Tag Archives: Bill Wininger

I am Angry

angry

I can’t sleep. I am angry tonight. I am probably angrier tonight than I have been in a long time. I am having a hard time even writing these sentences.  An attempted discussion today with a woman who says she is a member of Kings Way Baptist Church, the church accused child molester Bill Wininger pastored, has reached down into my being and found an anger that I thought I had long since moved beyond. I like to think that I am beyond being angered by people who defend the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement and its abusive pastors. But, as my present  anger shows me, I am still able to be passionately moved by the actions and words of IFB church leaders, pastors, and members.

Just tonight Polly let me know about a young family we are close to having their four young children baptized in an IFB church. I thought, four more children primed and ready to be indoctrinated and ruined by the IFB church. These children are the fourth generation to be brought up in this particular IFB church. I know what they will be taught and I know how they will be manipulated and indoctrinated. I weep for them, but I am also angry, so very angry.

I am angry over what the IFB church does to almost every person it touches. Those unscathed by the IFB church are those who got out early and avoided a life of mental and emotional abuse, along with intellectual vacuity.  They are lucky to have escaped from, as one commenter put it, the prison.

While I do not write that often on the IFB church movement, when I do write, my writing attracts apologists for the IFB church movement. These people see me as a servant of Satan, an evil man out to destroy the one, true IFB faith. (I plead guilty on the last charge)  Their attacks are personal and, at times, threatening. I have yet to see one apologist who  is a decent human being. They say they follow Jesus, yet their response to my writing is anything but Christ-like.

Over the past year, I have been getting hammered with comments and email from people who attempt to defend IFB churches, institutions, and pastors like Bill Wininger,  Kings Ways Baptist Church, North Sharon Baptist Church, Jack Hyles, First Baptist Church in Hammond, Hyles-Anderson College, and  Jack Schaap. Their comments and emails are vicious and hateful. I will readily admit that their comments and emails get to me.  They remind that I was once a part of the IFB madness, that I once was a part of a group that is, dare I say it, quite cult-like. Even the best of the IFB churches have authoritarian tendencies that are harmful to people emotionally and mentally. I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a good IFB church. (see my post, Why I View the Bible Like I Do a Garbage Can)  Six years and hundreds of comments and emails from people who have been irreparably harmed by the IFB church has led me to conclude that while there “may” be a morsel of edible food in the IFB garbage can, the offal and stench in the IFB garbage can taints any edible morsel that might be in the can.

Defenders of the IFB church movement continue to tell me their pastor and their church is different.  They are NOT like other IFB churches. Yet,  theologically they have the same beliefs, send their children to the same colleges, and worship the same big-name IFB preachers.  I am reminded of the old adage, birds of a feather flock together. If a church and its pastor REALLY isn’t like the other IFB churches, then why do they continue to swim in the same filthy water with them?

I thought my writing on Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap brought out the worst of the worst in the IFB church movement. But, I was wrong.  The defenders of Bill Wininger and Kings Way Baptist Church have taken the offensive to new heights. (though, to their credit, no one has threatened to kill me, yet)  I have been getting comments on the Bill Wininger post that I did not approve and I have also gotten emails that were quite offensive. (and some that were quite polite and respectful) I decided to not let these people continue to pollute the comment section and I deleted the comments on the Bill Wininger post. (and I know some of you won’t be happy with this but I hope you will try to consider this from my perspective for a moment) Not only did I delete the comments but I do not intend on approving any further comments from apologists for the IFB church movement.

After I deleted the comments and refused to post the aforementioned commenter’s comments, she went ballistic.  Here are  her comments after I cut her off.

Comment One

By the way, the reason I’m not standing up for Bethany Leonard and others who have now come forward is that I don’t believe them. I’m not saying they are lying. I’m saying I don’t believe them. I have not seen any evidence that would confirm their allegations are true. BW was our pastor for more than 17 years, and not one time in all those years have I ever seen or felt or heard that he was inappropriate around any of the young people (babies, children, teens, or anyone else not considered an adult) in our church. You’ve said yourself that child molesters don’t just stop. If that’s true, there would be victims in Georgia. My own children adore BW. We have discussed with them in depth the allegations against our former pastor, and we have asked them multiple times in multiple scenarios over the last month if they have ever felt he touched them or talked to them in any way that was wrong or inappropriate. They have said without hesitation absolutely not. We have asked them every possible way to make sure they felt safe confiding in us, and they have vehemently denied any possibility of any such conduct. I agree with you that child molesters don’t just stop, but nobody here can find a single kid over the past 17 years who feels he said or did anything inappropriate to them or with them. How could that be if he truly were a child molester? Based on your own opinions, a child molester can’t just stop. Either that’s exactly what BW did, or he was never a child molester. I pray the latter is true.

As for women victims? I have my own opinions on that too, but I’m sure you would greatly enjoy disputing my thoughts on that so why bother?

I don’t stand up for Bethany and friends because I don’t believe them. I know my disbelief doesn’t negate their validity in your opinion; it is merely my opinion.

Comment Two

I find it interesting you deleted all posts on the previous thread right after my last comment. Did I hit a nerve or a nail on its head? Just curious. Why didn’t you allow my last few responses to post?

Comment Three

(sent four separate times in a matter of a few minutes)

God is real. Your unbelief does not change that fact. You know I’m right. That’s why you won’t let me post to your blog. Now who’s hiding something?

Comment Four

Bruce, why won’t you let my post go on your blog? God is real. Your unbelief does not change that fact. You know I’m right. That’s why you won’t let me post to your blog. Now who’s hiding something?

It’s funny how I’m getting under your skin.

Comment Five

(sent four times, with slight variations,  in a matter of a few minutes)

Bruce, why won’t you let my post go on your blog? God is real. Your unbelief does not change that fact. You know I’m right. That’s why you won’t let me post to your blog. Now who’s hiding something?

It’s funny how I’m getting under your skin.

What’s the matter, Bruce? Cat got your tongue?

What did I say that caused you to delete your entire thread?

Did I strike a nerve?

Comment Six

Why, oh, why, Bruce, won’t you talk with me anymore?

Comment Seven

Did you post earlier that you lived up the street from our former pastor?

Comment Eight

You know, for someone so distressed over the trauma of being molested as a child, Bethany sure does use a lot of happy emoticons in her posts.

Comment Nine

I’m guessing you’re hiding something since you won’t comment, or is that only true of IFB churches?

Comment Ten

On second thought, maybe you and Bethany have the hots for each other, and that is why there are so many smiley faces going on between the two of you?!?!?

Comment Eleven

Uh oh, I just accused you and Bethany Leonard of having a secret affair. I guess that accusation makes it true. I hope your respective spouses don’t oust you both immediately. I’d hate for anything bad to happen as a result of my accusation.

Comment Twelve

Goodnight, Brucey-Wucey, I’ll be back!!!!

After deleting the comments, this commenter, from two IP addresses, both originating in Douglasville, Georgia, left 20 comments on two different posts in a short amount of time.

I can no longer give one more moment of my time to those who continue to defend the IFB church movement and its churches and pastors. While I will continue to write on the IFB church movement and my time in the IFB church, I will not approve one more comment or respond to one more email from a person trying to defend the IFB church movement, its churches or its pastors. I am done dealing with their filth.

I am not even sure why I am posting this. I needed to write this and I need you to know this. And now I am going to bed.

See ya tomorrow. I have some great NON-IFB posts planned for this week. Stay tuned.

Published: November 11, 2013 | Comments: 45

If You Didn’t See it, It Didn’t Happen

fake church sign first baptist hammond

The late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, a man considered by some of his followers to be the greatest preacher since the Apostle Paul, made famous the statement:

If You Didn’t See it, It Didn’t Happen

Over the years, at Sword of the Lord conferences and Bible conferences, I heard Jack Hyles make this statement.  When Hyles was accused of having an illicit relationship with his secretary, it is this very line he and his followers used.  This, If You Didn’t See it, It Didn’t Happen, thinking was taught to countless pastors at Pastor’s School and Hyles-Anderson College.  These Hyles trained men carried this thinking home to the churches they pastored and used it to rebuff accusations of impropriety and immorality.

This is the argument that one commenter has used about Bethany Leonard’s accusations against Pastor Bill Wininger. Since the abuse occurred almost two decades ago, there is no physical proof that Wininger sexually molested Bethany Leonard. While others have now come forward and added their name to the accusations, they too have produced no hard, physical evidence to prove their claims.

According to this commenter, since there is no actual physical evidence, it is likely the abuse never happened. According to him, Bethany Leonard and others are lying and are out to ruin a man of God. In his mind, since there is no Monica Lewinsky blue dress, any claims of abuse should be rejected out of hand.

This is the same kind of argument that Ken Ham uses when ignoring the overwhelming evidence for evolution and the age of the universe being billions of years old rather than thousands of years old.  Countless Evangelicals have been swayed by Ham’s Jack Hyles impersonation when he says, were you there? Since none of us were there when the earth was birthed into existence, we can not know how old the earth and the human race is. We should accept what God says in his inspired, infallible, inerrant Word, that the earth is 6,017 years old. (based on Ussher’s chronology) In fact, according to Bishop Ussher, creation began on the “nightfall preceding 23 October 4004 BC.”

While this kind of thinking sounds insane to people who are not Evangelical, millions of American Evangelicals believe, like Ken Ham, since none of us were there, we must accept what the Bible says about the beginning of the universe. Never mind the fact that the writers of the book of Genesis weren’t there either. The oldest manuscripts, which are not the originals, are dated thousands of years after the events recorded in Genesis. Even if Moses actually wrote the book of Genesis, and we have no evidence for this other than the BIBLE says so, he would have written the book of Genesis thousands of years after the events recorded in Genesis.  In other words, Moses or whoever the authors were weren’t there at the moment of creation, so how can they know what happened?

The commenter I mentioned earlier refuses to believe that Bill Wininger sexually abused Bethany Leonard because there is no physical evidence to prove Leonard’s claims. No one saw it, there is no proof of it, so it didn’t happen.

I wonder if this commenter, and others who think like this, realize the huge problem they are creating for themselves. As Christians, they believe:

  • Jesus came to earth and was born of a virgin
  • Jesus worked miracles in Palestine over 1,980 years ago
  • Jesus was crucified on the cross
  • Jesus resurrected from the dead 3 days later
  • Jesus ascended into the clouds and left the earth 40 days after he resurrected from the dead

Every Christian believes these things to be facts, yet there is no evidence for any of these claims. None. Nada. Zip. Using the commenters objection to Bill Wininger being considered a child molester, should he not refrain from calling himself a Christian or evangelizing others in hope that they will put their faith in Jesus? Where is the evidence?

When it comes to Bethany Leonard and the others who are claiming they were abused, we have living people who can be questioned. Yet, according to the one commenter, their claims should be rejected.  Their testimony, which Leonard has put in written form, can be read by everyone, yet, because there is no physical evidence, the claims must be rejected out of hand. Why is this same rationale NOT applied to the Bible and the claims Evangelicals make for Jesus?

I can know Bethany Leonard wrote a letter about Bill Wininger abusing her, however I have no way of knowing who wrote the various books of the New Testament. I wasn’t there, to use Ken Ham’s illogical logic, and I didn’t see it so it must not have happened, to use Jack Hyles’s illogical logic.  Surely, this is one of those what is good for the goose is good for the gander moments.

So, please explain to me, how it is reasonable and rational to reject Bethany Leonard’s claim out of hand but not apply the same thinking to the claims made for Jesus that I mentioned above?

Or, can reasonable people put their faith in Bethany Leonard and the others and come to the conclusion that they are telling the truth, just as the Christian would do concerning the historic witness of the Christian church concerning the claims the Bible makes for Jesus Christ.

Why are people like the commenter mentioned above so willing to accept what they are told about Jesus, a Jesus they have never met, never seen, and for which there is no physical evidence for, yet when a few women say, this man abused me, their claims are rejected out of hand?

Simply put, you can’t have it both ways.

Published: November 2, 2013 | Comments: 11

What One Apologist for the IFB Thinks of People That Claim They Were Abused

denial

When Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, now a convicted felon,  was accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenager in his church, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement/Hyles/Schaap apologists came out in force. They told me things like:

  • He is a man of God and he wouldn’t do such a thing
  • The girl was a whore
  • The girl seduced him
  • The girl was “almost” of age
  • If Schaap hadn’t taken her across the State line, the sex would have been consensual

Here are some of the messages that Schaap sent the girl.

From a birthday card

I can’t get you out of my mind. I keep thinking about how much I enjoy talking with you, how great you look when you smile, and how much I like your laugh. I daydream about you off an on all day, replaying pieces of our conversation . . .laughing again about funny things you said or did. I’ve memorized your face and the way you look at me . . . it melts my heart every time I think about it. And I catch myself smiling when I imagine what will happen the next time we’re together. You must be something really special, because I can’t remember the last time I felt so strongly about someone. Even though neither of us knows what the future holds, I know one thing for sure – you’re one of the very best things that’s happened to me in a long time.

From a handwritten letter

Hi [Jane Doe],

Because my time with you is so limited, I find great comfort in writing to you. Certainly it is no substitute for being with you – nothing is – in fact, being with you is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

You have a gift of making me feel more alive and more happy than I have ever felt! THANK YOU! I’ve been doing much thinking about you – our brief journey together has been like a spiritual allegory (a story that illustrates a truth :) . . .

Your life began to deteriorate w/ actions + activities that were self-destructive + that would have brought great tragedy eventually. Then, as your Pastor, I began to counsel you [unintelligible] you to God, the truth, and to a better path of living – that’s what we call Righteousness. Almost immediately, I felt such a profound tug in my heart for you – an intense desire to pull you away from destructive habits + to pull you into pure love + acceptance. I felt the only hope I had to truly make that difference was to pull you 1st to myself – if I could get you to trust me + open your heart to me. I could not have anticipated or hoped for what happened.

You opened your heart wide to me – you made me more than a Pastor/Rescuer – you made me your friend your confidant, your beloved. You gave me your trust, your heart, your love, + your affection. [Unintelligible] must feel when a sinner makes Him more than a Savior – he/she makes Him a beloved lover + friend. I have never felt so truly loved in my life. It is a feeling that is incomprehensible! (off the charts)In our “fantasy talk,” you have affectionately spoken of being “my wife.” That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!

I tried to craftily catch your heart so that I could lead you into a better life. You have caught my heart + I have never felt so loved by anyone! Thank you[Jane Doe]. Thank you for the privilege of helping a struggling teenager. Thank you for opening your heart. Thank you for your trust. Thank you for your love. My hope and prayer is that someday you will comprehend what an impact you have made on your Pastor and friend.

[Jane Doe] you have such a wonderful life ahead of you. I must be careful not to spoil that with any of my selfish fantasy desires. It would be grossly unkind to you for me to hold you captive in any fashion. When we get scared, Jesus sends His spirit to live within us. But He does not personally live with us. He waits until we have fully matured before he takes us to Heaven to live with Him. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are exceedingly so – sorta like [name redacted] (sp?) or a young child dying too young.

I must follow the example of Christ. I have espoused you to Him as a chaste virgin. You are pure + lovely + perfect in His eyes. Now you must mature in His grace until the time he brings you to Himself. Until then, I am here to guide you + help you. [Unintelligible] your heart.

I could only wish you would carry my love for you with you + in you forever. For me to wish for more would only be hurtful to the beautiful life He has planned for you. I will die 10,000 deaths knowing I cannot have you in my life as I would desire. But I would far rather die those deaths than to hurt you in any way by injuring your future.I would gladly do anything for you + I must lay down my life – my desires – for you

I will ALWAYS be here for you [Jane Doe]!! Always And I will carry you in my very soul as a part of me forever. I ‘ve never met anyone like you. Please keep on becoming what you are becoming now. I’ve tried to point you in the right direction. PLEEEAASSE don’t ever go back to what you were when we found each other. That would put my soul in Hell!

I promised you I would do anything to help you – and I have shown you what I mean by that. I still promise you I would do anything TO HELP YOU but I be me let + can you when see to by stop time- time from Text you! hurt would that anything do>part of your life + decision-making. But live your life – the life God has for you. Be 17 + enjoy this great stage of life. I’ll always be watching + always be pulling for you. I will always love you -

FOREVER! Your BFF, Pastor.

From another handwritten letter

Hey Baby, Hope you slept well.

I’m sitting at my table reading the Words that help me through powerful emotions that are surging through me. I miss my Bible Reading partner. It was fun to have our Bible Study yesterday morning. I Have my good music on – “I will trust in You” + the “Power of the Cross.” Good music drives me to the Scriptures to find the strength to go forward when my emotions want me to “freeze” time + go back to yesterday.

No matter how glorious the past, the future is the only direction we can go without dying inside. The past 3 days w/ you were beyond my imagination :! But what I hope you take from this wk. is more than the “magic” we enjoyed but also some better understanding of how incredibly important + special + awesome you are to Jesus! I wanted you to feel + know how much He loves you! I wanted to let some of the hurt + headache – the bad hurt – out of your heart.

This week, [Jane Doe], I tried to climb into your heart and write the graffiti of the Gospel on the walls. I wanted to spray paint in Neon colors that you are Priceless + Precious + are “off the charts” important – yes – to me personally -but especially to OUR Savior Jesus Christ. I’m reading my Bible now to draw a little closer to God – even if it’s a millimeter closer – because if we both get a little closer to Him, we also get closer + stronger + deeper w/ each other.

Every relationship not built around that truth eventually must die – that’s what happened w/ you + J. And that’s why afterwards you pursued “dead” things + “dead”relationships. My passion this week was to show you a living relationship + how to keep it alive! [Jane Doe], however, whenever God takes our love, we never have to[unintelligible] to each other. Keep pursuing Good and we keep living because He is Life!!

I have a special gift for you that I want to give you Sunday if you would stop by my office when you arrive. Also, I really want you to download the App Olive Tree Bible Reader when you get it, I’ll teach you how to use it.These days w/ you are tattooed on my heart + in my mind – Forever!

But these days, also gave me great insight to the profound needs of my teens + young adults. You’ve helped me. Finally, I want to thank YOU for giving me something I was not planning to receive. Through you, I have felt very loved by God. I gave Him my heart when I was 5, I gave Him my life when I was 17. And yes I love Him + know Him +understand much about Him, but, sometimes I just need to “feel” His love in away that only He can provide . . . and this week, through you, I have “felt” His love.

I absolutely cannot thank you enough!! It is obvious to me that God must trust you very much. He gave you the work of caring or ministering to His servant- just as the angel ministered to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemine. Of course,you have been given enormous responsibility. The Scriptures do not tell us what the Angel said, how he arrived or how he left + apparently no one knows to this day – 2000 years later – what happened. That’s a very wise Angel! And so are you, Baby! 1432444!!!!!

From the Sentencing Memorandum of Jack Schaap.

Jack Schaap is not an outlier when it comes to sexual misconduct and abuse in the IFB church. His father-in-law Jack Hyles and his brother-in-law David Hyles, preceded him at First Baptist in Hammond. Jack Hyles had a least one inappropriate sexual relationship and David Hyles had dozens.  The list of abusers and predators that were trained by Jack Hyles and Hyles-Anderson College is long. Taken cumulatively, it is hard not to think there is something very wrong in Hammond. (along with other IFB schools and churches, not affiliated with the Hyles kingdom, that have their own problems with abuse and predators)

This week, Bethany Leonard,  alleged that Bill Wininger, pastor of Kings Way Baptist Church, molested her when he was the pastor of North Sharon Baptist Church in Michigan. Several other women have come forward and added their voices to the accusation.

Apologists for the IFB church movement and Bill Wininger can’t call Bethany Leonard and the other women sluts, whores, home wreckers, church destroyers, and the alike. After all, they were little girls, the age my granddaughters are now, when the abuse took place. So, they have to take a different approach in defending the most holy IFB church and  Bill Wininger.

Take Jason, a man who vociferously defends the IFB church movement, Kings way Baptist Church, and Bill Wininger, even though he says he is not a part of the IFB church movement.  Here is what Jason had to say about the accusations. (spelling in the original, accent mine)

First Comment

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

Second Comment

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.

Third Comment

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.

You can read my responses and the response of others to Jason’s comments in the post comment section. Jason may not be IFB, but his way at looking at accusations of abuse is classic IFB.

Let the words of the greatest pastor in the world, the late Jack Hyles, state the official IFB position on abuse:

fake church sign first baptist church

Published: November 1, 2013 | Comments: 23

How Should Churches Handle Allegations of Abuse?

report it

First of all, churches shouldn’t “handle” anything.  This is what gets churches, pastors, and church leaders into trouble to start with. Instead of immediately doing the right thing when someone makes an allegation of abuse they often:

  • Consult with the pastor
  • Consult with the deacons or some other church board
  • Call a denominational leader and ask what they should do
  • Consult with a few church members to chart a course of action
  • Pray about it
  • Seek out counsel from other pastors
  • Wait to see if the “problem” goes away
  • Interrogate the individual or the person making the allegation
  • Investigate the “character” of the person making the allegation

All of these things are the WRONG thing to do. Far too often, the church or pastor is more concerned about protecting the church’s testimony in the community than they are protecting the person who might have been abused. This often comes off to the community as the church being more interested in its own reputation rather than ending and prosecuting any abuse that might be going on.

In most states, pastors and church leaders are required by law to report suspected abuse. It is not up to the church or the pastor to decide if the allegation is valid.  That’s what the police, prosecutor, and child protective services are for.  They will investigate and act accordingly. Even in cases where the abuse took place years before, once a church or a pastor has knowledge of the allegation they have a moral and ethical responsibility to report it. A failure to do so can, in many states, leave the church or pastor criminally liable. (and I wish more prosecutors would charge and prosecute pastors and church leaders for failing to report)

Once an allegation has become common knowledge, it is in the church’s best interest to make a public statement about the allegation. Yes, it is up to the police and the courts to determine guilt, but the church can state exactly what they have done in response to the allegation. They can further state what they will do to make sure that abuse does not happen in the future. It is not ENOUGH to just tell the church, the board, or write a generic letter to church members.

I know of one church that has had several problems with sexual abuse in their bus ministry. The pastor of the church has never fully disclosed to the church the complete details of what happened. Outside of several news stories, the public has no idea about what the church did or didn’t do.  The pastor says to the church, trust me and he says to the world, it is none of your business.  Yet, this same pastor and his church go out into the “highways and hedges” and try to get people to come to the church.

Churches like this want people to come to their church and they want people to trust them.  However, the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church, the Evangelical church, the IFB church, and countless unaffiliated churches, is a poignant reminder that no one should, by default, trust a church or a pastor. I for one, would not let my children or grandchildren out of my sight while attending church. I know too much and I have heard too many stories. If this makes me untrusting, cynical, or jaded, so be it. Better to be this way than naïvely turn people I love over to people I don’t really know in the hope that they are what they say they are.

Some churches give the illusion that their church is safe. They tell new families, we do criminal background checks on every worker in the church. While this is certainly a good idea, a one time background check accomplishes what? If the person has never been arrested or convicted of a crime, their background check would come back clean.  Background checks are little more than a band-aid over a festering sore.

I know of one pastor who refuses to do background checks. His rationale for refusing to do them? After a person is saved, their past sins are “under the blood.”  The person, no matter what they have done in the past, is completely forgiven by God. (after all, God forgave Paul, the murderer and David, the adulterer/murderer, right?) This kind of naïve thinking is why churches are havens for predators. It is not hard to stand before a church and give a wonderful testimony of God’s saving grace, yet be a predator. It is quite easy to learn the lingo. My family and I could dress up this Sunday, go to church, and every one of us would likely be considered wonderful Christians. We know the talk, the walk, the songs. We know how to do Evangelical. Yet, in REAL life we are atheists, agnostics, Catholics, and Buddhists and most of us are, shudder to think of it, Democrats.  Anyone who has spent any time at all  in church can easily FAKE it.

But, Bruce, the Holy Spirit will let the church know they aren’t real Christians. Do you really want to trust the welfare of the church children and teenagers to the Holy Spirit?  Are you really saying that a Christian could NOT be a pedophile, abuser, or predator? (and if you are a Baptist, please explain this to me in light of your “once saved, always saved” belief)

I am often asked about how I handled abuse allegations when I was a pastor. Simple. I reported them each and every time. When I heard an allegation of abuse, even if it was a second-hand report, I immediately called Children’s Services.  Years ago, we had a couple with a baby living in our church basement. (they had been homeless) One day I came into the basement and the baby was screaming uncontrollably. I went to check on the child and I asked the mother why the child was screaming. She told me she didn’t know. I suggested she should take care of the child. Her reply? When she was done eating she would get around to it.  This, along with several other things I had noticed, was enough for me. I called Children’s Services and they came out the next day to investigate. The couple was told that any further complaints would result in them losing the child. They knew I had reported them and were furious. Me? I couldn’t have cared less about what they thought. The baby was who mattered.

We operated a bus ministry for many years. There were several instances where abuse was suspected and I reported it. In one case, a grown woman was throwing booze and sex parties for the church teens. When I found out about it I told their parents and reported the woman. It was a no-brainer, even if every boy in the church thought the parties were wonderful.

Years ago, well everything is years ago now, I helped my father-in-law start a church. One day, one of our church families had their infant suddenly die. It was ruled as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Weeks after the death, the father came to my father-in-law and confessed that he had shaken the baby to death. My father-in-law came to me and asked what he should do since the man told him this in confidence. I told him he had to report it to the police. He did and the man went to prison.

When I was counseling people, I made it clear that if they were going to confess to abuse or a felony that I was obligated to report it. I have never believed that what is said in confidence must always remain so. When a young man confessed to me that he had murdered his girlfriend, I encouraged him to turn himself in and then I let the police know what he had told me. I later gave a sworn affidavit in the case, Fortunately, the man pled guilty and I did not have to testify.

Granted, these are exceptional circumstances. The people I pastored knew they could trust me with their secrets. As long as their secrets didn’t involve abuse or a felony, their secrets were safe with me. People often have a need to unburden themselves from past actions and “sins” and talking to a pastor or a priest or a good friend is often exactly what they need to do so. When people write me and tell me their stories I always let them know their correspondence with me will be kept confidential. However, if they confess to murdering their spouse or molesting a child in the church, I would report it immediately,

This does not make me a saint. As a pastor and as a human being I have many faults. However, when it comes to dealing with abuse and helping those who have been abused, I am always on the side of the abused. My mother was sexually abused as a child, raped by a brother-in-law, and sexually molested by a Christian psychiatrist. (and they all got away with it)  I have a dear family member who was sexually abused by an IFB family member. (their abuser has been in prison for 20 years)  Add to this the horror stories I heard counseling church members and the emails I now receive from people who have been abused, I hope you will forgive me if I am passionate about this issue.

ohio yellow license plate

As far as I am concerned, it is quite simple for churches or pastors when it comes to how to handle allegations of abuse. REPORT IT IMMEDIATELY. Then take steps to make sure that abuse does not happen in the future. It is tragic that some churches are magnets for abusers. It seems every few years a church member, a pastor, a deacon, a youth pastor, a bus worker, or a Sunday School teacher is being accused of abuse.  Perhaps churches like this should be forced to have the equivalent of what we have here in Ohio. Some judges require people convicted of DUI to get yellow license plates. These plate stand out and everyone know their crime. Perhaps repeat offender churches need some sort of yellow license plate that warns the public that the church has been a haven for abusers or predators.

Note

My apology for the spelling errors in the original post. Hopefully, I have fixed all of them. I proof read it twice but I am quite fatigued today and it is evident my “proofer” is not working very well.

Published: October 29, 2013 | Comments: 3

Accusation is not Proof Says IFB Defenders

i didnt do it

Any time there is a scandal in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, the defenders of the one, true and holy IFB faith, quickly remind people that just because someone makes an accusation it doesn’t mean it is true. On one hand, this is correct. People are accused of things all the time that they did not do. We should be careful when we publicize an accusation against someone.

But…

When it comes to the IFB church movement, a movement built on a foundation of secrecy, deception, distortion, and lies, must we wait until the court says GUILTY before we dare talk about the accusations? I think not.  Rarely is the IFB church movement forthcoming about the sins of their pastors and leaders. Instead they lie, obfuscate, cover up, and deny. They pretend it didn’t happen or they couch their objections in justifications like:

  • If you didn’t see it happen it didn’t happen (a justification made famous by Jack Hyles)
  • If you weren’t there how do you know it happened
  • The Bible says touch not my anointed (my anointed being the pastor)
  • The Bible says not to receive an accusation against a pastor unless it can be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses
  • We shouldn’t rush to judgment…
  • That was a long time ago
  • Until the court finds the person guilty I am not going to believe anything happened
  • I know ______________, he would NEVER do such a thing

When it comes to claims of sexual abuse, the defenders of the accused often go after the victim. I am sure people remember how some IFB defenders went after the girl Jack Schaap was accused of having sex with. She was a slut, she came on to him, she is just as guilty as he is…on and on it went.  Tina Anderson went through similar attacks a few years ago. (Tina was raped and impregnated by an IFB church deacon)

Take the newly revealed case of Pastor Bill Wininger.  IFB defenders are quick to suggest that the charges are just wild speculation. Using the tactics I mentioned above, they demand people cease from talking about it. However, unlike the IFB church before the days of the internet, IFB defenders can no longer contain stories and accusations like they once did.  They can leave all the nasty, self-righteous comments they want on blogs, forums, and news sites…but this will not stop the stories and accusations from being spread far and wide.

Is there a small, small, small chance that Bill Wininger is absolutely innocent of what he is being accused of? Perhaps. But, there is enough evidence to suggest that the accusations have merit.

Take the letter written by the mother of one of the victims. She didn’t write an anonymous letter. She put her name to it and named her daughter.  Ask yourself, would a woman write such a letter, put her name to it, and put it on the internet, if the accusations and stories were completely false?  Would they go to the police and ask for an investigation knowing the accusations are false? I highly doubt it.

Why has Kings Way Baptist Church scrubbed their website and the website of their Christian school of any mention of Pastor Bill Wininger? Why hasn’t North Sharon Baptist Church issued a statement?  I know if I was still a pastor, I would want to get out in front of such a story. Saying nothing is NOT an option.  Yet, in case after case, IFB churches do exactly what Kings Way and North Sharon are doing now. They say nothing. Their silence is a sign that they have something to hide. (or their insurance company/lawyer is telling them to not say anything)

After this article was written I received the following email from someone at North Sharon Baptist Church:

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.

I have been blogging for six years. Over this time, countless IFB pastors and Southern Baptist pastors have been accused of sexual misconduct. I can’t think of one instance where the accusations were later shown to be false.

Here’s what I know. Every week or so a woman or a man emails me and details the perverse or despicable  actions of an IFB pastor or church leader. Often they painfully write of sexual abuse as a child. Why would these dear people bear their soul to me? Why tell me the deep and dark secrets of their past?  I am a nobody. I am an old man with a broken down body. Yet, they write and I suspect they do so because they know I will listen to them, believe them, and protect their privacy.  I let them know if they want to pursue outing someone who sexually abused them I am here to help. There is a vile sickness in the IFB church and unless it is exposed to the light of day it will never go away.

When I first started writing on these issues, I met some wonderful people who were sent off to IFB boarding schools as teenagers. At these schools they were mentally, physically, and, at times, sexually abused.  These homes were run by people I knew well, men who were pillars in the IFB church movement. As I began listening to their stories, I found myself thinking, how can these things be true? How can these abhorrent behaviors go on in plain sight and with the approval of men and churches who say they are following after Jesus? But they do…and the only way to put a stop to it is to expose it, talk about it, and support those who are willing to share their stories. As long as this broken body of mine is sucking air I plan to stand on the side of the victims.

Published: October 25, 2013 | Comments: 18

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.

Published: October 25, 2013