Spiritual Abuse

Brief Introduction

Spiritual abuse is similar to emotional abuse and occurs when the leaders of a church or religious organization use their power and position to manipulate, control and/or coerce their congregation/followers/members, whether on purpose or with good intentions. Spiritual abuse often occurs subtly for seemingly the “right” reasons, but it can also be blatant for outright selfish financial, emotional or physical gain. Spiritual abuse includes, but is not limited to mind-control, thought reform, coercion, manipulation, deception, legalism, authoritarianism, guilt trips, judgementalism/”Phariseeism”, holier-than-though attitude, and a “we are right and everyone else is wrong” attitude.

Spiritual abuse is often done in the name of proclaiming the ‘truth’. The trouble with spiritual abuse is that the perpetrator often has been deceived him/herself into thinking that they are helping when in actuality they are doing more harm than good.

Spritual Abuse has turned Christianity into ‘Churchianity’ where the church and it’s particular traditions have become more important than or at least equal to, the Word. ‘Denominationalism’ and ‘traditionalism’ find their way into the teachings and become enmeshed so that no one can tell where Christianity begins and the traditions end.

David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen in The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse describe spiritual abuse well when he said: “It’s possible to become so determined to defend a spiritual place of authority, a doctrine or a way of doing things that you wound and abuse anyone who questions, or disagrees, or doesn’t ‘behave’ spiritually the way you want them to. When your words and actions tear down another, or attack or weaken a person’s standing as a Christian- to gratify you, your position or your beliefs while at the same time weakening or harming another- that is spiritual abuse.”


One of the biggest problems with spiritual abuse is that it is VERY subtle. Think of the abuser as a con artist. Pastors and other spiritual leaders become adept at using spcipture to back up their subtle manipulation and control. Leaders often find ways to control, not only what happens in their churches, but also what happens in Your personal life. For example, leaders in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination would frequently communicate the need for us to consult with them (or your discipler) before making decisions especially major decisions. Leadership brings guilt on members for going on vacation especially of that person hasn’t paid the correct amount of tithe.

Fratranizing with people who have left the church is strictly forbidden. People who have left the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination are shunned and considered “off limits”. In the church I was in growing up it wasn’t out right taught but the message was clear that if you didn’t go to an Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination you were not only decieved and sinnful, but also your salvation was questionable. The message was that the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination had the monopoly on the gospel message and the only way to be truly saved was to get saved from the message that the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination brings.

Spiritual abuse often leads people to question their spirituality or standing with God. Victims become preoccupied with observing others in the congregation to see who is living up to the rules and who isn’t. In my church, If someone wasn’t living up to the standards set forth by the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination they were considered rebellious and we were not to have any associations with them. One of the rules was that dying one’s hair is considered worldly and therefore a sin. I remember when an older girl who had graduated from our school came back from college and her hair was died. We all stood around in a circle gossiping about how she had backsliden and how she was being influenced by the world since she obviously didn’t go to an Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination affiliated college.

Churches that abuse promote extra-biblical rules and standards and equate them as doctrine or at least as coming from God, with your salvation or spirituality in jeopardy if they aren’t followed. Trivial matters are brought to attention such as the way one dressed or styles his/her hair, the music one listens to, the clothes one wears, etc.

Victims are often depressed about their inability to live up to those rules and standards, worried that they aren’t pleasing the Lord, and frustrated that they keep sinning. Victims often feel that they aren’t good enough and not able to live up to the expectations. The joy of a relationship with God is replaces with a fear of God the “Cosmic Killjoy”.

Churches that abuse often focus on the penalty for sin. They communicate the Lord as a cosmic dictator or harsh taskmaster, eagerly waiting for you to make a mistake so that he can “chasten” you. A friend once told me that God was her “cosmic kill-joy”. Abusive churches are often performance oriented, with an “us verses them” or elitist mentality. Questioning is often discouraged, forbidden, or branded as a sign of rebellion or lack of spirituality. Those who do not follow the rules may be labeled, shunned, shamed, or removed from church positions or even excommunicated.

You may not be allowed to confront or question those in leadership as they are “God’s anointed”. Any form of questioning is considered an act of rebellion and the person is chastised for question the authority of the leaders. This “guilt trip” suppresses the person normal God given intuition that something doesn’t quite feel right about the church. The leaders take advantage of this by preaching a sermon on how the authority of the leaders shouldn’t be questioned and the cycle of abuse continues as the person is reluctant to even consider that their intuition is correct. Thus the person is stuck at the abusive church, ensnared in the web of manipulation and lies. Members are taught that only God is to handle situations in which leadership may have done wrong leaving the leadership unaccountable.

Spiritual abuse is also the misuse of a position of power, leadership, or influence to further the selfish interests of someone other than the individual who needs help. Sometimes abuse arises out of a doctrinal position. At other times it occurs because of legitimate personal needs of a leader that are being met by illegitimate means. Spiritually abusive religious systems are sometimes described as legalistic, mind controlling, religiously addictive, and authoritarian.

Common Characteristics of Spiritual Abuse Among the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination

  1. Manipulation of Scripture

As with many spiritually abusive organizations, the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination gets the process of studying the Word of God backwards. Instead of learning from the Bible through proper exegesis and interpretation, they develop their beliefs and then find scripture to support those beliefs. This, I would say is the underlying foundation of spiritual abuse. Manipulating the Bible to make it say what you want it to say so that it supports your beliefs is the very foundation of spiritual abuse. This allows the organization to say or do whatever it wants and say/do it all in the name of Scripture. The usual method is to take a verse out of context so that it supports the belief then manipulate people into thinking that is the meaning of that particular verse.

It is of utmost importance that we handle the Bible carefully and accurately. And in order to do that we MUST have the ability to detect and avoid exegetical fallacies. When it comes to the Bible Context is King. Anyone can make the Bible support any belief that they hold. The key is finding what the Bible is really saying about a particular topic. It’s not easy but it’s so worth it.

As an example I would like to share a recent discussion I had with someone who was portraying this mindset. The topic was faith healing and my opponent was arguing that the Lord extends healing to everyone the same way He does salvation. Basically she was saying that just like Salvation is available to all who ask, so is healing of physical illness, all we have to do is ask and have faith. She stated that “God is no respecter of persons so why should we think that he picks and chooses whom he will heal”. Well there are three major flaws in that argument.

    • First, common sense will tell you that can’t possibly be true. I have known many people who have asked for healing and had the faith in God to heal them but were not healed.
    • Second, the verse she was referring to is Acts 10:34. If you read the context it is Peter talking to Cornelius, and they were talking about spreading the Gospel of Christ to, not only the Jew, but also to the Gentile. Peter stated (to paraphrase) that he is now realizing that God will no longer show favoritism (favoritism in the NIV “respecter of persons” in the KJV) to Israel and will make his Gospel message available to the gentile as well. Son after that you will read that the Holy Spirit is made available to the Gentiles. So we see that that verse has nothing to do with faith healing. My opponent simply took that verse way out of context and falsely used it to support her beliefs.
  • Third, if you believe that healing is distributed is a manner paralleling salvation then you must also believe the same is true for wealth, happiness, etc. You can’t just apply that to healing.

Exegesis and proper interpretation of scripture in context should come first. Beliefs should then follow based on that exegesis. It is abusive to take a verse out of context and apply it to a topic in order to support a specific belief.


  • Legalism


Probably the most obvious characteristic of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination is it’s legalistic mentality, its focus on the law rather than grace. The Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination blends the ceremonial laws of the OT Israelites with the moral law and the NT covenant. These laws become enmeshed and are confused with God’s design for the New Testament Church. What’s worse yet is that the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination picks and chooses which OT laws it will follow making this characteristic much more confusing and abusive.

For example, the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination chooses to abide by the “Ye shall not… print any marks upon you” (KJV) [“Do not… put tattoo marks on yourselves” (NIV)] Leviticus 19:28, but ignores “neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woolen come upon thee” (KJV) [“Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material,” (NIV)] Leviticus 19:19. For reasons that are never explained, it is wrong to get a tattoo but it is ok to wear a polyester/cotton blend shirt. I grew up thinking that I was doomed for hell if I got a tattoo. (I now have a tattoo by the way 🙂

Performance of the law is a way to gain favor with God and a way to make God like us more. Those who are successful are put on a pedestal and those who can’t measure up are considered rebellious and outcasts. Grace is never spoken of except as it relates to salvation. Rules, laws, and standards are the litmus to gage a “good” Christian. Works and doing things correctly becomes most important and relationship is emphasized very little if at all.

We must remember that God desires a relationship with us. As we draw closer to him in intimate relationship the behavior then falls into place based on our individual convictions.


  • Authoritarian


Another very distinctive characteristic of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination is the emphasis on absolute obedience to church authority. Because the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination believes they have been established by God as the correct church, the leaders claim to be an extension of the authority of God.

To give you an idea of what authoritarian means, picture in your mind a military General. The solders under his/her command are expected to obey him/her and follow his/her orders immediately and without question. To question or to belay an order is the same as disobedience and subject to punishment.

Just like a military General, leaders in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination exercise complete or almost complete control over the wills of others. My church had a popular saying: “Delayed obedience is disobedience”. This was mainly in reference to children obeying their parents, but it also applied to church attendees and workers obeying the leaders and also Christians obeying God. As far as I know this isn’t in the Bible. I at least couldn’t find any reference to it. Perhaps if an astute reader who knows of a place where this can at least be implied from reading the Bible I would appreciate him/her letting me know.

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Many leaders in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination back up this teaching by using Matthew 23:1-2 “sit in Moses’ seat,” which is interpreted as a position of spiritual authority. The assumption is that God operates among His people through a hierarchy, or “chain of command.” In this abusive system unconditional submission is often called a “covering,” or “umbrella of protection” which will provide some spiritual blessing to those who fully submit. Followers are told that God will bless their submission even if the leadership is wrong. It is not their place to judge or correct the leadership – God will see to that.

This abusive characteristic extends to the family as well with the Father/Husband seen as the authoritarian leader of the family and the wife and children as submissive. The father has an obligation, under threat of punishment from God for not properly leading his family, to rule over his wife and children. Spanking becomes a normal method for punishing children and is justified by using scripture (Click Here to read more on Spanking).

This authoritarian view of leadership is also projected onto God and his authority over us. God is portrayed as a “cosmic-killjoy” just waiting for someone to screw up so that he can exact his punishment. The Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination paints a picture of God also as one who is a military leader, unhappy with all the disobedience happening among his people and patiently waiting for when he can punish us and correct our deviant behavior.


  • Image Conscious


The Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination is meticulous to maintain an image of righteousness. The organization’s history is often misrepresented in the effort to demonstrate the organization’s special relationship to God. The mistaken judgments and character flaws of its leaders are denied or covered up in order to validate their authority and project an image of perfection. Impossibly high legalistic standards of thought and behavior are imposed on the congregation. Their failure to live up to these standards signifies rebellion and represents a constant reminder of his/her inferiority to the leaders, and the necessity of submission to them. The leaders exploit this to gain more control of their congregations.

I remember sitting in church one evening listening to a guest speaker. As he started he came to a place in his sermon where it became necessary to make a self disclosure of his past sinfulness. As he started he became really serious and announced with deep regret that he had once told a lie several years ago. He asked the congregation to forgive him and then proceeded with the sermon. I was a little confused by this at the time. I was torn between a desire to bow at his feet and worship him for such holiness and perfection and the desire to find out if that is all he had really done. Now that I know better, I understand how difficult it was for this person to show the congregation that he wasn’t perfect. He acted like that one lie was the worst sin he had ever committed and that if it weren’t for that one lie he would have lived a perfect life. His desire was to paint a picture for the congregation of perfection. Of course I, sitting in my pew, knowing all the things I had done wrong, am wondering how I will even make it home without God smiting me let alone get into heaven.

All blessings, from God as well as the church leaders, come through performance of spiritual requirements. Failure is strongly condemned so there is only one alternative, perfection. What many don’t realize, however, is that the more perfection one displays the more arrogance and pride they develop. But that pride is never questioned or disciplined. Somehow the pride that accompanies increases in perfection, isn’t wrong. Those who fail in their efforts to gain perfection are labeled as weak, rebellious, unfaithful, etc. Not being able to live up to the perfection expectations of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination, many people turn to suicide as a way out. Since perfection is impossible for mere human beings, failure is often inevitable and met with depression (which is also a sin in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination by the way), heavy guilt, repeat confessions and

I remember feeling like a failure so many times for not being able to live up to the standards set by my Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination church. I remember classmates who’s aspirations included the mission field or church ministry were put up on a pedestal and honored and made examples of what one is supposed to do. Those who had no such aspirations had to make them up in order to get approval and respect from teachers, church leaders and other classmates.

This is an underlying theme for Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination spiritual abuse. People are not allowed to be themselves. They are made to fit into a particular mold and if people don’t conform they are shunned and rejected as outcasts. Association with these “outcasts” in any way signified a waiver in the faithfulness of one’s commitment to the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination. I’m just starting to learn who I am as a person. My healing from this abusive characteristic has lead me on a journey to find out who the real me is. When I learned about this characteristic I realized for the first time that God likes me the way he made me, flaws and all. It’s very freeing actually to be able to approach God knowing that he accepts me for who I am and I don’t have to put on a false image to appear better than I really am. God isn’t fooled by that anyway.


  • Black and White Thinking


There was a saying in the church I grew up in, “There are NO gray areas!” Everything is either right or wrong, black or white, good or evil, sinful or not sinful, etc. in the teachings of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination. There is no middle ground. In the counseling world, this is called a cognitive distortion or thinking error and in the philosophy arena its a false dichotomy logical fallacy.

When we fall victim to Black and White Thinking, we have mistakenly reduced an entire spectrum of possibilities down to the two most extreme options, each the polar opposite of the other without any shades of gray in between. Often, those categories are of our own creation, and we are attempting to force the world to conform to our preconceptions about what it should look like.

As an all-too-common example, many people in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination insist that whoever is not “with” us must therefore be “against” us – and can then justifiably treat those who are “against us” as an enemy. This dichotomy assumes that there are only two possible categories – with us and against us – and that everything and everyone must belong to either the former or the latter. Possible shades of gray, like agreeing with our principles but not our methods, are ignored entirely.

Black-and-white thinking defines two opposites that are opposites in every way, meaning that there is no overlap or potential for compromise. There is no gray zone because the opposites cannot co-exist but must cancel out each other—or so it seems. One opposite is defined as being absolutely good and the other is defined as being absolutely evil, thus setting up an inevitable, to-the-death struggle between them.

The result of this manipulation is that the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination has adopted a very simplistic view of the world. Their teachings are completely true and all others are completely false. There is no room for any nuances in between, which means that people almost inevitably become extremists and fanatics – hence the term “Fundamental” in the very name of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination. This is a very easy approach to life because it really doesn’t require people to think for themselves. They simply accept the definitions created by the leaders without making any personal attempts to question or discern whether they are right according to the truth of the Word of God. They believe what the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination teaches and holds as truth is absolutely right and that God himself would agree with them and them only.

Because of this, it can be extremely difficult for Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination followers to admit that they are wrong. Such people tend to become very defensive and hostile toward anyone who questions the validity of their traditions and doctrine and therefore become unapproachable. This is why the scribes and the Pharisees wanted Jesus dead and why some people in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination become fanatical in defending their “truth.”


  • Confusing Absolutes, Preferences, and Convictions


Similar to Black and white Thinking the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination confused absolutes, preferences, and convictions. Absolutes would be things that would be considered absolutes such as Christ’s death, burial and resurrection and are pretty much universal. Preferences would be considered something that is neither right or wrong but is just a preference such as the Pastor prefers to pray before the sermon starts or I prefer the color blue over the color red. Preferences are highly individualized, however, they are flexible enough to “let go of” for the sake of harmony. Convictions are also highly individualized and are between the individual and the Lord. Convictions should not be compromised and include such things as a conviction that we are admonished to take care of our environment.

The problem with the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination is that, because of their Doctrine of Separation and their Black and White thinking (see above) they enmesh absolutes, preferences, and convictions and make them all absolutes. They take what should be a personal preference or an individual conviction and make it an absolute. The Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination pushed their convictions and preferences on its members and makes them believe that they are absolutes, either right or wrong.

When a preference or conviction becomes a dogmatic must or should, emotional disturbance results. People get confused and lose all sense of their individual relationship with the Lord. That confusion turns into anger and relationship with God is decreased or even lost all together. Albert Ellis, a famous Psychologist who developed the Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy in the Psychology field, coined the term “musterbation” (not to be confused with masturbation) which refers to a kind of irrational belief that something should or must be the way you want it to be. He said that this kind of a belief produces maladaptive anger. I guess it’s no wonder why I’ve been so angry after my abusive experience with the Independent Fundamental Baptist Denomination.

This article was written in conjunction with Dr. Santan of www.HealingSpiritualAbuse.com. Copyright belongs to www.HealingSpiritualAbuse.com and www.BaptistDeception.com together.


  1. I am a ex pastors son in the denomination and the term ex comes from the fact that my dad was an assistant in a church where the pastor dealt with many sins in the church including adultry in multiple cases until his daughter stepped out on her husband. My dad approached him and said you need to be fair and deal with her just like you have dealt with other members in the church and not show partiality due to it being your daughter… fast forward they fired my dad with no grounds and ran his name through the mud using scripture out of context to conceal the nature of the situation at hand! This is the biggest problem with our churches we use scripture to back whatever it is we feel like preaching about or harping on instead of letting God give us a message we find the scripture and bens it to say what we want. I am a firm believer in standards and holy living but I have never been able to wear a pair of shorts or go to the movies due to a traditional belief with no scripture supporting it. On the shorts issue the pastor used an Old Testament reference saying the unveiling of the thigh is nakedness referring to the priest when climbing the stairs he should have no flesh showing and I was never intending to wear shorty shorts? nevertheless on the movies the answer was “there is no scripture to back it it’s just not a good place to go, it’s dark and sin goes on in there and it’s in our church covenant not to go” I know people who went to the movies and wore shorts as men and women who wore pants and they were landblasted by those who didn’t do those things almost every Sunday. I recall several times pictures were screenshot of of Facebook to show to other members in gossip circles! I believe our independent ranks have lost the love of 1 John and resorted to trying to act on the Old Testament judgement of God, disregarding the grace (unless we are preaching on salvation then it’s ok to use the word grace.) I’ve been to meeting after meeting and heard many preachers and they all preach God to fit their personalities and preferences. Those who are serious not fun loving preach on what God doesn’t want us to do in our recreational time, those who are serious and angry preach Gods wrath and indignation, those who are sweet individuals and kind and compassionate preach the compassion of Christ on the people but in every aspect we fail to preach every personality of God! We cannot just use God to fit each situation and God has not sent us to do His dirty Work by executing His judgement on church members God can discipline His children Himself. He does not appreciate (just like we don’t) other people thinking they know the best way to discipline His children. I’ve heard so many times in church that you can sin until God kills you and this is the sin unto death and another will say that Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is the sin unto death, and another says denying Christ access to your heart too many times is the sin unto death! All scare tactics to make their messages have a spark but only God knows what that is. The only description He gave in paraphrase is you don’t want to be in that position. Anyways as time progressed my uncle came on to my wife and he was a Sunday school teacher. Upon approaching my pastor nothing was done and it somehow was turned on me and her and my uncle spread rumors and his clique took the church over booting us out. Now we are disowned by our church ( no one that I have known for over 20 years speaks to us at the stores) and by my family. Shunning is only truly executed once until a person dies in the Bible and it was Cain when God marked him for slaying His brother. No person should have to go through the things we have been through (and I have more but I will save them) what people don’t realize is, when you gossip and shun people you aren’t just messing with that individual for a moment but His is peoples lives and sanity we are playing with and not to mention their children don’t deserve it just because you have a beef with their parents or because you are jealous because they sang the special you wanted in church! God help us brethren to get it right one day and to forgive those who have left the church and not be so hard. And to those on my side of the spectrum God tells us to Love our enemy’s and to do good to those that despite fully use you. Do not think they will go unnoticed from the throne above their Day is coming but God tells us to forgive and move on. Defend the faith and love the brethren!

  2. This article really demonstrates how the Independent Fundamental Baptist church operates. I used to attend one from 3rd grade until halfway through my junior year in high school. I also was enrolled in the church run school. I dealt with the fear of never being good enough, and I was very oppressed. For example, I used to always wear a skirt 1) because I was taught that if I didn’t wear one, it would distance me from god and 2) because I didn’t want to be looked down on by the church members. Drama and gossip was the normal, even though it was preached against. Since I also attended the school and was part of the youth group, I was more exposed to the heavy handed ness of the teachings and leaders. I remember going to sing at other IFB churches and our group judging the other church because they played drums during the singing (drums were a sin according to the Bible apparently). I really began thinking for myself when I reached high school. I realized that in many of the sermons and bible class lessons, the Bible was twisted to fit a personal or religious agenda. Although I kept my thoughts to myself, I was singled out and labeled as “poison” and a “rebel”. I was shamed by the youth pastor and screamed at for asking a question pertaining to language translations of the Bible. I have since left that church and religion, but to this day some members of the church refuse to acknowledge my existence. Refusing to even look at me even if I’m standing right in front of them. I was emotionally, mentally, and spiritually hurt and confused while at the church, and the wounds created might always last. Attending a church like this has turned me off from Christianity and basically all forms of religion completely, and have caused me to lose respect for many of those members. Reading this article has made me see that I’m not the only one who sees these issues, and that they are in fact, real.

  3. I have been reading this website for some insights. While there are many IFB churches that are highly abusive, there are also many that are highly blessed. I cannot help but notice that the overall spirit of the website is one of unease and bitterness. This kind of abusive spirit that unfortunately was passed on to you is now being passed through you. I pray that you would be able to work through your issues Steve. I will pray for you sir.

    1. So Dave, let me ask you (as I’ve asked a thousand other people who have said the same things to me, but have yet to get an answer), where is the line? When is someone allowed to speak out against, what they believe is, a “Christian” group acting like a cult and twisting scripture?

      The alternative to what I’m doing, which you are implying, is that I just remain silent and turned a blind eye to the dangers and teachings of the IFB. When is it appropriate for me to speak out against such grave misrepresentations of scriptures and Christianity? What has to happen, from your perspective, for it to be acceptable for someone to speak out? Please tell me. I’m truly curious to know. Can you provide scripture to back it up?

      For a response regarding your bitterness comment please read https://baptistdeception.com/bitterness-deception/

      For a response regarding your implication of painting all IFB with too broad of a stroke, please read https://baptistdeception.com/broad-stroking-deception/

      You don’t have to waste your time praying for me. I’m already doing what God has called me to do.

    2. I’ve realized that adult church members who don’t have kids or teens in the church don’t see how controlling it is. If you are settled down and follow the rules for the most part because you are mature, then there is no problem; seems like a great church. But,raising my children in that kind of church because of the good foundation, I’ve been fighting against its controlling techniques for years. One paticular issue I have is how you cant do anything like choir, or sports unless you are going out soul winning one or two days a week. The kids who go to the church school, never have one free day away from the church with that rule. The homeschoolers, like us, struggle to keep up with the rigid routine just so my girls can play volleyball or attend choir. And, how they control who dates who and when and how. Parents dont have any say in the matter because they basically have you or your child blackmailed with something one way or another. Why I don’t leave? Cause it is my kids lives. Friends, activities, love for the members, missing the children they got to know in the bus ministry, etc.. However, I would be rich if I could have a dime for every tear drop that my girls have cried. I’m really think ing about changing to an independent Baptist. Please pray for us.

  4. I was reared in the Hyles- Rice camp of Independent Baptists. My home church didn’t believe in movies, dancing, etc. but on the whole in the early days it was a balanced church. The church began to grow and the pastor was well loved.

    He began receiving accolades such as an honorary degree from Hyles-Anderson College and a position on the board of a well respected Christian ministry. Our church would have well known men like Jack Hyles, Dr. John R. Rice, Dr. Lee Roberson, etc. in to preach. My husband graduated from a state university. We married and moved to Tn. to attend Temple Baptist Theological Seminary. After seminary my husband became a pastor.

    Over time we became more concerned over what we were seeing in the Independents. The “worship” of well known preachers, the K.J.V controversy, the control of people’s personal lives, the group “think”, etc. The last time we went to hear Jack Hyles preach it took 25 minutes to introduce him. On the way home my husband said,” Honey they are taking glory that belongs to Christ and giving it to men.”

    When the Jack Hyles’ scandal broke along with other well known preachers’s scandals, there were too many pastors who wanted to sweep it under the rug instead of calling these men to repentance and accountability with the hope of restoration.
    Our home pastor made a statement which made us realize he wouldn’t take a stand either. This grieved us. My husband and I left the Independents and continued to serve in the pastorate until his home going in 2010 within the Southern Baptists.

  5. Leave while you still have a soul. I cease to be amazed at the IFB deception. The likes of Hyles-Anderson, Bob Jones University, FBFI, and so many others is astounding. HA and BJU aren’t even in the same camp, but produce so much of the abuses discussed here. To me the bottom line is the modern church looks and functions nothing like we see the first three centuries of church history, yet our modern practices are continually justified. Until be are honest with ourselves and address the basics, nothing will ever change.

  6. I used to belong to an IFB congregation for a time and a season. In this particular congregation, the leadership was comprised of family members (biological family) which created accountability issues and a “cult-like” environment. The Pastor did not have tact with speaking and was given too much reverence from the congregation. There was a pressure to perform lots of works.

    This congregation believed that the IFB church was the only true church and all other congregations were filled with apostates. This congregation shunned members that question the leadership of the church on any matter. Even if you did ministry together for years and thought that everyone was family in Christ, they would ignore you, should you question the local church leadership. This congregation was very strict on keeping the KJV Bible translation and preached that all other Bible translations were useless. Yes, the gospel was preached, however, it seemed like God’s grace was being put aside for a performance score card afterward.

    I now belong to a Grace filled, Christ loving congregation with my family. Although no church congregation is perfect on earth, I would first give a word of caution to anyone wanting to join an IFB congregation.

  7. The reply above from me (Malc) that I ended with a verse of Scripture, should have said correctly: “A man should love his wife like Christ loved the Church.”
    Sorry for the error, and bless you all.21

  8. Thank you so much for “the Truth” about this abusive denomination. My wife and I suffered 5 years of spiritual abuse. We were both very active in the church during our time there. But, praise God, He snatched us out of it. The church was in London, and The Lord put us in the country. He has given us a beautiful cottage to live in, where we can both go through the healing process we need so badly.
    The pastor of the church is a man well known for his 50 plus years of serving God. Most of the congregation really do put him on a pedestal. We have been blacklisted by the church, except for a faithful few of our close brethren.
    God is making some wonderful changes in our life. At last we can be what we are before the Living God. Jesus is our friend, not some untouchable entity. Our eyes have been opened to our relationship with the Holy Spirit. We can listen again to the music we loved when first came to know the Lord. We are children of God again, not some obedient, robotic machine.
    Maybe hate is the wrong word, but I hate the Independent fundamental Baptist Movement. Lives are being destroyed, not only spiritually, but emotionally and physically also.
    I will finish with a statement the pastor made from the pulpit: “If a married couple both go to work full-time, it remains the responsibility of the wife to do all the household chores, cleaning, shopping, cooking etc.” If that is how a husband should treat his wife, I think the Scripture that says: “A man should treat his wife like Christ treated the Church” should be looked at in great depth!

    Thank you. May our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ bless you for listening to Him, and revealing what so many are afraid to do.

  9. I am currently trying to divorce the pastor’s son of an IFB church. I can’t even tell you how bad it is. My husband filed an ex parte so until the judge makes a ruling I am forced to live at the church with my in-laws in order to have my children. My oldest wants nothing to do with this church. I could go elsewhere but I would have to leave my children to do so and they know I won’t leave them. I have been told their only objective is to keep the girls here. He claimed in his affidavit that I was a horrible and neglectful parent in order to get the ex parte. So I assume if I agree they will drop it and allow me to have the girls. I cannot agree to forcing my children to stay in this church . My oldest has been abused and bullied, held to ridiculous standards and fat shamed for eating more than half a can of ravioli. On the outside this church looks amazing and visiting missionaries and such think this place is great. I simply want to take them to an IFB in a different city ( though seriously rethinking that now) one where they are not related to the pastor. I very much feel like I’m being held hostage.

    My daughter has been told by my father inlaw that everything is my fault, I am not right with God and that I am trying to destroy the family. All because I want to leave my cheating narcisistic husband. They are forcing her to homeschool with my Mother inlaw who was a school art teacher 100 years ago. She also has a doctorate in Christian Therapy. She has told my daughter she is too old to cry. She absolutely hates school now. It has been a month since the ex parte was granted. This shouldn’t be legal in any sense. I don’t understand how in this day and age this can happen. I know they are telling themselves that this is for girl’s eternal souls, their lies are justified. I just need to get us out of here. Legally of course.

    1. Oh, Stephanie! Be strong. Be brave. You are so correct in getting away from the convoluted mess! I’ve been there and I know it is hard. You sound like you have a good handle on things so hang on! Get the best lawyer you can find and if you need support get to a good Christian counselor. Grace is real! Peace is possible! One day you will say, “It is well with my soul.” Until then I will pray for you.

    2. Stephanie, there are independent churches who aren’t the fundamental strict churches being spoke about here. I use to attend one but when he left we ignorantly voted in the fundamental preacher not knowing the difference. I’ve visited others as well and they are similar i n beliefs. Just do your homework where you choose to go. I will pray for your situation. Stay strong.

    3. IFB has affected my marriage and I’m divorcing my husband because he chooses church over family. He has belittled me because I refuse to submit which is not how I believe God intended for marriage to be. We are supposed to be partners and I’m not another one of his children.

  10. Hello,
    while I feel sorry for those who have experienced problems in IFB churches, I do have some sincere questions and comments.
    A. While there are cliques etc., the truth is that IFB churches are independent, which means the pastor runs the show, and meaning that churches don’t have to tow the line of some HQ policy-makers.
    B. Every church is different.
    C. While I sympathize with your problems, I have noticed this: very little Scripture to back up many of the venting and claims, and a lot of explanations about feelings (Jer. 17:9).
    D. I noticed most of what is posted has to do with emotions, feelings, experiences, and very little substance: what a pastor’s wife does is what “she” does… I don’t see how this relates to Scripture and the idea that churches should be independent and should follow Scripture.
    E. A lot of rants against the KJV, with little mention that most IFB churches teach that it’s a translation and Greek text issue. No one here seems to be dealing with the substance that modern translations are taken from Westcott and Hort’s minority Greek. So Old English isn’t always easy, ok, but this is again an experiential issue, not a factual debate of the Greek and translation styles.
    F. While there are many IFB churches that have politics, do remember that the NT has a lot of politics. John Mark left Paul, Barnabbas and Paul didn’t see eye to eye, people were carnal and took sides between Apollos and Paul, yet God worked around that to accomplish His goals. In 3rd John, the Apostle of love says he will deal with the power-hungry dictator Diotrephes, yet he doesn’t advocate leaving the church or staring blogs about the abuse they suffered.
    G. I confess that I’ve experienced a bit of politics (name me one job or one church that doesn’t see this), but I’ve honestly been blessed with IFB churches that have shown love, hunger for lost souls etc. … So its there!

    Please try using Scripture more and addressing more Doctrinal Scriptural issues rather than emotional experiences…

    1. I have also noticed over the course of time being an independent myself that there is hardly any scripture supporting most of what we believe I have never been allowed to go to the movies or wear a pair of shorts in my life and upon asking my pastor about the movies he said they are dark and a lot of sin goes on in there and it’s in our church covenant and about the shorts it says in the Old Testament the unveiling of the thigh is nakedness referring to the priest when they climbed the stairs in the temple. Our problem sir is we love to preach Jesus in the New Testament and grace when it comes to salvation but we love to pick out the parts of the Old Testament that best suit our opinions. Why would someone not be able to start a blog as such you aren’t able to talk to people at work about it we may be ruining our testiimony as a church and you can’t talk to the church people about it or you will be shunned. My uncle was a Sunday school teacher and we were close to them. I had to take a test and my wife went to se their new house (my aunt was present) and in the process he strongly came on to my wife touching her and making her uncomfortable. Once I related this to my pastor of almost 20 years nothing was done except my uncle took his clique and spread rumors and tried to use scripture to back everything he was doing. Long story short we no longer go there and nobody from there that I grew up with my whole life will talk to us if they see us out in public and my grandparents have disowned us due to the threats from my uncle about taking his kids away from them. I would like to follow this by saying I do believe most of what I have been taught but upon leaving I see that our denomination is labeled independent but through our camp meetings and such we find none of our churches are that much different the more we meet and talk to those of the same faith. I do believe most southern baptist are too loose with their lifestyle but I also believe that perhaps we can be too hard. The shunning and the lack of scripture to back such convictions has got to end and when you find an independent baptist church that does not think that theirs is the only church worth going to in the world let me know. Even leaving to go to another independent church, people will talk about that church being looser than theirs no matter if they are affiliated through meetings with that church or not. We have drove many people off with the things we do only from tradition and not from Gods word( and I am against contemporary music and any new version of the Bible.) Those who have not one bad thing to say about the independent church that they are a part of are either in the upper clique or come in and sit on the back pew and leave without trying to actually be a part of the congregation because that’s the only two ways to refrain from being hurt in such an environment. The pastor from this same church had dealt with adultry many times before but when his daughter cheated on her husband and my dad confronted him on being fair and dealing with it like she was a church member and not being partial on account of her being his blood they fired my dad as the assistant pastor with no allegations against him. Did they use scripture upon addressing these issues? No sir they did not. We did not leave the denomination over this but I would like to say that unless you have been put through the fire befor sir do not feel the need anymore to comment on things that you are ignorant of. We as independents can preach the love of God and in the next breath we are praying fire and indignation on one of our church members we have been friends with for years because they did or bought something that we don’t agree with. One pastor in our area from the pulpit turned his son over to the powers of Satan because he went astray. If we don’t meet in the middle of Gods love, grace, and judgement instead of only preaching God as one sided we are wrong. I personally am sick to my stomach of seeing my friends and people I love scarred by the effects of this type of cultish belief. My own brother in law was kicked out because the preachers daughter tried sending him dirty messages and the pastor doesn’t want that getting out. Therefore he uses verses regarding staying away from worldly people and not keeping bad company to keep church members away from him so they can’t hear his side of the story. The fact is this is not a game this is people’s lives and mental state that we are playing with! I cannot tell you the mental and emotional healing I have had to do and the verses taking out of context that I have had to put back into context mentally and seek Gods true heart instead of just what the pastor told me it meant. And I will put my name as anonymous so that I am not shunned by everyone I know for posting this. It’s a shame that I even have to say that

  11. Linda (Hyles) Murphery begins to tell her story in book form at the link below.


    1. Paul, Thanks for the link. I believe Linda is going to help many folks with this book. I saw her talk on youtube, and it is powerful! It is an excellent demonstration of power gone wrong as relates to her father! She also detailed the abuse she and the family recd at the hands of this meglomaniac.

  12. Cat June 8, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Wow…Can’t sleep as usual…On came a late night ministry program…rockwell ministries and rev/dr Todd Kontz. He was preaching that God had given him the gift of prophesy and told him to pray for seven people who had been revealed to him. These seven people were in great need and they would call to pledge (I believe he called it a revitalization gift) $273.oo! If they paid this, God had promised to grant them a 24 hr miracle. They would recover all they had lost this last year and he was indicating financial losses. Plus God would grant them complete reconciliation with somebody important to them with whom they had been separated. He even was saying one lady was shown to him who would be reconciled with her son. He said this amount was based on Deut.27:3. Enough is enough! I was mad…So I called and the lady asked me if I was ready to pay my $273.00. I told her “No, I am calling to say just one thing. God Does Not Sell Miracles!” All she could manage to say was thank you for calling! I am tired of desprite hurting people being decieved into thinking that for God to bless them, they must pay an t.v fraud! The show prior had a minister telling people to pray as he did and they were babbling incoherantly without any translation while people were placing hands on them! I didn’t need any translation to tell you it was not any known language and I don’t think the Holy Spirit would say things like…blah blue blak blak…they sounded like chickens! Enough blasphemy and taking advantage of poor volunerable people!

    Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-are-gifts-of-the-spirit-a-bible-study/#ixzz2Vcd8tkLk

  13. Matt,
    Having reread some your posts. I applaud your honesty and the way you’ve conducted yourself on this site. I am delighted if you have found a fellowship that is healthy and Christ centered.

  14. Hi Cathleen,
    I don’t disagree with you & my intent was to help, I just don’t think I indicated that very well. 🙁

    My church now has the best Pastor I’ve heard in any church. We do try to reach out to others, whether new Believers or those with “broken wings” from not-so-friendly fire.

    What you’ve described fits my in-law’s church almost exactly. I was there visiting for his first message, & it was great. However, the next three messages (before we left for home) raised questions. I told them there was something wrong with the guy then, but it took them 4 years to figure out he’s one of the camp of “My words are God’s words & if you disagree with me, you’re going to hell,” kind of a guy.

    You’ve pointed out some very good things to “watch out” for in a bad church (which I was trying to do as well… didn’t think it’d be this hard to try to be a help when I first posted here). Anyway, they do try to hide what they are, but it’s not too hard to tell… if they preach excessively on “unity” or “obedience” or “sacrificial giving” or “supporting God’s man” or many other things, little warning bells go off in my head.

    In college one of my (Presbyterian) Bible professors encouraged us to take notes in our Bibles: who preached, what date, what service, title of the message, and cross-referencing verses used. After doing that for awhile little things started jumping out at me. I’m pretty sure if others would do that as well then it’s simple to notice when anyone’s preaching from one verse repeatedly (rather than the whole Bible), and to realize there’s something wrong. Mentioning a supporting reference is completely different than preaching one one topic (like my in-law’s pastor was doing with “unity”) more than 3 times every month.

    Glad you found a good church; ours was small for a few years, but we keep inviting people & knocking doors to invite more… it’s taken about five years to grow to a good size.

    PS – Haven’t been thru there in a few years. I’ll ask around and see if any of my friends in CO would recommend a good church down in CO Springs.

  15. Hi Paul,

    Yes, I’ve traveled a lot. As a kid, my dad was in the military. We were moved often (& drove between duty stations). Then in 5½ years of college (had a few extra minors) I tried many different churches. I’ve also traveled a few years in a singing group… singing in primarily Baptist churches, many different youth camps, & in Christian school chapels. Been to church in almost every state (6 to go), Japan, Germany, Russia, & Puerto Rico.

    I’m a “people watcher” type person, & have been in enough churches to spot a poor one, even when they try to put their best foot forward.

    Primarily, watch the leadership; if they intentionally snub anyone, that’s pretty much a dead giveaway that their are “classes” of members in that church. Can also tell by style of preaching & teaching. There are many different things I listen for, but anything directed at “sinners in this church” lets you know they’re brow-beaters.

    Hope that helps. Need to go; packing up for vacation next week.

    PS: Not sure what tithing has to do with my previous comments, as they were directed at spiritual abuse. Not really planning to open a cross-topic discussion, but most churches of every denomination pass a plate to cover the expenses of running the church. When I traveled & sang, people would give a love offering to cover our expenses.

    1. Matt…I understand where you are coming because I come from a wide church background as well. I also understand where greg and steve are coming from. Since leaving my former church, I have found other Independent Baptist who do not practice the abuses of my former church. There are good ones but unfortunetly when there is a bad one, it usually is really bad! There is a need for this site in that many who have been wounded need to reach out for counsel and support so they can heal. Otherwise many new Christians walk away! These types of churches thrive on those who are new to the denomination and preferably new to the faith! Here is a big warning sign that has been pointed out here before…Are there deacons, elders? Ultimate power, ultimately corrupts! In churches where the minister is the only authority and final say in everything, you are at the mercy of the mans character. If he is a controlling personality, you will have abuse. If he is humble, you will be okay. Keep in mind that there is a growing trend among IBC’s to raise up their own ministers and branch out…this means that your minister may never have gone to seminary or even taken classes related to the ministry. My former was a career cop before salvation and he was trained 100% by his former minister…both were controlling and neither ever went to seminary, or bible college! Of course, my currant minister didn’t either but he is a more humble man and was greatly influenced by his father who is a minister of another denomination.

      Paul points out that visitors are treated differently and the church does usually puts on a show as to not scare off potential new members, or create a reputation which would be a warning sign to other IBC’s, of their practices. This is true…For example, when I was disaplined and brought up on charges for dissention, my minister wouldn’t respond to my concerns and I couldn’t understand why I was being treated so poorly, they threatend to shun and disfellowship me if I didn’t stand in front of the congregation to confess, admit my sin and request the churches forgiveness. At the last minute we had visitors from another church in an joining town and we had a rep with local churches of being cultish! I was told to not mention it and I would have to wait until the afternoon service we were having in place of sunday school that day, there I would make my confession so as not to scare off our visitors! All I had done is what my church said…a woman was to go to her husband for advice and he would go to the minister if needed. I was single and the minister was ignoring me for yrs when I had concerns and questions. So I went to my peers the few woman we had…very small church! They told their husbands who went to the pastor and I was charged with causing desention in the church. Never did get an answer, or apology for how I was treated. I apologized and then left the membership because I was moving. I still got shunned, for all purposes because now I was going to corrupted churches. When I started with that church as a new Baptist, I was treated so differently, no doctrine was ever discussed as there also was no mention of a womens’ place! It was probably months before they started dropping their guard. By then, I had been raised in churches and saved as a child but had not attended church in many years regularly , I was afraid to leave because I was concerned about my friends who were new to the faith and defenseless against the errors being taught! I stayed hoping to be a voice for change so they would know a broader view of our faith! In the end, a single woman had no voice, or position in the church so change was impossible and they were so sucked in that they were not listening to my concerns either. They were fooled into judgement against me as well. However, they divorced when the wife started hearing the truth from coworkers and her husband would not leave his beloved pastor! In the end, God interfered and caused things to happen which took the choice to leave from my hands…My own Christian family said I had become as an abused wife while attending that church…no joy, constantly worried about the ministers opinion and judgement, etc…They begged me to go anywhere but there!

      I had a good foundation in Christianity and I was so much luckier than others for that. However, it still left deep wounds that took a couple of yrs to heal. I didn’t understand how they could be so decieving and needed to know if this was the Baptist faith, or just a perversion of it! Knowing I was not crazy, or alone helped more than you can know!

      You did state some good warning signs but one must attend for a period of time to see how they are when the guard is truely down~ That takes time! So just as we have to be careful not to judge all based on our personnel experiences, you must also be careful to not be fooled by a short visit, or a repeatedly yrly one! Things may not be as it seems! When on a site like this, you must remember to clarify that you are not judging but just offering your experiences. People who have been as greatly hurt and damaged as some of the people on this site have been, can be easily offended sometimes…wounds are deep and sometimes never heal. They need encouragement and understanding…to feel as if somebody cares and wants to share their burdens…for many this is a foreign concept. I was told that if I was lonely, or sad, it was because I was weak in my faith…If I was where I should be I would never need human companionship and I would be happy in isolation, just reading my bible. This of course came from married people with family and I was unwillingly divorced, no kids, and no family anywhere for several states. I was told to not have friends outside of the church, not to go to another churches single group because we were not to fellowship outside our church, not to attempt to date but to wait for God to send a single mate to our church! However, I didn’t get the opportunity to socialize outside of church with married members but rarely, because as a single woman, I could be a threat to their husbands and marriages!
      If I talked of my problems, or burdens and asked for prayer, or just understanding and didn’t have a smile on my face at all times, I was depressing the members and so it was my fault I was alone. I also must not be tithing properly or God would be blessing me and that means I was not right with God and in disfavor!

      Now I agree with you that tithing is not abuse in itself! However it should be what you can truely afford. If your poor and can’t eat, than tithing your food money is not necessary. God will still bless you. You can also tithe time, or maybe you do something for another in need whom the spirit pulls on your heart to help. Just because you helped them and have no money left does not mean you are failing to tithe. We are to tithe to God, not the Church. It is wrong when you must tithe 10% of your true before tax wages without reguard to paying other bills, or needing to go into debt to do so. It should come from the heart and between you and God. It should never be less than your minister does and if somebody can afford more, they should tithe more! When the congregation eats ramen noodles again repeatedly for dinner, or eats one meal a day so they can make the required tithing but your minister with his large family and an outside good paying job doesn’t do the same, that is wrong and abuse. When the minister has a large modernly and expensively decorated home, a large 3rd wheel fairly new camper, golf carts, atv’s, and 3 suv’s, etc…but his congregation can’t find work, pay bills, etc…This is abuse to require a minimum of 10% tithing!

      Hopefully I have given you a different view to consider and a better understanding of what some have experienced. It is becoming a much bigger problem than most know. It is one that I wish the good churches would speak out against…education is the only way to stop the abuse. The good churches need to reach out to those who have left with compassion, understanding, patience, and God’s love which is true Christian charity! For we are told that if we have not Charity, we have nothing…It is the most important and none of the other fruits, or gifts of the spirit mean anything without it!

      Have a safe trip and I would like to know if you have been to any good IBC’s in Colorado Springs. I love my ministers teaching but it is a very small church and I still have no real socialization…not due to abuse but just we have no singles, or programs!

      God Bless…Cat

      1. Cathlene,

        Well stated – loved what you had to say. “That takes time!”
        It sometimes takes several years to really understand what the system is about.
        Wishing you the best.


    2. Matt,
      Thanks for your comments. Having been a part of IFB Fundamentalism for 32 years and having attended many, many different IFB churches during that time (however not as many as you) I bring up the tithing question because I believe it is a COMMON THREAD that runs through IFB churches and for that matter many other non-IFB churches. In my studies, I now embrace this subject (tithing) as a form of spiritual abuse. How well would I fair if I voiced my feelings and opinion to the members of the 800 IFB churches you’ve attended.

      Compliance Directives for the Christian’s Cash and the Bible


  16. @ Matt,

    Hey Matt,

    I appreciate your lengthy and thought out comment. I’m not sure what to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times before. You are essentially accusing us over generalization. As Greg mentioned, this topic has been discussed ad nauseum throughout the site and comments section. I’ve even dedicated an entire article to the subject. It’s entitled Broad Stroking Deception and you can read it here.

    Ultimately though I don’t agree with your “statistics” and I think that you are severely under stating those IFB churches that are on the “fringe” and “oddball”. But let’s say, for arguments sake, that you’re correct. Let’s say for example that the kind of abuse and deception that we discuss on this site does only happen in 5% of the IFB churches. Is that not enough to speak out against it? Does that invalidate our experiences because it only accounts for 5% of all IFBs? How much, according to your perspective, would be too much, 6%, 11%, 50%??? Abuse is abuse and all abuse needs to be exposed and stopped. Even if what we talk about on this site happens in only a fraction of 1% of all IFB churches that would be enough to have a discussion about would it not?

    So let’s crunch some numbers since you seem to like statistics. The Independent Baptist National Roll Call – claiming to be “The Most Comprehensive Church List on the Web!!!” – boasts “Over 10,000 Independent Bible-Believing Baptist Churches listed!”. A similar site The Independent Baptist Church Locator boasts a similar yet slightly less number in their list – around 9500.

    A quick rundown of these “directories” and the information on their sites we could quickly determine that probably a large majority – if not all – are what you would consider “bad apples” (and certainly what I would consider “bad apples”), but let’s say for the sake of argument that only 5% are. If we were to take just 5% of 10,000 that would be 500. Let’s assume (because I have no intention of wasting more time trying to determine the actual numbers) a safe and fair average of 250 members per church (given the fact that membership is almost forced on most IFB church goers that is a VERY conservative number). That’s 125,000 people “on the fringe”! And that doesn’t even take into account all the people caught up in the IFB who aren’t members, nor does it take into account all the IFB churches that haven’t put a listing in these directories, nor does it consider that this site alone as generated well over 7 million hits since 2007 – a large majority of which are searching specifically for information on the dangerous teachings of the IFB (this is taken from a quick analysis of my website keyword/search phrase statistics). A more aggressive look at the numbers would push the amount of people being abused on a regular basis by those “bad apple” IFB churches to well over a million.

    When you say the things you did in your comment – like others who have made the same arguments – you not only trivialize a very serious issue, but you also show a level of disrespect that’s disgusting and nauseating. To simply hand wave the experiences of those who were abused and hurt by the very denomination that you are trying to defend (even if only they are on the “fringe”) is unfathomable to me and tells us that you are more interested in defending your way of doing Christianity than you are in finding the truth and showing empathy to those who have been abused. That’s what the Pharisees did during Jesus’ ministry and to me that’s worse than the actual abuse because it defends the perpetrators rather than the victim and that’s a very slippery slope.

    1. Ah… hi there. Not sure why I didn’t get an email telling me there was a reply this time… just found this. Better late than never.

      Have read more of your site since I last posted (including everything related to the “Broad Stroking” article you posted above) as well as (I think) all of the comments sections below the articles. Was wondering if you read any of my comments above (to greg)? (They should’ve shed more light on why I commented on your article.)

      BTW, in that particular article you mentioned (Broad Stroking), your analogy could be applicable if you’d said “most fast food chains” rather than “only McDonald’s;” it broke down there. McDonald’s requires their franchisees to be trained in a certain place, in a specific way, to purchase specific ingredients from specific vendors, to have a product that meets with McD’s HQ’s requirements, to only allow the employees to dress in a manner approved by McD’s, to respond in specific manners to questions and comments about their establishment, and only serve a very specific, approved menu with pre-determined flavors for those items on the menu. There is no lee-way in a McD’s franchise, other than the decor. IFB Pastors on the other hand (as all other denominations’ Pastors I’ve met) are trained in many different places, in several different ways, get their doctrine from different sources, have different standards of dress, music, & personal appearance, respond very differently to questions or comments about their ministries, and each has their own “style” or “flavor” of doctrine they prefer and to which they give more preference (not based on anyone else’s requirements). They do fall into “camps” or “fellowships” within the denomination, but even those diverge a great deal from others.

      Anyway, I thot it would be best if I attempted to respond to your comments specifically and in some semblance of order (so I’m less likely ramble). 🙂
      & JFYI… for ease of understanding, your quoted comments below will look like this: –“Comment.”–, &
      my responses will look like this: __Response.__ So to begin:

      –“You are essentially accusing us over generalization.”–

      __Was not attempting to “accuse” you of anything, but simply pointed out my experience has been different than yours.__

      –“Ultimately though I don’t agree with your “statistics” and…”–

      __I could go dig thru my records and provide you with a complete list of the church names in which I’ve sung or attended, but it would take me a few weeks to find most of them, and would be impossible to list 100% of them, let alone attempt to determine which few were brow-beaters & worse. I believe the final number would be well over 1,000 churches, but without specifically sitting down and counting them up, all I can say for certain is I know I’ve personally attended more than 800 Baptist (of some type) churches (or their Christian Schools) and quite a few other non-Baptist churches. Whether you agree or disagree with my assessment, doesn’t seem relevant to me… as I was the one in those churches, and in my experience most of those churches (primarily IFB) did not fit the IFB descriptions found here on your site.__

      –“…and I think that you are severely under stating those IFB churches that are on the “fringe” and “oddball”.”–

      __Actually not under-stated… I purposely tried to err toward giving the benefit of the doubt to your site’s general consensus. I really do not remember more than 1 ½ to 2 dozen bad apples in all the churches claiming to be IFB that I’ve ever visited, yet I still said 5%… just in case I forgot some, or they were “on their best behavior” for the visiting singer, etc. Your experience has obviously been quite different than mine, but I wasn’t where you were and therefore do not have a relevant opinion to offer on your experience.

      I’m fairly certain that a large part of the difference of our opinions is based directly upon what each of us defines as a “true IFB” church and what “fringe” groups consist of & believe (whether or not they claim an IFB “label”). For example, most of the Baptist churches (of any type) I’ve attended would not believe that “true” IFB churches would agree with any of the following:
      ..1. Following Peter Ruckman (or any other man’s teachings) rather than the Bible, or
      ..2. Believing the KJV is the only Bible from which you can be saved, or
      ..3. Especially NOT… followers of Westboro Baptist Church & their ilk.
      There are other things that would cause different IFB churches to disregard a label, but for the most part, the majority of IFB churches would label these as “fringe” groups that have claimed the name and promote unsound doctrines that aren’t “normally” taught in mainstream IFB churches. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve read here, it appears you believe anyone claiming the label is truly an IFB church? I believe that would be a major point of disagreement between our opinions.__

      –“Let’s say for example that the kind of abuse and deception that we discuss on this site does only happen in 5% of the IFB churches. Is that not enough to speak out against it? Does that invalidate our experiences because it only accounts for 5% of all IFBs? How much, according to your perspective, would be too much, 6%, 11%, 50%??? Abuse is abuse and all abuse needs to be exposed and stopped. Even if what we talk about on this site happens in only a fraction of 1% of all IFB churches that would be enough to have a discussion about would it not?”–

      __I believe you got my point above, but this is completely separate: I have also sung at and attended churches in many other denominations. I don’t remember them all, but this should be a fairly comprehensive list: Bible Presbyterian, Reformed Presbyterian, Free Presbyterian, Evangelical Presbyterian, Brethren, Free Methodist, Evangelical Methodist, Southern Methodist, Christian & Missionary Alliance, Christ Community, Assembly of God, Church of God, Church of Christ, Church of the Nazarene, Bible, Bible Fellowship, Non-Denominational, Methodist, Community, Bible Community, Reformed Methodist, Catholic, Evangelical Free Baptist, Free Will Baptist, Southern Baptist, Grace Baptist, Regular Baptist, GARB, Reformed Baptist, Landmark Baptist, Unregistered Baptist, Unaffiliated Baptist, Fellowship Baptist, Norwegian Baptist, Swedish Baptist, Pentacostal, and Calvary Chapel.

      I’ve found preferences and doctrines in each of these churches that don’t “fit” or follow my interpretation of the Scripture. Obviously, someone is wrong (them or me), but I can only do my best in interpreting Scripture as the Holy Spirit (HS) has guided me. It’s my opinion that if someone isn’t at least reading their Bible for a few minutes daily, they won’t actually be led by the HS to the center of God’s Will for their life. Unless they are “studying” their Bible (just like studying for high school or college), then they are unlikely to be “led by the HS” at all… but by their beliefs, prejudices, and friends.

      The point I’m getting to is… in many cases these other denominations have abused others in a very similar manner (& in several cases I know of… worse manner) than what your site appears to throw only at the feet of IFB churches. It seems to me that anyone truly concerned with abuse (in church) should in all fairness apply that concern to any Pastor, Priest, or Rabbi, in any church, in any denomination that is abusing its members.__

      –“So let’s crunch some numbers since you seem to like statistics.”–

      __Not really interested in statistics, whether unsupported, or fully supported. Commented only on my experience and tried to be of assistance to you and your readers.__

      –“When you say the things you did in your comment – like others who have made the same arguments – you not only trivialize a very serious issue, but you also show a level of disrespect that’s disgusting and nauseating.”–

      __It was not my intention to argue your opinion or to trivialize the experiences of others, but was my intention to share my own experiences (as you and the site’s commenters have done) and offer my insight on how to recognize a bad church before you get sucked into it. [i.e. Any “man-” or “tradition-centric” church isn’t good. Good churches are “Bible-centric,” “God-pleasing,” and (just like Jesus did) accept sinners where they are, point them to God, exhort them, encourage them to grow in the knowledge of God, and teach others how to get to heaven.] Unless you perceived my comments as anything other than comments on my experience, I’m not sure what comments “disgusted” or “nauseated” you.__

      –“To simply hand wave the experiences of those who were abused and hurt by the very denomination that you are trying to defend (even if only they are on the “fringe”) is unfathomable to me and tells us that you are more interested in defending your way of doing Christianity than you are in finding the truth and showing empathy to those who have been abused.”–

      __I’m really not sure what comments I made that warranted a personal attack. I attempted to share my experience. Is my personal experience unacceptable to you because it’s different than yours?

      I didn’t attempt to defend “my way of doing Christianity,” nor all IFB churches, nor the “denomination” as a whole (even tho I wouldn’t define it as one). I stated an opinion, but then mentioned bad churches I know about, have attended, and to which I will not return. Then I listed a few ways to identify and steer clear of bad churches, as well as find good ones. Perhaps I’m not understanding your definition of empathy, but (in my mind) one of the best ways to show empathy to someone abused by a church is to tell them you agree there are bad churches out there (and mention some you’ve attended), attempt to help those (& others) avoid repeating their mistakes (in this case by spotting them early & not getting attached to anything or anyone in the bad churches), and by listing things to look for in a good church.__

      –“That’s what the Pharisees did during Jesus’ ministry and to me that’s worse than the actual abuse because it defends the perpetrators rather than the victim and that’s a very slippery slope.”–

      __I’m sorry, but I actually chuckled when I read that last sentence. I did not attempt to defend any perpetrators, or throw any victims under the bus. Even tho I know I’m a very poor substitute for Christ, I attempted to (in a Christ-like manner) share the truth…
      That I have read and studied… from the Bible… for decades,
      That I have seen… with these 2 eyes,
      That I have lived and breathed… for my entire life (to this point), and
      That I have experienced… and upon which I attempt to base my opinions.

      The Pharisees did not accept Christ, His teachings, or even His miracles (that they witnessed) because He didn’t “fit in the box” of the Messiah that they had created in their minds… based upon un-Scriptural man-made traditions, uninformed personal opinions, and their selective enforcement of biased standards (just like the bad churches I’ve briefly attended).

      Even the end of my initial post was clearly not aimed at you, your site, or your commenters. Again, I went with my experience, only this time I used the example of some of _my_friends_ and mentioned that in the past they have denigrated me, attacked my stand on the Bible, as well as derided my church… all because their idea of what church should be about is not what I believe. In many cases, they’ve used similar words as you have used to describe bad IFB churches, but those old friends’ defense of their positions was untenable (& at very best “shaky”), as they based their opinions not on scripture, but on “likes” & “dislikes” like some sort of social media experiment.

      I didn’t mention it previously, but not one of any of those so-called friends of mine ever attended my church; they based their opinions on different churches that merely claimed an “IFB” label. Any “claim” unsubstantiated by one’s action is invalid.

      In my church (and most of those I’ve attended) the members expect the Pastor to preach the Bible… nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else… as nothing else matters in light of eternity.__

      1. Matt
        Seeing you have attended some 800 IFB churches. Do you travel alot or is this part of a ministry to these churches? I know that whenever I have been a guest speaker or singer at a church, the pastor and people have always put their best foot forward because of this. Did these church pass the offering plate so tithes could be collected?

  17. The church I was going to fell into the catagory of ruckmanites…Two yrs after leaving the church, while attending a completely differant independant baptist church, I finally got an explaination of the teachings of that former church. A missionary based out of the parent church came to our state to preach and went to my old church, then to my new church. My pastor knew of my hurt and struggle to understand what had happend and why. He introduced me and I found out that that missionary had left the parent church for the same reasons I had! He and my new pastor said the old church followed Ruckmans teachings.

    They didn’t elaborate but I tried to look up that doctrine and couldn’t find much. Would anyone like to explain to me what that Pastor taught in detail…what his doctrine was so that I may explain this to another who has struggled with her new faith since leaving the church. She is afraid to attend another because of the abuse! I thank God everyday that I was raised Christian and could eventually decern the truth and leave without walking away from my faith!

    1. Hey Cathleen,

      There isn’t a “Ruckman doctrine” per se, but Peter Ruckman was IFB through and through and wasn’t shy about his beliefs. One could say that he was an IFB on steroids. He is right up there with Bob Jones and Jack Hyles. You could find out more by simply searching for Peter Ruckman rather than “Ruckman doctrine”. Hope that helps a little.

      1. I just looked Peter Ruckman up…I think it is possible some off his doctrine could have rubbed off on the church I was attending but for the most part, they were not following his teachings. Thanks however because I wanted to check out for myself what I had been told.

  18. I’m 42; been in IFB churches since I was a kid. Can’t count the number of times I’ve read thru the Bible. (Not because it was “pushed” by my IFB church or my Pastor; I just like to read. I remember as an 8yr old, sitting at breakfast one morning when my Dad took away the cereal box I was re-reading (for more than the 20th time) & put my Bible in front of me instead… ever since, at minimum, I read the Bible every morning while I eat breakfast. You can read a lot over the course of several decades worth of breakfasts.)

    Perhaps I’ve been overly sheltered, but it sounds to me like your site is based on experiences with the “fringe” of IFB churches.

    Was blessed to be a good enough singer that over the years have been invited to sing in hundreds of Baptist (primarily IFB) churches across the US (& in other countries). Of all those, I’ve only found about 5% of IFB churches with even mild versions of the “problems” similar to the things you mention above (Spiritual Abuse, Churchianity, denominationalism, traditionalism, Manipulation of Scripture, Legalism, Authoritarianism, Image Conscious, Black and White Thinking, or Confusing Absolutes, Preferences, & Convictions). My parents have been missionaries for nearly 20 years (20+ years in the military before that), they’ve been in many churches throughout the US and in dozens of other countries (not just IFB either). Dad and I were talking last week about a similar topic & he said in his experience perhaps 3-5% were “oddball” IFB churches.

    In those few bad-apple-churches (that I’ve attended) the Pastor of those churches fell into at least 1 of these 3 categories (usually more…) & generally they were dragging the entire church along behind)…
    1. Man-centric: Primarily followed a man rather than the Bible (Ruckmanites, Hyles, Landmark, David Cloud, etc.)
    2. Damaged-goods: Run by insecure, inexperienced, poorly-educated, &/or back-slidden Pastors. Or…
    3. Wolf in Sheep’s clothing: The pastor came in as an IFB person, but was in the process of taking the church from a traditional IFB position to that of a worldly, contemporary church (“Potential” down in Florida would be one of the best documented cases… have read several books that will tell anyone how they too can ruin a good church just like they did).

    Have in-laws in New England (as well as in the mid-west) that are in churches that fall into a combination of all 1, 2, & 3 above… my wife and I have HS & college friends that attend similar churches, and we won’t go back to visit churches like those. It is SO depressing to hear “pastors” mangle scripture… and even more depressing to sit in the Sunday School classes and listen to inept, inexperienced men stumble thru the gobbledygook they were given to “teach.”

    My current IFB church isn’t like any of what you’ve described or the bad-apples I’ve experienced. Our Pastor preaches only the Bible, and his mantra is “Only interpret Scripture with Scripture.” Our previous Pastor was similar to this one; he liked to say, “Only interpret the Bible with the Bible; never go to any ‘book’ before searching the Scriptures for other verses on the subject.”

    In 18 years at this church (on the outskirts of a large metroplex), I’ve met many individuals that have come thru here and that hold to one of the theological positions I mentioned above (Ruckman, Hyles, Landmark, Cloud, etc.) or other more “denominational” beliefs (mostly Reformed… & IMO, going back to Protestantism should revoke one’s label as a “Baptist”) rather than having Bible-centric beliefs, and generally none of those visitors have been very appreciative of our Pastor(s) or, for that matter, any other church that isn’t *exactly* like their theology of choice. They’re also usually quite offended over one or more of the following things that they find at our church… We:
    do take a strong stand on the KJV,
    do encourage scripture memory (and Bible reading as soon as possible) from 3 yrs old and upward,
    don’t castigate members that don’t dress in white shirts & plain ties or ankle-length skirts & dresses,
    don’t mind if someone wants to sing country- or bluegrass-style music in church… rather than “High Church” music only (we do draw the line at “7-11” songs tho: doctrine-less CCM “songs” of 7 words repeated 11 times),
    don’t mind tattoos and “cool” hair styles (don’t praise them either tho, just prefer the men to keep their hair off the collar, and ladies not to flaunt a lot of skin or look like men),
    don’t shun ex-members (or members that talk to them),
    don’t mind “mixed-race” couples (skin color and denomination aren’t a problem, just marrying non-Believers is),
    do embrace visitors and new members coming from Judaism, cults, or other denominations, and finally that
    none of the people here in church leadership positions claim to be anything more than converted, dirty, rotten sinners that just have to keep dusting themselves off each time they fall down (like everyone else), and they regularly ask the other members to keep praying for God to help them (in leadership)… to try to live holier lives.

    This church has been typical of my experience with most of the IFB churches that I’ve attended & visited in the last 40 years. In fact, the only “brow beating” over my beliefs I’ve experienced has come from friends that have joined contemporary churches (that de-emphasize the Bible by using PowerPoint presentations instead of scripture-following page-turning sermons, with full bands on their platforms, with blacklight or disco balls in their teen departments, numerous “worship leaders” on their platforms that “assist” the music director, & multiple Bible versions used in their churches so everyone can use what they like).

    They call my belief that I should live differently from the unsaved “Legalistic” and “Overly Image Conscious.” They tell me that having only one Pastor (or not having a female pastor) is “Spiritual Abuse” & “Traditionalism.” They say attending more than one service a week is “Legalistic,” “Traditionalist” & “promoting Churchianity.” They insist using only one version of the Bible in my church is “Manipulating the interpretations of Bible,” “Legalistic,” “Old Fashioned,” and Authoritarian.” They scoff that promoting one (or more) days a week for members to go out knocking on doors is “Traditionalist,” “Denominationalism,” and “Confusing Scriptural Commands with Personal Preference & Traditions.”

    In short, the majority of people I’ve encountered using the tactics you describe on your website (granted, I’ve only read 10 of your 50+ articles in the last 24 hours) have been shallow, self-centered, opportunistic hypocrites that place more value…
    on personal convenience than deep study of the Bible,
    in caring for self than in service to God, and
    that consistently manipulate Scripture to highlight their “vast enlightenment” of God’s will for my life, rather than spending their time fulfilling the Great Commission.

    1. musicmatt – So glad you stopped by and shared your vast knowledge with us “marginal” Christians!

      1. What a completely disappointing comment… you have pages and pages of posts describing your personal experiences and your opinions as based on those experiences. I shared just a few of my own personal experiences and opinions (exactly what you’ve spent years doing) and rather than just read my comment, & take them with a grain of salt, you instead attempted to marginalize me, my experience, and my opinions thru sarcasm.

        Do you attempt to put down every visitor that doesn’t completely echo your viewpoint in lock-step harmony? or do you just do so to those to whom you cannot craft a rebuttal that makes you seem to be the superior expert in all things IFB? Either way, it appears you aren’t as open-minded as I had hoped.

        My post was not intended to lump you in with those you feel are hypocritical or to put you down intellectually, spiritually, or in any other way. I simply commented to let you know that every IFB church in America (or the world) has been unjustly represented when compared to those rotten apples you’ve found.

        How many IFB churches have you attended? In what area(s) of the country? Over how many years? Having visited hundreds of churches from Florida to Alaska, I can safely say that they’re as different as the cities in which they’ve been founded and ALL are a blend of the personalities of the individuals filling their leadership positions.

        If you were to eat in only 10 different restaurants in a few areas of one town (or even ten restaurants across 2 or 3 states), then write an entire website on the evils of “eating out” across America, I’m sure someone would take you to task. I didn’t take you to task on anything you’ve written; even in areas in which your theology doesn’t make sense to me (I’m sure there are areas where mine wouldn’t “add up” to you either). I know there are bad IFB churches out there… I mentioned 2 that I personally will not attend either. Perhaps you could broaden your horizons a little before comparing them all as one “denomination.”

        I’m sorry if my attempt at exhorting you not to give up on all IFB churches wasn’t understood… and if you’re ever in S. Florida, I’d still be happy to invite you to attend our church. I hope you’d be pleasantly surprised to find an IFB church that doesn’t “live down” to your expectations.

        1. musicmatt – Steve has written much about the subject of the IFB being a “denomination” or not, and how there are many common threads that run through each of these “independent” churches. I usually don’t get involved in those discussions, though I generally agree with Steve. But as you have done, you can always say, well this one or that one is different. and they could be! But you also admitted to your own church’s strict adherence to one translation, which is one of the defining characteristics of the IFB. (btw, I have no problem with the KJV, I just have a difficult time understanding it)

          On the other hand mine, and thousands of others testimonies that comment here and other sites that are dedicated to helping spiritually abused folks, demonstrate very common problem areas that IFB’s consistenly fall into! There is no way that thousands of us sincere Christians imagined these things!

          What Steve has done with this site is to provide a haven or safe place for folks that have been spiritually abused by the IFB, and there are thousands of us, to come together and share their experieneces, and hopefully to be able to go on and live out their faith in a fashion that is pleasing to God and not necessarily to men.

          I felt you were somewhat judgmental in your first post & we (wounded by the IFB) are sensitive to that. Btw, I personally believe that the IFB has been responsible for so much harm, that even their name is really past redeeming! I want to be identified as a Christian only, not a Baptist, Methodist etc. God is not impressed with denominations! We are to worship in Spirit and in truth!

          So, I hope this somewhat explains my “snarky” initial response, I meant no harm! And I certainly wish you well on your spiritual journey!

          1. Ah… sorry about that. I read several of the posts (& their comments ) in which you’ve been active. I thought you were either the site author or a main contributor. 🙂

            My initial attempt was not to be judgmental, but to show easy ways to spot bad apples (in my experience) as well as good fruit (that I’ve seen). Attending church is a great help to keeping one’s walk right & spirits lifted & shouldn’t be a source of heartache & confusion.

            Our church uses the KJV for teaching & preaching in all services and outreaches, but the Pastor doesn’t ridicule those who do not. (We do have 2 Ruckmanites in our church that have tried to come down on other members & visitors using other versions, but the Pastor put a stop to that pretty quickly.) One of the best (corporate) advantages to using one version is everyone can follow along exactly where the Pastor is preaching from, & no one is confused by different words on the page. It’s also very specific in its descriptiveness, which is helpful (for me anyway) when teaching Sunday School. There are places that I teach from it and need to explain why that particular area may be unclear and that one would need to know Greek, Hebrew, & Aramaic to get the best interpretation of the passage (as with any other version), but it’s been handy to teach new Believers about the importance of using a Strong’s concordance when studying. Even tho the syntax can be challenging, I like that there was no “agenda” behind the translation. (I think it’s funny that one of the best results I’ve noticed in our home from using the KJV hasn’t even been a “spiritual benefit.” As my kids have read it & are understanding the difficult wording, that they’re passing up their classmates in school because of their now ‘advanced reading’ ability.)

            Lastly, I too do not identify myself as a “Baptist” unless someone asks for specifics. I tell people I’m a “Believer” or “a follower of Christ.” I try to live in a manner that people ask me if I am a Christian. I think our Pastor having a similar attitude has made our church a magnet in our area for those people that have been “spiritually damaged” in Catholic, Presbyterian, Church of God, Church of Christ, JWs, Jewish synagogues, etc.

  19. I read this article and all of the comments that have been posted. I have been a member of 5 different IFB churches within a span of over 20 years. I finally left the organization at the age of 22. Every church has been like the churches described in this article. I still struggle with who God truly is. I still struggle with some of the rules that were ingrained in me for most of my life. I have never read the Bible completely through or done a completely in-depth Bible Study. At the beginning of this year, I started reading the Bible through and doing an in-depth study of the Gospels. I have been amazed at how duped I was. I still have family members who are a part of this cult. I was shunned for over seven years, and am only now beginning to have some sort of relationship with some of those family members again. Thank you very much for this site and for posting this article.

    1. Jamey.
      My wife and I spent only 5 years in a IFB church; it nearly destroyed us spiritually, emotionally and physically. I pray that the damage these 5 cultish churches have done to you will be healed by the REAL Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
      Try and do what we are doing, and that is look to the present, and the future, and not look back (look what happened to Lot’s wife). It is really hard. We are both haunted by the pastor; he seems to come into our thoughts daily. Last week I picked my cell phone up and didn’t have it locked, and unknowingly pushed some buttons; who did I ring by mistake? yep, the flaming pastor!
      Jamey, read your Bible, and trust in Jesus: He knows, He cares, He is able, and He loves you unconditionally!
      May the Lord bless, guide and keep you forever His.
      Your friend in Jesus,

  20. Terry – I was certainly touched by your story.

    It’s an indication of the abuse you have suffered that you can still call the preacher, a “good preacher.” He may provide some “preachertainment,” but he is no kind of preacher at all!

    I see no reason whatsoever why you should stay in such an abusive situation, unless God is specifically directing you to do so, and I can’t imagine that He is.

    We Christians do indeed need to bear one another’s burdens. That is one of the “main” reasons this site even exists, (not to put words in Steve’s mouth) thank God you found it, pls continue to read of other’s stories of spiritual abuse. I have shared bits and pieces of my journey out of this spiritually abusive denomination. (briefly, my family split up after16 yrs, my wife left me taking the children, get this, the pastor lived on my street, and never even stopped by to check on me or call me, not one person in the entire congregation did, mind you we had been active members for our entire marriage, and worked in the children’s ministry!) I’m still shocked at the treatment! But God is good and has restored me, and I’m out of that abusive situation.

    God is stiill in control, he does not support the abuse you have gone through, there is still a place for you, there is still healing for you, and there is a wonderful future for you and God is still God!

    Prayers for you, and a big Baptist Deception hug!!

  21. I know exactly what the post above mine is saying #42 is saying. I belong to an IFB church and I have been strugging with health issues and a recent job loss, a job that I loved and spent 14 yrs. When I called my pastor to tell him, I was crying and he seemed indifferent and uncompassionate. I did get a new job since but I am working 13 hrs a day and I prize my weekends for rest. I have struggled with depression since the loss of my husband and parents and I am still grieving. I thought that the Bible talks about holding one another up and bearing one another’s burdens but when I sought encouragement from a couple of my friends and my pastor, I got beat up. I was told I was having to much of a pity party and I should think about God instead of my suffering — therefore, my suffering was my fault and that I could be worse off than he paraplegic. That is getting old, too. I’m not an idiot and I know I could have it worse off. It’s not that I’m not thankful for what I have, in fact I’n blessed and thank God everday for my blessings. All I want is someone to talk to and to be allowed to cry. I am single and lonely and work a stressful job. The pastor recoginzes physcial illenss as a problem but I guess our brains and emotions don’t count even though God made them too. When I haven’t attended church for awhile because of health issues, I finally mustered enough strenghth to go to an evening service when the assistant pastor’s wife casually said to mw “oh, I was supposed to call you this week but forgot, chuckled and walked away. I was hurt not to mention that this is not the second time she said some insensitive things to me. If she was so concerned, why didn’t she talk to me. He is a good preacher but has no compassion or patience with people who are struggling emotionally and mentally. In fact, he makes it very clear in his sermons and teachings that mental health issues are a believer’s fault and should not be taking any medications. It is because of sin (maybe some of it is) and you won’t get sympathy from him. As a result, many people left because of his lack of compassion. He has a deep passion for God and loves God very much but I get the feeling he hates me. When I walk in to church, I literally have lie to people telling them I am doing great, so I don’t have people beating me up or giving me religious platitudes — even though I am suffering silently inside. I don’t feel encouraged or safe in this church anymore as the sermons are more condemning than encouraging and uplifting. When I do write encourageing e-mails to my pastor or write him about a sturuggle, he never responds. We have lost many members in this church over the last two years who left basically because of the same thing. I am saved but I don’t know if I’m still loved by God or even if God is mad at me. Ihardly read my Bible and pray feeling totally defeated. I have made friends at the church and I don’t want to leave but I don;t feel a part of the flock. In fact, I thought the pastor is supposed to protect his flock and keep them tgether in the pasture by finding out why people are leaving and encourage them to stay in the fold. It’s almost like he is saying, there’s the door, don’t let it hit you in the behind. Sometimes i had thoughts I shouldn’t be thinking. Why do Christians shoot their wounded? Is there someone out there that I can talk to?

    I finally struck up the courage to attend a new church closer to my home last Sunday and enjoyed the sermon and the atmosphere. Most of all I felt at peace in this church.

  22. Wow. I was converted into a Baptist South American Mission (in Chile) that did not hold the name Baptist but was Baptist Fundamentalist. While I made great friends (I was after all 18) and was saved there, I suffered thinking how I didn’t fit inside Christianity (I adore music, films, art…) but I didn’t fit in the “world” either.

    I suffered so much, so, so much that I totally did a 360° and just gave up. I left and never prayed again. But I always remembered God and thought of him often. One day a friend asked me to lead him to Christ (because I’d talk about God even though I was astray and knew it). That day I told God I was ready to start anew. And he put folks into my life that helped me heal and he opened up my eyes to the real him. The Lord of all grace, mercy, comfort and love.

    I never thought that what happened to me was happening (as a sort of disease, if you will, in the US) and that it was so bad.

    A big thank you, Steve, for all this info.

    Recovered girl from Chile.

  23. @greg

    Well said and I agree with everything. It is sad because new Christians who have never experienced anything else, have nothing to compare with. The key is a gift we are given more and more as we grow as Christians…its called decernment…you get it by reading your bible but it takes time to grow and new Christians’ sadly are the most exploited in abusive churches. They so want to please God and not disappoint their minister!

  24. Cathleen – You said “When you are independent, it is up to each minister how they interpret the scripture” This is precisely correct, this is the difference in whether you are taught to beat your women or whether you believe the KJV is doubly inspired, or whether women are allowed to wear pants or whether suits and ties are required on the men. Too much power is placed on a simple, sinful man. If you have a good and decent, honorable man, the church may not be too bad, if you have a foolish, uneducated man heading things up, watch out!! In the IFB too much centers on the “man up front” In fact, the tradition of the IFB actually adds to the problem by teaching wrongly about the “pastor” a word I think is only mentioned once in the KJV, they don’t usually have elders, which could help protect the congregation against the Jack Hyles and Samuel Gipp’s and Steve Anderson’s of the world!!

    Folks everywhere should guard their churches, homes and families from these “mini-god-men!”

    Remember power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!

  25. @kim sylvest

    Good advice…There are good IFB and I now go to a much better one! The problem that lajaw doesn’t get is that when you are Independant, it is up to each minister how they interprete the scripture. The one I came from taught to be very seperate from the world to include not really socializing with others. The problem with being that separate is that all you are doing to win souls is judging and preaching. There are those who will only be reach upon seeing and knowing an example of a Good Christian showing Gods unconditional love. We are told to preform good works in the world, not to earn our salvation but to be an example of Gods love…so our faith will be known by our works. If we are completely separate, we are only doing part of what God instructed of us! They worried that it looks wrong, or the world will contaminate us but forget that our faith is met to be tried…That is how were grow as Christians.

    They also taught that the old laws you refer to are no longer valid…That they were met for Jews only because Jews had to practice their faith by works! They said that when Christ came, he change and nullified those Hebrew laws. They were really bad about picking and choosing which ones they practiced….whenever I pointed this out I got the separation speech and the old scripture referring to it but the next time I would bring up others and be told they no longer are valid!

    Sadly my new minister is finding out through others about the differances between my old church and his! He realizes its judgemental and not right! He says it is because of a spacific doctrine that has become popular the last several years. It is not the doctrine that started the IFB church. This doctrine is very judgemental and controlling of women! In many churches, that follow this teaching, women are permitted to be beaten if they are not completely obedient to their husbands. Thank goodness my old church didn’t take it quit that far yet! A evangelist who has attended both churches recently left a sister church to my old one for the same reasons I did pretty much…He confirmed what my pastor had said about them following that specific doctrine. Sadly I don’t think either have seen this site, or realize really how big this movement is because they both said they hope it dies out soon! It seems to be growing, not dying! We shouldn’t be surprised because the bible warns of corrupt doctrine toward the end days!

    Sadly this church seemed to attract mostly new Christians, or ones who went as kids but not adults. They are pulled in with the promise of family but it is a twisted, judgemental, and controlling family that only accepts you if you tow the line and don’t ask questions. It is something I have been finding in a lot of churches of differant faiths….They claim to be family but there is no communication and either they control you, or you never socialize outside of church. I give up…I have realized in this day in age that the old church family is dying and hard to find. How do you explain to a new Christian what a church family really is if they never have experienced it and can’t find it? It is a place where you find love, guidence, and exceptance without judgement! Its support when you are ill, hospitalize, going through crisis…prayer, calls and visits to check on you when you can’t come to church. It is noticing when you have not been to church and getting a call to see if you are okay and if someone can do something for you. It is a prayer chain, meals brought in difficult times and knowing that they truelly care and show it! It is having a real family when you are all alone in the world!

  26. @lajaw
    lajaw. my brother i do not hear any of Christ’s love in your response to the one who had struggles in her walk with fundamentalists. you seem to assume that her experience is false and that the IFB church must have been righteous in their treatment of her. I too was a member of an IFB church and can attest to the truthfulness of most of the stories i’ve read about here. They are spot on! Jesus commanded us to not judge others, so we should speak to one another with Love, Compassion and Respect. actually, when God the Holy Spirit resides within your heart, loving and compassion should be evident in our speech. we need to lift up our brothers and sisters who have fallen for the Pride and Egoism of the IFP church denomination! Lord please help us to Love one another!

  27. I am a Filipino. I do not understand 1611 English. I never read Shakespeare. English is only my second language. I received Christ as My Saviour and Lord with the Catholic Bible as the point of reference. I play in the music ministry of our church. My preferred version of the Bible is NIV. I am a schoolteacher teaching Filipino and World History as well as Economics and music. I am so eager to share my faith that even in my class, I inject biblical truths in my lessons. I also teach eschatology to some students who are hungry for anything God. I don’t smoke, never took drugs – never not even once!


    I wear my hair long halfway through my back. I listen to Black Sabbath, Megadeth as well as Christian Death Metal bands like Mortification, Bride, Resurrection Band. I listen to Amy Grant, Sandi Patti. I drink beer once a month. I go to the movies every now and then. I go to discos to meet people. I am a professional musician who plays in bars and clubs. I befriended prostitutes and drug addicts. I hate homosexuality but I do respect a lot of homosexuals in fact I don’t mind working with them as long as they keep their urges to themselves. I am not offended seeing suggestive photos and literature but I would prefer not to take a second glance. My idea of a good time is ROCK AND ROLL. The harder the heavier the better.

    Now I defy anyone here (especially the IFBs): tell me that I am not a Christian and I am going to hell because of who I am and what I do.

  28. Wow…Cathleen, I’m sorry about what you’ve been through, but it sounds like you’ve found a much better church. However, like you’ve said, when shopping around for another church, IFBs can indeed be a real crapshoot, and as such, given what I’ve learned from this website, even though I love the traditional-style worship that most IFB churches have, I’m now a bit leery of IFB churches in general. Yes, there are some I could be comfortable in (there’s one here in the greater St. Louis area I could recommend, but it’s about 30 minutes away), and there’s also the one my father-in-law and his wife attend, but that’s about 3 hours away. Therefore, given what I’ve learned about the IFB from this site, we decided to go with a Freewill Baptist church that’s only about 15 minutes away from us, plus as a bonus, I have some old friends of mine from college that go there to church, too (they invited us, in fact).

  29. Cathleen – So sorry to hear of your experiences in these cult/like IFB churches.

    You are right about being careful judging. I submit that there are some decent IFB churches around, even if they are far and few between. It boils down to the pastor in these churches. With no governing body overseeing the activities of these pastors, it then falls to the deacons, who are mostly yes-men, handpicked by the MOG (man of God) So if you have a good and decent MOG, then the church will usually follow, but most men are not able to handle that kind of authority, and probably should not be entrusted with that type of power. Remember “Power tends to corrupt and abslolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    Your story reminds me somewhat of my story regarding my failed marriage, which I have told on here some time ago. My wife of 16 years decided to leave me, I tried everything I could to reconcile but she would have none of it. We had attended this church the entire time we were married, had worked in the church, teaching classes etc..raised our two children in this church. We split up and the pastor, nor anyone else called or stopped by my house, my life fell completely apart and not one person offered anything!! and the Pastor “lived” on my street!!!! Wow, with christian friends like this, who needs enemies!!

    This has made me very sensitive to the needs of others going through similar circumstances, which makes me especially sorry to hear stories like yours.

    Let me encourage you to keep on in the Lord, for He is good, and has suffered as we have. So He knows how to comfort us. And by all means continue sharing, most of us here have similar experiences with the IFB.

    May God bless and give you a better 2012!!

  30. @Cathleen
    Cathleen, it is true that there are different sects within the Independent Baptist group of churches. I think that the one you were in was a Gothard-type church.

    However, it seems that the different churches, while being very different from each other, all seem to have some fundamental problems. I was NOT in a controlling church. In fact, my church was considered liberal by other Independent Baptist churches. However, the pastor did not deal with issues of sexual abuse appropriately, even telling victims that they didn’t need to go to the police. The pastor was considered to be a ‘man of god’ and as such, couldn’t be questioned or held accountable for his wrong judgements. He allowed a man who had a criminal past (who had not been held legally accountable for his actions) to come and run the counselling ministry of the church – and refused to remove him from that position when there were major problems as a result.

    Different Independent Baptist churches have different problems. But they all tend to refuse to deal with them. They also seem to completely misunderstand Acts 15; tithing isn’t even biblical for the christian church! Some people who go to Independent Baptist churches also report that the sermons are rarely about Jesus and often about the personal experiences of the pastor, and that few bible verses are used, and those that are are often taken completely out of context. Control is one major issue in some Independent Baptist churches, but it’s by no means the only one.

    It’s very possible to be a christian and go to a different church 🙂

  31. I did want to add something to my earlier post…I have found the teaching of independant Baptist churches to be very differant on a variety of issues. The church I go to now, does not have the issues of control and separation that other IBC’s can have. They believe in using the KJV but do not seem to have any of the issues I found so spiritually suppressive of the other church. They socialize and seem far more concerned about the welfare of their members rather than control. It is my understanding that certain IBC’s follow the teachings of a certain Independant Baptist Minister that was known for his belief in separation, control of women, and other issues. This movement has been growning but I can’t remember the name! It was an issue mentioned to me by my minister and an evangelist that left a church of that doctrine. It was expressed to me how much damage those teachings have done to the church and individuals.

    It is important to remember that people most likely to post on these sites have experienced only those churches with control and separation issues. They post here because they are trying to heal and learn the truth about the Baptist church, Christianity, and how that compares with their own experiences at whatever church they fled! I know that is why I came to this site! So remember not to judge everyone the same!

  32. Has anyone on this site been a member of New Beginnings Independant Baptist Church, either in Tenn., or Colorado?

    I spent a few years as a divorced single in this church…as a single women I was not to talk to the men (even the married friends I had had before any of us joined the church), the married couples were not really open to much socialization since I was single. By the way, I had no say in my divorce, that was between my ex and his mistress, I never even had to sign anything! I was discouraged from having friends outside of the church, or attending any single socials at other churches. The church doesn’t believe in dating, just courting for marriage with preferably someone in your church but our church didn’t really have any singles! I became horribly depressed and since I didn’t have a smile ear to ear when I went to church, that was the excuse for not socializing more with me! We as Christians were to not talk about our troubles as they are depressing for other Church members and not a good testimony to convert non-believers. When I talked about how lonely I was (this is a rural area), I was told more than once that it was my fault! If I just would except Gods’ Grace than I wouldn’t be lonely even if I never saw anyone!

    When I had my first surgery, I was supposed to have someone stay with me but as I was going into surgery, my ministers wife cancelled. Someones marriage issues were more important than me possibly bleeding to death and I was left alone! The second minor surgical proceedure she cancelled again. Then I had an injury that laid me up for months and caused blood clots and later major surgery! When I was injured, I was told by my minister that he didn’t believe I was injured! Each time I spent weeks to months at home but my minister never called, or stopped by! Nobody came by for the most part, or called to check on me! At the end, I finally at least got some rides from a couple of women and confided with them my intentions to leave the church. They wanted to know why and I told them that I didn’t feel wanted and couldn’t understand how my minister was not there for me either times I had serious health issues and a life threatening injury! I was confused how he could have reports of my ER visits from the women giving me rides, know the meds I was on, and see the severity of my crippling injury when I went to church but still say I was not really injured! I was hurt and lonely! The only time my minister came to visit me was at the end to tell me that several men had accused me of causing dissention in the church and that I must apologize in front of the church or be shunned! Then his wife started telling me how I always take and never give…I don’t tithe and I never cook for the required weekly pot luck. I always cooked something and then usually bought a desert. It cost me 40-60 a week to buy food but I work and commute 50+ hrs a wk and didn’t cook everything from scratch so I guess it didn’t count to her! They also pressure women to be stay at home wife and mothers who home school…Your greatest value is as an obidient wife. I only made about 20,000 a yr and I was going into debt just trying to pay my bill and buy church food. Then they questioned my salvation!!! Never once did anyone ever answer my question about where was my pastor in my time of need? I apologized and then I moved 45 min away and went to another independant baptist church. Knowing I was facing surgery, Not one person has ever called to check on me!

    Family in other states were urging me to leave for a longtime and expressed concerns that this was a cult. I stayed because I was raised in the Christian faith and I was afraid that my friends who had found Christ through this church would have no voice of reason when it came to learning to decern those areas where the scripture were being minipulated to support certain teachings of the church…funny but they preach the law but forget to practice forgiveness and compassion which are things Christ instructs us to put to use as examples of his love on earth!
    They left deep wounds that I am still struggling to heal and it would be nice to talk to someone who has gone through simular…maybe is familar with this church and its’ teachings.

  33. Catherine,
    I was in a similar situation with my wife where my wife insisted on staying in an IFB church while I wanted to leave. Needless to say, the church labeled me as rebellious and unwilling to submit to God. The whole situation ultimately cost me my marriage.

    Having said this, I would caution against leaving and not supporting your husbands leadership. Don”t misunderstand me, I am not saying that you have to believe or go along with everything you are being taught. On the contrary, God may use you in that situation to help others in that church to recognize the truth.

    Leaving would be the easy thing to do, and if you were single I would recommend leaving immediately. However, your husband does have a God given role of leadership, and you can’t just dismiss the decisions he makes. That certainly doesn’t mean that he is always right, and you don’t always have to agree with him or your pastor for that matter.

    By the way, you have an important God given responsibility as well. You are to know and defend the truth. When the church teaches falsely or mistreats people, you need to speak up for what is right. I would encourage you to study 1 and 2 Timothy. These books really helped me keep my priorities in order as I dealt with a difficult church situation.

    I really do feel for you in your situation. I hope you have some godly friends who can support you and encourage you. Don’t give up. God knows what you are going through.

    One last thing, you don’t have to fear about speaking up for the truth. The worst they can do is throw you out of the church and that wouldn’t be so bad, would it? 🙂

    1. I can’t say I agree with you on this one Bob – sorry. No one should ever have to put up with any type of abuse, ever. It’s not appropriate for the pastor’s wife to be calling her and making her feel guilty. It’s pure manipulation, intimidation and emotional abuse. The Bible tells us men to love our wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” The Church (the body of believers) is called the “Bride of Christ”. It’s an excellent symbol of the husband/wife relationship. Christ was a servant leader (washing feet and serving people). Husbands are supposed to be servant leaders as well and sacrifice themselves for their wives not lord over their wives in dictator fashion. Catherine’s husband isn’t being a true leader if he isn’t listening to her input about their spirituality and considering the individual guidance she is getting from the Holy Spirit.

      Also, leaving wouldn’t be easy at all and it seems like it’s been pretty difficult for Catherine. Even so, sometimes the easy thing to do IS the right thing to do and I say to Catherine, get as far away from that church and those people as you can. If your husband continues to perpetuate the abuse then leave him too. Set clear, firm boundaries with the people in the church (especially the pastor’s wife) that they aren’t to call you or harass you in anyway shape or form and if they do you will respond with legal action.

      Sometime when it comes to bullying – even spiritual bullying – we need to get away from the situation. Catherine, if you feel that God is telling you to move on to a different church then do it. Don’t let these people cause you anymore spiritual grief. You’ve been hurt enough.

      Sorry, but I had to step in on this one. Stepping off soap box now.

  34. I am also experiencing this and its tearing me apart. It has been a few instances where the pastors wife has left me crying. My husband is glorified there and im just his other half. I started going to a southern baptist church a few weeks ago and my husband stayed with independent baptist, today i received a phone call from the pastors wife where she tells me my family can be destroyed from the decision im making and i should be following my husbands lead. Im always supporting my husbands decisions but not with this one, this one has hurt me more than anything.

  35. I don’t know if this is what cults do, but what used to be my church uses the word “legalism” and defines it to mean “anything you add to salvation other than what Jesus accomplished on the cross.” I seems to me though, that the term is more broadly used by others, meaning to include the definition “anything you add to salvation and/or justification, other than what Jesus accomplished on the cross.”
    Once an evangelist called himself a “militant” Baptist, and when I asked him what he meant by that, he said the word means “someone who takes a stand.” It might mean that somewhere in a dictionary, but it will not be understood to mean that by most people. That’s manipulating words. When your job consists of speaking, you ought to weigh what
    you are saying from the pulpit.

  36. I have heard all of these and more. It’s kinda hard to read the gospels and the teachings of Jesus and square that with some of this foolishness!! Whose teachings would we more readily respond to? With that said, I have met many of these type of preachers through the years and many of them sincerely love the Lord, and many have been “reared” to think that they “need” to say these type things to be “strong” in the Lord. They have been raised in the church and then many go on to “basement” bible colleges, and sincere though they may be they are really missing the core message of their KJV’s and making fools of themselves.

  37. I’ve been in this thing for 14 years. I’ve heard one pastor say that he saw the head of a demon possessed person turn all the way around (360 degrees, what a youtube moment that must have been).
    I’ve heard another pastor say “when the gays come out of the closet, send them back in and strike a match”, and when I confronted him about that, he did not budge.
    I despise how laypeople and pastors alike will lecture anyone that comes to their church with the “wrong Bible” (not King James), and say how you can’t possibly thrive in the faith because of that Bible.
    I don’t believe it’s right to quote the Bible on “the body is the temple of God” and therefore smoking is wrong. That verse talks about fornication, but you can twist it for just about anything you don’t like. PS I don’t smoke, and I don’t think it’s a good or healthy thing to do.
    I don’t like that smoking is being picked on, while overeating is just a smiled upon “little sin”.
    And I hate the term “hard preaching”, because it suggests that you are just a wussie if you question any part of it.
    And what’s up with the ladies that say it’s okay to wear pants, but they never wear them to church? If it’s okay to wear them then wear them. If have heard a missionary lady ask “what’s wrong with wearing pants?”, yet she never wears them to church or any activity where you know you are going to be seen by fellow believers.
    There are rules for the teens on how long a skirt has to be, but it’s okay to wear the tightest T-shirts. The teens are the only ones that are being held to the skirt standard, because if the tithing grown ups were being held to it, the churches could close their doors.
    You can’t go to the movie theater, but you can go to the video store (rules for teens and students).
    I believed for quite a while that unless you are in this type of church you cannot have a close walk with the Lord. Can you believe it took me years to see through that one? And when you bring it up, it’s always “we didn’t say that or mean that.” Yes you did, and when you didn’t, you implied it.
    Also, it’s not cool to be associated with the Institute for Basic Life Principles (not LOCAL church controlled), yet materials presented in the church are straight out of Gothard’s teachings, but it’s not cool to admit that. I love the whole Basic Life Principles thing, why not give them credit when you promote the teachings (Reformers Unanimous, and Harvest Baptist Church in Fort Dodge).
    From the pulpit it’s preached that tithing is 10% of gross income, in private I hear “you have soul liberty”. Can I have soul liberty from the pulpit, pretty pleeze?
    I’ve heard it preached that we should tithe on our time (where is THAT in the Bible?), and pretty much on the air we breathe.
    I have heard Bob Gray (TX) quoted as saying that women with hoop earrings are whores.
    I’ve heard from the pulpit how a young man died (I believe he got hit by a car), and how that was, of course, God’s doing, because the young man didn’t follow his call to become a pastor. That is some pretty amazing inside information!
    I have heard in what used to be my church a hundred mean jokes about churches with contemporary music, while “my” church financially supports another church, less than 10 miles away, that incorporates this music in their service.
    I’ve heard the Christian school promoted from the pulpit, then later came to realize that the actual quality of the education is not at all what it’s cracked up to be. It’s called flying under the radar. It’s also called self-deception.
    And that is what the Baptist deception is made up of first.

  38. Wow…after reading these stories, it makes me thankful that I have never been part of an IFB church. The closest I’ve ever come to that is that I too have read quite a bit of David Cloud’s material online. But after reading y’all’s stories on here, that’s it — no more of his material for me!

    Right now, we are in the process of looking for another church home after our last church (a Southern Baptist church, BTW) went through a VERY nasty split this past winter. Not only did we have some problems with the pastor, but the director of the local Baptist association stood up for him too, never mind the fact that our pastor was unrepentant, plus the association director also made some VERY disparaging, hurtful, and uncalled-for remarks against our best friends who literally sacrificed for that church for the last several years and that was the thanks they got out of it. Therefore, needless to say, we are leaving the SBC as well (they left too, BTW).

    I had been considering some IFB churches in our area since my wife and I both use the KJV, plus I like the traditional worship style that IFBs insist on sticking to — but I learned that my wife doesn’t — she prefers contemporary worship. It turns out that that was a good thing, because I saw somewhere on here that IFBs consider depression to be a sin — and since my wife suffers from depression, that definitely rules out the IFB churches right there, since that obviously won’t fly with her and I will not tolerate abuse from a church, either.

    Thankfully, we have found a Free Will Baptist church in our area that we like really well, and in fact, there’s a couple of old friends of mine from college that go there, too. For the record, my wife and I both read the KJV (she influenced me in that direction — I used to read the NLT back in my single days, which I still have, BTW), but we both realize that the KJV has its limitations and that as such, it’s not for everybody, and that’s OK with us. In fact, our current pastor uses the NASB (I think), and that doesn’t bother us a bit, either. In fact, I’d join this church in a heartbeat, but I’m holding off on making it official until my wife is ready to join, too.

  39. @T.G.
    T.G. – God bless you for sharing, not sure how I missed you, I check in here most days.

    I see your precious heart in your comments, oh how we are so blessed to serve such a loving God, and just as you mentioned he loves us right where we are!!!What a Saviour!!He loves us when we’re doing well and when we “stuff” up. (not familiar with that saying but I like it, and its a very apt description)

    The Word of God is even more precious to me now that my IFB binders have been taken off if that is possible. He must increase and we must decrease, so many IFB pastors would do well to heed that call, alas I can do nothing about that, but I must see to it that I do!!Whom the Lord sets free is free indeed. To be free from the legalism and KJVonlyism is wonderful.

    God bless you and I too appreciate you sharing your heart here with us.

  40. Thank you so much for this.

  41. @Brian, I don’t think anybody is doing it to divert attention away from IFB. But the hurt from spiritual abuse is immense, and there is very little support for it. I can understand why somebody who comes from a different church background who honestly understands what it’s like to be oppressed by spiritual abuse would be wanting to post anywhere that they feel understood. Honestly I wonder if it’s as bad to say that IFB are the worst (and should receive all the attention) as it is to say that it’s the only bible-believing church – they’re both extremist positions.

    What I came here to say was – THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU!!!! I came here because I have recently left an Independent Baptist Church in Australia. I think it’s the same as the IFB, they certainly sound the same. They are KJV-only, women are to wear skirts, a drum-beat is evil, and the Pastor is a Man Of God and not to be disrespected. I do have couple of friends in that church who have helped me immensely even though I’ve left it. However I struggle because they cannot understand why I’m hurting so badly because of the church, and they cannot understand why I speak out against it. They still love the church – I see that it is DANGEROUS!!!

    To all the people who say this website is divisive – LOOK! I was struggling and honestly couldn’t go to any church as a result of the damage I received from this church. I have learned that I have been spiritually abused and that there is a normal response to that, and that there is a healing process to go through. I am attending a church now. I do not agree with all their teachings but I don’t care because every time I go there there is something that is preached or shared that absolutely, absolutely is something I needed to hear and that is biblical.

    I am waiting impatiently for a package to arrive by mail. It is the new bible I have ordered. Honestly I quite liked the KJV before I went to the IB (I studied English Literature at uni because I like Shakespeare) but now I will not read it for several years, I am sure of it. I honestly still like the book, but I am aware that when I read it now I will hear over and over again Pastor’s (even his WIFE doesn’t call him by his real name, he is Pastor, as though he is some holier than though species that are superior to humans) false interpretation of what each verse means.

    I am healing. But I don’t know how to let go of the anger I feel since it is all so fresh and the abuse was more than spiritual. I’m sure it will take time.

    One thing though is that when I was at the IB and I was hurting so badly, my life was just about demolished due to the sinful (and criminal) actions of another person; I felt their rules and standards heavily. In my grief, in my despair, I was to act like a good baptist. Well I didn’t comply, I got angry. I hurt, and I shared that. Their standards were a burden on top of the pain that was already destroying me. I go to the new church, and the first thing they share is, God loves you. He loves you right where you are. He loves you when you’re doing well, and he loves you when you stuff up. And you know what? It makes me WANT to honour God with my life. But I will do so with my own personality intact, thank you very much.

    I also want to let you know that if there is anyone in Australia who is struggling with sex abuse in a church, any church, there is a website by an organisation called ‘Broken Rites’ that helps with the process, especially when a church coverup is making it difficult to get justice.

    Thanks again for this awesome website.

  42. It makes me angry when people talk on here about the other religious groups that abuse just to divert attention away from the legalistic independent fundamental baptist movement that abuses.

  43. xJW – Enjoyed hearing more of your story. It just reminds me of how our God meets us wherever we are at and how very faithful he always is.

    I retired in 2009, and one of the things I have enjoyed doing these couple of years is to study bible translations and how they came about. I had been fed so much “bull” in the little IFB church that I was attending about the KJV being the only “perfect” translation and all others were perversions that I was very curious, so I set about to satisfy that curiosity.

    I simply want to say that there are many “good” bible translations out there, and some not so good, but I would warn everyone away from the New World Translation (NWT) this is not a translation or any type of scholarly work at all, it doesn’t appear that any manuscripts were consulted in the putting together of this vile work. This is one of the first times that a group (cult) has taken the precious Word of God and changed it to suit their cult’s beliefs, namely getting rid of all references to the Deity of Christ and many other problems too numerous to mention here. This truly is a perversion!!

  44. Two Typos, getting late, sorry!

    “…bother someine else to have a copy of the BWT in their library…”

    should read:

    “…bother SOMEONE else to have a copy of the NWT in their library…”


    And BTW, I want to thank this site for allowing “long” comments! Fantastic. Most sites impose character/word limits in Comments, so I was surprised & pleased my whole comment fit. Thanks!

  45. Hi Greg, thanks, & sorry for delay in replying; & not to get off topic from the IFB article, but to answer your reply: I threw out a TON of WT literature & books & magazines… tried first to burn one on the grill on the patio to see how that would work, lol, but it was very slow going, burned very slow, & then the burning pieces of paper began floating in the air, which made me very nervous of starting a fire somewhere since it was Fall & there were dry leaves & trees all around, lol, so I gave up that idea & instead hauled it all to the dumpster… which I imagine was some kind of sight to the garbage men whenever they came to dump the dumpster into the garbage truck as the dumpster was FULL of “colorful” old WT lit & books & mags, etc.! 🙂

    However, I did keep the NWT (& yes I am very familiar with its errors) but there is no better way to witness to a JW than by using their OWN Bible. There is much more of the NWT that reads the same as other Bibles than there are errors & deviations, so I consider it just a part of my “arsenal of tools” for the ministry. In other words, I have no “fear” of keeping a copy of the NWT in my library, no more than, say, having books that explain the New Age or Bhuddism or Islam, etc. for helping educate us for preaching to people “trapped” in other false teachings.

    I recognize others may disagree with this position but that’s OK. “Love throws fear outside,” & as an xJW, I have love for the people blinded by WT teaching more than I have “fear” of the WT’s NWT. It’s actually cult-like “fear” & lack of trust in the Lord that creates all the confusion & chaos & uproar over Bible translations. Let me explain:

    A few years ago, 5-6-7 years or so, I was using the NASB. Then I began hearing all the ruckus by the KJV-Onlies via Riplinger’s book, etc. & I began to have anxiety & “fear” (as in, “Oh No! What if the Lord is mad I’ve been using the NASB?” etc.) Reading the tons of comments at amazon re Riplinger’s book (The New Age Bible Versions, or whatever the title was) was very upsetting as the KJV-Onlies’ comments were soooo viscious & hateful! So I went through a period of being very upset & confused about Bible versions. (Afterall, even the KJV has errors: Easter instead of Passover, “in” the hand rather than “on” the hand re the Mark of the Beast, etc.)

    So… after reaching the “fed up” point, I “had it out” with the Lord one day… I went & got all the Bible versions I had collected over the years & stood them all up on the desk, like a row of Bible-dominos. I began praying, telling the Lord all my fears, such as, “How could I love Scripture so much if it’s in an “evil” Bible version?” & “What about all the people in 3rd world countries that receive NIV’s via Bible ministries & Bible societies? Will they be doomed because they received an “evil” Bible version?” etc. etc. (I was very bummed out about all this!) Then I began knocking over with my hand each of the Bible versions standing on the desk, one at a time, while simultaneously exclaiming to the Lord, “THEY say THIS ONE has an AGENDA!” & “THAT ONE has an AGENDA!” & “THIS ONE has an AGENDA!” boom boom boom, on down the line of Bible versions as I knocked them over one at a time. Then I just cried for awhile, laying my head on the desk amidst the heap of Bibles. :-/

    When I finally quit crying, with head still laying on my arms on the desk, the Lord spoke (I guess He was waiting for me to shut up & calm down, lol), but He said clear as a bell:


    WOW! My head bolted straight up off the desk & I exclaimed in reply, "But OF COURSE! OF COURSE! I SHOULD have KNOWN THAT!! So sorry for doubting! & THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU Lord!!"

    Since that day I no longer "sweat" the Bible version issue. We forget sometimes the Lord is the one in charge, it is HE, not us, that reads hearts & holds the Seeking &/or the Already-Saved in His hand; He Himself IS "THE WORD OF GOD," so surely He can handle the Bible versions mess & what men do with HIS Word, & He can make sure anyone anywhere who picks up a Bible of whatever version can find Him in the Scriptures.

    He also sent the Holy Spirit as TEACHER, HELPER, & GUIDE TO ALL TRUTH. The Holy Spirit can "cut through any agendas" the producers of "New Age Bible Versions" had in mind & lead the believer or seeker to Truth.

    For example, the problem is not so much the NWT itself that gives JWs false ideas as it is the WT Society's INTERPRETATION OF scripture that binds them. This is because the WT & other such orgs & leaders (including the pope & RCC, etc.) set themselves up as the SOLE INTERPRETOR of scripture for their people, thereby booting the Holy Spirit completely out of the picture, with them taking over HIS JOB. — So this is where we all err: By letting other men interpret scripture for us rather than asking the Holy Spirit to interpret for us what we do not yet understand.

    All that being said, I would not now run out & buy NIVs, NWTs, nor The Message Bibles as gifts for anyone, & I stick with the KJV & NKJV (& make use of the NASB Online at Bible Gateway site as it is the only version I am aware of online that has full clickable references/verses which is a great tool), but I also no longer waste time fretting re the Bible version issue & whether people using the "less desirable versions" are blind, doomed & damned forevermore, or whether it is a "sin" to have any of those versions in one's possession. But each to his own because "whatever is not of faith is sin." So if it would bother someine else to have a copy of the BWT in their library, then they shouldn't. This is merely my personal story & how the Lord answered my concerns.


  46. xJW – Your story is fascinating, I just hope you ditched the New World Translation while you were ditching the JW’s, this is not a legitimate translation.

  47. Great article, & wow, I had no idea IFB churches had this problem (I read David Cloud’s email newsletters which is the only familiarity I’ve ever had to “IFB.”)

    But what I wanted to say was your article describes the congregations of the Watchtower Society (aka the Jehovah’s Witnesses) to a Tee! Exactly the same set-up of rules, perfectionism, the “do more do more do more” rollercoaster, “pioneers” put on pedestals as examples of what everybody should aim for, Us vs Them & black/white thinking/training, allegiance & unquestioning loyalty to “THE (Watchtower) ORG” as “God’s Only Channel of Communication with Mankind” brainwashing, etc etc etc. Everything you wrote: ditto ditto ditto!

    I actually didn’t mind the “rules” so much at the time (1980’s), but it was the incessant reaching for “God’s approval” via “do more do more do more” that literally made me sick physically after about 6-7 years. Since there was no “guarantee of salvation” unless you “endured to the end,” the sickly & elderly who can’t keep going are out of the loop. Then the Lord showed me fasting via a secular health book (WT does not approve of fasting as they said it was for OT only). But I started making plans to go do a water-only fast for 21 days to regain health at a secular facility. After that fast the Holy Spirit was able to get through the brainwashing & for the first time I began noticing the way-over-abundance of references to “THE ORGANIZATION” in WT literature. That phrase began jumping up off the page at me over & over. All the sudden it felt like it was everywhere “in my face.” That was the beginning of ny eventually getting out of the WT/JWs within another 1-1/2 years or so.

    BTW, I’ll have to go read your Separation article because, since Paul quotes the OT re separation & also writes to separate from those teaching false doctrine, I thought it still applied.

    1. If you read David cloud that should be enough.

  48. lajaw :you seem to be rebellious. Though I haven’t had any bad times at Independent Baptist churches, I know that there are some bad ones. But the bible is clear on separation and getting a tattoo is not separated. For God’s chosen people, Leviticus’ laws were to separate them from the rest of the world. Just as we as Christians are to do.I believe you have some convoluted beliefs taught you and now you are confused. I still lay it at rebellion. Just follow the Word of God. It is better to err on the conservative side than to be caught up in a bunch of liberal apostasy.


    Screw you, filthy fundie troll. Keep your brainless legalism to yourself

  49. I could have sworn that there was a comment on here by someone named Garth who was considering leaving an IFB church…I dont see it now but this is a response to you: I grew up in an IFB church that is exactly what you describe. I do not know you or your specific situation so I am a little hesitant to give advice, especially when it is un-solicited. However, I would highly recommend that you get your family out of there, especially if you have children. I have struggled and I am still struggling to figure out how I can “get back to God” because of the bitterness I carry. The problem is that IFB churches perpetuate a rules without relationship philosophy and that can be extremely damaging to our youth. If they ever step away from the rules, they have no relationship with God to fall back on and “down the rabbit hole they spiral”, just as I did. I am now at the point where I can attend church and get something from God, but I have alot of healing yet to do. Having attended an IFB church and college I have come to the realization that it is a destructive force that will ruin any chance of a REAL relationship with Jesus Christ. Not all who attend IFB churches are bad people, but the system is broken at best and evil at worst.

    1. Hi Micah,

      I’m Patricia, one of the site moderators. I just wanted to let you know that Garth requested that his comment be withdrawn. He was fearful that people in his church would see it and recognize him and that it would cause him trouble. We appreciate you writing to Garth in what could only be “a God thing”. I hope that he will read your post and that your compassion will touch his heart.

      Thanks again

  50. I have never been involved in an IFB church…BUT my husband , who was raised a Catholic, is exactly as you say the IFB church is. I had been beating my head against a brick wall trying to get him to see how he had been beating me up with the Word and his interpretations of it. After being married to him for 3 years I was about to give up my faith entirely.(or my life as I had become deeply depressed by that time). I am thankful to say that my faith had a turn around and my husband couldn’t stand my standing on The Word and left. We are still married, and talk on occasion about where things might go, although unless there is some real change of thinking on his part I doubt we’ll ever live together again. I would never set foot in a IFB church either. God bless you, whoever you are, for this site!

  51. We have been a part of an IFB church for 19 years. Everything that has been said is true. My wife and I are tolerating this church presently because our family is part of it. If we left we are concerned that they would be told not to have any fellowship with us. The Pastor has absolute authority and cannot be questioned. It would be a sign of rebellion against God. He uses intimidation, humiliation, and force to control the congregation. It is very close to being a cult type of church. When one of our congregation was thinking of visiting another church it was preached about and called satanic.When you go to him for any type of council it will be preached about although he may not mention you by name. We spend 3 1/2 hours on Sunday morning and 3 hours on Sunday evening in church as well as 1 1/2 hours on Wed. night in church.If you don’t spend all this time in church you are not right with God.This church has brought anxiety and depression into our lives instead of joy. We are beat up every week by an arrogant controlling ministry. Christ did not want his church to be like this. Tradition is equal to scripture. People who are trying to serve God are abused, manipulated, and taken advantage of and ITS WRONG!!!

  52. It took a while; however, over time, 1 1/2 years, I was strongly discouraged from seeking any opinion outside one particular ministry at the church and any ministries financially supported by that particular church. All other opinions were considered either irrelevant or worse, intolerable, and forbidden. One college or church could be a friendly ministry one day and on the forbidden list the very next week. The same was true with individuals. It was as if the past was entirely erased. I didn’t initially make the association because I considered a “cult” a place where I was physically trapped and could not leave. I wasn’t physically trapped either at the church and was able to leave between semesters and for Christmas at the institution of higher learning. Also for the most part, my physical needs were taken care of while I was at either place. I associated a cult with intolerable physical conditions that others who have written posts have experienced, just not me. In my case, it was more spiritual, social, and emotional than anything else. I was free to come and go since I only went to church on Sundays and Wednesdays for the most part. I could also communicate with my family by written or telephone correspondence.

    By the way, this is not characteristic of other churches I’ve attended over the years which I have not included in my posts. This is what makes this experience different from other situations. Also I was much younger since i was in high school and my college years. There was really little my parents could do since i was already 18 years of age.

    Sometimes the readers got the impression that i wanted a free-for-all in church. I wasn’t seeking this at all and could have gotten the free-for-all without going to any church. I was looking for guidance. I already believed in principles and had convictions. i’m just not as strict as I was at that point, mainly cause at that point, i tried to live by the beliefs of the church and the school and other ministries it supported. When I could not longer live by those beliefs, I left on my own. i was never “forced out.” I left gradually. Actually they didn’t want me to go either.

    Many churches just write members who don’t attend church after a period of 6 months to a year as being either inactive or possibly moving on without humiliating them in public. They call first and find out if the person is absent for any special reason and wants to maintain membership, but they don’t p ursue them or embarrass them in anyway. This is what made this experience different from others also.

  53. I like this website. I’ve been through this kind of abuse
    since I was in the baptist academy and public education. The abuse
    is not only in the IFB groups it is happening with all non
    denomination groups too. I visited a local KJV only church fourteen
    years ago after leaving a large community southern baptist church.
    I thought non denominational groups were better but they demand
    more and emotionally draining. One thing I have noticed with all
    these proud local groups that claim to be christians and advertise
    all the time to gain new members is they already are rich and
    lonely people and often have the need to get revenge on those that
    left their church and complain about the abuse they received. I had
    rocks thrown at me while driving through town and people staring at
    me, spying on me by local deacon spy on me that attends a popular
    community baptist church that pressures the community to support or
    join them. They will even go so far to tell you you are not a
    christian and to join the world. Yet some of these clergy work for
    the city and often dont practice what they teach. It’s hard to be
    mocked and made fun of much like a kid being picked on by bullies
    in a school yard. There’s a book by PublishAmerica called Segments
    of Abuse in Education. I recommend that it be read for anyone
    struggling with abuse in education or similar

    1. Matt, I am very sorry for what you experienced and it does sound like spiritual abuse as defined here. Please know, however, that not “all” nondenominational churches are like this. The one (or perhaps several) you experienced may be, but certainly not all. Nondenominational churches, as far as I know, are not grouped in any way and do not have an over-arching doctrinal statement that tells them to treat someone like this. I hope and pray that this is an isolated church that has strayed from God’s Word. Again, I am so sorry that happened to you. I will say that I have had both experiences with nondenominational churches. In the first one I joined, I had a good experience until about a year after my baptism there, when my family and I were asked to leave the church over our parenting decisions. This certainly felt like spiritual abuse to me, and we considered leaving the Christian faith. However, a few years later it was another nondenominational church that reached out to us and helped us heal. I hope and pray that something similar can happen for you.

  54. Didn’t really know where to put this so after examing the topics, decided to put it over here. I’ve spoken about my story in other places on the site, so briefly, after having attended an IFB church for 20 yrs, I finally saw the light and knew I had to get my family out of there. I then ended up in a Southern Baptist Church for about a year, and they treated us wonderfully and made us welcome, they had some teachings I didn’t agree with (tithing), however, gone was most of the legalism and kjvonlyism. I then discovered that an old friend had started a small church in the neighboring county. He had come out of a very legalistic IFB church as well and seemed to be completely free of legalism himself, with the exception that he holds tightly to the KJV, but does not make it mandatory that everyone that attends have one, I’ve made my opinion clearly known to him about this issue and he doesn’t try to argue about it with me. Anyway.

    Here comes the venting part!

    Last evening he begans telling a story about how that after having been saved for about 2 months, and already having quit drugging and drinking he made a vow to never again consume alcohol. Well the story goes on that he and his wife were at a revival meeting, with his wife playing piano when her water broke and he had to leave the meeting to take his wife to the hospital where she gave birth to their firstborn son. He said he arrived home around midnight and one of his neighbors called to inquire about his wife, to see if she had given birth, he went on to tell her the good news and she invited him over to her and her husband’s house for something to eat. Well he accepted walked over to the neighbor’s and she fixed him a sandwich and a drink, they had friends over and were playing cards and having some adult beverages. My friend said he ate the sandwich and took a drink of his beverage and discovered that it had some rum in it. Shortly thereafter he thanked them for the sandwich and headed home. The next day the man is out in the field with his young daughter and she is riding a horse when the horse kicks the man and throws the little girl off, and she hits her head on the fence. Both recovered. Now want to know why they were hurt? Because they violated the “vow” that my friend had made by offering him a drink that contained alcohol in it! My friend/pastor didn’t come right our and say it but that’s what he implied.

    This is the first sign I have observed since starting to attend there that some of this legalistic stuff is still hanging on to him. I spoke with my best friend who attends there on Wed. nights and was there last night, about what I should do about confronting him about this, I’m not shy. Of course he’s just a man and makes mistakes like the rest of us. My friend says to let it slide for now and if he gets into more of it to confront him then. I’m still not sure what to do. I’m just really disappointed that my friend would come to such a conclusion that God would hurt alittle girl to honor my friends vow. I really don’t know a God that would do that! I am so disappointed that I finally thought that I had a good place of worship for me and my family, oh well, I know there are no perfect churches on this planet, but I certainly don’t want my God represented to people in this fashion. Am I wrong?

    1. Hi Greg,

      I’m not sure how you were able to comment on this post. It’s been marked as “Private” for a while as I work to update it. Anyway, I’m glad you were able to post a comment because it got me thinking about one Sunday, years ago, I was sitting in my church and an associate pastor came up to the podium to give a “confession” about something he had done. He started out very somber in mood and hung his head in shame as he admitted to the congregation that he had once told a lie to his wife and the Lord was punishing him because his son was now sick. He thought that by confessing his lie to the congregation the Lord would heal his son.

      The first though that came to my head was, “Wow, I can’t believe that this guy is so perfect that he only has to confess a lie.” Then I remember thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe this guy THINKS he is so perfect except for that one lie.” What a show!!! What arrogance and deception. I can’t believe that he actually thought that god was punishing him by making his son sick. I never went back to that church after that evening. If I were you I would get as far away as possible. Run, run fast. If you don’t feel that running is for you than confront it, but watch out. If you confront it you may end up running anyway.

  55. How can people twist a gospel that is supposed to set us free, and turn it into a religion in which everything is always your fault? You’re not surrendured enough, you’re not trusting enough, you’re not humbled enough, it’s all about you and how you never measure up, instead of being about Christ.

  56. you seem to be rebellious. Though I haven’t had any bad times at Independent Baptist churches, I know that there are some bad ones. But the bible is clear on separation and getting a tattoo is not separated. For God’s chosen people, Leviticus’ laws were to separate them from the rest of the world. Just as we as Christians are to do.
    I believe you have some convoluted beliefs taught you and now you are confused. I still lay it at rebellion. Just follow the Word of God. It is better to err on the conservative side than to be caught up in a bunch of liberal apostasy.

    1. Can you elaborate please? It’s one thing to make accusations. It’s a completely different thing to back those accusations with evidence. Please provide evidence for why you feel that I’m rebellious. Please provide evidence for why you feel that I’m not following the Word of God and am somehow confused. Ad hominem attacks and judgments will not be tolerated.

      We are NT Christians and are no longer under the Levitical laws. We need not be concerned with the ceremonial laws of separation any longer. We are now separated because God as set us apart by the blood of Christ. See the Doctrine of Separation Deception page for more information.

  57. We just recently came out of this movement and I can testify 100% of this is true. When I first read this page a couple of months ago I wondered if you were a member of our church, we could have written this ourselves. You describe their movement perfectly.

    I would like to add a comment about the grieving process. If the person has built their entire life on the works of the ministry, the doctrine they preach, and the pastor/people relationship, they may surely find themselves doubting their faith. Their faith MUST be in Christ alone and must dig deeper into His Word for the answers to their questions.

    Ezekiel 34 comes to my mind as well, because there are many lost believers out there that are crushed over their departure from the IFB and other abusive movements. These people need to be found and loved back to the Lord again.

  58. been in this thing for 20 years and have 3 kids in the ministry full time…
    its a mess…

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