Sunday, November 4, 2012

Part 2: Hezpibah House Abuse, Plus Response From Ron Williams and The IFB


(Authors note, for part one in this two part series on Hezipbah House, click here, for more information about the IFB movement that pastor Ron Williams, its founder was a part of, check out my page, Exposing the IFB)


Ron Williams also had an extremely low view of women in general (to say the least), here's a few statements from the Christian anti-cult/anti-fundamentalism blog, Under Much Grace about his indoctrination and psychological abuse of the girls:

His views of women/girls who had been molested or raped:


"Girls who have been molested have an inherent sexual character that entices men, and Ron Williams believes that the Old Testament references to the “strange woman” applies to all women who are violated sexually. They are responsible and culpable for enticing good men to sexually abuse them – the first cause in the sin. Once they are violated and their purity gone, they have very limited opportunities for service, and they become something less than the rest of the human race. Ron Williams treated them that way and programmed these young women at Hephzibah House to believe that they were the dregs of humanity, deserving of abuse."
"Williams showed great disdain for these young women. He openly told the girls in residence at HH that when the book of James talked about man's works done without faith as filthy rags, this was also a reference to God's great disdain for soiled menstrual rags. According to Williams, there was nothing more disgusting to God than a woman's menstrual cycle. Women who were holy and acceptable to God were supposed to marry young and spend most of their years without menstrual periods through pregnancy and nursing to suppress the menstrual cycle so that God would find them of value"

That's right, he believed that if a woman had been raped either as an adult or child, or molested, that it was a character defect that caused it. Though many in the IFB movement may not say this publicly, I believe that this is their belief as well, seeing as how they view women in such a negative light, almost as property, not as human beings. Women are not allowed to work outside the home once married (exceptions are for family run businesses, and ministry in the church), and birth control is not an option.

This view within the IFB that female victims of sexual abuse deserve what happened to them is best reflected in the actions of New Hampshire IFB pastor Chuck Phelps. He forced a 16 year old church member to apologize for being raped by a church deacon, then shuffled her off to Colorado to quietly have the baby that was the product of the rape. Instead of being rejected by the IFB for this atrocity, he was hired onto the board of Bob Jones University, an IFB college.



Starvation was also common at the house, as well as the girls sometimes being forced to eat dog food:

"Williams tended his flock of throw away girls which brought in a great deal of wealth for him. He received donations of food which he kept for his family and fed girls soup made of dog food. The girls were required to inventory and dust the stored food while they dropped in weight, having to hold themselves up by their hands so that they wouldn't fall into the commode. Churches sent their money to Williams to care for these girls. Women who volunteered at the home who were not “Strange Women” were not treated much better than the girls themselves and did what they could to survive the conditions there."

Forced labor was also used, with no regard as to the health or safety of the girls:

Here's one account, from the survivor blog Hephizbah Girls (a different blog from the Former Hezpizbah Girls site I linked to earlier). This was written by a survivor named Connie, this was during a project where the girls had to till by hand, a field fertilized with human waste:

"I noticed Connie was breathing funny.  My brother had been asthmatic and I recognized the sound of a wheeze.  I asked her about it and in bits and pieces she told me how she was asthmatic and had an inhaler when she arrived at Hephzibah house.  Her inhalers had all been confiscated and she had had a couple severe attacks when she first arrived. She told me how she had been on her knees  begging and pleading for her inhaler.  She  described her fear and panic as she struggled for each breathe,  each inhalation clamping her lungs down tighter and tighter.  Certain she was going to die,  she stopped fighting and held her head in her hands,  willing herself to relax.  Little by little as her jagged gasps slowed and she sucked in the precious air she became aware of the staff saying she was just being dramatic and if she had enough breath to  ask for her inhaler she did not need it.  I was speechless.  What if she had died??  What if they had waited too long?? " 
They refused to get an inhaler for a girl having an asthma attack, and denied that she was even having an attack in the first place.

Unfortunately, Hezpibah House is still operating to this day, despite the credible accusations, their website is still in operation, copyright current as of 2012, where they describe the house as a "private Christian boarding school for teenage girls". Here's a statement that takes a lot of nerve to make, after reading about the abuse they inflicted: "Hephzibah House promotes character development and a work ethic. The students are involved in daily exercises as well as times of recreation and relaxation."

They are almost trying to make it sound like a spa or elite private school for young girls, despite the details of the abuse even making it onto a CNN report. Ron Williams, the pastor, as expected is trying to deny the allegations entirely, and he has even gotten the support of an Indiana state representative, whom he says "has suffered abuse from the local paper and on the web for supporting us". Read his full statements of denial, here and here (PDF links)

He has also found support from fellow IFB ministers and from IFB bloggers. An Ohio church even invited him to speak at an anniversary celebration, which it's no surprise that the pastor, who defends him from what he considers to be attacks from a vocal minority, is a graduate of Bob Jones University. An IFB blogger named Tim Dunkin even wrote a disgusting rebuttal to the abuse accusations made against Ron Williams and Hezpibah House.

Denial, and attack the innocent, it's the game that the IFB as a whole, throughout the denomination has been playing for years, all the while abuse of children continues, while leaders turn a blind eye to it, as in the case of A.V Bollinger, a First Baptist Hammond deacon who was honored by the church with a standing ovation for his work with bus ministry after his felony conviction for molesting young boys. The IFB has repeatedly made it clear that abuse of children and teens by clergymen is perfectly OK by them, so long as they put on all the appearances of a holy life, and agree with all the multitude of other rules that they set down for the members. 

According to the IFB, if a minister lives to their other standards, it doesn't matter if he rapes/molests, beats, tortures, starves and physiologically abuses children, it's sickening, this organization needs to exposed, today, and now. Help spread the word about this dangerous group. Share this on social media, by e-mail, whatever it takes to get the word out about the horrendous acts of this dangerous organization.



9 comments:

  1. This is so hard to read. I got to the middle of it and I'm so angry, frustrated and sorry mainly for those women, but also for anyone that ever had any contact with scum like that.
    Thanks for exposing them Sheldon, re-post this on G+ because it needs to be known.
    Yuck! "God" has just almost made me hate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand the feeling. It has become easier for me to write this, but this is what I mean when I used to say that it was draining.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for writing this article Sheldon, though it brings back some horrific memories...Also, Thank you for believing in us.

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    1. Are you a Hezipbah survivor? If so, if it's not too painful, I would like to hear your story. My e-mail address is ramblingsofsheldon@gmail.com

      I will not publish anything unless you tell me to.

      Delete
  3. I have been trying to formulate a response that will not offend you, or your readers. Sir, the moment I read your response to me, I started laughing... and not a normal laugh, but that sort of maniacal laughter that makes you pause out of concern for your own mental well-being. Yes, I was a student at Hephzibah House, and unfortunately, no I will not be able to tell you my story. However, my story is already out there. In fact, you can find a short account of my stay on the main page under survivor stories.

    Truth is, I spoke out for many years, perpetually beating my hands bloody against the closed doors of the IFB elite, those old men in their ivory towers that exist far above the filth of their own making. I burned myself out trying to make them listen, to make them see the children they threw out like trash. I have nothing left, except these few quick comments I leave on the occasional blog. I wish things were different. But it is, what it is. I will never be able to talk in any detail about what happened to me again. Whatever grace that lent that strength to me is long gone. However, like the women who came before me, young women have come after me who are willing and desperate to tell the world what happened. Just send an email on our main site and you will be put in touch with women who are willing to talk.

    Amy Bruce Hobby
    Hephzibah House Survivor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your response, Amy.

      I'll be looking up the survivor blogs (I have read some before), and looking for your name.

      I understand what you mean, my sister didn't go through any of trauma you went through, but she did escape from the IFB about 3 years ago. My heart goes out to you.

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  4. If these things happened, they are horrible and justice should be meted out. If not by worldly authorities, then by God someday. But you're being unfair by labeling ALL Independent Fundamental Baptists as evil. That's following along in the footsteps of others before that said "All Jews are subhuman" or "All women are unable to do xxx" or "All Blacks are..." or any other label that was given to an entire group because of one bad apple. Please don't do this.

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    1. True. The whole idea of IFB churches is that they are independent, they don't answer to a higher denominational system of governance, so accountability for leadership outside of the local church is very limited. Yes, some are absolutely very cultish and abusive, others are less so. I'm not a big fan of them anyway - mostly because of doctrinal issues I have and the tendency towards legalism - but it would still be unfair to treat IFB churches, much less individual adherents - as a completely homogenous group of evil doers. That kind of stereotyping is wrong, no matter who it's directed towards.

      Delete
  5. I have to believe, for my own sanity, that the church I grew up in didn't know about these things Our church supported this place, prayed for them every week, sent them money and support. I had a bad feeling about the place even as a teen but had no evidence beyond my own feelings.(I left there when I was 20, almost 2 decades ago now) It just sickens me to read these stories and even though I'm an atheist now I have to apologize wholeheartedly to the girls who suffered through this and am truly sorry for any part I may have played (financially or otherwise) in this.

    ReplyDelete

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