Saturday, September 29, 2012

Exposing the IFB Movement: Jack Hyles and First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, (part 2)

Author's note :It became necessary for me to split this part of the series, into two parts due to length, for part one, click (here), please read part one first if you have not already.

The rampant sexual abuse and other assorted crimes and hypocrisy of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana which I discussed in part one are common throughout the IFB movement, and I think are fueled by the culture of the IFB movement. Many critics of the movement, and of First Baptist Hammond, in particular call the group a "cult". I'll let you decide on that, but many of the aspects of their culture are problematic, and lead to a mindset where outside ideas and people are shut out, leaders are propped up on a very high pedestal, and given ultimate authority over members. The culture also encourages unhealthy family structures where the father is king, and women and children are second class citizens. In this kind of environment, it's not hard to see why predators are attracted to this group, or created by it. It's a ripe breeding ground for them. For a good example of the IFB culture, let's take a look at the rules and atmosphere.of Hyles-Anderson college, the college owned by FBC Hammond, and founded by Jack Hyles.

Isolation from outsiders: IFB members often cut themselves off from the outside world, members are told not to associate with "ungodly" people. They consider anyone who is not part of the IFB movement to be "ungodly", even fellow Christians, regardless of denomination, or whether they are liberal or more mainstream fundamentalist.
Contact with any outsiders is limited to contact with family members, people necessary to associate with for work or business reasons, or reaching out to people to try to convert them. Even in those circumstances, members are warned not to get to close to the people. Outsider churches are seen as apostate, and not "Bible believing" I talk about this in my post on the guilty plea of Jack Schaap:

"I remember another instance where I attended a  IFB denomination wide conference with my sister and brother in law, when the pastor who had converted my brother in law.when he was a teen in upstate New York. showed up and started talking to them. My sister introduces me, and immediately he starts questioning me about what church I go to when back home. I tell him the name, he questions further about it, and once he finds out it's a Southern Baptist church, he went ballistic. He turns to my sister and scolds her right there openly that it's her responsibility to make sure that I'm in a "Bible-believing" church. "

A good example of this kind of isolationism is the rules that were placed upon my sister and other students at Hyles-Anderson. In the IFB movement, young adults are not considered adults until they marry, so college students are considered little more than teenagers away from home, because the students aren't considered adults yet, they are considered susceptible to outside influence. 

Some of the extreme measures they placed upon students to keep them from outside influence due to this view included requiring passes for staff for students to leave the campus for any reason. I do mean any reason, even if they were going away with family members, parents had to physically walk in and sign a form stating that the student was in fact leaving with them. The bridesmaids at my sister's wedding had to all get passes to leave the campus, even though the wedding was taking place at FBC Hammond, the church that owns Hyles-Anderson. When students went off campus to work, the job was already pre-arranged by the college, and oftentimes, the Hyles students would be working at that company as a group, in mass, and many times, their supervisor on the job was a Hyles graduate. 

Isolation from the broader culture and lack of personal space: Students were subject to random sweeps of their rooms at any time. TVs were not allowed in rooms, and books and recordings would be read and listened to by staff members. Anything having to do with modern culture or music was confiscated, and the student would be subject to disciplinary penalties. Any material that passed review would receive a green and white sticker indicating approval by the staff member.

Interference in personal relationships and skewed view of marriage and family: Students could not go on dates alone. "Dates" consisted of mass outings where large groups of student couples would go to mass outings together with staff members supervising. At no time is affection ever allowed, not on these outings, or at any time. Students had to stay at least 6 inches away from people of the opposite gender at all times, and married students can not show affection on campus, and are discouraged from doing so in public at all.

Students were expected to marry before graduation, it was a common joke among the female students that when asked what their major was, they would say they were going for an "MRS" ("Misses") degree. Getting married was considered just as much of a normal and expected part of life as well, breathing. Not getting married before graduation was unthinkable. When a man wanted to propose, he had to first ask his girlfriend's father for permission to marry her. Upon marriage, the man becomes the ultimate unquestioned leader of the household, and the two students move off campus to a home, they both continue their degree, while the man works, and once they have children, the woman is expected to stay at home and raise the children (if she has not already graduated). Married women were not allowed to work outside the home, unless the husband becomes a pastor or missionary, then she can assist in the ministry.

Ministers and leaders are put on a pedestal: 

Leaders and ministers are very highly revered, and men considered great leaders are revered even after death, and their teachings held as gospel. The faults of leaders are covered over, unless it becomes downright impossible to do so. One example of reverence for deceased leaders is this mural of the late Jack Hyles and his wife painted on the side of one of the Sunday School buildings in the church's Hammond complex:

Horrendous views on raising children and the husband/wife relationship: 

FBC Hammond, as well as other IFB churches are big fans of authors Micheal and Debi Pearl, and their atrocious views on raising children, and on the husband/wife relationship. Their advice is so awful, they may become the focus of a separate article in this series.

I found this great article from liberal Christian blogger Rachel Held Evans on Micheal and Debi Pearl that includes excerpts from their books. Here's some of the highlights:

On "disciplining" children:

"....However, if you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final."

"Benevolent" sovereign, my ass!

 If you want to see the kind of impact that this kind of mentality has on children well until well after they become adults, check out the blog Who I Am Without You, or the series on her childhood by blogger Latebloomer. Latebloomer was raised into a family who followed the advice of their minister, Reb Bradley, a  virtual carbon copy of the Pearl family. She also has a great 5 part series were she gives her rebuttal of Bradley's book "Child Training Tips"

Not only do the Pearls have horrible advice for raising children, their advice for marriage is no better.

"At one point, Pearl encourages a young mother whose husband routinely beat her and threatened to kill her with a kitchen knife to stop “blabbing about his sins” and win him back by showing him more respect. Sudden aggressive outbursts are part of what it means to be a man, according to Pearl. “The wisest way to handle the aggressive husband is by not taking personal offense,” she advises. “Avoid provoking him."

In this kind of culture, a place were people are isolated, controlled, and where psychological and physical abuse are considered normal, and where ministers are put on a pedestal and nearly worshiped, it's not hard to see that disaster is inevitable. The hypocrisy of Jack Hyle's affair, and the crimes against children committed by FBC Hammond and IFB leaders is nothing more than a destructive byproduct of this dangerous mentality. 

In future posts, I will be examining other IFB leaders, institutions and churches. Micheal and Debi Pearl will be one upcoming post, as well as Bob Jones University, and the late Lester Roloff and the horrors of Hephzibah House. Check back for upcoming posts in this series.


  1. you disgust me. i'm assuming you are not saved, as a saved man would not write something like this. but you need Jesus sir.

    1. Lmao! I've seen the behavior of "saved" people, quite a few of them in my lifetime, and I used to be one of them, and I'll tell you, some of them are worse than the outside world. Being a Christian doesn't make someone more moral, it just makes them better at putting on a false front for the most part.

    2. i am a agnostic now because of the ifb ruined my life.saved by bus ministry in memphis took my young years and trust away.i will never set foot in one again.keep up the good work

    3. Sorry to hear that Anon, I hope you begin to recover soon from that experience.

  2. What you've discovered, is that preachers are sinners also; and we still sin after we've been saved, there was no guarantee that we would live a sinless life. It is abominable to hear such stories, but as a "recovering Catholic" they don't surprise me. While many of the tennants that you cite are biblical and proper, they can be taken to unitended extremes with unintended consequences, as you have observed. A woman should indeed stay home and raise and train the children. We now have several generations of children and adults that had no such thing in their lives, and the moral depravity of American society is the result. If you think that the IFB is guilty of child abuse, then what is public school education? No where does the Bible suggest disciplining children in the heat of anger, either; that's where you will get stories that you've collected. Moses added to the word of God, too: a lot of good it did him!

    A long time ago, when I was first saved, I asked the gazillion dollar question, "How big should a church be"? for me the answer is: no bigger than the pastor can do his job ministering to his people: Know everyone by name in his congregation, know something about everyone; how many children, what their names are, what the do for a living, etc. There is an inherent trouble with mega churches, regardless of how close to Biblical their doctrine might be. I was saved and attended a church in Des Plaines, and I am very familiar with Bro. Hyles. As with any preacher, one must know the scriptures for himself, and know where doctrine ends, and convictions, standards, and preferences begin. I encourage you to renew your faith and attend a Bible Believing, Bible Teaching church. You're saved for life, but that doesn't have a thing to do with Jack Hyles or the Pope of Hammond. The Word of God is what matters. There are churches that actually preach against holding up the pastor as some sort of guru. Regardless of the personal failings of Hyles, Roloff, or the Pearls, there are some outstanding doctrinal truths in their preaching, along with their misgivings.

    I encourage you to reconnect with the Lord Jesus Christ, and pray for His direction in finding a church that will revive the joy of your salvation.

    1. I don't really see myself ever going back to Christianity, but thank you for your concern, and for stopping by the blog.

  3. Dear god my ex husband has been brainwashed by these people and while my son visited him convinced him that this was his calling. .. I have stopped the process but am hoping my son doesn't take off to go there to win his father's approval. .. Please help me!

    1. Wow, I just feel for you, Anon, my sister fell for this awful group, found her way out, but she still doesn't think there was that much wrong with it.

      I'm at a loss for words as to what to say....

    2. Dear Anon, I hope you come back and read this, please e-mail me at, or start an anonymous account and contact me on Twitter, I'm @SheldonGC89.

    3. Hi Anonymous: You are in a very tricky situation. And there are many who are working through similar situations, sadly. I'm very sorry to hear what you are going through. As a mom, I get that kind of pain.

      I'm not sure what your current communication level is with your ex-husband, but perhaps links to articles like Sheldon's might help to open his eyes. There are so many articles out there on the Hammond fiasco you can give to him. You do, however, have much more influence over your son.

      You don't mention how old your son is, but it would be completely appropriate to share your concerns with him at an age-appropriate level. High-controlling church environments are very destructive and use cult-like behaviors to lure people in and keep them in. In many aspects they function exactly like cults and in order to get out, there is a detoxing process. Hopefully you can do as much as you can right now to try to prevent that from happening with your son.

      Do you have joint custody? I'm wondering if this is something you can bring up with an attorney as a provision in the custody arrangements?

      Feel free to contact me if you like, I deal with a lot of people who are in high-control church situations. spiritualsb@ gmail dot com

      ~Julie Anne

  4. As a Christian, I'd like to first apologize on behalf of all Christianity to what happened in your life. There are so many people in the IFB so called "movement" that belittle others and are judgmental. They're everywhere. I hurt for these people who have been exposed to it. IFB has turned into a bunch of standards not even based upon the Bible. Standards are more preached than the love of Christ.

  5. I was indoctrinated by several different IFB pastor's under Pastor Hyle's influence and most of them attended Hyles-Anderson College. Let me tell you I have been SAVED by Breaking Free from this Cult. I resented God for a long time and had to find Him again for who He really is and NOT what the IFB had said He was. I was even sent to a Girls Home in Southern Cal. run by these Hypocritical IFB followers. The Home was shut down for allegations of Abuse in the early 1990's. Then under the same director/founder of this school another one of his schools he had in Mexico was shut down in 2004 for Abuse found out by Mexican Authorities. Most Recently his last home in Florida was shut down in 2013 with several DCFS( CPS) reports of Abuse. I remember while being in that hell hole girls home in Cal. that we were broken down and spirit harshly to be built up and conformed by their cult-like beliefs....if we did not conform there were harsh consequences. Where in the Bible is this treatment of children or anyone for that matter, justified?....What gives all you the right to judge and say to anyone that IFB is the only "real" church and "real" children of God??!! what gives you the right??!!....You all are NOT God, thank goodness or we would all be damned!.....I had the unfortunate pleasure of personally meeting Jack Hyles while in the girls home and hearing him preach.... he would yell and pound on the pulpit and sweat like a pig with eyes popping out of his head, preaching that anyone not part of his church or his beliefs were not right with God....Woman that are truly saved do Not wear pants, or listen to music with a drum beat, and that everyone shall not be part of the world and shut out all those that are......I remember thinking this guy looks psycho scary and is getting all worked up looking like a crazy man, drooling and yelling from the pulpit.... I thought oh please God save me from this! this is Not how I want to be.....I have a great relationship with God now and surround myself with people of the like, from a church that is NOT IFB.....I wear pants and God, loves me No different than anyone else!!!.....I have A book to write on this subject and when I have the time I may just write it. All the different IFBs were the exact Same! all Followers of a Demented, Twisted Man ,, Not God!!!!

  6. I was raised in an IFB church in North Carolina. I attended a Christian School and then went on to college at Hyles-Anderson. Growing up I was never allowed to go to the movies, go to a swimming pool or even wear pants. I only spent one year at Hyles-Anderson and that was all it took for me to completely question everything that I had been indoctrinated my whole life. I noticed all of these young adults in there early to mid 20s that walked around like programmed robots. Everyone thought the same way and put the church pastors on pedestals that everything they said or did was what was right and there was no need to question it. Girls would almost pass out if Jack Schaap shaked there hand , it was like someone getting close to a celebrity. I always had a weird feeling that something was not right with Jack Schaap. To me he was just an egotistical arrogant person that thought he was right of there with God in command. Frankly when the news broke about him raping a 16 year old girl came out I was less than shocked. My problem now is that I have witnessed so many of these "men of God" being convicted left and right of sexual assault on young girls and many of them having affairs on there wives or with other men's wives. So many of the preachers that I have sat under in my life are now living a completely different life. What bothers me is that before they were revealed every single one of them stood in a pulpit and preached the house down while behind the scenes this crap was going on. I have so much trouble now believing that anybody is real. I will always believe in the basic doctrines of the church and I know that I am saved and going to heaven, but I just have trouble going to church and sitting under preachers who God knows what they are really doing outside of that pulpit. I know that everyone can sin and mess up but Preachers really do hurt more people than others because they are supposed to be the trustworthy ones. I appreciate your article although I do believe that there are still some good people and churches in this group and that not everyone should be judged by a few criminals that were once associated with this church. Thank you for letting me post and put my feelings out there.

  7. The guy who started this blog should be shut down. I WENT to Hyles Anderson. I don't agree with everything. But I can tell you for a fact that what you stated about the girls HAVING to be married before graduation is a bunch of garbage. You obviously have never even stepped foot in the place so how did you even come up with that conclusion. No one is shunned or looked down upon for not getting married before graduation and I attended a class about marriage and guess what, THE TEACHER ENCOURAGED THE LADIES THAT ARE RECENTLY MARRIED TO WORK, he went on to say if the family is in need even after children and both parents are in agreement than she should continue working! So all this to say. You need to shut your mouth and start doing something with your life. Maybe get a REAL HOBBY. You need a life. P.S. Not responding to any responses. Just accidentally clicked and decided to read. Wish I didn't because I wasted my time. Signing off.

    1. Aw, can't handle the thought of a little free speech? How fucking typical of a "freedom lovin'" fundie. "Sheldon" never said that marriage was a requirement like you state in your straw man argument. He said that not getting married before graduation was "unthinkable," not "forbidden."

      You went to Hyles Anderson? Thanks for re-affirming the fact that the school is an un-accreditted fucking joke! For one, your reading comprehension needs work.

  8. With these mega-church pastors, Christianity is clearly a business, with endless focus on new customers, cross-selling current customers, and the retention of current customers. Some people go into engineering, or accounting, or medicine, or the military, and these pastors go into the business of Christianity. But unlike most businesses, evangelical Christianity has a built-in market, in which the customers come to it - not vice versa. (Kind of like selling plywood when a hurricane is approaching...) But if one has a big ego (and no other skills), evangelical preaching is surely an an attractive career option. In Summary: we should not be surprised when these Pastors are found to be unsavory characters. The nature of the business seems to attract less than nice people.

  9. Hmmm... As a Hyles grad (sadly), I couldn't agree more with this blogger. The cult like atmosphere and emphasis on non-Biblical standards not only creates an objectifying atmosphere for women, but also is a breeding ground for people to focus on outward conformity without inner reform. I am so glad that I have gotten out of this movement and healed my relationship with God.

  10. Hyles Anderson is an example of what I call Bapto-Fascism. Nothing more than a cult that brainwashes Men to beat their wives and children and Wives and Children to submit graciously to their husbands and fathers. An antiquated way of behaving which should have ended.

  11. New Anonymous Writer No. 1 (For the sake of Clarity):

    I really enjoyed reading this blog post and the comments that followed. I was raised in an IFB church (not of the same strand of Hyles-Anderson churches, although my parents previously attended Hyles-Anderson churches and had just transitioned out of them after determining they were a cult shortly before I was born). I would say I was raised on the tail end of the hyper-conservative IFB movement, as the church I was raised in slowly faded out of its conservative ways and transitioned into becoming a more gospel-focused (not standards) church.

    I think one of the saddest parts about this movement (previously referred to by some commenters here) is the focus on outward appearance and complete neglect for inner transformation. Being "saved" almost puts one into an elitist club, rather than bringing about an acknowledgement of one's complete and utter need for the grace of Christ. I have witnessed many friends and family fall away or turn away from Christianity because of this movement. Paul spoke heavily of the focus on standards throughout the N.T. Those that continued to conform to Jewish legalism or expected Gentile believers to do so were a frequent audience of Paul's. See here in Colossians 2:20-23:

    "Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."

    Another sad aspect of this movement was the disassociation with other Christians and nonChristians alike. How much more UN Christian could one possibly be? The N.T. is filled with admonitions to encourage other believers and unbelievers. Note just one here: Galatians 6:10 "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."

    Is it not striking that Christ's final prayer in the garden before His death (often called the High Priestly Prayer) displays His great longing to see all believers dwell together in unity so that others may see that love and want to have it? How sad that so many believers have neglected this all important mission and have instead turned aside to foolish bantering about standards and unimportant matters of the flesh. I long to see Christian brothers and sisters dwelling together in such harmony.

    John 17:20-23 "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."

    Thank you again for this blog post. I pray that all those harmed by this strand of Christianity would find that God is always waiting and that He too longs to see Christians living together in love as they love each other and their neigbours! Blessings to all!


No spam, proselytizing, or personal attacks, such comments will never see the light of day around here.

Disagreeing with me is fine (I encourage it), but have some decency when writing your comment