Original video is the property of Harold Snure. Used by permission.)
While watching the video above keep in mind that Bill Wininger, the man being loudly defended by Hyles and Gibbs in 1993, resigned from his church twenty years later after his accusers finally gained enough attention to prompt a new investigation.
What’s really mind-blowing in this video is the way that David Gibbs, Jr. of the Christian Law Association stands in front of this group of people and blatantly acknowledges that there are abuse allegations against Hyles-camp churches all over THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. But then he takes that information and spins a conspiracy theory that the real reason that these allegations are surfacing is that Christ-hating liberals hate bus ministries.
Twenty years of abuse. Twenty years of lives ruined. Twenty years of pain and suffering. Twenty years — and they knew the entire time. These men are nothing short of evil.
Through the last few years, SFL has generally taken a light-hearted approach to the issues surrounding fundamentalism and hopefully we’ll get back to that satiric dialog and gentle mockery within a few days. However, as the saga continues to unfold at FBC Hammond it continues to demonstrate and validate things that have been discussed on this site and others in a very real way.
For starters, David Gibbs and the CLA immediately became involved giving the lie to the idea that the CLA’s main focus is on being “legal missionaries” to help churches who are being oppressed by the forces of liberalism. Although there is demonstrably no persecution of the church here (because the harm was done by the church itself) yet the CLA still shows up to provide legal counsel. Part of this counsel has reportedly been to have the church staff start calling up people who had previously made allegations against Schaap in hopes that showing them concern now will keep them from suing the church. There is no doubt in my mind that the CLA continues to serve as the “fixers” of fundamentalism.
Part of this role as “fixers” at Hammond now involves conducting an internal investigation with all the unbridled energy of men building their own gallows. As the video above demonstrates, the internal investigation itself is more than a little troubling since church members are being told to contact in-house counsel with their concerns and information instead of being told to take that information directly to the police. In some other place with some other people that might not seem to ominous but with a group of people who from the outset have been less than truthful about this situation it smacks of trying to control what facts get out and who is told what. If you’re a member of FBC Hammond or a student at Hyles Anderson University, I’d strongly advise you to talk to the police first and talk to David Gibbs as little as humanly possible.
Although they are claiming to make “transparency” their watchword right now, truth certainly does not seem to be of much concern to the folks at FBC Hammond. First the church was told by Eddy Lapina that Schaap was sick and on medical leave. He apparently said this from the pulpit with a straight face even while he must have known by that point what the real reason for Schaap’s sudden departure was. Once the story broke, however, what does the church do but put the man who just lied to them all in place as interim pastor. Of course they did. Why wouldn’t they? If history is any judge then being able to lie well is practically in the job description.
I’m sure there’s much more to follow on this story as it unfolds and I don’t intend to make this venue a place to report on every gory detail (that’s what Facebook is for!) but it is rather validating to see the corruption of Hyles writ large upon this place through these events. It’s validating, and more than a little sad.
Wherever there is a fundamentalist institution that has managed to land itself in legal hot water, one can be assured that somewhere in the shadows will be support from the legal minds of the Christian Law Association.
As self-proclaimed “legal missionaries” the CLA are given donations by countless churches to defend those who are “facing difficulties for the Biblical faith.” In other words, they are The Fixers for fundamentalism.
For years, the front man for this organization has been Dr. David Gibbs Jr. (and more recently David Gibbs III) who showed up at least yearly at my Fundy U to preach and tell the good news of how our religious liberties were being defended in the highest courts in the land. As a student, I always looked forward to his sermons because even though they tended to be strong on legalism (stories of reading the Bible through every month spring to mind) they were as cogent as they were hilarious. A bit light on exegesis, perhaps, but still very entertaining.
It was only after I left those hallowed halls that I began to consider exactly what role the CLA plays in fundamentalism. As has been demonstrated over and over again, fundamentalists have more than their share of skeletons in the closet and those skeletons often involve some type of legal action. The links between Hyles and the CLA, for example, go back as far as the 1970s and can be documented right up to the present day with David Gibbs III being selected to hand out an award during the 2010 Pastors School at FBC Hammond. Dave Gibbs Jr. also routinely fills the pulpit next to men like Clarence Sexton and Scott Caudill. These are fundamentalists of the fundamentalists.
Consider, would anybody be more likely to know about the dirty secrets of churches, colleges, and schools than their legal counsel? Yet, knowing first hand exactly the caliber of people with whom they are dealing, the CLA not only continues to laud these institutions as righteous but they also take money from churches by characterizing this defense of fundyland as “missions.”
You can count on two things: 1) Fundamentalist churches and colleges will act stupidly and end up in court 2)More often than not the CLA will be somehow involved in cleaning up the mess.