Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's All Jack Hyles' Fault

In the book 100 People Screwing Up America, author Bernard Goldberg wrote, " By now it is old news that Paul Begala, the CNN commentator and a primary architect (along with business partner James Carville) of Bill Clinton's rise to the presidency in 1992, is a left wing hate-monger." Goldberg continues, "The story begins in the days right after the chaotic election of 2000. On MSNBC, Mike Barnicle, the commentator, held up a map of the United States, noting the Red States (for Bush) in the middle of the country and the Blue States (for Gore) on the coasts." The comparison was made of a cultural divide in America ... Wal-Mart vs Martha Stewart or family values vs a sense of entitlement.

One week later in a column written by Paul Begala he stated, "Yes, Barnicle was right when he notes that tens of millions of good people in Middle America voted Republican. But if you look closely at the map you see a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pick up truck until his body came apart - it's red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split rail fence for the crime of being gay - it's red. You see the state where right wing extremists blew up the federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees - it's red. The state where an Army private was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they're all red too."

Linking Republicans who did nothing wrong (except for voting for George Bush) to bombers and racists and homophobes was indeed a smear in a hate filled column. Begala didn't see it that way. After several of his media contemporaries, even liberal ones, took him to task for his original article he wrote a follow up piece. Under the headline "I'd Like To Report A Mugging" Begala stated that he had been mugged by other reporters and commentators for daring to disagree with his conclusions.

In the style of Begala and with less grace than a James Carville rant on Meet the Press, Jeri Massi has made it her life's mission to associate all independent, fundamental Baptist preachers as women abusing, child molesting, sheep beating, dictatorial psychos with poor doctrine and militant views. The congregations are, in her estimation, made up of either scared victims who are afraid to leave or stupidly blind loyalists who will drink poison if the preacher says so.

While there have been and are and will be abuses within IFB circles and people who have suffered true abuse which is not what Christ had in mind when He established His church, it is her broad brush approach to which I take issue. An internet search will reveal that abuses cross denominational lines. Yet, Jeri has focused all of her attention on one group and then narrowed it down to those within that group who followed the ministry of the late Dr Jack Hyles.

One of the men greatly influenced by Dr Hyles was Jerry Falwell who not only pioneered fundamentalists having a TV media ministry but was also the founder of Liberty University. Seeing the college ministry as a viable tool to reach and influence American fundamentalist churches, Hyles founded Hyles-Anderson College in Crown Point, Indiana. http//:www.fbchammond.com

Dr Hyles ministry was widely received during the late 60's and 70's and early 80's as being an innovator in church growth methods, an emphasis on personal soul-winning, and an ardent supporter of the Bus Ministry. Each year he hosted a national conference for pastors and lay leaders called Pastors' School. Thousands of delegates from across the nation would gather for a week of practical instruction on church organization methods by day and hell fire & brimstone pulpit pounding revival preaching by night. In the mid 80's Dr Hyles son, who was pastoring in Texas, was discovered to be involved in immorality on a level that rocked every fundamental church to its core. Hyles himself became embroiled in a scandal of alleged adultery by a former deacon who took his tabloid story to an evangelist and Christian newspaper editor with an axe to grind. Support and confidence eroded in Dr Hyles' ministry.

Several pastors, some with personal agendas in mind, came to Dr Hyles' defense thus isolating him from mainstream fundamentalism. Everyone understands that when you feel threatened, persecuted, or singled out that you're happy to get support and friendship from almost anyone willing to offer it when you're down. This Dr Hyles did and while it protected him in the short term it actually hurt him over the long term.

When a Detroit TV station decided to do a hit piece on a Michigan church being acused of harboring child molesting volunteer workers, immediately they wanted to make a connection between the pastor's training at Hyles-Anderson College and the seemingly evil behavior of the alleged molesters (who were found innocent by the way). Preying From The Pulpit aired over several nights claiming that the Hyles brand of Christianity fostered abuse. With a musical background from a horror movie, Hyles sermon sound bites never put into a context for the viewer, and tearful testimonials one would walk away with the impression that Jack Hyles taught pastors to beat people, abuse women, and molest children.

Jeri Massi, a Bob Jones University graduate and published fictional author, has picked up the mantle that all the evils in the world are somehow Jack Hyles' fault. She maintains a blog as well as a presence of the Fighting Fundamentalist Forum. Her self proclaimed mission is to document the abuses of IFB pastors who had a connection to the teachings of Jack Hyles. It is obvious she is not a victim's advocate. If she were truly interested in helping hurting victims then she would be concerned about all victims of abuse and not just those of the IFB. What about the abuses of those suffered from Catholic priests? No mention by Jeri. What about the sex abuses of children by the hands of those within the public school profession (which out number the Catholic priest scandal)? Again, no mention. Just as there is no mention of the victims within her own denomination of Presbyterian.

That brings us back to Hyles. Out of a ministry that spanned 4 decades and saw tens of thousands of people who were influenced by him either directly as a pastor or indirectly through his conference speaking circuit and audio tapes and books he released or the nearly 1,000 graduates of the college that bears his name what is the number of cases of abuse that Jeri Massi must wage a never ending crusade on: 12 maybe as many as 20 if she can somehow connect the terrorists of 9-11 to maybe having once driven through Indiana - the Hyles state.

While I agree that one case of abuse is too many ... she wages war on Hyles who may have been directly or indirectly connected to 12 men who committed evil crimes against women and children. Compare to that to the nearly 28,000 cases against the Roman Catholic Church or the 290,000 students subjected to sexual abuse by public school employees between 1991 and 2000. That's nearly 32,000 cases a year or one in every ten students as reported to the US Department of Education by Charol Shakeshaft, statistics professor, in a survery done by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.

As Begala tried to associate ALL midwestern Republicans in the Red States as guilty of murder, hate, and bigotry .... Jeri Massi attempts to associate all IFB Pastors as whoremongers, rapists, and molesters because of the actions of 12. She associates all IFB Pastors who are connected to Jack Hyles as beaters, cheaters, and defeaters. That would be like claiming "New York - the state where a Jewish rabbinical student was stabbed to death by a black man who was part of the frenzied anit-Semitic black mob - Blue State (for Gore). California - where rioters hauled an innocent, helpless man out of his truck and beat him senseless with a brick - Blue State (for Gore). The states with the most people of welfare - Blue (Gore)."

What a sad waste of her talents as a fictional writer. Oh, wait... she is still writing fiction. Aaah, I can breathe a sigh of relief.