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.