What follows is an excerpt from an 11,000-word sermon preached in 1971 at First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, by its pastor Jack Hyles. Titled Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Hyles makes it clear that the public schools are out to destroy America’s children. Sadly, forty years later, many Evangelicals still believe as Hyles did: that public schools are used by Satan to destroy the minds of our children. Hyles’ solution, of course, was for parents to pull their children out of public schools, and enroll them in Christian schools.
I would not preach like I am going to preach tonight if I did not love you. I know a lot of folks tonight will not agree with me, but you never heard a more honest sermon. Now I know our church has dozens of public school teachers. If we asked for a show of hands tonight, I am sure that we would have 35 to 40 people in this room tonight who teach in the public school. I would not hurt you purposely for the world, but tonight I am going to do one thing–I am going to tear what is going on in our schools apart, let me forewarn you. I am going to try to help you save your kids.
The truth is, parents do not know what is going on. I am going to be very frank tonight. No punches barred tonight. If I have superintendents of schools and principals and teachers calling me by the thousands tomorrow, it does not matter. I am going to try to save your kids if it makes the whole town mad. Tonight I am going to spend myself to save your kids. I am going to risk your devotion, your love, your fellowship, maybe your friendship, but I am going to do it because, with all my heart I want to save your kids.
A lady said to me yesterday, “I went over here to a middle school to work in the lunchroom at the lunch hour. Pastor, it never dawned on me the condition of that place. I never realized before what is happening in our schools.”
Parents, you really do not know what is going on. No, you do not. I have in my hand a teenage questionnaire. By the say, one of the reasons I am starting off slow tonight, I do not know what time it is and could not care less. You just forget your clock and your hopes of getting to bed at all tonight, because this is one night when I am going to stand before you and plead for your children.
There are people in this room tonight who care more about your dog than you do your kids. You care more about driving a Cadillac car, or new car. A lot of you ought to sell your car and ride a bicycle if you have to, to get your kids in a decent school. I plead with you tonight for your kids. I hold before me a copy of a survey that our high school students took this morning. Two hundred thirty of our students took this survey, and here are the questions:
1. Have you ever heard one of your school teachers use vulgar language in class?
2. Have you ever heard a school teacher take the name of the Lord in vain in class?
3. Do you ever hear students cursing aloud in class?
4. Have you ever been approached by someone who wanted to sell or give you marijuana or any other narcotic?
5. Have any of your school friends used narcotics?
6. Have you ever used drugs?
7. Have you ever given away or sold drugs yourself?
8. Do you know of any teacher who uses drugs?
9. Have you ever been taught evolution?
10. Do any of your teachers wear mini-skirts?
11. Do any of your teachers wear pant dresses?
12. Do any of your school friends drink?
13. Have you ever taken a drink or any alcoholic beverage, such as beer, wine, etc.?
14. Has there ever been in your school any disturbances, such as revolts, riots, student disorders, boycotts, etc.?
15. Have you ever heard the American way of life, the establishment, and capitalism criticized by a teacher?
16. Have you ever worn slacks to school?
17. Have you ever worn shorts to school?
18. Have you ever been taught that premarital sex is all right?
19. Have you been asked to read such books as, Of Mice and Men, Soul On Ice, The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, or any other book that includes cursing?
20. Have you read any of these books?
Now this questionnaire was handed to each of our high school students this morning. Before you leave tonight, I am going to give you what your kids said this morning, plus a lot of other things along with it. I will give you through the message tonight, the result of this survey.
The average parent in this room does not have any idea what is going on when your child goes to school. How many of you, if you saw your child’s teacher walking down the street, would recognize him or her? Raise your hand, please. You see, you are living under the illusion that it is like us when you were a kid. Brother, it is not near like it was when you were a kid. Not near like it was. Now, you do not care enough to even know. How many of you have ever read at least one book that was required reading for your child at school? Would you lift your hand, please? You just do not much care, do you?
You see, you do not know what is going on, and like the ostrich, you do not want to know what is going on because you do not want to get in a fight, or spend some of your money to save your child. You want to keep on riding high, living it up, enjoying life without facing the fact that we have got a battle on our hands, and that battle is not just to save the country, it is to save your children.
If we so not rise up and do something, everything decent that we know about our way of life is about to crumble. I am sick and tired of a bunch of sex, demonized, demented people standing behind the school, behind the cloak of scholarship, and destroying those whom we call our own children. I am tired of it! I have ceased, a long time ago, to keep my mouth shut about it. Not only that, but since you will not check yourself on what is going on tonight, I am going to open the door to the public schools for you and invite you in.
I challenge anybody to disprove what I say tonight. There is not one way any person can disprove what I am going to give you in this sermon tonight. You say, “Preacher, you are a rabble-rouser.” You better know I am, but I am not near as big a rabble-rouser as these people trying to destroy the minds of our children, destroy the patriotism, decency, honor, character and chastity of our boys and girls. I am going to do some rabble-rousing, but that is not all I am going to do. I am going to do some school-building, too, and I am going to give our kids a choice in so doing.
Satan is after your child like he has never been after anybody’s child in the history of this world. Satan has pointed every gun in his arsenal at the soul and body and life of your child, and he is doing it, basically, through the schoolroom.
You see, people do not like to hear what I am going to say tonight, because we have some things that we have deified. We have some institutions that we do not like to see anybody attack. We have deified the schoolroom and the public school until we think they can say no evil, speak no evil, and while we have built a canopy of protection over them they are destroying and stealing our boys and girls. Now the truth is, ant this is the sad thing, you ought to be pleading with me for your children instead of me pleading with you. Isn’t that something? I stand up here and take a chance on making you mad, pleading with you to save your child. The truth is, you ought to be on your knees, saying, “Brother Hyles, please do something for us so we can save our children.”
I could have parents stand up all over this house tonight as living testimony to what I am going to say. I could have parents parade across this platform by the dozens, they are here now, to stand up here in bodies and lives and dreams that are broken and say, “My boy or my girl was ruined by a university or a high school or a teacher.”
Your kids may go to the Devil and your kids may not go to a Christian school and they may not turn out right, but I will tell you one thing, it is not going to be because Brother Hyles did not warn you and do the best he could to help you. If anybody gets mad at me tonight, it is because you just do not understand. I love you and I love your children, and I love you so much I am going to do my best to beat some sense in your head.
I am weary of this kind of talk, “Well, everything will be out in the world when they get older. Why shelter and protect them now?” If that is the case, when your kid is born, why don’t you kick him out in the street and say, “Ride a bicycle.”
I am going to give you tonight several things the Devil is doing to attack your child:
1. Revolution. The first part of the hippie program is to kill your parents. I mean that quite seriously, because until you are prepared to kill your parents, you are not really prepared to change the country. “Our parents are our first oppressors.” Who said that? Jerry Rubin, one of the notorious Chicago Seven. Where did he say it? On the campus of Kent State University. It was said on the Kent State University campus, “You must be prepared to kill your parents because they are your first oppressors.” This was said only one week before the rioting which resulted in the deaths of four students.
Our socialist-minded professors and teachers, with their leftist-slanted textbooks, have dedicated themselves to changing the American way of life through the indoctrinating of the minds of students.
What else is being launched at your child?
2. Books. Here are some samples of profanity. Now I am sorry, I am not going to use these words, but I am going to spell some bad words. I may as well just come out and tell you what your kids are reading. You have not checked on it, you have no idea, so I am going to have to tell you. I have got to invite you. I am going to open a few of the books. New Worlds Ahead is used for the seventh grade. The seventh grade uses this: “The Stray Kitten”, by Richard Wright, Page 54. “Kill that d-a-m-n thing.” That is seventh grade. Page 55: “I had my first triumph over my father. I had made him believe that I had taken his words literally; he could not punish me without risking his authority. I was happy because I had at last found a way to throw my criticism of him into his face.” That is a quote from a seventh-grade book.
Another story in the book called “The Blue Serge Suit”, Page 414, says, “D-a-m-n asthma.” Page 416, “That d-a-m-n asthma is getting worse.” “I’ll be d-a-m-n-e-d if I see what you are getting at.” That is seventh grade reading!
A ninth grade book, Voices in Literature (1). “Shoe Shine”, by Jerome Weidman, Page 21: “My God!” Page 23:”D-A-M-N it.” Page 23 again: “D-a-m-n it! My God!” The Long Night”, by Lowell Blanton, Page 84: “Well, d-a-m-n it, man.” Page 209: “D-a-m-n-e-d-e-s-t thing.” Page 235 questions parental authority. “The Sissy from Anaconda”, Page 352: The d-a-m-n-e-d-e-s-t rattle snake.” “Hell.” That is ninth-grade reading. Not only is that not good English, that is not even cultural. That is not even refined. That is not even scholarly–that is heathen-like.
You parents who won’t send your sons and daughters to our school, you say “I am afraid that the Hammond Baptist High School will not be properly accredited.” We are a little above this kind of accreditation. We are too scholarly for this kind of garbage. We are too cultural for this kind of talk. Not only has it pricked our religious and spiritual convictions, it pricks our cultures.
We are just getting started. Say you will not read this. I have got to read it to you and for you. It is called Themes in Literature, the tenth grade. “The Colt” by Willis Stegner, Page 127: “G-o-d-d-a-m-n you. G-o-d-d-a-m-n your wild hearts.”
Tenth grade: In “The Mateo Falcon”, by Merimee, the father kills his own son. In Western Literature: Themes and writers, “The Out Station”, by W. Somerset Maugham, page 83: “Go to Hell, you d-a-m-n fool. You D-a-m-n-e-d snob, by God.” And 15 counts of profanity in this one story on Page 83, and also a murder.
Voices in literature III, an article “On the Sidewalk Bleeding”, by Evan Hunter, page 105-111, a gang member is stabbed. The whole story tells how he lays on the sidewalk and bleeds to death.
In the book Of Mice and Men, that has been required reading in numbers of schools in this area, by John Steinbeck, page 24: “He is sure a Hell of a good worker. He is a G-o-d-d-a-m-n good worker.” My Bible says you are not to take the name of our Lord God in vain. And I will tell you another thing, too. I got fed up with my boy and girl having to sit in a classroom and listen to a bunch of dirty-minded people stand up and use God’s name in vain. Not one time in the life of my children anymore are they going to sit and hear anybody curse my God! You do not have to let your children do that either. Of Mice and Men, by the way, Steinbeck is a Nobel Prize winner. The Devil is proud of him. Page 48, “Them G-o-d-d-a-m-n turnips, give it to me.” Page 56, If that crazy b-a-s-t-a-r-d is foolin’ around too much, just kick him out, Slim.” Page 83: “In many times.” Page 94: “This here G-o-d-d-a-m-n son of a ______(female dog) wasn’t nothin’ to George.”
Soul On Ice, By Elridge Cleaver, here is another book that is suggested reading, page 159: “I’d jump over ten nigger________(female dogs) just to get one white woman.”
Now you just sit there and swell up like a toadstool, but brother, I am trying to help your kids, and I am doing it at the risk of a lot of folks getting mad. Listen, if I lose half the deacon board and two-thirds of the members, there is one thing I am going to do: Try to save your kids for Jesus’s sake before I have to take off. I am not mad at anybody, but the Devil, and I am weary of this crowd of left-wingers that are taking over our schools and ruining our kids. I am weary of these sex perverts, these people of loose morals, these Sweden-oriented teachers, and if you are not one of those, I am not talking about you, but there are thousands of them, and it is getting worse and worse all the time. This kind of garbage is what they are requiring and asking our kids to read. Now I have not even started yet, really. I wish I had time to do the whole thing. Let us go further.
Soul On Ice, Page 160: “I will not be free until the day I can have a white woman in my bed, and a white man minds his own business.” Page 170, I cannot even read this, “During _______, and at the moment of her_______, the black woman in the first throes of her_________.” I cannot even read it! It tells about a black woman and a white man, the entire story.
Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, published by Viking Press, Page 27, and this book is considered suggested reading. Page 27: “You ain’t too d-a-m-n holy to take a drink, are you?” “And I hear she’s a s-o-n of a ______(female dog).” That is the Grapes of Wrath. You thought that was a good book, didn’t you? You are not checking, are you? Well now you know. You ought to say, “My child is not going to be subjected to stuff like this anymore.”
4. Sex. Coming into our schools are books, slides and filmstrips are not how babies are made. Now this is for our little children, little children in school. “How Babies Are Made” shows chickens and dogs in the act. It shows Mom and Dad in bed. It is climaxed with a few pictures of a nude mother giving birth to a baby who was conceived several pages earlier. That is being taught in our schools to little children. A coloring book of animals “in the act” is also available for the kiddies, as is a teacher’s guide which explains how babies are made. It “hopes to create an atmosphere of honesty and freedom of discussion concerning matters of reproduction, and to promote understanding and correct usage of the names of body parts.” This is for little children.
The teacher’s guide lists the following questions which are typical of those asked during a presentation of the story, “How Babies Are Made.” “When people lie down and face each other, does the woman become pregnant?” I cannot even read the rest of it, and I can’t believe they print this for little children.
LISTEN TO ME! If every deacon in this church walks out on me, and if every member of this church gets mad and quits, or this church rises up tonight and says “Don’t you preach what you are preaching or we will fire you,” you can have your church and I will be on my way. I am going to fight this dastardly attempt by the Devil and his crowd to wreck our children and destroy our boys and girls. Brother, don’t you think this is a one-time-only sermon; you will be getting it right along.
Now what can you do?
1. Get in a good church. You say, “I will pray about it.” You do not have to pray about that; just get in a good church. You say, “I will do what the Lord leads.” He is leading you out of that liberal church now. Get in a good church. You say, “Where is a good one?” Well, see me after the service and I will recommend one to you.
2. Get your child in all the activities of the church. All of them! When the doors open, get him here. Get Junior in the choir. “But he is thirteen; his voice is changing.” Okay, let him get up and sing sourly. That is how I sing all the time. Get him in the choir. You say, “He cannot sing.” Then let him hum. If he cannot hum, just let him move his mouth and pray nothing will come out. But you say, “Brother Hyles, Junior will not go.” Oh, brother. What in the world kind of parent are you? I dare my boy not to go when I say go. He is seventeen years old now and thinks he might be able to whip his dad, but I have some holds he does not know about. I will wring his neck if he does not obey me.
3. Get your child in the Christian school. I mean it folks. Do I have to get on my knees and talk to you? Do I have to beg you? I know, I sit in my office. I know what happens.
I am going to say this if it harelips every dog in this county. I am going to make somebody mad, but I am going to say it. I am going to take a chance on making all of you mad tonight to save your kids. When our kids come home from college, they do not have to tell me which ones are coming home from state universities. I can spot them. Now if that be treason, make the most of it. I am trying to help you. I have tried the best I could to keep your kids from going to those state colleges. I have preached and preached and screamed and pleaded and begged and hollered and cried and made folks mad and chased folks off, trying to keep your kids from going there. I am doing it again tonight.
Get your kids in the Christian school. We have here, on this platform, a man who has to take second place to no principal when it comes to scholarship and education. None at all. We have a faculty at our school that does not have to bow to anybody’s faculty.
Ladies and gentlemen, your children do not have to go to the Devil anymore. Furthermore, we are opening a college in September of 1972. That means not that a child can start at our schools when he is four years of age and stay there for 16 years. They do not have to go to the Devil.
4. Give. It is going to take a lot of money for us to do what we are going to do. I mean some of you ought to give some property. You say, “Brother Hyles, what would you do with it?” We may start a school on it. Or we may trade it for some property where we can start a school. Somebody who owns fifty acres ought to just give ten acres to the church, just give it. You say, “Brother Hyles, it is a long way off.” You ought to just give it anyway. Give it to the church. How we will use it, I do not know, but we will use it. Just give it to the church. Somebody ought to give enough land for a school in some neighborhood, and when the time comes, we will develop it and have a school there. Give.
Somebody ought to give a thousand or ten thousand dollars. Listen, it is the best money you have ever spent, investing in this kind of money for our children. Also, you ought to put First Baptist Church in your Will. I do not mean nest month, I mean this week. I mean now. Go down to your lawyer and say, “Put First Baptist Church in my Will so when I die, I will still be helping to carry on the program of First Baptist Church and what it is trying to do.
The thing that every person ought to do is tithe. I am calling on every member of this church to give ten percent of his income from now on. Everyone–every child, every man, every woman, every boy, every girl, every couple–everybody! We cannot rise up and build and do what God wants us to do, unless we give. We have to do it! It is time we called a national emergency on the Devil. Let us save our children.
Of course, many of you have closed minds. You do not want to be confused with the facts; your mind is made up. You are too scholarly. Your mind is closed. If you could have interviewed the kids in our school before they went to school here, and if you knew them now, you would be a believer.
They are your kids! I have tried for years, and I’ll keep on trying to help them. I am not against anything or anyone except wrong, but I am against wrong wherever it is! I know what I’m called. I hear what gangs of boys say when they drive by the church and see me getting into my car. I know what is said on the radio, the newscasts, and the call-in programs. I am a fanatic. They said that I am a bigot (Do you know what the word “bigot” is? Bigot is a word used by bigots to describe decent people.) Yes, I know! I was walking in a shopping center the other day, and three boys spit at me. I get the phone calls. I get the letters. I’m a fool, but I’m glad to be one if I can help save your kids! We have dedicated ourselves to try to do it! Won’t you let us?
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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