Notorious child abuser and molester, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher Mack Ford is dead. Ford, for many years, operated New Bethany Home for Girls in Louisiana, along with group homes for boys in other states. If you do not know anything about Ford, please read Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for Girls.
I have mixed feelings about the death of Ford. On one hand, I am glad the son of a bitch is dead. Others like him, Olen King, Ron Williams, and Jack Patterson, to name a few, are getting old, and death will soon come calling for them too. Lester Roloff, the man who taught these abusers everything they know, died in a plane crash in 1982. Death will someday come for all of these abusers and the world will be better off without them.
I feel sorry for the dear friends of mine that were abused by Mack Ford and the staff at New Bethany. Like hound dogs on the trail of a rabbit, they have done all they could do to bring Mack Ford to justice. Now, he is beyond their reach. Like Bob Gray, a lifelong child molester and pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, Ford died before he could know what it was like to be locked up with no hope of escape. I want my friends to know that I appreciate their doggedness, their willingness to continue to go after those who abuse and molest in the name of God.
There is still much work to do. As long as there are unregulated, unlicensed Christian group homes open for business, we must continue to expose their evil work. We MUST convince state and federal legislators and regulators that these type of homes are dangerous and a threat to the safety and welfare of anyone sent to them. While no one would suggest that licensing and regulation is a cure-all, it is the first step in cleansing the land of abusive group homes. We can do better, and we must! (please read Is a 34 Year Old Murder Case Connected to New Bethany Home for Girls?)
Rebecca Catalanello of the Times Picayune had this to say:
The man who founded New Bethany Home for Girls, where some former students said they were victims of abuse, has died.
Mack Ford, 82, was found dead inside his home shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 11) by a relative, Bienville Parish Coroner Don Smith said.
Ford’s death appears to be from natural causes, but Smith said his office will be conducting an autopsy.
Ford, a high school dropout turned Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher, opened New Bethany in 1971 on a former penal farm turned convalescent home off Louisiana Highway 9 in Arcadia, La., about 50 miles east of Shreveport.
Over three decades until it closed its doors in 2001, New Bethany took in sometimes hundreds of girls a year, according to newspaper accounts and court documents. Ford marketed the school as a home for wayward youth — “a mission project to the incorrigible, unwanted rejects,” he told attorneys in 1997. “Destitute, lonely, prostitutes, drug addicts.”
But many of the former residents who found themselves behind the barbed wire gates of the compound have relayed — to police, media, social workers and others — stories of harsh, physical and mental abuse that included beatings, solitary confinement, and, more recently, sexual abuse…
…Simone Jones, 47, one of the women who said Ford molested her when she was a teenager, said that she learned of his death late Wednesday from Michael Epps, the Louisiana State Police investigator who spent a year looking into the sexual abuse allegations that he took to a grand jury.
“I’m angry,” Jones said. “No justice … There are hundreds of people who are never going to see any type of justice be done.”
The woman, now known as “Bossier Doe,” was wearing shoes and socks not unlike those required of New Bethany residents at the time. A name, “D. Davies,” was written inside her shoes with marker, just as former residents say they had to do.
State officials attempted to close the school in 1980 after Ford refused state inspection. They later raided New Bethany in 1988 and again in 1996 following complaints of abuse at the home — efforts that Ford fought in court, maintaining the state was violating his civil rights because it opposed his fundamentalist Christian views.
“The bureaucrats don’t want us to teach them our faith,” he said in a 1988 sermon following the state’s removal of 28 residents from the home.
But neither he nor anyone else at the girls’ home was ever prosecuted for any of the reported abuse, despite numerous confirmed reports documented by state social workers.
In addition to the girls’ home, Ford opened several boys homes, including in Longstreet, La., and Waltersboro, SC. In both of those locations, abuse allegations resulted in criminal charges, though not against Ford.
In 1981, Longstreet school manager L.D. Rapier was arrested and charged with cruelty to children after four boys ran from the home and told authorities they’d been beaten. The charges were eventually dropped.
In 1983, South Carolina authorities closed the Waltersboro home after they found a 14-year-old sleeping in a windowless padlocked cell, where he had been for several days. Two employees there were charged with unlawful neglect of a child and kidnapping, and they eventually pleaded to a lesser charge of false imprisonment.
Ford continued to live at the former New Bethany compound, located at 120 Hiser Road, in Arcadia, until his death…
…Ford’s estranged son-in-law, former Louisiana College vice president Timothy Johnson, said that Ford’s wife, Thelma Ford, resides in a nursing home.
Thelma and Mack Ford would have been married 66 years this year, according to court documents. Together, they had seven daughters, and adopted two more children, a boy and a girl.
Johnson said that Ford’s family members are unlikely to speak publicly about Ford or his legacy largely because of the great backlash they may face by former New Bethany residents and other critics.
“To do so gets you written about as being complicit or protecting a rapist,” Johnson wrote in an email message…
…Teresa Frye, 47, a resident at the home in 1982, said she was still processing news of Ford’s death on Thursday morning.
For years, Frye has been involved in an ongoing effort to help reconnect former New Bethany students and to raise awareness about the conditions so many children faced in similar boarding homes.
“I’m numb,” Frye said. “But I’m starting to get angry.”
Oh, preachers preach about it. Life is short, hell is real, or so they say. But, I am not sure they really believe what they are saying.
Baptists are noted for being hellfire and brimstone preachers. In my Baptist preacher days, I preached hundreds of sermons on hell. The altar was often lined with sinners fearing hell. I was a very, very good hell preacher.
Everyone knows that some day they will die. Many people fear what happens “after” death. It is the fear of the unknown that leads many people towards religion. Hellfire and brimstone preaching is good for the church business. If people fear hell they are more likely to buy into the salvation/heaven scenario. You don’t want to go to hell, do you? You don’t want to burn in the flames of hell forever, do you? Scare people right into heaven, that’s the essence of the gospel preached by many Evangelicals.
I have come to conclusion that most preachers really don’t believe in hell. Preach as they might about hell, when it comes time to put their theology into practice, they cower and refuse to proclaim their hell belief.
Let me tell you a story about a man named Bob. (Bob is a pseudonym, but all the details that follow are real.) Bob was raised in a Fundamentalist Baptist home. His parents were stern, devout, Christians who helped start several local Baptist churches.
At the age of 17, Bob attended a revival meeting at the First Baptist Church. When the invitation was given Bob walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and in that moment became a Christian.
A short time after this, Bob had a falling out with his family and moved out of his parent’s home. Bob never attended church another day in his life apart from an occasional funeral or wedding.
Bob lived to be 83 years old. From the time Bob was 17 until he died at age 83, he lived a life of sin and infamy.
Bob was a child abuser. Bob beat his wife. Bob was a drunk. No woman was safe from Bob’s leering eye and his groping hands.
Bob was a nasty, vulgar, kind of drunk.
Bob raped a woman while her 12 year old son was home from school sick. He was never prosecuted because his victim was a mentally troubled family member.
Bob died recently.
Bob’s funeral was held at the same Baptist church he once attended. His family still attends the church. The funeral was the first time that Bob had been to church in over 60 years.
The preacher mentioned what an ornery man Bob was. And then the preacher spent the next 20 minutes preaching AT Bob’s friends. The funeral service was not about Bob at all, it was all about Jesus. Maybe that was better because it was probably hard to find much good to say about Bob.
Mercifully, the preacher brought his Jesus talk to a close with an invitation to trust Jesus as savior.
Why? So they too could be in heaven some day with Bob. The Bob, who at age 17 walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinners prayer, and became a Christian.
I have attended dozens of funerals over the years. I have preached a good number of funeral sermons myself. In every case, the deceased was preached into heaven. No matter how the person lived, no matter what they did, heaven was their final destination.
Baptists are known for believing in what is commonly called “once saved, always saved.” While I no longer claim to be a professing Christian and I am quite vocal about my atheism, according to many Christians, I can’t get “unsaved”. Once saved, always saved. (also called eternal security, perseverance of the saints). God has me whether I want him or not.
According to the preacher at First Baptist, Bob is safe in the arms of Jesus. Pity all the women he raped, abused and molested over the years. Pity all those he terrorized when he was drunk. The fire insurance Bob bought at age 17 covered everything he would ever do. This gave him immunity from prosecution for all his debauchery.
It matters not that he did not attended church in the past 60 years. He never prayed; never read the Bible. In fact, he cursed God, hated God and lived as if there is no God.
But, at age 17…well you get the gist of the story.
It is time to honest, preachers. Hell doesn’t really exist, does it? For all your hellfire and brimstone preaching, when it comes right down to it everyone makes it in. Anyone who EVER had a momentary religious experience is safe.
Preachers, if you object to what I have written, why not tell the truth about the Bobs of the world? If your God be true and every man a liar, if your Bible is true, then people like Bob are burning in hell. It seems you can quite easily tell wonderful stories about people going to heaven, why not the opposite?
Personally, I do not believe in hell. If there is any hell at all, it is here and now. But, if you claim to believe the Bible is the Word of God, then speak as if you do. Don’t pollute God’s heaven by sending any more Bobs there.
This post is written from the perspective of a person who believes in heaven, hell, and the afterlife. I don’t, but in the case of Bob, I sure wish there was a hell.
David Hyles, son of adulterer Jack Hyles, once an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor and a serial adulterer, has come out of the hole he crawled into (Hyles deleted his blog after it was publicized) over twenty years ago, and he telling all who will listen that he has been restored.
Restoration in the IFB movement is like a slum lord who remodels a house. The slum lord is only concerned about the rent money so he rehabs the house just enough to make it look acceptable and then he puts the FOR RENT sign in the window. Behind the paint and underneath the stained carpet is the same cockroach-infested house that existed before the slum lord rehabbed the house. So it is with restoration in the IFB church movement and in much of Evangelicalism.
David Hyles has found two preachers to help him rehab his life: Mike Johnston and David Baker. Johnston runs a ministry called Promise Ministries International Center for Biblical Studies (PMI) in Battle Creek, Michigan. PMI is a distance Bible and pastoral training ministry that focuses its efforts on people in prison.
What kind of church is Lighthouse Baptist? A screenshot from the church’s web page will tell us all we need to know:
Lighthouse Baptist Church, Columbia, Tennessee
David Hyles has found two pastors who hold to his dead father’s philosophies and beliefs to help him restore his life. Asking IFB pastors, especially those who hold to a perverted, truncated, cheap view of grace, to help you restore your life is like asking the town drunk to help you stop drinking.
I am all for people trying to turn their lives around. I am all for people trying to change their ways. However, I think to do so a person must own his past behavior, be honest about his actions, and not expect people to just forgive and forget.
David Hyles, by all accounts, was a serial adulterer. He had sex with numerous women in multiple churches. Some of them may have been underage. His sexual conquests are well documented. His father covered up his son’s perverse behavior and helped him get a fresh start at a new church. At the new church David Hyles repeated the same conduct that got him into trouble in the first place.
In 2007, the following expose of David Hyles appeared on The Conservative Babylon website (no longer active):
Claims to fame: Son of Jack Hyles; former Youth Minister, First Baptist Church of Hammond; ex-pastor, Miller Road Baptist Church (Garland, Texas); accused serial adulterer; divorcé; cohabitator; alleged child abuser; suspected child killer
Moral apex: As the story goes (we don’t know; we weren’t there), somebody at Hyles’s church discovered porn magazines containing ads for group sex which, they reportedly claimed, featured photos of Hyles having sex with church member Brenda Stevens (by some accounts, the daughter of a deacon). A story soon surfaced that Hyles had had extramarital sex with some 19 female members of the church.
Every one of these women was apparently stupid enough to think she was Brother Dave’s “one-and-only,” according to a voice on a taped phone conversation attributed to Dave’s wife Paula. And, as you can guess, it appears more than a few marriages where destroyed when the truth came out.
What happened next: It appears to outsiders that Miller Road Baptist threw him out, and his wife divorced him and took off with their two kids, and he started living with Stevens (out of — gasp! — wedlock) in Illinois.
Where it gets really tragic: Stevens had a small son, Brent. Dave Hyles was suspected of abusing the boy — who had suffered some eight or nine broken bones in his short life, which had never been treated. Brent was taken out of Hyles and Steven’s Illinois home and given to his biological father in Texas. Within a few months, for reasons beyond comprehension, Brent was returned to Stevens.
And then, in late 1985, 15-month-old Brent was found dead in his crib. Hyles, who had been alone with the child, claimed he found him not breathing, and called police. It has been suggested in a few online articles that Dave’s father Jack arrived before the cops did.
A coroner’s inquest into Brent’s death (at which Hyles took exercised his Fifth Amendment rights — and which the baby’s mother doesn’t appear to have attended) was apparently thwarted because the little boy had been embalmed and buried (reportedly the very next day after his death), before a proper autopsy could be performed. (An empty bottle of Actifed — for which a prescription had been filled only the day before Brent’s death — was found at the scene.)
Without any physical evidence of wrongdoing, Hyles was not indicted. The case remains open.
If those who follow the Hyles story are correct (waving at the Fighting Fundamentalists!), n the mid-1990s Hyles went to work teaching Sunday school at a Pinellas Park Baptist Church in Florida — which reportedly expelled him on charges of adultery. It’s also been reported that he was thrown out of the next church he attended (Berean Baptist Church in Orange Park, Florida), for “sexual misconduct” with three different women.
(One of those women is assumed to be church secretary Joyce Phaneuf, who appears to have been arrested for prostitution in 2003. Assuming this is the same Joyce Phaneuf, her mug shot and arrest report — which notes the tattoo on her right-upper thigh, reading “David’s Girl” — are available at everybody’s favorite finger-wagging site, The Smoking Gun.)
Just when you think it can’t get any more tragic: Hyles, it’s said, finally married Stevens and they had their own child together, a boy named Jack David. In March, 1999, when the child was five years old, Stevens was reported to have run over him with her car, killing him. According to news reports, she claimed he must have fallen out of the vehicle, and she didn’t know it….
What does David Hyles say to reports like the one on The Conservative Babylon? He ignores it and refuses to directly confirm or reject the behaviors he is accused of. Instead, in a blog page titled, David Hyles: My Story (page no longer available), Hyles writes:
Others may be reading this book merely out of curiosity. You heard of me and read many of the horrible stories about me. Now you want to know what I am going to say in defense or in explanation. I trust you will not be too disappointed, but this is not a tell all book. I have no intention of defending myself nor do I plan on trying to separate the truth from the legion of lies. I do not believe it would bring honor to God for me to try and explain what is and is not true. Explanation often leads to excuse or blame and I desperately fear that. You do not need to read about my sins. You just need to know that whatever I did do when I was away from the Father, God in His rich mercy and grace has restored me to HIMSELF. This is a book about grace. I trust that God’s grace and not my sins will be glorified.
In other words, whatever Hyles did or didn’t do, he ain’t tellin’. God has forgiven him, it’s under the blood, time to move on. Time to move on meaning, I have written a book I want you to buy.
Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jim Krall, World’s Greatest Men
Hyles has some sharp words for his critics:
First you are hurting the lost. Several years ago I worked with a young man who knew I was a Christian. This young man was searching. He had dabbled into several religions in his search. He respected me and began to question me about Christ. God was working in his life and I felt he was very close to accepting Christ as his Savior. Someone, in an attempt to hurt my business began circulating an email through my workplace and he received it, anonymously, of course. He never again listened to me and eventually our paths parted. I pray every day for God to save him. It was not MY sins that turned him away. No, actually it was the evil spirit of those my accusers who claimed to be Christians. He wanted no part of that.
Secondly, you are hurting the fallen. Countless Christians have seen what you have done to me and to others who have fallen and decided to just disappear rather than being restored. I believe that there have been suicides and other tragedies that could have been prevented if a fallen brother or sister had felt there was hope. You diatribes on your filthy forums serve Satan’s purpose well.
Thirdly you are hurting those who I have hurt. Please hear me on this. Every fallen pastor or Christian leaves hurting people in their sinful wake. I did. I know that. It breaks my heart. David did too and his heart was broken. There is little we can do to repair the damage. Their deliverance must come from God and it will not come from revenge or retribution. It will come only from forgiveness. Please allow God to be God and to deal with his children as He will. Stay out of it and encourage those who have been hurt to find their peace from God not from your vigilante system of internet justice.
Allow me to elaborate on this just a bit more. People who are hurt by a sinner are destroyed by bitterness. No one’s sin can destroy your life. Our loving Father would not allow that. He stands ready as a loving Father to pick you up and mend your broken heart. Sinners (and that includes us all) do bad things that affect other’s lives. For all have sinned… However, if we get them to take their eyes off of the offender and place it on the Savior they can be healed. Closure does not come from our flawed idea of justice. It comes from letting God heal us even as He deals with the one who offended or hurt us.
Fourthly you are hurting you! The manure you are hurling fails to hit me but your hands sure do smell of the filth you have no business picking up. I am sorry for the pain that makes you feel that somehow you will gain some kind of satisfaction from trying to hurt me. I wish this book could give you the peace you are lacking but I sincerely doubt it will.
Finally and most importantly, you are hurting the Father. I have news for you that is not going to please you, but here goes. GOD LOVES ME and I AM SAVED AND FORGIVEN! I fell but, you see, when a Christian falls we do not fall away from grace, we fall into it, hence the name of this book. I am in His grace and one day I will stand before Him clothed in the righteousness of His Son and not the sin of my own. Why would you dare try and hurt the heart of God? Is it because there is unconfessed sin in your life? Are you so far from Him that you have lost the sweetness of His mercy and grace in your own life? That is sad.
David Hyles, in the manner of countless abusers before him, refuses to own his past behavior and points the finger at those who attempt to hold him accountable for what he did. Hyles thinks he has a get out of jail free card. He thinks the blood of Jesus has cleansed him from all of his past actions, and if God has forgiven him so should everyone else.
David Hyles perpetrated acts against real flesh-and-blood people, and if he is serious about turning his life around he MUST deal with the men, women, and children he hurt. Putting his past actions under the blood, cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness, might play well in IFB churches, but here in the real world where real hurt must be atoned for, David Hyles is expected to own his past behavior, make a complete confession, and, as much as is humanly possible, make restitution to those he hurt.
It is clear from David Hyles’ blog, Fallen In Grace, (which he deleted once it was publicized) that he is still a believer in IFB doctrine. No matter what “sins” he committed, no matter how perverse his life was, because of the IFB doctrine of “once saved, always saved,” Hyles was always a Christian. No matter how many people he hurt and abused, he was always God’s child. This turns the Christian gospel of grace on its head, and no matter what a person might have done, if he, at one time or the other, mouthed the right prayer, he is a Christian.
This is why David Hyles can reinvent himself and start fresh. As countless preachers before him, his God has hosed off the shit from his life, and he is a clean, fresh-smelling Christian. However, I suspect the people David Hyles hurt and abused can still smell the shit. Their lives were forever marred by the perverse actions of David Hyles.
I have no doubt David Hyles will convince a lot of people that he is truly a new man and that God has a wonderful, new, exciting ministry for him. Christians love a comeback story and Hyles is counting on their gullibility to make a new life for himself.
For those of us who lived through the David Hyles scandals and the Jack Hyles scandal, we are not easily fooled. When David Hyles demonstrates true acts of repentance and restitution, then people such as I might, in time, be willing to give him a twelfth chance. Based on what Hyles has written so far, he sees no need for repentance or restitution. He sees no need to make things right with those he victimized. God has forgiven him and THAT is all that matters. Because of this, I am inclined to think that David Hyles is just another disgraced IFB preacher trying to make a comeback because he needs some money.
Bob Gray’s version of Christianity leaves no one beyond the grace of God. It requires no repentance or restitution. It requires no accounting of crimes committed or people defrauded. All that matters is that a sinner prays the prayer and his or her ticket for heaven is punched. According to Gray, David Hyles has a fire insurance policy that can’t be revoked.
The publishing of this book is a reminder that David Hyles, like his father, is a narcissist. Imagine if Hyles wrote a book titled, I was Wrong: My Apology to Those I Hurt. Most people would appreciate his willingness to come clean about the past (though fessing up to what might have been murder might land him in the slammer). Instead, Hyles writes a book about his father. By doing so, Hyles reminds everyone that is paying attention that nothing has changed. Ain’t God good!
Let me be clear, I don’t think David Hyles is evil personified. He is a man with a wife and a family. He has sisters and a mother. I must never forget that is he a fellow human being. But, he also has a sordid past, a past he is unwilling to deal with. His unwillingness to do so casts a long shadow over his present life. Hyles thinks that the blood of Jesus is some sort of magic potion that makes the past disappear. While that might play well in places like the Longview Baptist Temple, there are a number of people, IFB pastors and church members included, who are outraged by Hyles’ narcissistic, unrepentant behavior. To these people, men like Bob Gray are enablers who encourage people to make light of their sin. Is there no sin that carries a societal and church death penalty? In Bob Gray’s world, evidently not. A decade from now, when convicted sex offender Jack Schaap is released from the federal penitentiary, I have no doubt he will find a home at the Longview Baptist Temple. Why, he might even become a worker in the youth group, sharing, like the Apostle Paul, stories from prison.
Much of Hyles’ Facebook wall is private, but his older status updates are public. Take a few minutes to read them. I suspect you will notice, as I did, that he loves to quote himself, proving that he is a chip off of his father’s block.
Several preachers are listed as friends on Hyles’ Google+ page including Bob Gray, retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Bob Gray II, current pastor of Longview Baptist, and Joel Fugate, assistant pastor Clays Mill Road Baptist Church. (Jeff Fugate’s son)
Jack Schaap’s father-in-law, Jack Hyles, had a long-running illicit sexual relationship with his secretary. The evidence against Hyles was overwhelming, yet the church rejected the evidence and Jack Hyles continued to pastor the church until his death in 2001. (Please read The Biblical Evangelist’s report on Jack Hyles)
David Hyles, the son of Jack Hyles and youth pastor of First Baptist Church, had numerous sexual relationships with women in the church. The church quietly sent him away to pastor another church, not telling the new church about his sexual proclivities, and he continued to have numerous sexual relationships with women in the new church.
Many people praised the church for publicly exposing Jack Schaap’s “sin.” This is the same church that ignored Jack Hyles’ “sin,” covered up David Hyles’ “sin,” and whitewashed numerous other scandals in the church and college, so forgive me if I don’t think they are acting “better” than the Catholic Church (as one commenter said).
The people of First Baptist Church were taught by Hyles and Schaap that if they didn’t see something it didn’t happen. They were taught that unless an allegation could be confirmed by two or more witnesses (Matthew 18) they were not to believe it. This kind of thinking resulted in a culture where “sin” was ignored or swept under the proverbial rug (a rug that is so high now that you have to walk up a five- foot hill to get into the church).
In general, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement abhors scandal and its members do everything they can to cover it up. More important than the sin or the victims is the church’s testimony. The church’s testimony must be protected at all costs, even if a pedophile in their midst is ignored , as was the case with Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.
For First Baptist Church of Hammond to out Jack Schaap, they had to have been backed into a corner without the option of covering it up or quietly making the “problem” go away. Calling in attorney David Gibbs to “manage” the crisis speaks volumes about depth of the scandal.
The root of the Jack Schaap scandal is found in the ministry, teaching, and doctrine of his predecessor, Jack Hyles. The remainder of this post will focus on Jack Hyles. It is impossible to understand the Jack Schaap story without first looking at Jack Hyles’ forty-two year ministry at First Baptist Church of Hammond (a church that was an American Baptist Church until Hyles pulled it out of the Convention a few years after he arrived there in 1959).
In its heyday, First Baptist Church of Hammond was the largest church in the United States (and at times, claimed to be the largest church in the world). The Church was built around two things: the bus ministry and Jack Hyles.
Jack Hyles, 1973
In 1973, the church saw attendances exceeding 25,000 people. At the center of this huge church was its pastor, Jack Hyles. In the late 1960s and 1970s, Jack Hyles was, as many of us described, the pope of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church movement. He authored numerous books with titles such as Let’s Go Soul Winning, Let’s Build an Evangelistic Church, Enemies of Soul Winning, The Hyles Church Manual, How to Rear Infants, How to Rear Children, How to Rear Teenagers, Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Marriage is a Commitment, Woman the Completer, and Blue Denim and Lace.
There is a hard-and-fast rule in the IFB movement: the greater the church attendance, the more authority the pastor is granted and the more weight his words have. I heard countless big name IFB pastors say, “until you have as many eggs in your basket as I do you have no right to criticize me.” Pastors with small churches were looked down on and were expected to shut up and learn from those whose baskets were overflowing with eggs.
From 1976 to 1989, I heard Jack Hyles preach numerous times. I traveled to a number of Sword of the Lord Conferences, often taking with me people from the churches I pastored. Hyles was a dynamic preacher, a real motivator. He used very little of the Bible in his preaching. His sermons were always topical or textual and were littered with personal stories and illustrations.
Hyles was a narcissist. Most of his stories and illustrations were about his own personal life and exploits. His stories about him and his mother are legendary.
Over time, as I became more and more dissatisfied with the IFB movement, I paid closer attention to the substance of Hyles’ sermons. In particular, I focused on the stories that Hyles told. I came to the conclusion that Hyles was a narcissistic liar.
Hyles would often talk about how important and busy he was. In several sermons he talked about how many people he counseled every week. I sat down and did the math and I concluded it was physically impossible for Hyles to have counseled as many people each week as he claimed.
Hyles was a ruthless man. I watched him, during Q and A time, at a conference at the Newark Baptist Temple, dress down and belittle pastors for asking the “wrong” question. He refused to allow anyone to challenge his authority as the king of the IFB hill.
To understand the scandals at First Baptist Church in Hammond, we must understand the gospel that has been preached at First Baptist for over 50 years. It is the same gospel that is/was preached by men like Bob Gray of Texas, Bob Gray of Jacksonville, Curtis Hutson, Dennis Corle, and thousands of other IFB pastors.
Jack Hyles preached a bastardized version of the Christian gospel. The Hyles gospel has been labeled as decisional regeneration or one, two, three, repeat after me. I used to label the gospel of the IFB church movement as:
Jack Hyles, Let’s Go Soulwinning
The only thing that mattered was winning souls. IFB Evangelist Dennis Corle told me one time that I should spend more time soul winning and less time studying in preparation to preach on Sunday.
In the IFB church, the key to church growth is to keep more people coming in the front door than are going out the back door. IFB churches are notorious for turning over their church memberships, especially when a pastor leaves and a new one comes in.
The Hyles gospel focused on praying the sinners prayer. Pray this prayer and you are saved. Good works? They were desired and even expected, but if saved people never exhibited any change in their lives they were still considered saved.
If a pastor dared suggest that new life in Christ meant a change of conduct, they were accused of preaching “works salvation” (the Lordship Salvation controversy). According to the Hyles gospel, it was all about praying the prayer, and once a person prayed the prayer they could NEVER EVER be lost again. This is why some people insist that I am still saved, even if I don’t want to be. Once God has you he never lets go of you.
The Hyles gospel filled churches with people who had made a mental assent to a set of propositional facts. Every year churches like First Baptist Church in Hammond and Longview Baptist Temple report thousands of people being saved. Most of these new converts stop attending after a short while, but this is of no consequence. They prayed the “prayer.” On to the next sinner in need of saving.
The IFB church movement is centered on men. Most IFB churches are pastored by one man who has total control of the church. Most IFB churches are congregational in name only, with the pastor being the autocratic king of the church.
Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jim Krall, World’s Greatest Men
Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, and countless other big-name IFB traveling preachers routinely promote the notion of pastoral authority. The pastor, under the authority of Jesus and powered by the Holy Spirit, is the final authority in the church. He is the hub around which everything turns.
An IFB church is not known for their name but for who its pastor is. IFB church members routinely say, when asked about what church they attend, I go to Pastor So-and So’s church.
Churches aren’t known for what they believe or even the works they do. They are known for who their pastor is. When asked where he goes to Church, a Christian will often say “I go to Pastor Smith’s Church.”
The focus of everything is on the pastor. He is the mover and shaker. He is what powers the machine. Without him it all fails.
Christian TV, radio and publishing is all about the personalities within the Church. Name recognition is the name of the game.
Does anyone really believe Rod Parsley is a good writer? Yet, his books sell. Why? Name recognition.
Everything is focused on and culminates with the sermon and the preacher.
I had people drive 40 minutes to the church I pastored in SE Ohio. They loved my preaching. They thought I was the greatest preacher since the last guy they thought was wonderful. Really? As much as I think that I am a pretty good public speaker, they had to drive past 40 churches to get to the church I pastored. Not one of those churches had a preacher that could preach competently? ( Well maybe not, after hearing more than a few preachers.)
What happens when the pastor leaves the church? What happens when the personalities change, when a new preacher takes over? Strife. Division. People leave the church . Why? Because church became about the preacher rather than about Jesus and serving others.
Why is it the pastor’s name is on everything? The sign out front. The bulletin . Every piece of literature the church produces. If it is really is all about Jesus then why does it matter if anyone knows the pastor’s name?
Ah, but it does matter. Many Evangelical Christians are good capitalists (serving a socialist Jesus). They are consumers first and Christians second. They know people are “attracted” (the attractional method) to the church by the pastor, the programs, the building, etc.
They know the pastor becomes the face of their church. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is, and quite frankly, it is the church itself that must bear the blame for this.
The church members revel in the cult of personality. They love having a name- brand preacher. They watch Christian TV and listen to Christian radio because Pastor/Rev/Dr/Evangelist/Bishop/Apostle so-and so is on. Take away the names and it becomes as interesting as eating a no-name hamburger at a no-name restaurant surrounded by no-name people…
Is it any wonder IFB pastors and churches have the scandals they do? Members are taught to obey their pastor without question. He is the man of God. If he is doing something wrong God will chastise him.
This kind of thinking allows IFB pastors to commit adultery, molest children, and steal from the church without anyone ever knowing about it. I could spend the next two days writing about IFB pastors who have abused their place of authority and committed heinous acts against the people they pastored.
IFB churches think they are above the world and other churches because of what they believe. They are Bible believers and their pastors preach hard against sin. Because of this, they have a hard time believing that their pastor or any other noted preacher could ever commit sins like Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, David Hyles, and Bob Gray did.
May I present the practical side? There exists more molestation cases proportionately reported in the 42,000 churches of the Southern Baptist Convention than in the 22,000 independent Baptist churches. Consider the largest denomination in our nation, the Catholic Church, and then think on their sexual transgressions for a while. This is not to take lightly one person who is violated by a leader in a church.
Look carefully at the argument Gray is making here. The Southern Baptists and the Catholics are worse than us! Praise Jesus! Such thinking should sicken all of us.
Here is what I know about the IFB movement. They will wail and moan for a while, but, in a few weeks or months, the scandal will pass, and they will go back to “winning souls” and “preaching hard against sin.” It is only a matter of time before a-n-o-t-h-e-r scandal rocks the IFB movement. Until the IFB movement repudiates its corruption of the Christian gospel and changes how their churches are governed, there is no hope of meaningful change.
Change is not likely to come because of their literalism and their belief in the inerrancy of the Bible. Armed with certainty, knowing they are right, they will continue to preach a corrupted gospel and allow narcissistic pastors to rule over them. Why? Because, it IS in the Bible…
Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jim Krall, World’s Greatest Men
Jack Hyles, the late pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, had a son named David. David Hyles was the youth pastor at First Baptist. He later pastored, if I remember right, Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. Miller Road was previously pastored by his father. David Hyles, like his father before him, and like his brother-in-law Jack Schaap, (see Chicago Magazine articles on Schaap) had a problem with keeping it in his pants. He was accused of having sex with girls/women at First Baptist Church, Miller Road Baptist Church and several of churches he attended after he could no longer find a church to pastor.
A post on Café Mom succinctly details the serial adultery and criminal behavior of David Hyles:
Jack’s son, Dave Hyles is famous for his perversions that his daddy attempted to help cover up.
Dave Hyles used to scream until his face went purple when I was teenager. Dave used to travel around the country and hold youth rallies where he would scream: “BE PURE! BE PURE!!!” I was a teen then but I always knew there was something ungodly in his rage.
Not too long after that, they found a suitcase in a dumpster in a church parking lot containing pictures of Dave Hyles and a woman (not his wife), both very much in the nude and in compromising positions. Of course Dave wasn’t removed from the ministry, just moved to a different church in a galaxy far far away. (Texas)
Then David Hyles was kicked out of that church for running around with lots of women. 19 to be exact!!
David Hyles ran off to Indiana with Brenda Stevens. (One of the women who was in those photographs with Dave Hyles found in that suitcase above.) Brenda Stevens had a young son, named Brent.
In late 1985, 15-month-old Brent was found dead in his crib. David Hyles, who had been alone with the child, claimed he found him not breathing, and called police. In reality Dave called his father Jack Hyles first. Jack Hyles was on the scene long before the police were called.
A coroner’s inquest into Brent’s death Dave Hyles exercised his Fifth Amendment rights. Brenda Stevens— the baby’s mother didn’t even attend the coroner’s inquest into the death of her own 15 month old son.
At this inquest, it was revealed the investigation was thwarted because the little boy had been embalmed and buried the very next day— Jack officiated, The boy was buried before a proper autopsy could be performed.
The little 15 month old had nine different broken bones in different stages of healing. The case remains open to this day.
Was Dave Hyles banned from the ministry even after all the above? Oh no. In the 1990′s Dave moved by daddy where Dave taught Sunday school at a Pinellas Park Baptist Church in Florida. He was kicked out of that church because of adultery.
Dave Hyles was then thrown out of the next church he attended (Berean Baptist Church in Orange Park, Florida), for “sexual misconduct” with three different women. One of those 3 women was the church secretary Joyce Phaneuf, who was arrested for prostitution in 2003. Joyce Phaneuf, her mug shot and arrest report — which notes the tattoo on her right-upper thigh, reading “David’s Girl.”
After all this, Dave Hyles finally married Brenda Stevens and the two had their own son who they named Jack David. In March 1999, Brenda Stevens said little 5 year old Jack David must have fallen out of her car, she didn’t know it, and she ran over her own son with her own car–killing him.
Of particular interest is David Hyles’ involvement with Joyce Phaneuf, the secretary at Berean Baptist Church. The following graphic, detailing Phaneuf’s tattoo, pretty well says it all.
Dr. Bob Gray Sr. is pastor emeritus of Longview Baptist Temple, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) megachurch in Longview Texas. The Gray franchise is now pastored by Bob Gray, Jr. Bob Gray, Sr. prepared for the ministry at Hyles-Anderson College and is a stanch defender of all things Hyles. It should come as no surprise then that when David Hyles recently showed up at the Longview Baptist Temple, he was warmly received. A known serial adulterer, with a suspected criminal past, was given a warm welcome by Pastor Gray. (Junior I believe, since Senior was preaching in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on October 27th.) A person with a close connection to the Longview Baptist Temple emailed me about Hyles’ appearance at the church. This person, a committed Christian, knowing Hyles’ backstory, was rightly upset over Hyles being given a warm welcome.
Here is what I know about Bob Gray, Sr. Rather than being offended that a known serial adulterer, a PREDATORY abuser, and a suspected criminal, showed up at his church, he will be more offended that somebody dared to talk out of school. How dare someone report to an atheist what is going on the House that Bob Built!
This is a reminder to me that there are still decent, good people who attend IFB churches. I don’t understand why they still attend these kind of churches, but they do (and the reasons may be things like fear, family, social connection). These good people rightly understand the indecency of giving a man like David Hyles one moment of respect. They rightly understand that the only place for David Hyles is back under the rock he crawled out from under.
Until David Hyles makes a full and public confession of his “sins” — which he will NEVER do because of possible criminal liability — he should not be allowed to step foot in a church. David Hyles left behind a trail of broken lives, women whose lives were ruined by a man of God why preyed on them. How can men like Bob Gray not understand this?
Dr. Bob Gray, Sr. obsesses over blogs such as this one. As a controlling egomaniac, he is outraged that he can’t control the story line. He will take to his blog to express his unrighteous outrage, but his actions will be for nothing. Thousands more people will read this blog post than will ever read Gray’s blog, Solve Church Problems. Those of us who make it our business to expose what goes on in IFB churches can’t be silenced. Prayers that God kills us go unanswered and people, good Christian people, continue to share what is really going on in places like the Longview Baptist Temple.
We are on to you, Dr. Bob.
Perhaps Gray, Sr. was paving the way for what took place at Longview on Sunday with the following post on his blog:
…No one is perfect; we are all dirty scoundrels. We have all offended and mistreated other people. If all of us seek vengeance towards those who have mistreated us, we will all be in trouble. If you continue to hold bitterness in your heart towards someone, you will never find happiness. You will die young because of hatred and bitterness. Instead, you should realize God has forgiven you of far greater sins than the sins people have committed against you. If He can forgive you, then surely you can forgive other people.
Once you have enjoyed the sunset of forgiveness, you will never again enjoy the sunset of vengeance. Once you have tasted the sweetness of forgiveness, once you have bathed in the sunlight of restitution, once you have eaten from the table of heavenly manna, love, and kindness, you will never be satisfied with hatred.
It is not my job to seek vengeance – that is God’s responsibility. I do not know how to play the organ; the organist knows how to do it, and that is her responsibility. I do not know how to play the piano or sing; we have pianists and musicians to do that. If I were to walk into church one day and try to play the piano or organ, I would fail at it. I do not have the training. By the same token, it is not my responsibility to seek vengeance. That is God’s responsibility.
There is a difference between my vengeance and His vengeance. My vengeance is destructive; I want to destroy a person. God’s vengeance seeks to catch a person’s attention so He can salvage him. I am incapable of properly seeking vengeance just as I am incapable of playing the piano properly.
My job is to forgive. It is not Christ-like to be forgiven, because Christ never sinned. On the other hand, it is Christ-like to forgive. If someone treats me wrong and I forgive him, I am being Christ-like…
Gray seems to not understand that forgiveness requires confession and repentance. In David Hyles’ case, public sin requires public confession and repentance. Until this is done, there is no reason for anyone to forgive David Hyles. I am content to leave the forgiving to God; however, in THIS life, his victims deserve seeing David Hyles shamefully confessing his “sins.” Perhaps, in some small way, this would allow them to come to terms with what happened to them and they can find peace. There are wounds that time often does not heal. Sexual wounds fall into that category. If Dr. Bob Gray Sr. really wants to do good, he will demand David Hyles come clean about his past. He will also demand that he make restitution wherever possible.
Of course, Dr. Bob won’t do this. The ONLY thing he is concerned about is…who told?
I trust the person who sent me this news. I treat these reports like TMZ. I reserve the right to amend the story if further details are made known. If you know anything about David Hyles being at the Longview Baptist Temple, please let me know.