I watched the 20/20 episode about the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult with as open of a mind as I could get. After being within their movement for 15 years, I wanted to attempt to watch this segment without bias or anger from what I had been through. I watched with a careful and discerning eye and heart to see if there would be any hint of agenda to demonize the IFB unnecessarily. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t ‘seeing’ only what a revengeful spirit would want to see.
free photo source Pix-O-Sphere
They mentioned the case of Lydia Schatz death, which I thought was interesting, because to my knowledge they didn’t belong to an IFB Church, although they did follow the same doctrines as the IFB. I live in the county the Schatz live in and have watched their story closely. I know of many IFB churches in California and have not found an IFB church in the city they were from. So the idea that they were involved in the IFB is a bit misguided and unfounded as any kind of fact. Our local media did break an update on the Schatz story just last night, which I thought was interesting timing given the 20/20 episode airing the same night.
Although I do not believe they were connected to any legitimate IFB church, the child ‘training’ book they used by Michael and Debbie Pearl is sold in the ‘church bookstore’ of many IFB churches, including the one I came out of. I can not comment on whether or not they still provide the book at the cult I came out of, but when I left 2 years ago, it was still being sold in their church book store, along with other books by the No Greater Joy Ministries.
Another part of the 20/20 segment that some might claim to have an agenda with is the portion about women being in a subordinate role in the family and church. They showed a clip of Jack Schaap from First Baptist Church of Hammond, preaching about overweight women in what I perceive as a derogatory manner and he arrogantly stated that it would be a “cold day in hell before I ever let a woman teach me theology”. Fabulous! Didn’t he know that hell froze over?
I have met Jack Schaap. As a matter of fact, my husband and I had lunch with him just over 2 years ago, prior to us leaving the cult. He came to Northern California to preach a “revival meeting’” our church had scheduled. At one time this revival schedule lasted 6 days long and over the years was reduced to a 2 day meeting. During his time here they scheduled for all the local Northern California pastors and other wives to come have lunch with him. They chose the ministry restaurant of a mission my husband and I were on staff with, as the location of the meeting. Due to our position in that mission and our deep involvement with the IFB church, we were invited to attend. What I am about to reveal to you is a short summary of what took place that day.
The room filled with several couples, all of which I knew personally. Their husbands had been taught by my former pastors for many years either in the same church or through the ‘Bible college’ my former pastor teaches at. My former pastor was involved with assisting other churches in Northern California with arranging for these men to become pastors in their locales. For 15 years I saw and heard these men and their wives teach and preach at various conferences, camps, and meetings all over California. A pastor seated at his table saw Jack Schaap walk in and he said to him, “I feel like I’m in the presence of royalty”, as he shook Jack’s hand.
The assistant pastor of the church, who is the oldest son of the pastor, seated my husband and I at the head table with Jack Schaap and his preacher boys who came with him. I had heard of the skiing accident that took the life of a young lady in his youth group and I asked him how that event affected his church’s youth group. It was an interesting discussion, perhaps I’ll share about that another time. At the close of the lunch there was a question and answer time. Each pastor (and only the men) were allowed to write out anonymous questions for Jack Schaap to answer. My husband and I were seated just to Jack’s left with a full view of the looks on all their faces as he read each card aloud and answered them.
It was amazing to us to hear that all the questions had to do with specific tactics that my former pastor had taught them. Concerns such as, “I struggle with the idea of ‘full time ministry’ and making young people to go Bible College” and “What is the controversy about the KJV about on your church’s website?” There were many more and his answers were what hit us hard. Every answer he gave was an outright disagreement and rebuke of such teachings. Every thing my former pastor had taught these men, that they asked about anonymously, were refuted in this room before our very eyes. The look on the face of my (former) pastor was rather incredible. Flushed red skin, tight jaw, frozen still.
His covers had been stripped.
One of the things Jack Schaap stressed was that the KJV is NOT the “infallible word of God”. He made it clear that day, as well as on his church website back then, that what we have is an English TRANSLATION. He went on to prove this by asking everyone to open their KJV Bibles to a specific passage and to read aloud. Several of them had different words in the same verses. (Yes, everyone had a Bible at this luncheon. You don’t go to lunch with the ‘royal pastor’ without a KJV Bible)
Jack Schaap preached two nights. One night he preached on pride, the other night he preached on humility. His messages shook me to the core. As much as I dislike a lot of what Jack preaches, God used him that week to open our eyes. I have no evidence of what I’m about to tell you, but by discernment I believe this whole week was planned to do exactly what I saw, as a rebuke to my pastor. It seemed like a set up sting, an intervention. My husband and I have assisted many families suffering from addictions with interventions.
This is exactly what we were seeing.
The very next church serivce after Jack left, my pastor preached about the KJV. He said emphatically with red fired face and shouting at the top of his lungs, “I don’t care what ANYONE says, the KJV *is* THE infallible Word of God!”
Is his pride that bad, that the evidence shown to him at the luncheon that day, had no affect on him whatsoever?
There was another situation that happened before we finally left, but I’ll save that for another post.
Many prominent couples left my church over the years.
Some of the left rather quietly, without a word to anyone.
After we left, I searched them out. I’ll share about that soon.
I felt the 20/20 episode was done rather well. After everything I experienced in my 15 years in the IFB, I testify that their stories are not rare at all. My experience should help shed some light on that. There is currently a civil suit filed against a former youth pastor from my old church, against the pastor, as well as against the church. I was a member of that church during the time that this Jane Doe was violated. It wasn’t until after we left that we began connecting the dots. I applaud this Jane Doe for getting a lawyer, now that she’s an adult and can be her own advocate now. Her pastor should have been her advocate.
The man in question served only 3 days in jail and it never went to trial.
The pastor told the church “The police are handling it”.
Everyone believed the pastor. Surely the pastor would do the “right” thing.
I grieve for Jane Doe.
I applaud Jane Doe.
I stand with Jane Doe.
Jocelyn Zichterman is correct when she stated on 20/20, “Victims are afraid to come forward.”
If you attend an IFB church and you are afraid for your pastor to even know that you are reading all the blog posts about this and watching 20/20 that is a red flag that you are in a cult. no one should be afraid of what their pastor thinks about these things.
A truthful person doesn’t hide such things.
A truthful pastor will openly condemn the abuse happening in the IFB movement.
A false pastor will duck, hide, and avoid questions. A false pastor will make all the victims seem like liars, like they’re exaggerating.
If you are a member of the church I left and want help leaving, I’m here for you. I know how scary this all is. There is support in leaving. If you don’t believe me and think you need to print out my article to show your pastor? It’s ok, it wouldn’t be the first time someone has done that. He’ll probably pat you on the back and tell you, “Thank you. I’ll handle it.” And the moment I get threats again or hate mail I’ll publish every single bit of it. I’m tired of being harassed for telling the truth.
I’m not alone.
I have a lawyer.
Don’t be deceived by the testimony of the “nice” IFB pastor who spoke on 20/20. There are not that many IFB colleges out there, but they are massive and they do teach the same tactics. I have sat in on many “teaching conferences’ and ‘meetings’ where the tactics were taught. I was ‘trained’ up by an IFB pastor to teach and run a ministry ‘just-like-he-does’. Exactly the same way he teaches it at Golden State Baptist College.
The IFB is not a part of a hierarchical structure of over seers. They are truly independent, yet inter-woven in fellowship. There are pockets of IFB cliques that oppose one another, and at the same time will not speak openly about one another either.
Silence is a plague among the IFB.
These are my personal experiences and knowledge received through 15 years within their movement. Growing up in Christian Fundamentalism can be a nightmare. Get your families out of there and find a grace filled assembly where you can walk by faith and have healing.