Tag Archive: Divorce

What IFB Churches Believe About Divorce

god hates divorce

Churches and pastors who identify with the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement generally believe that marriage is for life and that divorce is a sin. While you will find a variety of interpretations among IFB churches and pastors, I can safely say they hate divorce. The Bible says in Malachi 2:14-16:

Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he [God] hateth putting away [divorce]: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

The Bible says that God hates divorce. IFB adherents often say they “love what God loves and hate what God hates,” so it should come as no surprise, then, that the sin of divorce is roundly hated. Not as hated as, say, homosexuality, liberalism, or sleeping during the pastor’s sermon, but definitely a top-ten sin.

There are generally four IFB positions on divorce.

Adultery is the Only Ground for Divorce

First, many IFB churches and pastors believe that there is one ground for divorce: adultery. In Matthew 19: 3-9, Jesus purportedly said:

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Jesus is clear: the only valid reason for divorce is adultery. I should note in passing that only men were permitted to divorce their wives.

Adultery and Abandonment are the Only Grounds for Divorce

Some IFB churches and pastors believe that there are two grounds for divorce: adultery, and abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 states:

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.  But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that if a congregant has an unbelieving spouse who abandons him, the congregant has two choices: reconciliation or living single the rest of his life. Many IFB churches and pastors believe this passage of Scripture teaches that abandonment is also grounds for divorce. However, this passage only applies to mixed marriages; marriages where one spouse is a Christian and the other is not. Further, Paul makes it clear that if an unbelieving female spouse leaves her Christian husband, he is NOT to divorce her; that he must either be reconciled to her or remain single all the days of his life.

blood of jesus

Divorce for Any Reason is Permitted Before Salvation

Some IFB churches and pastors believe that divorce for any reason is permitted as long as it occurred before a person is saved. The thinking goes something like this: The moment a person prays the sinner’s prayer, he or she becomes a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Salvation gives the believer new life. Past sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus and cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness to be remembered no more. Thus, pre-Jesus divorce — and murder, sexual assault, and spousal abuse — doesn’t count against the new Christian. I remember one evangelist who came regularly to one church I pastored that had a divorce in his past; in his pre-Jesus life. He hid this from me and other pastors, knowing that many of us believed that the Bible taught preachers must be the husbands of one wife, not one wife at a time. Years later, I found out that his first wife was a thirteen-year-old girl he impregnated. They later divorced, but his ex-wife believes her preacher ex-husband still has an appetite for younger girls. When I questioned this man about his former marriage, he replied, “It’s under the blood, brother, it’s under the blood!” In other words, he refused to be held accountable for anything he did BC — before Christ.

There are No Grounds for Divorce

Some IFB churches and pastors believe there are no grounds for divorce; that the exceptions granted by Jesus and Paul were given due to the hardness of man’s heart; that God’s standard is “marriage until death do we part.” While allowance was made for women leaving their husbands if they regularly beat them, separating spouses were told that under no circumstances could they divorce and remarry. They were reminded that Jesus said: Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. In other words, remarry and you are an adulterer.

IFB luminary John R. Rice was asked, “Should A Divorced Woman Remarry Her Husband, Who Wants Her Back, Or Marry The Other Man She Is In Love With?” He responded:

She should remarry her husband. You see, when she was married first, she took a solemn vow to love, honor and obey . . . until death do us part. And the Bible clearly teaches that divorce is wrong. Even if the husband mistreated the wife (and of course all husbands and wives are human and fail in some degree), still she was his wife, she had promised to be with him until death, and God wanted her to obey her husband and love him and be true to him.

I think that if a wife will set out to obey her husband, she will find that love will increase. She will have to confess to God her sin of loving another man, and if in her heart she will honestly turn from that in repentance, then God will help her to love her husband and help the husband to forgive and love her. If things are not always easy, still the only way to happiness is to do right and have God’s blessing.

Satan always has some very attractive ways in sin. Sin is always attractive at first, but it always ends bad. The Bible says, ‘The way of transgressors is hard’ (Prov. 13:15). And, again, the Bible says in Numbers 32:23, ‘Be sure your sin will find you out.’ And Romans 6:23 says, ‘The wages of sin is death.’

First Corinthians 7, verses 10-13, says, ‘And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.’”

Now the thing to do is to believe that God will restore happiness and that He will help straighten things out. So give Him a chance to do that.

Rice’s answer was typical of what I heard as a long-time member and pastor of IFB churches.

In 1994, I was between pastorates and Polly and I and our six children attended an IFB church pastored at the time by my best friend. One night, I went with him on a visitation call to a church family who was having marital problems. They were seriously contemplating divorce. My preacher friend made it clear to them that God hated divorce and that there were no Biblical grounds for divorce. He said, “You have two choices. Either reconcile or separate and remain unmarried.” In his eyes, getting a divorce and then remarrying was a grievous sin and grounds for excommunication. He went on to say, “God says, if you remarry, both you and your new spouse are adulterers.”

Later, on our way home, I questioned him about his position on divorce. I asked, “if they remarry, what is it that makes them adulterers?” He replied, “the sex act.” I said, “So, every time they have sex, they are committing adultery?” My friend paused for a moment — thinking this was another one of Bruce’s famous theological traps — and then said, “Yes.”  And sure enough he walked into one of my traps. I replied, “So, no one who is divorced and remarried is a Christian? And anyone in your church who is divorced and remarried (I mentioned several couples by name) will spend eternity in Hell?” As he pondered my questions, I reminded him that the Bible said in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

“If, as the Bible says, adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God,” I said, “then doesn’t that mean that divorced-remarried people — whom you say are adulterers — will NOT inherit the kingdom of God?” After a seemingly long period of silence, my friend said, “well, maybe I need to rethink my position.” Ya think?

Conclusion

Is it any wonder that divorced people feel out of place and marginalized in IFB churches? Worse yet, the aforementioned positions on divorce and remarriage can lead to women in particular enduring all sorts of abuse at the hands of their husbands. In October 2015, I wrote a post titled, Domestic Violence in the IFB Church. Here’s an excerpt from that post which illustrates the danger of taking a no-divorce position:

Years ago the church I was pastoring joined together with other IFB churches to hold a joint revival meeting. The speaker was Bill Rice III. (I am almost certain it was Bill Rice but it could have been Pete Rice, both were associated with the Bill Rice Ranch.) One night, Bill Rice preached on  the subject of marriage and divorce. Rice did not believe there were any grounds for divorce. He said that even if a husband was beating on his wife, the wife should stay in the marriage. Perhaps she would win her husband to Jesus by her willingness to stay in the marriage. Rice intimated that saved husbands don’t beat their wives.

By the time of this meeting my views had already begun to change and I pulled our church out of the meetings. I was incensed that Rice was advocating a woman endure her husband beating on her, implying that God wanted her to do so.

The teachings of the Bible on marriage and divorce reflect a time when women were viewed as chattel; as little more than property. There’s nothing in Jesus’ or Paul’s teachings on marriage/divorce that suggests they moved beyond the beliefs and practices found in the Old Testament. Jesus, being God, hated divorce; and the Apostle Paul? Well, he had a real problem with women in general. I have long asked, Why Would Any Woman Want to be an Evangelical Christian? I wrote, at one time:

Why would any woman want to be an Evangelical Christian? If the Bible is the inspired Word of God and every word is true, why would any modern, thinking woman ever darken the door of an Evangelical church?

Over the past hundred years women have continued to gain rights and privileges kept from them by men, law, and social propriety: the right to vote, equal pay for equal work, the right to use birth control, the right to have an abortion, the right to divorce. While women do not yet have equal rights and privileges in this country, huge progress has been made toward that end.

Why don’t women have true equal rights and privileges in America? Don’t deceive yourself into thinking they do. There are still places in our society where the signs say Men Only. The primary reason women are denied basic civil rights and social privileges is that Christian patriarchal thinking still permeates our society.

Evangelical Christianity teaches that women are inferior to men. The Bible calls women a weaker vessel. The Bible teaches that women are to be married, keepers of the home, bearers of children, and sex partners for their husband (unless the husband goes Old Testament and has multiple wives and concubines). Simply put, the Bible teaches that the world of women revolves around husband, food, children, and sex.

If the Bible is meant to be taken as written, women have no part in the governance of society or the church. Women are relegated to teaching children, and as women age they are given the task of teaching younger women how to be good wives.

….

I am of the opinion that many women embrace Evangelical Christianity and continue in the church because of the social and family connection they have with others in the church. They are willing to put up with being considered second-class citizens as long as they can maintain those connections. I suspect this is due to the maternal instinct that most women have. Others have been so indoctrinated by the men in their life that they actually think they are inferior to men and meant to be their slaves. I’ve had more than a few conversations with women who cannot or will not see that they deserve a far better life than they now have.

As long as there are marriages there will be divorces. Sometimes, people marry the wrong person or find out their spouses were not the people they thought they were. The issues that can derail a marriage and lead to divorce are many. As a humanist, I desire peace and happiness for everyone. Sometimes, the only way for a married couple to find peace and happiness is to divorce. Yet, IFB churches and pastors would rather have couples spend their lives living with people they do not love. Years ago, an older woman began attending the church I was pastoring at the time. After a few visits, I stopped by her home to get to know her a bit a better. I found out that she was married, but her husband was nowhere to be found. Later, a church member who knew her well told me, “Yes, she is married, but her husband lives in the second story of the house. They don’t speak to each other.” Come to find out, they had been living this way for twenty-five years. Why? The Bible says . . . The Bible says NO DIVORCE, so for twenty-five years this couple had lived in the same home, but apart from each other; much like boxers in the ring retreating to their respective corners. Sorry, but this is no way to live.

The good news is that Evangelical churches in general are becoming more accepting and tolerant of divorces. However, in the far-flung edges of the Evangelical universe, there are still churches and pastors who take a no-divorce position, demonize divorced people, and promote policies that can and do cause physical and psychological harm to women and children. (Yet, many of these same preachers support Donald Trump. Talk about hypocrisy.)

Are you a former IFB/Evangelical church member? What position did your church/pastor take on divorce? Did you get divorced while still a member of an IFB/Evangelical church? Please share your experiences in the comment section.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Does Loss of Faith Lead to Divorce?

grieving-the-loss-of-faith

Cartoon by David Hayward

Over the past twelve years, I have corresponded with numerous Evangelicals who find themselves in “mixed” marriages after their loss of faith. Having entered marriage according to the Biblical principle found in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

these unbelievers find themselves at odds with still-believing spouses. “What will become of their marriages?” these former Evangelicals ask. Having grown up in a religion that condemns mixed marriages AND divorce, they fear the consequences of losing their faith. Many of the Evangelicals who contact me suffer in secret, keeping their deconversions to themselves out of fear of hurting their spouses, children, parents, and close friends. I know a number of atheists/agnostics who attend Evangelical churches every Sunday because they fear what might happen if they dared to testify publicly that there is no God.

In April 2015, I wrote a widely read post titled, Consider the Cost Before You Say “I am an Atheist.” Here’s some of what I said:

If I had to do it all over again would I do it the same way? Would I write THE letter? Probably. My experiences have given me knowledge that is helpful to people who contact me about their own doubts about Christianity. I am often asked, what should I do? Should I tell my spouse? Should I tell my family, friends, or coworkers?

My standard advice is this: Count the cost. Weigh carefully the consequences. Once you utter or write the words I AM AN ATHEIST you are no longer in control of what happens next. Are you willing to lose your friends, destroy your marriage, or lose your job? Only you can decide what cost you are willing to pay.

I know there is this notion “Dammit I should be able to freely declare what I am” and I agree with the sentiment. We should be able to freely be who and what we are. If we lived on a deserted island, I suppose we could do so. However, we are surrounded by people. People we love. People we want and need in our life. Because of this, it behooves (shout out to the KJV) us to tread carefully.

This advice holds true today. Saying to believing spouses, children, and friends, I AM AN ATHEIST, can and will bring immediate negative responses. I always caution people to carefully and thoroughly weigh the costs and consequences of coming out of the proverbial closet. The Bible in Luke 14:28-30 gives some pretty good advice when it says:

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

Many unbelievers conclude that it is better for them to be closeted atheists than risk blowing up their marriages. But even then, these atheists/agnostics run the risk of being exposed; they run the risk of their spouses finding out the truth about who and what they really are. One man I know attended an IFB church with his wife and children every Sunday. To his spouse, family, pastor, and fellow church members, he was still a Jesus-loving, sin-hating, Bible-believing Christian. Outwardly, he was a good example of someone who loved Jesus. (Despite what Evangelicals say, it is possible and easy to fake being a Christian.) His deception could have gone on forever had his wife not found his secret stash of books by authors such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Needless to say, the shit hit the fan. This man remains married, but it is doubtful his marriage will survive once his children graduate from high school. The chasm between him and his wife is so large that it is unlikely they can find a way to bridge the two sides.

I know several couples who have been in mixed marriages for decades. They found ways to make their marriages work, choosing to compartmentalize their lives for the sake of their significant others. Several years ago, I ran into the spouse of one these couples at Walmart. I had been her pastor for a number of years, and her atheist husband — a delightful man — would attend church with her from time to time. I asked her about her marriage, “if you had it to do all over again, would you have married Bob?” She quickly said, “NO!” I asked her, “Why?”  She replied, “My faith is very important to me and there’s a whole side of my life I can never share with Bob.” Viewing their marriage from afar, I see a couple who stills love one another, but I also see a relationship where each of them has a life separate from the other.

I also have corresponded with atheists/agnostics in mixed marriages who quickly found out that their spouses loved God/Jesus/Church more than they loved them. One close family member went through a divorce several years ago. At the time of their wedding, he was a faithful, Jesus-loving Evangelical. His wife, on the other hand, was a nominal Christian. Over time, he moved away from his Evangelical roots, eventually embracing unbelief — at least when it comes to organized religion. His wife, however, ran headlong into the arms of what is best described as emotional, touchy-feely, syrupy, gagme-with-a-spoon Evangelicalism. While he would admit that the reasons for their divorce are many, one man, Jesus, played a central part in their breakup. Given a choice, his wife chose Jesus over him.

Evangelical apologists have all sorts of explanations for why people deconvert. Few of their reasons, however, match what really goes on when a devoted follower of Jesus begins the process of deconversion. Most atheists/agnostics will tell you that their losses of faith were long, arduous, painful processes. I know mine was. The moment I wrote my coming-out letter, Dear Family, Friends and Former Parishioners, my entire life came tumbling down. Emotionally, I was a wreck. I knew walking away from Christianity was the right thing to do, but I grossly underestimated the carnage that would lie in its wake. I had followed the evidence wherever it led, and despite attempts to stop my downward slide on the proverbial slippery slope, I had concluded that the central tenets of Christianity were untrue. My unbelief forced me to rethink and rebuild my life from the ground up. What did I really believe? What were my moral and ethical values? What kind of husband and father did I want to be? The questions were many, some of which linger to this day. So, to Evangelicals who believe former Christians, without suffering, pain, and agony , just woke up one morning and said, “I am an atheist,” I say this: “you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.”

This rebuilding process, of course, does not take place in a vacuüm. People who are married when they deconvert wrestle with questions about the future. They ponder what kind of marriages they will have if their spouses are still Christians. They wonder how being in a mixed marriage will affect their children. No longer believing that there is life after death can and does alter how one views the world. If a former Christian’s marriage was already troubled before his deconversion — yet he stayed married because of what the Bible teaches about divorce — he often questions whether he wants to remain married to his Evangelical spouse. Since there is only one life to live and then you are d-e-a-d, it’s fair and honest to ask yourself as an unbeliever: “If my Evangelical wife remains a devoted follower of Jesus, do I really want to spend the rest of my life married to her?” Many times, the answer is no and divorce soon follows.

I know a handful of Evangelicals-turned-atheists who took a wait-and-see approach to their spouses and marriages. These former Christians believed their spouses were, at the very least, open to discussing the reasons for why they deconverted. Taking a low-key approach allowed them to have non-threatening, honest discussions about God, Christianity, and the Bible. More often than not, these discussions bore fruit, leading to their spouses’ later deconversion. Sometimes, it took years of discussions (and book recommendations) before their spouses came to see the light, so to speak. These former Evangelicals believed that their marriages were worth saving if at all possible. This is more likely the case for couples who have been married a long time. It is a lot easier to walk away from a marriage of two or five years than it is to walk away from a marriage of twenty or thirty years.

People often look my forty-year marriage to Polly and think that we are some sort of shining example of what is possible post-Jesus. I warn them, however, that our journey from Evangelicalism to unbelief is ours alone; that far too often believing spouses remain so despite the deconversion of their husband or wife. Quite frankly, Polly and I were lucky. Just the other day we were talking about what might have happened had either of us stayed true to Jesus. We both concluded that our marriage might not have survived such upheaval and disunity had one of us still believed. Fortunately, as has been the case for most of our marriage, we walked hand in hand as our former lives as followers of Jesus went up in smoke. While there was a time when I was the out-and-proud atheist and Polly was the secret agnostic, we are closer now when it comes to the extent of our unbelief. Our personalities are different, so it stands to reason that how we live out our godlessness in public and around family is dissimilar too.

Are you in a mixed marriage? Did you go through a divorce after you deconverted? Are you a closeted atheist who still attends church with their spouse/family? Please share your experiences in the comment section.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

1973-1976: Bruce, The Wandering Baptist

bruce gerencser 1976

Bruce Gerencser, 1976

In the spring of 1972, after fourteen years of marriage, my parents divorced. By then, my mother was generally considered a nut job. Her post-divorce actions: suing (and later winning) Winebrenner Nursing Home over wage discrimination, and marrying her recently-released-from-Texas-prison first cousin, only reinforced how she was negatively viewed by others. My adulterous father, on the other hand, was viewed as the aggrieved party. Several months after my parents’ divorce, my father married a nineteen-year-old local girl with a baby. Gene Millioni, the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio — an IFB church — performed the ceremony.

I was angry. How could my parents divorce, adding yet more turmoil to our home? And how could my supposedly Bible-believing pastor marry my father and his new teenager girlfriend? And who was this woman who thought she was going to be my new “mom?” After several months of seething anger, I calmed down a bit, accepting my new reality. Shortly after my father remarried, he moved us from a rental home on Cherry Street to one on the south side of town. This was par for the course when it came to my father. Rent a house, live there awhile, get behind on the rent, run out of ways to manipulate the landlord, and then be forced to move. At least this move was in the same town, same school.

bruce gerencser 1971

Bruce Gerencser, Ninth Grade, 1972, wearing “welfare” glasses. I was so embarrassed that I quickly earned enough money to buy wire-rimmed glasses

After my parents’ divorce and my father’s remarriage, my parents and siblings stopped attending church. I, however, threw myself headlong into the church. That fall, I was saved and baptized, and a few weeks later I announced to the church that God was calling me to be a preacher. I was fifteen. The church became my surrogate family. My parents had stopped being responsible caretakers years before, so I was pretty much on my own. I spent very little time at home. School, playing sports, attending church, and hanging out with my friends consumed most of my time. I wanted nothing to do with my father’s new wife, a feeling that was returned in spades. Our relationship would later explode, with her hitting me in the face with a leather belt, and me picking her up and hurling her into a cement wall, fracturing a vertebrate in her back.

In early March 1973, my father gathered us together and let it be known that we were moving to Tucson, Arizona. Not when school was over, but soon, as in, right away. My father was trying to outrun his creditors. Two weeks later, our household goods were auctioned off, and what remained was packed into a U-Haul. Off we went, 1,900 miles to Tucson. I cried on and off during our trip. My father had moved us here and there repeatedly over the years. A great adventure, he called it, but I hated him for repeatedly uprooting my life. We had lived in Findlay almost three years; the longest we lived anywhere. I attended the same school system for eighth, ninth, and most of tenth grades. Finally, my father was getting his act together. I had made friends both at church and school. I played city league basketball and baseball, and was actively involved in youth group activities. I had even preached my first sermon. And now, with a snap of his fingers, my father was burning my life to the ground. I felt I had a number of reasons to be wrought with emotion.

As I had done numerous times before, I adapted to my new circumstances. I found a new church to attend, the Tucson Baptist Temple. I tried to involve myself in the church’s youth group, but I never felt like I belonged. Besides, I missed my friends in Ohio. After classes ended at Rincon High School, I packed my meager belongings, hopped a Greyhound Bus, and moved to my mother’s home in Bryan, Ohio. Bryan wasn’t Findlay, but I did have some friends there from my days attending First Baptist Church in the 1960s. Reacquainting myself with these friends provided a short respite for me, but as summer wore on, I found myself yearning for the seeming stability and normalcy of my past life in Findlay.

In August 1973, I moved to Findlay and enrolled in eleventh grade at Riverdale High School. A young family at Trinity Baptist had agreed to let me live with them. While I would have to attend yet another new school, I would still be going to Trinity and have my old friends back, so I thought I could live with attending Riverdale. Besides, Riverdale was a small country school. This would afford me the opportunity to play high school basketball. Unfortunately, after a month or so, the family I was living with had a falling out with the pastor of Trinity, and they decided to start attending a Bible church in nearby Arlington. Once again, I was forced to abandon my friends for people I did not know.

In early October, the family I was living with let Bruce Turner (Please see Dear Bruce Turner), the youth pastor at Trinity, know that I could no longer live with them. No reason was given as to why other than it was “not working out.”  As I ponder this point in my life, I can’t help but wonder if the real reason was that the husband thought I was getting a bit too friendly with his wife. Regardless, I had to move. Bruce found me a new home, this time with Gladys Canterbury. Gladys, in her sixties, was a devout Fundamentalist Baptist. While I wondered how it would work out living with a senior citizen, doing so allowed me to regain much of the life I left behind when my father moved us to Arizona, so I agreed to move in with her.

Gladys went to court and had me made a ward of the court. This action gave me access to medical insurance and provided Gladys with a monthly check for caring for me. To provide for my own personal needs, I started working at Bill Knapp’s Restaurant as a busboy. I arranged my class schedule in such a way that I would be finished with my classes around noon. I would then walk or ride my bike to Bill Knapp’s, arriving in time to work the lunch schedule. Afterward, I would take an extended break and work the dinner schedule. Once again, I adapted to my new reality.

By May of 1974, I was tired of living with Gladys. She was a taskmaster, and often refused to let me hang out with my friends. I was used to going and doing whatever I wanted, so I found Gladys’ approach to caring for me to be quite oppressive. Certainly, she meant well, but I didn’t want to hang out with a senior citizen.  I suspect my feelings weren’t much different from those of my friends. Teenagers, right? I had also learned that Bruce Turner was leaving Trinity. He was my surrogate father, and his departure left a huge hole in me emotionally.

The second week of May, I called my mother and asked if I could move back in with her. She said yes, and a week later she drove to Findlay and picked me up. My secretive move caused quite a bit of turmoil. Gladys threatened to have the police return me to her home, but nothing came of her threats. I started attending First Baptist Church of Bryan, quickly reconnecting with old friends. I found employment at several places: Bob’s Dairy Freeze, Everhart’s Restaurant, and Myer’s Marathon.

I turned seventeen in June of 1974. I took driver’s training at Bryan High School, and prepared to enroll in my senior year. However, Bryan High told me that I would have to repeat eleventh grade; not because of failing grades, but because I left Findlay before school ended. Findlay High denied me credit for my entire junior year because I missed the last ten days of school. I was so angry over this decision that I decided, “fine, I’ll drop out of school!” And so I did.

By October of 1974, my mother was, once again, a patient at Toledo State Mental Hospital. For the next six weeks, I was the head of the home. Both of my younger siblings were still in school. I made sure they went to school, and then I went to work. Outside of that, life at my mother’s house was pretty much one long party. Somehow, my father got wind that we were living without parental supervision, and in November he came to Ohio, picked us up, and moved us back to Arizona. By then, he had moved to Sierra Vista and opened a gun store with a settlement check he received from Ohio Workmen’s Compensation for his back.

After settling into my new reality, I found a stocking job at Food Giant. I learned that I was quite good at grocery work, skills I would later ply into several good jobs. After visiting several churches, I decided to join Sierra Vista Baptist Church — a Conservative Baptist Association congregation. I quickly became involved with the church’s bus route and helped teach Sunday School. It was not long afterward that I started dating a girl named Anita Farr. Anita was, I believe, two years older than I. Anita would become my first real love. I was smitten, and it was not long before we talked of getting married. Anita was in college, so marriage would have to wait, but I had no doubt that she was the one for me.

I turned eighteen in June of 1975. Two months later, Anita returned to college. We planned to see each other as often as we could on weekends. I drove to Phoenix several times that fall. I would stay in the dorm and then we would spend the weekend running around and attending church. Everything seemed headed in the right direction, until it wasn’t. You see, I was immature and prone to jealousy. Anita was a free spirit who loved flirting with men. It was not long before our relationship crashed and burned.

polly bruce gerencser cranbrook gardens bloomfield hills michigan 1978

Polly and Bruce Gerencser, Cranbrook Gardens, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Spring 1978, two months before our wedding.

Two weeks later, I packed up a couple of suitcases and caught a Greyhound Bus to Bryan, Ohio. I moved back in with my mom and took a job at Foodland as their dairy manager. I spent the next ten months having one of the most thrilling times of my life. I was an adult, had a good job, rented an apartment, owned my own car, and spent every waking hour either at work, church, or running around with my friends. I had no interest in serious relationships with the opposite sex. Anita cured me of that. I dated a good bit, but the moment things started turning serious I was off and running away. I was what you might call a serial dater.

In the spring of 1976, I decided it was time to act upon my call to the ministry. One friend of mine, Randy Rupp, laughed at me when I told him I was going to Bible college. He said, “you’ll never go!” But go I did, packing up my earthly belongings once again, and moving to Pontiac, Michigan to enroll for classes at Midwestern Baptist College — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution. And with this move, my wanderings came to an end. Well, kind of . . . well, not really . . . but for twenty-nine months Midwestern was my home.

It was there I met the love of my life and got married. I thought, “everything is moving in the right direction!” Get married, graduate, start a new church, that was the plan. However, God/Bruce had other plans. Seven months after Polly and I said “I do” we . . . you guessed it . . . moved. And over the past forty years we have moved numerous times. New houses, new communities, new churches. The reasons and circumstances for these moves are many, but the driving motivation was, I believed at the time, God. After years of counseling, I now know that wanderlust drives my desire and need to move. Even today, wanderlust whispers in my ear and says, “hey wouldn’t you like to live in ____________?”  Always restless, I am — a restlessness birthed a lifetime ago as my father moved me from town to town, state to state, and house to house. While my reasons for moving  — mostly religious in nature — are different from my father’s, I still followed in his footsteps. We try so hard to break free from our parents, yet when it comes time for me to give an account of my life, it seems that the proverbial apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Like it or not, I am the son of Robert and Barbara Gerencser. Well, not really. Have I told you the story about my father not being my “real” father? I’ll save that for another day.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Shame Over my Parent’s Divorce, a Guest Post by Ian

divorce

Guest post by Ian

Growing up in Fundamentalist churches, I knew that divorce was a wicked thing, and could never be forgotten or erased — unlike something such as murder. The reason was because divorce was a state in which one was continually living. Murder was a one-time act. Adultery could have an end. Even a child out of wedlock was the error of a few minutes. Once those acts were over, it was done, forgiven, time to move on. Divorce was something that couldn’t be undone, and it was never over.

Enter the poor kid whose dad had been divorced. Twice. That was me.

Sermon after sermon, I heard pastors preach against divorce. I heard how divorce kept you from pastoring a church; how divorce marked you as a second-class Christian; how God couldn’t fully use you because of this permanent stain on your life. I cringed when this subject would come up. My dad, who was a faithful Christian, would swallow that shit and agree with it. It must have hurt him horribly, but he accepted this as Biblical truth. It didn’t matter why he had been divorced, he just had. End of story.

I went to a Christian school for several years that helped reinforce this shame. My biological mother lived in the same city, and I would visit her every other weekend. When people would ask what I did on the weekends I visited her, I would say I went to a friend’s house. I couldn’t face the shame of having divorced parents.

When I got kicked out of the Christian school and attended a public school, I still had that shame. My biological mom wanted to take me on a school-sponsored ski trip, so she filled out the paperwork so I could go. When school officials saw her address, they told me I was in the wrong school zone. Instead of telling them the truth, I made up a BS story about how she worked in a different city, and that’s why she had the post office box listed as her address.

I don’t blame my dad for his divorces. They happened, and there’s nothing that can change that. Whatever the reasons for the divorces — right or wrong — I was collateral damage. In the 70s and 80s, Evangelical churches were so much different from what they are today on the matter of divorce. They still clung to the belief that divorce caused irreparable harm and that divorcees were second-class citizens. It wasn’t fair, nor was it right.

Those “loving” churches made a little boy feel shame over his dad’s past actions, and shame for having two moms; shame over something I didn’t do or have any control over. Is it any wonder that I left Christianity behind?

Fundamentalist Pastor Greg Locke Justifies Divorce From His Wife

pastor greg locke

Greg Locke, famous for his insane sermon videos about everything from Starbucks’ cups to Target’s bathrooms, evidently has divorced from his wife and taken up with a new woman — his secretary. Locke, pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, took to the pulpit to defend (without mentioning it) his pending divorce:

Video Link

Locke is right about many things he says in this video. People shouldn’t stay married to abusers and the like just because some preacher (or the Bible) told them to do so. Life is too short to spend it mired in unhappy, loveless marriages. The problem, of course, is that Locke is a Bible-thumping Evangelical who supposedly believes the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, and the Bible is clear: God hates divorce; Moses permitted male (not female) Israelites to divorce only because of the hardness of their hearts; Jesus gave only one grounds for divorce, adultery. And the Bible is also clear that Evangelicals who divorce are forbidden to marry again; and that remarrying is adultery, an act the Bible says damns a person to hell. It seems, then, that Locke is not such a big Bible believer after all, that the Spirit that leads him is his Holy Dick, not the Holy Spirit.

I have no idea about how Locke and his wife got along with each other. Maybe their divorce was justified. But, if a man is going to stand in the pulpit and say, THUS SAITH THE LORD, then he sure as heaven should believe every word of the Bible and practice it in his day-to-day life; and if he doesn’t he shouldn’t be surprised when he is called a skirt-chasing hypocrite.

According to Fundamentalist website Pulpit & Pen, Locke’s wife was the one who filed for divorce, and the good pastor just went along with it so he could get a quick dissolution of their marriage. On to new things — a new woman and a new car:

Indeed, it was Locke’s wife who filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences”. However, court records clearly show that Locke responded in agreement. In arranging what could fairly be called a “quickie divorce” Locke filed documentation with the court stating that his marriage was “irretrievably broken”. There is nothing in Locke’s divorce papers that indicate he took action to fight the divorce proceedings or demand a trial. Locke signed a Marriage Dissolution Agreement. If that’s not taking action to “divorce his wife”, no matter who filed first, then what is?

A trail of witnesses from Mt. Juliet, to Mufreesboro, to the out-of-state women’s shelter in which Melissa now resides contend that Locke coerced his subservient and obedient wife into filing divorce in order to preserve for himself the claim that he was “abandoned”. These same witnesses contend that Locke basically ordered his wife out of the state of Tennessee. The traumatized woman is now isolated far away from her home and her family. Locke is still in close proximity to his church secretary, Tai McGee. The mandatory waiting period required by Tennessee law to make Locke’s divorce final has not elapsed.

Christians still following Greg Locke’s internet antics and attending his church should ask themselves if Locke is worthy of their time and generous donations. As an outspoken moralist, Locke’s actions towards his wife (and his secretary) are on display for the lost world to see and mock. Rather than condone his continuing pastorate, Locke’s familiars would do well to encourage him to repent and reconcile with his wife.

Indeed, those of us in the “lost” world are enjoying the spectacle, including Fundamentalists eating one of their own. It also seems, at least to me, that Locke’s ex-wife put his preaching into practice by divorcing his sorry ass. There will come a day — hopefully soon — when the former Mrs. Locke will be very glad that she jumped off Greg Locke’s crazy train and ran for her life.

As for Locke, he wants the world to know that his affair with his secretary is justified, as is his divorce from his wife. After all, his Ex is crazy:

She’s been in and out of mental health facilities but that is not where she is right now. She is at a place that helps ladies get on their feet again. The only reason why she is there is that the lady who runs it is like her grandmother, and so she’s there. She’s only there because of the comfort…It is a shelter there is no doubt. But it’s not something like a homeless shelter. She’s with the lady who runs the place.

Nice guy, right?

If you have the stomach for it, I encourage readers to read Pulpit & Pen’s latest article on Locke. Keep in mind the purveyors of Pulpit & Pen live for opportunities to expose sin and heresy among the faithful. In Locke’s case, this is a matter of believing the message regardless of the messenger. What matters is whether they are telling the truth, and it seems in this instance Pulpit & Pen is telling the truth about Locke, his wife, his girlfriend, and his recent divorce.

Christian Hypocrite of the Year: Republican Representative Scott DesJarlais

scott desjarlais

Scott DesJarlais, Republican Representative from Tennessee, was given a second term in office even after voters learned the divorced physician had sex with his patients while still married to his wife and encouraged them to have abortions. Here’s what comedian and political commentator Bill Maher had to say about Des Jarlais:

Video Link

DesJarlais, who happens to be one-hundred-percent anti-abortion and is endorsed by the National Right to Life, says that God has forgiven him for his past misdeeds — I made a very poor decision in my first marriage. I know God’s forgiven me. DesJarlais is quoted as saying, All life should be cherished and protected. Evidently, this doesn’t include the fetuses of the mistresses he impregnated.

According to the Daily Mail:

Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais has largely managed to avoid scrutiny of his sexual conduct, although they conflict with his family-values platform. DesJarlais, 53, said he supported his first wife Susan Lohr’s decision to have two abortions while they were together. Before becoming a politician and while he was a doctor in Tennessee, still married to Susan, the Christian man admitted to sleeping with two patients. He said he prescribed the now-banned painkiller Darvocet to one of the women. The father took her to Las Vegas and bought her an $875 watch. When the second patient he was sleeping with, who was 24 at the time, thought she was pregnant, DesJarlais offered to take her to Atlanta to have an abortion. The politician said he slept with six women, including three co-workers and a drug company representative, during his three-year marriage to Susan. But now, the remarried DesJarlais proclaims that he is ‘pro-life and proud of it’, and that ‘God has forgiven me.’

We can safely say that many of the Christian Congressional Republicans are Grade A hypocrites who use their faith as little more than window dressing for their election campaigns. Of course, it is Evangelical church members and conservative Catholics who continue to elect them to office, all the while demanding that non-Christians obey the morality code found in the Bible: no sex before marriage, only sex with a spouse after marriage, LGBTQ people are an abomination to God, and same-sex marriage is an abominable violation of God’s divine order for the family. Never mind the fact that more than a few of these sanctimonious politicians ignore the Bible, committing the very “sins” they deplore in others. If Evangelical support of disgraced politician Roy Moore and serial adulterer Donald Trump told us anything, it told us that Evangelicals no longer believe what the Bible teaches about sex. They are far more concerned with political power and maintaining their sticky-handed hold on American society.

DesJarlais is up for election in 2018. He beat his Democratic opponent in 2016 by thirty points. It will be interesting to see if DesJarlais’ whoremongering past keeps him from getting elected. So far, it has been smooth sailing for Representative DesJarlais. Perhaps his past indiscretions will come forward and tell their stories. If so, we will see if Christian Tennesseans put Jesus and the Bible first, and not continued political power. My money is on DesJarlais getting reelected.

Strangely, DesJarlais and his wife are members of Epiphany Episcopal Church in Sherwood, Tennessee. Episcopal churches are known for their liberal beliefs and progressive social values. Either Epiphany Episcopal is an anomaly or the DesJarlais are ducks out of water. Or, perhaps the Episcopalians, too, are enthralled with political power, of having a congressman and his family as members.

I would love to hear a rational, dare I say Biblical, explanation for the continued support of men such as Moore, Trump, and DesJarlais. Back in my preaching days I was a hardcore right-wing Christian. But, I would never have supported a man such as DesJarlais. I would have either not voted or I would have wrote in the name of someone I could support. What seems clear to everyone with eyes to see, is that Evangelicals have traded God’s heavenly kingdom for an earthly one. In doing so, they have lost their voice of authority. Evangelicals gave us Donald Trump, and historians decades from now will write about this era being time when Evangelicalism sold their soul to the company store.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Just Say NO to Divorce, No Matter the Reason Says Lori Alexander

divorce

There are women who are STANDING for their marriages. Yes, they are married to disobedient, unfaithful, and difficult husbands [pretty well covers anything and everything a man can do to a woman] but they understand the cost and are willing to obey God instead of listening to those around them encouraging them to take the “easy” way out and get divorced. Several women in the chat room are standing strong in the gap for their husband’s soul and their marriages even though many have told them to divorce their husbands. It is a beautiful thing to witness. Here is one woman who is doing this and encouraging others who have also chosen to stand for their errant husbands:

“You keeping your faith and your testimony is strong, even now. People want to fix the situation; it’s human nature. Most people default to fixing marriage problems by shifting the power from the errant spouse to the hurting spouse, by recommending the hurting spouse use divorce to top from the bottom (regain power and authority over the situation).

“Human sympathy seems appropriate. I always ask people if they’re trying to be more sympathetic than God is merciful. Because that’s really what’s going on: people think that they care more than God does about the errant spouse AND the hurting spouse. ‘Fix this pain!’ cries the flesh. My friends often think I’m completely crazy, or that I must have zero respect for myself for remaining married with things the way they can be.

“What they don’t realize is that they’re not going to be the ones picking up the pieces: they won’t be the ones loading up four children every few days to switch homes and clearing the emotional fallout from that. They won’t be paying to support my children or driving to medical appointments with me alone to help. They won’t be paying the lawyers or therapists; they won’t be training up my children to believe in covenant when they can’t even see it. They won’t be in my home holding babies for me. They won’t be at Court hearings fighting for my children to have stability in the midst of chaos.

“So unless someone’s planning on getting some skin in the game, I just ignore them and smile. Because I’m standing. And I’m standing with YOU!”

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Never Encourage Women to Divorce Their Husbands, November 29, 2017

Note:

I know more than a few Evangelical pastors who believe that there is no grounds for divorce; that marriage is until death do us part. Sure sounds to me like these pastors are encouraging women to murder their spouses. Just saying…

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Bob Coy Accused of Sexually Molesting a Girl

pastor bob coy

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Bob Coy, the one-time pastor of Calvary Chapel — Fort Lauderdale in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, stands accused of sexually molesting a girl. What follows is an excerpt from an investigatory report written by Tim Elflink, the managing editor of the Miami New Times. I hope readers will read the entire article. You might want to have a barf bag handy as you read Elfrink’s detailed story about not only Bob Coy, but the entire Calvary Chapel church movement:

The call came from California. A woman told Coral Springs Police she had recently learned something terrible: A South Florida man had molested her daughter for years. It began when the girl was just 4 years old.

An officer noted the information and called the victim, who was then a teenager. She confirmed the story in stomach-churning detail.

The man had forced her to perform oral sex, she said. He would regularly “finger and fondle her” genitals, make her touch his penis, and “dirty talk” to her. The abuse lasted until she was a teenager, she told the cop. She’d never even told her family about the crimes.

By the end of that harrowing call on August 20, 2015, police knew the accused predator was no ordinary suspect. His name was Bob Coy, and until the previous year, he’d been the most famous Evangelical pastor in Florida.

Over two decades, Coy had built a small storefront church into Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, a 25,000-member powerhouse that packed Dolphin Stadium for Easter services while Coy hosted everyone from George W. Bush to Benjamin Netanyahu. With a sitcom dad’s wholesome looks, a standup comedian’s snappy timing, and an unlikely redemption tale of ditching a career managing Vegas strip clubs to find Jesus, Coy had become a Christian TV and radio superstar.

But then, in April 2014, he resigned in disgrace after admitting to multiple affairs and a pornography addiction. Coy shocked his flock and made national headlines by walking away from his ministry, selling his house, and divorcing his wife.

The sexual assault claims, which have never before been divulged, raise new questions about the pastor, his church, and the police who handled the case. Documents show that Coral Springs cops sat on the accusations for months before dropping the inquiry without even interviewing Coy. His attorneys, meanwhile, persuaded a judge with deep Republican ties to seal the ex-pastor’s divorce file to protect Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale from scrutiny.

The revelations come at a sensitive moment for Calvary’s national network of about 1,800 churches, which have been riven by legal infighting and dogged by claims that bad pastors have been allowed to run amok. In fact, at least eight pastors,  staff members and volunteers in Calvary Chapel’s network around the United States have been charged with abusing children since 2010. In one case, victims claimed the church knowingly moved a pedophile to another city without warning parents.

“Religious leaders have a tremendous amount of power over their flock,” says Scott Thumma, a professor of sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary who has studied the Calvary movement. “If Calvary gives these pastors this much authority and they use and abuse it with no accountability, they have to blame themselves.”

Coy, who was never charged with a crime, lay low after leaving Cavalry but recently turned up at Boca Raton’s Funky Biscuit, where he helps manage the club. Tracked down at the bar on a recent weeknight, the well-dressed ex-pastor looks no different from the days when he preached to thousands of followers. He declined to discuss the child abuse case except to say he is innocent and passed a polygraph test to prove it.

“I can’t discuss it on the record,” he said, before adding cryptically: “If you’re foolish enough to go through with this story… it would hurt a lot of people.”

Were there other abuse claims against Coy during the nearly three decades he controlled Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale? The church won’t say, though a spokesman says the chapel was “saddened to hear of the allegations.” That’s not good enough, critics say.

“There could be other victims out there,” says Michael Newnham, an Oregon-based pastor who runs a blog critical of Calvary Chapel. “We need answers.”

….

On a Sunday evening in April 2014, thousands packed into Calvary Chapel’s sanctuary, a cavernous space that looks more like a midsize city’s convention center than a church. As they sank into plush, arena-style seats and flipped open well-thumbed Bibles, Coy’s followers quickly noticed something was very wrong. The rock band that usually played raucous hymns to start services was missing. And a grim-looking assistant pastor, gripping a letter, was walking across the stage.

Pastor Bob had suddenly resigned, the assistant pastor told the stunned crowd. He had admitted to a grave “moral failing.” Ushers passed tissue boxes down the rows as his followers wept.

“People were really, really hurt,” says Colleen Healy, a Broward resident who began following Coy in 1995. “I was really hurt. I’ll never forget that meeting.”

Coy’s preaching career ended with shocking speed, but his sex scandal was far from the first for Calvary Chapel. In fact, the church had been battling accusations nationwide for years that it empowered predatory pastors while demanding little accountability.

The root of Calvary’s problems, critics say, lies in its unique structure. Unlike many Protestant churches, which set up powerful boards of elders to oversee ministers, Calvary used a management style Smith called the “Moses method.”

“Moses was the leader appointed by God,” Smith told Christianity Today in 2007. “We are not led by a board of elders.”

Instead, the pastors Smith installed in his hundreds of megachurches, which are similar to Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, had nearly unlimited power over budgets, personnel, and message. And even if complaints arose, Smith’s answer was often to give wayward preachers second and third chances.

In 2007, Christianity Today spoke to numerous Calvary pastors across the country. Some complained anonymously that Smith was “dangerously lax in maintaining standards for sexual morality” among his preachers. “Those men cannot call sin sin,” one 20-year veteran of the church complained to the publication.

There were ample cases to make that point. In 2003, John Flores, a pastor at Smith’s flagship in Costa Mesa, was arrested for having sex with the 15-year-old daughter of another pastor. According to Christianity Today, he’d been fired twice before for sexual misconduct, including once after getting caught having sex on church grounds, but kept getting his job back. (Flores was eventually convicted of sex with the minor.)

Two years later, a Calvary Chapel in Laguna Beach fired its pastor for adultery and embezzlement — but Smith quickly rehired him to preach at the nearby Costa Mesa church.

That same year, the church found itself in a bizarre scandal centered on a lucrative, 400-station radio network and its head, Idaho-based Pastor Mike Kestler. He had been in hot water in the ’90s when multiple women in his church claimed he’d sexually harassed them, but Smith gave him another chance.

In a lawsuit, a woman named Lori Pollitt said after she had moved from Texas to Idaho to work for Kestler, he repeatedly demanded she divorce her husband, give up her children to adoption, and marry him. When she rebuffed him, she said he stalked her and put a “hangman’s noose” in front of her house.

This time, Smith and his son Jeff actually turned on their pastor, pushing him out. They ended up locked in dueling lawsuits, with the pastor accusing Calvary’s leaders of skimming profits and the Smiths charging that he used his influence running the radio stations to pressure women into sex. (The cases were settled out of court.)

The next year, Santa Ana police investigated the Costa Mesa chapel after a 12-year-old told a staffer that a pastor had been touching her inappropriately. Police said they couldn’t find enough evidence to press charges, but the staffer claimed the church forced him to resign for alerting the authorities.

In 2006, Coy’s church in Fort Lauderdale landed in court over claims of lax oversight. A Calvary Chapel member named Rodger Thomas was arrested that year and charged with repeatedly molesting a 15-year-old girl at a high school run by the church. Two years later, her family sued Calvary, alleging leaders should have done more to stop Thomas. A jury awarded the family $360,000 but ruled Calvary wasn’t culpable.

The most serious claim against Calvary’s national church came in 2011, when four men in Idaho filed a federal suit alleging a youth minister named Anthony Iglesias had molested them between 2000 and 2003. Even worse, they said church officials knew full well he was a pedophile: He’d been kicked out of another Calvary youth ministry in California after being charged with sex crimes there.

That case was settled out of court, but the attorney who brought the case says that, in general terms, Smith’s habit of forgiving and rehiring pastors who have committed sexual offenses is a recipe for disaster.

“Typically, how it goes in these cases is you have a violator in the church, but the leaders will have this notion that if he repents, he’s forgiven, and then we don’t have to talk about it any more,” says Leander James, who specializes in church child abuse cases. “That whole approach always ends up hiding pedophiles.”

Neither Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, the movement’s flagship, nor the Calvary Chapel Association returned messages from New Times seeking comment for this story.

It’s still not clear how Coy’s sexual indiscretions came to light in 2014. But two weeks after his surprise resignation, Assistant Pastor Chet Lowe filled Coy’s followers in on what had happened.

“Our former pastor was caught in sin,” Lowe said April 16, according to the Sun Sentinel. “Our pastor, he committed adultery with more than one woman. Our pastor, he committed sexual immorality, habitually, through pornography. Rest assured, God will not be mocked.”

….

Coy’s faithful didn’t know it, but just over a year after the pastor’s resignation for adultery, Coral Springs Police launched their investigation into a far worse allegation. It’s unclear how seriously they took the claim of the teenager — whom New Times is not naming in accordance with our policy on reporting on victims of sexual abuse — who said Coy had forced her to have sex even when she was only 4 years old. But the case soon stalled.

The department assigned the case to Det. Jeff Payne, a veteran investigator in the usually sleepy, affluent suburb of 120,000. Payne had experience with sensitive cases involving sex crimes; earlier that year, he’d investigated a high-ranking cop for allegedly assaulting a 13-year-old girl. Payne had taken his case against Fort Lauderdale Police Maj. Eric Brogna to the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, but prosecutors declined to press charges.

In the Coy case, though, Payne never made that kind of headway. Shortly after resigning, the disgraced pastor moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Calvary Chapel has another affiliate church. (It’s unclear if he worked there.) Coy says he was never approached by the police about the allegations.

Indeed, police records show no progress on the case until eight months later, on April 4, 2016, when Coy’s young accuser showed up at Coral Springs Police headquarters. She told Payne she was “moving tomorrow [overseas] on a mission trip with the church, and asked if it was possible to destroy any record of [her] abuse,” the detective wrote in a closeout memo. The woman told him “she had an experience with God and has found forgiveness” for Coy over his abuse.

 

….

 

Coy has never been criminally charged, and if there were other cases of sexual harassment or abuse in the decades he ran Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, neither the church nor cops have revealed them. The church didn’t respond to a detailed set of questions from New Times, instead sending a general statement about the former pastor.

….

This year, Calvary has been hit by even more sexual abuse claims. In May, Matt Tague, an assistant pastor at North Coast Calvary Chapel in San Diego, was arrested on 16 counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor under 14 years old. Police say the victim wasn’t a church member, and Calvary Chapel says it immediately fired Tague upon learning about the claims.

Then, on July 18, police arrested 41-year-old Roshad Thomas, who had spent 13 years as a volunteer youth pastor at Calvary Chapel Tallahassee. He’s accused of molesting at least ten children aged 13 to 16 over several years, victimizing members of the youth group he led after taking them back to his apartment.

Police say Thomas has admitted to the abuse (though his criminal trial is pending). The chapel’s founder, Kent Nottingham, told a local TV station that there’d been no suspicion of abuse and that he was “shocked.”

Coy has also been dragged through legal battlefields since his resignation from the church. In January 2016, he and Diane filed for divorce in Broward County. They’d already sold their Coral Springs house about six months after he resigned; the settlement divided their substantial remaining assets — including a $330,000 Hillsboro Beach condo he still owns — and defined custody of their two children. The divorce file includes nearly 30 pages of documents related to their finances and settlements.

But on February 22 of that year, the case went to Judge Tim Bailey, a member of a powerful conservative family; his father, Patrick, founded the Pompano Beach Republican Club, and both father and son had chaired Broward’s Judicial Nominating Commission. That body recommends candidates for higher legal office to the governor. In Coy’s case, Bailey made a relatively unusual ruling: All financial documents would be kept secret. Why? To “avoid substantial injury” to Coy’s former employer — Calvary Chapel — according to the court file.

To critics such as Newnham, there’s only one reason to fight for a ruling like that: to hide from churchgoers the amount of cash the church gave Coy to go away. The case reeks of political favoritism. “These guys have been covering for Coy for a long time,” Newnham says, “and they’re still covering for him now.” (Judge Bailey didn’t respond to messages from New Times to comment on this story.)

You an read the entire story here.

Elfrink concludes his story with this:

But Newnham says the pastor still has more to answer for — especially because his sources say Coy has been trying to mobilize investors to start a new church.

“He’s contacted many former associates to try to get funding. There’s no question he wants back in the game,” Newnham says. “We need to stop him. In my opinion, if he did this [to one victim], it’s just a question of how many others are out there. He can’t be put in a position of power ever again.”

That’s right, Bob Coy is trying to get back in the “game.” And I have no doubt that he will find people who are willing to play along with him. Much like King David — a man after God’s own heart — who committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered, Coy will surely convince people that his “sins” are under the blood — forgiven and forgotten.

Update

A November 16, 2017 Miami New Times report states:

As New Times revealed in an investigation published Tuesday, former Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale Pastor Bob Coy — who once led the largest megachurch in Florida — was accused in 2015 of molesting a girl for more than a decade, beginning when she was 4 years old. Coy was never charged in the case and had already resigned from Calvary over an admitted string of extramarital affairs.

After his preaching career ended, he landed work managing the Funky Biscuit, a nightclub in Mizner Park in Boca Raton. The club now says that it has terminated any relationship with Coy and that the owners had no inkling he’d been accused of child abuse.

“Yesterday, through an article published by Miami New Times, we were made aware of certain allegations involving one of our associates, Mr. Bob Coy,” the club says in a statement. “Neither The Funky Biscuit nor any of its employees were aware of these allegations prior to yesterday. Because of the nature of these allegations, The Funky Biscuit has decided to terminate our consulting arrangement with Mr. Coy, effective immediately.”

….

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: God Hates Divorce by Brian Hobbs

brian hobbs

One Texas lawmaker is trying to make no-fault divorce no more in the Lone Star State.

Texas State Rep. Matt Krause of Ft. Worth filed a bill that would effectively disallow divorce on the grounds of “insupportability,” meaning no-fault divorces.

Currently “all 50 states offer some type of no-fault divorce, (and) in 17 states and the District of Columbia, you can only file for divorce on no-fault grounds,” said a KXAN-TV news story.

Meanwhile, evidence shows that a majority of divorces in Texas are filed on no-fault grounds, and Krause believes this policy will lead to a decline in divorce and family breakdown.

“I think people have seen the negative effects of divorce and the breakdown of the family for a long time. I think this could go some way in reversing that trend,” he said.

….

Currently, Texas offers six categories of fault-based divorces, including: “adultery, cruelty, abandonment and a felony conviction, living apart for at least three years or confinement to a mental hospital.” Krause said the bill would establish “some type of due process. There needs to be some kind of mechanism to where that other spouse has a defense.”

The idea of re-introducing fault is not about assigning blame as much as it is about treating divorce more seriously and substantively. Krause cited a Heritage Foundation report that said, “A recent University of Texas study of divorced spouses found that only a third of them felt that they had done enough to try to save their marriage. Moreover, children of divorce disproportionately suffer from such maladies as depression, compromised health, childhood sexual abuse, arrests and addiction.”

Whether or not the bill ever becomes law, the policy idea itself raises some important issues for Christians to consider. As Christians, we understand the devastating effects of divorce and have seen it in our own families, neighborhoods, churches and communities.

If we are perfectly honest, we will admit that divorce has become all too commonplace and convenient. We further recognize that “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16) and that, according to Jesus, it was because of the hardness of their hearts, that God permitted divorces among the Israelites, “but it was not this way from the beginning” (Matt. 19:8).

Even though Jesus and the Apostle Paul have outlined some limited Scriptural grounds for divorce, we have institutionalized divorce in a way that would have shocked Paul. We also have lost sight of the fact that divorce is a tragic step. To that end, churches should not leave it to politicians to address runaway divorce and family breakdown.

— Brian Hobbs, The Baptist Messenger, Conventional Thinking: Ex-es in Texas, No More?, January 13, 2017

Catholic Church Forbids Sex for Civilly Divorced and Remarried Couples

marriage

Archbishop Charles Chaput, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia, reminded civilly divorced and remarried Catholic couples that they are NOT allowed to engage in sexual intercourse. Those who ignore Catholic teaching on divorce and remarriage, according to Archbishop Chaput, and have sex are committing adultery and are not permitted to take communion. CBS News reports:

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia is closing the door opened by Pope Francis to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion, saying the faithful in his archdiocese can only do so if they abstain from sex and live “as brother and sister.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput, who is known for strongly emphasizing strict adherence to Catholic doctrine, issued a new set of pastoral guidelines for clergy and other leaders in the archdiocese that went into effect July 1. The guidelines reflect a stance taken by St. John Paul II.

Civilly remarried couples must have their previous marriages annulled before they can receive the Sacrament of Penance and eat the body of Christ and drink his blood. Having had a son and daughter-in-law go through the annulment process, I think I can safely say that Catholic marriage annulment is a way for the Church to get around the teachings of the Bible. Using theological sleight of hand and a mountain of paperwork, civilly divorced Catholics can have the Church wave a magic wand over their marriages and VIOLA! the marriage is jettisoned into outer space, never to heard of again. My wife and I, along with several of our older children, had to sign papers of behalf of my son, stating that has past marriage was defective and that he is of good moral character. I signed the papers because my son and daughter-in-law — who are already civilly married — can be viewed as married in the eyes of Church. I told them, at the time, that I thought the whole marriage annulment process was bullshit — a wink-wink, pretend-pretend act that says a previous marriage never took place. The things we do for our children.

It is  time for the Catholic Church to enter the 21st century. While some people see Pope Francis as a reformer, patiently dragging Neanderthals such as Archbishop Chaput into the modern era, I tend to see a man who is long on words and short on concrete action. The Pope says all the right things, but within the walls of Catholic Churches things remain just as they have been for the past hundred years. I will believe Pope Francis is a serious reformer when he issues papal decrees allowing women to be priests, same-sex couples to be married, and allows civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to be members in good standing — allowing them to take communion. I will believe the Pope is serious about reform when he roots out every last child abuser from within the Vatican and Catholic parishes. The Pope talks about the importance of good works, yet he himself is long on words and short on works. If Pope Francis wants to show that he truly cares about Catholic parishioners, how about telling Archbishop Chaput to shut the fuck up and stop attacking civilly divorced and remarried couples. And if the Archbishop refuses to obey the Vicar of Christ? Remove him from office. If the Catholic Church ever hopes to stop hemorrhaging members, it must embrace 21st century life, complete with its changing gender roles and sexual practices.

Millions of Roman Catholics are civilly divorced and remarried. Many of them hide their marital past from the church, thus allowing them to take communion. Suggesting as Archbishop Chaput does that these couples should sleep in the same bed night after night without engaging in sexual intercourse is absurd. To avoid adultery, civilly divorced and remarried couples are required to treat each other like siblings. As I read Chaput’s words, “undertaking to live as brother and sister is necessary for the divorced and civilly remarried to receive reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance, which could then open the way to the Eucharist,” I thought, the Catholic Church is promoting incest.

By the way, there are Evangelical sects who hold to a similar view on divorce and remarriage. I plan to write a post on this subject at a later date.

Larry Tomczak: The ‘Summer of Love’ is to Blame for Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

summer of love

In recent years, it has become fashionable to blame Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, for every perceived American social and moral ill.  According to Larry Tomczak, the blame for the legalization of same-sex marriage belongs to the ‘Summer of Love’ generation. In a post titled 6 Lies from the Pit of Hell, Tomczak traces the moral decline of the United States from the drug using, free sex days of the 1960’s to the recent U.S. Supreme decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Tomczak, a one time associate of C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, writes:

…Beginning with the shocking assassination of President Kennedy in the ’60s, a flickering of Camelot–inspired hope was extinguished. Prayer and Bible reading were banned from our public schools and the “God is dead” pronouncement of 1966 fostered an era of skepticism and cynicism bleeding through our land.

It’s not like there was one defining event that triggered our current confusion, but when the turbulent 24 months of ’67 and ’68 erupted on the scene, clues emerge. Cultural analysts call this a “tipping point.”

The year 1967 was dubbed, “Summer of Love.” Scores of us naïve youth fell in line behind pied piper Scott McKenzie as we grabbed our knucklehead buddies and love beads and swayed with the wind all the way to San Francisco. Do you remember the song? “Are you going to San Francisco? You’re going to meet some gentle people there. … ” It almost moves you to put some flowers in your hair!

Millions of us idealistic young people and our counterpart “hippies” believed we were ushering in the long–awaited “Age of Aquarius” with all our peace symbols, free love and free speech. American psychologist Timothy Leary, took LSD and told us, “Turn on, tune in and drop out.” Seduced by our foolishness we declared, “Never trust anyone over 30!” while Pete Townshend and the Who exclaimed, “Hope I die before I get old!” (He’s now 70 and still cashing in on his musical career!). Soon thereafter, hundreds of thousands were sloshing in the mud at the Woodstock Festival—can you believe it’s been almost 50 years?

Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, was my idol as I was a drummer in The Lost Souls. His moronic philosophy: “I’m interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activities that appear to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road to freedom! ”

Slowly but surely, years of “freedom” took its toll. Time magazine called 1968, “A knife blade that severed past from the future.”

Casting off restraints to protest and launch the Gay, Women’s and Black Power Movements, the Sexual Revolution and the Drug Counterculture, we soon morphed into meltdown. The Civil Rights Movement was one positive initiative.

Pop idols Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison all were dead at age 27—overdosing on drugs, sex and unrestrained freedom. AIDS (GRID – Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, as it was called) followed. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated. Student riots paralyzed Chicago. The Altamont Rock Festival degenerated into murderous mayhem right before Mick Jagger’s bloodshot eyes. Kent State University erupted in campus shootings over the still-simmering Vietnam War. Hippie communities and gay bathhouses started folding like houses of cards as Barry McGuire sang “Eve of Destruction.”

Abortion demands intensified as all the “Make love—not war” mantras spawned unwanted babies. Soon abortion was legalized.

Divorce laws were liberalized (today 80% of divorces are “no fault,” translating into 45 million divorces since the end of the ’60s!) Sexual standards evaporated and resulted in rampant pornography, skyrocketing out-of-wedlock births, one in every four teens strapped with a sexually transmitted disease, drug abuse, school violence, teen suicide, spousal and child abuse, violent crime, prison overpopulation, sexual anarchy, gender confusion, glamorizing and promotion of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism with gender reassignment surgeries. All of this proliferating since the now infamous “Summer of Love” soured to a stench…

Multitudes of people need a reality check to bring them out of a sentimental yet distorted remembrance of this period. We must remove the romantic recollections of this turbulent ’60s era. In contrast to PBS nostalgic specials highlighting the supposed peaceful and musical ’60s time period, we need to come down to earth and recognize the devastation that resulted. This was not a time that was all groovy, lovey, peaceful with flowing-hair, girls in granny dresses twirling in the park amid syrupy-faced guys with tambourines and doves flying around their heads as they harmonized in childlike unity, singing “Kum ba ya” and playing flutes while innocently getting high. This is a fantasy that needs to be shattered immediately…

Like many of his ilk, Tomszak pines for a return to the 1950’s; a time when Negroes knew their place, abortion and birth control was illegal, sodomites were still in the back of the closet, women stayed at home, divorce was rare, and Christianity ruled the land, In Tomczak’s mind, everything began to go downhill when God was thrown out of the public schools and hippies spent all their time smoking dope and screwing.

Tomczak mentions six lies, lies he says are from the pit of hell, that are now accepted by many Americans:

  • Premarital, extramarital and traditionally abnormal sex are moral and healthy.
  • There should be no sanctity of human life in law.
  • Drug use makes great recreational sport.
  • Divorce offers an easy escape from marriage.
  • Marriage should be redefined to include same-sex unions.
  • God is dead—at least make it appear that way by systematically airbrushing Him from society.

In typical Evangelical fashion, Tomczak shows he has no understanding of what those outside of his cult believe. He also assumes that the only  legitimate standard of morality is his fundamentalist interpretation of the Christian Bible. Using Tomczak’s infallible moral standard,  premarital, extramarital, and homosexual sex become abnormal, immoral, and unhealthy. An unwillingness to believe life begins at conception means that you believe human life has no value and should not be legally protected.

I don’t know many people who think that drug use is a “great recreational sport” or that divorce “offers an easy escape from marriage.” Do some people treat drug use as a recreational sport? Sure, but I have yet to see anyone suggesting we start the ADUL, the American Drug Use League. Long before the ‘summer of love’, humans were using drugs, legal and illegal, to alter their mood or emotional state. 2,000 years ago, Jesus turned water into wine. Unless Tomczak thinks Jesus turned the water into Welch’s grape juice, the wine provided by Jesus at the Wedding at Cana, was a mood altering drug.

And when it comes to divorce, what is really behind Tomczak’s objection to an “easy escape from marriage?” Is it because divorce is forbidden by the Bible or is the real reason women are now able to free themselves from abusive men? Perhaps the real issue is uppity women who dare to think they should be treated equally.  Kick them shoes off, clean the house, cook supper, and have lots of little Christians, ladies! That’s your calling. Leave the hard work to men like Larry Tomczak.

The real reason men like Tomczak rage against liberalism and secularism is because they no longer have a preferred seat at the cultural table. They are upset that progress has moved the United States beyond the zenith of Evangelicalism, the 1950’s, when In (Christian) God we Trust was added to our paper money and  allegiance to the Christian God was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. More and more Americans are indifferent or hostile towards Christianity and this has Evangelicals looking for someone to blame. For Tomczak, the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of long-haired tie-dyed wearing hippies.

Like every Evangelical guru, Tomczak has a plan:

Three things are essential for us to see societal transformation.

1. We must recognize the gravity of the situation.

2. We must cry out to God for wisdom and a sense of urgency.

3. We must pray and proclaim the gospel and truth at every opportunity as we engage outsiders in a winsome way.

This presupposes that we know the issues, the truth, and have the courage and confidence to speak out. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, wisely using the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone” (Col. 4:5-6).

Seeing the gathering storm clouds on the horizon, I recently pulled apart with my wife to a secluded cabin in the mountains of Tennessee. My assignment from God was to write a book that would be a tool to help shape informed influencers to make a difference in today’s confused culture. I pinpointed the 30 “hot button” issues of today.

God gave me a practical plan: Challenge people to take 30 days and invest 15 minutes a day in a 3 step process to develop a biblical worldview and confidence in addressing our country’s controversial issues: 1. Review a video—3 min. 2. Read an article—10 min. 3. Reflect and pray—2 min. The title of the book is Bullseye and it’ll help us “hit the mark” in sharing the gospel and biblical truth to dispel deception and foster spiritual awakening.

I invite your prayer support as we finalize this project. May this be one of many divine strategies given by God at this tipping point in America’s history.

“God” gave Tomczak a practical plan that is sure to “dispel deception and foster spiritual awakening.” For 30 days, 15 minutes a day, Tomczak wants like-minded Evangelicals to:

  • Review a video—3 min
  • Read an article—10 min
  • Reflect and pray—2 min.

Oh, and he is writing a book he wants everyone to buy.  There’s a-lw-a-y-s a money angle.

On his blog, Tomczak calls his plan the Bullseye Challenge (link no longer active). According to Dr. Michael Brown, a former “heroin-shooting, LSD-using Jewish rock drummer” and the “world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist”, Tomczak’s plan will turn Game of Thrones watching, NASCAR loving Republicans into a “confident communicator and change agent in today’s confusing culture.” So far, Tomczak’s blog post has ONE Facebook like and ZERO retweets on Twitter.

Want to know more about the Bullseye Challenge?  Check out Tomczak’s video:

 

 

Cindy Schaap, Daughter of Jack Hyles, Divorces Convicted Felon Jack Schaap

cindy and jack schaap 30 years of marriage

Cover of book written by Cindy Schaap about her wonderful marriage to Jack Schaap. Cindy is the daughter of Jack Hyles.

 

As most of you know, Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, is serving a 12 year sentence in federal prison for having sexual relations with a minor. (a girl who was a member of the church and Schaap was counseling her)  For more information on Jack Schaap, please read the Chicago Magazine article, Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church. You can also read the letters Schaap sent to his victim here.

As anyone who spent any time in an IFB church can tell you, divorce is forbidden. The thinking goes…God hates divorce and God intends for marriage to be between one man and one woman for life.  While IFB church members do divorce from time to time, it is not a common occurrence.

For months now, rumors have been flying over the marriage of Cindy Schaap and Jack Schaap. Are they still married? Did they get a divorce?  Well, wonder no more, you who are looking for the latest dirt on the Hyles/Schaap crime family. According to a document sent to me today, on May 28, 2014, Cindy Schaap was granted a divorce from Jack Schaap.

 

cindy schaap divorce

cindy schaap divorce pg 2

Let me be clear, I have no problem with Cindy Schaap divorcing her husband. No one should be forced to remain married to someone they no longer want to be married to. Whatever her reasons, it is her decision, end of story. What interests me is how her divorce will be “explained” within the Kingdom of Jack Hyles and the broader IFB church movement.

Later this week, I plan to write a post about marriage and divorce and how IFB churches handle divorce.