14 Apr 2011

Independent Fundamentalist Baptist pastors reject cult label and allegations of widespread sex abuse





Greeley Gazette - Colorado April 13, 2011

Local Baptist pastors react to 20/20 story calling them cults

by Jack Minor




Local Baptist pastors took strong issue with a recent 20/20 broadcast claiming sexual abuse is widespread among the independent Baptist church movement and that their churches are cults.

Last Friday 20/20 aired a show hosted by Elizabeth Vargas described as, "exploring whether IFB churches foster an atmosphere leading to sexual abuse of children and women." The premise of the broadcast indicated that Independent Fundamental Baptist churches as a whole promote the covering up of sexual abuse including statutory rape.

The show centered around a woman, Tina Anderson, who says when she was 16 she was forced to confess the "sin" of being pregnant out of wedlock but was not allowed to say the father, who had raped her, was an adult member of the church.

Anderson claimed the church covered up the incident, discouraged her from going to police, and relocated her to Denver to cover up the crime. She went on to say she was ostracized while the man who was twice her age was allowed to serve in the church as a respected member.

Her pastor at the time, Chuck Phelps, released a statement to 20/20 producer, Alan Goldberg, in July, 2010 stating said that when he became aware of the incident he reported it to the Concord Police Department and New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families.

Phelps also stated Anderson appeared before the church simply to inform members of the pregnancy and that the church responded "kindly, seeking to provide for their ongoing needs." He said at no time did the church ostracize or discipline her.

Independent Baptist churches do not have a denominational hierarchy. The churches are self- governing with the pastor as head. While the pastor is in charge of the spiritual direction of the church, the congregations have the ultimate power to hire and fire their pastors at will by a simple vote. Vargas stated during the broadcast that she considered Independent Fundamental Baptist churches to be a cult.

The Gazette contacted local independent Baptist pastors regarding the allegations that their churches promote a culture of sexual abuse and are a cult. They strongly denied 20/20's implication that all IFB churches including their own, foster a culture of abuse.

Pastor Greg Baker said years ago his church had an incident involving a teenage boy and another child. Once he became aware of it he contacted the parents and told them their son and all of them were going to talk to the police. Matt Walters, pastor of Faith Bible Baptist Church, said they have a similar policy. "We have made it very plain if there is ever an incident we will call the police immediately, even if it is in the middle of a service."

20/20 featured video clips from Dr. Jack Schaap, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. The college operated by the school has strong standards regarding sexual immorality. Students are not permitted to date without being chaperoned and members of the opposite sex are not permitted alone in cars, to hold hands, or be involved in any other touching. The segment did not explain how policies such as these contribute to a culture of sexual abuse.

Other allegations are that IFB churches teach absolute loyalty to the pastor under all circumstances. This led to Vargas calling the entire movement a cult.

Baptist historian, Dr. William Grady, stated this is an absolute falsehood and mischaracterization of independent fundamental Baptists. "Certainly people are taught to respect the office of pastor. The scriptures state we are to "obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves." However, that does not mean blind obedience."

Grady went on to say that a historic Baptist position is what is known as soul liberty. He explains that that means "every one of us shall give account of himself to God." Grady quoted historian John Locke who stated that, "The Baptists were the first and only propounders of absolute liberty."

"In an IFB church, the bible is the final authority and all members are encouraged to read it." Grady then went on to say that, " Anytime a pastor teaches anything contrary to that Book the people have an obligation to disobey."

The Greeley pastors both concurred with that statement. Baker said, "I always tell my congregation to question everything I say with the bible and to check it out for themselves." Walters echoed similar sentiments, "People here know they are free at anytime to come to me and ask me what is the scriptural basis for anything I say. We encourage that."

Both also deny that women are considered to be second class citizens who are not allowed to speak. Walters said the church conducted a business meeting last Sunday evening where they voted on the budget for the year and church officers. "Every member is encouraged to ask questions, including the women, and everyone has a vote." Baker stated his church has a similar policy.

Baker said while he does not deny crimes such as those mentioned in the 20/20 broadcast exist he challenges its prevalence. "It is foolish to blame the movement rather than the individual responsible for the crime." He went on to say, "I have several members in my church who were abused by leaders in several other denominations. However, I would never think of blaming the entire denomination for the actions of a few."

Walters disputed the suggestion their churches are a cult, "we have never insisted our people blindly follow us but rather encourage them to read the scriptures and think for themselves."


This article was found at:




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3 comments:

  1. NOTE: Here is a quotation from the main article above:

    20/20 featured video clips from Dr. Jack Schaap, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. The college operated by the school has strong standards regarding sexual immorality. Students are not permitted to date without being chaperoned and members of the opposite sex are not permitted alone in cars, to hold hands, or be involved in any other touching.

    Keep that in mind as you read how that pastor, Jack Schaap, manipulated a vulnerable teen girl in his congregation, sexually and spiritually abusing her.

    By the way, the techniques used by that evil pastor to groom his victim, are almost identical to how leaders of the Christian fundamentalist cult The Family International sexualized and exploited their children. See this page on this blog: http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.ca/p/family-international.html

    *********************************

    Preacher: Sex with 17-year-old was Lord’s work

    BY Teresa Auch Schultz, Post-Tribune March 13, 2013

    Former First Baptist Church of Hammond pastor Jack Schaap’s affair with a 17-year-old girl last summer not only wasn’t wrong but was desired by Jesus Christ.

    That’s what he claimed in one of several letters he wrote to the victim during his crime, couching the sexual relationship as part of her personal salvation and something Jesus Christ wanted.

    “In our ‘fantasy talk,’ you have affectionately spoken of being ‘my wife,’ ” Schaap wrote in one letter. “That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!”

    Federal prosecutors included the letters in the government’s sentencing memorandum for Schaap, which was filed Wednesday evening in U.S. District Court in Hammond.

    Schaap has pleaded guilty to causing the girl to be transported to Illinois and Michigan last year for a sexual relationship. Schaap resigned from the megachurch, one of the largest in the country, last summer after church members discovered his relationship with the girl and reported it to local law enforcement.

    In his letters to the girl, Schaap often discusses how he helped save her from self-destruction, helping to put her on a “better path of living — that’s what we call Righteousness.”

    In another letter, he talks about how he wanted their time together for three days — which appears to reference their time in Michigan — to show her how much she matters to Jesus Christ.

    The girl and her family are still dealing with the ramifications of the relationship, according to letters they wrote to the court.

    The girl wrote about how she spent her entire life in the church, listening to Schaap preach three times a week and being taught that he was a messenger of God.

    “He told me to confide in him, to trust him, and he made me feel safe and comfortable around him as a man of God,” she wrote. “(Schaap) preyed on that trust and my vulnerability.”

    In another letter written to Schaap, she says she was shocked when he first kissed her. When she asked if it was wrong, Schaap told her it was OK.

    “You told me that I was sent to you from God, I was his gift to you,” the letter says.

    She admits that by the time they were discovered, she thought she was in love with him and at first didn’t admit he had victimized her.

    continued in next comment...

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  2. Now she’s had to transfer schools, and her family was told it wasn’t safe for them to return to the church, according to letters from her parents. The girl writes that although she still struggles every day, she is determined to “get through this and grow from it.”

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster says in the sentencing memorandum that Schaap started grooming the victim in April 2012, after an administrator at the girl’s high school, run by the church, emailed Schaap about how she was “frightened, confused and emotionally traumatized” and in need of guidance.

    The administrator wrote that he told the girl to let other people guide her life for now and to trust her leaders.

    Schaap encouraged her to talk to him about a past romantic relationship and to view him as a friend. The two called and texted each other frequently, including 662 times in one month, before he was discovered. Phone records show he instigated contact in all but five of those days.

    The government’s filing says he duped church employees into helping transport the girl across state lines, telling them the girl was “in an extremely vulnerable state” and that he needed prolonged time alone with her to help her.

    However, he really took her to his personal property in Crete, Ill., and to his cabin in Cadillac, Mich., once spending 36 hours alone with her. When the employees grew concerned about the girl’s continued absence and texted Schaap, he claimed the girl had fallen asleep on his couch.

    He also engaged in sexual behavior with her in his office at the church during a youth conference, according to the government’s filing.

    Schaap later lied to his staff when they grew concerned about the amount of time he spent with the girl by claiming the girl was on her period and was just resting on his couch. A staff member found photos of the two a few days later, which led to the federal investigation.

    Koster disputes claims in Schaap’s own sentencing memorandum that he was stressed from the church’s decreasing finances and having to work 100 hours a week to make up for fewer staff members.

    “The only way (Schaap) could have been working 100-hour weeks during the time period investigated by the government is if he’s counting the many hours he dedicated to grooming and sexually abusing the victim,” Koster says in the filing.

    She defends the government’s agreement to recommend a 10-year sentence for Schaap, noting he agreed to plead guilty even before he was charged.

    The victim has also decided to drop her request for restitution as her doctors still cannot estimate how much help she will need.

    Schaap is scheduled to be sentenced March 20.

    http://posttrib.suntimes.com/18835553-537/preacher-sex-with-17-year-old-was-lords-work.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hyles daughter apologizes for nefarious actions of church

    by Marc Chase, North West Indiana Times March 25, 2013

    The daughter of a Hammond megachurch's founder has issued a public apology for keeping silent about "the many nefarious actions" of her father and other church leaders.

    In an open letter written last week and a news release issued Monday, Linda Murphrey apologized for not speaking out on what she called a cycle of church abuses at First Baptist Church of Hammond.

    Murphrey's apology comes in the wake of the federal sentencing of her brother-in-law, former church Pastor Jack Schaap. Schaap was sentenced to 12 years in prison last week after pleading guilty to having a sexual relationship with an underage church girl he was counseling.

    Her letter reiterates what she claimed earlier this year in a Chicago Magazine article -- that her father, church founder Jack Hyles, used power and oppression to make church members like subservient "zombies."

    She has contended this leadership mentality was passed down to Schaap, who eventually married Hyles' other daughter and took over the church.

    "The dynamics went beyond merely ingesting a sermon," Murphrey states in the letter. "It had crossed over into complete worship of your pastor.

    "You looked and acted spellbound," she added in reference to church parishioners. "You sat there in awe, mesmerized. Not by scripture. Not by God and his word ... But by one man -- Jack Hyles, my own father."

    A spokeswoman for Murphrey, Kathleen Kaiser, said the woman grew disillusioned with the church over the years, eventually leaving the church and family in the early 1980s at age 27.

    Murphrey spent several years in "therapy and deprogramming to recover from the religious abuse of her father's ministry," the press release states. "I had to leave that world. I did and I never looked back," it continues.

    After Schaap was implicated in the sexual relationship with a church minor last year, "I grieved deeply in the following weeks, and one reason for the grief was due to feeling that I should have spoken up years ago," Murphrey's letter states.

    "My heart hurts for the precious victim of Jack’s crime. How I wish I could erase her pain, disillusionment and confusion. I hurt for ALL the victims -- and there are so many," she wrote.

    She states other people have told her of abuse recently.

    "To every victim, I especially apologize - whether your abuse was sexual, emotional, mental, spiritual - or a combination thereof. My family hurt you, and if no one else in my family ever apologizes, at least you can hear it from one person in the Hyles family. I am so very sorry for what happened to you and for your pain," Murphrey's letter stated.

    The press release says Murphrey is writing a book about her escape and recovery, and her entire letter can be found on her website, www.lindamurphrey.com.

    Church spokesman Eddie Wilson could not be reached for comment Monday regarding Murphrey's letter.

    http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/hyles-daughter-apologizes-for-nefarious-actions-of-church/article_bd70eeb5-6544-5ca8-8d94-ead03fb565ed.html

    ReplyDelete