Preying from the Pulpit was a mini news series by WJBK of Detroit, Michigan. It aired in May, 1993, and is available for viewing at vimeo. It includes all the major players in the Jack Hyles scandal: Vic Nischick, Volye Glover, Jerry Kaifetz, and, in an almost prophetic inclusion, Jack Schaap. Schaap, the former pastor of the late Jack Hyle’s First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana, is now in prison for child molestation.
Watching this news series is a test in your ability not to cross over into the dark side. Although I am on the side of the victims, the realities of exploitation and television news will automatically turn you into a voyer. We stalk the victim of A.V. Ballenger when a hastily powder blue drop stops us from feeling totally creepy. The relationship between Brenda and David Hyles is presented and, for the first (and possibly only) time, we see the swinger ads of Dave and Brenda from ADAM Magazine.
The swing ads were always a problem for me, because in order to truly know that the ad belongs to Dave and Brenda you have to answer it. The magazine certainly is not going to risk credibility by giving away a customer’s address. Even with her picture showing up in the news, there is still no certainty (since photos can be misleading, especially glamour shots) that is Brenda in the photographs. Odds are, it probably is otherwise I’m sure there would be a lawsuit by now. However, it’s also plausible that they would never attempt a lawsuit because it might lead to other embarrassing revelations.
Vince Wade, the anchorman of Ron Burgundy proportions, steps up as the moral authority to decide what is a cult and what is not. Again, I’ve never been a big fan of the word ‘cult’ because it lets mainstream churches, who also cover up abuse, off the hook.
This series aired in 1993. The stories about the Catholic Church were just coming out. No one was even talking about the child molesting scandals of the Southern Baptist Convention. Bob Jones University, which distanced itself from Jack Hyles, was thought to have been beyond reproach.
Jeri Massi, in Schizophrenic Christianity, which was published in 2008, demonstrates the attitude many felt about Bob Jones University when it came to abuse:
“The dynasty structure in Fundamentalism is nothing new. It dates back to the Joneses of Bob Jones University, the somewhat feudal Fundamentalist university which, despite its weaknesses, has remained free of the rampant, flaming allegations of sexual deviancy found in the high places of some other fundamentalist schools and churches.”
Fundamentalists are getting smarter, though. The intelligent ones aren’t even calling themselves fundamentalists anymore. Bob Jones University has paid for the services of GRACE to investigate abuse at BJU. I think their money will be well spent.