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).
Over the years, I heard countless sermons, both during church services and at pastor’s conferences. I have also spent extensive time talking shop with my fellow colleagues in the ministry. Needless to say, I have heard some interesting, outlandish, and, at times, insane statements on all sorts of subjects. What follows are a few of the things I heard. I give them to you as I remember them. Some of the quotes are forty-plus years old, so they may not be verbatim. Unless otherwise noted, quotes are from Sunday sermons.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:1, Arm Yourselves! (The speaker pushed his suit coat back and pulled out a revolver. The crowd went wild.) — Jack Wood, Baptist evangelist, said at a preacher’s conference in Rossville, Georgia
Go to Hell for all I care. No, I don’t mean that. Yes, I do. Go to Hell for all I care — Tom Malone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Pontiac, Michigan
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! (Said to a man who got up to leave during the sermon.) — Tom Malone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Pontiac, Michigan
Who cares about the hole in the ozone layer? That just means there will be a bigger hole for Jesus to come through when he returns to earth again. — Bruce Gerencser, pastor of Somerset Baptist Church, Somerset, Ohio
Speaking of Matthew 5:28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart, When a good looking woman comes your way, it’s not the first look that’s a sin; it’s the second one. So just make sure the first look is a long one. — Unnamed Baptist evangelist to a group of preachers, including fifteen-year-old Bruce Gerencser, at Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio
Girl, when you climb into the backseat with a boy, I hope the only face you see is mine. — Baptist Evangelist Don Hardman (who came out of the pulpit, stood right in front of a teen girl, pointed his finger, and said the aforementioned quote), said during a revival meeting at Somerset Baptist Church, Somerset, Ohio
No girl has ever gotten pregnant without holding hands with a boy first. — Bruce Gerencser, pastor of Somerset Baptist Church, Somerset, Ohio
I have checked the tithing records, and it has come to my attention that there are some church employees who are not tithing. Either you will start tithing or I will have your tithe taken out of your check. — James Dennis, Newark Baptist Temple, Heath, Ohio
I don’t know, I have never, never lost. — Jack Hyles, First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana (answering someone who asked Hyles how he responded when he lost), said at a Sword of the Lord conference held at the Newark Baptist Temple, Heath, Ohio
Years ago, some men were drilling a deep hole towards the center of the earth. Suddenly, they heard what sounded like voices and screams. The men got a microphone and lowered it into the hole, and sure enough they heard people screaming. Hell is real! — Bill Beard, pastor of Lighthouse Memorial Church, Millersport, Ohio
If the King James Bible was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it is good enough for me. — Unnamed preacher at a Sword of the Lord conference held at the Newark Baptist Temple, Heath, Ohio
God doesn’t use quitters! — Tom Malone, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Pontiac, Michigan
The government is coming to take our guns. It’s the duty of every Christian to own guns so they can defend themselves. — John Williams, Baptist evangelist, said at a revival held at Somerset Baptist Church, Somerset, Ohio
There was a man whom God called to be a preacher. Instead of obeying God, the man instead took a secular job, married, and he and his wife had several children. One day, his wife and children were killed in an automobile accident. At the funeral home, God said to the man, now will you serve me? The man began weeping, and said to God, yes, I will serve you. I ask you, what will God have to take away from you for you to serve him? — Greg Carpenter, preacher
Divorce is always a sin. — Keith Troyer, Fallsburg Baptist Church, Fallsburg, Ohio
Your girlfriend’s skirt is too short and it is immodest. (This judgment was said to me, not my girlfriend. I replied, don’t look. Were her skirts too short? Not from my vantage point.) — Chuck Cofty, Sierra Vista Baptist Church, Sierra Vista, Arizona
What’s your favorite quote from your days as an Evangelical Christian? Please share them in the comment section.
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.
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In March 2000, Joe Combs and his wife Evangeline were tried and convicted on numerous criminals charged related to their ritual abuse and rape of their adopted daughter. Joe Combs was the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Bristol, Tennessee. He previously had been a trusted member of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana and a teacher at Hyles-Anderson College.
The Combses case was brought to memory recently when police arrested “David Turpin and Louise Turpin earlier this month in Riverside County, California, on charges of torture, child abuse, dependent adult abuse and false imprisonment.”
Dalena Mathews and Robert Sorrell, reporters for the Bristol Herald Courier had this to say:
Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said news of the Turpin case brought back memories of a case he prosecuted in 2000. “I immediately remembered the Combs trial and started comparing it to what’s happening in [the Turpin] case,” Staubus said in a recent interview with the Bristol Herald Courier.
“The difference is that in the Combs case, it centered on the sadistic, brutal treatment of Esther Combs.”
In November 1998, Bristol Tennessee Police arrested Joseph D. Combs, pastor of the now-defunct Emmanuel Baptist Church on Weaver Pike, and his wife, Evangeline Combs, on charges that they brutalized, Esther, a girl they were raising as their daughter.
The couple and their children were living in the church parsonage at the time the abuse took place.
Grand jury indictments against the couple were the culmination of a multi-jurisdictional investigation that began in February 1997, according to Blaine Wade, who now serves as Bristol Tennessee’s police chief.
Police began investigating when Esther, then 19, was taken to Bristol Regional Medical Center for treatment after she attempted to commit suicide. Hospital staff discovered that her body was covered in layers of scar tissue. It was revealed during the trial that she had more than 400 scars. The case went to trial more than a year later in March 2000. Lawyers questioned 121 jurors over six days before agreeing on the 12-member jury. The 12 jurors selected for the case included five retirees, a nurse, a press room manager, a bread salesman, a fast food restaurant manager and several Eastman employees. The group also included two church deacons and a Sunday school teacher.
Subpoenaed witnesses for the defense included two Michigan lawyers who represented Esther in a civil action against the Combses and against the Indiana adoption agency that placed her with the family.
Esther led a tortured life behind the locked doors of a Bristol church, enduring rapes, beatings and burnings at the hands of the people who should have protected her, Staubus said in his opening statement.
“Inside this locked, closed fellowship hall, there were sinister things going on,” Staubus said.
The couple systematically beat and abused the girl with baseball bats, wood burners, pliers, pieces of tin and metal whips, the prosecutor said. “Mrs. Combs found out about [the abuse], and she blamed Esther and she viciously abused her,” Staubus told the jury.
Along with physical abuse and rape came other forms of cruelty, Staubus said. Esther was starved, denied an education and medical treatment and was “separated out to be the family servant,” the prosecutor said. “You will hear and see evidence of lies, betrayed trust, assaults, injuries, brutality, molestation and even torture.”
Defense attorneys, Spivey and Joe Harrison, said Esther had an ulterior motive. “She has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, and has received compensation for stories she has told to news agencies and newspaper people,” Spivey said.
Spivey said the most important evidence would come from the girl’s five brothers and sisters, who would testify she was a “disturbed young woman who inflicted injuries on herself.”
The jury was shown 58 photographs, which were taken by Richmond on the day the young woman was admitted to the hospital. The photographs showed red, whip-like marks covering the young woman’s back, raised scars on her buttocks and near her genitals, and other scars on her forehead, chin, neck, wrists, arms, breasts and legs.
When the detective tried to uncover the cause of the disfiguring marks on the young woman’s body, she was met by silence, Richmond said.
“Joe Combs told me he did not know she had scars and that he had never seen the scars before,” Richmond said. “He said she was very clumsy and she fell down a lot on the pavement.”
Esther took the stand on the 12th day of the trial, where a standing-room only crowd filled the courtroom. Joseph and Evangeline Combs showed little reaction to the testimony and rarely looked at Esther Combs while she was speaking.
“My earliest memory is of being tied to the high chair and thrown down the stairs by Mrs. Combs,” Esther testified, drawing gasps from the crowd of courtroom spectators.
She testified that the abuse continued for the next two decades as she detailed numerous incidents of abuse by Joseph and Evangeline Combs.
So many people wanted to observe the trial, Judge Beck set up a lottery system to determine which members of the public would get seats for the court session. He said he would not let spectators stand in the courtroom, but on certain days, some were allowed to do so.
A number of witnesses testified on behalf of the defense that the Combs children were “normal, happy children.”
The couple’s other children denied the allegations against their parents.
The former pastor adamantly denied allegations that he raped, tortured or enslaved Esther.
“I love her. I thought she loved me,” Joseph Combs said. “I’m bewildered by all of this. I can’t get my mind around it. It doesn’t make sense.” Combs took the stand, but his wife did not.
After deliberating for just four hours, the jury delivered a guilty verdict. Joseph and Evangeline Combs were found guilty of especially aggravated kidnapping. Joseph Combs was also convicted of aggravated rape, aggravated assault, aggravated perjury and seven counts of rape. Evangeline Combs was also convicted of four counts of aggravated child abuse. The trial ultimately lasted 31 days, one of the longest in Sullivan County history.
On April 26, 2000, Joseph Combs was sentenced to 114 years behind bars. He later died in prison. Evangeline Combs received a 65-year sentence.
What follows is a video from the trial. Warning! This video is graphic:
The fundamentalist Baptist minister charged with kidnapping, raping and torturing a girl he took from a Porter County children’s home was once a respected Bible teacher at Hyles Anderson College in St. John Township.
When the Rev. Joseph and Evangeline Combs allegedly illegally adopted a 4-month old girl from the Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries in Kouts, he was “probably the foremost Bible instructor at Hyles Anderson,” said Jerry Kaifetz, a former student at the school and now an ordained minister. The family settled in a comfortable ranch home along a cul du sac in northwest Merrillville, where neighbors say the children were polite, well behaved and said they were not allowed to talk to adults unless their parents were present.
Joyce McGowan, a neighbor of the Combs family when they lived in Merrillville, said the Combses often tried to talk McGowan and her husband into accompanying them to Sunday services at First Baptist Church in Hammond. The Combs children were not allowed to exchange even small talk with McGowan, she said. McGowan also said she recalled the Combses often commenting how often their adoptive daughter seemed to be ill. “She was the one we didn’t see too often,” McGowan said. “She was small at that time, I think she couldn’t have been but 9 or 10 when they moved away. When we did see her, she had the saddest little face you ever saw.”
Prosecutors in Tennessee said the girl lived a hellish existence with her adoptive parents, being tortured and sexually abused as she was brainwashed into believing she was being raised to be the family’s slave because it was “God’s will.” The alleged abuse was discovered when the woman, who turns 21 on Monday, was hospitalized after a suicide attempt last year. Federal court records show the Combses were given the little girl in March 1978 by the operators of the Baptist Children’s Home. The adoption process was never completed. In a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Hammond, lawyers for the woman said their client was systematically tortured by the Combses, never allowed to attend school and not told she was adopted or that a judge never awarded custody of her to the Combses. The lawyers are suing the Combses for their alleged abuse and the Baptist Children’s Home for negligence. The lawsuit does not specify the damages being sought.
Kaifetz said Combs left the area, probably in 1985, during a controversy over his sale of Bible study books at the college. He has had no contact with Combs since then, but did see an advertisement for his ministry several years ago in a religious publication.
The Rev. Jack Hyles, the pastor of the First Baptist Church and chancellor of Hyles Anderson College, could not be reached for comment Saturday. Beverly Hyles, his wife, said neither one of them has had any contact with the Combses since they left the area, taking 40 or so Hyles Anderson students with them to start their Tennessee church. “He has called us several times,” Hyles said. “We have not returned any of his calls.”
The woman’s lawsuit says she faces huge medical bills as the result of her alleged mistreatment. Among the injuries the Combses are alleged to have inflicted upon the woman were broken bones, dislocated joints, severe and repeated lacerations and trauma and damage to the nervous system and vascular systems. She is being cared for in Michigan by a foster family and has met both of her birth parents since her suicide attempt, said Gregg Herman, one of her lawyers.
Jennifer Talirico, another former neighbor of the Combses, said she was horrified to learn of the charges pending against the Combses. “They kept to themselves, they certainly weren’t the type to have neighbors over or anything like that,” Talirico said. “But God, I wish I knew what was going on in that house.”
David Hyles is the son of the late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for many years. During his younger years, David Hyles was the youth pastor at First Baptist. While there, he sexually preyed on women, resulting in his father quietly, in the dead of night, shipping him off to pastor an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Church that knew nothing of David’s philandering. As sexual predators are wont to do, David Hyles continued his whoring ways, leading to his expulsion from the church. If you are not familiar with the David and Jack Hyles story, please read:
In recent years, David Hyles has been showing up at IFB churches and events, acting as if what happened in the past is ancient history and no longer relevant. Praise Jesus! He has been forgiven! It’s time for people such as myself to move on and give the guy a break. Yes, he was a serial adulterer. Yes, he preyed on women. Yes, he was a despicable human being. But, “Brother Dave’ has played his “washed-by-the-blood, get-out-of-jail-free card. As far as he is concerned, his sin account has been settled and he is free to move forward in the fullness and wonder of God’s mercy and grace. Never mind the fact that Hyles has NEVER given a public accounting of his very public misconduct, and as far as I know he has not contacted nor made restitution to the countless people he has harmed. Doing so, of course, would require him to admit actions that still could be criminally prosecuted.
David Hyles was, as the following comment shows, in attendance at least one of the conference days. A Fighting Fundamental Forums commenter using the moniker Twisted posted a comment a friend of his made on Facebook:
While on a trip in North Carolina with one of our church men, we attended three evening services of the annual National Sword of the Lord Conference on Revival and Soul-Winning. One of the pleasures for me at the conference was to get to see Brother David Hyles, who has been a good friend and encouragement on Facebook. His dad, Jack Hyles, was my favorite preacher. Brother David’s wife, Brenda, took this photo. I thought she did a great job considering the subject matter.
After a period of waywardness, Brother Hyles (David) appears to have been on the right track again for some years now, and he has been trying to use his own restoration to encourage others who need the same. I count him as a friend! For any of you who might have a problem with that, I want to remind you that he is no longer out in a far country nor in the field feeding swine, but he is back at the Father’s house. Stay outside and pout if you want to, or you can come in and enjoy the Father’s celebration of restored fellowship!
Sorry, but I want to puke. According to the aforementioned Facebook friend, it’s time for people to forgive Hyles and move one. First, I have no need to forgive David Hyles. He never did anything to me, so there is nothing for him to apologize for — not that there is any evidence that Hyles (like his father) has apologized to anyone. My goal is to hold a man who was considered one of the “greatest men on earth” accountable for his abuse of countless trusting Christian women. Until Hyles gives a public accounting of his past actions and makes appropriate restitution, I intend to continue to smack him over the head every time I hear of him sticking his bald pate out of the hole he crawled into.
Why is it that many Evangelical Christians have a hard time believing that pastors, evangelists, parachurch leaders, Christian university presidents, and other notable Christian leaders commit crimes such as sexual assault, rape, child abuse, murder, and fraud or otherwise engage in behaviors deemed by faithful Christians to be sinful? Every time I write a post about a pastor or some other Christian leader committing crime or behaving in ways that make them out to be hypocrites, I end up getting comments and emails from people objecting to my publicizing the story. Often, these objectors leave comments that suggest that they have some sort of inside knowledge about the matter, and once the “truth” comes out the accused will be vindicated. Other objectors will take the “they are innocent until proven guilty” approach, subtly suggesting that these kinds of stories should not be publicized until there has been a trial and a conviction. With righteous indignation they attack me, the messenger, for daring to publish anything about the stories, warning me that God is going to get me for causing harm to his servants and his church. And when the trials are over and convictions are handed down, do these same people return to this site with heads humbly held low, confessing that they did not know these men and women as well as they thought they did? Of course not. If anything, they will demand forgiveness for the offender. After all, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, right?
Last year, I remember a number of people getting upset with me over my publicizing on Facebook their pastor’s criminal behavior. He didn’t do it!. I KNOW this man! I’ve been friends with him for 20 years! He led me to Jesus! It’s just the word of a confused teenager against the word of an honorable, devoted man of God. It was interesting to watch all these outraged people disappear once multiple girls came forward from several churches and said that this pastor had taken sexual advantage of them. Why is it these church members had a hard time believing that their pastor committed felony sexual crimes?
When Jack Schaap was accused of carrying on a sexual affair with a teenage girl he was counseling, scores of outraged members and supporters of First Baptist Church in Hammond Indiana came to this blog and declared Schaap’s innocence. These are the same people who, to this day, believe that Schaap’s father-in-law, Jack Hyles, never carried on with his secretary, and these same people, while not condoning David Hyles’ heinous crimes, demand that he be given favorable treatment since God has forgiven him. Who are we to condemn, if God has forgiven him, they said. He that is without sin let him cast the first stone! Judge not!
Bob Gray, the one-time pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville Florida, was accused of sexually molesting young children. Countless Gray supporters said that their pastor could never do such a thing, yet we now know that it is likely he had been a sexual predator for most of the fifty years he spent in the ministry. How is it possible that a pastor who was considered by many, including myself, to be a Holy Ghost-filled man of God, could, for decades, sexually harm children, yet no one know about it (or at least was willing to report it)?
Last week, Justin White, pastor of First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana was arrested on felony charges of insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Come to find out, White was a heroin addict. I found myself asking, how is it possible that a man could preach three times a week and lead a large church while on heroin? Those must have been some pretty awesome and inspiring sermons. Did church leaders know that White had a heroin problem? It seems likely that they did. In 2015, White went out of state for thirty-two days to a rehab center, returning clean to a none-the-wiser church congregation. If news reports are to be believed, White’s recovery was short-lived, resulting in him committing insurance fraud to pay a $11,000 debt he owed to a drug dealer. Despite the evidence and White’s subsequent resignation, there are congregants who believe that their pastor is innocent of all charges. Why do these church members, and others like them, have such a hard time believing that the man who stands in the pulpit on Sunday can be someone other than who he says he is?
These same people have no problem believing that non-Christians commit all sorts of crimes. When newspapers report the crimes of unbelievers these followers of Jesus shake their heads and say, if they only put their faith and trust in Jesus all things would become new for them. In their minds, Jesus is an antidote for bad and criminal behavior. And, to be honest, he often is, or least the idea of Jesus is an antidote for behavior deemed sinful or unlawful. Countless alcoholics and drug addicts clean up after having a come to Jesus moment. While I could write much about why this is so, the fact remains that in some instances having some sort of conversion experience leads people to change their ways. If Jesus really is the antidote for sin and the answer for what ails us, why then do so many Christians fall (or run) into behaviors that are considered sinful or criminal? Why is there no difference behavior-wise between nonbelievers and believers?
The reason then that Evangelicals have a hard time believing their pastors could ever commit the crimes they are accused of is because they think — despite evidence to the contrary — that people are protected from moral and ethical failure by their Christian salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside them. This is why the Black Collar Crime series is so important. The series is a public reminder of the fact that religion, in and of itself, does not make anyone a better person. It can, and perhaps at times does, but there are countless people who are nonreligious or who are members of religious sects Evangelicals have deemed false who live exemplary lives. Religion is not a prerequisite to goodness. And because Evangelicals refuse to understand this, they find it difficult to accept that the men and women they hold up as pillars of morality and virtue can really be perverts and criminals in disguise.
While we should generally trust people, we should not do so blindly, and therein lies the problem for many Evangelicals. They are taught to obey those that have authority over them. They are reminded that gossip is a sin and that church members should not believe an accusation against an elder (pastor) unless it can be firmly established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Jack Hyles was fond of saying, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. Countless Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers have used this very line to turn back whispers about their sexual infidelity or criminal behavior. You keep your mouth shut now. If you didn’t see it happen, you have no business talking about it. I’m sure former IFB church members can remember blistering sermons about gossip and about the dangers of speaking badly about the man of God. Remember those boys who mocked the man of God in the Bible? Why, bears came out of the woods and ate them. Best keep your tongue quiet, lest God send bears to eat you. How often do Evangelicals hear sermons about not touching God’s anointed? Mind your own business, church members are told, and let God take care of the preacher. If he is sinning, God will punish him. But here is the problem with this kind of thinking: God doesn’t punish sinning preachers. They just keep on sinning and sinning and sinning. They will keep on molesting little boys and girls, raping teenagers, and sleeping with vulnerable congregants until real flesh-and-blood human beings make them stop.
Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, yet did nothing. They were more concerned about the testimony of the church than they were the victims. Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, conducted their own investigations, and once finished, buried the accusations or elicited a promise from offenders that they would never, ever do again that which they were accused of. After all, since Jesus has forgiven them, shouldn’t the church? The short answer to this question is HELL NO! When clergy commit criminal acts that harm other people, they must be held accountable. This is why states have mandatory reporting laws. When church leadership hears of reports of possible criminal sexual misconduct they are required to immediately report these actions to law enforcement. It is not their responsibility to investigate or mete out punishment. We have a legal system that is responsible for investigating crimes and bringing offenders to justice. I wish more churches would be prosecuted for failing to report. If a handful of church deacons or elders had to spend time in jail for not reporting or covering up crimes, perhaps this would put an end to these men and women placing their religious institutions reputations above the welfare of those who have been victimized.
I spent twenty-five years in the ministry. From the time I was fifteen to the age of fifty-one, I was a member of the preacher fraternity. I know what went on behind closed doors. I know about scandals, sexual affairs, fraud, and suspected criminal behavior. I know where the bodies are buried. I know the real story behind Pastor So-and-So’s abrupt call to a new church. I know why certain missionaries had to come home from the field, never to return. I know that preachers are not any different from the people they pastor. Yes, most pastors are good people. Yes, most pastors generally desire to help others. What is also true is that some pastors are lazy and see the ministry as a way to make a quick and easy buck. It is also true that some pastors watch pornography and have sexual affairs with people in and out of their churches. People are people, and the sooner that church members understand this, the better. Stop putting pastors on pedestals. Stop thinking that pastors and their families are in any way better than anyone else. They are not, and I wish that pastors would stand before their congregations on Sundays and be honest about this.
The reason they don’t, of course, is because few congregants want honesty and transparency. Instead, they want pastors who are victorious over sin. They want pastors who are above the fray. They want winners! They want men and women they can look up to as examples of moral purity and virtue. Years ago, I remember admitting in a sermon that I knew what it was to lust after a woman. My objective was to let congregants know that I was just like them, that I was not in any way morally superior to them. After the service a man came up to me and told me that he was upset over my confession. In no uncertain terms, he let me know that he didn’t want to hear about my sins or failures. He wanted a pastor who was a shining example of holiness and righteousness. In other words, he wanted me to be God. Needless to say, this man did not last long in our church. He quickly found out that I was, like the apostle Paul, the chiefest of sinners.
Have you ever attended a church where the pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, or some other revered leader in the church was accused of criminal behavior or sexual misconduct? How did the church respond to these accusations? Were some of the members unwilling to believe that the accused could do the things he or she was accused of? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.
For many years, especially during the decades the church was pastored by Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap, First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana was the spiritual home for countless sexual predators and con artists. Most evaded detection thanks to cover-ups orchestrated by the fearsome, loyalty-demanding Hyles.
The scandals and stories are many, yet to this day more than a few Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB) unquestionably believe that most of sordid tales are lies manufactured by those who hate Jack Hyles and have it out for the church. No amount of evidence will convince them otherwise.
Personally, I have given up trying to talk sense to Hyles’ loyalists. When Hyles himself was accused of sexual and ministerial misconduct, his sycophants wore buttons that said 100% HYLES. Today, the thinking that led to the buttons remains alive and well. The nastiest commenters I have ever dealt with on this blog are the followers of Jack Hyles. No matter how many sick stories emanate from the darkest corners of First Baptist in Hammond, Jack Hyles, who paved the way for his preacher son to prey on church women, his pastor son in-law to take sexual advantage of a church teen, and for deacons, Sunday school teachers, bus workers, and Hyles-Anderson preacher boys to sexually assault children and vulnerable adults, remains, in the eyes of many, above reproach. For whatever reason, the devoted followers of Jack Hyles are unable to make the connection between Hyles — their demigod — and the doctrines, beliefs and practices that facilitated criminal behavior
Almost twenty-five years ago, well-known First Baptist deacon A.V. Ballenger was convicted of sexually molesting a seven-year-old church girl. Three other women testified at Ballenger’s sentencing that they too had been molested by him. Tamiko Grace was one of the women who testified.
Tamiko “Tammy” Grace told The Times last week it was the grace of God that allowed her to forgive the former church employee she said molested her when she attended First Baptist Church in the mid-1970s.
Grace, a 44-year-old mother of three children, said she was molested when she was 5 years old by A.V. Ballenger, a former church deacon convicted in March 1993 of molesting a 7-year-old girl in 1991 during a Sunday School class at the Hammond church. …. Grace was one of three women who testified they were abused as children by Ballenger at the former deacon’s sentencing hearing in June 1993, according to The Times archives.
Grace told The Times last week that Ballenger groped her repeatedly when he was a school bus driver for the church. “I didn’t know it was wrong,” she said. “I was so young, I just thought it was love.”
Ballenger maintained his innocence at the sentencing hearing and claimed the women, one of whom was his own niece, testified for sympathy and attention, according to the archives.
Grace said she instead testified due to the guilt she felt for not coming forward sooner. She was 22 years old and had a young child when she finally reported the incident to authorities. She feared she could have saved other girls from abuse if she had reported it sooner.
“This was my chance to make the wrong right,” she said.
Ballenger was sentenced to five years in prison, court records state. The 81-year-old now lives in Alabama, according to the state’s sex offender registry. He could not be reached for comment.
Grace said she struggled for years to deal with the shame she felt as a result of the molestation, but she attended therapy and continued to find strength in God.
What follows is an excerpt from a 11,000 word sermon preached in 1971 at First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, by its pastor Jack Hyles. Titled Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Hyles makes it clear that the public schools are out to destroy America’s children. Sadly, forty years later, many Evangelicals still believe as Hyles did: that public schools are used by Satan to destroy the minds of our children. Hyles’ solution, of course, was for parents to pull their children out of public schools, and enroll them in Christian schools.
I would not preach like I am going to preach tonight if I did not love you. I know a lot of folks tonight will not agree with me, but you never heard a more honest sermon. Now I know our church has dozens of public school teachers. If we asked for a show of hands tonight, I am sure that we would have 35 to 40 people in this room tonight who teach in the public school. I would not hurt you purposely for the world, but tonight I am going to do one thing–I am going to tear what is going on in our schools apart, let me forewarn you. I am going to try to help you save your kids.
The truth is, parents do not know what is going on. I am going to be very frank tonight. No punches barred tonight. If I have superintendents of schools and principals and teachers calling me by the thousands tomorrow, it does not matter. I am going to try to save your kids if it makes the whole town mad. Tonight I am going to spend myself to save your kids. I am going to risk your devotion, your love, your fellowship, maybe your friendship, but I am going to do it because, with all my heart I want to save your kids.
A lady said to me yesterday, “I went over here to a middle school to work in the lunchroom at the lunch hour. Pastor, it never dawned on me the condition of that place. I never realized before what is happening in our schools.”
Parents, you really do not know what is going on. No, you do not. I have in my hand a teenage questionnaire. By the say, one of the reasons I am starting off slow tonight, I do not know what time it is and could not care less. You just forget your clock and your hopes of getting to bed at all tonight, because this is one night when I am going to stand before you and plead for your children.
There are people in this room tonight who care more about your dog than you do your kids. You care more about driving a Cadillac car, or new car. A lot of you ought to sell your car and ride a bicycle if you have to, to get your kids in a decent school. I plead with you tonight for your kids. I hold before me a copy of a survey that our high school students took this morning. Two hundred thirty of our students took this survey, and here are the questions:
1. Have you ever heard one of your school teachers use vulgar language in class?
2. Have you ever heard a school teacher take the name of the Lord in vain in class?
3. Do you ever hear students cursing aloud in class?
4. Have you ever been approached by someone who wanted to sell or give you marijuana or any other narcotic?
5. Have any of your school friends used narcotics?
6. Have you ever used drugs?
7. Have you ever given away or sold drugs yourself?
8. Do you know of any teacher who uses drugs?
9. Have you ever been taught evolution?
10. Do any of your teachers wear mini-skirts?
11. Do any of your teachers wear pant dresses?
12. Do any of your school friends drink?
13. Have you ever taken a drink or any alcoholic beverage, such as beer, wine, etc.?
14. Has there ever been in your school any disturbances, such as revolts, riots, student disorders, boycotts, etc.?
15. Have you ever heard the American way of life, the establishment, and capitalism criticized by a teacher?
16. Have you ever worn slacks to school?
17. Have you ever worn shorts to school?
18. Have you ever been taught that premarital sex is all right?
19. Have you been asked to read such books as, Of Mice and Men, Soul On Ice, The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, or any other book that includes cursing?
20. Have you read any of these books?
Now this questionnaire was handed to each of our high school students this morning. Before you leave tonight, I am going to give you what your kids said this morning, plus a lot of other things along with it. I will give you through the message tonight, the result of this survey.
The average parent in this room does not have any idea what is going on when your child goes to school. How many of you, if you saw your child’s teacher walking down the street, would recognize him or her? Raise your hand, please. You see, you are living under the illusion that it is like us when you were a kid. Brother, it is not near like it was when you were a kid. Not near like it was. Now, you do not care enough to even know. How many of you have ever read at least one book that was required reading for your child at school? Would you lift your hand, please? You just do not much care, do you?
You see, you do not know what is going on, and like the ostrich, you do not want to know what is going on because you do not want to get in a fight, or spend some of your money to save your child. You want to keep on riding high, living it up, enjoying life without facing the fact that we have got a battle on our hands, and that battle is not just to save the country, it is to save your children.
If we so not rise up and do something, everything decent that we know about our way of life is about to crumble. I am sick and tired of a bunch of sex, demonized, demented people standing behind the school, behind the cloak of scholarship, and destroying those whom we call our own children. I am tired of it! I have ceased, a long time ago, to keep my mouth shut about it. Not only that, but since you will not check yourself on what is going on tonight, I am going to open the door to the public schools for you and invite you in.
I challenge anybody to disprove what I say tonight. There is not one way any person can disprove what I am going to give you in this sermon tonight. You say, “Preacher, you are a rabble-rouser.” You better know I am, but I am not near as big a rabble-rouser as these people trying to destroy the minds of our children, destroy the patriotism, decency, honor, character and chastity of our boys and girls. I am going to do some rabble-rousing, but that is not all I am going to do. I am going to do some school-building, too, and I am going to give our kids a choice in so doing.
Satan is after your child like he has never been after anybody’s child in the history of this world. Satan has pointed every gun in his arsenal at the soul and body and life of your child, and he is doing it, basically, through the schoolroom.
You see, people do not like to hear what I am going to say tonight, because we have some things that we have deified. We have some institutions that we do not like to see anybody attack. We have deified the schoolroom and the public school until we think they can say no evil, speak no evil, and while we have built a canopy of protection over them they are destroying and stealing our boys and girls. Now the truth is, ant this is the sad thing, you ought to be pleading with me for your children instead of me pleading with you. Isn’t that something? I stand up here and take a chance on making you mad, pleading with you to save your child. The truth is, you ought to be on your knees, saying, “Brother Hyles, please do something for us so we can save our children.”
I could have parents stand up all over this house tonight as living testimony to what I am going to say. I could have parents parade across this platform by the dozens, they are here now, to stand up here in bodies and lives and dreams that are broken and say, “My boy or my girl was ruined by a university or a high school or a teacher.”
Your kids may go to the Devil and your kids may not go to a Christian school and they may not turn out right, but I will tell you one thing, it is not going to be because Brother Hyles did not warn you and do the best he could to help you. If anybody gets mad at me tonight, it is because you just do not understand. I love you and I love your children, and I love you so much I am going to do my best to beat some sense in your head.
I am weary of this kind of talk, “Well, everything will be out in the world when they get older. Why shelter and protect them now?” If that is the case, when your kid is born, why don’t you kick him out in the street and say, “Ride a bicycle.”
I am going to give you tonight several things the Devil is doing to attack your child:
1. Revolution. The first part of the hippie program is to kill your parents. I mean that quite seriously, because until you are prepared to kill your parents, you are not really prepared to change the country. “Our parents are our first oppressors.” Who said that? Jerry Rubin, one of the notorious Chicago Seven. Where did he say it? On the campus of Kent State University. It was said on the Kent State University campus, “You must be prepared to kill your parents because they are your first oppressors.” This was said only one week before the rioting which resulted in the deaths of four students.
Our socialist-minded professors and teachers, with their leftist-slanted textbooks, have dedicated themselves to changing the American way of life through the indoctrinating of the minds of students.
What else is being launched at your child?
2. Books. Here are some samples of profanity. Now I am sorry, I am not going to use these words, but I am going to spell some bad words. I may as well just come out and tell you what your kids are reading. You have not checked on it, you have no idea, so I am going to have to tell you. I have got to invite you. I am going to open a few of the books. New Worlds Ahead is used for the seventh grade. The seventh grade uses this: “The Stray Kitten”, by Richard Wright, Page 54. “Kill that d-a-m-n thing.” That is seventh grade. Page 55: “I had my first triumph over my father. I had made him believe that I had taken his words literally; he could not punish me without risking his authority. I was happy because I had at last found a way to throw my criticism of him into his face.” That is a quote from a seventh-grade book.
Another story in the book called “The Blue Serge Suit”, Page 414, says, “D-a-m-n asthma.” Page 416, “That d-a-m-n asthma is getting worse.” “I’ll be d-a-m-n-e-d if I see what you are getting at.” That is seventh grade reading!
A ninth grade book, Voices in Literature (1). “Shoe Shine”, by Jerome Weidman, Page 21: “My God!” Page 23:”D-A-M-N it.” Page 23 again: “D-a-m-n it! My God!” The Long Night”, by Lowell Blanton, Page 84: “Well, d-a-m-n it, man.” Page 209: “D-a-m-n-e-d-e-s-t thing.” Page 235 questions parental authority. “The Sissy from Anaconda”, Page 352: The d-a-m-n-e-d-e-s-t rattle snake.” “Hell.” That is ninth-grade reading. Not only is that not good English, that is not even cultural. That is not even refined. That is not even scholarly–that is heathen-like.
You parents who won’t send your sons and daughters to our school, you say “I am afraid that the Hammond Baptist High School will not be properly accredited.” We are a little above this kind of accreditation. We are too scholarly for this kind of garbage. We are too cultural for this kind of talk. Not only has it pricked our religious and spiritual convictions, it pricks our cultures.
We are just getting started. Say you will not read this. I have got to read it to you and for you. It is called Themes in Literature, the tenth grade. “The Colt” by Willis Stegner, Page 127: “G-o-d-d-a-m-n you. G-o-d-d-a-m-n your wild hearts.”
Tenth grade: In “The Mateo Falcon”, by Merimee, the father kills his own son. In Western Literature: Themes and writers, “The Out Station”, by W. Somerset Maugham, page 83: “Go to Hell, you d-a-m-n fool. You D-a-m-n-e-d snob, by God.” And 15 counts of profanity in this one story on Page 83, and also a murder.
Voices in literature III, an article “On the Sidewalk Bleeding”, by Evan Hunter, page 105-111, a gang member is stabbed. The whole story tells how he lays on the sidewalk and bleeds to death.
In the book Of Mice and Men, that has been required reading in numbers of schools in this area, by John Steinbeck, page 24: “He is sure a Hell of a good worker. He is a G-o-d-d-a-m-n good worker.” My Bible says you are not to take the name of our Lord God in vain. And I will tell you another thing, too. I got fed up with my boy and girl having to sit in a classroom and listen to a bunch of dirty-minded people stand up and use God’s name in vain. Not one time in the life of my children anymore are they going to sit and hear anybody curse my God! You do not have to let your children do that either. Of Mice and Men, by the way, Steinbeck is a Nobel Prize winner. The Devil is proud of him. Page 48, “Them G-o-d-d-a-m-n turnips, give it to me.” Page 56, If that crazy b-a-s-t-a-r-d is foolin’ around too much, just kick him out, Slim.” Page 83: “In many times.” Page 94: “This here G-o-d-d-a-m-n son of a ______(female dog) wasn’t nothin’ to George.”
Soul On Ice, By Elridge Cleaver, here is another book that is suggested reading, page 159: “I’d jump over ten nigger________(female dogs) just to get one white woman.”
Now you just sit there and swell up like a toadstool, but brother, I am trying to help your kids, and I am doing it at the risk of a lot of folks getting mad. Listen, if I lose half the deacon board and two-thirds of the members, there is one thing I am going to do: Try to save your kids for Jesus’s sake before I have to take off. I am not mad at anybody, but the Devil, and I am weary of this crowd of left-wingers that are taking over our schools and ruining our kids. I am weary of these sex perverts, these people of loose morals, these Sweden-oriented teachers, and if you are not one of those, I am not talking about you, but there are thousands of them, and it is getting worse and worse all the time. This kind of garbage is what they are requiring and asking our kids to read. Now I have not even started yet, really. I wish I had time to do the whole thing. Let us go further.
Soul On Ice, Page 160: “I will not be free until the day I can have a white woman in my bed, and a white man minds his own business.” Page 170, I cannot even read this, “During _______, and at the moment of her_______, the black woman in the first throes of her_________.” I cannot even read it! It tells about a black woman and a white man, the entire story.
Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, published by Viking Press, Page 27, and this book is considered suggested reading. Page 27: “You ain’t too d-a-m-n holy to take a drink, are you?” “And I hear she’s a s-o-n of a ______(female dog).” That is the Grapes of Wrath. You thought that was a good book, didn’t you? You are not checking, are you? Well now you know. You ought to say, “My child is not going to be subjected to stuff like this anymore.”
4. Sex. Coming into our schools are books, slides and filmstrips are not how babies are made. Now this is for our little children, little children in school. “How Babies Are Made” shows chickens and dogs in the act. It shows Mom and Dad in bed. It is climaxed with a few pictures of a nude mother giving birth to a baby who was conceived several pages earlier. That is being taught in our schools to little children. A coloring book of animals “in the act” is also available for the kiddies, as is a teacher’s guide which explains how babies are made. It “hopes to create an atmosphere of honesty and freedom of discussion concerning matters of reproduction, and to promote understanding and correct usage of the names of body parts.” This is for little children.
The teacher’s guide lists the following questions which are typical of those asked during a presentation of the story, “How Babies Are Made.” “When people lie down and face each other, does the woman become pregnant?” I cannot even read the rest of it, and I can’t believe they print this for little children.
LISTEN TO ME! If every deacon in this church walks out on me, and if every member of this church gets mad and quits, or this church rises up tonight and says “Don’t you preach what you are preaching or we will fire you,” you can have your church and I will be on my way. I am going to fight this dastardly attempt by the Devil and his crowd to wreck our children and destroy our boys and girls. Brother, don’t you think this is a one-time-only sermon; you will be getting it right along.
Now what can you do?
1. Get in a good church. You say, “I will pray about it.” You do not have to pray about that; just get in a good church. You say, “I will do what the Lord leads.” He is leading you out of that liberal church now. Get in a good church. You say, “Where is a good one?” Well, see me after the service and I will recommend one to you.
2. Get your child in all the activities of the church. All of them! When the doors open, get him here. Get Junior in the choir. “But he is thirteen; his voice is changing.” Okay, let him get up and sing sourly. That is how I sing all the time. Get him in the choir. You say, “He cannot sing.” Then let him hum. If he cannot hum, just let him move his mouth and pray nothing will come out. But you say, “Brother Hyles, Junior will not go.” Oh, brother. What in the world kind of parent are you? I dare my boy not to go when I say go. He is seventeen years old now and thinks he might be able to whip his dad, but I have some holds he does not know about. I will wring his neck if he does not obey me.
3. Get your child in the Christian school. I mean it folks. Do I have to get on my knees and talk to you? Do I have to beg you? I know, I sit in my office. I know what happens.
I am going to say this if it harelips every dog in this county. I am going to make somebody mad, but I am going to say it. I am going to take a chance on making all of you mad tonight to save your kids. When our kids come home from college, they do not have to tell me which ones are coming home from state universities. I can spot them. Now if that be treason, make the most of it. I am trying to help you. I have tried the best I could to keep your kids from going to those state colleges. I have preached and preached and screamed and pleaded and begged and hollered and cried and made folks mad and chased folks off, trying to keep your kids from going there. I am doing it again tonight.
Get your kids in the Christian school. We have here, on this platform, a man who has to take second place to no principal when it comes to scholarship and education. None at all. We have a faculty at our school that does not have to bow to anybody’s faculty.
Ladies and gentlemen, your children do not have to go to the Devil anymore. Furthermore, we are opening a college in September of 1972. That means not that a child can start at our schools when he is four years of age and stay there for 16 years. They do not have to go to the Devil.
4. Give. It is going to take a lot of money for us to do what we are going to do. I mean some of you ought to give some property. You say, “Brother Hyles, what would you do with it?” We may start a school on it. Or we may trade it for some property where we can start a school. Somebody who owns fifty acres ought to just give ten acres to the church, just give it. You say, “Brother Hyles, it is a long way off.” You ought to just give it anyway. Give it to the church. How we will use it, I do not know, but we will use it. Just give it to the church. Somebody ought to give enough land for a school in some neighborhood, and when the time comes, we will develop it and have a school there. Give.
Somebody ought to give a thousand or ten thousand dollars. Listen, it is the best money you have ever spent, investing in this kind of money for our children. Also, you ought to put First Baptist Church in your Will. I do not mean nest month, I mean this week. I mean now. Go down to your lawyer and say, “Put First Baptist Church in my Will so when I die, I will still be helping to carry on the program of First Baptist Church and what it is trying to do.
The thing that every person ought to do is tithe. I am calling on every member of this church to give ten percent of his income from now on. Everyone–every child, every man, every woman, every boy, every girl, every couple–everybody! We cannot rise up and build and do what God wants us to do, unless we give. We have to do it! It is time we called a national emergency on the Devil. Let us save our children.
Of course, many of you have closed minds. You do not want to be confused with the facts; your mind is made up. You are too scholarly. Your mind is closed. If you could have interviewed the kids in our school before they went to school here, and if you knew them now, you would be a believer.
They are your kids! I have tried for years, and I’ll keep on trying to help them. I am not against anything or anyone except wrong, but I am against wrong wherever it is! I know what I’m called. I hear what gangs of boys say when they drive by the church and see me getting into my car. I know what is said on the radio, the newscasts, and the call-in programs. I am a fanatic. They said that I am a bigot (Do you know what the word “bigot” is? Bigot is a word used by bigots to describe decent people.) Yes, I know! I was walking in a shopping center the other day, and three boys spit at me. I get the phone calls. I get the letters. I’m a fool, but I’m glad to be one if I can help save your kids! We have dedicated ourselves to try to do it! Won’t you let us?
Thanks to ever-increasing media scrutiny and the willingness of sexually and psychologically abused people to tell their stories, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches can no longer pretend that they don’t have a problem with sexual predators and child abuse. For years, IFB preachers have — with lustful glee — used the Catholic church sex scandals as sermon illustrations, reminding congregants that IFB churches don’t have such problems. We now know that predator IFB preachers, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and bus drivers, over the years, have had their perverse way with countless church children and teenagers. We also know that more than a few IFB pastors talk a great line when it comes to marital fidelity, but behind closed office, bedroom, and motel rooms, these “pillars of moral purity” are fucking their way through the church membership.
IFB churches are predominantly single-pastor run outfits or pastor/deacon run institutions, These pastors are often treated as demigods and given absolute control of their churches. When rumors of sexual misconduct become known, church members are expected to report the rumors to the pastor and/or deacons. It is then up to church leadership to determine what should be done about the rumors. Sadly, far too often church leaders hide these reports from congregants, preferring to quietly make problems go away. I know of two churches where numerous acts of sexual misconduct took place, yet congregants were never given a complete accounting of what happened. Hiding behind insurance company lawyers and following the advice of IFB “cleaners” such as the Attorney David Gibbs and the Christian Law Association, church leaders keep church members in the dark. Always protect the ministry, the church’s name, leaders are told. If congregants are told ALL the facts, why who knows what might come falling out of church closets!
Frustrated victims and their families have turned to law enforcement and the courts in attempts to hold IFB pastors and church leaders accountable for the vile things that have happened on their watch. In some instances, as in the case of the Catholic Church, settling lawsuits have impoverished and bankrupted offending IFB churches. I would think that IFB churches, now knowing that accusations of sexual misconduct or abuse could bankrupt them and lead to criminal prosecutions, would do their utmost to make sure their churches are safe places of worship. And many have done just that. While I still consider their theology to be psychologically harmful, I am grateful that some IFB church have taken steps to make sure church children and teenagers are not being sexually abused and that adult women are not being preyed upon by predator preachers.
Unfortunately, some IFB preachers think that church members suing is the problem. Using the Bible as a bludgeon, these so-called men of God warn congregants that God prohibits lawsuits against churches and fellow congregants. Thou shalt NOT sue churches, pastors, or fellow church members, IFB preachers often say. Allen Domelle is one such preacher,
In a July 18, 2016 post for the Old Paths Journal titled Suing a Church, REALLY? (link no longer active) Domelle writes:
Every pastor is always cognizant of the fact that one day his church may get sued. In a day when ambulance-chaser attorneys are very willing to represent clients who sue a church, pastors have to make sure they are extra careful with how their ministry is run. Every pastor knows that the Devil is more than willing to use one mishap to encourage someone to sue the church and cause them to face litigation for months, and sometimes years. Satan knows that this litigation will take focus and energy away from what the church is supposed to do; reach the world for Jesus Christ.
What is unexpected is for a church to be sued or threatened litigation by respected Christians. What surprises me is how well-known “Christian” leaders are not afraid to break the glass ceiling and actually file lawsuits against a church, or have their attorney send letters that threaten the church of litigation if they don’t do what the individual wants them to do. Whatever happened to the fear of God? I’m amazed that in recent years some of my pastor friends have had to deal with litigation because of preachers suing their church.
Never in my lifetime would I have imagined churches being sued or threatened with a lawsuit, especially by people who know better. There used to be a time in America when nobody would do anything against a church. Yet, somehow we have come to a low point in Christianity where people have stooped to the spiritual level of the church at Corinth. The church of Corinth was guilty of court litigation against fellow church members because they felt they had been defrauded. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:6, “Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” I can only imagine that the Apostle Paul was just as shocked about Christians suing each other as I am.
Let me make this clear; it is just as evil to sue or threaten litigation as it is to attack or change the KJB, play rock music in church, live a sodomite lifestyle, or commit adultery. It is just as wrong for a Christian to sue or threaten litigation against a church or fellow Christian as it is never to run one bus or lead one person to Jesus Christ. Your Christian credentials are out the window if you would even consider suing a church.
My friend, suing a church is a direct contradiction of Scriptures. It doesn’t matter what the reason may be, it is always wrong. Just because others have chosen to disobey the Scriptures doesn’t make it right when you have been wronged. Listen, we have all been wronged, but for the sake of Christ, it is better to be defrauded than to go to law and make a mockery of the name of Christ.
While Domelle doesn’t mention abuse or sex-related lawsuits, there can be no doubt they are included in what he considers sinful acts of litigation against IFB churches and pastors. I find it interesting that Domelle calls such claims “mishaps,” acts inspired by Satan meant to sidetrack churches from their singular purpose — winning souls to Jesus Christ. Evidently, Domelle doesn’t value truth, justice, and restitution as much as does protecting — at all costs — the “good” name of IFB churches and pastors.
While I am indifferent towards IFB preachers suing each other or pastors suing former churches over being fired, when it comes to punishing predatory behaviors, I passionately support victims and their families in their use of law enforcement and the courts to punish offending churches and their leaders. The only way to put an end to rampant abuse is to make it so painful for offenders and their enablers that they will stop treating victims are collateral damage in their war against Satan.
Allen Domelle is best buds with Bob Gray, Sr. Both men are graduates of Hyles-Anderson College, and both sport honorary, pay-for-play doctorates. (Please see IFB Doctorates: Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Everyone’s a Doctor .) Both men worship Jack Hyles — an IFB demigod who was once accused of adultery. (Please see The Legacy of Jack Hyles.) Domelle, an evangelist, considers the Longview Baptist Temple to be his home church. Longview was pastored by Gray, Sr. for many years and is now pastored by his son, Bob Gray, II.
Both Domelle and Gray, Sr. know about the plethora of rumors concerning sexual misconduct in IFB churches. Several readers have told me that Domelle’s preacher father was caught up in a sexual scandal of his own years ago. Since this scandal allegedly took place before the invention of the internet, I have been unable to verify this claim. Knowing these things, however, casts Domelle’s post in a different light. Of course he doesn’t like congregants suing IFB churches and pastors. Doing so opens up IFB outhouse vaults for all to see (and smell). If these accusations make it to court, defenders of the one true IFB faith know that discovery and sworn testimony will expose hidden secrets, dredging up past sexual misconduct claims.
Over the years, I have spoken privately with several victims of pastor sexual misconduct and child abuse. Their stories are heartbreaking, especially the parts about IFB adults and church leaders who were supposed to love and care for them and didn’t. Putting church “testimony” and reputation first, these abuse enablers shamed victims into silence, often suggesting that what they experienced is their fault of some sort of perverse test from God. Upon hearing such stories, I encourage victims to do three things:
Tell law enforcement
Consult a competent, non-Evangelical lawyer
Publicize your story
By publicizing their stories, other victims often find the courage to tell their stories. As is often the case, IFB sexual predators and abusers rarely, if ever, stop their behavior. This is why victims, if they are able to do so, should use the legal system to punish IFB churches and their leaders for their misconduct. If doing so forces churches to close their doors, so be it. As Tony Barretta famously said, Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.
For forty-two years, Jack Hyles was the king of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. During his tenure, Hyles’ son David served as youth pastor. After his son became enmeshed in a sex scandal, Jack Hyles moved David to Garland, Texas so he could assume the pastorate of Miller Road Baptist Church. There, David Hyles continued his predator ways. Once pictures of Hyles with naked female church members were discovered, he was fired. If you are not familiar with Jack or David Hyles, please read The Legacy of Jack Hyles, UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored, Serial Adulterer David Hyles Receives a Warm Longview Baptist Temple Welcome, The Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still Matters and The Mesmerizing Appeal of Jack Hyles. Rumor has it that David Hyles is planning on making a comeback. As far as I know, Hyles has never publicly apologized for past sexual misconduct. There are three reasons that Hyles refuses to address his immoral past. First, he is the son of Jack Hyles, and if there is one thing that we know about Hyleses, it is that they NEVER admit making mistakes or being wrong. David Hyles’ father was a narcissistic megalomaniac who saw admitting wrong as weakness. He taught countless First Baptist members and Hyles-Anderson College students what I call the Jack Hyles Maxim: If You Didn’t See it, It Didn’t Happen. (Please see If You Didn’t See it, It Didn’t Happen.) David Hyles, taught well by his father, has yet to confess the error of his ways.
Second, David Hyles knows that he could be held criminally liable for some of his past actions, including the bizarre death of his 15-month-old son. It is likely that Hyles had illicit sex with numerous women. Some of them might have been minors. As his preacher-brother-in-law Jack Schaap learned, sex with minors can land you in prison. Schaap, who became pastor of First Baptist after the death of his father-in-law, had a sexual relationship with a minor girl he was counseling. Schaap is serving a 12-year federal prison sentence for his crimes.
Third, David Hyles’ theological beliefs are such that restitution and public confession are unnecessary. Hyles wrote the following on Facebook:
Some would have us confess our sins endlessly. Instead we should confess them but once and then give thanks for His forgiveness endlessly.
David Hyles believes if he says “my bad” to Jesus, that all is forgiven. No need to make restitution or publicly account for his vile behavior. I talked to God, Hyles thinks, and he said, Hey David, you are my son, I forgive you, end of discussion! Hyles wrongly thinks that his “sin” is between him and God. People such as myself — an atheist to boot — have no right to poke our noses into his sex life — past or present. Ironically, David Hyles supports attempts to legislate private sexual behavior between consenting adults. If Hyles supports government and religious intrusion into the sexual affairs of Americans, shouldn’t his sexual behavior be fair game — especially those acts that were criminal in nature? For Hyles, the blood of Jesus, applied in 1 John 1:9 fashion: if we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just to cleans us from sin and ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, is his get out of jail free card. Pray, confess, and God wipes his slate clean. A sweet deal, I’d say. One that allows people to commit horrific acts and have them erased by saying a bit of religious mumbo jumbo.
This is why men such as Bob Gray, Sr. and Bob Gray II, past and present pastors of the Longview Baptist Temple, can warmly welcome David Hyles into their church. Hey, the Grays think to themselves, God has forgiven David Hyles. Who are we to withhold forgiveness from him. If God can forgive the David of the Bible, surely God can forgive the David who once preyed on the young women of First Baptist Church.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement is rife with sexual abuse problems. I know of one church where a man was caught TWICE having inappropriate sexual relationships with minor boys, yet today he is faithfully serving Jesus in an IFB church. Evidently, IFB men are free to stick their dick wherever they want, knowing that God will forgive such sins and wipe slates clean. Never mind the fact that these predators often continue to prey on unsuspecting people, no matter how many times their records are washed clean by Jesus.
In 2015, David Hyles wrote a book titled Jack Hyles’ Passion for Sunday School. The forward was written by his mother Beverly Hyles and the book was published by Hyles-Anderson graduate and Jack Hyles worshiper Bob Gray, Sr. I wonder if David Hyles will use the proceeds from his book to make restitution to the people he has harmed? I wonder if Bob Gray, Sr. will forgo his profits on the book and use them to set up a fund to pay for psychological therapy for those who lives have been destroyed by Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jack Schaap, and those who have followed in their footsteps? Not a chance. Prayers have been prayed, time to move on. What about those who can’t move on, people who could be greatly helped if David Hyles or other sexual predators at the very least admitted what they did? Shouldn’t David Hyles and those who continue to shamelessly support him do everything they can to bring wholeness to those so deeply harmed by his debauchery? Of course not. These “sins” happened years ago. Time to forgive, forget, and move on. Follow in the footsteps of David Hyles! Stop being bitter or angry. A brand new life awaits those who will just pray the magic prayer. Imagine how many souls could be saved if everyone just forgot about the past and got busy preaching the old-time gospel. Or so goes the thinking of David Hyles and those who continue to carry the water for the Hyles family. I, for one, will continue to periodically remind readers of past IFB transgressions, hoping that offenders will one day make restitution, victims will find peace, and predator-friendly churches are metaphorically burned to the ground.
Every day, a hundred or more web searchers come to this blog looking for information about Jack Hyles, David Hyles, and Jack Schaap. Both Jacks pastored First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. Hyles died in 2001 and Schaap is currently serving a 12 year prison sentence as a result of sexual misconduct with a minor church member (a young woman he was counseling). David Hyles was First Baptist’s youth pastor during his father’s reign. He later became the pastor of Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas — a church previously pastored by his father.
Jack Hyles, his son-in-law Jack Schaap, and Davis Hyles all have one thing in common. Each of them was accused of sexual misconduct (along with sundry other scandals). Schaap, as mentioned above, is now in prison. Both Hyleses escaped punishment for their debauchery and perverse behavior. This has led many people to assume that Jack Hyles is as innocent as a child, pure as the driven snow. Few people are willing to defend David Hyles’ life of debauchery and licentiousness, but these defenders of All Things Hyles do suggest that he has turned over a new leaf and has been forgiven of his sins (crimes?) by God.
Most of the Hyles-related scandals are ancient history. Why then, are people still searching for information on these men? Good question. One reason is that there are a number of Fundamentalists who still consider Jack Hyles to be one of the greatest preachers since the Apostle Paul. Just today, Jack Wellman, pastor of Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane, Kansas wrote a post for his PATHOS blog titled, Who Was Jack Hyles?
Wellman’s post contained more factual errors than I care to count. If Wellman had bothered to read the Wikipedia page for Jack Hyles he would have avoided writing such an errant post. Wellman’s factual errors don’t concern me as much as his opinion of Jack Hyles. Wellman wrote:
Jack Hyles is worthy of our admiration because of the model for the church that he left and upon which he had found in Matthew 25. He saw Jesus as saying to him and to the church, “For I was need hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matt 25:35-36) and the final outcome of these good works for Christ (Eph 2:10) would end with Jesus’ words, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40).
Worthy of our admiration? Really? Has Wellman not read The Biblical Evangelist’s provocative exposé, The Jack Hyles Story? If Wellman had read this exposé he would have learned about Jack Hyles illicit affair with his secretary, Jennie Nischik. The story is so bizarre that if were made public today HBO would turn it into a feature film. Had Wellman read the exposé, he would have found out how Hyles financially took care of his mistress — houses, cars, and large sums of money. The Biblical Evangelist article stated:
The situation really came to a head in late 1985 when Vic [Nischik] had a showdown with Hyles, demanding that he leave his wife alone. It resulted in Jennie divorcing Vic on Hyles’ orders, with Hyles picking up the tab, a matter Nischik says his ex-wife admitted to him. Three depositions were taken, one each from Hyles, Vic and Jennie. One responsible minister of unquestioned integrity, who read each of them, noted this about Hyles:
Here is what I observed from Dr. Hyles deposition taken on May 1, 1986: He said that . . .
He buys Mrs. Nischik a new automobile every two years.
He loaned Mrs. Nischik $35,000 in which to invest so that she could derive interest from it.
He gave her a gift of $ 10,000.
He bought aluminum siding for the Nischik house
He gave Vic Nischik approximately $11,000 in order for him to have a room added to his house (pages 40-42).
He wrote about Jennie’s:
This is what I observed from Mrs. Nischik’s deposition taken on February 5, 1986:
Over approximately the last eighteen years . . .
[Hyles] purchased her a new automobile (usually Buick or Oldsmobile) every other year for about the last eighteen years. . .
Paid for the insurance on the automobiles . . .
Paid for the driveway for the Nischik’s house . . .
Paid for the air conditioner for the Nischik’s house . . .
Gave $5,000 for her daughter Judy’s education.
Gave $11,000 to build a room onto the Nischik’s house . . .
Paid for a second telephone for the Nischik’s house, a ‘business’ phone in her bedroom”
Any fair-minded person reading the quote above would surely conclude that Jennie Nischik was a kept woman.
If Wellman had bothered to read The Jack Hyles Story he would have also learned about David Hyles’ nefarious behavior and his father’s repeated cover ups of his son’s behavior.
But here’s the thing, Wellman has likely read The Biblical Evangelist’s exposé, and despite a mountain of incriminating evidence, Wellman chose to embrace the Hyles myth. In doing so he passes on a lie to his readers. Jack Hyles is an example of everything that is wrong with the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. To this day, men such as Bob Gray, Sr. continue to promote the name and ministry of Jack Hyles, ignoring, as Wellman did, reams of evidence that clearly show that Jack Hyles was not who and what he claimed to be. To this day, the First Baptist Church of Hammond congregation reveres Jack Hyles. Past scandals are ignored, and First Baptist pastors and congregants continue to do the work of the ministry as Jack Hyles did it for forty-two years.
Nothing I can say or do will change the cult-like worship by the followers of Jack Hyles. Having bought into Hyles’ mantra, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen, these Fundamentalist Christians will go to their graves believing that Jack Hyles was some sort of demigod — a man of God head and shoulders above all other preachers.
Articles on this site about Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jack Schaap, and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement
From 1976-1979, I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. Midwestern was started in the 1950s by Dr. Tom Malone, pastor of nearby Emmanuel Baptist Church. Dorm students were required to attend Emmanuel. One Sunday, Dr. Malone made a statement during his sermon that I have never forgotten. Meant to be a joke, Malone said “I am not preaching now. I’m telling the truth.”
I was 20 years old when Malone made this statement. I will soon be 59. In the intervening years, I preached thousands of sermons and heard hundreds of other sermons, either in person or on cassette tape. Preaching is an art form meant to convey some sort of spiritual message to hearers. While Evangelicals love to make much of the Bible, preaching is far more than just reading the Scriptures. Following Jesus’ example, many preachers use stories to illustrates their sermons. Story-less sermons are, in my estimation, boring. I suspect most church goers would agree with me. Imagine going to church on Sunday and hearing a sermon that consists of a droning-fan-on-a-summer-day preacher reading the Bible word-for-word. B-or-i-n-g.
Illustrations help keep parishioners engaged. There’s nothing better than a couple of stories interjected at just the right time. In fact, many parishioners won’t remember anything about their preachers sermons except for the fantastical stories they told. Marge, wasn’t that a wonderful story Pastor Billy told today? Yes it was, Moe. Why, that one story was almost unbelievable. Pastor Bill wouldn’t lie, so I know he is telling us the truth.
Dr. Malone got it right when he said, “I am not preaching now. I’m telling the truth.” Malone knew that preachers love to tell stories, and sometimes their stories are not as factual as they should be. Younger preachers often buy illustration books. These books provide preachers with a ready source of catchy, provocative illustrations sure to get the attention of parishioners. Older preachers often develop a cache of illustrations that can be pulled out of their mental file cabinet and used when needed. These illustrations often come from past experiences, especially for preachers who did a lot of “sinning” before Jesus rescued them. I have heard countless preachers regale parishioners with stories about their lives as drug addicts, drunkards, Satanists, atheists, or hit men for the mob. These stories often seem larger than life. And they are, because these kind of stories are often embellished.
I recently posted a video of anti-porn crusader Dawn Hawkins telling a story about seeing a man watching child pornography on an airplane. Several commenters said that, based on their flying experiences, Hawkins was lying. I believe they are correct. I think the same could be said for many of the stories preachers use in their sermons. Simply put, these men are liars for Jesus.
The late Jack Hyles, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana was a masterful storyteller. I heard Hyles preach in person and on tape. His stories were mesmerizing, especially to a wide-eyed young Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher from Ohio. However, over time, I came to the conclusion that Hyles was a narcissistic, pathological liar.
For many years, Hyles pastored the largest church in the United States. Those raised in the IFB church movement know that for men such as Hyles, it was all about the numbers: church attendance, souls saved, baptisms, and offerings. The ministry was like a bunch of third grade boys in the restroom playing the who has a bigger penis game. Preachers who had John Holmes or Ron Jeremy-sized churches were considered men who were being mightily used by God. Young preachers and men who pastored smaller churches were expected to sit at the feet of these preachers, learning how they too could have a large church.
Hyles, due to his church’s number one place on the charts status, was viewed as a demigod by many IFB preachers. I was one such preacher. Hyles told stories about how many people he counseled, souls he had won to Jesus, and the thousands of miles he traveled to preach at Sword of the Lord conferences. Wow, what a great man of God, I thought at the time. I want to be used by God just like Brother Hyles.
I now know that Hyles’ stories were lies. He simply did not have enough hours in the week to sleep, eat, shit, have an affair, pastor a church, win souls, and fly around the country to preach at conferences. As with all lies, Hyles’ stories had elements of truth. However, when carefully analyzed, Hyles’ sermon illustrations sound too good to be true. Let me illustrate this with several stories found in Hyles’ book Let’s Go Soulwinning:
So I walked in and said, “Hey! Anybody home?” And there was—thirteen people at home—company all dressed up in suits and fine clothes. There I was. Imagine, Rev. Hyles, a cup in his hand, fishing hat on, split tee shirt, patch in his breeches, and a pair of tennis shoes on his feet! And I said, “Hello.” The lady looked at me, she looked at her company, then announced, “This is my pastor.” I was horrified! I was humiliated! I wanted to evaporate but couldn’t. Finally I said, “Excuse me; I’m sorry.” Then I got to thinking. Shoot! Just take over the conversation. Just act like you have good sense. So in I walked. “How do you do! How are you? Are you a Christian?” I went around the entire room asking the same question. Then THEY got embarrassed. (I found out long ago that when a preacher goes to a hospital or gets some place where he feels like a fifth wheel, he should just bluff them and take over the conversation. That will help you, too. It really will. You go to the hospital. Here is the doctor, the nurse, the family. And everybody says, “That’s the preacher.” You know how you feel, pastors. It’s a terrible feeling. So I walk in, “Hello Doc. How are you?” Make HIM feel bad. Make HIM feel like he’s a fifth wheel.)
So I walked in and asked each person if he or she were a Christian. The last man, a young man, said, “No, I’m not, but I’ve been thinking about it.” Well, I said, “I can help you think about it right here.” We knelt there in that home and opened the Bible. He got converted. He lived at Irving, Texas, forty miles from Garland. I said, “Now, J.D., you need to walk the aisle in the church in Irving tomorrow.” He said, “If you don’t mind, Preacher, I’ll just stay over tonight and come to your church and walk the aisle.” He did, and that night he got baptized in my church. Later he joined the First Baptist Church of Irving, Texas.
You don’t realize how many places you will bump into people. I saw a lady while on vacation just recently. She said, “Hello, Brother Jack. Remember when you won me to the Lord?” I said, “I certainly do.” It happened while I was looking for a Mrs. Marsh. I knocked on Mrs. Marsh’s door—I thought. She came to the door. I said, “Mrs. Marsh?”
“No, I’m Mrs. Tillet.”
I said, “Mrs. Tillet, I thought Mrs. Marsh lived here.”
“No, she lives five houses down the street.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Tillet.” I walked off. Then I said, “Wait a minute, Mrs.
Tillet. Are you a Christian?” She began to cry. I led her to Christ right there.
I have won shoeshine boys and fellows on airplanes. I was going to Phoenix to a conference last year. I sat down beside a man seventy-two years old, a wealthy rancher. “Where do you live?” I asked.
He said, “On a ranch between Phoenix and Tucson.”
I said, “Do you and your wife live alone?”
“My wife died a few months ago.”
I asked, “Do you ever think about having anybody else come and live with you?” “Oh,” he said, “If I could find somebody who would come and live with me, a friend to keep me company, I’d give anything in the world.” He had chauffeurs, servants. He owned a big ranch with hundreds of acres, but was as lonely as he could be.
I said, “I know Somebody who would come and live with you.”
“You do? Does He live in Phoenix?”
I said, “He sure does. He lives everywhere.”
He said, “Who is it?”
“Jesus will come.” In fifteen minutes that man had Somebody to go home with him to live.
Oh, if we will just take time to witness. The trouble is, we are ashamed of Jesus. We don’t mind saying, “Isn’t it hot today?” or, “I wonder how the Berlin situation is.” We don’t mind talking about Khrushchev. We’re more eager to talk about him than about Jesus. Isn’t that a shame! Here we are redeemed. He died for us on the cross. We have been made heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. He is building a home in Heaven for us. We’re God’s children and we won’t even tell a stranger that we belong to the Lord Jesus. Be soul-conscious.
Storytelling preachers love to tell stories about people suddenly dying and going to hell. What better way to drive a point home than to tell hearers about this or that man rejecting God’s plan of salvation and then dropping dead and awaking in hell. This story can be told numerous ways with different characters and circumstances. The point is always the same: now is accepted time, now is the day of salvation.
Let me conclude this post with several stories I have heard preachers tell. One preacher told a story about a man God had called to preach. The man ignored God’s call and went on to have a large family and made lots of money. One day this man’s wife and children were driving down the road when a truck hit them head on. This man’s entire family was instantly killed. In a quiet moment before the funeral, the man wept over the caskets of his loved ones. And at that moment God audibly spoke to him, telling him that it was God who had killed his entire family to get his attention. Are you ready to serve me now?, God asked the man. The man collapsed and told God that he would indeed forsake all and follow him.
Another preacher told a story about the people in hell. One day, a crew that was drilling an oil well began hearing what sounded like people crying and screaming. Where was this noise coming from? They soon ascertained that the noise was coming from the oil well casing. One of the workers decided to drop a microphone down the well casing, and sure enough they heard people screaming about being in the unrelenting, fiery flames of hell!
Of course, neither of these stories is true. The first story was a legend of sorts. I heard variations of it numerous times. Preacher Bob heard Big Name Preacher John tell the story at a Sword of the Lord conference. Bob thought, why not use this story in my sermon, impressing on people the importance of immediately obeying the voice of God.
The second story is pure fabrication. But hey, if souls get saved . . . right? The end justifies the means, even if it means telling stories that are more farcical than the miracles of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead.
Have you ever heard too-good-to-be-true sermon illustrations? Please share them in the comment section.
This is the fifty-seventh installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a sermon preached by Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana. Some of Hyles’ followers see this 1970 sermon as a prophecy of the rise of Negro Antichrist Barack Obama. Hyles tries to NOT sound racist, and in doing so…he sounds quite racist.