"He [Lester Roloff] parlayed his traveling tent revival into a multimillion-dollar enterprise by founding the reformatories he called the Roloff Homes and asking his radio listeners for “love gifts” to sustain them."
Remember the Christian Alamo (Texas Monthly)
Lester Roloff, a prominent leader in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement (IFB), once said, "Whether you like it or don't like it, if you live rotten, you are going to have some rotten works follow you." No doubt, Roloff never would have seen himself and the 'homes' he established as rotten and neither would the 'true believers' in the IFB. However, we believe history can be an excellent judge and from our vantage point, the fruit of Lester Roloff's ministry is rotten to the core.
In this post we are going to focus on just one of the homes Roloff established –the Rebekah Home for Girls. For those of you who are not familiar with it, here is how one IFB church bragged about this 'home' for girls.
The REBEKAH HOME FOR GIRLS, located in Corpus Christi, Texas, is our largest home. We have had fifteen hundred girls in about seven years and the three dormitories have a capacity of about three hundred beds. It is located on 440 acres of land. This has been the most miraculous work we have ever seen and has been fought and despised by the devil. I have never seen such miracles in all of my ministry.
Miraculous work? If it was so miraculous, why did it close in 2001? Some in the IFB might say — because it "has been fought and despised by the devil?" Well, we'll see about that…
The Rebekah Home for Girls was established by Lester Roloff back in 1968 in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was the very first Roloff home for girls, and its aim was to help young girls who were addicted to drugs, banished from their homes, involved in prostitution, serving time in jail, or in need of refuge. It sounded like a noble undertaking, especially to those in the IFB who are known for having a low view of the female gender.
In 1967 Roloff established an independent Baptist church in Corpus Christi called Peoples Baptist Church. In his sermons he railed against communism, television, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gluttony, and psychology. Not only that, he was a King James Version Only kinda preacher. In addition to his ministerial duties, Roloff estblished quite a speaking circuit and used his airplane to maneuver around the country. It appears that this is what really motivated Roloff. According to an article Remember the Christian Alamo in the Texas Monthly:
He [Roloff] parlayed his traveling tent revival into a multimillion-dollar enterprise by founding the reformatories [emphasis mine] he called the Roloff Homes and asking his radio listeners for “love gifts” to sustain them. The adult homes—the City of Refuge, the Lighthouse, and the Jubilee Home for Ladies—ministered to alcoholics, drug addicts, and petty criminals who straightened their lives out with Scripture, hard work, and clean living. The Anchor Home ministered to boys, and the Bethesda Home to pregnant teenage girls. But his greatest success was with the Rebekah Home for Girls, which he founded in 1967. The Rebekah Home took in fallen girls from “jail houses, broken homes, hippie hives, and dope dives” who were “walking through the wilderness of sin,” he told his radio listeners. Roloff remade these “terminal cases” into Scripture-quoting, gospel-singing believers. Girls who had been saved harmonized along with his Honeybee Quartet at revivals and witnessed to the power of the Lord on his radio show. He showed off his Rebekah girls at every turn, and he was amply rewarded: Each day, packages arrived at Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises laden with checks, cash, jewelry, the family silver—whatever the faithful could provide [emphasis mine].
Upon reading this portion of that article, it is my opinion that what was truly going on at the Rebekah Home for Girls and the other Roloff homes was a form of exploitation. Not only did Lester Roloff misuse the residents of these so-called 'homes' for financial gain, but he traveled around the country with the Honeybees (a singing group) and coerced IFBers to support his growing enterprise.
So what was life like at the Rebekah Home for Girls? According to an eye-opening article in Mother Jones,
Roloff's wards were subjected to days in locked isolation rooms where his sermons played in an endless loop. They also endured exhaustive corporal punishment. "Better a pink bottom than a black soul," [emphasis mine] he famously declared at a 1973 court hearing after he was prosecuted by the state of Texas on behalf of 16 Rebekah girls. (The attorney general responded that he was more concerned with bottoms "that were blue, black, and bloody.")
Another source lists the behaviors that would result in demerits at the Rebekah Home for Girls, specificaly:
talking about "worldly" things (such as television shows, secular literature, or old friends)
singing songs other than gospel songs
looking at boys in church
failing to snitch on other sinners
being too close to another girl (called the "Six Inch Rule")
falling asleep at any point during the day
if you were a "new girl" (arriving within the past 30 days), you could not make Eye Contact with another "new girl"
(before they removed the doors from the bedrooms) closing your door before "Lights Out"
talking after lights out
not finishing food
forgetting to wear a slip (which many girls are not accustomed to)
The above source also described the home's living conditions and rules of communication:
In the facility there were no televisions, no radios, no magazines. Only approved books were to be read. The approved movies that were watched in the home consisted of Little House on the Prairie and videos with preachers shouting about the penalty of sinful living, music, and thoughts. The bible was enforced every moment of every day. Anywhere from (approx.) 30-60 bible verses were recited aloud and as a group at least once a day. Bible verses were recited before meals, before songs practiced and performed for church performances (the girls performed every Sunday for the People's Baptist Church and a small group toured at different times throughout the year), and sometimes during disciplinary action.
Speaking of anything worldly was forbidden, as was singing worldly songs.
Meeting eyes with boys in church was barred.
Letters going both in and out of the home were read first by the staff and censored…
Phone calls, which could be placed only to immediate family members, were monitored. If any negativity concerning the home was brought up, the call would be disconnected immediately.
No conversations were private, since staff listened in on the intercoms that were installed in each bedroom. The staff could listen to each room separately. They could also talk through the intercoms into the rooms of any girls they believed to be talking.
And, of course, there were the consequences for disobeying at the Rebekah School for Girls: (link)
Licks: Being spanked with a wood paddle. Other times, whatever was handy was used. (i.e. the rod from a set of blinds)
Confinement: Spending weeks hanging her head without speaking or making eye contact with anyone. This punishment was called "red shirt" or "discipline". The former name being due to the fact that these "deviant" girls were given only red and white checkered shirts to wear. They were only allowed to wear any other shirt when they went to bed. They were also made to stand with their nose to the wall and their arms at their sides all day. A 10 minute break allowed if they complied to the Helper's satisfaction. Many times the Helper would forget to give them a break. In this instance, the Red Shirts just had to remain silent and hope for a break to be given. Or, the Red Shirt could take a demerit (or three) for raising their hand to remind the helper or taking their nose off the wall– no matter what, the Red Shirt will be in trouble for the Helper's oversight. More often than not, the Helper was sitting at a desk with nothing better to do than critique them.
Sitting on the wall: Being required sitting (suspended above the floor, as if there was a chair beneath them) with the back against a wall and without the support of a chair, arms outstretched with the palms flat against the wall. Helpers would come around to each girl and place a book on their thighs, if the book slipped off, they would push the girl's hips down. If they failed twice, they might have to start over.
Kneeling: Being ordered to kneel, while either have two bibles resting on each outstretched palm or with pencils wedged between the legs.
The lockup: (THIS WAS NEVR USED WHILE THE MCNAMARAS WERE OVER REBEKAH, THE ROOM HAD BEEN MADE INTO A REGULAR DORM ROOM. IT WAS OBVIOUS WHICH ROOM HAD BEEN THE LOCKUP ROOM, THOUGH; THERE WAS A CAGE OVER THE INTERCOM AND THE WALLS WERE SOME SORT OF METAL WITH WALL PAPER OVER THEM. THE ROOM WAS SOMEWHAT UNSETTLING TO BE IN, EVEN IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW IT'S HISTORY) An isolation room used as solitary confinement. During the stay in the lockup the intercom piped in hourlong prayers from the pastor (Lester Roloff or Wiley B. Cameron) that would play in loops 24 hours a day. The detained girl could use a toilet but there was no possibility to wash or bathe. Girls have told of terrible smelling survivors of the lockup when they were released after a month of isolation.
Calesthenics:* Girls would do laps (1 lap run + 1 lap walk = 1 lap) for first 5 demerits, and then 100 of chosen exercise for every demerit after that up to 10. "cherry pickers", "calf lifts", "jumping jacks", "squats", "arm circles", "lunges", "leg lifts", "kills" (10 slow "calf lifts", 10 fast "calf lifts", jumping 10 times, 10 "scissor jumps", 10 half jumping jacks, 10 whole jumping jacks, and then going back through the exercises finishing with the 10 slow "calf lifts"= 1 Kill= 1 demerit worked off) etc. No matter how hot it was, you would do the exercise outside. When it would sleet or was below freezing, they would let the girls do their exercises either on the enclosed patio or inside. As mentioned, after 10 demerits, it was one lick for every 2 demerits. If you had 20+ demerits, your licks would be transferred to the next day. If you received demerits the next day and you ended up with 20+ again (that day's demerits PLUS the rollovers), they would continue to roll over until Sunday. Being the day of rest, you didn't have to work off demerits. You attended church twice a day and rested. Demerits started at 0 on Monday, unless you were on someone's bad side. Although it may seem like it would be easy to avoid getting to that point, it wasn't. Helpers were rewarded for giving out the most demerits. Not with an award, but Bro. Mac would verbalize his admiration for their righteousness or begin to give them extra privileges or leniencies.
The Wiki article on Lester Roloff provides an overview of what happened to the Rebekah Home for Girls from 1973 until its closing in 2001. (see below)
Some of the homes were temporarily closed in 1973 because Roloff refused on church-state issues to license the home through the state government. The institutions re-opened in 1974 after Roloff successfully appealed to the Texas Supreme Court which ruled in Roloff's favor that it was unconstitutional to close the homes down. At one point, Roloff transferred ownership of the homes from his evangelistic corporation to his church, thus compelling the state to sue the "new" owners (and restart the entire litigation) while he kept the homes running. The Attorney General refiled the case and secured an injunction that tried to shut down the ministry. In 1975, the state passed laws that required the licensing of youth homes. Roloff was arrested twice for refusing to comply with this law.
In 1979, in an incident known as the "Christian Alamo", Roloff urged churches and pastors across America who supported the Roloff ministry to come to Corpus Christi and form a human chain around the church to prevent the Texas Department of Human Resources from removing children from the homes. Legal battles with the State of Texas continued, and the homes were closed and re-opened. The Texas homes were closed again in 2001.
If you want a detailed history of the Rebecca Home for Girls, I highly recommend Remember the Christian Alamo, which appeared in the Texas Monthly back in December 2001. It provides a lengthy explanation of how local officials received complaints about the Rebekah Home for Girls and how Lester Roloff and his successors were able to use their political connections and the separation of church and state to their advantage. One of our TWW rules is that we avoid political discussions; however, I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are some highly disturbing aspects to this story involving some well-known political figures. 🙁
So why are we discussing Lester Roloff and his 'homes' in the wake of his death and their demise? Remember what George Santayana said:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
We are concerned that there may be other homes like the Rebekah Home for Girls still operating without any oversight whatsoever, and we have to ask WHY? Who is funding them and why are kids being sent there?
Next week we will be taking a look at other abusive 'homes' that operate under the auspices of helping troubled teens. If you know of any 'hones' you believe we should discuss, please contact me at email@example.com
Lydia's Corner: Leviticus 16:29-18:30 Mark 7:24-8:10 Psalm 41:1-13 Proverbs 10:15-16
Two comments deleted per requests.
I was only at the beginning of the article when I posted my ironic advertisement, but now that I’ve read it all I think this subject matter might be a bit too heavy for that kind of dumb levity. The previous installments about this home were bad, but the details here are so deeply disturbing…I do apologize for hitting the wrong tone. If The Guy or one of the Deebs wouldn’t mind, it might be best to delete it.
Where to start? The Rebekah ‘home’ sounds like a gulag. What on earth goes through people’s minds? I’m also incensed that the beautiful name Rebekah/Rebecca is attached to this, I joke about my house & lodgers being the Beakerj Home for Wayward Girls, & there’s this utter monstrosity… It’s the whole nouthetic idea again isn’t it? Human emotions & needs are sinful, the will is all that counts & breaking yours so you obey is actually ‘love’. Those poor girls, I want to give them all a big cuddle.
After further review, you may repost my previous comment if you can. If not, please advise and I will repost something along the same lines. I have checked some information and found that my post was not inaccurate!
Those were the rules? Anybody want to guess how many of the rules I broke-habitually. I did not bite my nails, but other than that…
I would never have survived the torture techniques they used. This is so bad I don’t even know what to say. Except maybe ‘good for Texas’ to pursue it. And good for the Deebs for taking up the cause.
The whole Biblical discipline idea of many IFBers is so NOT Biblical. Where in the the Bible are we allowed to send our troubled kids off to a “pastor” who will discipline them for us?
While the list of punishable offenses is full of incredibly ridiculous things, the one that triggered me was “direct disobedience”. It is used in many IFB circles as a catch-all. If you didn’t break a rule, but you gave them “a look” or any other subjective thing, or they just don’t like you, they will pull out “direct disobedience” and slap it on you.
Forgive me if I share it with you for context: This happened to me and many that I knew at Bob Jones University. I attended the school in the 1980’s Once, I got caught saying “hello” to two girls in the Allumni bldg. hall during class time. While fraternization was prohibited during class hours (to avoid distraction) a simple greeting was always allowed and encouraged. But I was sent to the dean of students office with the girls and the guy who was walking with me. when we explained that we’d only said “hello,” they had no recourse but to slap us with 10 demerits for “direct disobedience”. I would have respected them had they said, “this was just a misunderstanding, no punishment.” But in a place like BJU, authority is from God, therefore may never appear weak or mistaken.
I certainly hope they have changed since then, but with the Grace report,I’m not holding my breath.
Back to Lester Roloff; when he came to preach at our IFBC in my youth, he wore an old suit, and appeared to be barely scraping by, asking for gifts. Now, I am reading that he got tons of money and gifts. I don’t even want to believe it. I really don’t. I am thinking maybe he got some direct disobedience demerits from God for bearing false witness?
Eric S wrote:
Do you remember if he swooped in on his airplane? I wonder how many preachers traveled like that back then.
” Good for Texas” …HA! As much as I love my state, there are some kooks in the State Legislature who wouldn’t want to offended those who are doing ” Jesus’s will” no matter how many people were hurt.
I don’t recall, but I do think he mentioned being a pilot. Ironically, Bob Jones III would have been the only other speaker who swooped in in his private plane back in the late ’80s or early ’90s to speak at our church. But I believe he has liquidated that asset recently due to lower enrollment and budget cuts….
It is still going on in “minds” just in other ways. Just last night I met with a woman who works with this population in her job and she is looking for resources to help them because they are falling through gov program cracks. She told me about hooking up with a local NAMB missionary who also works with this population who took her to one of the local mega (non SBC) non profit resources designed to help women in these situations.
Oh Boy. The friend I met with so furious after that meeting she could barely contain herself. The place she went was packed to the gills with every kind of product, food, furniture and nice clothes you could imagine. They said they are ready to help 30 such women but are now only have 7 in their program. My friend said they had enough there to help 200 women right now….today.
This woman said it no wonder there are only 7 they help because you would not believe what they require for these destitute women to be helped. You basically sign your life over to be micromanaged and you have to come INTO the program pristine clean with at least a completed GED.
As my friend said, Jesus did not have such qualifications. So my friend gave them some scenerios of the women she was trying to help. One is working toward her GED and is homeless. Nope, does not quality for OUR program. She has to complete her GED to show us she is serious. Never mind all the barriers in her life even getting there! One has completed a GED, got public housing but cannot have one single pot or pan until she signed the pledge to allow us to view her bank statements, take a purity pledge (many of these women often live with men for a roof over their head) and joins a church where they track attendance.
This “non profit” is run by wealthy women in a wealthy area of town who feel very pious for their help. They have no problem getting donations and are not only awash in nice items to help these women but also donations from their wealthy friends. They have 6 paid employees to help 7 women currently in the program.
This is but one example of what goes through some “Christian” minds. Working the phones, we were able to put together a nice little start for this gal who is in public housing now with kitchen, bed, linens, self care products, food, etc, etc. But this “Christian” non profit would not even give over ONE box of items because she did not qualify for their “Christian help”. It boggles my mind!
Yep, I am still a bit steamed. You know, these down and out women do not fit their criteria for victims who need help. That is what it boils down to. So yes, this mindset is still out there. Can you imagine if they ran a home?
Sorry about that; must have been a brain glitch on my part.
Aspects of that same mindset but on the flip side are all over the place. A thing going around now is for some people to say they are going to quit giving their old stuff to Goodwill because some (formerly) middle class people are shopping there. Apparently they are not poor enough to be allowed to do that.
Re-Education, Comrade. Re-Education.
(Just out of curiosity, was this Room number 101?)
Which is the whole purpose of the exercise.
Doublepluswarmfeelies for the Church Ladies.
Lydia, I have run into the very same mindset repeatedly while trying to do ministry among those most in need. I have noted that ministries like this seem to attract people whose real goal is to make sure that the wrong people aren’t helped or that no one is “taking advantage” of the church, ministry or Jesus. I used to attempt to disciple people like this and help try to help them see the error of their thinking. Anymore I just send them on their way, their is no changing their thinking since they already know all they need to know. Most do just as the wealthy ladies you mentioned, go and set up some sort of ministry they can be in charge of that has tons of resources and makes very little impact for the Kingdom of God or His people. But hey they get to say they are in charge of something.
a common statement is that people like me want to give away everything and we wont have anything to do ministry with today. My response is that if we have a resource today that God gave us, and a person who comes needing that resource, God probably gave it to us to pass it on to the person today. If we end the day with resources we could have given away, we probably didn’t do all that God intended for us to do. God will give us tomorrow what we will need. Something about God giving us today our daily bread. Early in ministry I read George Meullers biography, I saw a two common themes in his life and ministry, First He had to depend solely on God, second, God always gave him what he needed when he needed it, usually not before and never late, always right on time.
The idea that I would get to set up criteria for those I would help without even understanding the situation the people find themselves in as if I alone know their intent, heart and future hmmmmmmm sounds like I am God.
All of this is soooo disturbing. I think Rebekah House scores on every single one of Robert Lifton’s criteria for thought reform.
There are similarities with other infamous cults, too…
That sounds just like the “inner circle” initiation for members of the Aum Shinrikyo. The prospective “elite member” would get locked in a cell, and forced to listen to Nutbar Asahara’s mantras playing 24/7. It’s fresh in my mind because yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the cult’s sarin gas attack on Tokyo’s subway system. Their history and methods were discussed heavily on TV last night.
And that’s just like the Rehabilitation Project Force — the reeducation camp of Yet Another Spiritually Abusive Group. Except their “colour of shame” is black. And yes, it’s every bit as creepy as the name suggests.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Exactly, it’s all about them, not someone in need…that way they can “pat themselves on the back” while at their Bridge Club, or Sunday School or at the Country Club….
I hear you & your friend very clearly. Tell her I feel her pain. How dare they put so many barriers in the way of caring for the needy. How many of those women would respond, by sorting some things out or giving Christianity a real go, to the gift of these things freely given, with no strings? Probably a d@mn sight more than those who've been vetted by the purity police.
Some of that old stuff may be very valuable. A man bought a $5.99 watch at a Phoenix Goodwill and sold it for $35,000! Here’s the link: http://www.hodinkee.com/blog/found-vintage-lecoultre-deep-sea-alarm-worth-over-35000-for-599-at-phoenix-goodwill
“a common statement is that people like me want to give away everything and we wont have anything to do ministry with today. My response is that if we have a resource today that God gave us, and a person who comes needing that resource, God probably gave it to us to pass it on to the person today.”
something about that story with Elijah and the widow who only had a little oil and flour. she made bread with it and gave it to Elijah. In giving away what she had, she always had the oil and flour she needed.
“But this “Christian” non profit would not even give over ONE box of items because she did not qualify for their “Christian help”.”
more evidence that Christians are the silliest people on earth. kindness and compassion abound in those who are expressly not Christian.
Don’t lose heart. The woman I was working with who was so outraged at the “Christian women” running that non profit…..is a Christian. She was looking for ready resources for some of her clients and is becoming more and more convinced that if they have “Christian” in their name as help, to steer clear. But she is a Christian who is nothing like these other Christians. So what do we do with that?
I read the most incredible comment over at nakedpastor I would like to share part of it here because I think it helps us discern this issue:
” When I read that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world’, then I lean towards studying how Jesus reconciled during his earthly life: he spoke his mind, he listened, he showed great respect towards those that sought him, he showed no respect towards those that sought to make profit their conscience, and no respect to those that abused spiritual position or trust.”
The entire comment was excellent but that part just resonated with me. How many Lester Roloff’s and other poseurs could operate if people really understood how Jesus Christ was actually reconciling things?
Mitch, I loved your comment and the compassion it represents. I just want to quibble with one thing. This idea that God provides what is needed at just the right time. Yes, that CAN happen but sadly often it does not. Then we can fall into the trap of “are you praying enough, do you have enough faith, etc”. Then people end up with some feeling that God does not like them as much as He liked George Mueller or something like that.
But that is not really how it was ever supposed to work even after what some term the fall and even after the cross/resurrection.
If believers are living as “resurrection people” (as opposed to cross people which seems to be the norm) they are the ones who work to fill the needs. I often think of Paul and how he was always mentioning the Jerusalem Body and asking for money to help them. It was not to pay for buildings or pay church workers or pastor salaries or even to pay for Paul’s journey’s. It was simply to help them because they needed help.
In fact, as I have thought about this over the years I have come to the conclusion that Christians should be identified as people who have worked tirelessly for abolition, eradicating poverty, curing diseases, education, etc.And some have. But this identification has not really defined us as a whole, has it? We should be working toward and over joyed to see people become independent, healthy and wise going on to help others.
We seem to be known more for telling other people how to live, doctrinal positions and fighting a never ending culture war. It is almost as if churches want people to be dependent and immature. Same with government. We are surrounded by wannabe oligarchs.
I distinctly remember Mr. Self righteous on the radio and his yes men in the background amening every word he said. Looks like things weren’t exactly as he would have us believed back then. Too bad it took so long to see that he was running his own concentration type camp in the name of the Lord. We all should have seen it.
No quibbling there. I often wonder to myself how much is not being done that God would like done simply because of the disobedience of His people. I agree we His people should lead the way in all of those areas and yet it seems that sometimes we must be forced to do what we should do voluntarily.
This is one of the best comments I think I have ever read Lydia.
” Good for Texas” …HA! As much as I love my state, there are some kooks in the State Legislature who wouldn’t want to offended those who are doing ” Jesus’s will” no matter how many people were hurt.
K.D. I suspect you’re correct, at least somewhat, regarding kooks in the Texas lege. I’m truly curious who you would put in this category? I’ll sign off as “curious in DFW!”
I’ve lived in TX for 11 years. I love this state, however, I’ve come to the conclusion finally that it has harbored some serious wackos, many who have claimed to be doing the Lord’s work.
“It is almost as if churches want people to be dependent and immature”
well, it does create and sustain jobs for the professional Christians. and keeps the underlings easier to manage & control (being in a stupor of sorts).
but this is old news.
“Don’t lose heart….”
thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.
I do lose heart, though — the only difference I observe between those are ‘christians’ and those who are of other religions or no religion is the latter are kinder, free-er, more generous, more sincere.
and have more free time on Sunday mornings to go on bike rides and walks in the beautiful morning air.
truly makes me wonder… what’s the big deal?! I’ve been sold a false bill of goods.
(the professionals using God to gain enough market share to sustain their jobs, peddling their heavy ‘methodology’ about God and how to apply God, & manipulating people into paying dearly for it)
Not only in the lege, but also in the higher offices; and being a kook did not keep a former gov from being elected to higher office by the 55.55% vote of a very small constituency with a great deal of power. And he had every chance as gov to squash the Roloff legacy toward the end, and did not.
Many churches today do tend to look like either a jobs program for seminary grads or an empire building scheme.
Elastigirl, were you spying on us yesterday ? For that is EXACTLY what my husband and I did- ride bikes by the ocean. We did have a marvelous time…….and yes on Sunday! Enjoying Gods great world and thanking Him for it.
Like Lydia said do not lose heart but enjoy those Sundays wherever the Spirit leads- listen to your own heart and soul. He will lead you.
I know you do not know me for I don’t comment often but just wanted to give you a 🙂 and encouraging word.
I wonder if the MenaGAWD on the staff forced the Urges in their Areas upon the inmates. That’s always been a Benefit of Animate Property and it’s easy for the Godly to rationalize it as “They’re just Whores anyway.”
But don’t forget, taking meds for mental health shows a lack of faith, & what these kids REALLY need is good old fashioned discipline.
The present Lt. Governor, a long time state senator is pushing very hard for state vouchers for church schools. We pay for in many cases uncertified, in some cases un-degreed teachers to teach whatever to kids. Who knows what science, or economics or history or political science…and we taxpayers pay for it. Just because it is a church school, they should be able to teach as they see fit….and once again, we taxpayers pay for it…
( in Texas the Lt. Gov. is more powerful than the governor. He controls the legislation going through the Texas Senate.)
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My late mother was a shut-in for many years, & she received much joy & comfort from the videos made by Bill & Gloria Gaither; so many gospel musicians in them. In one, Bill introduced gospel great Jesse Dixon, who told of a tour he did to Israel, & the other folks “lost” him. When he re-appeared at their hotel, he was asked where he had been, & he said, “I’ve been to the Garden Tomb of Jesus Christ–and its EMPTY”!! When I read this, I immediately flashed back to the joy in his face as he recounted the story….
We sometimes need to remember to be Easter people, & not so much Good Friday people.
There’s a good book on this broader topic called “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. They came up with the interesting phrase The God-complex of the materially non-poor to describe the mindset of wealthy westerners going to the “Third” World to solve all their problems for them.
I must resist the urge to lambast in too much detail a ministry group I’ve never encountered myself, but what you describe, Lydia, is certainly something I’ve seen before. Comfortable people who believe their wealth is a direct result of their intrinsic virtue and deservingness, and that they are innately superior to the poor who must be to blame for their poverty. Naturally, they want to control and micro-manage the poor, whilst running away from any of the complex problems the poor must face. They are not helping the poor: they are helping themselves to the poor, taking for themselves the self-respect and dignity that rightly belongs to the poor.
Another aspect you describe, though, is one that I myself have been guilty of too. The ladies of the well-to-do “non-profit” apparently want tidy, easy-to-deal-with poor people through their doors. They don’t want to have to relate at a peer level with people unlike themselves, and they don’t want to have to tackle any real problems face-to-face. I also used to pray for “revival” in the cheap and lazy expectation that the Holy Spirit would thereby convert masses of different and complex people into anodyne middle-class clones so that the church would balloon in size without having to grow in love, patience or self-control. I am not proud of this.
This lack of respect for the poor is by no means limited to Christians; it occurs throughout western society. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that you cannot possibly help someone if you don’t first respect them.
Don’t think he was down with swooping and he was one of the first to have a private plane. He always dressed like he shopped at Goodwill, because he did. Radio station, private plane, and rehab centers for adults, led to a model used on children.
Many staff were previously residents of the adult programs. People unable to manage their own lives taught children a moral compass. How ironic!
What is McNamara’s name? WHY ALL CAPS?
Could it be Bill McNamara? Presently, he runs the show at New Beginnings Girls Academy (aka Rebekah Home) in LaRussell, MO. Upon learning a few years ago that there was ANOTHER NB (New Bethany/New Beginnings) many of us were horrified to learn from survivors of that place that McNamara ordered the girl to call him BROTHER MACK, just as Mack Ford ordered his underlings to do.
New Beginnings on ABC News in 2011:
Another place to investigate would be Hephzibah House. The main office (from what I remember) is located at 508 School Street in Winnona Lake, Indiana. Ron Williams runs that place. When I was there, it made Rebekah seem pretty mild.
@ Becky (cramer) Slattman:
Hephzibah has been written about here:
I’m sorry you spent time at this place. I hope you are well now and have been able to move on with your life. Feel free to add your story to the many voices that are speaking out. I pray yoirnvoices are heard and help to shut down these homes.
I was in the home from 85 to 86 and in some ways it saved me from running wild like i was but did i like it no..i did however meet some good friend who i still remain in touch with. It could of been ran better and in a different manner yes
I Just found this…. Really… Biggest mess of lies i’ve ever heard! I was there… Spent more time in lock-up then i care to… But, was my own doing… 6 inch rules, can’t talk to new girls.. lol… really.. Here is what i will tell you… My best friend from 40yrs ago is still my best friend… all that i am, all that i’ve become is as a result of Bro. Roloff and Rebekah… Without that home, i’d be dead now…
I spent time in the home in 1973 and 1974 sent there by my Christian grandmother. The Cameron’s were the house parents. I also traveled some with brother Roloff as did we all. We sang and praised God because he is who changed us into the respectable young women he created us to be. Brother Roloff was a wonderful Christian man that devoted his whole life into giving young people a chance to know the miracles of God. When reading the trash talk about Rebekah home remember to consider the source. What type of person are they, what kind of life are they living, and most importantly where will they be spending eternity?
@ Karen Helmer:
Just wondering when you were at Rebekah I had a friend there named Karen but lost contact when I went home. My room mate was bea burton and we sang in a duet quite frequently at the church services. Did you know Rik Newton?
I read the article and most of the comments as well and I do not believe all that is reported on this site. No one is perfect, however, The Roloff homes were not accurately portrayed in either report. For some reason a few “liberated” individuals do not really care about the troubled children in this nation. Government Licensure does not work to insure “safety”. Would Deb support “Big Brother” controlling all American operations for “emotionally” traumatic reasons? The slam on Brother Roloff was wrong. Have you ever seen a Judge drop the gavel with eyes of fire and jaw set on a first-degree murderer? Some of these kids had the same appearance of the murderer though not a murderer “yet” and “Brother” Roloff had the same eyes of fire and jaw set at times.
Very little is accurate as far as abuse is concerned. In days gone by my Dad would have been an abuser because he spanked me (we called it a beating), which turned my rebellion into obedience and respect for authority. The Word of God does teach Discipline and sometimes Parents need help! It is sad that some “kids” need Boot Camp style discipline but they do!
The analogy of the Rebecca girls being so sweet and cuddly that needs “love” and “understanding” is far from the truth. Girls can be worse than some men in some areas of harm and destruction.
The whole article lends itself to someone who has little concern for those who have gone astray due to a lack of discipline and / or someone who has rejected discipline and continue in rebellion.
It’s disheartening to read the comments.
I was in Rebekah in the late 1970s. If you have any compassion hold US in your hearts as well as asking questions about Roloff. I’m 49, I was 14 when I went to Rebekah and I don’t know that I will ever “get over it” as many people tell me I need to.
We were tortured and brainwashed under the Camerons. I can’t speak to any other time.
We were CHILDREN and most of us were abused at home and our parents just wanted us out of their sight. I was court ordered (you read that right) to Rebekah for being an incorrigible juvenile after being arrested for being an out-of-state juvenile a few times. Well, where was I supposed to go? My parents had kicked me out and changed their phone number and made it unlisted.
They beat the f*** out of us and while we were kneeling en mass if someone had to pee a trash can was brought to the hallway. We spent weeks or months in lockup, I personally spent months on confinement. Some of us were sexually abused, some physically, all emotionally. I was not a whore, drug addict, thief, prostitute BEFORE Rebekah, AFTER I was most of those things. I didn’t care any longer because I was a sinner and going to hell anyway, so why care?
One more thing to think about. Not one of us that I remember had our period the entire time we were in Rebekah. Not one. I’ve looked that up and could only find one reference and it was about women in concentration camps. Here’s the URL:
And the quote:
Most women in the camps ceased to menstruate. There was a general consensus among women survivors that chemical substances were added to the meager food rations to achieve this end, though doubtlessly the lack of food, excessive hard labor and the horror of surrounding circumstances might also have been causally responsible for collective amenorrhea. Thus, the camp experience had an unparalleled impact on the physicality of its female victims. Survival meant the erasure of many of the physical connections with one’s own sense of female sense. The female body was deliberately obscured through the capillaries of refined social and sexual obliteration.
They f***ing destroyed us in Rebekah. Have some respect for us, please.
I would just like to add that I was not a troubled child. I was an unwanted/unloved child. I am now a troubled adult, mostly due to Rebekah.