The Official Independent Baptist Rulebook

The Official Independent Baptist Rulebook, Known in Some Churches as Church Standards

  • Thou shalt obey the pastor at all times
  • Thou shalt obey all adults at all times
  • Women shalt obey their husband at all times
  • Children shalt obey their parents at all times
  • Church members shalt obey the police and government unless the pastor says it is a sin against God to do so
  • Thou shalt tithe
  • Thou shalt give an offering
  • Thou shalt give a faith promise missionary offering
  • Thou give an offering any time the pastor says God is saying to collect a special offering
  • Thou shalt attend church every time the doors are open
  • Thou shalt read the Bible every day
  • Thou shalt pray every day
  • Thou shalt pray for every meal, but ice cream at Dairy Queen requires no prayer
  • Thou shalt only use the King James Bible
  • Thou shalt only use the Scofield King James Bible
  • Thou shalt not have long hair if you are a man
  • Thou shalt not have a block cut hair style
  • Thou shalt not have facial hair if you are a man, but if you are a  woman you can have facial hair
  • Thou shalt not have tattoos
  • Thou shalt not take the hem out of your Levi jeans
  • Thou shalt not wear pants if you are a woman
  • Thou shalt not wear shorts, but a woman can wear Baptist shorts, also known as culottes
  • Thou shalt not expose any flesh, especially your thighs or breasts
  • Thou shalt not have any contact with the opposite sex if you are unmarried
  • Thou shalt not masturbate
  • Thou shalt not have more than one hole in each ear
  • Thou shalt not pierce any body part expect your ear and only if you are a female
  • Thou shalt not watch TV, but if you are a carnal Christian and must watch TV thou shalt only watch Little House on the Prairie or Bonanza
  • Thou shalt not go to the movies
  • Thou shalt not dance
  • Thou shalt not listen to secular music
  • Thou shalt not listen to contemporary Christian music
  • Thou shalt not smoke
  • Thou shalt not drink, after all Jesus drank Welch’s
  • Thou shalt not dip snuff
  • Thou shalt not chew tobacco
  • Thou shalt not cuss, but darn, shoot, crap, and fudge are ok
  • Thou shalt not date non-Baptist girls or boys
  • Thou shalt not have any non-Baptist friends
  • Thou shalt home school your children or send them to a Christian school
  • Thou shalt only read pastor-approved Christian books
  • Thou shalt never speak in tongues
  • Thou shalt only believe what the pastor says you are to believe
  • Thou shalt go soulwinning every week
  • Thou shalt send your kids to the same Christian college the pastor went to
  • Thou shalt leave the church if you commit adultery, get a divorce, or get pregnant outside of marriage
  • Thou shalt really believe everything the pastor says even when you are certain he is lying, speaking evangelistically, or embellishing his illustrations
  • Thou shalt wear a bra if you are a woman and it can only be a white, underwire bra
  • Thou shalt not mix bathe, Baptist for swimming with the opposite sex
  • Thou shalt not go to amusement parks unless  the youth group is going
  • Thou shalt not go to the prom
  • Thou shalt not show emotion unless praising Jesus from 10:00 to Noon on Sunday
  • Thou shalt not be angry even though the pastor is allowed to be angry, but that’s because his anger is righteous anger
  • Thou shalt be for what the pastor is for and against what the pastor is against, because if you don’t, a bear might come out of the woods and eat you
  • Thou shalt never use your brain
  • Thou shalt never try to fix your own problems because the pastor is the official fixer of all problems
  • Thou shalt takes notes on the sermon even if the rabbit wanders 5 miles off the trail
  • Thou shalt always tell the pastor what a wonderful sermon he preached
  • Thou shalt always tell Sister Bertha what a wonderful job she did with her off-key rendition of What a Friend we Have in Jesus
  • Thou shalt not used canned-music for music specials
  • Thou shall not play the guitar or drums

Please be advised this rulebook is subject to change at the whim of the pastor. He is the man of God who speaks for God. He is allowed to change his mind. This means that God changed his mind, yes?

Of course not.

This is the Christianity of millions of  North Americans.

Is it any wonder that we are fucked up?

Feel free to add your own additions to Independent Baptist Rule Book.



  1. Ami

    Truly horrifying.
    I grew up with kids who were in churches like that one.
    My religious upbringing was pretty bizarre, but this stuff? Way over the edge. Ugh.

  2. Charles

    God changes his mind several times in the Bible. Fundies forget that God can do a sudden “I have changed my mind” crazy Ivan on them at any moment. This is why I love Jesus. He is his own man and refuses to be tied down or corralled by anything. If fundies really understood this, it would probably scare the shit out of them.

  3. Susannah

    Thou shalt not rock the boat.

    And the all important, “Thou shalt not, never, under no circumstances, not even in thought, criticize the pastor.” “God’s anointed,” remember!

    1. Bill

      As I once told a liberal congregation, the IFB church I grew up in had an eleventh commandment in their Bibles, “Thou shalt not [fill in the blank].” Sarcasm, yes, however, I swear they half the time they invented it as they went along. UGH!!!!

  4. Steve

    We could literally sit here all day adding “standards” to this; these guys are constantly changing on a whim.

    But, I have a few, from the legendary Dr Bob of Longview:

    Thou shalt watch football on Monday night. Preacherboys should watch it in the college gym; anywhere else is worldly.

    Thou shalt wear the sweatshirts & caps of your favorite basketball team; they are only evil & worldly if you choose to go to college there. (Please note: if thou art truly right with God, the only acceptable team to pull for is Michigan State).

    Thou shalt not wear make up

    Thou shalt study various martial arts disciplines, as these are masculine. This is especially important, since the pastor needs his bodyguard detail rotated every so often. Women need not apply and should not study martial arts. (And yes, martial arts are ok, even though they originated from Asian sources; we’ll win those yellow devils to Jesus, eventually)

    Thou shalt go to KFC on Sundays after services. Unless you are a college student on a bus route. In that case, thou shalt work on your bus route until 3 am Monday morning, then get your sorry, lazy ass ready for your theology classes at our bible college that morning. Later that afternoon, thou shalt go to work. Thou can sleep at 11 on Monday night; everyone knows sleep is for fags & queers, not real men. Your pastor is burdened for America & hasn’t slept since 1976. What the fuck is YOUR problem??

    Thou shalt take your wife out to lunch on Friday afternoon; this is your allotted time with her. If she doesn’t approve of this, tough; she should’ve thought of that before she married you. The church shall pray for her to get right with her lord (and her pastor). If this doesn’t work, she shall make “the Sunday evening edition”

    Enjoy everyone! There are a lot more where these came from, lmao 🙂

    1. Elle

      Lol on the not wearing makeup!

      I remember one of the missionary wives who was married to the man who used to be a division leader in the bus ministry at hac and fbc… and I always thought she looked and dressed so incredibly homely, almost as if she walked straight out of Little House on the Prairie set.
      I wondered how in the world that man could look at his wife much less have sex with her because why would you defile such a woman who looked so sheepish and innocent!! ? (The mind of an 18 year old girl that had been sort of “bad” with many boys in high school, shame on me)
      I never understood it. Then Hyles would yell from the pulpit that “If the barn needed painting”…and the men would hoopla with their Bibles waving in the air.
      I didn’t understand the extremes of it and was so glad for makeup, but why yell about it from the pulpit?! It was beyond comprehension in my little brain back then.

  5. Elle

    This is epic.

    All of it so true and I laughed out loud at some of them!!!

    Shaking my head, wishing I had gotten out of that place sooo much sooner than we did, you know when I should’ve used my own brain and listened to my gut.

  6. Ashlie

    I am curious why the Ifb doesn’t want Christians to go to the movie theatre? Many watch movies in their home….what is the difference? My mom grew up with this rule but never was told why. Could someone please explain?

    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      The short answer is that going to the movies supported Hollywood. Going to the movies could also lead to you having a bad testimony before the world. If your neighbor saw you leaving the Cinemaplex, he wouldn’t know what movie you had watched, leading him to have questions about your faith.

  7. NJ Agnostic Atheist

    This is 100% the independent Baptist school I attended. Even my Southern Baptist Church wasn’t this strict!

    Another rule for students was that thou shalt not attend the roller skating rink upon threat of expulsion.

    Students may be expelled at any time, for any reason, if the president of the school deems the reason sufficient (my 2nd grade brother was expelled for defiance).

    Thou shalt believe in pre-millennial rapture unless your pastor believes in post-millennial rapture. In any case, we are definitely living in the end times before the 2nd coming of Christ.

    After I graduated from that school I didn’t wear a skirt for 2 years at my secular university! It wasn’t long before I traveled the road to liberal Christian to agnostic atheist.

  8. LInn

    Thou shalt not eat at a restaurant on Sunday. If thou dost sin and eat at a restaurant (due to the slothful disposition of thy wife), then thou shalt leave a tract for the server-never a tip.

    Thou shalt leave a tract in the restroom after thou hast used it.

    Thou shalt leave tracts in various and sundry places: the aisles of Walmart, in library books, at the doctor’s office, so that all may know the Good News of the Gospel.

    If you are a young woman, thou shalt wear knee-length dresses, with hose and heels at summer camp in the woods in the red clay mud when it rains.

    Thou shalt always obey the speed limit, EXCEPT when the Pastor says it is God’s will that thou shalt go 10-20 miles over the speed limit so as not to miss lunch at camp.

    Thou shalt leave for camp on Monday morning and return on Saturday afternoon, as thou must be able to give a long, tearful testimony at the church service on Sunday morning (exhaustion is of the devil).

    All of the above were part of the unwritten code at my Fundy church 40 years ago. I am still a very committed Christian, but I was thankfully out of the IFB world once I left for college (a secular university).

  9. Mark R

    “Thou shalt not have more than one hole in each ear” shall be amended as follows:

    WOMEN ONLY shall be permitted no more than one piercing in the earlobe of each ear. No other part of the anatomy (e.g. eyebrow, belly button, tongue) shall be permitted to be pierced.


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