The Latest from Bruce

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.

How Do You Get From Here to the Rest of the World?

jesus trapped

Graphic by David Hayward

How do you get from here to the rest of the world?

This is a quote from the HBO series The WireDukie, a teenager raised in abject poverty on the streets of Baltimore, is having a discussion with Cutty, a former drug dealer/gang soldier, about life beyond the drug infested, crime riddled streets of Baltimore. The teen asks, How do you get from here to the rest of the world?  Cutty replied, I wish I knew.

This question got me thinking about the people who are in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. The only world they know is the IFB church. Everything in their life revolves around the church they are a member of. Their ethics, morality, worldview, sense of meaning and purpose, and their identity is derived from their church and its pastor.

It is a self-contained world where the external “world” is banished and considered evil. They are frequently reminded that their church, pastor, beliefs, and practices are the only correct ones. Other religions and churches are denigrated and exposed as heretical or worldly. Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and secularists are considered tools of Satan. Fidelity of belief and purity of life is demanded and failing to meet this standard brings the wrath of God, and worse yet, the wrath of the pastor. (a person who spends twenty-five years in an IFB church will likely hear over 4,000 sermons)

Prior to the internet, a person could be raised in this environment and never know there is a wild, woolly world outside of the IFB church. Church members are discouraged from having contact with the “world,” with an exception being made for evangelizing the world, the lost who need saving. From the earliest age, IFB children are schooled in IFB thought and lifestyle. They are often homeschooled or sent to private IFB schools. If they have thoughts about going to college they are told they should only go to an IFB college. From the cradle to the grave, the IFB church and their pastor is the King and Lord over their lives. They will be told that Jesus and the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God is King and Lord, but the real power rests with the pastor and people who control the church. (and every church has a power center, a groups that controls the church)

IFB church members are told what books to read, what music to listen to, what movies, if any, to see, how to dress, how to raise their children, and how to vote.  All of this telling is couched in religious verbiage, complete with Bible proof texts, but it is the pastor’s interpretation of the Bible that determines what is to be believed and not believed and he determines by what standard church members will be expected to live.

The pastor is considered the man of God. Like Moses in the Old Testament, he stands between the church and God. He is God’s mouthpiece, and Sunday after Sunday and Wednesday after Wednesday he stands before the church and says, The Bible says or God says. He is in every way an oracle who has an intimate connection with God that allows him to expertly, correctly, and infallibly tell the church what it is God wants them to know. If you doubt my use of the word infallibly, ask an IFB church member about the last time their pastor said he was wrong about a belief.

With the advent of the internet, the secrets of the IFB church movement are now exposed to the light of day.  We now know they have their own problem with sexual predators and are no different from the Catholic church. We know about the abuse, affairs, thefts, and cover-ups.  A curious or troubled IFB church member can now “get from here to the rest of the world.”

This is why I work hard at making sure this website ranks high on Google. It is important that IFB church members who are looking for a way out of the bondage and control of the IFB church movement find people who are willing to help them. I am not alone in this work. There are sites like No Longer Quivering and Leaving Fundamentalism, to name two, who make a concerted effort to not only expose the IFB church movement, but also help those who are still a part of an IFB church.  The goal is to help people see that there is a way out, that there is a wild, woolly, scary world beyond the IFB church that they can be a part of.

Those of us who have left the IFB church and dare speak about its pernicious teachings and secrets are often attacked and concerted efforts are made to smear and discredit us. The hateful emails flood our inbox and we read the disparaging comments on forums and blogs, all of which are an attempt to marginalize us and silence our voice.  They tell anyone who will listen that we never were Christians or that we are bitter and angry. They warn that anyone who heeds our voice will find themselves under the judgment of God, or worse yet, the judgment of the pastor and church leaders. The threat of being cut off from all they know causes the curious or troubled IFB church member to fear and sometimes this is enough to end their exploration of the world beyond the IFB church.

But, for many others, they are able to push beyond the fear and they find out that there is a way to “get from here to the rest of the world.”  What they find is people who have been where they are, people who understand their fears and doubts. They are often shocked to find that there is an IFB pastor-turned-atheist who is willing  help them, even if they still want to believe in God. They quickly learn that the most important thing is breaking free from the IFB church.  From there, the path they take is up to them.

This is one of the reasons I write. These people matter. Many of them are women who have had their entire life dominated and controlled by men. They are, in many ways, not much different from women in Muslim countries. It should not surprise us then, when these women finally break free that they also break free from the men in their life who dominated and controlled them.

Last year, a man I am in contact with wrote:

Bruce , you are VERY popular among IFB circles. I knew about you before i started emailing you. I think every prominent preacher has made reference to you in some way or another. My the hate they have for you.

I consider this to be a badge of honor. I want IFB pastors and church leaders to know who I am and that  I am not going away. Until God answers their prayers and kills me or the physical problems I have lead to my demise, I plan on being a pain-in-the-ass and every other part of the IFB body. The IFB church movement is dying and I want to be around when we finally put a pillow over its face and end its miserable life.

I want to be a voice that says “you can get from here to the rest of the world.” To you who regularly read  this blog, I want to thank you for continuing to encourage and support me.  When I get hateful emails and comments and I read blogs and forum posts that deconstruct and trash my life, it is your love, friendship and support that give me the strength to ignore their attacks.

Hustling for Jesus: Can We Please Have Your Name, Address, and Credit Card Number?

Snark ahead

Every so often, I get card pack mailers that contain post card sized and larger advertisements for businesses. Last week a pack titled Explore History arrived in my mailbox. (the card packs are marketed by Marketshare Publications) I always go through the cards, never buying anything, just to see who is trying to sell what.

This month there were several cards hawking goods for several Christian ministries businesses. I thought readers might enjoy seeing the cards, so I scanned them.

Mike Huckabee and Learn Our History

christian advertising cards

christian advertising cards-003

Learn Our History, a business founded by fundamentalist Baptist and 2016 Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, wants to send me a FREE DVD detailing the REAL history of the United States. All they ask is that I give them my name, address, and credit card number so they can charge my card $1 for shipping and handling. What’s not told is the fine print which is available on their website:

learn our history fine print

The NEXT DVD will cost me 11.00 plus $4.95 for shipping and handling and will keep coming every month until I tell them to stop sending them. Man, I can get coasters cheaper than that at Walmart.

Mike Huckabee is a theocrat who thinks that public school history books are teaching a false narrative about the founding and history of God’s city set on a hill, the United States of America, incorporated by God 1776, all rights reserved. If I was a betting man, and I am, I bet there are a few undercover for Jesus Christians teaching in the public school who use these DVD’s to teach their students the REAL history of the greatest nation on the face of earth.

United Church of God

christian advertising cards-001

The United Church of God: an International Association, is an offshoot of Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God. Crazy then, crazy now, but from what I hear they are more orthodox now than they used to be, so  much so that many Christians consider them real Christians who just happen to be bat shit crazy on some stuff. You know, just like every other cult except the one the true Christian is in. They always seem to see the error in other cults, but never their own. Too bad there isn’t a God, heaven, hell, judgment, and afterlife. Finding out who the REAL Christians are would be quite entertaining.

Church website

Steps to Christ

christian advertising cards-002

Steps to Christ is:

…a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to giving every home in America the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ through the mass distribution of free Bible-based, Christian literature. Over the past 40 years, we have distributed free books to over 22 million homes across the United States, bringing hope, peace, comfort, and encouragement to thousands.

At PROJECT: Steps to Christ we believe the Holy Bible should be our source for truth. While there are many authors and religious organizations that have great insights and observations about truth, ultimately the Bible MUST be our guide! We have observed that denominational labels often influence our willingness to examine new ideas and resources. We have intentionally NOT provided a denominational affiliation in an effort to minimize pre-conceived ideas about the material provided.

Isaiah declared “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20 KJV) We endeavor to ensure ALL materials provided by us are Biblical. We invite you to examine any resource that we provide for its Biblical accuracy and bring to our attention any variations from scripture.

I love how Steps for Christ doesn’t say what their denominational affiliation is. They want to give the appearance of being above the denominational fray when in fact they have defined, narrow theological beliefs just like every other sect.  One thing I found interesting is that Steps for Christ thinks smoking will keep someone out of Heaven. They even have a Bible Answers section on their website, filled with hundreds of proof texts for the various issues that Christians seem to preoccupy themselves with. What a way to live…just find a Bible verse and you can justify almost anything. Strike that….find a Bible verse and you can justify almost anything. History is replete with stories about Christians who used the Bible to justify vile, murderous behavior.

What do these three Christian businesses have in common? They want your name and address so they can continue to help market and sell their shit to you. It’s all about adding names to a mailing and donor list so they can periodically contact you, warn you about the evil world we live in, and ask you for money to help them continue spreading fear. And if you could send them the names of a few friends who might be interested that would be great too.

 

An IFB Pastor’s Passive-Aggressive Response to a Doubting Church Member

ifb preacher phil kidd

IFB Preacher Phil Kidd

A regular reader of this blog, a former Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church member and preacher, who trained for the ministry at Clarence Sexton’s  The Crown College, sent me the following response from his pastor:

Dear Harry (not his real name),

Thanks for answering the first part of my letter.  I realize that you were about 17 when you allowed the devil to have you question God’s Word  and that you doubt God’s Word and even deny His Word.  Proverbs 23:7 says as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

Harry, I know you know enough about God’s Word that nothing I say to you will convince you if the Holy Spirit Of God doesn’t make God real to you, I can’t.  I do not know if you and  Louise  have ever been saved.  I know that a person has to be convicted of the sin of unbelief before they can be saved.  It is not an emotional feeling.  It is conviction of the sin of unbelief.

Time will tell because you will experience God’s chastisement if you are saved.  I fear what it might take for God to get your attention.  If you don’t experience God’s chastisement then you will know that you were never saved to begin with according to God’s Word.

You really don’t see the seriousness of sin.  It put My Savior on the cross of Calvary for my sin.  There will be no one in hell for telling a lie or stealing.  If anyone goes to hell it will be because of the sin of unbelief.

Your children have to hear the truth before they can believe the truth.  So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Please give them a chance to hear God’s Word like you had.  If you and your wife don’t want to come to church, will you give your children  a chance by allowing them to come to master club and watch God work in their tender hearts.

Harry, I encourage you to do all the research on Jesus you can find and see if he is a liar, lunatic, or He is who He says He is.  Your whole family’s destiny depends on who Jesus is and what you do with Him.

I am here for you if you need me.  Remember God loves you.Thanks for taking time to read this.

Your Friend,

Pastor God’s Man

Those of you who have left the IFB church movement are quite familiar with the tactics and approach used by Harry’s pastor. This passive-aggressive approach is used any time an IFB church member thinks about leaving the church or has doubt about the teachings of the church and pastor.

The pastor appeals to their relationship, and even goes so far as to tell Harry he is still his friend. He reminds him that God loves him and that he, the pastor, is there for him if he needs him.  All well and good, right? If this is all the pastor had said, few of us would have found fault with his words. But, like the true IFB pastor he is…with the carrot comes a big stick.

The pastor tells Harry:

  • He is influenced by the Devil
  • He doubts his salvation
  • That God will chastise him IF he is a really is a Christian
  • Everyone in hell is there because of unbelief
  • He is ignorant, having failed to do all the research on Jesus (I thought the Bible was all we needed?)

And then he plays the children card. He appeals to Harry on the familial level. After all, their eternal destiny depends on them coming to this pastor’s church.  What he fails to realize and understand is that as a person raised in the IFB church, Harry would most certainly want to keep his children away from the pernicious IFB church and its teachings and practices. If he is breaking free, why would he want to expose his children to these things?

I hope this post illustrates for readers the challenges people face when they decide to walk away from the IFB church. By leaving they are cutting themselves off from everything they have ever known. This young family man is to be commended for being willing to walk away. It took great courage to do so. May there be many more just like him.

The Christian Music Business

david meeceI am sure someone will object to the title of this post and say, Christian music is not a business, it is a ministry, it’s ALL ABOUT J-E-S-U-S!  It’s a ministry when the musician is willing to go anywhere for a love offering. It is a business when they have contracts, riders,  and demand a certain amount of money. For the most part, the Christian music business stopped being about Jesus a long time ago.

Years ago, I contacted the booking agent for the contemporary Christian group FFH about holding a concert at our church. I had checked their calendar and noticed that they had a few off days and would be near our church in West Unity, so I thought I would see if they were willing to come and sing at our church.

Not a chance. The booking agent told me that they had a $5,000 minimum. I was astounded by this. I thought, if I promoted the concert right we would likely take in about $2,000. Surely this would be enough money for FFH, especially since it was on a weekday. The booking agent proceeded to lecture me on the Christian music business, about how groups like FFH only have a limited window of opportunity to make their money. He then asked me how would I like to preach for just a love offering. I then got to school him about how I had spent my entire life preaching with no monetary expectation in return.

All told, I preached for 33 years. Not one time did I say to a church or to someone who wanted me to hold a meeting, I must have X amount of dollars. I never said no, and I preached more than one meeting over the years where it cost me more to drive back and forth to the meeting than I received in the love offering. This was never a problem for me, and according to some of my friends and family, I SHOULD have made money more of an issue.

I asked the booking agent for FFH to take my request to the group. He told me that he would not do this. Why? Because, he said, they would likely say Yes! If I let them, they would sing for free.

Over the years, I booked many musicians to come sing  at the church I was pastoring at the time. As a result, I learned a lot about the “business” side of Christian music. I met a lot of wonderful people who were willing to come and sing for little more than a promise. As a small church pastor, I did my best to promote the concerts and the church usually supplemented the love offering to make sure the musician (s) were given a decent offering.

In the late 1990’s, I decided to use concerts as a way to promote the church. I thought if outside people attended a concert that they might be interested in our church and start attending. While the concerts did draw large crowds, not one person ever became a part of our church as a result of attending a concert.

sierraI put on a concert at Hilltop High School in West Unity, Ohio featuring the group contemporary Christian group Sierra. I decided to sell tickets for the event, advertised it heavily, and sold 400 tickets, at 8.00 a piece. Sierra charged us $4,000 plus expenses to come sing for us. All told, the church lost $2,000.00 on the concert.

Another time, I put on a Southern Gospel concert at Hilltop Middle School, featuring The Sojourners Quartet from Kentucky and a local group called The Overcomer’s. This concert was well attended by what I call the blue-hair crowd. They loved the concert so much that their love worked out to about $2.00 a head when the $400 love offering was counted. Again, the church lost a substantial amount of money. I quickly learned that elderly people were of the not a bad show for a buck’ giving mindset.

I pastored Grace Baptist Church, renamed  Our Father’s House, in West Unity for seven years. In addition to the above concerts, the following Christian groups came to our church to sing:

David Meece

Annie Herring (formerly of Second Chapter of Acts)

The Mast Brothers

The Toney Brothers

NIA

along with a handful of local groups.

The Mast Brothers, a southern gospel group, were the easiest to work with and Annie Herring, by far, was the hardest. When Herring came to our church, it was quite evident that she was put out at having to sing at such a small venue, even though there were more than a hundred people crowded into our little storefront church. David Meece? Eclectic, strange, and he borrowed a Bible of mine and permanently highlighted and underlined verses in it. He didn’t ask me if he could do this, and had he asked me I would have said no. As a result, I had to buy a new Bible.

I pastored Somerset Baptist Church in SE Ohio for 11 years. During this time, a number of southern gospel groups came to the church and sang. One group, The Songsmen Quartet, a local group from the Lancaster area, was a church favorite, holding at least one concert a year for many years. The group broke up (and may have later started up with different people) after two of the group members got friendly with each other and committed adultery.

robbie hinerMy favorite concert while at Somerset Baptist Church took place in the mid-1980’s when Robbie Hiner came to sing for us. At the time, Hiner worked for Jerry Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Hiner was a regular on Falwell’s nationwide TV program, The Old Time Gospel Hour.

Several hundred people from all over SE Ohio, came to hear Hiner sing. The building was packed. Hiner made no demands or requests, sat down at our old, beat up church piano, and just started singing. In between songs, he shared funny stories, and from start to finish, this was the best Christian concert I ever attended. After the concert, Hiner hopped into his car, I believe it was an old, high mile Mercedes, and drove on down the road.

There is a certain group of Christians I call diesel sniffers. These kind of people don’t support a local church, and they travel from church to church listening to their favorite  Christian singing groups. They throw a few dollars in the plate and walk out the door of the church blessed! They subscribe to the Singing News so they can find out when their favorite groups with be near where they live. These kind of people wouldn’t walk across the street to share their faith, but they would drive two hours to hear their favorite quartet sing.

There is a lot of fakery in the Christian music business. I suppose this inevitable due to the fact that they travel from church to church, venue to venue. They develop a routine, a shtick. Where they get into trouble is when their routine or shtick extends to their spirituality or their emotional responses. Years ago, I went with a church member to hear The McKamey’s sing.  There was one song where one of the female singers kicked off her shoes and had an emotional, supposedly spiritual, outburst. I thought, God just touched her heart. A week later, the church member and I heard The McKamey’s again at a huge gospel sing. Same song, and at the exact same point in the song, the female singer kicked off her shoes and had an emotional, supposedly spiritual, outburst. The woman wasn’t being “blessed.” Her display was rehearsed and meant to elicit an emotional response from the audience.  Reason? Stirred emotions lead to open wallets.  I saw this kind of rehearsed, fake, insincere, emotional manipulation countless times at southern gospel, contemporary Christian, and Christian rock concerts. They used the same tactics and manipulations that I did as a pastor. Sincere? Perhaps, but it is still emotional manipulation and it often results in people doing things they wouldn’t normally do, things like giving large sums of money, running the aisles. going to the altar, etc.

kingsmen quartet

Over the years, I talked to several people who were Christian music industry insiders. One man traveled for a time with The Kingsmen Quartet. He told me that I would be shocked if I knew what really went on behind the scenes at southern gospel concerts; from musicians getting liquored up before taking the stage, to Christian groupies willing to bed their favorite gospel singer. These concerts are so man-centered, hey look at me, I am singing for Jesus, that it should come as no surprise that people got caught up in all kinds of illicit behavior. In other words, they were human.

Late into my time as a pastor and as a Christian, I realized that Christian concerts were entertainment. As much as the musicians tried to sell me on their music being a ministry, I realized it was just religious oriented entertainment, no different from the Darius Rucker concert Polly and I attended last year. Once I came to this conclusion, I was free to just sit back and enjoy!

Someone is  going to ask who my favorite Christian groups were/are. Here is my Top Eleven List:

and Steve Camp before he turned into a first-rate, blowhard, asshole Calvinist.

This list, BTW, is a great way to view my path through Christianity, from fundamentalism to the questions and doubts of musicians like Derrick Webb. I still listen to Christian music from time to time. I don’t believe a word of it, but I do enjoy it, a relic from my past. Polly? Won’t touch the stuff…hates it! I usually wait until she is at work to play it.

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