A friend of mine sent me links to several old news stories from 1993 about Jack and David Hyles. Jack Hyles was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, and his son David was the church’s youth director. David would later be shipped out of town in the dead of night, left to prey on more young women at Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas (a church formerly pastored by Jack Hyles).
Columbia Road recently found itself the center of attention after its youth pastor — Brian Mitchell — was accused and convicted of four counts of sexual battery. Mitchell was sentenced to ten years in prison for his crimes. A 16-year-old female member of Columbia Road sought spiritual advice from Mitchell, only to find herself a target of his sexual advances. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:
The girl [said] in a letter to the judge that she looked up to Mitchell, and that she sought him out to learn how to live a more spiritual life through religion.
Mitchell began sending her text messages that became more and more frequent. Someone brought it to the attention of church leaders and the texting stopped for a time.
He started up again, and the girl said the tone of the messages quickly turned from innocent and fun to serious. She said he complained about his wife and their marital problems.
She wrote that she wanted the texts to stop but felt scared to say anything because he was a powerful figure in the church and in her life.
One day, he drove to her home and told her to come out to his car. He kissed her and told her he wanted to see her again.
The next time he drove out to her home, he had sex with her in his car. Another time he had sex with her at her home while his wife was out of town, Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Kristen Karkutt said.
“I did not give him permission,” the girl wrote. “I clearly said ‘no, didn’t want to.’ I felt like he tricked me.”
Mitchell directed her to delete text message exchanges between the two and told her never to tell anyone. He picked her up during her lunch break from school. He sent her flowers for her birthday, then asked her mother at church if she knew who sent them.
Normally an outgoing teen who played sports and worked two jobs while going to school, she found herself unable to get out of bed. She struggled in school.
The girl wrote that she still has nightmares and displays what Corrigan called textbook symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“This is a perfect example of the psychological damage caused by these types of crimes,” [Cuyahoga County Judge Peter] Corrigan said.
Friedman said Mitchell acknowledges that he betrayed the girl, her family, his own family and the church.
“The whirlwind two or three months of Snapchats and texts and the secrecy involved created an adrenaline- and lust-filled situation where he felt like there could be a future,” [defense attorney Ian] Friedman said.
According to the Plain Dealer, once Columbia Road Baptist leaders were made aware of the matter, they reported it to the police. What I want to know if this:
When did the church find out?
How much time expired between finding out and reporting it?
Did the church investigate the matter first, before reporting it to law enforcement?
Did the church consult a lawyer or their insurance company before reporting it to law enforcement?
The reason for asking these questions is that IFB churches routinely try to handle allegations of sexual conduct in-house, hoping to minimize damage to their “testimonies” (reputations).
According to the victim’s mother, Columbia Road church leaders asked the victim to apologize to the sexual predator youth pastor’s wife. In fact, according to the mother, they were told they could not come back to church until they did so. For those of us who investigate, report, and/or follow the foibles of the IFB church movement, blaming victims of sexual assault is far too common. In this case, I suspect the church believes — as many members did when Jack Schaap, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana was accused of sexual assault — that a 16-year-old church girl enticed or came on to the their fine, upstanding, married, father-of-three youth pastor. Surely, Pastor Mitchell would never, ever have had sex with this girl had she not batted her eyes, showed a bit of cleavage, and led him on.
This is nothing more than what is commonly called slut-shaming. IFB churches promote the false notion that women are responsible for weak, pathetic male church members — including pastors, youth directors, deacons, bus workers and Sunday school teachers — “falling” into sin. This line of thinking is reinforced every time women are reminded that if they don’t dress or behave a certain way, their brothers in Christ will find themselves unable to resist throwing them on the church pew and savaging them while the congregation sings What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
In typical fashion the victim was blamed, and youth pastor Mitchell received dozens of letters which were given to the judge, telling him what an awesome, loving, God-fearing man he is. While I can understand Mitchell’s mother might write a letter on his behalf, it is beyond belief that church members would make any attempt to support a man who sexually assaulted a minor who had been placed in his trust. Ohio law is clear. Mitchell had a professional relationship with the victim. He was obligated to act morally and ethically, meaning that in no circumstance could he have an intimate relationship with the victim. Simply put, she was off-limits, as were every male and female with whom Mitchell had a professional relationship . This is the law. Every pastor, doctor, dentist, social worker, and psychologist knows this — Mitchell included.
According to Columbia Road’s now-disabled Facebook page:
According to Columbia Road’s senior pastor elect (2018) Bill Giallouraskis:
I was not privy to any information where church leaders asked that of the mother. There was to my understanding, a time when the wife of Brian and the mother talked together and the wife suggested that it would do a lot to heal the relationship with the young lady ’cause of course she was involved with the youth as a mentor as well, being Brian’s wife. That it would do a lot to help, that if they could make amends with each other. Perhaps the mother misunderstood that to be more than it was.
When asked if Mitchell’s wife felt betrayed by the victim, Giallouraskis said, “I can tell you we were all very surprised. We were all very grieved, we all felt very betrayed.”
Giallouraskis also said:
We have a pretty rigorous process that we put all of our workers through especially any of our workers who are going to work with children or youth. We run background checks, we also have an interview process that we go through that asks some pretty poignant questions about whether there are issues going on in the lives of the people” like sexual immorality or pornography.
I guess the difficulty with Brian was that there have been no prior incident that would have ever come up on a background report. He has a very good recommendation from the previous church that he worked at…He married into a family that has been in our church for four generations. There was just no red flag that came up in our process.
Surely Giallouraskis is aware that criminal background checks only show if someone has been convicted of a crime. Just because Mitchell was well thought of and came from a “good” family doesn’t mean he has not, in the past, preyed on, vulnerable teen girls. As his criminal conviction shows, he has at least preyed on one church teenager. Was he a predator virgin? Time will tell. Virtually every day there are news reports about Evangelical pastors being accused/charged/convicted of sex crimes. I could spend the next hour detailing stories about IFB preachers who were convicted of sex crimes or were caught committing adultery. Giallouraskis ignorantly thinks that by asking prospective employees and volunteers if they are committing fornication/adultery or watching porn that they have done their due diligence. In what setting would a prospective pastor/volunteer ever say, Yo, I like having sex with teenagers and I love watching porn. Never!
For those of us who have spent much of our lives wading in the cesspool called the IFB church movement, the youth pastor’s sexual assault of a church girl and the mother’s claim that the church asked for an apology sound all too familiar. Circling the wagons, protecting the clergy, and blaming the victims have, sadly, become standard operating procedure. In classic IFB-fashion, Columbia Road Baptist Church, instead of making a full disclosure, disabled their social media accounts and posted the following on their website:
As I was doing some research on Grace Baptist Church in Gaylord, Michigan and its pastor Jon Jenkins, I learned that the church operates Grace Baptist College, an unaccredited Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution. As I perused the college’s website, I came across their Student Handbook . Here are some of the rules that every student at Grace Baptist College is expected to obey:
1.4 Socializing, Dating, and Courtship Defined
Socializing is participating in activities where men and ladies mingle and fellowship—any casual conversation. Social privileges include any public conversation with a member of the opposite gender—for example: on a college activity, at a meal, at chapel, in Holy Grounds, at a group gathering, etc. NOTE: Students placed on Disciplinary “Social Probation” are not permitted in Holy Grounds,Student Union, Game Room, or Anderson Hall after 1:00 p.m. and are not permitted to attend scheduled activities.
Dating is a prearranged plan to be together for an extended period of time such as time spent together at church, the Student Union, or a college-sponsored activity. An exclusive dating relationship requires a Courting Pass.
Courtship is a commitment anticipating a potential future engagement. A Courting Pass is a safeguard ensuring parental involvement in the developing relationship. The pass is issued upon verbal consent from both sets of parents and approval from the Administration. (Courtship Pass request forms are available at the Receptionist Office.)
A commitment to be married.
1.5 General Socialization Rules
(a) All dormitory and non-dormitory dating students must follow the same socializing guidelines.
(b) Men should treat their dates with respect and kindness at all times.
(c) No physical contact may occur between students of the opposite gender. A “6-inch rule” will be enforced. Demerits will be appropriate to the offense. 20 Demerits to Expulsion
(d) Students of the opposite gender may not be in any room without an appropriate third person present. This would include but is not limited to the piano lab, library, chapel, and computer lab. 10 Demerits
(e) Students of the opposite gender may not be outside together after dark. This includes Grace Baptist Church parking lots after church services and campus sidewalks after work dismissal. “Dark” will be set by the Administration. 10-25 Demerits
(f) Students of the opposite gender may not be alone together in a car. (Siblings must obtain Administrative permission to ride together.) 10-50 Demerits
(g) Members of the opposite gender may not loiter near nor go to a dormitory except for assigned work purposes with Administrative approval. 10 Demerits
(h) Students may not date/court anyone who is not a Grace Baptist College student without parental and Administrative approval. If approval is given, all college dating/courting rules apply. Students will only be allowed to date people who are members of Grace Baptist Church or a church of like faith.
(i) College students are not allowed to date high school students without both Administrative approval and written approval from all parents involved. (This exception is for local students only.) 10 Demerits
(j) Students who serve in the Youth Ministry of Grace Baptist Church are not allowed to date teens in the youth group. 10 Demerits
(k) Students who are dating/courting may not work on or ride the same bus route. 10 Demerits
(l) Ladies may be walked to the dormitory to end a date as long as a third party is with the couple. No loitering at the close of dates is permitted near the dormitories. 5 Demerits
(m) During off-campus college activities dating/courting couples must remain in the presence of a third party. 10 Demerits
(n) Courting/engaged couples planning an off-campus date must have a pass signed by the Administration and a chaperone approved by the Vice President. A chaperone may be a student’s parent or a married college/church staff member. Demerits to Expulsion
(o) Courting couples may not exceed one off-campus date per three-week period of a semester. Engaged couples may have up to the equivalent of one off-campus date per week.
(p) Dating couples will not be issued passes for off-campus dates. (Passes may be granted when accompanied by parents or pastor with prior Administrative approval.)
(q) Dormitory students may not socialize in an area home even when parents, staff, or faculty are present unless the activity has been approved by the Administration. 20 Demerits
(r) Dating/courting couples may not stay in the same home overnight. Demerits to Expulsion
(s) Social issues involving divorced students will be dealt with on an individual basis.
Is it any wonder that many IFB young adults who attend colleges like this are unable to function in the real world? They are taught to deny their sexuality and humanity. Normal human and sexual behaviors are considered sinful. Is it any wonder that there is so much sexual dysfunction in IFB churches? Students are never allowed to grow up. They are never forced to deal with sexual want and desire. They are just told over and over: don’t touch, don’t look.
Attending colleges like Grace often causes psychological dysfunction and damage. These kind of colleges attempt to force a false reality on students, and when students rebel and disobey they are labeled sinners, given demerits, and, if warranted, expelled from college. How can this kind of environment be mentally, emotionally, or spiritually good for students (that’s a rhetorical question)?
It is not often that an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher of the stature of Dr. not-a-real-Dr. Bob Gray, Sr., exposes for all to see the way he really does the work of the ministry. While I appreciate Gray’s “honesty,” something tells me that he won’t appreciate this blog post.
There was a day when the job description for Evangelical pastors included things such as preaching, teaching, visiting the sick and the elderly, marrying the young and burying the old. These days, Evangelicals pastors, especially those who pastor megachurches, inspire and encourage church members. Every Sunday, church members file into the sanctuary hoping to get their weekly fix of Jesus. Pastors, knowing they must rev up congregants to keep them happy and tithing, resort to all sorts of tricks to make sure felt needs are met and every person leaves the sanctuary all jacked up on Mountain Dew, I mean Jesus. This type of ministry has turned church members into spectators.
Down in Longview, Texas, things are different at the Longview Baptist Temple — a sin-hating, devil-fighting, King-James-Only Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church. The Gray clan — Bob Gray, Sr., and Bob Gray II — have little interest in inspiring, motivating or encouraging church members. Death is certain, hell is real, and Jesus is coming soon, preach the Grays, and they have no time to coddle church members. According to Gray, Sr.’s recent blog post, God-called preachers should drive their church members to do what they want them to do. Gray wrote:
The more I think about the subject of driving people the more I realize how we badly have missed the boat regarding this. In every other area of life we taut [sic] and praise the people who are driven and do drive others for a cause.
We celebrate a coach who drives his team to victory, but criticize the pastor who drives his church to reach their city for Christ. We praise the teacher who drives her students to study harder to get good grades, yet slander the pastor who drives his people to fulfill the great commission as they are commanded to do. We rejoice over the parent who drives their child to practice their musical instruments so that they can become accomplished musicians, but we demonize the pastor who drives his people to give more to God.
Let me ask you a question. Is winning the lost less important than winning the national championship? Tell me why Nick Saban can drive his Alabama football team to win and we love it, but we criticize the preacher for driving his people.
It seems that Gray, now 70 years old, has failed to learn that rarely does driving people result in long-term success. When people feel they are constantly being pushed to do, do, do, and do some more, they will, over time, tire of it and seek rest and relaxation somewhere beyond the incessant pushing of their drug-dealer pastor. I wonder if Gray, Sr. has ever thought about the thousands of church members he has driven right off a cliff? Tens of thousands of people have been won to Jesus through the soul-winning efforts of sheepdog Gray and Longview Baptist Temple (LBT) sheep. Shouldn’t the auditorium of LBT be teeming with members by now? Surely, 30 plus years of driving congregants to give, give, give and win souls, win souls, win souls, should result in overflow attendance on Sunday; yet attendance at LBT is a smidgen of what it once was. Longview Baptist Temple used to regularly publish its attendance numbers, bus rider numbers, and number of souls saved. Today? These numbers are no longer shared with the public. If continually driving church members is the way to do the work of the ministry, why does attendance at LBT continue to decline?
Where did preachers such as Bob Gray, Sr. get the notion that church members must be driven to accomplish great things for God? For many years, Jack Hyles — pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana — held an annual Pastor’s School. Thousands of Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers and church members flocked to Hammond to sit at the feet of Hyles. First Baptist — at the time, the largest church in the world — was the crown jewel of the IFB church movement. Numerous preachers — Bob Gray, Sr. included — took to heart Hyles’ preaching and returned home to drive their churches to give, give, give, and win souls, win souls, win souls. The result? In the 1970s and early 1980s most of the Top One Hundred churches in attendance were IFB churches. Today? Only a handful of IFB churches are on the list. None is anywhere near the top of the list, having been displaced by friendlier, generic Evangelical churches.
The blame for the decline of the IFB church movement rests at the feet of Jack Hyles and those who followed in his steps. Hyles taught these so-called men of God to verbally, emotionally, and mentally abuse church members. As one aged IFB preacher said years ago, We hit our people over the head with the sin stick so often that they duck when we begin to preach. For years, Sunday after Sunday, IFB church members filed into churches such as Longview Baptist to hear preachers tell them that they were never doing enough. Souls for Jesus is our battle cry. Souls for Jesus is our battle cry. We never will give in while souls are lost in sin. Souls for Jesus is our battle cry, sang the Midwestern Baptist College student body when I attended there in the 1970s. Today, the school has a handful of students, and the church which students were required to attend — Emmanuel Baptist Church — is no longer in existence; a church, by the way, that once exceeded 5,000 in attendance.
Thousands of souls were saved through the work of Midwestern college students. Required (driven) to evangelize, students fanned out across the Pontiac and Detroit area, knocking on doors and offering the one-two-three- repeat-after-me IFB gospel to those who dared to answer their knock. Freshmen students, filled with zeal and unaware as to how the soul-winning game was played, were those most likely to devote themselves to saving the lost. By the end of their first year, students who had been repeatedly berated at church, college chapel, and Saturday bus meetings over their poor souls-saved numbers, learned how to lie about their soul-winning conquests. Students were required to report each week how much time they spent evangelizing the lost and how many people were saved. Midwestern even held soul winning contests. Won souls were carefully tabulated and the best soul-winners had their names affixed to a chart.
Many IFB churches have moved on from their hyper-soul-winning days. As members began to burn out, attendance numbers declined. These IFB preachers — considered compromisers by men such as Gray — say they are now focused on quality and not quantity. Other IFB preachers, refusing to admit that they have burned through several generations of church members, continue to drive their churches — demanding more and more from fewer people. The numbers are against them, and in time churches built on the Hyles model of sheep-driving will collapse, and the remaining sheep will scatter, finding pastors and churches who treat them like people instead of a commodity. Whatever my feelings are concerning religion, I consider that those who choose to believe should be treated with respect. After all, they are the ones doing the work and paying the freight. Without them, preachers would be forced to sell vacuum cleaners and hamburgers to make ends meet.
Gray, Sr. recently took to his blog to whine about people saying he drives church members. Gray wrote:
Recently it has been brought to my attention that someone who once worked side-by-side with me in my ministry has criticized me to several men for having “driven” my people rather than leading them. Now, normally I would actually consider that to be a compliment. However, it was obvious that it was not said as a compliment but as a criticism.
It is interesting that someone who would claim to be a friend would say what my enemies also have said about me. This is not something new. Nor is it something that concerns me other than for the fact that it came from a source I would have trusted. Plus it confuses people as to what good leadership is.
People who are told they are “hurting” after being so-called “driven” never knew it until they were told so. We are basically lazy by nature and anyone who will feed that will have to be critical of prior leaders who were driven because of a cause. It is an insult to those who gave their lives to a cause to say they were “driven” without a choice in the matter.
So, I say to those who accuse me of driving my people, you are right, I did drive my people. I drove them to do what’s right. I drove them to obey the Great Commission. I drove them to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. I drove them to put the Kingdom of God above themselves. I drove them to be the Christians they should be.
B.J. VanAman is the pastor of the Pickerington Baptist Temple in Pickerington, Ohio. He is a graduate of Crown College of the Bible, an unaccredited, King James Only, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) college in Powell, Tennessee. As is the custom in Christian Ohio, legislators can have religious dignitaries from their districts come and give an invocation. Last Tuesday, Tim Schaffer (R), representative from the 77th district (Lancaster) invited Pastor VanAman to open the session with prayer.
Van Aman proceeds to pray a five-minute “sermon” (a common ploy by Christian Fundamentalists), complete with King James English. At the five-minute mark House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger cuts VanAman off by saying AMEN and quickly beginning the Pledge of Allegiance. What follows is a video of the VanAman’s introduction and prayer (first eight minutes).
The Columbus Dispatch had this to say about Van Aman’s prayer:
Lawmakers are welcome to invite religious leaders from their district to deliver an opening prayer to the House, as Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, did on Tuesday. Most prayers don’t go longer than 60 or 90 seconds, often delivering messages of inspiration and asking for wisdom and guidance.
House guidelines are largely based on a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring opening prayers to be nondenominational, nonsectarian and nonproselytizing.
The prayer on Tuesday mentioned “Though the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ,” and went on to describe Jesus, whose “name is above every name,” and at his name “every knee shall bow.” It also described Jesus as the “author and finisher of our faith.”
Rosenberger first peeked an eye open about three minutes in. At nearly four minutes, he opened his eyes and began looking around, clearly growing anxious about the length and trying to decide the right way to end it.
After just over five minutes, with no clear conclusion on the horizon, Rosenberger blurted out an “amen,” thanked Van Aman for being here and then motioned toward the flag to start the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I am speaker, so whether it’s floor action or the pastor giving the prayer, I feel I make the determination when we need to move it on,” Rosenberger said.
He was not the only one who felt that way. After the Pledge of Allegiance, a hot mic picked up a female voice on the floor: “That was a sermon.”
Rosenberger’s action earned praise from Rep. Mike Curtin, D-Marble Cliff, who called it “entirely appropriate.” Curtin covered the legislature for The Dispatch in the 1980s and did a story on the then-House chaplain, the Rev. Kenneth Grimes, a Catholic who was admired for his counsel and prayers that mixed inspiration and humor.
“He was very careful to acknowledge that the General Assembly is a diverse body,” Curtin said. “The opening prayer should reflect that diversity. It should reflect the Constitutional acknowledgement of there not being a state religion.”
That, Curtin said, means not infusing the name of Jesus Christ into many lines of the prayer.
“I don’t think any members take objection to a Christian clergyman or woman making reference to Jesus Christ. But what we’ve had lately in this chamber for a period of years now is a heavy, almost Christian proselytizing as the opening prayer, which in my view is inappropriate,” Curtin said.
The House has not had a designated chaplain for more than 20 years.
Members, Curtin said, need to school visiting clergy on the protocol. Rosenberger agreed that members may need to do a better job briefing their guests on expectations prior to the prayer.
Over-the-top sermonizing, Curtin said, “doesn’t have a place in the public body.”
In this post, I want to take a look at State Line Christian School, an unaccredited fundamentalist Christian school that is operated under the auspices of the Lewis Ave Baptist Church in Temperance, Michigan. I know nothing about this school or church, and everything I write in this post has been gleaned from the church’s or school’s website.
Lewis Avenue Baptist Church, is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church pastored by Steve Hobbins. Pastor Hobbins has been the pastor of the church since 2008. Prior to that, his father was the pastor for 37 years. Like many IFB churches, Lewis Avenue is a franchise operation, handed down from father to son.
In 2001, the church built a 1,300 seat auditorium. I found nothing on the church’s website that states their actual attendance. Interestingly, I found nothing on their website that stated what they believed. There is one page (link no longer active) that details how a person can go to heaven when they die. Here is the prayer they suggest a sinner pray:
I know I’m a sinner, I know I cannot save myself. I know you died on the cross for my sin. I ask you to come into my heart and forgive my sins, and take me to heaven when I die. AMEN
The centerpiece of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church’s plan to train future IFB leaders is the State Line Christian School. The school’s about page states (link no longer active):
When State Line Christian School opened in 1973, Pastor Hobbins’s vision was to open not just a private school, but a Christian school, one that held the beliefs of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church and the other churches in the Greater Toledo area. The school is Baptist-based with a strong emphasis on evangelism.
State Line started with just a K-4 and K-5, but added grades every year, until they graduated their first class in 1980. It is considered a preparatory school for college – a student’s core classes are chosen for him, and each student gets four years of English, math, and science. The school uses A Beka Book curriculum. State Line has been successful in preparing its students in that better than 90% of graduates go on to pursue college…
State Line is an unaccredited Christian school that uses A Beka Books, the publishing arm of Pensacola Christian College, for their curriculum. For one child in grade 1 through 12, the tuition cost is $4,000 plus an enrollment fee and an additional costs fee. Total cost for one child? Around $4,100. For families with two children enrolled the tuition cost is $6,250. Four children? $8,250. The State Line website does not mention if there is an additional tuition cost for more than four children. If a family is delinquent (link no longer active) in making their tuition payments for more than 45 days, their children will not be permitted to attend the school. If payment arrangements are not made, the school will “pursueany and all action to collect past due money.” If this step is taken, a 20% fee is added to the amount owed.
Pastor Steve Hobbins is the superintendent and Joshua Newbold is the principal. Both Hobbins and Newbold attended an unnamed, and I assume unaccredited, Bible college. According to the hard to find listing of school staff (no link on school website), the school has 21 teachers:
Teacher certification is optional. A teacher may qualify to work in a nonpublic school in one of the following three ways: obtain a Michigan Teaching Certificate; obtain a substitute, full year, or emergency teaching permit; obtain a bachelor‘s degree.
Persons without valid teaching certificates who have the requisite college credit may apply to the Michigan Department of Education for a teaching permit for employment in a nonpublic school under Mich. Admin. Code R 390.1142 (full-year permit); R 390.1143 (substitute permit); and R 390.1144 (emergency permit).
Teachers in the regular or elementary grade studies in a private, denominational or parochial school, i.e., a school other than a public school giving instruction to children below the age of 16 years, in the first eight grades, must hold a teaching certificate that would qualify them to teach in like grades of the public schools. Mich.Comp. Laws §§388.552; 388.553.
In 1993, The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the above provision was unconstitutional when applied to families whose religious convictions prohibit the use of certified instructors. In People v. DeJonge, a lawsuit filed by the fundamentalist Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the Michigan Supreme Court ruled 4-3 for DeJonge and invalidated the requirements mentioned above. Thus, State Line is under no statutory requirement as far as their teachers are concerned, and this is why most them have degrees from unaccredited fundamentalist Christian colleges.
Like all fundamentalist Christian schools, State Line has a strict code of conduct. While I was unable to find a copy of their student manual online, which is not uncommon for fundamentalist schools that want to hide their rules from prying eyes, I did find a 7th-12th grade student conduct agreement form (link no longer active) which must be signed by the student, the school administrator, and the student’s parent. The student must answer in the affirmative or negative to the following questions/statements:
Do you attend church regularly? Where?
Do you have any objections to saluting the United States Flag, the Christian Flag, or the Bible?
Do you understand that the goals and standards of State Line Christian School are based on principles found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament?
Have you read our Student Handbook carefully?
Is there any standard you do not understand? If answered yes, Which one?
Will you dress according to the standards of State Line Christian School?
Will you establish and have a daily time for devotions?
Will you honestly agree to keep all the school’s rules and respect authority without being critical and find fault?
Do you want to attend State Line Christian School?
After answering these questions, the student must READ ALOUD:
“As a student of State Line Christian School, I WILL NOT cheat, swear, smoke, gamble, dance, drink alcoholic beverages, use indecent language, use drugs, or behave in a disorderly or disrespectful manner. I WILL maintain Christian standards in courtesy, kindness, morality and honesty. I WILL strive to be of unquestionable character in dress, conduct and other areas of my life. I WILL attend all weekly services of my church unless providentially hindered. I am willing by the enabling of God to refrain from anything good or bad which might cause others to stumble, to bring reproach to the cause of Christ, to cause disrespect to the glory of God, or to be a negative influence in the character development of myself or others. I will at all times seek to maintain a careful discipline and diligence in the pursuit of my academic opportunities. I will cooperate with those in authority over me and will personally maintain respect for properly placed authority.
I realize that keeping the standards depends upon my attitude and spirit towards the goals of Christian Education. My spirit depends upon my heart commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and the goals He wants for me during my stay at State Line Christian School.
There is much evidence from Pastors, Christian Educators, and Christian Counselors across our nation that bad music, Hollywood movies,television, and bad companionship affects the character, spirit and performance of students. Any evidence that a student is under the influence or control of such will result in disciplinary measures.
While these standards will be strictly enforced, it needs to be understood that we are far more interested in a student’s spirit and attitude than outward conformity to the standards with a rebellious spirit. The student should know that attitudes show just like actions and will be approved or disapproved.
There are tens of thousands of churches like Lewis Ave Baptist Church and thousands of these churches have schools that are just like State Line Christian School. Thousands of American children are being educated in unaccredited schools, taught by non-certified teachers. These schools use fundamentalist Christian textbooks that teach evolution is a myth and promote American exceptionalism and Christian nationalism. Some of these schools don’t even use textbooks, using instead a self-guided curriculum published by Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) or Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI).
Secularists and humanists think educating children is vitally important. Having an educated populace is for our common good, and it is to everyone’s benefit to make sure every child is adequately, properly, and comprehensively educated. We expect the goverment to regulate schools in such a way that they provide a quality education for every child.
Fundamentalist Christian churches and schools have lobbied legislators and have used lawsuits to demand exemption from state laws that regulate what they can and can not do. In many states, they have been quite successful and this is why there are schools like State Line Christian School. Here in Ohio, any church can start a non-charted, unaccredited religious school. There are no regulations for such schools, and for families who choose to home school, the regulations are few. In others words, many states and local jurisdictions have abdicated their responsibility to regulate and investigate many of the schools that educate their children. (see How to Start a Non-Chartered Christian School in Ohio)
Even worse, right-wing politicians are working hard to pass voucher laws that enable private Christian schools to receive state funding with little or no oversight. Thousands of American children have their private, religious education paid for by taxpayers. These voucher programs have caused a huge census and financial drain for many public school systems.
I put this post together so readers could see how a typical fundamentalist Christian school operates. I do not know anyone at State Line Christian School or Lewis Ave Baptist Church. They came up in a web search I was doing and I decided that they would be a good example of a non-accredited, private, fundamentalist Christian school.
Should these schools (and home schools) be permitted to operate outside the purview of federal, state, and local authorities? Should they be exempt from the laws that public schools must follow? Should we “trust” these schools to properly educate children without making sure they do so? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
My opinion? ALL schools should be strictly regulated by federal, state, and local government. They should receive NO public funding unless they are. I have no objection to religiously motivated private schools or homeschooling as long as they are properly regulated. We ALL have a vested interest in making sure that American children are adequately, properly, and comprehensively educated.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
Religious schools are as old as religion itself, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping the “God” in education(g). But when college students are sent to live at a Christian school where their every move is monitored, well, there is a certain potential for things to get weird. Pensacola Christian College, for instance, has come under fire for what has been described as a cult-like atmosphere, along with the little matter of not having any accreditation at all.
We spoke to one former student who we’ll call “Lilith.” She attended PCC and told us…
…The most traumatic event in Lilith’s tenure at Pensacola Christian College occurred in the spring of her freshman year. She and her boyfriend had sneaked away to enjoy a rare moment of nuzzles, because no physical touching was allowed between genders at all. Well, someone must have seen them in this obscene act of awkward adolescent pecking, because shortly thereafter …
“I received a call slip in my mailbox ordering me to the dean’s office,” she says. “I remember that it was really weird, because it came on a Sunday.” When she got there, she found a waiting room full of other fallen women. “When I was called into the office,” she says, “the dean and one of her assistants were waiting. ‘How are you?’ they asked. ‘How are you feeling?'” She told them she felt fine, and they cut right to the chase. “We’re concerned about your health. We’re concerned you might be pregnant.”
That seemed unlikely to Lilith, a currently menstruating virgin. “They told me ‘People said you’ve been feeling sick and vomiting in trash cans,'” which was only slightly less confusing, because she had never been that sick the whole time she had been at school. When she explained all of these things, they asked “Would you be OK with taking a pregnancy test to prove your innocence?” That’s verbatim what they said, as if pregnancy was a crime.
Lilith had a feeling that not being OK with it wouldn’t be OK, so after five hours of being called in and out and asked all kinds of questions presumably with a flashlight in her face, she was marched down to a bathroom to take the (obviously negative) test. This was during a busy time of day, when there were tons of students in the halls, all watching her being trotted out to take her pee of shame…
…Let’s go back to the school’s spontaneous pregnancy check for a moment. “What makes me the most upset is that no one ever talked to my boyfriend,” she says. “He was completely blameless not just in their eyes, but in the eyes of the whole school. It was the entire culture.” Women were blamed for everything, even for (as Lilith later found out) being raped. That link is to an account by former student Samantha Field, who was sexually assaulted and then told later that she needed to repent.
But the double standard for men and women wasn’t just an unspoken part of the culture — it was overtly stated in the rules. For instance, women were flat-out not allowed to work certain jobs on campus. This wasn’t some abstract wage gap situation, involving invisible forces like social pressure and hiring managers who quietly shuffled her application to the bottom of the pile. They took female applications for landscaping or security jobs and politely handed it right back to them. (A woman? Using hedge clippers? Just as in the final days of Sodom!)
And please note that if she wasn’t happy with her on-campus job prospects, she couldn’t just go out and apply to be waitress. Only men were allowed to work off-campus, which sucked because the pay and hours were usually a lot better. Women could only work approved (usually unpaid) internships, which didn’t do much for their pantyhose fund, so they were forced to choose from the slim on-campus offerings.
Even in the seemingly gender-neutral field of broadcasting, which is what Lilith majored in, male genitalia was required just to announce the college basketball games. “I asked and asked and asked, ‘Why can’t a girl do this?’ and they just said, ‘They just won’t let you.'”…
More than a few of the readers of this blog are former Pensacola Christian College (PCC) students. Polly and I have family members who attended PCC and some of them are still closely connected to the College. I have no doubt that the aforementioned story is factual. I’ve had numerous private discussions with former PCC students. Their stories bear witness to the truthfulness of “Lilith’s” story.
HT: Richard Marlowe for making me aware of this article
Steven Anderson is the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Tempe, Arizona. Anderson’s bio states:
Pastor Steven Anderson was born and raised in Sacramento, CA. At age 18, he travelled throughout Germany and Eastern Europe for 3 months serving in local independent Baptist churches, studying foreign languages, and getting experience in the ministry. It was on this trip that he met his future wife, Zsuzsanna, while out soul-winning in the streets of Munich, Bavaria. He eventually lead her to the Lord, and they were married shortly thereafter. They have been married for over 13 years, and God has blessed them with 7 beautiful children.
Pastor Anderson started Faithful Word Baptist Church on December 25, 2005. He holds no college degree but has well over 140 chapters of the Bible memorized word-for-word, including approximately half of the New Testament. Today, most Baptist churches are started by Bible colleges. However, the Bible makes it clear that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, not a school. Faithful Word Baptist Church is a totally independent Baptist church, and Pastor Anderson was sent out by a totally independent Baptist church to start it the old-fashioned way by knocking doors and winning souls to Christ.
God has blessed Faithful Word Baptist Church tremendously. Thousands have been saved, many have been baptized.
Faithful Word Baptist Church is a congregation of a hundred or so members, thirty of which are children. They meet in a building located at 2741 W Southern Ave, Suite #14, Tempe, Arizona. As you can tell from this Google Earth graphic:
Faithful Word is located at a busy Tempe intersection. Their building is not some Jim Jones-like compound out in the boonies. They are right smack dab in the middle of Tempe, Arizona, a growing community of 168,000 people.
Anderson is well-known for his YouTube Videos. According to the church’s website, these 1,200 videos/mp3 sermons have been downloaded over 8,000,000 times. Anderson has put together a video tour of Faithful Word, and during the video he explains some of the things that are important to the church. As you will be able to see if you watch the nine-minute video, Anderson, is a polite, soft-spoken man. He is a family man who loves Jesus, his wife, children, and Faithful Word Baptist Church.
In the video, Anderson shares the things that make Faithful Word different from other churches. Things like:
They only sing old hymns and spiritual songs
They only use the 1611 version of the King James Bible
They believe in preaching the whole Bible
They believe in preaching hard against sin
They have family-integrated services, no age-segregated classes
They have a nursery and mother’s room that are used to nurse infants and train children to sit in church (the sermon is piped in, and a window allows mothers and children to see the preacher)
They make Bibles, sermon CD’s and videos, available free of charge to anyone who wants them
Faithful Word has a Spanish class for members learning to speak Spanish. Since Arizona has a large Hispanic population, Anderson believes it is important for church members to speak Spanish. By learning Spanish, they are better able to evangelize Hispanics.
According to Anderson, outside of preaching the whole Bible, the most important thing is reaching Arizona with the true gospel. Faithful Word has what Anderson calls a Small Town Soulwinning Map. This map shows all small/rural communities in Arizona, places Anderson has targeted for a blitz-like evangelization effort. Church members spread out all over the small community and knock on every door, witnessing to all who answer.
Anderson also mentioned the church’s effort to evangelize all of Phoenix. According to him, daily church members knock on doors, witnessing to all who answer. Their goal is to knock on the door of every home in Phoenix. Church members go neighborhood by neighborhood, marking off on a map those areas that have been evangelized. According to Anderson, thousands of people have been saved through the efforts of Faithful Word Baptist Church.
While most IFB pastors are pretribulational and premillennial, Anderson and Faithful Word are posttribulational and prewrath rapture. They believe Christians will go through most of tribulation, only to be raptured out just before God’s final judgment and wrath. This belief was made popular in the early 1990s by Marv Rosenthal. The church offers a video they made, produced by Paul Wittenberger, titled After the Tribulation. They recently released another video titled New World Order: Bible Versions. According to Wittenberger’s bio page (link no longer active):
Paul Wittenberger is a filmmaker, artist and activist, was born in Michigan but spent his early childhood in the West African nation of Liberia. After returning to the United States and completing his early education, Paul studied film at Full Sail University. His upbringing in West Africa gives Paul a unique perspective, which he brings to his art.
In early 2010 Paul teamed up with producer G. Edward Griffin to make a film that would bring the issue of geothermal engineering, or “chemtrails,” to the forefront. “What in the World are They Spraying?” opened in of October 2010 to great success and controversy. Paul’s second feature length documentary was released in 2012. “The Great Culling: Our Water” exposes how fluoride in our drinking water is neither safe nor effective. It is, in actuality, a toxic byproduct of the phosphate industry called hydrofluorosilic acid.
After “The Great Culling: Our Water,” Paul teamed up with Steven Anderson to Produce three back to back films, “After the Tribulation,” “The Book of Revelation,” and “New World Order Bible Versions.”
Paul currently resides in the Los Angeles, California, area where he continues to make documentaries and educate people on the New World Order deception.
After thoroughly investigating Steven Anderson and Faithful Word Baptist Church, I have concluded that they are a typical IFB pastor and church. There is nothing in their beliefs that can’t be found in other IFB and Evangelical churches. While their eschatology makes them an outlier, every other belief fits well within the IFB/Evangelical box.
Tonight, I want to preach this sermon. And you have probably never heard a sermon like this before. Actually, you probably have if you have been coming to church here for a while. But you know what? Here is my sermon, why I hate Barack Obama. That’s my sermon tonight, because Barack Obama is coming to town tomorrow morning.
Barack Obama is coming to town. And he is going to be here tomorrow morning. Who knew that he was coming to town? I didn’t know. I just found out recently with his health care and everything like this.
And I’m going to tell you something. I hate Barack Obama. You say, well, you just mean you don’t like what he stands for. No, I hate the person. Oh, you mean you just don’t like his policies. No, I hate him…
…You are going to tell me that I’m supposed to pray for the socialist devil, murderer, infanticide who wants to see young children and he wants to see babies killed through abortion and partial-birth (INAUDIBLE) everything? You are going to tell me I am supposed to pray for God to give him a good lunch tomorrow while he’s in Phoenix, Arizona?
No. I am not going to pray for his good. I am going to pray that he dies and goes to hell…
…What goes around comes around. You love violence. You hate that which is right. You love to harm others. You love to hurt or kill the unborn or the innocent or the righteous. He is saying, God is going to bring that upon your own head, because whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Now, turn back to Psalm 58 and let me ask you this question. Why should Barack Obama melt like a snail? Why should Barack Obama die like the untimely birth of a woman? Why should his children be fatherless and his wife a widow, as we read in this passage?
Well, I will tell you why. Because, since Barack Obama thinks it is OK to use a salty solution, right, to abort the unborn, because that’s how abortions are done, my friend, using salt — and I would like to see Barack Obama melt like a snail tonight…
The same God who instituted the death penalty for murders is the same god who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals, sodomites and queers! That’s what it was instituted for, okay? That’s God, he hasn’t changed. Oh, God doesn’t feel that way in the New Testament … God never “felt” anything about it, he commanded it and said they should be taken out and killed.
You know why God wanted the sodomites in the Old Testament to be killed? You know why every good king of Israel, the Bible says they got rid of the sodomites in the land? You know, the good kings that came after the bad kings who had allowed the sodomites to infest their land, they had infiltrated … King Asa got the sodomites out of the land, Jehoshaphat exterminated the sodomites that were left from the days of his father, Asa. Why? Because the sodomites are infectious, that’s why. Because they’re not reproducers, that goes without saying, they’re recruiters.
How are they multiplying? Do you not see that they’re multiplying? Are you that blind? Have you noticed that there’s more than there were last year and the year before, and the year before that? How are they multiplying? They’re reproducing right? No, here’s a biology lesson: they’re not reproducers, they’re recruiters! And you know who they’re after? Your children. Remember you dropped off your kids last week? That’s who they’re after. You drop them off at some daycare, you drop them off at some school somewhere, you don’t know where they’re at. I’ll tell you where they’re at: they’re being recruited by the sodomites. They’re being molested by the sodomites. I can tell you so many stories about people that I know being molested and recruited by the sodomites.
They recruit through rape. They recruit through molestation. They recruit through violation. They are infecting our society. They are spreading their disease. It’s not a physical disease, it’s a sin disease, it’s a wicked, filthy sin disease and it’s spreading on a rampage. Can’t you see that it’s spreading on a rampage? I mean, can you not see that? Can you not see that it’s just exploding in growth? Why? Because each sodomite recruits far more than one other sodomite because his whole life is about recruiting other sodomites, his whole life is about violating and hurting people and molesting ’em…
… I’m here to preach the Bible. And I’m sick to death — hey, let me tell you something. Our country is run by faggots. You know who wrote this 700-billion-dollar bailout bill? You know who was the man who was the architect of the bailout? His name is Barney Franks, he is a pedophile, he has been arrested for uh, interacting with boys that are in their teenage years when he’s in his 50s, it’s in the news, he’s been arrested for it. He is a pedophile, he is a homosexual, he has stood up in the floor of the sacred halls of justice and said,’I am gay, I am a sodomite.’
That’s Barney Frank, that’s who just sold our country into fascism. That’s who just sold our corporations to the government. That’s who sold out our country, a faggot! And I’m here to tell you something! I’m not going to stand for it, and let a faggot run the church! It’s bad enough that we’ve got a bunch of faggots running the government!
Here’s a video clip of a sermon preached in November 2014 where Anderson says the Bible gives the cure for AIDS:
Video Clip (link no longer active)
For you who can’t stomach Anderson’s video, his cure for AIDS is quite simple: kill all of them. No need to spend billions of dollars on AIDS research. Just kill everyone who has AIDS, and that will put an end to it. I assume Anderson believes that almost everyone who has AIDS is a homosexual.
Again, I have not read or heard anything from Pastor Steve Anderson and the Faithful Word Baptist Church that I have not heard countless times in IFB/Fundamentalist/Evangelical churches, colleges, conferences, and preacher meetings. Granted, Anderson lacks the smooth-talking, salesman skills of most preachers, but his beliefs can be found preached in thousands of churches. He may use coarse, inflammatory words, but the message is still the same: repent or go to hell. Anderson is no different from culture warriors who think abortion is murder, homosexuality is a sin, and President Obama, atheists, agnostics, humanists, Democrats, liberals, progressives, and socialists are the spawn of Satan.
As I mentioned in a recent post titled Hello Bruce, I’m A Nice Evangelical, no matter how the Evangelical smiles and is kind, decent, and polite, their beliefs are abhorrent. Millions of “nice” people think homosexuals are perverts. Millions of “nice” people think that atheists are child molesters and servants of Satan. Millions of “nice” people think abortion is murder. Millions of “nice” people think their unbelieving neighbors, friends, spouse, children, and grandchildren will go to hell when they die. Millions of “nice” people believe that God will fit unbelievers after they die with a body that can survive torture in a lake of fire for eternity. Millions of “nice” people think the United States is a Christian nation, that prayer and the ten commandments should be allowed in public schools, that the earth is 6,019 years old, that global warming is a hoax, and sex before marriage is a sin.
Knowing what I know about Evangelicals and their beliefs, I have concluded that Pastor Steven Anderson and Faithful Word Baptist Church are not in any way special. They may not play the nice game like downtown First Baptist Church, but their beliefs are similar. As I have stated many times before, strip the façade from people like Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church, Steven Anderson and Faithful Baptist Church, Bob Gray and Longview Baptist Temple, Jack Hyles and First Baptist Church, Peter Ruckman and Bible Baptist Church, Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, Baptist Bible Fellowship, General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC), Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA), John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Franklin Graham, many Southern Baptist churches, and a plethora of Evangelical parachurch organizations, and you will find that they all have a shared belief. While they may disagree on orthopraxy, eschatology, soteriology, baptism, etc, the beliefs that bind them are far more than the beliefs that separate them.
While Pastor Steven Anderson is roundly criticized and ridiculed by Christian and non-Christian alike, his video and sermons have been downloaded 8,000,000 times. Even if most of the downloads were by people opposed to Anderson, I suspect that many of the downloads were by Christian preachers and church members who agree with him. Like it or not, the Steve Andersons of the world are many. And it is for this reason those of us who believe in reason, rationalism, skepticism, humanism, and science must continue pushing back against Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. We dare not ignore preachers like Steven Anderson and Ken Ham. They are like brain cancer that eats away the parts of the brain that help us think and reason. No matter how nice they may be, it is their beliefs that cause untold heartache and damage.
You can view all of Anderson’s YouTube videos here (link no longer active). You can check out his sermon transcripts here.
You can read Anderson’s wife’s blog here. She lists several like-minded churches, Verity Baptist Church, Sacramento, California, Word of Truth Baptist Church, Prescott, Arizona and Steadfast Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas. As you will find out from her blog, Zsuzsanna Anderson has the same beliefs as her husband, a man she thinks is the greatest pastor in the world. You will also find that she is a loving mother who thinks she is doing what’s best for her family.
Faithful Word Baptist Church had a record attendance of 172 last Sunday, April 5, 2015
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.