On March 23, 2014, Bob Gray, former pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, held a meeting at Grace Baptist Church in Troy, New York. Grace Baptist Church is a King James Only, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation pastored by John Koletas, a gun loving follower of Jack Hyles. According to a recent VICE article, the church has about 75 members. Gray was there for a special service that attracted 150 people. What was special you ask? The church was giving away a “M&P semiautomatic rifle, Smith & Wesson’s version of the AR-15.” (a gun dealer, The Oakwood Trading Post, sponsored the give away)
…The guest speaker, Dr. Bob Grey (Should actually be Gray), took to the podium to a loud round of applause and shouts of Amen from the crowd of 150. The church held twice the number of parishioners as it does on a typical Sunday. The Texan announced that he was in town promoting Rick Perry for president. He called the politician “the greatest man I know!”
Grey warmed up the crowd with a joke about a man’s wife dying on a visit to the Holy Land. The man was asked whether he wanted to have his wife buried there or shipped home. He chose to have her shipped home, saying, “Last time they buried a guy in the Holy Land, he rose in three days, and I’m not taking any chances!” The audience ate it up.
There was a lot of jokes, but each was followed by a serious message, spoonfuls of sugar to help the medicine go down. “Hell is very real, my friends,” he reminded us. “There is evil in the world.”…
I wonder if Bob Gray realizes that he may have jeopardized the tax exempt status of Grace Baptist Church by politicking for Rick Perry? I am sure that Gray had no thought about what he said or whether it might materially affect the tax exempt status of the church. I am sure he didn’t think for one moment that the reporter would actually write down what he said and use it in his story. But he did, Dr. Bob….and now others will know that you used the pulpit of Grace Baptist Church to endorse Rick Perry. Unless the church has become a reporting for profit/non-profit, Gray’s endorsement is a clear violation Federal law. On Monday, I intend to contact the Federal Elections Commission about filing a complaint.
According to the church’s website, the gun give away has created quite a bit of controversy for the church. There is a long, rambling statement on their website about the give away. In classic IFB fashion, they are unrepentant.
I find it interesting that on the very day that Gray used humor to warm up the crowd before preaching to them on hell and the evil world (another news story said the main focus was on God and Guns), that Gray wrote a blog post justifying the use of humor in the pulpit. I suppose it could be a coincidence that Gray posted a chapter from his book about Jack Hyles that dealt with using humor in the pulpit. After all, Gray’s comedy act was no different from what I heard countless IFB preachers say when I attended IFB conferences and special meetings in the 1980′s. Gray should ask himself why should ANYONE take him seriously when before he preaches on hell and the evil world he tells jokes? I remember sitting in a Sword Conference near Akron, Ohio in the early 1980′s and hearing Jack Hyles himself, in a rare moment of humility, lament all the joke telling and lofty introductions speakers were given. How real can hell be if the preacher thinks so little of his somber subject that he spends the first part of his sermon warming up the crowd with lame jokes?
I hope you will take the time to read Roc Morin’s article. It provides excellent insight into what IFB churches believe and how IFB churches function. Let his article be a reminder to those of us who fled the IFB cult that running from the insanity was the best decision we ever made.