Another reason why I am an independent Baptist! https://open.substack.com/pub/thedissenter/p/sbc-pastor-who-writes-for-wapo-suggests-597?r=pbjs4&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web
There seems to be a considerable amount of people who have come forward publicly saying they have been abused by someone in a local independent Baptist church. This should never be the experience of someone attending a church that claims to be “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The following is a review of a book written by one who suffered such abuse!
‘Sheltered but Not Protected is the story of a young man that was raised in an independent Baptist church (probably listed in our database) and who did all the right things just like the preacher said, but nevertheless was the victim of a female predator in his church. The church culture around him not only permitted but protected this sort of behavior, and instead of reporting the abuser as a child molester, the pastor forced the victim to repent in front of the church. Sound familiar? As the author says, not every church is this way, but there are enough of them out there that it deserves serious attention.
Justin Woodbury is the author of the book Sheltered but not Protected (affiliate link throughout), his story of abuse in an independent Baptist church, both sexual abuse from a trusted adult, as well as the emotional and spiritual abuse that was standard behavior from the leadership. The book begins with a foreword from Justin’s wife Emily, describing the pain and struggles that she experienced as a new wife dealing with the emotional trauma that her husband had suffered. While there’s a “happy ending” of sorts to the book, the scars–spiritual, emotional, and even physical–created thanks to a system of abuse that came from or was at least enabled by good intentions nevertheless will remain with Justin and Emily, and innumerable other victims, for the rest of their lives.
The Best of Intentions
Justin’s childhood is described as wonderful, with loving parents and a great sister. Even his church was a place full of (initially) love, people seeking to serve the LORD from a pure heart. Unfortunately, the way in which they went about trying to serve God became more about control and rigid compliance with rules than seeking God’s will. The writer of this review grew up in a church that shared some similarities with the church described in Sheltered, though I can’t remember things being quite so over-the-top with regards to pastoral control.
However, the whole idea of the pastor being “the Man of God” and that his opinions were actually the leading of the Holy Spirit (Justin’s job at the church was threatened continually if he disagreed with or disobeyed the pastor) is very familiar, and is unfortunately a very common aspect in many independent Baptist churches. I personally recall a significant emphasis on “she-bears” and calling down fire from heaven on disrespectful people being part of the birthright of the pastor. While my pastor didn’t go so far as telling people which color of car they should buy, he certainly interfered in family matters and felt that he had some sort of special line to God and knew better than everyone else how they should live.
What also resonated with me was the repeated detail that the pastor didn’t believe that there was ever a good reason to leave the church. I remember hearing that there were only two good reasons for leaving church: getting called out (to a ministry somewhere), or dragged out (a la Ananias and Saphira). This now seems like a parallel universe compared to my current pastor’s opinion on the matter: if you can’t serve God here, then please find a church where you can serve God; we’d hate to be the reason you can’t be faithful. Perhaps nine times out of ten, the reason they can’t serve God here (wherever that may be) is because they don’t really want to serve God anywhere, but there’s always the possibility that someone just isn’t a good fit and the LORD wants to use them somewhere else. That apparently wasn’t acceptable in the church where Justin grew up.
Ultimately, out of a desire to prevent the young people from experiencing the same disappointments and sins that the church’s founders had been through, they put in place draconian rules all with the intention of preventing impurity. As the rules evolved, becoming ever more restrictive, extreme, and ridiculous, most of the church members just followed along, since after all, “the Man of God” apparently knew something that they didn’t.
In his teen years, Justin’s mom became close friends with a woman in church, who was a predator and groomed him for about two years. I’ll let you read the details in his book (again, buy a copy and read it), but the abuse scarred him for life. Of course he felt pressured to keep it secret, since all of those people who had to “confess” in front of the church (whether perpetrator or victim) were publicly shamed and humiliated, and then once he finally opened up to the pastor, he was made to feel as if he were the responsible party. Moreover, the pastor, who is by law required to report sexual abuse, especially involving a minor, did not report, but instead forced Justin to apologize to his abuser’s husband.
So, not only was child sex abuse covered up, but the victim was shamed into admitting fault that was not his. Of course Justin was not the only minor affected by sexual abuse in that church; you’ll read about many other situations of leadership overlooking, dismissing, or mishandling situations to such a degree that it almost seems a caricature of reality. After several years of working in the same church, he faced another public humiliation for a private (and rather chaste) relationship with a girl in the church, and finally left to start a new life elsewhere.
Unfortunately, escaping the place doesn’t change the past, and Justin’s long road toward healing was hindered by the fact that “counseling” in his mind was a series of meetings with the pastor to make sure you were sorry and humiliated enough to be “restored.” He was never encouraged to seek professional assistance for his abuse, partly because the church had no real concept of what damage the abuse inflicted, but mostly because they didn’t see it as abuse, just some sort of adulterous affair–even though the aggressor was an adult woman close to twice the age of the minor that she molested.
God’s Grace is Always More than Sufficient
In the last chapters of Sheltered but not Protected, Justin describes his journey from bitterness to forgiveness, along with the various ways that God stripped away the judgmental, spiteful tendencies that had been inculcated in him throughout his upbringing in a cultish Baptist church. Of course I personally wouldn’t move away from the King James Bible as Justin has, nor would I probably feel comfortable in the church where he believes the LORD brought them, but those are irrelevant points. He overcame the sexual abuse from a child predator, the emotional abuse from a system that was designed to create perfect clones, and spiritual abuse from the men that he should have been able to trust, and has come to a place where he can forgive even the unrepentant abuser in his past.
This brings me to the real point that King James Bible-believing, independent Baptists have to face: why is it that we can have the right Bible (and we do), and the right doctrine (at least for the most part), and yet the fruit of so many ministries is complete destruction of families and individuals that should have been helped? How is it that we, like the Pharisees of old, can have all the right forms and technicalities (even if I disagree with many of the traditions purported to be “Old Time Religion”) yet the end result is one train wreck after another? Where in the Bible does it indicate that every believer should look like, talk like, act like, and sound like “the pastor” or else they should be shunned and ostracized by the church? Where exactly does the Bible say that the “proper” male haircut is a crop-top or a high-and-tight comb-over? Or are we allowing the culture around us to dictate what we do and how we do it, even if it is simply to be opposite of said culture?
Sheltered but not Protected is a gut-wrenching story of abuse, while at the same time a gleam of hope in a world with a church that is “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17) and where churches actively protect child abusers and rapists. There IS something that we can do, and maybe it starts with reading and understanding the truths that Justin Woodbury shares in this book.
Sheltered but not Protected: Learning to Love, Forgive, and Heal After Emotional and Sexual Abuse can be purchased on Amazon, and Justin Woodbury can be contacted through his website or his Facebook Page.’https://www.kjvchurches.com/review-sheltered-but-not-protected-learning-to-love-forgive-and-heal-after-emotional-and-sexual-abuse-by-justin-woodbury/
‘The old saying is that men never learn from history, with the addition that those that do learn from history are doomed to stand by and watch it repeat itself. Mark Twain said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Regardless of your opinion on the repeatability of history, as we already saw in Part 2, the church itself follows a certain cycle that appears to be unbroken since the first century. It’s not very likely for that to change any time soon.
The Inverse-Square Law
Growing up I loved listening to Kent Hovind’s Creation Science seminars. I still remember distinctly his description of the inverse-square law and how it pertains to orbital mechanics, specifically as part of his theory on the Flood and the collapse of the theorized ice canopy that may have surrounded the Earth before the Flood. Simply put: the closer an object approaches to a mass, its gravitational velocity is affected inversely-squared proportionate to its distance; moving the moon 1/3 of the distance closer to the Earth would increase its gravitational pull 9 times (32). Hovind’s application was (is) a comet that struck the ice canopy and collapsed it onto the poles, the comet’s velocity being increased exponentially as it approached the Earth.
I can just imagine the reader scratching his head, wondering what in the world this has to do with anything. Never fear: I shall explain.
As a premillennialist/pre-trib dispensationalist, I believe in a precipitated decline of everything before a catastrophic apocalypse, preceded by a “rescue” of Christ’s church. It’s not “escapism” as such since the church has endured and will endure any amount of tribulation as a sign of her faithfulness, yet “The Tribulation” as an event is for Israel, not the body of Christ. After all, it’s called “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” not the church’s trouble. As we approach this “event horizon,” it would appear that the processes and cycles seen throughout church history are accelerating. Here I offer two examples as observed personally.
Peter Ruckman is widely held to be one of the staunchest proponents of the King James Bible, as well as pre-trib premillennialist moderate dispensationalism. His work sparked a movement that started Bible institutes on just about every inhabited continent, published hundreds of books, some of which have been translated into multiple languages, and sent hundreds if not thousands of pastors and missionaries into the ministry. He himself fleshed out the very cycle that we are discussing, as quoted in Part 2. So, why is it surprising to anyone that the “ruckmanite” movement has evolved into the machine that spits out identical clones, something that Dr. Ruckman himself denounced vehemently, and (I have it on good authority) the leadership at Ruckman’s former church (Bible Baptist Church of Pensacola, Florida) dislikes even the mention of the “cycle” that Dr. Ruckman himself warned of? While the Pensacola manifestation of this process hasn’t reached the point of creating a bronze-cast statue of the founder or a three-story mural of the deceased pastor and his wife complete with cases of their favorite soft drinks left as an offering, the reverence with which Ruckman’s positions, teachings, and even attitudes are held has created its own kind of “monument” in the Florida Panhandle and in the “ruckmanite” camp around the world, all within the span of a few decades, especially during Bro. Ruckman’s decline at the end of his life.
More recently and even more visibly, Steven Anderson made a name for himself using social media, railing on homosexuals and forging a patented brand of theology including aspects of antisemitism/anti-zionism, calvinistic replacement theology, post-trib “anti-dispensationalism” (clearly misunderstanding that premillennialism is itself a dispensational position), his “reprobate” theory, and other bizarre private interpretations of the scriptures, all with a view to generate friction and create notoriety for himself. With the help of a professional video producer, he created “documentaries” slyly promoting his strange doctrines, even going as far as titling the Arabic translation of his film Marching to Zion as The Lies of the Jews. However big his following at one time, he quickly splintered his movement into numerous factions thanks to a series of “excommunications” and executive decisions about churches established under his ministry. Many of his former allies have distanced themselves from him, especially after an attempt to hide some abuse by members of his own family. Others fled his authoritarian-style grasp and started churches espousing various false doctrines from modalism to teaching that salvation can be “lost” by ceasing to believe on Christ (as if it were the individual’s faith that saved him). This particular cycle-within-a-cycle had a very short lifespan, basically petering out within a decade of its inception.
While previous manifestations of this cycle have dragged on for decades or even centuries, more recently they appear to have a more rapid lifespan, exhausting themselves quickly. My pet theory is that it’s a spiritual “inverse-square law” leading up to the catching away of the church, where heresy becomes more common even among believers as the great falling away accelerates. After all, Christ did warn His followers about being deceived in the last days, and we are certainly getting close to the end, so it stands to reason that deception would be on the rise.
Just Another Brick in the Wall
When the younger fundamentalists started leaving churches and the “Recovering” moniker was adopted, I had some hope that this movement would be different, and that churches would start seeking a move of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, my cynical side won that wager. There are undoubtedly many sincere believers that are truly seeking a recovery, whether from the frequent abuse in churches, or to figure out what is real as opposed to the religious fakery that is so rampant in churches today. Yet just as we see throughout church history, the sincere are promptly overshadowed by the ambitious, and the progression of the cycle can only be delayed, not prevented.
In this case, the “Family” that grew up around the various anonymous Twitter parody accounts and moved to a Facebook group started to feel a lot like the very “fundamentalism” that these participants had left. Getting kicked out of the group without notice or appeal has become a common occurrence, while the leadership have assumed a kind of control that is little different from any authoritarian religious movement out there. When Eric Skwarczynski, the founder and host of the Preacher Boys Podcast, announced that he no longer considers himself a Christian, the reaction from both sides of the “Recovering” discussion was about what you would expect. While some aspects of the response were measured and reasonable, others bore the distinct markings of the us-vs-them division so common among fundamentalist churches.
Eric’s defection would require its own series of articles to address, and that’s something we have no interest in doing. Suffice it to say that after detailing scores of instances of abuse, cover-ups, manipulation, and obfuscation in Baptist and evangelical churches, he decided that he had had enough and renounced his faith. We could talk about John 6:66 or apostasy in general, but the reality is that the behavior of professing Christians led this man to renounce his faith. He will give an account of himself to God at some point. What is truly at issue here is the system that he saw, the filth that he exposed, and the results of his experiences, both at the hands of “fundamentalists” and the “Recovering” crowd.
Of course there were responses; what else is a podcast good for? Instead of focusing on the church’s responsibility for Eric’s apostasy, The Church Split decided to argue moral standards, saying that an atheist or agnostic has no authority, lacking an objective moral standard. The point is valid, but irrelevant to the topic at hand. What is at issue here is the same issue that caused the “Recovering” group to head out in the first place: the body of Christ is in direct disobedience to its Head. As a result, the church has no objective moral standard now, since her behavior is diametrically opposed to the commands that Christ gave us to love one another.
There is absolutely a place to oppose false doctrine. It is certainly necessary to warn against apostasy. Objective morality is without question a fundamental issue. However, Eric’s departure was due to the failures of the church. Again we refer to John 17:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Christ’s prayer to the Father indicates that our role in this world as Christ’s body is to give evidence of Christ’s authority as the Son of God. Simply put: if people don’t believe in God, it’s the church’s fault. You don’t have to like it, but those are Christ’s words on the matter. Eric’s apostasy is ultimately the church’s fault. But since it’s easier to call for someone else’s head than call for repentance within our own “camp,” we see the standard response: finger-pointing and the blame game. How is this different from the hated “fundamentalists”? How is it not hypocritical to point at Tony Hutson’s carryings on or John Hamblin’s vapidity, while in turn blasting a victim of the church’s REBELLION against her Saviour? No, Will and Brian aren’t attacking Eric’s dress standards or the length of his hair, or the music he listens to; yet the end result is the same: ignoring the root issue to point fingers at the fruit of the problem. Granted, their treatment of the situation is nowhere as “cringe” as the typical IFB pastor’s response to an internet sensation, but it still misses the root issue completely. Eric’s problem isn’t that he’s logically inconsistent: Eric’s problem is that the church is logically inconsistent. As he stated in an interview with Jimmy Hinton:
My faith has been hurt very deeply by, again, not by Hollywood or rock stars or all the people I was told were the threats. Like, for me, you know, I struggle to see people who claim to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, living in a way and acting in a way, covering for things in a way, that far exceeds what I see happening in places like Hollywood, or places like, you know, places like secular places that I was warned about. And so for me, you know, it’s affected my ability to believe in there being some radical, transformative “power” to this.
I totally understand Galatians 5:16-17. I get it, the “in Christ” of 2 Corinthians 5:17 is the saved person’s spirit added to the body of Christ. I know all the doctrines; that’s not where the issue is. The issue is the part about walking worthy of our Saviour. It’s the practice, not the doctrine. How can a person behave like a lost person, or even worse than a lost person, all the while claiming to have the Holy Spirit residing inside of him? How can churches ignore child rapists in their ministries, cover up for serial adulterers, and fellowship with peeping toms, all the while pointing fingers at Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein? Eric’s point is absolutely correct: the gospel calls for repentance, something that has been thrown out the window in IFB churches in exchange for bigger ministries, larger bus routes, and more “conversions.” We see the fruit of this cheap, flippant approach to God’s holiness: a church that is poor, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked.
Eric Skwarczynski grew up in IFB churches and left because of the hypocrisy. Unfortunately, that hypocrisy didn’t disappear once he stepped outside of the circles in which he grew up. While it may seem attractive to point fingers at the other group, everyone that claims the name of Christ is equally responsible for the way in which He is portrayed. The “Recovering Fundamentalists” aren’t the enemy, the “IFB” aren’t the enemy, and Eric or lost people aren’t the enemy. Do you want to know who the true enemy is? Let’s ask the apostle James:
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
When you do the world’s work for them and distract from God’s glory, you become the enemy of God. When Eric is discouraged and walks away from the faith, it is the church’s fault, and instead of attacking him, we need to take some time to look inward and see where we went wrong. Our bickering, dissension, backbiting, and overall disobedience is doing the devil’s work for him.
All These Lives
I am still an independent Baptist. I believe the doctrinal positions espoused by the Baptists to be closest to the Bible in any organized group of churches in the world. I have no intention of changing my position or taking “Baptist” off of the name of any churches that the LORD sees fit to allow me to plant in my field of service. As such, it’s important to take stock of our situation as believers and make sure that we truly are following the scriptures as we claim to do. If our wake is littered with broken families, bitter wounded, and discouraged former believers like Eric, then we can only assume that we missed something somewhere; it’s certainly not the Bible’s fault.
Let’s look at an example from economics. “Capitalism” has become a dirty word in politics and the legacy news media, and is constantly blamed for everything that might possibly go wrong in any country with even a modicum of economic freedom. Of course, the real problems are caused not by capitalism which is simply the free exchange of goods and services, but instead are caused by corporatism which is the interference of the state (government) in commerce, preferring certain corporations over others. There are all sorts of issues that arise once the state begins to regulate business: regulatory capture, the use of regulations by established companies to prevent competition from entering the marketplace; lobbying, purchasing preferential treatment from politicians; and collusion, establishing virtual monopolies with government assistance, are among the many tactics used by entrenched corporations to use the power of the state against the consumer.
When these tactics are employed, immediately the socialists condemn “capitalism” as the culprit and insist that more government intervention is the solution, ignoring that it was government intervention that created the issues in the first place. Ultimately, it’s not actually “capitalism” that caused these problems, but it is always the scapegoat.
Let’s apply this truth to the church. The “church” is a called-out assembly of believers, assembling for the purpose of the One that called her out of the world. The “church” is never a construction, a 501(c)(3) corporation, a convention, or a “camp,” yet these are always what the world perceives as “the church.” Therefore, when those organizations that call themselves “churches” hurt others, lie, steal, manipulate, or misrepresent Christ, it is unfortunately Christ’s body that is blamed, even if that body wasn’t even involved.
It is not Christ that does these horrible things, yet He gets blamed for them. Much like Nathan told David:
2 Samuel 12:14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
There is a price to be paid when Christ is reproached by our sin and wickedness. When churches cover up and marginalize sexual abuse in the pulpits, when spiritual abuse is the norm in churches, and when those who hold the truth do so in unrighteousness, Christ is dishonored and there must be a reckoning.
The answer is not nor has it ever been to split or separate from the body of Christ, form a new denomination, start a new movement, or attempt to distance ourselves from the problem by claiming independence. Yes, we’re independent Baptists, but we’re still in the same body and we will still stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ alongside every other believer regardless of what name was on the church sign (or if they even had a church sign). We’re all in the same boat together, and Christ’s command that we be as one in Him is still valid, even if your brother uses the wrong Bible version.
Unfortunately, sin in the camp will eventually affect everyone, just like with Achan and Ai. The 36 dead at Ai had obeyed God’s commands perfectly; they hadn’t stolen anything from Jericho: Achan did, and he survived the battle just fine. His sin affected others, and the LORD withdrew His hand of blessing and protection from the entire nation. As with Daniel’s prayer, a collective repentance is required before we can expect God’s blessing on our churches.
Daniel 9:5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
Even though Daniel himself was a godly man, he recognized himself as being part of the problem. We will never see God’s blessings on us until we realize that WE are the problem and repent.’https://www.kjvchurches.com/recovering-part-5-more-of-the-same/
Remember this man!
If you are a born again Bible believing Christian the following will make you mad and sick.
‘A New Hampshire pastor was charged Tuesday morning on a child pornography charge, police announced after the arrest.
Stephen Bates, 46, stands accused of one count of possession of child sexual abuse images, according to court records obtained by Law&Crime. Law enforcement say additional charges are likely.
“I think this case is particularly concerning because he is a pastor and somebody that’s involved in the community here,” Nashua Police Department Lieutenant Brian Trefry said in comments reported by Boston-based independent television station WHDH.
“During a search of his person, he had some thumb drives or flash drives on him, which we were able to analyze on scene and they contained child pornography,” Trefry told Boston ABC affiliate WCVB.
According to a press release, the investigation into the defendant began over five years ago in August 2016 after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sent the NPD a tip that child pornography had been accessed by an electronic device using an IP address associated with the Bible Baptist Church in Nashua, NH.–the same place where Bates worked and tended to his flock.
Additional NCMEC tips were received again in 2017. Police say they investigated each one of those tips but were unable to gather enough evidence to support criminal charges–at least for awhile.
Another year passed with little progress made. Then law enforcement’s luck changed–albeit quite slowly.
In 2019, Homeland Security Investigations in Denver, Co. targeted a producer and distributor of child pornography. The suspect at the center of that investigation had shared child pornography via social media with an unidentified person whose IP address was, yet again, associated with the Bible Baptist Church in Nashua.
In 2020, The Tallahassee Police Department in Florida launched their own investigation of internet-based child pornography publishers. During their investigation, they found a publisher of child pornography images using an IP address associated with Bates’ church.
In 2021, Blaine, Wash.-based HSI agents were investigating the sexual exploitation of a child. The suspect in that case had communicated with someone on social media about their shared interest in having sex with children. Once again, that unknown individual’s IP address was associated with the church where Bates preached.
The Bible Baptist Church’s website is currently partially offline; the main page reads “unavailable.” According to WCVB, the website identified the beginning of Bates’ ministry there as Aug. 7, 2005.
The NPD, in their press release, insist the defendant was always a “person of interest” in each of their prior investigations but say there just “wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge him with any crimes.”
That calculus changed substantially, police said, after the execution of search warrant at around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday.
“During a search of his person two flash drives were located,” the NPD’s press release alleges. “During a review of the content on the drives numerous images of child pornography were located. As a result of him possessing child pornography Pastor Bates was arrested. Pastor Bates has been initially charged with Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Images but more charges are expected as the investigation continues and more digital evidence is analyzed.”
Bates was detained but made cash bail set at $3,000 before he could be arraigned, aa court official told Law&Crime.
As part of his release, the defendant waived any extradition proceedings and agreed to certain conditions of release.
“Def[endant] shall not use any computer,” the bail order reads. “[Bates] shall not access the internet for any reason. [Bates] shall not have any unsupervised contact with any juvenile under 18.”
Bates’ next court appearance has not been set and is currently to be determined, those court documents note.
Under Granite State law, the defendant faces a maximum 15 years in state prison on the child sexual abuse images charge.’https://lawandcrime.com/crime/baptist-pastor-arrested-after-search-warrant-alleges-he-possessed-numerous-images-of-child-pornography-following-nearly-six-year-investigation/
Just another reason to be an independent Baptist.
‘COVID-19 vaccine refusal rates may be high among white evangelical Christians, but the International Mission Board (IMB) — which deploys thousands of missionaries — is not hesitant about the shot.
The global agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest evangelical Protestant denomination in the U.S., announced this month it is requiring vaccinations for missionaries they’re sending into the field amid the pandemic.
The IMB may be the first U.S. missionary agency known to have such a mandate, according to leaders in the field, as other faith groups approach the issue in a variety of ways including limiting where people can serve and making considerations for uneven global access to the vaccines.
“This is a very common-sense decision,” said Ed Stetzer, a Southern Baptist who is dean of Mission, Ministry and Leadership at Wheaton College. “Mission-sending agencies from the United States have the real opportunity to be vaccinated, and they’re going to places around the world that don’t.”
The IMB policy applies to both current and future missionaries as well as some staff members. Among the reasons it cited for the measure are health concerns and the fact that increasing numbers of countries are implementing their own vaccine requirements — some field personnel have reported needing to show proof to board airplanes and subways or enter restaurants and malls.
In a statement announcing the policy, IMB leaders acknowledged that it could be a deal-breaker for some people considering missionary work or currently serving with the organization.
The Rev. Allen Nelson IV, a pastor who leads a Southern Baptist congregation in Arkansas, said he is not against vaccines but is completely opposed to mandates for missionaries.
“This is something that must be left up to a person’s own conscience, research and discussions with a doctor, as well as their particular ministry context,” said Nelson.
The United Methodist Church, for its part, strongly encourages missionaries to get vaccinated but does not require it. That is partly because availability is not consistent around the world, according to Judy Chung, executive director of missionary services for the denomination’s Global Ministries.
“We have discussed how to promote vaccination without making a mandatory requirement,” Chung said, “because some may not have access to that yet.”
The denomination currently has about 240 full-time missionaries serving in 70 countries, and the most recently deployed cohort of about 40 has a vaccination rate around 80%.
“We want to make sure that our missionary population are safe so that they can focus on the mission work that has been assigned to them,” Chung said. “We want to make sure that we are not causing harm as we engage in mission.”
A key question for U.S.-based mission groups is whether they will fall under the Biden administration’s recently announced rule that companies with more than 100 employees must require workers be vaccinated for the coronavirus or undergo weekly testing.
If they do, Ted Esler, the president of Missio Nexus, an association that includes hundreds of missionary agencies in the U.S. and Canada, said about 30% of those agencies could be affected. He thinks they would comply with the federal mandate but said the issue is not currently stirring much discussion.
Ultimately, he noted, organizations’ internal rules may be rendered moot by vaccine entry requirements that many countries have instituted for visitors.
“Whether you have a policy or not,” Esler said, “if you’re going to serve cross-culturally in another country, you’re going to be faced with the government regulation.”
A June survey by the Public Religion Research Institute showed COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy decreasing and acceptance growing, but refusal rates holding steady. It also found significant variance of opinion between people from different faith traditions.
White evangelical Protestants had the highest vaccine refusal rate at 24% and among the lowest acceptance rates at 56%. By comparison, acceptance rates stood at 56% for Hispanic Protestants, 65% for Latter-day Saints, 66% for Black Protestants, 69% for other Protestants of color and 74% for white mainline Protestants.
The IMB has had vaccine requirements for other diseases in place since the 1980s, and it says some have chosen to skip international service because of it.
Esler, who served as a missionary in Bosnia in the 1990s with the Pioneers organization, said he had to be inoculated against diseases like diphtheria, polio, tetanus and typhoid before he could go.
Esler wasn’t eager to get a COVID-19 vaccine and is hesitant to advise others to roll up their sleeves. But he got vaccinated because he is continuing to travel.
“From my perspective, this is an issue more because of the fact that it’s COVID-related than it is vaccine-related,” Esler said.
“It’s unfortunate that the COVID vaccine here is controversial and rejected by some,” he added, “when in other places it would be coveted and highly sought-after and they cannot get it.”’https://julieroys.com/southern-baptist-imb-missions-covid-vaccine/?mc_cid=41ef5de5ed&mc_eid=b13d34ad49
There is just too much of this going on within the Baptists both Independent and SBC. The Bible is true but there are false professors of that truth.
I had to do some more searching after viewing this video but after finding out he had taught at Hyles Anderson I began to believe the story.