Many a man's reputation would not know his character if they met on the street. -Elbert Hubbard
This week, we will be focusing on the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches and will use the 20/20 special on sexual and child abuse within that “family of churches.” Today we will look at an incident of molestation. Lord willing, tomorrow, the IFB and child abuse will take center stage. On Thursday, we will define the distinctive beliefs of the IFB as seen through the eyes of their leaders and on Friday we will contemplate Holy Week with a special video. Next week, we will attempt to define the differences between fundamentalism and evangelicalism. That one should get the juices flowing!
I, for one, have paid little attention to this group of churches. There is an IFB private school in my area. One young man allegedly got punished for buying a country western CD. During an evangelistic outreach, a little girl, from outside the school, came to the event dressed in pants. She was thrown off of the premises because girls are not allowed to wear pants in IFB schools, even if they are not IFB.
So, I wrote them off as being to the right of Doug Philips and not worthy of my time and energy. However, I believe I may have been mistaken. They may not be all that different than the SBC and SGM in some of their approaches to the faith.
I believe that there is a new legalism that is on the rise within the evangelical scene; particularly amongst the group that TWW calls the Calvinistas. Please visit TWW definitons for the meaning of this term. In some of these circles, in order to be accepted as a “real” Christian, one must toe the line in matters relating to the age of the earth, the exact method of Jesus’ return, a certain number of points of Calvinism, etc. And, if you don’t, be prepared to have your faith questioned. As one elder, attempting to be condescending to my husband, said “I don’t question your salvation but…” Blech!
After I watched the 20/20 special, I realized that I knew precious little about this group of supposedly autonomous churches (Where, oh where, have I heard this before? Maybe SGM and SBC?) About a year ago, I read a book called Schizophrenic Christianity by Jeri Masi which was so startling that I could scarcely believe it’s contents. However, after the 20/20 show and further reading, I began to see that this book might be shining a light into some very, very dark and evil corners.
For purposes of ease, I will refer to this grouping of churches with the acronym IFB. However, there is a group, within this faction, that wants to be known as KJVIFB. Now, most of readers will understand that, in general, many in the IFB insists that the King James Version of the Bible is the only true Bible because, as we all know, Jesus spoke the King’s English. In some respects, they are not unlike the Calvinistas who insist on the ESV, preferably one signed by John Piper. As a side note, I believe in the JAAVSLAYARI version. (Just About Any Version So Long As You Actually Read It). ‘Nuff said.
Last year I read Schizophrenic Christianity: How Christian Fundamentalism Attracts and Protects Sociopaths, Abusive Pastors, and Child Molesters by Jeri Massi. LINK to Amazon.
I was dumbfounded at the reported number of pastors accused and convicted of child molestation. What is shocking is that many of these men continue to be involved in positions of leadership. The pastors, seen as specially anointed, are shielded from blame. Instead, the victim, who is under the age of consent, is usually censured for pursuing justice and there is a concerted effort to isolate and shun the victim of abuse.
The book also discusses the extreme patriarchal views that are taught in the IFB. Men are seen as the head of the church and family while women take a distant, secondary role. In this system, when there is a man and a woman at odds, the male “head” gets protected while the women are thrown to the wolves.
The following quote from the above link at Amazon tells the story. (Pastors) “…hold themselves above accountability by merging into a system that refuses to police itself or institute rules of behavior for its clergy.”
What bothers me about that quote is that it could have been written about the SBC as well. The SBC refuses to police itself, claiming that each church is autonomous. The SBC also duplicitously claims that it cannot create a database of pastoral offenders because of said independence. However, the SBC threw a church out of the convention that had a woman as a pastor. So, according to SBCspeak, having a woman as a pastor is far, far more dangerous than having a pedophile as pastor. To have a woman as pastor is soooooo evil, it is worth breaking the "autonomy" of each church in order to save the souls in the SBC. Shame on the SBC and its leaders. No wonder the membership of the SBC is in decline. Hypocrisy speaks loud and clear and there are consequences to such actions.
There is a rumor that an effort may be under way by some independent persons to start such a database. It would be rather amusing if an “autonomous” group of individuals called an “autonomous” group of churches into account!
So, as self-assured members of the SBC and SGM smugly view the following 20/20 video, they should first examine their own “crowd.” They are absolutely no different in their actions than the IFB.
In this video, keep in mind the following distinctives as elucidated by Masi in her book.
- Blame the victim.
- Isolate and shun the victim
- Do not define rules of behavior for the clergy.
- Men are protected and elevated
- Women are denigrated and bear the brunt of the blame
- There is a schizophrenic application of Scriptural beliefs (abortion,criminal activity)
Finally, isn’t it sad when the secular media cares more for justice than supposed, “law abiding” Christians?
Special kudos to 20/20 for its investigation. This segment is called: Secret Pregnancy, Forced Confession?
Lydia's Corner: Joshua 15:1-63 Luke 18:18-43 Psalm 86:1-17 Proverbs 13:9-10