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Cult 101: Jack Hyles Teaches Parents How to Indoctrinate Their Babies

jack hyles praying
Jack Hyles Praying

If you are unfamiliar with the late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, please read The Legacy of Jack Hyles.

Excerpt from How to Rear Infants:

Children should be taught that God has given to them a preacher. That preacher is God’s man to lead them, to teach them, to preach to them, and to guide and instruct them concerning their lives. It is important for a family to have a man of God just like it is important to have a family doctor, a family dentist, etc. For that matter, it is even more important! The parents should never criticize God’s man but should train their children to love and respect him.

This can be done in many ways. One of the most important ways is to lead the child to pray for the preacher many times a day. Every time he bows his head to say grace or to say his “Now I lay me” prayers, he should pray for his preacher. He should get an early impression that one of the most important persons in the world is God’s man, his pastor.

The nursery workers at First Baptist Church have little bibs made for the babies. On each bib is printed, “I love my Preacher.” This is very important.

The child should feel that he has a friend in the pulpit and that that friend loves him and is very wise. The time will probably come when the parents will need the pastor in the rearing of the child. It often is true that a time comes when the only hope of saving the child is the pastor. If the parents have been critical of him or have a negative attitude toward him, the children will develop such an attitude and will not come to the pastor when they need him in a period of crisis…

…When I was an infant my mother started a little ritual. Every night she would put me on her knee, hold her Bible in front of me and say, “Son, the Bible is the Word of God.” Then she would ask me to repeat after her those words. Three times she would do this. Then she would tell me that Jesus is the Son of God. I would have to repeat it after her. Again she would say it and again I would repeat it. A third time she would say it and a third time I would repeat it. She then told me that I should always believe those two great truths. Now I do not recall when she started it; I do know she started this practice long before I could comprehend what was going on, but as far back as I can remember I can see my mother teaching me that Jesus is God’s Son and that the Bible is God’s Word.

She would then mention some kind of sin and warn me concerning its evil. One night she would take a whiskey ad. She would hold it up before me and say, “Whiskey – bad, bad, bad, bad! Whiskey – bad, bad!” Then I was required to say, “Whiskey – bad, bad!” She would then get a frown on her face, tear up the ad, throw it on the floor and stomp on it. She would shout, “WHISKEY – NO, NO! WHISKEY – BAD, BAD!”

Mother was trying to associate bad words with whiskey. I do not know when she started this. I do know it was before I realized it, and the association between the words “whiskey” and “no” made a lasting impression on my mind and life…

This excerpt illustrates the fact that indoctrination in cultic authoritarian sects and churches begins as soon as children are born.

Jack Hyles was a pathological liar, known to exaggerate his pastoral feats. The stories told in this excerpt are likely exaggerations.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    This just seems creepy to me. I can’t imagine doing this with my daughter, and if the product of doing it is Jack Hyles, it’s a good reason not to!

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I never had anyone sign a book or Bible. I hated any marking in my books or Bibles. I wrote a couple of sermon outlines in the back of my Bible that I used when called on to give an impromptu sermon.

  2. Avatar

    Oh this is seriously fucked up.
    I met religious crazies more than once, but I’m thankful my parents weren’t quite that crazy.
    There was a great deal of indoctrination, but yelling at your baby about whiskey? That’s a new one for me.

  3. Avatar

    I didn’t know that some of these zealots indoctrinated their kids to revere the pastor as highly as they were supposed to revere parents. Wow. Setting kids up for abuse much?

  4. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    This blows my mimd. Although priests were revered in Roman Catholic community in which I was raised, they weren’t exalted—by themselves or other authority figures like parents—in the way Jack Hyles and others seem to have been. Yet I and some of my peers became sexual prey for priests. I shudder to think what the likes of Hyle could have done!

  5. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Jack Hyles is proof, indisputable, that snakes can talk. Makes my skin crawl the hear the words said, the trance-talk of the mother who abused him and his shallow, twisted preaching himself to a high place where nobody would dare question his authority.
    Fuck you, you sick prick, you and your God both! Piss off, snake!

  6. Avatar
    Cindy Parcher

    I attended First Baptist Church of Hammond. I was a very young girl. My father was the Amen guy who sat in the tenor section of the choir, during the 70’s.
    We used to sit right in front of Hyle’s mom. She was always the sweetest lady. I could not imagine her ever yelling like this much less telling her little boy to do this. But then again, Hyles dad was a severe alcoholic. So maybe she did.
    All I know, is I can not invision Mrs. Hyles (Sr.) yelling at her boy like that.
    My parents had this book in their home.
    My father practically worshipped Hyles.
    Now I agree there needs to be a respect for your pastor but never worshipped.
    Hyles teaching destroyed my family.
    My grandfather (my dad’s dad) was a pastor. My grandpa despised Hyles teachings. The more my grandpa would warn my father about Hyles, the more defensive my father would become. My grandfather knew Hyles teachings were 100% wrong and would eventually break our family. My oldest brother Rick left home to live with our grandparents in Valpo when he was 15.
    My father was an abusive man. In 1979, my mother took us kids and left my father, and then divorced him. My mother is such a brave and courageous woman. I admire her. Hyles actually called my mom and told her she didn’t need to leave her husband.
    Now, I was only 9 when my mom left Hammond. My brother Rob was 12
    But the damage done to my brothers’ and our psychy was tremendous.
    We have all gone through counseling. It took me 10 years to get through the garbage of Hyles. When they say kids soak up things like sponges they are not kidding.

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Bruce Gerencser