Tag Archives: crossroads baptist church

Chuck Baldwin: A Study In Fundamentalist Leadership

The course of true love never did run smooth — especially when the love affair is one between a fundamentalist church and their powerful and charismatic politician pastor. And therein hangs a tale…

Chuck Baldwin has been featured previously on SFL as we relayed the story of his sudden move from Pensacola to the Mountains of Montana to be the “tip of the spear” in the fight against the oncoming “fight between Big-Government globalists and freedom-loving, independent-minded patriots.” I guess everybody needs a hobby.

What wasn’t clear until recently was exactly how Chuck planned to fund this new venture in the mountain states after retiring as the pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church. But some documents recently came to my notice which show that Chuck’s plan was to use a retirement fund from his old church in the amount of about $52,000 per year for thirty years, a total value of over 1.5 million dollars.

But beyond the fact that there was a retirement fund set up for Chuck, the remainder of the story breaks down into finger-pointing as two different perspectives on the purpose behind this retirement payout emerge. The new pastor of Crossroads Baptist and new board of trustees claim in a written statement that Chuck basically hoodwinked the church into an agreement that they never fully understood and that he left the church in a financial wreck as a result of his sudden and unexpected departure to Montana. In short, it’s alleged that he took the money and ran. Chuck for his part claims that his planned retirement was a completely above-board affair that the board of trustees insisted he take the money and he merely went along with what their wishes.

It is worth noting that according to the church’s income spreadsheet, Chuck was paid about three-quarters of a million dollars in the four years preceding his departure — including a $175,000 payment made in 2009 by the church to buy Montana property. Apparently, Chuck had been planning to leave for the mountains for quite some time before his actual announcement in August of 2010. It is also of some interest that the church alleges that over $118,000 of “administrative expenses” that Chuck spent in the last four years as pastor were so ill-documented that the church was forced to issue a 1099 to Chuck for those funds as income.

But beyond the many questions surrounding exactly what happened with the financial situation at Crossroads Baptist, there is a larger story here that is of much more interest to those of us who have been in fundamentalist churches led by charismatic and powerful men. The question that I ask myself as I read through Chuck’s eight pages of flaming retort to the charges leveled against him is “how does a man of God react to conflict?” Does he start out with telling them that if it were not for him they wouldn’t even have a church? Does he rant and rail? Does he launch personal attacks on the man whom he hand-picked to lead the church he left?

My own personal favorite excerpt from Chuck’s letter is the portion where he tells everyone that his wife never entered the church office except to “clean my bathroom or throw out trash.” Not content to leave it there he then insists that she wouldn’t even know what financial records “looked like.” It’s also fun to see him refer to the current pastor of Crossroads repeatedly as “Mr. Nichols” in a group where that is the gravest of disrespects to a pastor. Stay classy, Chuck.

Not to be outdone, Chuck’s son and son-in-law wrote their own twenty page response to Crossroads’s Baptist’s resolution wherein they call on God to judge those who oppose Chuck and then proceed with reams of self-justification. It is interesting that these very men who apparently were part of the board that insisted that Chuck must take these retirement funds from Crossroads also left Crossroads with Chuck to move to Montana. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on that score.

It’s anyone’s guess as to which bits of spin from each side of this situation nearest reflects the truth of what happened. I certainly don’t know. But what we can say with some certainty based on Chuck’s response is that when you cross a powerful self-made leader in fundamentalism you can expect that a display of deep humility and humanity will not likely be the result. One wonders what Jesus would have done.

Famous Fundies: Chuck Baldwin

Chuck Baldwin is the poster boy for what happens when a fundamentalist pastor starts believing his own end-times-driven, conspiracy-theory-laden, political posturing. It’s a wonderment to behold.

For the last 35 years Pensacola, Florida resident Chuck Baldwin’s titles have included fundamentalist pastor, Presidential Candidate, and political commentator. As of a week ago, you can now add to that list “Mountain Man Freedom Fighter Extraordinaire.”

First a little history…

In June of 1975, Charles Obadiah “Chuck” Baldwin started Crossroad Baptist Church with a handful of people. According to the church website, by 1985 “the church was recognized by the late President Ronald Reagan for its unusual growth and influence.” Unusual is certainly one word for it. For example, part of Chuck’s influence was being the chaplain of the Escambia County Militia during the 90′s.

By 2000, Baldwin was deeply enmeshed in politics, using his pulpit and his writing to denounce the run of candidate George Bush. He ultimately decided that the Constitution Party was the place for him to thrive. While remaining the pastor of Crossroads, he launched his own political career as as Vice-Presidential candidate in 2004 and as Presidential candidate in 2008 . Needless to say, he lost. (I, for one, was shocked!)

Although Chuck was vocal during the Bush years, his rhetoric under President Obama reached fever pitch. “We are all doomed. Doomed, I say! Tin foil hats will be available on the back table for the price of a small donation to my ammunition stockpile fund.”

Which brings us to the present…

One fine day not long ago (I tweeted about it at the time) Chuck decided that God was calling him to leave his Florida church and move to Montana taking his adult children and their spouses with him. The reason? Persecution’s a comin’! Flee as a bird to your mountain state! “Montana,” writes Chuck, “is going to be the tip of the spear in the freedom fight; and we believe God wants us to be part of that fight.”

Ponder this with me for a moment. A fundy pastor believes that persecution and hard times are coming for the country. He looks around at his flock and then somehow comes to the conclusion that the best move on his part is to yell “every man for himself!” and leave town post-haste, abandoning his church to fend for itself in this perilous age. Classy move, Chuck!

It’s worth noting that according to sources at Chuck’s church, his children’s in-laws (who attend the church) weren’t informed of the decision their children had made to move until Baldwin made his public announcement. I can only imagine those conversation. “Hey mom and dad? I’m going to Montana with Pastor Chuck. Sorry you have to stay behind and be persecuted and whatnot. See ya!”

Chuck also gave the current Crossroads church staff 30 days notice the day after his resignation. All of them. I guess that’s one way to make sure your predictions of economic hardship come true. One only hopes that the new pastor (who was hand-picked by Chuck himself) has the decency to re-hire them.

Now some of you may think I’m being a little hard on Chuck so I’ll go ahead and provide you with the man in his own words. He’s written much about his decision to move and the controversy that it has sparked. These essays have culminated in a piece called “Why We Are Moving” in which he explicitly states his reasons for leaving Florida to head to Montana.

[I]t is our studied opinion that America is headed for an almost certain cataclysm. As Christians, we suspect that this cataclysm could include the judgment of God. As students of history, we believe that this cataclysm will most certainly include a fight between Big-Government globalists and freedom-loving, independent-minded patriots. I would even argue that this fight has already started. And as this battle escalates (and it will most assuredly escalate), only those states that are willing to stand and fight for their independence and freedom will survive–at least in a state of freedom.

In many ways, the Mountain States just might become The Alamo of the twenty-first century, with, hopefully, much better results. But if not, I would rather die fighting for freedom with liberty-loving patriots by my side than be shuttled off to some FEMA camp after having been rejected and betrayed by soft-living, comfort-seeking, materialistic statists who simply “don’t get it” and have no desire to “get it,” which seems to be pretty much standard practice for a sizeable majority of people today–Christian and non-Christian–around most of the country.

I expect a fight. And I know I speak for the men of my family when I say, Bring it on! Freedom and liberty, along with the Natural Law principles of federalism and independence, are worth fighting for. In fact, they are worth dying for. So, living or dying, we intend to circle the wagons around the State of Montana and fight to our dying breath for the right of that State to live free! And while we are at it, we believe God will let us help many good, freedom-loving people of Montana find true inner freedom that comes from Christ alone. After all, any true student of American history knows that revival and revolution go hand in hand.

Yup. You read that right. They’re headed to Montana to start a new revolution.

End-time Theology + Hyper Political Activism + Fundamentalist Rhetoric = Disaster. Every. Single. Time.