Note: I assume the author of the following comment is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist. Regardless of his denominational affiliation, my comments still stand.
Over the weekend, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) man by the name of Tim Lee left the following comment on the post titled Woman Sexually Abused by First Baptist Church Deacon A.V. Ballenger Speaks Out:
I graduated from Purdue University in 1997 with a master’s degree. I attended Hyles Anderson College 1 year and worked on the “Bus Ministry ” 1993. I transferred to Purdue only because of the engineering program.
I can honestly say that I never saw anything inappropriate, but I’m sure some of the stories are true. It was a large church, maybe 20k or larger. So in proportion, it’s probably like finding all the sex offenders who attended Purdue, a 40k campus. I’m sure one can dig up 25 out of 40,000 over 25 years
Where oh where do I begin? First, just because YOU “never saw anything inappropriate” doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Second, Lee suggests that some of the claims of sexual assault, rape, and other sex crimes at Hyles-Anderson College and First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, didn’t happen. How, exactly, does he know this to be true? What evidence does he have that women are lying about being assaulted?
Evidently, Lee doesn’t have the Internet where he lives. Had he bothered to do a bit of reading on this subject, he would have found a plethora of information about rampant sexual abuse in IFB churches, colleges, and ministries. Both the Chicago Tribune and the Houston Chronicle took an in-depth look at the sex scandal-plagued IFB church movement. I have spent the past fourteen years shining a light on sexual abuse (and non-criminal sexual misconduct) committed by IFB pastors, youth pastors, evangelists, missionaries, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and college professors. Others such as Julie Roys and Christa Brown have done the same. Even secular groups such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation have tracked and reported on sex crimes perpetrated by so-called men of God. All of this information was available to Lee, yet he either doesn’t have access to it, or he thinks all the reporting on sexual assault is much-to-do about nothing — an insignificant problem.
How can one read about Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, David Hyles, and a host of other leaders at Hyles-Anderson and First Baptist and not conclude that the college and church have a systemic problem with sexual misconduct?
I also want to address Lee’s statements about sexual assault on the campuses of Purdue University. According to Lee’s “math,” Purdue averages one sexual assault per year: 25 out of 40,000 over 25 years. Surely he’s kidding, right? It took me all of thirty seconds to find stories about sexual assault at Purdue. Last October, there were four reports of sexual assault over a several-week period.
More than one in five Purdue University female undergraduates say they’ve experienced a sexual assault since beginning college, and about one in eight say it happened during the current year, the school said Monday.
Purdue released the findings of a Campus Climate Survey on sexual assault sponsored by the Association of American Universities to coincide with the AAU’s release of an aggregate report from 27 institutions nationwide. Purdue was the only Indiana institution participating in the survey.
At Purdue, 21.9 percent of female undergraduates on the main campus in West Lafayette who responded to the survey said they had been sexually assaulted since beginning college, slightly lower than the 23.1 percent AAU aggregate, the university said. Also, 13.2 percent reported they had been sexually assaulted during the current year, the same as the aggregate finding.
Sexual assault was defined as experiencing nonconsensual sexual penetration or sexual touching involving physical force or incapacitation.
The survey was sent this spring to nearly 780,000 students at the association’s member colleges, plus one additional university. About 150,000 participated in the online questionnaire.
The results were generally in line with past surveys on sexual assault and misconduct on college campuses — and confirmed that alcohol and drugs are important risk factors.
Lee might want to find his trusty calculator out and run the numbers. He will find that hundreds of sexual assaults occur each year at Purdue University — many of which, for obvious reasons, go unreported.
I have no idea if Lee is still a part of the IFB church movement. I hope not, but his comment reflects the thinking I have seen from countless IFB preachers and church members over the years. Such people will read the aforementioned South Bend Tribune story and what will they see? Why, alcohol and drugs played a big part in these sexual assaults. So what? Is that justification for rape and sexual assault? Or perhaps women will be blamed for dressing “immodestly” or putting themselves in compromising positions. In other words, these women were “asking” for it. Such thinking, of course, is vile and perverse, but defenders of the IFB church movement continue to make excuses for the sex crimes committed in the churches and institutions.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 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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