptist Church, is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church pastored by Steve Hobbins. Pastor Hobbins has been the pastor of the church since 2008. Prior to that, his father was the pastor for 37 years. Like many IFB churches, Lewis Avenue is a franchise operation, handed down from father to son.

In 2001, the church built a 1,300 seat auditorium. I found nothing on the church’s website that states their actual attendance.  Interestingly, I found nothing on their website that stated what they believed. There is one page that details how a person can go to heaven when they die. Here is the prayer they suggest a sinner pray:

Dear Jesus,

I know I’m a sinner, I know I cannot save myself. I know you died on the cross for my sin. I ask you to come into my heart and forgive my sins, and take me to heaven when I die. AMEN

Lewis Avenue operates a bus ministry, along with a seniors ministry, singles ministry, mentally handicapped ministry, children’s ministry, music ministry, a teen ministry that focuses on soulwinning, and a Spanish ministry. The church also has a Reformers Unanimous chapter.

The centerpiece of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church’s plan to train future IFB leaders is the State Line Christian School. The school’s about page states:

When State Line Christian School opened in 1973, Pastor Hobbins’s vision was to open not just a private school, but a Christian school, one that held the beliefs of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church and the other churches in the Greater Toledo area. The school is Baptist-based with a strong emphasis on evangelism.

State Line started with just a K-4 and K-5, but added grades every year, until they graduated their first class in 1980. It is considered a preparatory school for college – a student’s core classes are chosen for him, and each student gets four years of English, math, and science. The school uses A Beka Book curriculum. State Line has been successful in preparing its students in that better than 90% of graduates go on to pursue college…

State Line is an unaccredited Christian school that uses A Beka Books, the publishing arm of Pensacola Christian College, for their curriculum.  For one child in grade 1 through 12, the tuition cost is $4,000 plus an enrollment fee and an additional costs fee. Total cost for one child? Around $4,100.  For families with two children enrolled the tuition cost is $6,250. Four children? $8,250. The State Line website does not mention if there is an additional tuition cost for more than four children. If a family is delinquent in making their tuition payments for more than 45 days, their children will not be permitted to attend the school. If payment arrangements are not made, the school will “pursue any and all action to
collect past due money.”
If this step is taken, a 20% fee is added to the amount owed.

Pastor Steve Hobbins is the superintendent and Joshua Newbold is the principal. Both Hobbins and Newbold attended an unnamed, and I assume unaccredited, Bible college. According to the hard to find listing of school staff (no link on school website), the school has 21 teachers:

Out of 21 teachers, only one is certified by the state of Michigan.

State Line Christian School operates under the laws of the Michigan for non-public schools:

  • They are not required to use any particular textbook
  • Their school/church  properties and buildings are exempt from personal and real estate tax
  • They are required to do criminal background checks on all employees
  • They are not required to keep school records
  • They are not required to be accredited by any recognized accrediting body
  • They are not required to use certified or college educated teachers

At one time, Michigan law stated:

  • Teacher certification is optional. A teacher may qualify to work in a nonpublic school in one of the following three ways: obtain a Michigan Teaching Certificate; obtain a substitute, full year, or emergency teaching permit; obtain a bachelor‘s degree.
  • Persons without valid teaching certificates who have the requisite college credit may apply to the Michigan Department of Education for a teaching permit for employment in a nonpublic school under Mich. Admin. Code R 390.1142 (full-year permit); R 390.1143 (substitute permit); and R 390.1144 (emergency permit).
  • Teachers in the regular or elementary grade studies in a private, denominational or parochial school, i.e., a school other than a public school giving instruction to children below the age of 16 years, in the first eight grades, must hold a teaching certificate that would qualify them to teach in like grades of the public schools. Mich.Comp. Laws §§388.552; 388.553.

In 1993, The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the above provision was unconstitutional when applied to families whose religious convictions prohibit the use of certified instructors. In  People v. DeJonge, a lawsuit filed by the fundamentalist Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 for DeJonge and invalidated the requirements mentioned above. Thus, State Line is under no statutory requirement as far as their teachers are concerned, and this is why most them have degrees from unaccredited fundamentalist Christian colleges.

Like all fundamentalist Christian schools, State Line has a strict code of conduct. While I was unable to find a copy of their student manual online, which is not uncommon for fundamentalist schools that want to hide their rules from prying eyes, I did find a 7th-12th grade student conduct agreement form which must be signed by the student, the school administrator, and the student’s parent. The student must answer in the affirmative or negative to the following questions/statements:

  • Do you attend church regularly? Where?
  • Do you have any objections to saluting the United States Flag, the Christian Flag, or the Bible?
  • Do you understand that the goals and standards of State Line Christian School are based on principles found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament?
  • Have you read our Student Handbook carefully?
  • Is there any standard you do not understand? If answered yes, Which one?
  • Will you dress according to the standards of State Line Christian School?
  • Will you establish and have a daily time for devotions?
  • Will you honestly agree to keep all the school’s rules and respect authority without being critical and find fault?
  • Do you want to attend State Line Christian School?

After answering these questions, the student must READ ALOUD:

“As a student of State Line Christian School, I WILL NOT cheat, swear, smoke, gamble, dance, drink alcoholic beverages, use indecent language, use drugs, or behave in a disorderly or disrespectful manner. I WILL maintain Christian standards in courtesy, kindness, morality and honesty. I WILL strive to be of unquestionable character in dress, conduct and other areas of my life. I WILL attend all weekly services of my church unless providentially hindered. I am willing by the enabling of God to refrain from anything good or bad which might cause others to stumble, to bring reproach to the cause of Christ, to cause disrespect to the glory of God, or to be a negative influence in the character development of myself or others. I will at all times seek to maintain a careful discipline and diligence in the pursuit of my academic opportunities. I will cooperate with those in authority over me and will personally maintain respect for properly placed authority.

I realize that keeping the standards depends upon my attitude and spirit towards the goals of Christian Education. My spirit depends upon my heart commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and the goals He wants for me during my stay at State Line Christian School.

There is much evidence from Pastors, Christian Educators, and Christian Counselors across our nation that bad music, Hollywood movies,television, and bad companionship affects the character, spirit and performance of students. Any evidence that a student is under the influence or control of such will result in disciplinary measures.

While these standards will be strictly enforced, it needs to be understood that we are far more interested in a student’s spirit and attitude than outward conformity to the standards with a rebellious spirit. The student should know that attitudes show just like actions and will be approved or disapproved.

There are tens of thousands of churches like Lewis Ave Baptist Church and thousands of these churches have schools that are just like State Line Christian School. Thousands of American children are being educated in unaccredited schools, taught by non-certified teachers. These schools use fundamentalist Christian textbooks that teach evolution is a myth and promote American exceptionalism and Christian nationalism. Some of these schools don’t even use textbooks, using instead a self-guided curriculum published by Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) or Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI).

Secularists and humanists think educating children is vitally important. Having an educated populace is for our common good, and it is to everyone’s benefit to make sure every child is adequately, properly, and comprehensively educated. We expect the goverment to regulate schools in such a way that they provide a quality education for every child.

Fundamentalist Christian churches and schools have lobbied legislators and have used lawsuits to demand exemption from state laws that regulate what they can and can not do. In many states, they have been quite successful and this is why there are schools like State Line Christian School. Here in Ohio, any church can start a non-charted, unaccredited religious school. There are no regulations for such schools, and for families who choose to home school, the regulations are few. In others words, many states and local jurisdictions have abdicated their responsibility to regulate and investigate many of the schools that educate their children. (see How to Start a Non-Chartered Christian School in Ohio)

Even worse, right-wing politicians are working hard to pass voucher laws that enable private Christian schools to receive state funding with little or no oversight.  Thousands of American children have their private, religious education paid for by taxpayers. These voucher programs have caused a huge census and financial drain for many public school systems.

I put this post together so readers could see how a typical fundamentalist Christian school operates. I do not know anyone at State Line Christian School or Lewis Ave Baptist Church. They came up in a web search I was doing and I decided that they would be a good example of a non-accredited, private, fundamentalist Christian school.

Should these schools (and home schools) be permitted to operate outside the purview of federal, state, and local authorities? Should they be exempt from the laws that public schools must follow? Should we “trust” these schools to properly educate children without making sure they do so? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

My opinion? ALL schools should be strictly regulated by federal, state, and local government. They should receive NO public funding unless they are. I have no objection to religiously motivated private schools or homeschooling as long as they are properly regulated. We ALL have a vested interest in making sure that American children are adequately, properly, and comprehensively educated.