Famous Fundies: Lester Roloff

roloffAlthough Lester Roloff is perhaps best known for his homes for troubled youth, he was also very active in fundamentalist circles with everything from radio broadcasts to revival services. His sermons against television, alcohol, tobacco, pork, psychology, and Communism are largely regarded as classics by many fundamentalists.

After the State of Texas passed laws in 1975 that required licensing his youth homes, Roloff was arrested twice for refusing to comply. In 1982 Roloff’s plane crashed during a storm killing himself and three women on board. Incidentally, the crash occured on the same day that Governor Mark White — who had promised to shut down the Roloff homes — was elected. The wreckage of the crashed airplane in which he died is the centerpiece of Roloff Park at Hyles-Anderson College.

Presented here for your listening pleasure is one of his more famous “sermons” entitled “And the Mule Walked On” in which are addressed the topics of: long hair on men, short hair on women, makeup on women, hippies, buying gas on Sunday, too many people going swimming on Sunday, too many women cooking on Sunday, reading the newspaper on Sunday, newspaper delivery boys who go to the devil for delivering on Sunday, “homosectals”, professional football and baseball, people on dope from their family doctors, public schools, sex ed. and many, many others.

(Note: the audio quality is poor for the first few seconds of intro. It clears up once the actual message begins)

Many thanks to James for his help in summarizing this amazing collection of topics

148 thoughts on “Famous Fundies: Lester Roloff”

  1. Well, I didn’t have to go to fundie hell to get the beatings. My parents did a good enough job at that.

    Oh, my mom was such a Roloff fan! We were told to hate the state of Texas for what it was doing in persecuting Lester Roloff. She listened to him and other evangelists who said you have to break the child’s will. She and my Father went at that with a will.

    And of course, Bob Jones University loved Lester Roloff as well. We were told all the “abuse” claims were lies. But as so many have testified, they are indeed true. In North Carolina I have heard of some “Christian homes” that are supposedly “modeled after Lester Roloff’s homes.”

    To this day I cannot bear to think of God as my Father. My dad used to beat the crap out of me and one of my sisters. If we were deemed worthy of a “spanking” when Dad wasn’t home, Mom did a good job, then Dad added his when he got home.

    If I think of God as my Father, I cringe in terror. I lived a lot of my life looking for God to hurt me.

    Frankly, I think that if the truth of the Roloff homes could have been visibly documented and distributed, that many people who supported his ministry would have been put off by his violence. There are some good people who are in fundy churches.

    Of course, many fundies would consider his violence something to emulate!

    And other, true fundamentalists in heart to whom facts matter nothing, will still believe in the impeccability of the “Man of God.” Roloff, in building his ministry destroyed many lives.

    1. What proof do you have that Br. Roloff “destroyed” many lives? Many allegations were made but to my knowledge, none have been substantiated. As for your parents’ zeal to mete out discipline, they were clearly wrong in the ways they did it. God never told His followers to brutalize their children, He told them to spank them- the word “beat” was, unfortunately, used for “spank” in the KJV translation.
      I hope you can work past your resentment and see God for the Real Father He is, and not the scapegoat some abusers use to brutalize their kids.

      1. What standard of proof would you find acceptable, Mike? How many witnesses would have to come forward before you would believe that the allegations were true?

        1. As of now my answer to “how many” is, “a lot less than before now that certain facts have come to light.” The fact that Roloff’s plane “went down” on the very day Mark White, who vowed to shut down Roloff’s homes, became Governor, coupled with the knowledge he aligned himself with scandal-ridden Hyles-Anderson College, has pretty much clinched it for me. I now believe the allegations. As for “what standard of proof?”, I’d say “a much lower one than before.”

      2. The enabler or architect of the abuse is complicit in the execution of that abuse. Mack Ford, Olin King, Jack Patterson, New Bethany Homes, Rebekah Homes, The Lighthouse home for Boys, and the legacy of abuse surrounding each of these has one enabler, one grand architect, one empire builder, Lester Roloff

      3. Sorry, Mike. There’s no Hebrew word for spank; if using the Bible as a proof-text, you can’t claim God commands spanking.

        1. Be that as it may the Bible does NOT command parents to brutally assault their kids; if one does that parent or couple are in the wrong, and no one in his/her right mind would justify it.

      4. Mike, I hope you take a look at the words you posted. Were they intended to give hope to someone? share the love of God? or condemn her further?
        Your wording implies that it is only her resentment keeping her from knowing God as Father. I disagree. You have no basis to even suppose that she has any resentment. She just told you of horrific abuse done IN God’s name. Instead of presenting another picture of him or showing her compassion, you further shame her. Why? Instead of expressing sorrow and joining with her in the pain of having lost, you condemn her. Is that meant to somehow help her see a kind, compassionate, merciful, healing God?
        As for proof, that isn’t really a valid question, as the evidence is overwhelmingly clear. Roloff gave proof of most of this himself as did some of those who worked for him. Beyond that, there are many, many who share the same stories.
        If you were to meet a victim of Nazi consentration camps, would you give the same advice?

        1. It was never my intent to condemn or shame rtgmath, and I think you know that. I was just stating that many people have made allegations against him without corroboration or proof, and that she shouldn’t let the actions of a few bad actors poison her image of God.
          Guess what, Hope? After considering all those who had gotten into trouble at Hyles-Anderson college (which Roloff aligned himself with)and Roloff’s “accident” on the day Governor White took office, I now wonder how many of the allegations are indeed true.

        2. Mike, you never answered Darrell, how many people have to come forward before you believe?

        3. Am I on trial? No! I admitted I’m starting to believe the allegations but that’s not enough for trolls like you. Whatever “IFB” is, maybe you should recover from it a little more before you start writing people.

        4. “I now wonder how many of the allegations are indeed true.”

          That does seem to mean that you doubt the veracity of these claims. Perhaps you meant to word it differently.

          BTW, when you come in here and ask for proof of these allegations against Roloff and then call US trolls, well, that’s just not very nice.

        5. Did you not read the entire sentence? Let me word it so there’s no confusion whatsoever: I’M STAR-TING TO BE-LIEVE THE AL-LE-GA-TIONS. Is that plain enough for you? I called Recovering IFB A “troll” because I didn’t answer Darrell, like I have some obligation to answer EVERYONE who writes me. Actually I DID reply to Darrell in the Comments section. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself! After this reply I’m unsubscribing because some people are just too graceless, when someone starts to see things their way.

        6. Mike, I did read the entire sentence. You don’t need to shout; I’m neither deaf nor stupid.

          You said you don’t know what ” ‘IFB is’ “. “IFB” stands for Independent Fundamental Baptist.

          The sentence I quoted sounds as if you’re doubting. It does not carry the same idea as the second sentence.

          I don’t see where you answered Darrell’s questions regarding standard of proof or how many victims need to come forward. Which post(s) are your answers in? You also say you didn’t answer him, so your statements are contradictory and confusing.

          Either we are all a bunch of idiots or your communication skills are lacking.

          Perhaps you decided not to receive notifications of follow-up comments. I’d wager that you won’t stop coming here, but will instead enlighten us again as to the many errors of our ways.

  2. I have begun a support forum for people who were institutionalized in Rebekah Home for Girls to meet and talk out issues. This is the place to o for those like me who DON’T have happy fuzzy memories of that place 😉

  3. Folks. I must make a confession. I used to listen to Roloff on WMUU back in the day. I even ordered and paid for his cassette tape music collection (I never received it). When my older children were young I would sing, “One sat alone outside the highway…begging. His eyes were blind, the light he could not see…

    I knew nothing of the abuse claims, and never heard any statements from those who claimed to be recipients of the abuse. I suppose it was hidden well.

    Praise God I, along with my family, have left this deception.


  4. Wow. It looks like the people who displayed the remains of pastor dingbat’s Cessna P210 are trying to make him look like a martyr.
    The reality of the situation was that he got insufficient weather briefings for his flight which was in an area with a squal line of embedded category five thunderstorms.
    Basically pastor dingbat tried to fly through or over them and experienced such horrendous turbulence that it overstressed the airplane ripping the tail section and both wings off the airplane at an altitude of 19,000 feet. The airplane then fell from 19,000 feet to the ground minus its wings and tail section.
    As this is about 3 miles above the ground and assuming a free fall speed of the now wingless and tailess airplane being about 120mph that would translate to pastor dingbat having about a minute to a minute and a half to consider the error of his ways as he hurtled toward earth. That is provided he and his passengers were conscious after the catastrophic structural failure and the almost certain catastrophic decompression of the cockpit at the time of said catastrophic structural failure.

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