Charges, Fines, and Penalties

The church constitution of Emmanuel Independent Baptist Church of Clay Center Kansas contains the following clause:

“This Church shall be an independent, autonomous church, subject only to Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. There shall be no co-operation with any group that permits the presence of apostates or apostasy. Should this Church ever become organically joined or in any way identified as part of a denomination or association of churches, that part of the pastor’s salary, of four thousand dollars ($4,000.00), received from Bob Jones University, for the first year must be returned to Bob Jones University plus six Percent (6%) interest compounded yearly on the amount received.”

Since this constitution was adopted in 1975 that means that an attempt to join the SBC would currently cost the church almost $55,000. The real irony is that founding pastor “Pastor Schoneweis” (the bio never gives his first name) served as the South Central Regional Director for the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International — Which is TOTALLY not a denomination or association of churches. Nope. Totally different than that.

Nothing to see here folks, just move along.

134 thoughts on “Charges, Fines, and Penalties”

  1. *sigh* Darrell, do you have any idea how many times I’ve refreshed the page tonight??? :/

    I got a copy of my church’s constitution because I intended to become a member. Saw the bit about not being allowed to listen to secular music. Decided not to become a member. That was before I knew the church was abusive, of course. But BOY am I glad that I never joined now.

  2. The constitution of the IFB church I attended as a kid had pretty standard fare within. I’d love to see what’s in the current revision, now that the dictator has been there for a few years. While I was there, the most interesting thing was that the constitution was on its, well, “Third Addition.”

  3. Is suspect the clause regarding employee wages claw-back might be unenforceable.

    Why don’t they just state that funding would be withdrawn if the church officially joined a denomination?

  4. I have never heard of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International….but I do recognize many of the different names represented on the board.

    I did find it interesting that Dr. Ollila from Northland International University has his name on the Board Emeritus page. I wonder how long it will take before they excommunicate him and Northland from this group? Or maybe it already happened. I also threw up a little seeing how many “Dr’s” that were represented. Some things never change.

    1. Ok, the constitution states this: “They shall be members in good standing of an independent, fundamental, separate Baptist church.”

      Chuck Phelps is on the board. Chuck. Phelps.

      How the hell is he a member in good standing in any church?

  5. I have a hunch that there’s not a judge in this country that would uphold such a clause. I’ve seen court decisions go the way of churches trying to get out of denominations and keep their property even when the denomination was trying to seize it (or force them to pay for it a second time), and that was when the church discipline clearly stated that the property was owned by the denomination and held in trust by the church. Sadly, these kinds of problems go beyond fundamentalism (not in such silly terms of course). Mainline denominations can be some of the most overbearing on this stuff. $55,000 is just a drop in the bucket compared to whole church properties.

    1. That was my question to any legal eagles out there. Is this clause legal?

      Also, what would keep this church from dissolving its constitution, and adopting a different constitution that deletes this clause?

      1. I’m guessing there is or was a contract to that effect with BoJo U. As to whether or not that contract is enforceable, that’s beyond my expertise.

      2. I’m an attorney and I think the clause is probably “legal” but the question is who would be able to bring an action to enforce it. Not so sure about that part!!

        1. Deacon’s Son, I’m an attorney as well. I’m not familiar with this concept: BJU gives the church money every year? Confused, plus I haven’t read the rest of the comments. I would think that it is legal as well as long as there is a contract between BJU and the church with the church’s “detriment” to remain independent as consideration(Yay for 1L Ks I). (My story: Growing up, I always knew I’d become an attorney. I thought I received “the call” to work for CLA. Glad I escaped fundyland before I signed over to help protect churches that protect child molesters. I now work part-time for a Legal Aid organization helping clients with HIV/AIDS (“the least of these.”) Incredibly rewarding work.)

        2. I believe the idea is that they have to pay back the initial $4000 plus 6% interest for every year since the original payment was made.

          The $4000 was a one year “gift” to get the church up and running.

    2. There are many recent cases where Episcopal congregations that left the EPCUSA and placed themselves under an African bishop lost their church building, despite the fact that the entire congregation chose to make the switch. The property belonged to the denomination. In at least one case, the Episcopal denomination sold a church building to a mosque. In other cases they’ve been demolished to make room for CVS or other retail.

      The state of Virginia has a law on the books from the 1800’s that allows a congregation to retain its property if it splits from the denomination. In most cases they cannot.

      This is a little different in that it’s money, not property, being clawed back. However, there’s plenty of precedent for that also. Southern Baptists have had a few recent cases of this with church plants that chose not to join the SBC despite being funded by Southern Baptist money.

      1. My parish (Episcopal) had something very like this happen. A bunch of secret meetings were held, then a vote, and about 90% of the congregation, including the rector, voted to leave the ECUSA and affiliate with one of the African bishops. They were under the impression that they could keep the building and all. The Diocese said no. The next day they were there to change the locks. The next Sunday there was about a dozen people in the pews. wondering what had happened. (It was a classic case of steeplejacking.) But we’ve bounced back, programs are back up and running, and we have about 50 people Sunday morning. And we’re continuing to grow.

  6. Wow.

    For nothing more than $4,000, really a small amount for a university, they now have control over the direction of the church for decades. This is such an arm-twisting tactic to me. Their $4,000 allows them that kind of power?

    It seems like a high price to pay for $4,000.

    “We give you $4,000. Now you have to do exactly as we say or every year that goes by, you’ll owe us more and more and more” until it becomes an exorbitant amount that most small churches couldn’t handle.

    1. I gotta assume it’s a Pastor or group of board members who decided to encode their loyalty in a way that makes sure newcombers or less strict people aren’t blocked from making changes that they don’t want made. I can’t fathom BJU suggesting something like this in exchange for $4,000.

    2. Interesting too that they are prohibited from being in an “association” of churches, and yet they are “assocated” with BJU via this clause.

  7. so in other words, if this coven ever decides to give up being an independent autonomous cult then they will have to refund their franchise subsidy with interest. 😈

    I was not aware that BJU had actually subsidized own cult franchises. That makes me wonder about a local BJU outpost near me. I’ll have to see if I can find a copy of their bylaws now. Wonder if BJU could legally put a lein against any of the properties that had this in their by-laws? You know that such a caveat was probably “suggested” by BJU in the first place.

    At this point I would not put anything past the cult leadership in the IFB movement. Such a move would be a brilliant maneuver that would 1: give the subsidizing entity perpetual authority over the franchise under threat of penalty; 2: give the subsidizing entity a legal recourse to actually make a land grab should the franchisee be guilty of transgression of the rule and find itself unable to pay the fine.

    The world has nothing on this.

    1. Because “be ye not conformed to this world” means don’t listen to bad music, use contraception, or date. It most certainly doesn’t mean the church can’t manipulate, control, and misrepresent.

      Boy, have I learned that lesson in the last two years. :/

  8. Our pastor had our constitution changed to say that he could never be brought before the church for church discipline, that he and his wife could kick out a church member for living unholy lives without being questioned (she believed sleeves shoul be no shorter than 5 inches) and that he alone had all power and say over the finances.

    Funny…all of his sermons are about rebellion and going against “God’s man”

    1. It’s nice to know that all other problems in the world are solved, and all tasks of church life are accomplished. I know this because somebody has time to go around measuring other people’s sleeves.

        1. Earrings????? Earrings are allowed? I was only allowed, after much cajoling and a lot of digging to find verses that talked about earrings, to get my ears pierced at 16, and then only to wear plain studs. No hoops or dangles. And never to church. It wasn’t until well after I left Teh Crazy that I started wearing big earrings, and now they’re sort of My Thing. (Witness the earrings there in my picture. They are Big, and somewhat heavy. Dad would have a cow.)

    2. Exactly who is out there in the throws of passionate lust because he saw some arms? Sure, a nicely toned arm is a thing of beauty, but it hardly inspires filthy thoughts.

      1. I’ve heard guys lust after a lot if things, I haven’t ever heard of biceps being one, but I’m guessing there is such a fetish. The only female biceps I’ve ever heard discussed where the First Lady’s and was in a rather offensive way by women that don’t like a black first couple.

        1. In the end it still comes down to each person governing his or her own thoughts. I have no control over what another person thinks. I could dress head to toe in billowy fabric that doesn’t show even the tiniest outline of my body, and some guy could still decide to lust after me because I have pretty eyes. Ok, awesome, I’ll wear sunglasses. But then what happens with my dimples? Face mask? Mmmkay. What about my voice? MAybe there’s a “brother” out there who has a voice fetish for voices just like mine? I guess I should just not speak.

          So now we’ve reduced women to giant lumps of fabric, head to toe, who do nothing because even the feminine sway of a walk may be too much for some men.

          Baptist taliban indeed.

        2. Who says we’re talking about female biceps? πŸ˜‰ 😳

        3. Oh man, I am much further down this arm fetish rabbit hole that I ever anticipated when I woke up this morning. *shudder*

        4. RobM, the answer is simple. I know. I heard it for years at Fundy High.

          It is the amorous, filthy male mind. Whatever part of the female body you see automatically takes your imagination to the next level. If you see a lower arm, you go to the upper arm. If you see an upper arm, you think across to the chest area, which causes immoral thoughts.
          Worse is a knee. That makes you think thigh. If you see a thigh, you then commit adultery/fornication in your heart. It must be true-I heard it for years in chapel.

          The oddest part of that logic, to me is how it backfired. I have been monogamous my whole life, even after going to multiple beaches (including a beach on the Mediterranean) and seeing more than I bargained for a few times at various places. The school “superintendent” who preached so many purity messages left the church rather abruptly as his many infidelities became known, just before he was part of a spouse swapping divorce and remarriage.

          Anyway, the more skin a woman covers, the less she has to worry about you becoming an uncontrollable animal who cannot control his thoughts and actions.

        5. Head to toe in fabric? Cotton or wool? What’s the thread count? I’m getting excited! Text me pictures…of the fabric. (Super-180 wool could cause me to “stumble”.)

        6. @ Bro Bluto, I’m currently wearing khaki shorts and a cotton-blend tank with pretty turquoise beads at the neckline. Sorry, the head-to-toe black wool got hot. It’s like 95 here today.

        7. Wow, Uncle Wilver, that is one sexy outfit you’ve linked to there!

        8. That Lycra is just E-VIL! It makes whatever it covers sexy. That’s why cotton, linen, and wool are true Fundy-wear.

    3. OK, I just measured my shirt for today. My Rosa’s Lounge Chicago Blues T-shirt has 8-inch sleeves, so I guess I’m decent. πŸ˜‰

  9. Is this a case of BJU requiring the return w/interest, or is this a case of the church founders voluntarily putting this restriction upon themselves to keep the church “on track”? I don’t see this as a BJU-imposed thing; I could be missing something.

    1. Ah. Never mind – clicked the link to read the following:

      Note: the Church was planted with this help from Bob Jones University, from which Pastor Schoneweis graduated. The University gave this help with three stipulations: (1. That Pastor Schoneweis spend full-time the first year getting the church planted, (2. That the Church baptize by immersion, as immersion is accepted by all churches, and (3. That the Church always be an independent, autonomous church. These three stipulations of the University Church Planting Program were already the convictions of Pastor Schoneweis, founder of Emmanuel Independent Baptist Church.

    2. Still – doesn’t explicitly say that BJ was the entity requiring repayment, but I guess that can be inferred. Not a defender of BJU, but I’m just trying to get an accurate read on this condition.

  10. Bob Jones can’t possibly have suggested that idea can they? I can’t imagine that anything other than some kind of blood-letting symbolic gesture of misguided loyalty, and not something Bob Jones insists on before supporting, do they?

    1. Also, if you were to ever change your mind, wouldn’t you just have to redo your constitution & vote that out of it before making the change. Even if that were somehow enforceable that’s not unchangeable before you join a group or denomination.

    2. I understand from someone researching this that this tactic was common in many BJU-“planted” churches in, what, the late 70’s or early 80’s?

      I don’t see how it could be anything *other* than a BJU idea. It seems completely one-sided.

  11. This is a stupid attempt at control. The church can amend their bylaws at any time to remove this requirement or, even better, just vote to dissolve. They could then incorporate a new church and have the assets of the dissolved church transferred over to that entity. The problem with attempting to use the law to allow legalistic subordination is that there is almost always a way out.

  12. My church constitution prohibited any drinking or buying of alcohol. It also decreed that all “Lord’s Supper” must be served with actual wine because that’s what the Bible said. Lose, lose.

  13. “And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great” Luke 6:34-35

  14. First of all, there really is nothing to see here; even if the Senior pastor is fully committed to FBFI; the constitution discusses the CHURCH joining it. So, the clause (for what it’s worth) doesn’t come into play.

    Next, I assume people have noticed the family business — the 2nd pastor is the Sr pastor’s son-in-law (nothing like making sure your daughter is provided for!)

    Overall — I thought BJU believed in the independence of churches – why are they putting conditions on them? I would have raised the $4,000, and given it back, to ensure our independence.

    Finally, I found it interesting that BJU stipulated that they baptize by immersion because it was acceptable to all other churches, not because they believe it to be right.

  15. Kinda hard to convince the world that we are relevant in today’s world when we hold on to outdated or absurd rules and standards. The payback requirement reeks of denominationalism, which is a bugaboo to the IFB. Someone used the word “franchise” to describe this, and that’s exactly what it is. Baptist Popes extending their reach over others. And then we have the nerve to criticize the cults! Sheesh!

  16. Some church constitutions can be downright wacky, especially if the pastor deems himself to be a lord over God’s heritage (see I Peter 5:1-3). One thing I noticed, as a pastor that is updating our own church’s constitution, is that the “standard” Baptist Church Covenant has evolved over the years to declare that any member of a church will avoid certain specific sins that some preachers like to preach on excessively (dress, dancing, smoking, gambling, going to movies, etc.). By the way, ours now reads that we agree to abstain from worldly and sinful pleasures, practices, and associations (which is both God honoring and allows for personal accountability to Him). I believe it is better to allow the Spirit to convict the believer as He will regarding his sin than to command that he abstain from certain pet/token things in a document.

    1. A certain Baptist church (unaffiliated, but pretty far from IFB) decided to update their constitution. One of the things discussed was that the clause forbidding the consumption of alcohol was not biblical. But, not every deacon on the board was cool with the change, so the compromise that ended up happening was that the alcohol prohibition was rewritten to state that moderate consumption of alcohol is acceptable, but church members are not allowed to sell alcohol. All I could think was “what the …?!”

      1. Scripture clearly says not to get drunk so the church may have decided it was up to each individual Christian to decide his own alcohol consumption.

        However, since 1 Cor. 6:10 says that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God, the church may decide that selling someone alcohol comes too close to enabling them since they may use the alcohol you sell to become drunk. It may be one of those not causing a weaker brother to stumble situations.

        Also I’ve heard Habakkuk 2:15 used: “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!” I don’t think this NECESSARILY precludes giving alcohol to another person though; I think the point here is you aren’t to get someone drunk with the purpose of taking advantage of them sexually so it has more to do with motive.

        1. As you say, I think that passage in Habukkuk condemns the Bronze Age equivalent of slipping a Roofie in your date’s drink.

          It’s not a blanket prohibition on ever consuming or distributing any alcoholic drink at all.

        2. Well, ok, but for example, in Deuteronomy 14:26, God seems fine with the people of Israel buying alcohol (strong drink, even!), which they would have bought from their fellow countrymen. Therefore, God must have been ok with the sale of said beverages, also.

          I guess my views on personal responsibility affect how I view this issue. It would be like saying that you can’t sell soda or desserts, because many Americans use these food items to stumble (or jump headfirst) into the sin of gluttony. The only reason we’re even having this discussion is because we Americans are still dealing with the aftereffects of royally screwed up views about prohibition. Elsewhere in the world, where people are smarter and more progressive on this issue, this just isn’t a problem.

        3. Deuteronomy 14:26 was one of the verses that convinced me that God was more for drinking in moderation than he is against it in excess.

    2. This whole discussion is just so weird to me. Our church constitution (if we even call it that, which I don’t recall) deals mainly with making sure that there are people in place to run the various church functions and sign the checks. It can be amended by acclamation of those present at the annual meeting. Spiritual matters occupy the other 95 percent of our time at church.

  17. Did anyone else find it interesting that their standard for music is a book by Tim Fisher titled “The Battle for Christian Music” (Church Covenant, paragraph V.J.1)? IFBers like to blast Reformed churches for “their reliance on creeds” but I cannot imagine the Westminster Confesssion of Faith incorporating by reference a book by John Donne? (I would have said Shakespeare, but I don’t think Mr. Fisher is as widely known today as William was in the 17th century.)

    1. I also like the last paragraph (Article V.M – Unchanging Values) that states the covenant/SOF “shall never be ammended or changed except to clarify the fundamentalist position”. If they were to be intellectually honest, they need to add articles on MOG infallibility, pants on women (how did they miss that one?), abusing your kids, subjugating your wife, and another re-enforcement on MOG infallibility.

  18. My parents’ fundy church that I grew up in just hired a new pastor. I recently was told that he is teaching a Sunday School series called, I kid you not, “Our Scriptural Duty Concerning the Man of God Pastor Spencer and His Family.”

        1. Yes, but in this case the focus was on the proper respect and reverence being shown to the mannogawd by YOU. πŸ˜‰

          I will have to dig up a copy of this…it is around here somewhere.

        2. As long as any reference to “You” is clearly in regards to how much you are in debt to Your Pastor, I think it’s legit to allude to the devotee in the title. πŸ™‚

      1. Is that the one with the passage, “… then the doubting Thomas broke and ran to the altar wailing, “My lord pastor and my god; Save me!”? 😯

        Such a scene would cause orgasmic tremors in many a IFB pulpiteer.

        1. Don – I think the pope is jealous of the power wielded by fundy MOGs. Catholics pay lip-service to the headship of the pontiff, but, in actuality, the fundy MOG has MUCH more practical power over their parishoners.

    1. My church got Sam Gipp and others to come to the church and preach ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ and other such nonsense. Cause getting other men to teach your congregation to worship you is totally legit.

      1. @BroBluto: Well, I wouldn’t say we pay “lip-service.” But we certainly don’t worship the pope or regard his every utterance as God-breathed and infallible.* Nor would he want us to. *(Papal infallibility applies only to certain formal teachings under certain special circumstances; it is exercised very rarely.)

        You are perfectly correct: Papal authority is far, far less extensive than the authority claimed by these MoGs. The pope couldn’t micromanage the Church even if he wanted to (think “herding cats”). And, believe me, he doesn’t want to.

        1. Oops, this is in the wrong place. Sorry, Tiarali! Meant to reply to Brother Bluto. 😳

  19. Speaking of Fundy IFBx colleges attempting to control their grad’s churches and ministries, West Coast Baptist College makes all graduating students pledge to return their diplomas if they ever disagree with the college’s/founder’s beliefs.

    So if a pastor decides KJVO is incorrect, he is expected to return his unaccredited diploma.

    I wonder if anyone has actually bothered to comply with this mandatory pledge.

    1. I assume that in most cases, about the same time that the pastor realizes that there are issues with the KJV is also the time that he realizes that his WCBC “diploma” is barely worth the paper it’s printed on. No one bothers to return a worthless item.

  20. “or in any way identified as part of a denomination”

    The moment they decided it would be a Baptist church, it became identified as part of a denomination. “Baptist” is a denomination. The Southern Baptist Convention, to differentiate, would be an association of Baptist churches. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of different Baptist associations, but they’re all a part of the Baptist denomination. This even includes autonomous, independent, separated, soul-winning, bus-running, Bible-thumping Baptist churches. Because, despite their differences, they all still adhere to the same core beliefs and practices.

  21. I have a question about this:

    3. Compliance to Separation We believe that any member of this Church who is willfully disobedient in the area of separation from personal sin, ecclesiastical apostasy, perverted music, or dress and appearance unbecoming to a Christian, must be dealt with in accordance with Scripture. If such a person will not be corrected, that person shall be disciplined by the Church in accordance with Article G–3 of the Statement of Faith and Article VI–Section 2 of the Constitution, Part II.

    I have a feeling that my complete Bob Dylan collection would be labeled “perverted music” there. But how would they know I had such a collection if I attended there?

  22. I’ve been a member of at least five different churches and attended many more, and I’ve never seen a clause like that in a constitution. I’ve seen prohibitions against drinking, smoking, “mixed bathing,” Bible versions, blah blah blah, but never a pay-back the pastor’s salary clause. Weird.

  23. When I first glanced at the last post and saw “mixed bathing” in quotes, I thought it said “Mixed breathing”. In some fundy churches, that’d probably be prohibited too. :mrgreen:

    1. At a church I once attended, mixed bathing was prohibited for anyone who taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, etc. I remember when a new couple was being interviewed to see if they were worthy to join our choir (!!), they were told of this. They thought they were being forbidden to bathe or shower together… 😳 (I thought it was funny then – not so much now!)

    2. Well, technically, if a woman breathes in what a man just breathed OUT, that could technically be considered … erm … eupnea-intercourse? Respira-dultery?

      1. In Sarah Vowell’s book “Unfamiliar Fishes” (about Hawaiian history), she says that a traditional Hawaiian shows esteem and affection for someone by putting his/her face very close to the other person’s so that they breathe each other’s breath. Ms. Vowell says that during the considerable time she spent in Hawaii, she found it very hard to get used to this greeting.

        1. True! When I was living on Guam, they called white people “howlies”. Translated, it means “no breath”.

        2. “Haole” is Hawaiian for a non-Polynesian person. It has the general sense of “foreign” (it doesn’t refer to skin color or physiognomy), and can also be used to refer to non-native plants and animals. But some Hawaiians say “haole” means “without breath” (“ha” can mean “breath”). Vowell says, “This ‘without breath’ interpretation of the word ‘haole’ was supposedly applied to Western visitors because they refused to engage in the traditional Polynesian greeting in which two people touch noses and embrace while breathing each other in.”

          There may also be an idea here of foreign people being “without breath” because they didn’t speak Polynesian, breath being connected to speech throughout the world’s cultures. (The Russian name for Germans means “mute people,” Germans being “mute” in the sense that they couldn’t speak Slavic languages. “Barbarian” comes from the Greek “barbaroi,” which had the sense of people who babbled incoherently [as the Greeks perceived them] because they didn’t speak Greek.)

          “Aloha,” the one Hawaiian word most people know, can be translated, “hello,” “goodbye,” or “love,” but it can literally be translated as “the presence of breath” (“ha”).

  24. This church should have an official hymn to go along with their constitution. I suggest this:

    The church’s constitution, with strings attached to Jones,
    Proclaims the retribution, with sound of money tones,
    For the co-operation ecclesiastic’ly
    With a denomination deep in apostasy.

    (Tune: Aurelia 7.6.7.6 D)

  25. I must have missed the chapter on the Bible where God commands us to get a family-owned business to dictate what His church can and cannot do. If the last 80 years was a hockey game, BJU has been body-checking the Holy Spirit into the boards every 3 seconds. How does ANY of this get rationalized by ANYBODY? God’s church bound (in theological matters among others) by a contract with the Jones family? If BJU was replaced by Jiffy Lube in the contract, would any pastors have a problem with that? Jiffy Lube and BJU are privately owned for-profit companies. So what would be the difference?

  26. What about a church constitution that guarantees a retired pastor a full salary for the rest of his life?

    Then, when the new pastor comes to town and has to deal with the financial burdens of the church, he knows that the first however-much-money that can be spared will pay the former pastor, and then, if there is something left, will be used to pay his salary, and maybe someday, even provide healthcare for his family.

    I know of one pastor in this situation, and it doesn’t make things easy.

    Not to mention that the former pastor, after cashing in on the lucrative retirement plan, hasn’t quite left the church but isn’t quite there either.

    And what do you make of pastors that will write such a retirement plan into their church’s constitution, or will even accept such a plan from their deacons?

    1. What would they do otherwise? Invest money in stocks. Gasp! that would be gambling. God would not like that. no, it is much better to leach than to take the chance that you could go to hell for investing.

  27. Go ahead and read who the staff is. The associate pastor {Carr} is a son-in-law to the pastor! Talk about total control…unfortunately, the members probably can’t think for themselves ,(or aren’t allowed to) at all..

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