Independent Fundamental Baptist Colleges Recruit by Intimidation

By Billy Wednesday at

It’s been nearly two decades since I walked the halls of Hyles-Anderson College. I didn’t want to attend, but IFB Pastor Dad told me when I was 18 years old that I could either head to Crown Point, Indiana, or leave with nothing but the clothes on my back. Even the money in my checking account that I had earned by mowing lawns and flipping burgers at McDonalds would be confiscated and given to missions.

In IFB circles, that’s called a “choice.”

As planned, I managed to get myself expelled before the second semester ended; it was the only way I’d have a car and a few dollars in my pocket. From there, I went off to business school and then on to graduate school to prepare for a career in healthcare.

Other than the inconvenience of being shunned by everyone I knew and the keen ability to instantly perform a dress check on every person I met, I managed to pretend to be “normal.” There was a period of time when I had recurring nightmares where I’d find myself at church without a tie; crying and feeling panicked as I begged other guys to give me theirs before my dad saw me, but the nightmares had gone away by my 30th birthday.

I didn’t give Hyles-Anderson another thought until years later when I married a woman who was also a former HAC student. The day we found out that her teaching degree was worthless for state licensure, we started looking for accredited graduate schools to balance her HAC degree.

After hitting roadblock after roadblock after roadblock with real colleges, we finally found an accredited (though desperately Podunk) institution to accept her HAC undergraduate degree. During this debacle, a conversation broke out on Facebook between a surprisingly large group of HAC graduates.

Select quotes from Facebook (none of the comments are my own):

“Could someone in the Hyles-Anderson College administration please begin to push for becoming accredited? […] I’m saying this for the over 50% of past students who will never work in full time ministry or are currently not working in full time ministry. Please get accredited HAC!”

“There is no point in spending thousands on education that isn’t worth a thing in the real world. It’s a waste of time and money. This issue needs to be addressed. Well done, [edited].”

“It is frustrating and embarrassing when someone asks if I have a degree, and why I don’t use it. I usually leave out the part that it’s not accredited because then I just look like an idiot.”

“How does it feel to have wasted $30,000? I know, I did it too. I’m going back now to get a real one.”

“My non-accredited degree doesn’t just affect me – it also affects my husband who must maintain a high security clearance for work. He was sweating bullets when he had to list me, my background, schooling, associations, etc. My degree and work history was built around a man/place now involved with criminal activity. Luckily, he was fine (so far), but I felt absolutely horrible.”

“What is funny to me is that the dining hall had more accreditation and gold stars than our education.”

There’s nothing Independent Baptists hate more than an independent thought. Cue the “it’s not HAC’s fault your HAC degree is worthless” arguments:

“I don’t wanna be a plumber. Hmmm… I think I won’t go to plumbing school.”

“Agreed, [name edited]. If you want to be a lawyer, go to Yale. If you want a business degree, go to Harvard. If you want to be in full time ministry, there are options for that as well.”

“Many good points about how accreditation is good. But isn’t the bottom line that HAC isn’t accredited and advertises such, so if one wants an accredited degree they need to go elsewhere? If one wants to go into the church system that doesn’t require it or prefers you don’t have it, go to HAC. I don’t see why this debate continues year after year.’

This has to be the most disingenuous load of nonsense I have ever heard. Of course someone who doesn’t want to be a plumber shouldn’t go to plumbing school; of course someone who wants to be a lawyer should go to law school; of course someone who doesn’t want to be a brainwashed cult leader shouldn’t go to Hyles-Anderson College.

These IFB defenders are insinuating that I had a choice; that my wife had a choice; that all of the men and women commenting on that Facebook conversation had a choice; that the hundreds of young men and women in my freshman class who were visibly miserable had a choice. Some did have a choice (they’re easy to spot), but at least half of us didn’t.

We didn’t have a choice, and if we even hinted that we wanted to pursue other options, the flood gates would open and drown us all in the most fear-inducing, emotionally abusive fallacious arguments one could ever imagine. IFB colleges recruit by intimidation through indoctrination – and it works.

I got out early and went on to pursue a traditional education. My wife, thanks to my tenacious bulldogging of other colleges, found an acceptable way out of her HAC degree. We’re fine.

But there are others out there. Only God knows how many IFB high school students are going to be shipped off this fall to places like HAC, Providence Baptist College, and other non-accredited IFB colleges against their will, against their better judgment, and against their best interest. Arguably even more disturbing is the number of kids who blindly follow along (lest they end up married to a Southern Baptist *gasp!*) and will end up with a worthless degree and no credible career options outside of the IFB church.

Billy Wednesday is the author of Please visit to contact Billy with questions or comments. The views expressed in this article are that of the article’s author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the owner/operators of