Fundamental Scandals

Classic Jack lives forever!

Classic Jack Hyles

It is truly a surprise that an article at Do Right Christians actually hits the nail on the head. I do not agree with everything at DRC. I doubt they will find common ground with me. Nevertheless, when a valid point is made, and no one else seems to be making it, that point deserves to be highlighted.

The article concerns Linda Murphy, the daughter of the late Jack Hyles. She appeared at TED in Ojai, CA, and talked about growing up under her father. Linda seemed very sad and apologetic about it. It wasn’t long after when Jack Schaap resigned because he had someone transport a minor across state lines for sexual purposes. DRC is casting doubts that Linda would spend 20 years working on a book only to have it ready at the moment Schaap resigns.

This is not really a surprise. Synchronicity happens. Plus, take into account the nature of fundamentalism! You’re separated from the world, but not quite Amish. You’re rejecting the world, but not all of it. You accept what you should reject. And you can’t make logical sense out of the stuff you keep. In the 70s, fundamentalists didn’t want you to go to theaters lest someone think you were watching an R rated movie. Those same fundamentalists didn’t bat an eye about going to a convenience store. How do you know they weren’t browsing adult magazines and buying liquor?

Who wouldn’t write about this? I started writing about fundamentalism when I was in high school in 1980! It’s not a stretch to imagine Linda writing about her experiences when she experienced the first contradiction. Now that anyone can publish a book, I’m waiting to enlarge my library with memoirs that would never see the light of day!

DRC does find it strange that, while Linda is taking her father to task for covering up the crimes of his flock, she doesn’t spend an equal amount of time on her mother.

Women, of course, are the second hand citizens in fundamentalism. Their role models include Esther, who avoided war by winning a beauty contest and sleeping with the king. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who let her husband sleep with another woman so she could give him a child. Deborah, on the other hand, appointed herself as judge since no man would take the job. She seems to have been bypassed as role model material. Not to worry! Facebook is now crawling with Deborahs.

His point is well taken: What did all these advocates do when they first heard about abuse in their church or school?

The reality is no one can report abuse, and get results, unless they are a victim. I found this out after learning about Bob Gray’s alleged incidents of molestation back in 1992. Actually, I didn’t call the Florida Department of Children’s Services to talk about Bob Gray. I was actually following up on the whereabouts of Victory Christian Academy. VCA closed its doors in Ramona, California, after a videotape (shot and edited by this blogger) was sent to the California Department of Children’s Services (thanks to the producer, Jon Boag) and thus launched the investigation that kicked VCA’s owner, Michael Palmer, and his entourage out of California.

I was traveling to Florida and wanted to drop by VCA’s Jay, Fl location and take some pictures and videos. Basically, I was calling DCS to ask for directions and said, “While I have you on the phone, I heard some disturbing accounts about the pastor of a megachurch in Jacksonville, Florida. Are you the people I would speak with?” We had a casual conversation, but I was told nothing could be done unless the victim actually called.

“That’ll never happen!” 

It did happen, but it took more than 13 years before a collusion of victims, media and police worked behind the scenes to arrest Bob Gray. The officials I spoke with in Florida wanted the phone number of my contact. That I refused to do and I’m proud of that decision. One person did call the cops on a victim. What do you think this victim said when the cops showed up? “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” That didn’t help the D.A.’s case.

Bob Gray died just before the beginning of his trial. I’m one of the rare few who believes Gray would have been found ‘not guilty’. The defense would have kept out the tape recording of his interrogation where he admitted to french kissing minors. With that gone, all you have left is repressed memory and lost opportunities.

Moral of the story: get off the White Horse and get practical!

DRC mentions John Wilkerson, the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Long Beach, CA, who left and has now replaced Jack Schaap (now in prison for child molestation) as pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. I’m writing this blog in Long Beach, so I’ve visited Wilkerson’s former church two times. Watched him on television. Wilkerson and I were actually quoted in the same article: Survivors Charge Hell Homes.

First Baptist Church in Long Beach, CA, was pastored by Larry Chappell who, according to the church’s website, led the congregation from the American Baptist Association in 1983. They were becoming ‘liberal’. Chappell was succeeded by his son, Mark Chappell, who had the misfortune to become the pastor when they closed the Navy base. The website mentions they lost half their congregation to various parts of the world. At one time, two families were leaving the church each week.

Mark Chappell left in 1999 leaving James Allen as interim pastor. This era is referred to as ‘a difficult transition’. Why so difficult? Mark was accused of having relationships with an underaged girl at Heritage Baptist Church in Wallingford, CT. He was allegedly removed from his position as pastor of LB’s First Baptist because of adultery. Chappell is now pastor of Freeway Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona.

Guess the name of his Long Beach replacement?

John Wilkerson.

Picture 21

One of these men is an actor playing a Wolf.

DRC mentions critics of Schaap  place no stock in John Wilkerson. He adds there is no reason to be suspect of him. He’s right! Wilkerson is probably the most upstanding man you can find in fundamentalism. That’s the whole point! You have to be clean if you’re going to follow after Mark Chappell, Jack Schaap, and Jack Hyles!

He’s very soft spoken. A nice defense lawyer for the court of public opinion. In fact, the article Survivors Charge Hell Homes, quotes Wilkerson on the subject of sending children to homes. One of them, the Anchor Homes, was affiliated with VCA’s Michael Palmer.

from the article: Asked what action would be taken if abuse in these homes were discovered, Wilkerson said, “I haven’t had that happen in the homes I work with yet. I don’t know how it would be done. We have several kids in Iowa, none of them have come back. Usually it takes a year. They survive through churches like ours, who have a heart to help them.”

Isn’t he smooth?

You’re not going to find one thing wrong with John Wilkerson! Christa Brown from Stop Baptist Predators has a name for this type of personality: Winston ‘The Wolf’ Wolfe. That’s Harvey Keitel’s character in Pulp Fiction. He cleans up the mess. That’s John Wilkerson’s job description!

Picture 22

DRC rightly points out that the IFB is not a ‘church’. This bit of misinformation, thanks to Jocelyn Zichterman and unquestioning journalists, has taken hold of the public imagination. In fact, check out this description of her book ‘I Fired God’ from amazon.com: Jocelyn Zichterman was born, raised, married into, and finally, with her family, fled the Independent Fundamental Baptist church. Founded by the fiery preacher Bob Jones, with several hundred thousand members, IFB congregants are told they must not associate with members of other Baptist denominations and evangelicals.

WTF? (which, in this context, stands for ‘why. . .that. . .fundamentalist!!!‘) Bob Jones did not ‘find’ anything called ‘the IFB church’, or the ‘IFB’. Greenville, South Carolina is not the Baptist Vatican. I’m sure Dallas, Murfreesboro, Wheaton, Waco, and other cities can claim that title. IFB was always a description never a title.

The real question concerns how all the churches are connected. They are connected through their universities and mission outreaches. That’s where you will find the children’s homes like Lighthouse of North Florida.

Picture 23Lighthouse was formerly VCA in Jay, but changed its name after Michael Palmer, the owner, resigned due to accusations of rape. It is now closed thanks to a proliferation of survivors of institutional abuse finally telling their stories to the world.

These homes are where victims of abuse by ministers, Sunday School teachers, Christian school staff, and family members have been sent to get them out of the way. To hide them from investigators. Or to remove the kids who keep asking the wrong questions.

If you want to understand the root of fundamentalist abuse, you have to investigate the religious child treatment homes.

That’s where all the dirt gets swept under the rug.

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2 thoughts on “Classic Jack lives forever!

  1. Larry Chappell led the First Baptist Church of Long Beach, CA out of the “American Baptist Churches, USA” in 1983. They are a very liberal denomination of churches. First Baptist never was a part of the “American Baptist Association,” a voluntary fellowship of conservative, Bible-believing churches.

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