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IFB Pastor Bobby Leonard “Apologizes” for Saying Women Deserve Being Raped If They Wear Immodest Shorts

pastor bobby leonard

When you go to Pigeon Forge, sit in mall parking lot, you’ll find more women with shorts on than pants & dresses put together. If you dress like that and you get raped, and I’m on the jury, he’s going to go free. You don’t like that, do you? I’m right, though. Because a man’s a man.

— Bobby Leonard, Pastor of Bible Baptist Tabernacle in Monroe, North Carolina

Bobby Leonard is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher, pastor of Bible Baptist Tabernacle for fifty-four years. His vile comment in his sermon resulted in widespread condemnation, resulting in Leonard apologizing:

I want to express my deep regret for the statements made from the pulpit. I am only beginning to understand the hurt and offense caused, and I take full responsibility for my words. As a pastor I failed to uphold the biblical values of love and compassion. I apologize for the pain caused and commit to learning from making this foolish and sinful statement. Bible Baptist Tabernacle and I unequivocally stand on the biblical position that rape under any circumstances is a heinous crime to be punished severely and is never excusable.

What are we to make of Leonard’s apology, especially considering he made this statement six months ago and only apologized AFTER his words were revealed by Bad Preacher Clips on Twitter? Leonard apologized because he got caught. His words caused such outrage, he had no choice but to eat them and “apologize.”

Generally, preachers such as Leonard say what they mean the first time. Apologies are damage control, not repentance and contrition. Leonard has been an IFB Christian his entire life. He has heard similar statements countless times over the years; I know I have.

Here’s the late IFB demigod Jack Hyles saying virtually the same thing; suggesting that if women who dress immodestly (show their thighs) get raped, they deserve it.

Video Link

Here’s what a few other IFB/Baptist preachers said about women dressing immodestly:

An immodestly dressed woman is like a cigarette at a gas pump. The cigarette does not explode; the explosion comes as a result of the inherent instability of the fuel. But whoever lit the thing is an absolute fool. I can hear the responses being typed furiously all the way from Iowa. “Well, he should control himself!” Amen, sister, amen. He should walk in the Spirit and thus not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. And you should not run around half-clothed.

— Tom Brennan, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Dubuque, Iowa, Brennan’s Pen, The Relationship Between Modesty and Lust, April 25, 2022

The entire eighteenth chapter of Leviticus is on nakedness. Although most Christians still consider bestiality as being wrong, they no longer consider homosexuality as being wrong or dressing improperly as being wrong. Many see nothing wrong with dressing scantily. Many see nothing wrong with mixed bathing, yet God calls it an abomination. How many cases of incest have taken place in homes where passions have been inflamed by immodesty among family members? How many boys and girls have been raised in homes that practiced immodest dress and now live lives of promiscuity?

— Gerald B. Collingsworth, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Mogadore, Ohio, Right Living is Not Legalism, May 18, 2019

It’s that beautiful yet dreadful time of year when summer clothes come-out.  And it seems that every summer shorts get shorter, necklines plunge lower, styles get tighter, and fabrics are so thin that one could read a newspaper through them.  Yet issues over modest clothing aren’t just significant to the Amish and crotchety old people who complain about “those ‘dang teenagers.”

When a glutton eats too much, no one else gets fat.  And when a thief steals from a convenience store, only the thief goes to jail.  But when a young lady dresses inappropriately, the effects of her sin are expansive.

Her sin spreads.

As she strolls down the beach in her immodest bathing suit or worships on a Sunday wearing a revealing dress, everyone who sees her is handed temptation.   The men and boys around her must battle the sin of lust, while the women and girls around her must battle the sins of bitterness and jealousy and the temptation to show-off their bodies, too.   Everyone is distracted by the young lady’s clothing and everyone struggles to think pure thoughts.

— Kara Barnette, wife of Tim, pastor of Heritage Hills Baptist Church in Rockdale County, Georgia

There is an infatuation with the body, and, of course, the sexual aspects of the body as well. Some sports encourage immodesty, revealing large portions of the body and this happens in some sports. These are the risky sports. Here they are, what are the risky sports? Gymnastics. Gymnastics and swimming. These are the sports in which there is an added risk.

Why are all of the gymnasts [at] more of a risk than other sports? Do you really want your daughters involved in a sport that involves a fair amount of immodesty in which red-blooded American male coaches are interacting with these girls? Or, worse yet, where the infatuation of the body eventually effects the lesbian coaches?

— Kevin Swanson, Gymnastics and the Sexual Abuse of Kids, February 9, 2018

Leonard should be fired for what he said, but he won’t be. Why? I suspect more than a few church members agree with him. What Leonard spoke out loud is not uncommon in IFB circles. Just good ‘ole old-fashioned, pulpit-pounding, toe-stomping, fire-and-brimstone preaching, right?

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

    I seem to recall that Josh Duggar molested his baby sister while she was sitting on his lap during Bible time. Incest is not restricted to those families who dress immodestly. Not at all.

  2. Avatar

    well, his god forgave him so no one else has a right to judge him. Everyone should forgive because this god forgives and doesn’t hold it against him.

    After all, he is a poor weak man, unable to manage his own thoughts and desires. A woman wearing shorts and showing her thighs is a temptress sent by satan to try to destroy this holy man of god. He can’t be held responsible for his thoughts and desires and needs and inability to look at women without thinking sexual thoughts. He is just sooo weak and soooo unable to control himself because he is just a red blooded american man.

    I find these kind of men to be pathetic. They could look at a woman wearing a very large burlap sack and find some reason to sexualize her.

    Didn’t Jesus have a solution for people who let their eyes lead them to sin? I mean, if we are talking about adhering to the word of god as Collingworth has stressed, then why not fully commit?

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    Ted M Gossard

    I’m listening to The Cult I Left Behind podcast: Amanda and Kyle Briggs. It’s connected with the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and Bill Gothard. I once attended one of his seminars in Chicago in the late 1970’s. And I’ve seen extended family members affected by this. Devastating stuff with real life consequences. The podcast is worth listening to (I’m in the 9th episode). Much is made of this very thing in that cult and cultic like thinking. All the burden is placed on women and girls, even while they’re sadly being used and abused. You would think the fruit of that would cause this kind of thinking to fall out of favor, to disappear. Sadly, not.

  4. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    When a priest sexually abused me, my young body was draped in an opaque black cassock with a white surplice.

    When I was sexually assaulted as an adult, I was wearing a loose jacket, pants and “sensible “ shoes.

    So it was my fault that a priest or a guy I encountered while leaving work couldn’t help themselves because God made them that way?

  5. Avatar

    These jerseys talk a out women’s bodies needing to be covered up because “a man is a man”. What does that mean? That a man has to look at female bodies, get aroused, and MUST FEEL THE NEED TO ATTACK? That’s the message I am hearing here – an expectation that men are barely on a leash, and that leash is yards of loose fabric covering a female body. Seriously, this message does no one any good.

    My husband says he is perfectly capable of keeping his hands to himself and to assume otherwise is offensive.

    These guys can f#$% the hell off.

  6. Avatar
    Melvin L Bausinger

    When a woman is SA’d the conversation invariably centers around the woman. When it is reported it is “a woman was raped” for example. It should be phrased “a man raped a woman”. The action or fault was not hers, it was the man’s, but it’s always phrased and discussed as something the woman did or didn’t do.
    Rational, thinking people need to refocus the conversation when it’s brought up.

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