IFB Cult Survivors

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.

church by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere
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.

Red Flag

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!”

Jaw drop.

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.

Pastor Fail.

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.

Apparently not.

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.

There are survivors. Some suffered from sexual, physical, and spiritual abuse. Some have suffered from threats, shunning, and bribery to keep the exodus as quiet as possible.

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.

SisterLisa

Related Articles:

Finding Help When Leaving a Cult

When it’s your former church that hits the headlines

A Former IFB pastor interviews me

Jack Hyles’ Approach to Church, could be Communism

Hiding the Pain of the Victims, sometimes you need to get your help from outside the church.

Comments

  1. You should write a book! I’m looking forward to you sharing more of your story. I’ve never experienced anything like this and I am glad you are standing up for the victims! I am sorry for all you’ve been through and continue to go through.

  2. This is a wonderful blog. The IFB appears to be “just a mainstream Baptist church on the conservative end.” But in reality, it is an abusive organization where the pastor insinuates himself into the position that only Christ holds, as expounded in Hebrews. That is, the pastor believes he is your priest and you must listen to him as he stands between you and God. He might say different words, but his practice betrays his belief.

    I married and IFB who left after becoming an adult. But her beliefs continue to be that of the IFB, believing that you obey an IFB husband, but that you attack and belittle a husband who refuses to accept the IFB doctrine. There does not appear to h ave ever been a teaching of mutual respect and intimacy in marriage. The words say saved by grace, but then words follow about all the “heinous sins” and the actions say saved by acting perfect.

    Thank you, Lisa, for your blog!

    • SisterLisa says:

      yes, Jeff..not much difference between the them and the other religions who insist on a man-mediator. Jesus is our only mediator. But in controlling environments under the mask of ‘Christianity’ they will tell you Jesus is the Mediator, but in action they deny this and insist THEY are the “voice of God” to the people. They say the Holy Spirit speaks to you, but when the Holy Spirit tells you the preacher is wrong, then all of a sudden you’re not capable of really hearing from God..because “God” would be agreeing with the preacher. Very manipulative.

      • That is exactly correct, the IFB I attended is a match Copy to that statement. My Wife and I had many a verbal battle about Chritianitiy and I was right and she was wrong. As the Staff and Church members encouraged me to stay “Faithful” she will come around, and that I am the Leader of the Household, She needs to submit to me…. Blah Blah Blah. In the IFB I attended the whole congregation applaudes the entourage of pastors as they come out to the Platform. Sick! Many in that Church view the Pastor as GOD Himself. Very sad, what he says they Heed to it with extreme Loyalty.

    • I found this to be rather amusing. Particularly the response from Jeff stating that his wife believes as the IFB that a wife is only to obey a husband in the IFB and not the husband of a non IFB. If your wife actually told you this then you need to sit down and have a talk. I am a female member of the FBC Hammond and I have heard Pastor Schaap say that a woman is to obey her husband … whether or not he is a baptist. With my own ears I heard him say that if your husband tells you he does not want you to go to church, you should not go. You should pray for God to work on his heart. Now … that does not seem to confirm your statement. Maybe you ought to step foot in a IFB Church a few times to get the gist of it yourself. Listening second-hand probably does not give you proper understanding. Just a thought … but you might actually like it!!

      • Jaime Clemente says:

        Hmmm… Too bad pastor Schaap got caught with an underage girl and his pants down. Kinda ruins your credibility on the issue doesn’t it? Awww shucks!

      • Good things he’s no longer “Pastor” Jack Schaap. He’s been reduced to the person he actually was behind the scenes when he fooled all his followers. He tended to degrade women, and the worst kind of degrading of a woman is to sexually assault her–especially when she is still a child. Many of us are getting tired of hearing what “Pastor Schaap said.” So glad it’s been proven that he never had real credibility to begin with.

  3. dawn phenix says:

    wow, I did watch the 20/20 show last night, as you suggested in your FB post. I had no idea there was an IFB. Much less what fundamentalism was. Although in a non-denominational church I attended I experienced fundamentalism, not even realizing that’s what it was. The show gives me new insight into why people who have lived in that environment act the way they do, myself included.
    I think, I am not rebellious to authority, I am resistant to authoritarianism. I do not want to be controlled, or rejected from the family of God when I can’t be controlled. Very enlightening.

    • SisterLisa says:

      Dawn… good statement “I am not rebellious to authority, I am resistant to authoritarianism. ” I agree!

  4. Great article. You nailed it all! Weird about Schaap, but not really surprising.

  5. rose jefferson says:

    Wow! You mean to tell me there are really people out there that have left an IFB church and are having emotional and spiritual problems. The 20/20 episode proved that I left way too late in my walk with God. Members that are still in my former church will not have any dealings with me. I am scarred and hurting, trying to find my former self where I had compassion and love for others. I have been looking for someone to talk to. Thanks for having this website.

    • SisterLisa says:

      Rose,
      There’s more than you know.

      • rose jefferson says:

        Why is it that church members can talk so nicely to drunks on the street and try to help them when they can’t even talk to a child of Christ who has left the church? I suffer from depression (discovered this later and being treated for now)only to have no sisters come to my side and help me through this. I guess they thought the best course of action would be to just totally ignore me while I progressively got worse. Feels like God is punishing me for past sins that I have long ago confessed and asked for forgiveness.

        • SisterLisa says:

          Rose,

          People who are blinded by religion don’t understand how a believer can still suffer from depression or any other emotional, spiritual, or mental trauma. They think that since we “trusted in Christ” that life will no longer have these kinds of problems. So they tend to turn a blind eye to it, thinking it will go away. They also think that if they stick around such sadness for too long that they will ‘fall victim to the devil’. The idea that you are being punished for past sins is not the new covenant teaching of forgiveness. You ARE forgiven. It’s the accuser of the brethren that seeks to punish you, not Christ. Christ leans over you, embraces you, and walks through this with you. He never forsakes you. You are under grace and can walk in the newness of life. This doesn’t mean we won’t have days of depression, anxiety, etc. But by faith we can trust Him in those times and we are free to cry and free to suffer. Christ suffered too. He suffers with us and we have fellowship in his sufferings. He loves you dearly, Rose. People who make you feel worse, should be avoided.

    • Rose, I’m so sorry :( Your story breaks my heart. I’m so glad you have SisterLisa to chat with. Let me know if I can pray for you or anything else. I too suffer from depression which I think stems from past childhood abuse. Anyway, hugs to you sister! Don’t give up! :)

  6. We were talking about you on my profile page yesterday :) Another friend of mine didn’t realize I was FB friends with you or read your blog :) Some good discussions, you should come over and peek. :)

  7. I saw the news report on 20/20. This is atrocious. These “pastors” are the type of people that give the wrong impression of Jesus, the King of Love. These so called “pastors” are nothing but wolves in sheep clothing which He warned us about. Keep the faith and do not give up your fight. These (I hate even calling them) “pastors” will be judged and Jesus will say, “I don’t even know you”. They read the scriptures as a outward man instead of seeking the Lord inwardly.

  8. Thank YOU.

  9. I grew up in the IFB and still have many, many family and friends who attend these churches. (We left quietly over doctrinal differences, not “abuse.”) Though the government of any given IFB church may be unbiblical with no accountability, I can say from 47 years of experience that you CANNOT put all people in these churches, nor the pastors in their pulpits, in the same boat. It just isn’t fair to paint a broad stroke over ALL people in any given group. It is prejudice in it’s ugliest form. It’s like saying all Catholic priests are child molesters and perverts. It’s just not fair.

    • SisterLisa says:

      Marcia,
      I believe their doctrine is abusive and all IFB churches teach the same doctrine. So yes, I can have my opinion of their doctrine being abusive. Abuse isn’t only in the form of physical abuse.

  10. First I would like to say that I am an Independent Baptist pastor. I have a wonderful family, a loving, faithful supportive wife and ministry partner for 29 years, 3 successful children and 5 grand children. I did not attend an organized college, but studied and graduated through correspondence with a Masters degree, accredited I might add. I am disturbed by what I have seen and read from this 20/20 program. I have started 3 churches and pastored for 20 years and the pastors and churches that we associate with would find these events disgusting and sinful. I do not condemn those who have left these churches, I too would have left. But please, for the sake of those pastors and churches that are doing a good work for the Lord Jesus Christ, don’t put all independent Baptist’s in the same pile. We do not condone abuse, or cover ups. We believe in having abusers and rapists arrested and prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law. I understand your pain and hurt, but all independents are not the same. We are just independent. I am afraid for those churches that are clean that will suffer irreparable damage from this if it is not put into perspective. Just as the Catholics and Mormons have had to deal with there own personal demons, so must these people. But just because it happened in one place does not mean that it will happen in another. My prayer is that the truth will be known but that God will get the victory and the devil with suffer defeat. May God bless you all.

    • SisterLisa says:

      Thank you, David. I appreciate your thoughts. You might find my most recent post to be more explanatory about how I feel. http://soullibertyfaith.com/?p=841

      I know there are others who experience some similar tragedies in some of the other Baptists circles, not just the IFB. I am fully aware that not all churches do what we saw on 20/20. And there are many other denominations who have done the same things. The Body is wounded deeply and the Lord is our Healer. So while many wounded people won’t go back to an environment that triggers their pain, they are not without Christ. He is our Head and we’ll gather any place we feel safe. Thank you for your compassion.

  11. I grew up in a IFB church, I was fortunate that my mother was able to open her eyes and didn’t buy their shit anymore and got me out. The church is called Montesito Park Baptist Church, which is now located in Ontario, CA. What boils my blood is that the pastor Ezequiel Salazar has a brother in law that is openly gay and would attend the Sunday services, and nobody question his presence. If you are familiar with the IFB, you know gay people are not welcome ever. But if he is a relative of the pastor, its OK. Sure enough one of my best friends in the church comes out of the closet and what the fuck happens? He is the devil/ shame on you/ you are going to HELL/ you are a disgrace/ dont touch my hand/ you make me sick/…… really? Hey pastor Ezequiel Salazar does this mean your brother in law is going to hell too? because I’m confused here. Do I need to be related to you in order to be church proof?

  12. I too watched the 20/20 on TV. I too am an IFB in GA. I too have seen pastors abuse their people and the word of God and hurt so many people who just want to serve God. But, our church is not like that and our pastor preaches against that type of stuff. If he’s preaching to a person in specific, we never know it. He loves us and we have a very sweet spirit at our church. He was aggravated with the show as much as we were, because not all IFB churches are like that. I also trained my children according to the Train Up a Child books. I have read them all. I don’t agree with the Created to be His HelpMeet. Some of it is good, but we have NEVER, EVER hit our children in anger, never given them more than 3 licks on the butt with a paddle. Our children are ages 13-23 and they are hard working, happy and want to raise their children the same way. The Pearls teach you to never raise your voice and never to hit in anger. I don’t know how anyone can think that they teach you to abuse your children! I have read all their books and I thank God for their ministry. I have yet to see any parent who has not raised their voices to their children or done something in anger who have well adjusted happy adult children. I’m sure there is some, but I’ve never witnessed it myself. I feel extremely bad for all the people who are abused in the IFB churches. We left those churches where we saw it happening, so I know this is true in many cases. But not all. Some of us really love God and love each other, the way the bible says we should.

    • SisterLisa says:

      I understand how you feel. Not all Baptist churches are like Westboro Baptist either. Not all Christians are self righteous back stabbers. These twisted behaviors are in every denomination and the people have the freedom to leave when they see abuse happening. But they should report it as well. Simply leaving without warning people or the authorities when needed is just as irresponsible. The Pearl’s have a book that does teach abusive tactics. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be under investigation.

  13. Cheryl Graham says:

    I. too. was molested by a man who was the high school principal at a Baptist school under the umbrella of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. At that time the’cult’ was pastored by Jack Hyles, who was proven to be an adulterer as well. This abuse happened in the early 70′s when I was 12-13 years of age. The principal, when caught molesting others, was hurriedly rushed – by Dr. Hyles, himself, to be a pastor of a church in a nearby state,and thus, covered up the abuse of children and teens by this pastored. My abuse was never reported. Now I’m 50 years old, and am still haunted by my unresolved past. Is there anything I can do? I’m in counselling but I still feel the need to confront the man who molested me. Can anyone help me do this? His name is Robert Billings, Jr.- or is it too unrealistic to hope for closure? Anyone who was at First Baptist Church of Hammond in 1972-1973, or had any involvement with Hammond Baptist High School, should know this man. He was a principal as well as the band director. Somebody out there knows something. Please help if you can.

  14. I go to a baptist church that is very conservative but very liberal at the same time. I have been to several youth conferences where teenagers were being made fun of by leaders and forced to do humiliating things. The worst part is, most of the people who did it thought it was fun to have people laughing at them while they were made to eat things like baby food for a game or being made to eat a fast food meal that leaders had blended together. I was in an IFB cult for years and left on my own free will. I have a friend who is gay and his family will not speak to him because the leader of the church says that he should be shunned. I made mistakes in my teenage years that got me called out on so many times in a church that hurt me to a point of me trying to kill myself because of things that these churches were doing and saying to me. I attend a church now that is a baptist church but they would never think of publicly sharing information that should always be kept confidential. The worst part about these churches is they feel a need to continue persecuting a person even after they leave the church. After I left I had groups try to come and get me to come back to their cult and the first thing they did when they saw me was tear me down for the clothes I was wearing and the way that my bedroom looked, Churches that tear down others should not be able to preach. As harsh as it might sound they are doing more harm than good to anyone. And a man who agrees that his wife must always be submissive to him is a deadbeat in my book, I have teenagers be emotionally abused by leaders in churches and then be made to apologize publicly in order to seek forgiveness. People and parents should be watching out for things like these, I have worked on bus routes with churches where kids were told not to rebel against their parents unless it meant pleasing God. There are a lot of good baptist churches out there but there are equally many horrible churches also.

  15. I still suffer from being away from the IFB, I love the Lord Dearly and desire all others to do the same. It hurts to see the 200+ that I have taken to the Church and not 1 stay as a result of the many different experiences in the IFB Church. That means to me that 200 + people look at me like they see that Church, and thats NOT ME! I want nothing more or less than people to get close to jesus and Grow, multiply, and bare new Christians. IFB churhes arent growing its all transplantation? It stays within, once they do get a New convert the tactics take over and they begin to become “Sold Out”…. I felt dirty, rotten, less than worthy to be even called a Christian when I finally walked away. Was there over 4 – 1/2 years and it nearly cost me my marriage of 19 years, my own family and long time friends had nothing to do with me while at an IFB. And now 2 years later im still shunned by many from there, although I will say I still have a few friends that I consider friends. I know things that happened in our IFB that I know for sure are very wrong, and not of God. Smoke & Mirrors, appearance is everything for them. I was sitting in the Pastors office / Counseling line, I asked a question about an incident He said to not worry I will handle it, and If I say anything “HE” will deny it… Straight from the Pastors lips. I feel for the some of the women in these relationships. I still struggle knowing alot of people viewed me as one of those type of Christians and what gets me the most is the ones who stay and know alot they do is not Biblical. I will say in Closing, the IFB does in its work do some good, I Pray for them alot to quit being so errogant to the FACT that they are the only ones right in God’s eyes and every other Church is wrong about how the Walk with and serve God….

  16. THANK YOU…..I married a man that has come from IFB background…we have been persecuted for 16 yrs ..I am just now finding your blog..and it explains a lot..thank you..

  17. hello,
    I have been researching this alot lately and I am having a hard time trying to find where anybody is forced to do anything , I mean they do raise thier family differently ,with a different set of morales and rules ,but you never lose your free will ,I dont understand the difference between a parent telling thier kids to go to a bible college and and telling them they have to do thier homework . I could be wrong but maybe you can help me understand ,if parents were supposed to teach thier kids to do whatever feels right then they might as well just let them do whatever they want no matter the consequences , futhermore what is youstance on having a relationship with God and eternal life , it really comes down to how did you live your life according to Christ not what chu7rch did you go to .

    • SisterLisa says:

      Anthony, good questions… not all IFB churches are the same, it really all depends on who the pastor is. The people are many times, manipulated into making certain decisions that go against their free will. When parents and clergy hold others over some pit with pressure… things like this are said, “Don’t walk away from God’s will for your life” So who said going to a secular university isn’t God’s will for their life? Who decides that an IFB college is God’s will? If we live by God’s will, then where is free will? Maybe the problem is that Parents and clergy ASSUME that THEIR choice for the child is God’s choice for the child.

      I have no problem with a person’s high moral standards, as long as they are gracious enough not to manipulate others into living the same.

      A parent encouraging an 18 year old to choose a seminary is one thing…manipulating them into going to one is not the same as insisting they do their homework. If they actually WANT to go to seminary then great! But if they are pressured into it, then it’s not ok.

      I hold high regard for a person’s relationship with God. I agree, that how we live our life in Christ is most certainly important. But we have soul liberty..we are a Royal Priesthood, and we each have that free will to make our own decisions. No other priest than Christ. The parent and the clergy are NOT our mediator.

      I do believe strongly in “reap what you sow” I think it would be careless of any parent to refrain from teaching consequences..but threatening kids into bible college or else..well that’s not rational or respectful of the adult child making a decision about their future.

  18. I have been attending an Independent Baptist church for almost 2 yrs. & I’m getting tired of being told I’m
    a “worm” etc. Almost every Sunday the Catholics or Pentecostals are blasted. I’m really getting tired of it.
    The pastor does preach the word of God, but expects us to embrace “dispensationalism”, pre-trib rapture,
    & the KJV 1611 verson or else! I still read my NAS sometimes…I see NOTHING wrong with it. Quite frankly there are times I don’t understand the KJV even though they say a 6th grader can understand it. There are so many
    beautiful teachings in the scriptures for us to learn especially since we are in the “end times.” I have not
    been able to establish any friendships in the church…it’s always “hi, how are you?…(smile) very benign
    conversations. If you don’t attend Sunday evening or Wednesday evening your a “dog” or called a “varment.”
    There is NOTHING in the scriptures about attending evening services. I don’t know where to worship…the
    churches are embracing Rick Warren or New Age type teaching. Is it just me?

    • Sisterlisa says:

      Jose, good news…you are not a worm. God created you in his image. You are beautifully and wonderfully made and Christ has given you his righteousness. My husband and I are settled on the fact that we alone are responsible for learning so we don’t rely on a pastor to teach us. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good teachers out there, but when we look for a church we aren’t looking for someone to spoon feed us. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of being our Teacher. We go to fellowship with believers to contribute to community and develop relationships.

  19. Dragonzwing14 says:

    First, I would like to start this e-mail with WOW! Wow and wow!

    My husband and I have been members of an IFB from 1995 until this last year. We left after our pastor tried covering up the bookkeeper (who was the head deacon’s daughter) stealing somewhere from $40,000 to $75,000 from the church — well, actually she stole it from all the members. The pastor spent about a month going through the books (and we believe that he was cleaning up the books) to find out how much was stolen before he threw this little surprise on us. At the end of that Wednesday night service when we were all told about this, we were also told that we were NOT to talk amongst ourselves about this or to outsiders about this.

    Well, before I met my husband, I was a single Mom for 6 years so I don’t fall into the “typical IFB woman” mold. Both the hairs on the back of my neck and my husband’s neck hairs stood on end. We both looked at each other and our eyes got as big as saucers! My husband was the volunteer janitor at our church; ironically, we realized after we left the church budget still included a budget of $8,000 for a janitor even though they weren’t paying a janitor! We met with Pastor several times to voice our objections to the not prosecuting this woman, why Pastor hired her — because there were 2 previous businesses that let her go because money came up missing — they couldn’t prove she stole it, but they didn’t have a problem after she left.

    During all this stuff, the mind games! Oh MY WORD! I finally realized later and told my husband that Pastor prostituted his wife out! He had his poor wife doing almost everything but kissing my husband’s toes! The notes on the vacuum on how they just don’t know how they could do it without all his hard work and how they never had to worry about the church not looking perfect for service and how amazing he was and blah blah, blah! You see, Pastor KNEW that my husband’s thorn in the flesh was women and sexual sin because he had confessed to Pastor having an affair on me with a woman in the church, but you see, she was a divorcee and was remarried, but was still considered a harlot so she got painted terribly!

    Pastor even implied that my husband had painted the gym floor over a weekend, but my husband had told him he couldn’t because we had commitments out of town that weekend (we had already decided to leave the church at this point). Prior to deciding to leave, we had met with Pastor several times and read detailed letters of why we were so upset. When we got done reading our letters, Pastor said, “You had your turn, now it’s mine…” and proceeding to Edipline my husband right in front of me — ediplining, if you are not familiar with that term is when the pastor edifies you and disciplines in you in the same breath! About 2 weeks later, we were driving down the road, and I looked over to my husband who was sitting in the passenger seat and said to him, “You got ediplined!” He then realized it, too!

    We then also found out that Pastor allowed a home (he used to have an adult foster home) to go into foreclosure and continued to preach in the pulpit and said he was “above reproach.” He actually at one point told the congregation that “this is not a democracy, you don’t have the right to vote on everything.” The fact is — we only voted on 3 things — voting in deacons, voting in new members, and approving whatever he budgeted. Business meetings never went longer than 3 minutes, and he didn’t take new business at business meetings because no one had time to pray on it.

    I am a 3-year cancer breast cancer survivor so at the last couple’s retreat that we went to, Pastor primed the guest preacher because he and his wife road 1 hour in the car to the retreat location, and we are sure that Pastor told them how disgruntled we were because Pastor S’s wife who was also fighting cancer was always available to talk to me. In fact, it felt like Pastor met with every other couple (of course all the other couples WERE staff except for one other couple and the guest speaker and his wife!) and told them to not say anything negative to us or something because NO ONE actually said anything to us the entire retreat! Everyone treated us like we had cooties! The ONLY people who talked to us was the Pastor and his wife and the guest pastor and his wife! Even the youth pastor who we treated like a son avoided us the entire retreat! Also, Pastor and his wife took the room we always took — like for 10 years we took that room! And the icing on the cake — the guest Pastor said (and I have it recorded), “If you have a non-tither in your church, that could be the reason why someone gets cancer.” WOW!

    So we have tried attending other churches, and we are presently attending another IFB, but I actually have known the pastor since he was a 13-year-old boy dating our 14-year-old daughter, and he is the product of a divorced home with a single mom raising 3 kids, and he did lead a wicked lifestyle for awhile. He has only been saved 7 years, and I am hopeful for him but I think they implant the same software application in each one because the hairs on the backs of our necks stand up when we hear things like: “…. in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” and “my wife can do anything she needs to do in a skirt.” and “they left with a bitter spirit.” and “anyone who leaves this church other than being called into the ministry is back slidden.”

    But our faith is important to us, and we certainly know since getting saved that returning to the Catholic church — which we were both raised in, isn’t an option for either of us, but the worse thing is — our confidence in a pastor has been shaken.

    • Sisterlisa says:

      Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. God never commanded pastors to attempt to control the people, belittle them, condemn them or otherwise. He said specifically “do not lord over the people”. When a leader tries to control the people they eventually will be like a plant that is root bound and begin to wither. It’s your freedom to find a different place to grow.

  20. Just a question, I have been doing research since I found out that “we” I say because I have been an IFB for 8 years now , are a cult. I studied out our doctrine for my own conscience sake. Our first doctrinal statement is that KJV is THE infallible inspired word of God and we dont use other kinds. In my research I found that in the origional KJV translation there are over 8,000 verses that they were unsure on how to translate into english and wrote alternative terms in the margins, These have since been removed. Also there are several verses translated incorrectly like 1kings 20:38 whish in the origional text says “bandages over his eyes” but the KJV says ashes on his face. Also the “Book of life” (that I have personally explained to people in soulwinning) is actually a tree of life. Like a family tree, and there is no mention of a BOOK in heaven in the origional manuscript. Not only that but we believe that if you add to or take from Gods word you will be cursed (its what we use against the book of Mormon) yet the KJV has 22 added verses (not found in the greek or hebrew but in the latin translations) and 31 removed verses that are not found in the KJV that are in the origional hebrew/greek texts. So that makes our first Doctine irrelevant. I continues discecting our Doctrines and finding errors, and now I am faced with a big descision and dont know what to do. A friend mentioned trying out the Church of Christ. I still want to go to church, I still want to serve God. What should I do?

    • Sisterlisa says:

      Hello Anonymous,

      I understand the dilemma. I encourage you to continue studying as you have been doing and understand that there may very well be many more irrelevant things you find along the way. Getting together for worship and fellowship is a good thing. However, I personally don’t let what other people teach get in my head without first chomping down on it to test it first.

      There have been times when I went to large churches to enjoy the worship and attend smaller groups for study and I don’t rely on any one leader to teach me nor do I limit myself to one church to fellowship with.

      You can type in the word ‘cult’ along with any denominational name and find someone out there who is willing to call any church a cult. So I took time to find out what a cult actually is.Just because a church has a different doctrine doesn’t make it a cult. A cult is when there is a lot of control, dress codes, isolation, lack of collaboration with community and other churches, etc.

      We took a break from churches for a while after leaving the IFB so we could heal. When we did start attending other churches we found a lot of the same tactics in other churches too. We prefer more open congregations that really allow you to ask tough questions and go through the journey together without shunning or control. Organization is a good thing, but obsessive control is not healthy.

      You might find yourself moving from one congregation to another for a while. I can’t recommend one denomination over another, because each one is different. Even if under the same denomination, pastors maturity ranges from very immature to very wise.

  21. Thomas Loy Bumgarner says:

    Lisa, back in the 70′s I belonged to a cult called The Way International which did love bombing and mind control. They rejected the Trinity, Spoke in tongues(in fact they said every Christian is required to do all 9 gifts/manifestations from 1st Corinthians 12), were dispensationalists, did missionary training called Word Over the World Ambassadors(now Way Disciples),etc. Thanks for the article.

    • Sisterlisa says:

      I’m familiar with those groups, Thomas. I’ve chatted with a few friends via Facebook who also left those groups. There are many churches that end up on this twisted path and it’s sad when people fear leaving them even when they know how destructive they can be.

  22. SisterLisa I have learned so much from your writing. Thanks to all who contribute. Do you have any suggestions as to how one might inform an IFBr that they are in a cult, when they think that by following man-made rules they are striving to please God?

    • Sisterlisa says:

      Laura,
      It’s really difficult to convince someone they’re in a cult. What worked to open my eyes may not work for someone else. For me, it started with a sweet friend asking questions with love and sincerity. She nudged me gently and my eyes started opening. There is a site called http://howcultswork.com and I have http://spiritualabuseawareness.com One thing might be to show them personal testimony of people who have left the JWs. Because their experiences are strikingly familiar. Then maybe they’ll see it on their own, in comparison. I find that when we try to say “Hey the IFB is a cult” to an IFB member,they immediately reject it.

      And lots and lots of nonjudgmental love and a door that is wide open. When a person begins to see the truth, they will most likely be afraid. They need support to help them leave and find a safer place to go.

      • Sisterlisa: Thank you. I dated a man for 16 months and we were planning on marrying. He is a Hyles-Anderson graduate and was deeply involved in FBC Hammond. A few years ago the criminal/sexual activity became too heinous to ignore and he left. He found an equally authoritarian/legalistic IFBC a few miles over the state line. There are no obvious illegal activities there, and he loves it, doesn’t see the similarities at all. He runs everything by “pastor” and a couple other IFB friends, which is part of the reason he decided to stop seeing me (born again believer, not IFB). I attended many times with him and obviously didn’t fit in wearing dress pants, although he repeatedly told me he didn’t care that I wear pants. Another huge concern was my children’s involvement in the community. We try to be in the world, but not of it, shining Jesus’ light where we can and practicing lifestyle evangelism. He buys into the separation thing to the extreme. During our break-up I was told that my family and I would be better off with someone from our own ministry! Since we have little or no contact now your suggestions are pretty impossible. Any other ideas for someone whose eyes were opened to hyles and schaap, but sees no wrong in his new IFBC? I wanted, still do, for him to be my husband, but this is much deeper and more serious than that. He lives his life constantly monitoring everything and doesn’t really seem to know the freedom that can be found in God’s grace and mercy, just thinks that kind of talk is an excuse to sin and stray from “righteous living”. He has so much of the KJV memorized that an actual discussion of some of our doctrinal differences is nearly impossible because he always ends up sounding right and I’m left stammering, knowing what I believe but not being able to articulate it compared to his reciting verse after verse to uphold their views. Help!

    • Sisterlisa says:

      Laura, here is my other post about finding help when leaving a cult http://soullibertyfaith.com/finding-help-when-leaving-a-cult

  23. For being so opposed to the Catholic church,many are Baptist “POPERY” at it’s finest.Not to mention absolute abuse of the Word of God!From out of context teaching to keep people in bondage,to just plan hatefulness.Let My people go saith the LORD.

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  2. [...] are no doubt, many people in the IFB movement that are now questioning if the IFB is a cult, especially after 20/20 aired their story about 3 women who were molested and raped when they were [...]