IFB Pastor Bill Wininger Outed as Sexual Predator

bill wininger

An Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) mother tells the horrifying story of her daughter who was sexually abused by Bill Wininger, then pastor of North Sharon Baptist Church:

If you will bear with me, I’d like to tell you a story. It is a true story of a little girl with incredible blue eyes. The church her family attended voted in a new pastor the same year she was born. Her family was very excited about this new pastor, and the little girl became very fond of him as well. She was a delightful child—very smart and tender-hearted. At a young age she expressed an interest in the Gospel, and at her mother’s knee, prayed to give her heart to Jesus.

When she was still quite young, unbeknownst to anyone else,something very terrible started to happen. Her pastor, whom she loved and trusted, began to take advantage of her on numerous occasions, violating her little body in unspeakable ways. Because of her tender age, she did not understand this at all. Since her young mind was incapable of processing these terrifying events, the dark memories of these assaults became sealed in the deep recesses of her conscience. Though she did not speak of the things that had occurred, she carried an overwhelming heaviness in her little heart,a pain that she could not put into words…

The pastor moved away, and years later:

Finally she reached the point when she knew the only hope for her survival was to face what was at the bottom of her festering wounds—the truth of what had happened to her as a little girl. Very gradually her memories surfaced, and she bravely, though timidly, started to talk about them. As she recalled details of these life altering events, her mother soon recognized and remembered  specific opportunities for their occurrence.

Over time, as more details were remembered and shared, the pieces of the puzzle began to fit together and make sense.The courageous little girl, who for many years had been unable to tell, had finally found her voice. The silence had ended.This same little girl is now a beautiful young woman, our beloved daughter, Bethany.It didn’t take long for us to learn that there were other young ladies, as well as adult women, who had been victimized by the  same man. All their stories agree together and have a ring of  similarity. The truth is undeniable. The perpetrator, unfortunately,was Pastor Bill Wininger. The time frame was when he was our pastor at North Sharon Baptist Church from 1988 to 1995.

I wish I could say that this heartbreaking story is unusual but it is not. Just in the last two weeks alone, three women have emailed me about being sexually assaulted as a child or teenager by a deacon or the pastor of the IFB church they attended. Quite frankly, these kind of things are far too common and every bit as scandalous as the sex scandal of the Catholic church. (we should be grateful that, through the internet, women and men can now tell their story of sexual abuse at the hands of men of God)

kings way baptist church

In classic IFB fashion, Bill Wininger, now pastor of King’s Way Baptist Church, Douglas County, Georgia, has miraculously disappeared from the church’s  website and the website of their Christian School. Jeri Massi at the Blog on the Way writes:

All videos and sermons from him have been removed. The church, following the IFB practice of defiance against the Scripture, is maintaining a curtain of secrecy, even though Paul directly commands that elders who fall into sin are to be rebuked before the entire church. It is not to be a secret. And yes, the goal is to make miscreants afraid of abusing church office.

The good news is…thanks to the internet and those of us who refuse to allow these predators hide, we can hopefully keep them from molesting and harming other children and teens. More and more women and men are coming forward, willing to tell their story of sexual abuse. Telling their story takes great courage because I know the hell that the IFB church movement releases on those who dare tell their secrets.

This is not an issue of Christianity vs. atheism. This is about sexual predators hiding in plain sight in Christian churches. They abuse their way through the church and then move on to another church of prey. They are the lowest of low and they deserve every bit of scorn and ridicule they receive. They also deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. (many avoid prosecution for lack of evidence or the statute of limitations runs out. Public shaming is often the ONLY recourse)

Several days ago, a friend of mine told me about a recent service at former IFB pastor, now convicted felon, Jack Schaap’s church, First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. It was mentioned during the service that Schaap had led someone to Christ in prison! Praise Jesus. Soon his despicable acts will be forgotten, just like those of his brother-in-law David Hyles and his father-in-law Jack Hyles. In time, we will hear of souls being saved and the life of Jack Schaap being rehabilitated to the glory of God. As I mockingly told my friend, by the time Jack Schaap is out of prison, he will be pastoring the largest prison church in America.

Notes

Here is a link to a local news story on this issue.

You can read the mother’s entire letter via a link on Jerri Massi’s blog.

Someone from Sharon Baptist Church sent me the following:

Our current pastor did do something about what Bethany ________ told about Bill Wininger. He went to the Michigan police about it & reported it. The police are the ones who are not doing anything about it.  What would you have the current pastor say to the world about something that happened when he was not there, and didn’t know about until years later? Our church is not covering up for Bill Wininger. We were the ones who turned him in.

I replied to the question, what would you have us say to the world:

I would have them, on their website, say EXACTLY what you said here. Saying nothing is not an option.

All of the churches mentioned in this post are Independent Fundamentalist Baptist, King James Only, Separated, Soulwinning churches.

If I remember right, there were students from North Sharon Baptist Church when Polly and I attended Midwestern Baptist College in the mid-1970’s.

Ironically, Bill Wininger wrote a book while he was pastor of North Sharon Baptist Church

church falsely accused

Revival Fires, the ministry of Dennis Corle carries the book. Their website says this about the book:

In a country church two male workers are accused of committing horrible crimes against children while running Sunday school bus routes. What should they do? How should they react in the midst of a county-wide scandal? How does a pastor keep from seeing his ministry, at the least, paralyzed and, at the worst, destroyed? How does he deal with the accused and their accusers?

Pastor Bill Wininger tells the amazing story of a church which experienced just such a traumatic event and amazingly, survived the ordeal with minimal damage done to the church. A Church Falsely Accused is the astonishing story of the North Sharon Baptist Church, a country church whose commitment to Christ and to the lost in its community saw victory through a vicious scandal.

Comments (69)

  1. Paula

    Bruce, has your family confronted Wininger and let him know you know?

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      No I haven’t. Best I can tell, he is gone from the church he pastored in Georgia and is nowhere to be found. Lots of rumors in the air, many of which are probably incorrect. The problem with these kind of stories is that the churches and parties involved refuse (or can not due to legal advice) to speak to the issue. This is the way the IFB handles things. Say nothing and it will go away. This worked well before the internet and the digital age. I have no doubt that Jack Schaap would have gotten away with his crime if it had happened 30 years ago. What did Schaap in was a cell phone. (And hubris and arrogance)

      1. Bethany

        Bruce, thank you for speaking out! Thank you for adding your voice to our efforts!! My mom is the one who wrote that letter. We have started an open facebook group called “Justice for the Victims of Bill Wininger.” You can find current information and see what’s going on there. Here is the link:
        https://www.facebook.com/groups/580511802002329/

        (I am going to post this same comment under your other article, “Accusation is not proof,” to help others who may be searching find the group as well.)

        Thank you again! Every voice makes a difference.

        1. S

          I live up the street from this man and that church and not one time have I ever trusted him. He always approached me about becoming a member of his church and I ALWAYS told him no becuase something was not right about him. He wanted the KW bus to come pick up my kids and take them to chruch without me……um NO! And yes it is true he is no where to be found. He had a huge yard sale last Saturday basically selling everything they own however the bass boat is still sitting there along with his truck. Anyway, he is no where to be found and has not been seen since last Saturday. I am so thankful someone reached out because I just knew something was not right about him!

        2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          I left a comment and a link on Wininger’s book on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Church-Falsely-Accused-Bill-Wininger/dp/B0006PGG8E/ref=cm_rdp_product

          Someone left the following:

          I’m buying… People also need to know that this man is innocent until proven guilty! As of right now it’s her word against his… and these accusations are from over 20+ years ago..since then he has never been accused of anything like this, and he’s had numerous opportunities to do so.

          This is a classic case of denial, a restatement of the Jack Hyles mantra, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.

          Yes, in one sense, he is innocent until proven guilty. However, so far, the police have done nothing. Either because they can’t or they won’t. I know this can be frustrating. When my Mom killed herself years ago, there was evidence that supported the notion that her husband helped her kill herself, or might even have pulled the trigger himself. In this case, the police wanted to go forward with the case but the prosecutor refused to do so. My Mom tried to kill herself many times and it was hard to see beyond this to see that perhaps this is not what happened this time. My point is, just because a person is not prosecuted doesn’t mean they are innocent.

          It is his word against hers. Who ya gonna trust? The preacher, right?

          He has never been accused of anything since? So this makes what he did in the past OK? Does 20 years of not molesting children/teens outweigh the years that he did? There is this thinking that the good can outweigh the bad. With some things this is true. However, when it comes to molesting or taking advantage of children, it is a stain that can never be erased. Since I think this kind of behavior is rarely “cured” or stopped, if the person can not be prosecuted, then it is up to those who “know” to make sure the person does not get another opportunity to abuse. This is why making these kind of thing s public is very important. The beauty of the internet is that is makes it hard for abusing, molesting pastors to hide.

          Finally, how does this person KNOW he hasn’t done this at Kings Way? We now know that the infamous pedophile Dr. Bob Gray of Trinity Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida was a predator for most of his years in the ministry. He pastored one of the largest churches in America and was widely considered a Godly, spirit filled man. (it is too bad he died before he could be prosecuted) These predators hide in plain sight. Sadly, church members are quite trusting and naive. They are taught to think of the pastor as the man of God,a person worthy of their trust. This becomes fertile ground for predators to find victims. And when the danger of getting caught heats up, the pastor says God is calling him to a new church. (and most IFB pastors, whatever I might think of their theology, are decent, moral men)

          If Bethany, her mother, and the girls who have told their stories on Facebook are all lying, then they are going to great lengths to fabricate a story. I don’t believe this. They are using their own names, not trying to hide, and if they are lying this would open them up to all kinds of problems.

          If there is NOTHING to this story, why did Kings Way Baptist Church release the following to church members:

          I have been receiving a few inquiries regarding the allegations against our former Pastor, Bill Wininger. As most of you know, we have accepted Bro. Wininger’s resignation. Regardless of these events, the church and school leadership are committed to doing what is right and Godly.

          The allegations and charges that are surfacing on the internet today were events that occurred while Bill Wininger pastored in Michigan eighteen years ago. As administrator, I am not aware of any accusations, by students or minors, made against The King’s Way Baptist Church or any of the ministries.

          IFB preachers are known for being fighters. I have never known one to cut and run if they are falsely accused of something. Many won’t even cut and run if the accusations are true.It is not in their DNA to quit. In my almost 50 years experience with the IFB church, the Evangelical church,I have never seen a pastor resign over accusations that were false. I am sure it happens but I have never seen it.

      2. Keith

        He is supposedly in a mental hospital in Georgia somewhere….

      3. S

        I live up the street from this man and not one time have I ever trusted him. He always approached me about becoming a member of his church and I ALWAYS told him no becuase something was not right about him. He wanted the KW bus to come pick up my kids and take them to chruch without me……um NO! And yes it is true he is no where to be found. He had a huge yard sale last Saturday basically selling everything they own however the bass boat is still sitting there along with his truck. Anyway, he is no where to be found and has not been seen since last Saturday. I am so thankful someone reached out because I just knew something was not right about him!

      4. Honey B

        Why are they not bringing charges? I have family who attend there, they are all covering for him…so sad.

  2. Scott

    Years ago we had a teaching elder in a Reformed Presbyterian Church who was a sexual deviant. He eventually was found out when he started abusing his own grandchildren. The fellow elders took him to the civil magistrate and the man subsequently spent time in prison. I’m grateful for proper church discipline which is this case meant referring to the civil magistrate. (As an aside this man was a terrible legalist who forbade children playing with sports equipment on Sundays etc.)

    My hope is for this man in your story to be held accountable!

  3. Jerry kaifetz

    I asked Nelson Goucher from King’s way Baptist Church today what the church’s official statement on Winniger was, and his answer was, “You don’t need to know that.” Listen carefully and you will hear the familiar sounds of wagons circling . . . . again. Jerry K.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Sad. Thanks for sharing this Jerry.

  4. jeriwho

    Here is a second letter they sent out. As bland as they could make it:
    http://kwcsinfo.com/ASPOD/PDF/DrConwayUpdateLetter.pdf

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks for sharing this, Jeri. And…thank you for the kind words on your blog. You saying what you did meant a lot to me.

  5. Reliable Source

    FYI, the church has not covered anything up. They accepted his resignation, and have removed him from everything to do with the church. They have not hid anything from anyone and have announced to the entire church what is going on. In otherwords they announced what happened and that he was no longer the pastor to over 500 people.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks for commenting.

      This is a public, a very public, story. Why doesn’t the church put a statement on their website detailing what you have said here?

      Seems to be an open, straight forward thing to do that would go along way in answering the cover up charge.

      I have seen these kind of stories countless times. Many times church leaders aren’t even open and honest with the congregation. I don’t know of one that has made a complete, honest public statement. It is not in the IFB DNA to do so. They think they owe the public no explanation, yet they actively court the public in the hope that they will come to their church.

      Full disclosure is paramount.

    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      BTW, I will gladly give the Kings Way pastor, the North Sharon pastor, or any other official spokesman, the space to post a public statement. Since this site is the number one site on Google for a Bill Wininger search, it would be read by anyone searching his name.

    3. Frankie

      It would be interesting to know if they are still paying his salary. Or if they gave him a nice lump settlement.

    4. Honey B

      FYI he’s done damage to the faith and this is not the first scandal this church has endured. The simple plain truth is that they lied about the suicide attempts and said he had a breakdown…lol….wow he’s been lying for over 20 years…..guess he forgot to read his Bible…..

  6. truth be told

    The church or school will never come forward and admit any wrong doing. Everyone was brain washed by BW. Not only that but he threatened you that he was friends with all the judges and the sheriff and he was fully protected. I was a member for 6 years and unfortunately have first hand knowledge. Glad it’s finally out.

    1. Frankie

      Hmmmm I wonder if the judges and the sheriff are now proud of that friendship? Those that have daughters SHOULD want to see him prosecuted.

  7. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    Here is a link to a local news story on this issue. There are some additional details in the story. http://www.douglascountysentinel.com/news/local/article_97f6092e-4105-11e3-b7f2-001a4bcf6878.html

  8. jeriwho

    Numerous people on the TOPIX forum are ssying they have kids in the school, but they have not been told anything. We also have Jerry Kaifetz’s claim that when he asked about the matter, he was denied any information. The church also had an obligation to remove Wininger from church office and apply church discipline, which it has failed (and continues to fail) to do. There is nothing right or Biblical about letting a pastor resign and walk away from allegations of sexual abuse and adultery.

  9. Jason

    Wow. I haven’t heard this much wining in a long time. It’s sad when Christians contribute to the pussifacation of America. I would be ashamed if this is how I had to get 15 mins of fame. When I first saw this I thought this was a joke but then I realized you people are serious. There are consequences that come with attacking a man called by God. Everyone who is pointing a finger needs to realize that no person is blameless. I have not seen one bit of proof that proves any of these theories. My advice… Shut up and worry about your own life and let ALMIGHTY GOD worry about everyone else.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Jason,

      Think of what you are saying here. No one is perfect so how dare we hold a man accountable for molesting children. Is this really want you want to say? Does the fact we all do bad things mean that no one can be held accountable for their behavior? If it was your daughter or someone you personally know, I suspect it would be different.

      I am an atheist. Threatening me with God, judgment, etc has exactly zero effect. As such, I am not willing to let “god” deal with Wininger. He did what he did in this life and should be held accountable in this life.

    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I would also note that the use of the word pussification is quite derogatory to women if you are speaking to men. If you were talking to women, telling a woman she is a pussy seems kind of redundant.

  10. Cassandra

    I would love to hear what Nelson Goucher has to say about this. I have a feeling that he holds a great wealth of information since he is Winniger’s ‘man secretary’. Of course it is also ironic that it is well known in our circle that Nelsons former wife was one of the women that Winniger was seeing regularly in his office. Winniger was caught with her in his office with her shirt undone before he even left Michigan. But yet, Nelson and his wife followed Winniger to Georgia when he left. So sad that Winniger was so demeaning and belittling to Goucher. Why does Goucher continue to defend this man?

  11. Jason

    Bruce,
    The definition of pussifacation is the state in which a society becomes less and less tough. As a whole men and women in America are becoming this way. For example I recently read about a man who’s daughter was allegedly molested. 20 years later he decides to say something about it. To me this man has no backbone whatsoever and has joined many others in the realms of weak and pathetic. Maybe you should talk to ________. She has shown more backbone in here by standing up for herself and the people she loves. My father taught me to be a man. You asked me what if this happened to your daughter. Let me explain that it would never happen to my daughter simply because child molesters target weak people. This is how they get away with what they do. There would be no getting away with anything should this happen to my daughter and justice would not begin 20 years later. IF any of your accusations hold any truth which I doubt considerably then you should get real life smoking gun evidenced and prosecute. Obviously you dont have this or you wouldnt be wasting time here.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      This isn’t about toughness. This is about your personal opinion about some people you evidently personally know. How about adding something constructive to the discussion.

      You suggest there is no evidence? What world are you living in? You have Bethany Leonard’s letter. You have the accusations made by several others, by name, on the Facebook page. You have the fact he resigned, left, and supposedly tried to commit suicide. What do you want, a photograph or a video?

      Look, I highly doubt Wininger will be prosecuted. Does this mean he is not guilty? Of course not. Over the last six years I have heard from more than a few people who were abused by a pastor or church leader. They live in shame and the abuser keeps doing what he does. At least for Wininger, this will not happen. He may never go to jail but it is unlikely he will pastor again. And if some IFB church decides to ignore everything, they will have no excuse when he does the same thing again. (And most abusers don’t quit once they start)

    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I would add that you are naive if you think that child molesters are necessarily physically weak. Ask the people of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL if their child molesting pastor, Bob Gray, was a weak man. He was a likely abusing women and children for most of his 50 years in the ministry.

  12. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    Here is an Atlanta news story on Bill Wininger. There is a short quote from the church in the story. http://www.11alive.com/news/article/311710/3/Douglasville-pastor-quits-after-child-molestation-allegations-surface

  13. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    A note to commenters. Please keep your comments to the story itself, the churches involved, and the IFB church movement. I don’t want to see the discussion turn into a flame war between people who are hurting, angry, and evidently know each other. Any further comments that name people outside of the church leadership (i.e. Gaucher), Wininger, or the victims who have already used their name, will have the personal names removed. This post is about, in this order, the victims of sexual abuse, Bill Wininger, what Kings Ways and North Sharon did or did not do, what the police/prosecutor did or did not do, and the IFB church movement in general.

    If you have any questions about what I have said here, please use the contact form to contact me.

    Thanks.

    Bruce Gerencser

  14. Jason

    The world I live in is one of reality. Bethany Leonard could have fabricated this story of child molestation just as easily as I could fabricate a story about you molesting children. Doesn’t mean you did it. Just means I have the ability and imagination to do so. I am not nieve enough to dismiss this as a possibility. Bethanys letter holds no grounds for evidence. Neither do these so called facts that you have listed. Any idiot can post on Facebook. The only thing you said that was true is that BW resigned. Pastors resign every day in churches of all kinds all across America. I didnt say child molesters are physically weak. I said they target the weak meaning weak families who will not say or do anything. It was my impression that this thread was about BW not other churches that have had a scandle. The way you are deflecting what I am saying tells me shows your lack of confidence in your own words. It is obvious that your goal is to use this to destroy a ministry not a man. The ministry of Kings Way does not rely on one person. It is the faith and actions of the entire congregation and all those that support it and their belief in God that makes this ministry strong. Kicking this ministry while it is down will only make it rise up stronger!

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yes, all these things could be true, but it is likely that they are not. Ask yourself, WHY would grown women, using their real names, make a public accusation like this? To do so and it not have some factual basis would be personal cultural suicide.

      You are more concerned about Kings Way than you are the women who were molested. You fail to understand how IFB churches cover up these things and how IFB pastors, because they are accountable to no one, often get by with these kind of things for years. I think the IFB church movement is manipulative, controlling, and damaging mentally and emotionally. (pity the poor, weak people you so despise, right) If every IFB church closed its doors it would be a great day.

      I stand by my words, Jason. A year from now, I wonder, will your words here look quite foolish? We shall see. One thing you need to understand about me. I will always stand with the victims. Always. I believe them, even when no one else will. I have seen too much and I have read countless emails from people whose lives were ruined by IFB pastors and churches. It is for these people this blog exists and they give me the strength necessary to get up every day and write. (and I know you nothing about me since you have only read this post and one other on this blog) The IFB church movement has done great harm to many people. Even to those who are still drinking the IFB kool-aid. They can’t see it, of course but it shows in how they react when the IFB church, their church, or their pastor is questioned, accused, or criticized. There is a huge, wonderful, exciting, FREE world outside of the IFB church, Jason. I hope some day you will see this.

      I have said all I can say here. I appreciate you commenting and I wish you well.

      Bruce

  15. Cassandra

    Jason, you are obviously still a member of an IFB church o some type an my assumption is it is KWB or FBC of Hammond. I believe 100% that the allegations made against Winniger are true. I grew up at North Sharon and only 3 years older than Bethany. The other girls that were victims of Winniger are all close personal friends of mine. It is by the grace of God that I was not a victim of Winnigers. Growing up in the youth group at North Sharon I always knew what Winniger had done to the girls. But as a young girl of 13 years old I had no voice, no power and no influence!
    You are deluding yourself if you think that your children could never become a victim of abuse. The IFB churches breed the children for abuse by telling them to never question authority, and that the Man of God is above reproach. You are probably breeding and grooming your own children to be victims of abuse mentally and physically! Until you break through the IFB you do not have a clear perspective on what is really taking place in the church, how scriptures are twisted to fit a mans agenda, how a pastor could even convince women in the church that an extra-marital affair with the pastor could be permissive. In the IFB you utter a word against the ‘man of God’ YOU are the one that is wrong, not the one that is committing the crime!
    This is not about destroying a ministry or a man! You are naive to think that! This is only about protecting innocent women and girls against the wicked spiritual abuse that this man is capable of. This outcry by these women is to bring awareness to other women that are suffering silently in IFB churches everywhere! It is about bringing a voice to a child that suffered for so many years in silence! Its heart breaking that religion and the cause of Christ is going to be tarnished by this mans disgusting actions!
    Jason, breaking out of the IFB church can be a very freeing feeling. And you will probably find a closer more intimate relationship with Christ if you take the time to find out who Christ really is instead of who the IFB tells you that he is! Who knows you may even lose your delusional ideas about young women “fabricating stories in order to bring down a ‘man of God’ or a ministry!!!
    Cassandra Ackley

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks, Cassandra. Spot on.

  16. Jason

    Actually I am not in the ifb. I know this crushes your idea of how narrow minded I must be. However I do not see the point of targeting them out specifically or even more so targeting a single church which seems to be what is happening here. Cassandra the point is that without physical evidence of child molestation BW is innocent of this accusation. Without physical evidence of rape BW is innocent of this accusation as well which means that IF another woman was involved it was consensual.
    Bruce how else would a woman excuse a relationship with a married man but pawn it off as “molestation”? In this day and age nothing is personal cultural suicide. You give me the evidence that supports these accusations and I will have concern for these alleged victims. Until then I will support innocence until proven guilty by a court of law. I will not take your moth to the flame approach just because someone made an accusation. Didn’t you say “After all, the lies told about a person always make for better news than the truth”? Sounds to me like you have your own koolaid for people to drink. I stand by my words. A year from now they will not be foolish nor will they 10 years from now. You dont want to hear what I have to say because you cant combat it. You deflect everything like you have no idea what to say. Its obvious that you have no idea what to do about my voice so you dismiss me. Sorry to ruin your pity party but there are 2 sides to every story. Here is a thought for you. Instead of blasting away at a man or a church or an entire religion why not open a thread that actually helps people who are truly victims? If your intentions are pure it would not matter what religion or church or person it happened with. Not all victims are from a church or a specific religion. You may even sound like you really care about them instead of sounding like a bitter ex-church member who is using this to harp on the ifb.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Jason,

      I hope some of the women who read this blog will “share” with you how your comment sounds.

      You said:

      ” how else would a woman excuse a relationship with a married man but pawn it off as “molestation”? In this day and age nothing is personal cultural suicide.”

      and

      “the point is that without physical evidence of child molestation BW is innocent of this accusation. Without physical evidence of rape BW is innocent of this accusation as well which means that IF another woman was involved it was consensual”

      The fact that you are defending a church movement you are not a part if and evidently don’t know enough about to speak intelligently or authoritatively, is beyond words, Jason. Perhaps you should stop typing and do some research. Take a hard look at the IFB church movement institutionally. Take a close look at where Bill Wininger got his training. Seek and you shall find.

      No, there is not two-sides to every story. There is the truth.

      Do you think I give a shit whether you think my motives are pure? You are an apologist for an abusive, controlling, manipulative church movement that has harmed thousands of people. Again, stop typing and do your homework.

      I have been blogging for six years. I have had the privilege of helping numerous men and women get out of the IFB church. Their emails are heartbreaking, well heartbreaking except to people like you who think they were weak, were asking for it, lied, etc.

      I told myself I wouldn’t respond to you again but your bullshit comment deserved a response. Again, you may hear from some of the women who read this blog. I guarantee you, to them, and to every decent person religious or not, your comments are quite offensive.

      Bruce

      BTW, I haven’t been a part of the IFB church since the late 1980′s. I was an Evangelical pastor for 25 years.

  17. Jason

    Once again you deflect. Six years of blogging and this is the best you can do? You have tried to force your own opinion down peoples throat. You are the exact same thing that you hate just from a different side. Your mad at me because I have exposed you in your own blog. Why would anyone get upset at what I have said when you said earlier that “calling a woman a pussy is redundant”? How is this not offensive? Does being an atheist also excuse you from implying that women are nothing more than an object for sex? The exact thing that you condemn BW for doing yet you want these women to come to your rescue and back you up. The fact that you now have to attack my intelligence shows everyone here how foolish you really are. I have just as much right to defend the ifb as you do to attack it. Maybe you should be the one to stop typing.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I will leave it to women readers, if they are inclined, to explain to you why using the term pussy, pussification is derogatory, demeaning, and suggests that women are weak and that men who “act” like women, whatever the hell that might mean, are weak. Your comment betrays a typical Fundamentalist mindset about women and men.

      The reason I know this is so is because I had a women take the time to school me about my use of the word pussy in reference to weakness. Once I understood this, I quit using the word.

      Jason, I am not forcing you or anyone else to do anything. You are free to read or not read. No one is forced to read this blog or accept my opinions, beliefs, ideas,etc. That said, when it comes to sexual abuse and abuse in general in the IFB church I know what I am talking about. If you don’t want to accept that, that is fine. I can only hope that someday you will understand what it is I have written about in this post and other posts on this blog.

      Do you really think I am doing “exact thing that you condemn BW for doing?” Really?

      I am not trying to attack your intelligence but I am trying to educate you so you aren’t ignorant about the IFB church movement and the pervasive, pernicious abuse that is found in the movement. Again, you can accept what I say or not.

      I did turn your first three comments into a post. I think your comments are instructive, so from that perspective I appreciate you commenting.

      I am not the enemy here, Jason. I wish you had as much outrage for Bethany Leonard and the other abuse victims as you do for the IFB church movement, Kings Way Baptist Church, and Bill Wininger.

      I sincerely wish you well.

      Bruce Gerencser

    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)
  18. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    I noticed today that the comment page for the Kings Way Baptist Church has been deleted.

  19. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    Here is a link to Bethany Leonard’s story in her own words.

    http://www.11alive.com/assetpool/documents/131031101744_BethanyFoellerLeonardLetter.pdf

  20. Cassandra

    Jason (Goucher, IFB supporter and WInniger lover) whoever you are, it is pretty evident that you are a part of an IFB! I too have 27 years an an IFBer and I can sniff one out! You are talking in circles and not bringing any new information to the discussion, so I think it is time for you to bow out before you get completely ripped to shreds by the angry educated women on here!
    You say that Winniger is innocent until he is proven guilty, the part you are forgetting is “IN A COURT OF LAW”! This is not a court of law here. This is a personal blog, peoples opinions. Something you need to remember. I am not sure what type of proof you are looking for.
    There are new stories of abuse by this man surfacing almost daily. The proof is in the little subtleties of each story that are not being published for everyone to know. The little facts that are being kept private for the court room and the imminent criminal trial that will come. In the mean time it is unethical to just sit back and allow this womanizer and pervert to continue to have opportunities to use his spiritual and sexual abuse against people, just because there is no hard physical evidence!
    And to respond to your pussification comment, surely you meant the pussification of men that are under the ministry of Winniger and not the country as a whole, right! Every time I have ever heard the term pussification it was in relation to how a man becomes “pussy whipped” by his woman or his bitch! Which in this case we could use Winniger as the one doing the pussification to the men in his church. Obviously that is what he must have done to his own personal man secretary, Goucher. Winniger had an affair with Gouchers wife, yet Goucher stayed on as his own pussified man slave. We can further use that for all of the men in authority under Winniger that are afraid of him. The ones that have been told of his infidelities and did nothing. Bethany’s story has been out for almost 2 years now. Why did it take the deacons and authorities of the church so long to confront him? Pussification maybe? A bunch of pussy whipped men that are afraid of him? Quite possibly!
    Go ahead and keep on defending your womanizing, self destructing pastor. Lets see where it gets you. You will probably be the first one to be questioned by authorities for your staunch defense of this man. As for me, I have made a conscious decision to question authority when they are criminally and scripturally wrong, to think for myself, to educate myself on doctrine and not just follow blindly behind the all powerful wizard thats hiding behind a curtain!

  21. Jason

    I am not Mr Goucher. My real name is Jason. I am not hiding behind a fake name in here. Cassandra your sniffer is obviously broken as is your sense of reason. This so called “proof” you described is nothing more than allegations that have no ground. To put any stock in them would be unwise. Is BW a child molestor? No. Is he a rapist? No. There is nothing concrete that has proven otherwise. This is how it has always been in America. Another cool thing about America is that we have the freedom to chose what church we want to attend. If you don’t like the way a church is ran then don’t attend there. If you feel like it goes against the Bible don’t become a member. If you are a member and it changes for the worst simply leave. Every church is not for every person. I do not attend church for a man. I attend church for my own spiritual gain and growth in Christ. If, and I mean if, this actually did happen to Bethany then I have a few unanswered questions. Why did it not come out sooner than it did? Was her father so spineless that he didn’t care about her enough to take a stand and do something about it? Why would her mother sit back and watch her father do nothing? Why did it take 20 years for anything to be said outside of her family and friends? The most likely truth is because it didn’t happen. I would hope her father is more of a man than that . Cassandra I meant pussifacation the exact way I explained it. You can twist my words all you want to but that doesn’t change the meaning of them. Until you stop playing judge, jury, and executioner I will be forced to wait for those angry educated women you said would rip me to shreds. Sad… I had such high hopes for you.

  22. truth be told

    Our system will never work and women will always be raped, molested, and abused because of men like like Jason, BW, Goucher and other IFB.This has all been a waste of time. He will get away with all the harm he has caused

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      For many victims of abuse, the only remedy they have is the court of public opinion. Sadly, many prosecutors think like Jason and refuse or can’t pursue a case because they don’t think there is sufficient evidence. The hope is that if there are more victims that come forward, the prosecutor will be forced to prosecute.

      When I decided to write on this subject I knew none of the parties involved. It was a public story, the type I write about from time to time. For me, it is all about advocacy for the victims. Bill Wininger may never be prosecuted, but, by publicizing this, Wininger will not be able to pastor again and the victims will at least know there are people who believe them.

      The infuriating thing about the IFB is that there might be a church somewhere that might give Wininger a chance to pastor again or work in the church in some capacity. There is this perverse belief that people who do these kind of things can be restored. So, a crack using man who had sex with gay prostitutes can sit out a year or two and then be restored. (Ted Haggard) Jack Schaap is in prison for his sexual relationship with an underage girl, yet we now here reports of him winning souls in prison. Recently, David Hyles, a serial adulterer and a predator crawled out from under the rock he was under and showed up at Bob Gray’s church in Texas. He was given a warm welcome.

      What do Wininger , Schaap,Bob Gray, and David Hyles have in common? Jack Hyles and Hyles Anderson College. Coincidence? I think not.

      Don’t lose hope. By exposing these things, by talking about them, we are making a difference.

  23. Kathy

    1. IFB are not the only ones with some really rotten apples. Other businesses, schools, etc. also quietly dismiss and move along bad apples sometimes. Hopefully the internet can make that harder without viciously hurting innocent people.
    2. Not all IFB fit the description of mindless robots who think their pastor is god, jr. Some of us do think for ourselves.
    3. Most of us want to give the benefit of the doubt to our pastors, our assistant pastors, our church members, our next-door neighbors, the kid at the grocery store, etc. Get the point?
    4. Many IFB pastors are truly reputable men who have earned our respect. Don’t throw them out with the trash.
    4. The problem abused women and children have in letting someone know about the abuse is not limited to IFB circles. It’s a dilemma for all victims.
    5. IFB churches who go through this are like families trying to maintain equilibrium in the midst of a crisis. Cut them some slack!

    FYI–I, too, want to see BW brought to justice.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I hear you, but. The problem with abuse is not an isolated one. The primary reason it happens in the IFB church is because there is no institutional control. Every pastor is a free agent and every church is independent. (Evangelicals and Southern Baptists have the same problem)

      Baptists believe in local church autonomy. This is fine until there is a Bill Wininger, Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, Bob Gray, and the list is endless, problem. There is no denomination so there is no authority to appeal to. The pastor is fired, the church moves on. Remember, Bethany Leonard’s allegations have been known for some time. It wasn’t until a couple of bloggers made a point to publicize this that anything was done. Then the news got wind of it and now everyone knows.

      I know you might not want to hear this…but the IFB church movement is notorious for covering things up, for pretending things didn’t happen. I am no mere outsider. I spent almost 40 years in the IFB church. (Tim LaHaye was my first pastor) I pastored IFB churches for years, went to an IFB college, and married an IFB pastor’s daughter. We have a number of family members who are in the IFB, some as pastors, missionaries, and evangelists, people who are well known in the IFB church movement.

      I have made it clear that I have little use for the IFB church movement. Generally, I think their theology, literalism, and ecclesiology leads to emotional and mental abuse. It also leads, at times, to physical and sexual abuse. ( some of the people who read this blog were sent off to Mack Ford, Lester Roloff, Williams’s group homes where they were viciously misused and abused)

      I have made clear that I think the Jack Hyles/Hyles Anderson stream of the IFB church movement is the worst of the worst. Bill Wininger came from this stream. Jack Schaap came from this stream. It will be interesting to see where Kings Way goes to get their next pastor. Their choice will say a lot about how seriously they take the abuse claims.

      Having said all this, I also know that there are many good, decent people in the IFB church.

      I have been blogging for six years. With very few exceptions, the nastiest, most hateful comments and emails I have received come from IFB church members, pastors, and pastor’s wives. Not one time has someone from the IFB come to my defense. It has always been non-IFB Christians who have pushed back against the nastiness. Again, this is a reminder that the IFB church movement does a poor job policing itself. (And I realize it is not easy to publicly stand up against internet bullies)

      I know there is a problem with abuse in other sects. However, my focus is on the IFB and the Evangelical church. I can’t be all things to all men so I try to focus on what I know.

      I do appreciate your comment.

      Bruce

  24. Just a Nobody

    I feel like I ought to comment. I am a HAC graduate and also was a member at KW years ago. I am sorry for whatever you experienced that motivated you to turn away from church and God. I am embarrassed about our IFB churches that have been reeling for years because of foolish, misguided loyalty to men who can never handle and were never intended to be able handle worship and absolute power. The pastor is supposed to be a shepherd, not a dictator. He is supposed to set the example in serving his people, not controlling and exploiting them for his own benefit and gratification of his sensual desires.

    I do want those who are guilty to be brought to justice, at least to give some closure to those unfortunate people who have been hurt. I left KW because of what I saw in the leadership there. I, after some time, have found a good IFB church to attend.

    I would like to help the hurting. No one from HAC were taught to be a dictator, to be an adulterer, or a child-molester. Man’s personal self-will and unbridled passions brought that on.

    Sir, I wish to thank you for rising up in defense of the hurting. We, as IFB church members, would do well to defend them, instead of expending our energies on covering up predators. I want you to know that God has not turned His back on you, and He will always love you.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thank you for commenting.

      My rejection of Christianity had little to do with what I did or did not experience. I left Christianity because I came to see that the Bible was not an inspired, infallible, inerrant text. It is a fallible book written by men. I do not think that Jesus was God or supernatural in any way. He was a man, he lived, he died, end of story. So, I left Christianity because I no longer believed.

      While I would agree that preachers are not taught to be abusers or molesters, they are however, in many IFB colleges taught to be dictators. I heard Jack Hyles many times at conferences and I heard most every big name preacher in chapel or at conferences. They most certainly, by their stories, preaching, and personal actions taught men to be authoritarian, controlling, dictatorial men of God. Young preachers sat at the feet of Jack Hyles and listened as he regaled them with stories of his absolute power at First Baptist. Result? Impressionable young men followed in his steps. This methodology is repeated over and over and this is why there are so many authoritarian IFB pastors today. They are not the exception they are the rule. (And the reasons are many)

  25. jeriwho

    Jason wrote that he is not in the IFB/a Fundamentalist. My bet is that yes he is. Over the years of documenting and commenting on cases, I have often seen people write in to comment, assuring readers they were not a part of this, but then it came out that they were Fundamentalist trolls.. Sorry to say, Christian Fundamentalists lie with remarkable ease and frequency.

    Next, one reader writes that problems of sexual abuse and misconduct happen across the board, so the IFB should not be singled out.Well, if that’s true, then why go to your church? Why adopt the IFB severe “standards”? If your church cannot be any different from the golf club or the bowling league in terms of sexual purity and moral uprightness, what are you really offering to the world? The claim of IFB churches is that their system is a system of personal holiness, and yet if your IFB church or the IFB movement as a whole is just as corrupt as any other corporate entity, then your system of personal holiness is a farce. And it is a farce.

    I feel pain for Bruce that he found nothing in Christianity. But I have reached a different conclusion. I believe in Jesus Christ. And I have seen His saints overcome the most horrible abuses I’ve ever heard of. Jesus Christ raises His people from the dead and conquers their sin and the effects of sin against them. If your IFB church has missed that, your church has missed Jesus Christ. Where depraved sin occurs, we are simply seeing normal life, but where depraved sin is fostered and protected and defended and excused, we are seeing depraved sin in control. And that is the plight of Christian Fundamentalism.

  26. Jason

    Jeriwho I am not in the ifb so dont place any money on that bet. My church is far from a golf club or bowling league. It is not a social club either. It does not promote or agree with immorality. My pastor has several times said that if he says something that does not line up with the Bible to please correct him. We are not an ifb church. We are a Bible believing church. I have not adopted any standards. Believe it or not I can think and pray on my own and allow God to show me what standards to have in my own life. I said that I dont see the point in only targeting the ifb. Of course its corrupt. So is your church and my church and every other church because they are full of people and as we know people are sinners and sin corrupts. Only targeting the ifb is a very hypocritical way of thinking. Also if you really think that Christ takes the effects or consequences of sin away from his people then you are wrong. Look in the Bible. Was King David spared from his sin of adultery with Bathsheba? Absolutely not. He was Gods anointed and the Bible calls him a man after Gods own heart yet his child died as a consequence of his sin. However Christ died for our sins and by accepting him we can be saved and have eternal life with him. If your church missed that then your church Missed Jesus Christ.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You seem to not be able to understand than no one is targeting the IFB. No blog can be all things to all people.If you have bothered to attempt to understand my background or Jeri’s background, you would understand that it is the IFB and Evangelicalism that we are most familiar with and that is why we write about it. There are plenty of sites that address abuse in other institutional systems and sects. THIS site focuses on Evangelicalism, of which the IFB is a subset.

      BTW, Jeri Massi is a devout Christian and I believe she is a member of a Presbyterian church.

    2. jeriwho

      But what I do not understand, is if you are not IFB, why are you getting so upset when I am discussing the IFB? Why defend your church to me, if your church is not IFB, and I was talking about the IFB?

      Since my discussion is about the IFB, why are you dragging your allegedly non-IFB church into the discussion, and then assuring me how good it is? I was talking about the IFB churches. So if your church is not IFB, don’t worry about it!

  27. jeriwho

    And by the way, I document Christian Fundamentalism, which includes the IFB but also the FPC and BPC. Because FPC and BPC are Calvinist their cultures are slightly different than that of IFB churches. Not as ignorant of the Bible, for one thing. But both are also weighed down with legalism. And the FPC has certainly had its share of child molesting cases. The FPC is a whole lot more skillful in cover ups than the IFB.

  28. Jason

    Bruce did you really just say you were not targeting the ifb? What exactly do you think you have been doing? Did the definition of targeting change in the last day? You said the ifb are liers yet you have just told a big one right there! You have several blogs against the ifb. That makes them your target. You said I dont try to make an attempt to understanding your background. Why would I try to understand something about you that you dont understand yourself? Years and years of Bible college and being a pastor just to turn your back on it all and become an atheist. Its obvious that you have no idea which way is up so you become a religious bigot and show how foolishly ignorant you have become.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I am saying you fail to understand the purpose of this blog. I am saying that if you take the sum of my work that the IFB is a small part of that work. But, you don’t know this because you have not read anything else I have written besides a couple of recent posts. Remember, I have the server logs so I know exactly what you click on)

      And I am saying if you have something to contribute to the discussion, please do so. If not, this is the last comment of yours I will approve.

    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      BTW,I hope you will think for a moment about how offensive it is to tell someone they don’t understand their own story. Disagree with my conclusions? Fine. But, you don’t get to control the storyline or determine what I did or did not believe. I have spent years dealing with people like you, so please forgive my lack of tolerance for people who turn being an asshole into a fine art. I have indulged you like a petulant child and I don’t intend to do it any longer.

  29. Jason

    Comment deleted

  30. Jason

    Commented deleted.

    When you figure out how to write a comment that actually engages what I have written I will approve it. Until then, delete.

  31. Sick of Hyles

    This is an interesting forum. I saw all this coming 34 years ago when God opened my eyes to what was going on in the IFB. I first heard Hyles speak in 1973. I knew then he was a phony. He was a powerful man, using the weakest part of man, the desire to know God, to control and manipulate. At one time every largest church in every state was IFB. But, departing from the movement’s founders, Lee Roberson and John Rice, people were drawn to the ome, two three, no-repentance salvation of Hyles, “hhhmmmppphhh, well, ah” (laughter). Hyles, the world’s richest comedian, is no more.
    And ole Jack ( did I say Nick?) sent out his little mindless robots into the world to replicate his show and “win souls”. Millions of them. But, where are they?
    Problem is, you cannot become Godly by saying words. The brain accepts it but the spirit is still dead as a hammer. All these “dead” “soul-winners” created more and more like themselves. All predicated on the virtually worship of “God’s man”. BW omce told me that he would fight a man who taught repentance. But, he wouldn’t fight me. He did fight the Author of repentance, and, unfortunately, lost.
    Dead men, in religious garb, with unquestiomed authority, going about satisfying the lusts of the flesh. You perverts have dome more to destroy Biblical Christianity than the devil could ever do.
    Bruce, I am still a believer. But I have lost all confidence in men.

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thank you for commenting.

      While you are most certainly right about the repentance issue, I am not willing to give Rice, Roberson, and others a pass. They continued to speak at conferences with Hyles and had him speak at Sword Conferences. Rice knew what Hyles believed, yet the Sword of The Lord had Curtis Hutson, who believed the same as Hyles, succeed Rice as the head of the Sword of The Lord.

  32. Sick of Hyles

    Hey, nobody. I still love you. I hope you can see through this fog what caused it. “Pastoral Authority”. It is not a doctrine. The word pastor is mentioned only once in the New Testament, but these “fundies” ran wild with it. What the NT church did have was shared leadership among ordained elders. It was never intended to be run by power hungry, unaccountable men who, because of their unaccountability, have made Christianity a laughing stock to the world.

  33. Sick of Hyles

    One more thing. While I have no comfidence in nor respect for anything tainted by Jack Hyles, i do not mean to pass blanket judgement on everyone who came from that movement. “Nobody” is one of the very best men I know. Unfortunately, there are not many like him. Most are not of his intelligence and spiritual stature.

  34. Sick of Hyles

    I did not say Rice and Roberson were blameless. They were not. They allowed these radical zealots to take over their movement and the Southwide Baptist Fellowship, which hosted Hyles numerous times. Hutson, like most of these new fundamentalist leaders was naive and ignorant like Hyles. Ironically, few of these “doctors” were barely literate, having little or no real formal education. And, ignorance breeds ignorance. Wininger is just plain dumb. There was a time when theologians were truly educated, but the fundamental movement bypassed that. While they claimed to be enlightened by the Spirit, they were the most flesh-driven men in church history.

  35. Cassandra

    I think that sexual abuse is completely different within the IFB than outside the IFB. The spiritual abuse is what allows a pastor to continue to molest a young girl time and time again without her telling anyone. The spiritual abuse is what keeps a little girl silent for 20 years! It is what makes women feel as though they have to allow their pastor, the Man Of God, to pleasure himself at the expense of their dignity! People are brainwashed, mostly women into thinking that their worth is so much less than that of a mans. I’ve heard pastors call women heiffers from the pulpit. Ive heard pastors tell women that if they do not support their husband 100% in whatever he does they are a Jezebel! I know a woman who told her husband that BW was doing inappropriate things with her and her husband told her she was lying!

    I grew up in the IFB. The goal for child rearing is to break a childs will, to teach a child to submit without question to authority! The pastor is set so high up on a pedestal that people think he is the divine authority on all things. That’s a problem! Yes, sexual abuse happens in other places,but the IFB grooms children and women to be abused. Bruce is absolutely right. Some major doctrinal changes need to happen in order to erdicate this sickness from the IFB, just getting rid of a few perverts here and there isn’t going to change anything!

  36. Sick of Hyles

    Cassandra, You are right! I was educated at Tennesse Temple, along with a couple of small colleges, in the early seventies. I was exposed to Hylesism, but was never sucked in by it. I guess I knew my Bible better than that. I came out of a good Southern Baptist church that moved toward liberalism, ousting their fundamental-leaning pastor.

    Please don’t blame all of the old IFB movement. All the blame rests on Jack Hyles. He is the one who, through his backwoods Texas charm and charisma, hijacked the movement and influenced good men to follow him through intimidation in his pastor school and conferences. His school turned out thousands of little men who wanted to be just like daddy Jack.

    It was upon my heart that God gave the vision to start King’s Way. My friend and business partner shared my vision. We contacted a few godly folks and soon we were meeting in homes. God sent us Garvin Dykes and it was under his leadership that we walked the land one Saturday afternoon and claimed it for the Lord. The school started a year later. In 1974 I was the first preacher to be ordained in what is now the old school building.

    I am looking at my ordaination certificate on the wall with the names of those dear men who laid the foundation. It didn’t last long. When the Hyles fundamentalists ousted Garvin and called Mike Johns, it all went downhill. They got what they wanted. It led to Cowling and, finally, Winninger.

    Hyles a womanizing monster, Schaap was an idiot and people loke Wininger are the result of hidden and harbored sin.

    I am close to the frustration level of Bruce. The church simply not work without going back to the true Elder-led, accountability-centered congregational government of the early church. Please note that the word “pastor” is mentioned only once in the NT but “elders” is mentioned seventeen times. Elders are spiritual, older churxh leaders. Deacons are not Elders, but theirs and the churches servants to handle the non-sporitual needs of the congregation.

    The current mess goes all the way back to Catholicism with its priest-king.

  37. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    Due to the content of some of the comments on this post, some of the comments have been deleted and commenting on this post has been closed. I will not let any commenter turn the comment section into a venue for shaming or attacking abuse victims. I also felt it best to not allow the comment section to be turned into a battle between KWBC members, ex-members, family members, etc.

    Bruce Gerencser

Comments are closed.