As I have stated before, I was adopted into the family of an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) pastor and his wife, both Bob Jones University graduates, who at the time were pastoring a church in Wyoming. When I was just shy of two years old, the family moved to another church in the buckle of the bible belt – Greenville, South Carolina. It is here that I spent the next ten years of my life surrounded by just about every fundy superstar there is.
When I say Fundy superstar, I speak of those in the IFB movement that are about as close to gods and you can get without calling them gods (Please forgive the obsessive hyperlinking. I feel it wise for people to recognize these people.). Among the faces of my childhood you will find Dr. Bob Jones III, Ron & Shelley Hamilton(and crew), Frank Garlock, Tom and Ben Ferrell, Jim Berg, Tony Miller, Mark Minnick, Bob Bell, Gary Reimers, Jonathan Daulton and Steve Hankins, just to name a few. Of that list, all are attached in some way to Bob Jones University, Soundforth, Majesty Music, the Wilds, or other fundamentalist strongholds. In short, my family frequently rubbed elbows with the big wigs.
The teaching that came form these men was taken as gospel. Whether it be how music is of the devil, or how to discipline your children (the Pearl Method is common, though parents have beaten their children to death using it), it carried the same weight. I remember a series of messages at a large and well known church near Greenville in which the speaker repeatedly said that if the child was not bruised, you hadn’t done your job as a parent. This in particular was taken to heart by my parents, and I paid for it dearly. Isn’t that man teaching parents to abuse their children? NO! The ‘mighty of God’ can do no wrong! Never mind that they are merely human like everyone else, and that what they are teaching has no biblical basis whatsoever. We’ll ignore that they’re telling people how to beat their children with a minimum of bruising and no broken bones. They are the chosen ones.
Sarcasm and personal anger aside, I’ll tell you how I paid for those messages. There was an incident when I was around 9 years old in which my teacher at my IFB school used such force in telling me that I had done the wrong math assignment, that I was bruised. She was continuing to hurt me when I swore at her simply for shock value in hope that she would let go. Word of this got to my parents, at which time I got in trouble for the swearing. As I tried to explain teachers involvement with the purple bruises on my arms, I was accused of ‘lying’, as my story didn’t match up with my teacher’s who, in their eyes was automatically right. I was then whipped with a wooden spoon by my mother, which left my rear an ugly shade of blue with splotches of purple. When dad got home a couple of hours later, I was whipped again with his leather belt. The result of that was serious damage to my posterior. This continued whipping of an already bruised bum with a strip of hard leather caused the bruised area to bleed through the skin for several days. I never told my parents, as I feared that telling them that they were too rough would have invited another beating for ‘backtalk’. This is the sort of ‘discipline’ that is encouraged among IFB churches, and while this was one of the worst, it was by no means the last incident of abuse.
For now, I’m getting rather emotional, and don’t think I can continue tonight. More to come, I’m sure.
The title of this post taken from a song by mewithoutYou.