An Open Letter to Linda Hyles Murphrey

An Open Letter to Linda Hyles Murphrey April 5, 2013

by Jenny Weber

A guest post cross posted from Jenny’s blog I’m Having A Thought Here

TRIGGER WARNING! This might trigger those of you struggling to recover from abuse heaped on by former church members and clergy

Dear Linda:

You open your open letter to the dear past and present members of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, by stating simply: “You were my father’s first love.”

In the next sentence you equivocate: “I was never really sure if it was you that he loved, or merely the adoration and prestige he received from you.”

Then you decide it was “definitely (emphasis mine) the latter, perhaps both.”

Finally you revert to being certain that the church members were indeed the primary object of your father’s affection. No question about it: “I always knew that you, his ministry, mattered more than I did.”

So first it’s one way, then it’s another way, then it’s back to the first way. Which version do you truly believe, Linda? I don’t think you know.

If you do know, it’s not convenient at this juncture to say because, after thirty years off the radar — basking in anonymity which you’re now only too happy to relinquish — and not having personally advanced the ball of what is honest and true and right about fundamentalism so much as a centimeter, you pop up to cash in on this latest, most cataclysmic of scandals in your family.

I refer to the Jack Schaap scandal, the one nobody can deny because for once, the perpetrator was cornered like a wild animal and had no choice but to cry mea culpa.

To be brutally honest, these days the mention of the name “Hyles” makes my eyes glaze over and induces a yawning spell. I don’t mean to be rude but I am that bored by all of your family’s many dramas and escapades.

Having spent seventeen years under the sound of your father’s voice and very much under his influence, I am here to state unequivocally that your father did love you. And no; he did not love the members of First Baptist Church of Hammond more. They — we — did not mean more to him than you or your siblings. You’re wrong about that.

From our perspective, if one could presume to be inside your dad’s head and heart although he is now twelve-plus years in his grave, I would venture to say that the order in which he set his devotion on those who were important to him was more like this:

1. His family.

2. His ministry.

Within the ministry, those “fifty-niners” who “stuck by the stuff” were definitely topmost in his heart. Nobody could supplant them; they were extra-special. Or at least that’s what he said, approximately six hundred times that I know of.

Bringing up the rear on the ministry front would be those of us who came in droves to Northwest Indiana to attend Hyles-Anderson College or to become members of First Baptist Church. Although your dad and your brother criss-crossed the country begging us to come, when we showed up, we were made to feel as though the “real” members of FBC hated us for “taking Brother Hyles away” from them. Which is total nonsense.

We had no such power. He did as he pleased.

Third came the fundamental pastors across America who, whether intentionally or not, dubbed your father the “pastors’ pastor” and gave him a wide berth when it came to what he did, what he said, what he preached — as long as he preached for them, and conducted Pastors’ School every March, and granted them an audience with himself on much-coveted occasion.

But back to your letter. I would like to point out that your father did not “create worship” of himself, within me. I never for one split second worshiped your father. Nor was I mesmerized by him. I thought he was a special person and like many thousands of other sane, rational people, I loved and respected him. He did a number of nice things for our family. He was funny and smart, and he could be very kind.

But it was God who saved me at Camp Stallion in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana, on a June night in 1971, and it is God who keeps me to this day, and it is God I worship. I was fourteen years old and from a broken home. My salvation experience was simple: Brother Miller, the youth director of Weller Avenue (Southern) Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, gave a clear presentation of the gospel while we campers sat around a nighttime bonfire swatting mosquitoes.

I had been wondering for at least two years what I needed to do to be saved. I wanted to know but nobody had come forth with the information. Unlike you I did not have the privilege of being taken to Sunday School and church as a child, and being told what to do to ensure the salvation of my never-dying soul.

When a classmate at Prescott Middle School invited me to church, and then to the camp, and Brother Miller said all I needed to do was trust the Lord, I knew I was ready to do that and I wanted to do that.

I don’t remember if there was an invitation. I only know that after we’d been dismissed back to our cabins, I sat on my bunk — upper — and asked the Lord to save me. I told Him I knew I was a sinner and needed to be saved. I know He saved me that night and I have never had doubts except once about three years later, and when I doubted I went to my Bible and read what I already knew, and I prayed and received assurance.

For the last forty-two years I have clumsily but sincerely embraced the fundamentals of the faith as revealed in the King James Bible, and the day will not come that I regret having made the decision as a fourteen-year-old girl, to do that.

Being a fundamentalist — one who adheres to the fundamentals of the faith — has brought me many blessings and joys. For example there is my precious husband, Greg, who is the best Christian I have ever known or ever will know; our four children; our son-in-law the independent fundamental Baptist preacher, an upright man; and our three grandchildren — all fundamentalists, right down to the baby.

We are woefully far from being model Christians, any of us. Please don’t think I am asserting that we are better than anyone else because we refuse to forsake fundamentalism. But even the novice or faltering Christian reaps so many benefits from clinging, however weakly, to the simple fundamentals of our faith. It is the truth that makes us free and there is strength in freedom. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Of course there is a stigma attached, and that is where most people lose their nerve and with it, the ability to go all the way leaning hard-right with the unpopular — but no less true — fundamental truths. Biblical separation is where the rubber meets the road, every time.

In fact, it’s not fundamentalism everyone is really railing against; that’s just a code word for the fact that they’re unwilling — no; they refuse — to come out from among the worldlings, and be separate, and to touch not the unclean thing.

They’d rather use the sinful world’s crude language, and tipple socially, and take up for the poor misunderstood homosexuals, and dress revealingly, and indulge in immorality, and just in general be cool, than identify with Christ and His sufferings — not to mention His holiness. They do not hear the call to righteousness issued to every Christian because they’re not about to tune in to that station.

And when challenged, the answer is always the same: “God looks on the heart.” Yes He does. And what we say, and what we wear, and what we do is a direct result of what’s in that heart God is looking on.

People who go on and on about having found the courage to locate their truth and thereby get on the path to real freedom — they’re just saying that they’ve given themselves permission to do exactly as they see fit, at all times. To be the only one who gets to decide what belief system, what code of ethics, is appropriate for them. To do what is right in their own eyes, while acknowledging and accepting no pushback from anyone, least of all a preacher.

What disappointment that has come my way due to certain aspects of man’s skewing of fundamentalism — and what disillusionment, and what angst, and what discontent, and what discouragement, and what confusion, and what righteous indignation — and there has been all of the above, in abundance — has not always been solely because of the sheer wickedness of some who make their living off of fundamentalism.

A great deal of it has been the result of my own shortcomings, my own lack of understanding, my own selfishness, my own stubborn pride.

Sure, fundy nightmare churches exist. One might even say they abound. They’re a large part of your dad’s legacy. For example, in my opinion any church that identifies as or calls itself a “Hyles” church is a fundy nightmare. The thought of them makes my skin crawl. I’ll never again set foot in one. There’d be a reaction.

We attend an independent, fundamental, Baptist church. We sing actual hymns, while holding actual hymnals. The men dress and conduct themselves like gentlemen and the ladies dress and conduct themselves modestly. We don’t have a contemporary service. In fact there is nothing contemporary about our church except that we have a beautiful new building.

Our pastor preaches from the King James Bible. But nobody in our congregation worships him and he would be grieved — more like appalled — if he thought someone did. It is rare for him to talk about himself. His children and their families are a valuable part of our church but they do not exhibit an entitlement mentality. No one treats them like Baptist royalty. It’s not their kingdom; it’s their beloved place of worship just as much as it is ours.

But whatever sort of church you do — or don’t — attend, no one will escape the fundamentals. You can run but you cannot hide. In the end it doesn’t matter if you believe the eternal truths or not; those truths will determine your outcome, and mine, and everyone else’s.

You, Linda, talk a lot about finding “your” truth. But see, we do not get to decide for ourselves what truth is. Not by a long shot. Oh, maybe while life lasts. But not in the end. Not for all eternity. Secular humanism sounds nifty and it certainly is palatable to the masses, but it condemns people to hell.

Fundamentalism is neither defined nor bounded by the circus your father often made of it, and which others — aping him — made it, and many still make it. That was and is an illusion but the truth has always been there to see if you wanted to see it.

Harry S. Truman, thirty-third President of the United States, was known as “Give ‘em Hell Harry.” His answer to the nickname was: “I don’t give people hell. I give them the truth and they think it’s hell.”

It may not have been easy but certainly it was possible to see and know the truth even at First Baptist Church of Hammond because there, just like everywhere else, if you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within. He keeps you on the right path if you listen to Him more than to all the earthly voices.

I think in his heart of hearts, at least early on, your dad wanted his people to do that. More’s the pity that as the spirit of idolatry set in and took root, you had to sometimes shut your ears to your pastor in order to hear the Holy Spirit.

But make no mistake: Nobody who took part in the “ministry” of Jack Schaap for eleven-plus years — and, by default, aided and abetted him in his outrageous behaviors and vile hypocrisies — was listening to the still, small voice. Like the lost world, they were tuned in to the carnal, lustful, indecent, rapacious voice. There are many culpable people at First Baptist. Way up at the top and way back in the back. Jack Schaap took the fall for them all.

Your father’s preaching may have been grandiose and egotistical, narcissistic and self-indulgent, and he may have imparted far more practical than spiritual wisdom, but only eternity will tell what fruit remains. My guess is that it was probably different for each listener.

Just like when people sat through your TEDxOjaiChange talk, some heard one thing, some heard another. The speaker can only speak; the listener filters what is said through a lot of baggage, a lot of preconceived notions, the sum total of their life experiences. Oh — and their own truth.

Although I do not defend him anymore — like I did for years — I will always be grateful for your father’s ministry. I do not agree with his preferred methods and I think he forfeited his last shred of credibility at the end. It was a crushing blow to learn that he had been saying one thing, living another. There is no shortage of tragedy in his story. But speaking only for me and my life, I am so glad for his preaching and teaching on many topics, which molded me and had a great impact on the way we reared our children.

One that comes to mind is what your dad taught us about not questioning and criticizing authority within earshot of our kids. Greg and I had many disagreements with many people — your father included — about many things during our seventeen years in the First Baptist system. But as a rule — I’m sure we slipped up a time or two — we didn’t let our children know when we suspected leadership of actions or beliefs inconsistent with what our crowd was supposed to do and believe.

When that happened, we reinforced the truth in our kids with all the more zeal, and watched even more carefully, and monitored the influences we allowed to get through to and mold our children. We weren’t zombies, Linda. Like thousands of other church members without the prestige and the privilege you enjoyed, we were just ordinary people who wanted to do right for the sake of future generations. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less.

After all, that is what we were being asked to do and being told we should do. That is what we believed was expected of us, both as church members and as a staff family.

Your father did not use you to benefit the members of First Baptist Church. He used the members of First Baptist Church to benefit himself and you. And the reason he did that? He loved you. You’re attempting now to trade on his name, profiting from it even as you pseudo-trash him.

Know how I know that? Because if your name were not Linda Hyles Murphrey, nobody would care two flips what you had to say on this overworked subject.

But because you’re the boss’s daughter, the Baptist princess of yore whom I remember distinctly as one who appeared to be very comfortable in the role of belle of the ball, your spanking-new website is tricked out with little clickable cupped palms — complete with dollar designations — to make it easier than falling off a log for folks still enamored of the Hyles name and legacy to donate to your future “projects.”

This isn’t about helping people. It’s about money. And it’s gruesome.

Speaking of pelf, those you accuse of being zombies did a heap of funding of your dad’s endeavors back in the day. Just for starters, they bought a New York City landfill’s worth of books and sermon tapes. Zombies at home, zombies far afield, going to work every day, living frugally, opening their threadbare zombie wallets, dropping hard-earned zombie folding money into the plate and onto the book tables, snatching up Jack Hyles ecclesiastical ephemera like there was no tomorrow. You benefited materially and tangibly from that, Linda. Your whole family did. You still do.

You may not have been able to shop at a 7-11 store in the Calumet area without being asked for your autograph — quite horrible; who should be forced to endure such a thing — but I’m pretty sure you didn’t have to put your dresses on layaway at Zayre.

That’s because Daddy stocked your and your sister’s and mother’s purses with shiny credit cards from places like Rosalee and Evans, and had the bill sent to him. Thanks to the zombie book-and-tape collectors, there was more than enough mazuma to pay the freight.

Many women at First Baptist clothed themselves simply and economically while you and Cindy wore the bright feathers. I once heard that you girls and your mother dressed to the nines and went to Chicago for a fancy lunch at the Ritz Carlton, where at least a few of you ordered virgin daiquiris. Good times.

Was that the same mother you thought was crazy, whom you claim now to have hated, and to have abused at home when you were growing up? And it’s us you label zombies?

In my opinion it was your family who were the zombies. If what you are saying is true, you lied every day of your lives, with no conscience, at the expense of thousands of sincere Christians. I saw you, Linda. Between 1974 and 1983 I saw you lots of times and in various situations, and you didn’t look scared or sad or lost or horrified to me. Not even a little bit.

Back to the subject of clothes. I am grateful for the standards your dad promoted too. I know it isn’t fashionable and a girl can get called all sorts of names, the kindest of which would be “legalist,” by all sorts of people so much further along in their Christian life, if she dares to suggest that Christian women ought to dress more modestly than their secular counterparts.

But I not only suggest it; I insist that your father was right in that respect. Whatever his motives — and nobody can know them; we can only speculate — on that subject he was absolutely right.

The stand your dad took did not hurt you, Linda. It helped you in ways you may not even recognize. You’ve acknowledged that a lot of who you are today is because of him, and that you learned many positive things from him. But don’t forget that in addition to all of that, his courage and his convictions gave you a life many girls could only dream of. He was imperfect at best, misguided at worst, but he had the courage of his convictions. He was fearless and part of me will always admire him for that.

One day in late 1982 or early 1983 — not long before you left Indiana for Texas and blessed anonymity — I was at Cindy’s house and you were there too. I think y’all had asked me to come over and show you some Mary Kay products, which I sold for a few years. We were talking about my job as a beauty consultant and I must have asked if either of you girls had ever considered selling cosmetics to augment your income. We were supposed to ask everyone.

Both you and Cindy demurred as though the idea were unthinkable, and it was an uncomfortable moment. I realized I’d blundered and I felt embarrassed. As usual I tried to fight my way out of it. I recall that I said something like, well, why not? You lot are no different than me. And I can still see your face as you corrected me, Linda, talking slowly like I was four and only marginally intelligent. You said, and I quote: “Yes, but our position is different.”

Oh. How could I have forgotten.

I repeat: Your dad adored you. He provided that position. How I would have enjoyed the luxury of a father who thought enough of me to simply stay, much less provide for me spiritually, emotionally, and materially the way your father did for you. Each time Brother Hyles mentioned the names Becky, David, Linda, and Cindy, everyone listening knew he doted on all four of you.

Like most neurotic people blessed with longevity who are determined to leave their mark on the world, to build an empire as it were, your father made his share of mistakes, both private and public, both large and small. No one is denying that.

Clarence Darrow once said: “Our parents ruin the first half of our lives and our children ruin the second half.” He must’ve known some Hyleses. You seem keen to impress upon everyone that your dad ruined the first half of your life, and certainly you were intent on bringing at least a measure of ruin to the second half of his.

Does it help you that you succeeded, even a little bit? Was there no common ground on which the two of you could meet and work out your problems as father and daughter? Are you saying he was a monster?

Because I am sorry if this trips your triggers, but fundamentalism is not those people who inhabit or claim it who would by their actions corrupt, demean, and debase it. They are just that: sinful people. They are not fundamentalism itself. Fundamentalism is merely the truth of God’s Word.

I cannot imagine why someone with your background would say: “May you abandon man-worship and forsake the venomous spirit of fundamentalism.”

There is no such thing as a “venomous spirit of fundamentalism.” I don’t mean to just mouth off for the sake of it, but maybe instead of a Bible, what a lot of you highly-evolved disgruntleds need is a dictionary. And better powers of discernment.

But there is a great deal of man-worship in all religions, just as man-worship is rife in the world system. Nobody ever seems to have a problem with people worshiping Barack Obama. On the contrary; it’s encouraged.

You and all those like you are attempting to make the splenetic argument that, because fundamentalism is populated by — gasp — sinners, clearly it is fundamentalism that must be abolished.

And yet you don’t seem to mind that secular organizations are jam-packed with unrepentant sinners, with child-molesters, with fornicators, with adulterers, with liars, with shysters, with players, with manipulators, with all manner of heathen who have gone disastrously astray and who prey relentlessly on the vulnerable. Find me one that isn’t and I’ll retract that but I think you should know I won’t be holding my breath.

Linda, I read not long ago that, like it or not, we are in bondage to whatever we believe. I don’t know about you but I would much rather be in bondage to the truth than to a lie. In fact one of my favorite sayings is “I would rather be confronted with the truth than comforted with a lie.” Because being in bondage to the truth is the only way to experience meaningful freedom.

Want to know the label your dad attached to me? Several times he told me I was a “second-line girl.” Which meant — I guess — that I was from a “broken home.” That because my parents got a divorce when I was two years old, and because I wasn’t raised going to church, I wasn’t as good as girls like you and Cindy and Connie and Bonnie and Loretta, et al.

(More unabridged rubbish. More emotional skulduggery. More of what comes of clergy using the power and prestige of their office to manipulate and control people. While reprehensible, it is not exclusive either to your father or to fundamentalism. It’s boilerplate exploitation of the weak and unsophisticated and it is taking place this very moment at a location near you.)

During the worst days in my home, when things were darkest and blessings most meager, even as lost people we exhibited nothing of the cold heartlessness of your family. I have not always been overly close to my sister Kay, but I love her dearly and if I were asked point-blank to do something within my power to help her, I would run, not walk, to her side. Even if in order to help her, I was required to “put a toe into” a situation that made me uncomfortable.

I was intimidated by the First Baptist first-line girls once upon a time, but such upright, stellar, well-born, model females don’t intimidate me anymore. What a welcome relief.

In conclusion I wish to point out that in your letter you state: “Other girlfriends also allowed me to confide in them about the situation in our home and listened to me for endless hours as I occasionally unloaded on them some of the Hyles house horrors.”

You’re kidding. Teenaged girls listened to juicy salacious gossip? Teenaged girls dished on their parents? Teenaged girls were fascinated by a display of their pastor’s dirty laundry? That is all but unheard of. Just think what you could’ve accomplished if there’d been Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

In the next paragraph you gently upbraid those same girls by asking: “How could you stay when you knew all that I told you?” Linda, is it possible they didn’t really, truly believe you? I mean, come on. You could unload for endless hours on only some of the Hyles house horrors? Was there a dungeon? Were you denied food and water?

How is it we never saw a mark on you, and that everyone was always healthy and smiling? Did your mother dispense happy pills with the orange juice every morning?

I grew up under the iron hand of an abusive alcoholic who was also a criminal. Strictly second-line girl stuff — or is it? Would you like to compare notes? You bring the blanket and flashlight; I’ll bring snacks.

Five paragraphs later you state: “No one ever knew what went on inside the walls at 8232 Greenwood Avenue, Munster, Indiana.”

So which is it? Did you unload for endless hours to various girlfriends on only some of the Hyles house horrors, or did no one ever know what went on inside the walls of the Hyles house? It cannot be both.

If you think the girls in whom you confided your horror stories never breathed a word to anyone, I’m sorry but you need a wake-up call. They shared. The sordid details hung over Hammond like a noxious cloud.

I don’t care how you spin it, Linda. No matter what took place at 8232 Greenwood, you Hyles kids weren’t victims. You were not a victim. Your brother was not a victim. Your brother-in-law, Jack lite, was most certainly not a victim.

There were — are — plenty of victims but you’re not among their number. In fact I think that by your actions now, you are contributing to further victimization of those who have been permanently derailed by your family’s antics.

Because their only hope is in the truth of God’s Word. The fundamentals, as it were.

And believe it or not, I wish you the best. The best of everything available to those children of God who let Him be the sovereign authority throughout their lives that He’s going to be anyway, in the end.


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NLQ Recommended Reading …

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Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Ugh. What a horrible person to tell someone who endured abuse that they are not a victim. There is so much arrogance, hate, and condescension seeping through this way-too-long letter. If she and her beloved fundamentalists are in the right, as she says, then I’d rather be wrong.

  • SBunne

    Why on earth would a website aimed at abuse survivors link to this hateful piece without any kind of content notes/trigger warnings?! I’m a former preacher’s kid who was abused (often and early) in the parsonage and the interplay between ministry/congregation/family were HUGELY complicating factors. Gaah! I’m hyperventilating and in tears right now. I went to the original website to check context and noticed that you linked this with the hope that this would increase “Jen’s” traffic. Count me out of that pipedream and it’ll be a looooong time before I come back here! Not safe anymore.

  • Vyckie and I discussed posting this yesterday. We both felt it had value as a view from inside First Baptist Church and we both agree it is important to post things from many points of view. Jenny is as much a spiritual abuser survivor as anyone else here.

    Whenever I approach writers we have not posted her before I always tell them that one of the benefits to them is that more people will see their website and their writing. It will bring new eyes to their blogs. Just how it works.

    Now, having said that I am very sorry you were triggered and I’m going to put up a trigger warning now. I’d like people to discuss what they find wrong or right about the thinking, not attack the writer. Just like I do not allow QF adherents to attack our atheist, Christian or whatever writers here I don’t want our readers to attack this writer personally. Debate ideas, not writers.

  • Brennan

    I agree with SBunne that this needs a warning. As it’s posted, it looks like NLQ endorses this woman’s views, which I don’t believe was the intent (if this was an endorsement, I’ll gladly join SBunne in hir outrage). Even for pastor’s kids like me who were *never* abused physically, emotionally, or spiritually, and who were *always* confident in their parents’ love, this vitriol is disturbing and borderline triggering. I can only imagine what it’s like for abuse victims.

    As for Jenny, I hope she finds the spiritual healing she so clearly needs. I hope she finds the grace that she, trapped within the confines of legalism, hasn’t even imagined yet. I hope it banishes all her fear, soothes all her pain, and renders the petty jealousies of the world no more than a fading memory.

    And I pray she doesn’t hurt anyone else in the process.

  • Brennan

    The trouble is that Jenny is debating the writer (Linda), not the idea. She flat out says “No matter what took place at 8232 Greenwood, you Hyles kids weren’t victims. You were not a victim.” Her evidence for this is that she heard that Linda used to “dress to the nines” and eat fancy dinners. I absolutely agree that she is a survivor of spiritual abuse, but she is using this platform to lash out at other survivors, and that should not be okay.

  • For the record I could care less about traffic to my blog. Read, don’t read; it makes no difference to me. I did not ask either Vyckie or Suzanne — both of whom I greatly respect — to post this here. It was their idea. Regardless, those willing to trash God due to the wrongdoing of some people who claim to represent Him, were looking for an out all along. I did not just “hear” of Linda’s nice lifestyle; it is a fact. She herself describes it in her TEDx talk. It’s not debatable that the Hyles kids were reared in an atmosphere of privilege and luxury. I knew her and still know her family well. They were not abused but they are responsible for a great deal of abuse, both then and now. Sorry if that doesn’t jive with your perception but I know it’s the truth and I’m tired of the lies going forth with no rebuttal. You can trash me all day long but although I am far from an example for anyone to follow (and I never claimed to be), I am not the problem here.

  • SBunne

    Thanks for responding to my concern about the warning. I did get confused in the heat of the moment re. whether NLQ was endorsing this take or not–should have been obvious in hindsight. It’s just that I still struggle with the notion (maybe just my own opinion) that church members still view preacher’s kids as not quite “real children”–as somehow deserving of harsher treatment than they would allow for their own children. Thanks again for taking me seriously. It means more than I can really articulate.

  • newcomer

    Non-religious commenter here, so can’t really comment on that side of things. But honestly, this full-on attack was hard for even me to read, even without any real background of abuse to be triggered.

    Have to say, a lot of her responses to the situations as described seemed strange (maybe just because I wasn’t there, and it was missing some greater context, but still). There seems to be a ton of resentment aimed at Linda for having this appearance of the perfect life, something that many many MANY abused people are forced to project. Has she not considered that those public smiles may not have been genuine, the expensive clothes and fancy dinners mere set-dressing? That Linda may have dreaded what the consequences would be if she let that veneer slip and someone got a peek at the truth beneath? That maybe the Mary Kay incident wasn’t a matter of ‘second-line’ vs ‘first line’ snobbery, but rather someone knowing that they were being held to such a straight and narrow path that even something as benign as wanting to become a Mary Kay saleswoman would provoke a controlling father to tighten the noose still further? That there may have been dire consequences for any of his family members who did anything that he might consider to tarnish his image, and that maybe, just maybe, HIS image was what their lifestyle was all about? What their lives were forced to revolve around? Abuse doesn’t always leave a visible mark, but it IS always about control (and Jack Hyles would have been far, far too aware of being in the public eye to leave visible marks). No matter how ‘well’ she knew and knows the family, she isn’t part of that family, and is in no position to know what happened behind closed doors, when there weren’t outsiders looking on. These are the kinds of secrets that families keep. And attacking Linda’s account with ‘you lie, you were never abused!’ is reprehensible. Because she doesn’t know, whether she believes it or not.

  • madame

    First of all, I’m sorry you had such an awful childhood. I’m sorry the leaders of the church abused you, but I’m glad you have found a church that is a good home for you and your family.
    I have some problems with your open letter to Linda in response to hers. By all means, you have all the right to respond, and you have all the right to present your side, but it’s not right to deny Linda’s experience.
    You say her father loved her and milked the church to offer his wife and his children a lavish lifestyle. Linda pointed out that the ministry provided for a lavish lifestyle, but it wasn’t a happy one, however lavish.
    Linda felt her father lived for the ministry, and his family came second. Ask many ministry kids if they ever felt that way and you will probably get “yes” for an answer. It’s quite common for well known preachers’ wives to feel lonely and in the spotlight, and for the children to miss dad. Now, if dad is not only gone a lot, but he’s abusive (and you don’t have to beat, starve or leave marks to be abusive), and nasty to mom, then life can be pretty miserable.
    You ask Linda if she was ever deprived of food or water, and point out she always looked happy, well dressed, and you never saw a mark on her. How can you know that she wasn’t unhappy inside?

    It sounds like you were jealous of Linda and her sisters because they had everything you could dream of and more. I may be wrong, of course. I’ll admit to being jealous of some of the missionary kids because they had so much stuff and we had practically nothing. I’d hear their wishes for a nicer car, and I’d be thinking about how I wish we just had a car that would seat us all! One of our sayings was “when I grow up, I want to be a missionary, not a simple worker”. I’m still in contact with more than one of those (now adult) children. I’ve heard from one that she’s had to have counselling to work through her experiences as an MK, and particularly, her mom, whom I know and respect. It may come as a surprise, but those we think have it nice may be unhappy in their lives for reasons we don’t know .

    Anyway, this comment has gotten way too long, as usual… I don’t know you, Jenny, not Linda or any of the members of her family. I’ve never been to the Hammond Baptist Church, so I can’t judge. I hope you can extend compassion to Linda and accept her apology in the name of her family. She did apologize for the abuse her family inflicted on the church, and she apologized for not coming out earlier and exposing the lies and scandal.

  • Sophia

    Wow. Vile is the word that comes to mind. I mean, wow.

    I am trying to wrap my mind around why this…thing…was posted here. This is like a car crash. How do you even cram that much stupidity and vitriol into a piece of writing? I mean, it takes some advanced levels of malicious ignorance to think that you know someone else’s home life better that they do. That isn’t exactly a hard subject to wrap one’s mind around, but but little miss it-only-counts-if-he-is-a-drunk-who-hits-you plunges into it with the accuracy and energy of a beagle diving into poop.

  • saraquill

    I don’t understand how the writer can say that she follows the fundamentals of Christianity and spew out so much poison to another for not being like her.

  • Sophia

    Christ, I still can’t get over how this was actually posted here. This is messed up on so many levels I don’t even know how to express it. Its badness is so blatant that it doesn’t warrant any kind of reasonable response.

    But I do want to know why the in the HELL you guys thought it would be a good idea to post this. There are tons of cases where a perfectly happy family on the outside turned out to be warped on the inside. I am not from a religious background, but I certainly know that there’s a kind of spiritual abuse where children are forbidden from expressing any kind of negative emotions because it constitutes “rebellion”. Heading to a blog where they are supposed to have support, and seeing a woman be given a platform to deny the existence of someone’s abuse because of a nice exterior must be awful. (And of course you’ve already triggered someone. Stand up job.)

    I could figure this out and I’m not religious, from a religious background, or abused. You should certainly have been able to do better than I would have.

  • newcomer

    Coming back to this again, too. It honestly boggles the mind. Is this really the same site where you analyze Debi Pearl’s little nuggets of ‘wisdom’ and point out how deeply wrong it is to contort reality to always blame the woman for everything? Do you honestly not see how warped this letter is, in that very same way, to be attacking Linda for the ‘spiritual abuse’ of being placed on a pedestal, being presented as something that the author could never become? ‘Second-line’ and ‘first-line’ was Jack Hyles’ construction, not Linda’s, but you had better believe Linda was every bit as much a captive of those labels as the author was. So why is Linda the one being blamed more for them? Do you really think Hyles would have ever accepted a ‘second-line’ daughter? I thought this site was founded by people who KNOW what it’s like to pretend that everything is ok when nothing is, to try to keep up appearances and be horrified when it actually works, when people are fooled. How many of you were afraid that no one would believe you, how many of you were unbelieved? How many of you were even worse off after you decided to stop pretending, because you managed to hide the truth so well for so long? How many of you faced the exact kind of denial of your experiences and personal attacks as is being slung in this vile piece? How many of you were told to sit down and shut up? And why on earth, after experiencing that, would you facilitate that being done to another spiritual abuse survivor here?

  • Persephone

    While in my abusive marriage: My coworkers didn’t see the bruises on my back. They didn’t know about the middle of the night attacks. The coerced sex. Emotional abuse. The threats to me. The threats to the children. The empty bank account from his drug use.

    They did see that I was tired a lot. They saw that I seemed unhappy.

    But they never saw the real me.

    They saw a middle aged woman who dressed decently enough, showed up to work on time and did a good job, didn’t complain unnecessarily, and helped out wherever she could.

    They had no idea that there was more to the story until I went in to work after he was finally arrested and gave them a copy of the criminal protective order which required him to stay a hundred yards away from me, from my place of employment, and from my home.

    They have noticed that over the nearly two years since that I am happier, healthier, friendlier, and much more fun to have around. That I am optimistic.

    Jenny Weber’s problem is that she saw what she saw as a teenager, formed an opinion, and despite information to the contrary continues to hold this opinion, clinging to her victimization, unwilling to share in the sorrow of abuse, holding her sorrow always in front of her as a source of pride. She’s a victim. And she’s not sharing. I only got halfway through her rant, and became so sick of the I, I, I, and the Me, Me, Me attitude. I suffered more. The abuse happened to Me.

    This is exactly the kind of thing we try to avoid here.

  • newcomer

    I am so incredibly sorry that you went through all of that (and very glad that you escaped).

  • Delores Vigil

    I am a Born Again, Bible-believing woman who has watched Linda struggle with her need to tell the truth and help those who went through covering up lies as she did. Believe me, her physical health has suffered greatly, her financial life is not fun, she is not making “Big Bucks” off of her truth. She is a woman of great courage, very humble, and loving. Jenny has presumed to judge Linda in the very way she finds despicable, and I am sorry for her. I can hear the pain and jealousy in her comments and wish she could understand that unless you’ve walked in someone’s shoes you cannot know what the truth of her life really has been like. The Bible said that love is the greatest commandment, and compassion is the most loving trait anyone can display. I have seen the tears of compassion in Linda’s eyes as she hears of the suffering her father caused with his lies. Please Jenny, have the decency not to hurt someone with your words when you don’t even know how wrong you are.

  • Typical fundie move–attack the messenger, shoot your wounded.
    Just curious why Jenny fails to disclose that her son is married to Jack and Cyndy Schaap’s daughter?
    This is not about discussing ideologies; it’s a character assassination piece.
    Thank you, those who have come to Linda’s defense. Separating herself from her father because of his hypocrisy and perverted pastoring cost her greatly, and now, coming forward to destroy the myths that have kept him propped up–and led to the environment where my former roommate and friend, Jack Schaap, become who he became–has cost her the rest of whatever she tried to salvage with her family. She needs you more than ever, and your support, and for you to also stand with her against the system which claims to be of Christ, but is totally and completely a manmade system of abuse and oppression.

    “Fundamentals” my ass. Dump the teaching men and follow the gentle Lamb of God. Then you might have something of use to offer a broken and suffering world.

  • This post presents a sanitized, distorted view of Jack Hyles. The writer digs the trash can filled with Jack Hyles garbage and finds a morsel or two of edible food. Supposedly we should rejoice that Hyles was a good man 5% of the time.

    I heard Hyles for the first time in 1976. He was a man filled with self importance. He lied in his sermons, preached a corrupt gospel, and abused and misused countless people. And then there is the sexual infidelity.

  • Anna

    As the grandaughter of a moderately known but very influential (on lots of ministry and seminary boards) fundamentalist preacher/Bible Study Leader I can attest to the truth of Linda Hyles statements. The only child of his who until recently was able to admit the dysfunction of their family life was my now deceased aunt. They had to constantly maintain a stellar, happy public image. This carried on into my childhood with my father who leaped from the frying pan into the fire so to speak when it came to fundementalism and spiritual abuse. Many people will tell you my grandfather is a wonderful Christian and he is and can be but he has a very dark side to his nature. You have to see the whole man for who he is not put him on a pedastle which is what happened with Mr. Hyles I have no doubt. My aunts, uncle and Dad never questioned that the ministry came before them it was a sacrifice they had to make. My grandfather is very wealthy so yes they lived a life that was quite luxerious, ate at very nice restaraunts, went on wonderful trips, had their college partially paid for etc. However, this did not make up for the horrific abuse they endured it DID not make it ok. My grandfathers position and wealth only masked it.

    I too was raised in a cultured, “Christian” home with beyond my grandfather extremeness. I learned to play the piano, how to dance, pour tea and all the things a lady should know. My dad also took up ranching and the outdoor life. So he bought me horses, fishing poles, barrel saddles, paid my rodeo dues and did alot of wonderful things that I am sure Jenny would have envied. That did not change the fact that my father was terribly abusive physically and mentally it only hid it. Like Linda I am who I am in a large part because of my dad and my Grandpa. I am strong, I have a a good education and can express myself well. But I carry emotional scars and physical scars I just don’t let you see them.

  • Witwim

    Almost, words fail me. Almost. If I understand this correctly, your son’s mother-in-law, Cyndy Hyles Schaap, has a sister. You attempt to discredit your son’s “aunt-in-law,” Linda, through made up stories about a perfect life behind doors, of which you have observed nothing. Nothing. Yet you sit in judgment upon her; the very type of judgment you indicate that you have escaped? Could it possibly be that you wish to attack the family of your son’s mother-in-law? Is it possible you are jealous that you son has another “mother”? Fearful of attacking Cyndy directly, you instead attempt to bring down her sister? I can’t figure out your motive, other than twisted jealousy. But then, I have no idea what you’ve been through, do I? So, Jenny, what exactly IS your motive for unleashing such an attack?

    The vitriol you flung at Linda astonished me. As a previous commentator wrote, I could only stand to read the first few paragraphs. Why would you vary the rest? It would be more of the same contemptible rant so I did not bother to read it. I do, however, bother to write since you have chosen to attack someone who is a victim – indeed, as another commentator wrote, you “attack the messenger, shoot the wounded.” You have revealed your own victimization in this attack, rather than diminishing Linda’s veracity.

    I believe her. Her tone is authentic and genuine. She apologizes for the abuse her family inflicted, believing that it may help to heal some of the walking wounded.

    Your comments could have been so supportive and helpful to Linda and ot other victims of Jack Hyles. You chose differently. What a pity! You missed a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate grace and mercy. Instead, you chose to victimize another victim with pointed and pain-inflicting lies as sharp as shards of glass.

  • Count me in as another who is pretty confused to see this posted here. I always like and appreciate the variety of perspectives welcomed and showcased here, but sheer contempt for seemingly just about anyone different from the author hadn’t really been one of them up to now.

    What irony to need a trigger warning on a piece by an author who seems to scorn the very idea of triggers.

  • madame

    If you follow the link to Jenny’s blog an read the whole introduction to the letter, you will find that Jenny does disclose her connection to the Hyles family.

  • Donsie

    The post does not center on a debate of ideas or views. It is a chance for someone looking in from the outside (who can’t possibly know what Linda did or did not experience) to tear another person’s account of their childhood to shreds, to mock someone who says they are an abuse survivor, and to spew ad hominem attacks. The apparent motivation for Jenny having done so is that she feels her experiences were so much worse. She is entitled to feel anger, etc., and to post as she wishes on her own blog. But I thought this was supposed to be a safe and supportive place for church/spiritual abuse survivors and discussion of QF/fundamentalist issues, not a competition in who had is worse and was the “real” victim. As if there can be only a limited number of genuinely mistreated people!

    Posting (and giving additional exposure to) what amounts to little more than mean-spirited personal disagreements was a serious misjudgement.

  • Mary C

    Ditto to Brennan’s comment. This letter is not a reflection on or a description of someone’s spiritual abuse that might possibly benefit another survivor, it is ABUSIVE towards another survivor. The resentment, the hate, the condescension towards her are just pouring out of Jenny Weber’s attack piece. I am flabbergasted that it was posted. It makes me wonder if the owners of the blog have personal feelings against Linda Hyles Murphrey. And I feel it seriously hurts the credibility of this blog.

  • Mary C

    I really hope that the owners of this blog read these comments and consider taking this piece down. To post an attack piece on another abuse victim is so contrary to everything this blog stands for…

  • I agree with you – and everyone else. This post is truly not in the spirit of this blog.

  • Sue Cash

    Amazing. You didn’t read the entire post, but you’re perfectly willing to offer criticism and suggestions about the author’s motives. Might be more convincing if you’d gotten your facts right. Jack and Cyndy Schaap’s daughter is not married to Jenny’s son, but to her nephew. One pop psychology theory blown.
    FWIW, none of the 25 comments posted so far suggest the readers REALLY want to hear a different perspective.

  • madame

    Eh… Sue, if you read my long comment (in reply to Jenny’s), you’ll see that I start out by extending compassion for the pain that she suffered, and recognizing her right to express her side of the story. I read the whole thing on her blog (with the long introduction, so I knew she mentioned her relation to the Hyles family)
    I don’t have a problem with her open letter being published here, after all, it’s a response to Linda’s open letter, which was also published on here. I do have an issue with Jenny’s lack of compassion and her personal attack of Linda.

  • Shiloruh

    Long time reader here. I am shocked by this letter. The writers vitriol and judgemental attitude are very ugly. I see we are pleaded with not to approach the theology of the writer out of respect for personal beleifs. But I see little here to be respected. Her attacks on the “secular” and “worldly” are so insulting to all of humanity. Her personal attacks on this “victim” are pathological. Count me among the surprised. Not that you published this letter’ but that you presented it as just another “veiwpoint”.
    I am the adult child of an alcoholic abusive minister, the oldest of several children and I will tell you now that no one knew the horror of what went on in my house growing up. The schizoid split between personal life and public life caused so much confusion and pain growing up it counts as another level abuse. The writer doesn’t know what she thinks she knows.
    This article could have been presented as how spiritual abuse can consume whole communites and damage so many within them, rather than a response to an argued position.

  • Grateful

    Jenny Weber: Thank you. You have reminded me yet again how grateful I am to be free from the venomous, toxic and hateful form of “Christianity” you represent. You personify the ugly underbelly of religion, and have done a brilliant job showcasing the reasons so many non-believers mock the very faith you profess. These two “open letters” need no commentary; they stand on their own. I pity you.

  • Brennan

    I’ve sent Calulu a long email to that effect.

  • Alison L.

    Just would like to point out, Ms. Weber: You misquote Ms. Murphrey when you attempt to point out a “contradiction” in her story. You say:

    “Five paragraphs later you state: “No one ever knew what went on inside the walls at 8232 Greenwood Avenue, Munster, Indiana.”
    So which is it? Did you unload for endless hours to various girlfriends on only some of the Hyles house horrors, or did no one ever know what went on inside the walls of the Hyles house? It cannot be both.”

    Ms. Murphrey did not say “no one ever knew”. She said, quoted from her letter, “Few people ever knew what went on inside the walls at 8232 Greenwood Avenue, Munster, Indiana.” This is perfectly consistent with what she says earlier of “…I occasionally unloaded on them [her girlfriends] some of the Hyles house horrors.”

    It is worth noting that this “contradiction” is the only “proof” you have offered that any outsider could use to confirm your story.

    You seem to have built either envy or resentment (or both) toward Ms. Murphrey. My only knowledge of this issue comes from thoroughly reading both your open letter and Ms. Murphrey’s, and to an impartial observer, it is clear that her letter is much more humble and gentle (and thus more productive) than yours. I would suggest that you reexamine your motives behind this piece and seek how the Lord can redeem what has clearly been a wounding experience for you. My prayers are with you.

  • Gerry

    I don’t get this, I really don’t get this. This is a site for spritual abuse survivors. The spiritual abuse being often tought how to be, how to dress, fear of hell if staying from tthe path. A hateful god condemning everyone toe heel who does not do exactly as told. And here, in this letter is Jenny, holding exactly these kinds of beliefs. Abusive beliefs. Raising her children in this abusive environment. And people are told to respect her personal beliefs?

  • Shiloruh

    I commented earlier my first reaction to this letter. At that time I had not read the first letter or seen the TED talk. I am not familiar with the church involved. Now I have seen and read more. But nothing changes. Jenny’s letter is abuse. She is continuing the very thing we fight. The form of religion she espouses is toxic to individuals and communites. It is not surprising that a man with a call to power, who delights in abuse and using other people, would use that kind of rotton theology to control his victims. Jenny is herself of victim of these toxic beliefs. I will not respect any of this. In fact I need to go wash Jenny’s ideological dirt off of me now, too much wrong waits in these domains.

  • jo

    I became involved in the Jack Hyles cult when I was 16. I went to Hyles-Anderson College and ended up in the church Dave Hyles led after I graduated. It took DH having affairs with many women in the church to open my eyes to the lies this cult perpetuates. Power and control. That’s what it was all about at FBC and the churches this cult helps to support by training “preacher boys” to go “save America”. Jenny is a perfect example of the hate spewed at FBC. You won’t see it at first – in fact I thot I was in heaven on earth my first year at HAC. Jack Hyles and my stepdad were a lot alike. I couldn’t see that at first either. But they both had two sides – the one the public saw and the one seen personally. I just went from one place to the other with nothing changing except learning to recognize a whole other set of lies. Linda is telling the truth! I found out today another professor at HAC has molested childen. It’s completely a way of life there. The members of FBC can’t admit it because then they’d have to admit they’ve given their life, money and time to people who fleeced them and could care less about them. Jenny is a typical member. She cannot deal with facts or any criticism of her idols, only how she feels. Truly, no one from the independent fundamental baptist movement wants to be confused with facts. They will give you every reason in the book why you should not believe the “lies” people are telling. Wives make excuses for their husbands behavior or sweep it under the rug. It’s for the “sake of the ministry”. Linda may have looked happy, she may have been snooty, she dressed very well, she was very quiet. I remember her. She knew nothing else and she was surviving as best she could and pleasing her dad by doing what was expected of her. We all do it as children. We want our parents approval. That’s normal BUT it is abusive to children to treat them the way they are treated in the IFB. Linda was part of the ifb movement so she lived one way in public and another in private because that was expected of her and the rest of us in the movement did the same thing so people would see how happy we were and want to convert too. Then we would gain adulation from the leaders and they would think well of us. Jenny is a typical member. She may wake up someday, until then she’ll keep believing because it’s what she knows.

  • TootsNork

    I appreciate you posting this letter. It reminds me of the bubble I was in for almost 30 years. Jen’s letter is an honest view of how fundamentalists think. Filled with spiritual-superiority, criticisms, jealousy and envy….once again, we are reminded of their mentality. When the serpent beguiled Eve he used 80% truth…what destroyed her was his 20% lies.

    It took a lot of energy for Jen to write that long post. Linda gave a sincere apology. Jen gave Linda a sincere “tongue lashing”. Both are victims; and, aren’t we all? They both deserve respect and help.
    True Christianity teaches us to bear one another’s burdens. It’s useless to bite and devour over this post. Read it. Learn from it. Move on. We can suffer victoriously…we can overcome.

  • Anna

    Ok so I have had a while to think about this letter. Having spent many years volunteering in domestic violence shelters this reminds me of the response of many people who are close to a victim of domestic violence when they find out about the abuse. Many will outright deny the abuse after all so and so loved her, he bought her all this great stuff and they lived in a nice house! Some of it I think is that they are angry that they didn’t see the evidence and upset that they ascociated with a terrible person and some of it is that we all think that we can judge people better than that. The author of this letter is coming from a place of terrible pain she never felt good enough, she was looked down on etc. Which is a truly devasting thing in a Christian Church where the new testament commands “there is neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave nor master.” The sheer arrogance of Mr. Hyles repusles but does not shock me. Such men are all to common especially preachers amongst fundementalism. They all ignore that Jesus came to heal the sick, that he counted tax collectors, prostitutes, fisherman, “gentile” Romans,the formerly demon possesed and lepers amongst his friends. All of these people I have no doubt Mr. Hyles would consider second line Christians and yet they were chosen to do his greatest works and to have his greatest miracles performed upon.

    The author is confusing love and devotion toward his children with pride, and status in having them. I have no doubt that his daughters were to him like a prized piece of china meant to be discarded if it broke. That was the real reason for Linda Hyles answer about “the difference in their position.” As an aristocrats grandaughter let me assure you that what she really meant is,” our positions are different you aren’t the daughter of the most well known fundementalist preacher who will consider it a terrible disgrace to the family name to be selling Mary Kay; we are supposed to be better than that to uphold his image, so there is no way that I could ever sell Mary Kay and uphold the image that my Dad has created for me.” The author doesn’t realize that you are molded to fit into a certain place and you are meant to stay in that fit and place upholding the all holy family name forever.

    I will not deny the outrageousness of going to the Ritz Carelton using money that their dad made from stealing from poor people because that what it was stealing. Mr. Hyles was no different in that capacity than the pharisees who Jesus upbraided for robbing the widowed and orphaned. However, such high living does not make up for the abuse that Linda Hyles endured nor does it mean it didn’t happen.

    I found Linda Hyles’ letter to be humble and Christlike. Jesus himself called out the fundamentalists of his time they were the pharisees who questioned him about why his disciples winnowed some wheat kernels on the sabbath or why he dared to heal someone on the Sabbath. What was lacking from them, what was lacking from Mr. Hyles, and what is lacking from this letter is exactly the same thing; Love. Remember Jenny that Charity (Love) is called the greatest in the Bible without it nothing else has meaning. I am talking about love your neighbor as yourself love.

    This letter places sins that are not the responsibility of Linda Hyles upon her. It would be better to admit that both the author and Linda Hyles are the victim of “Pastor” Hyles in different ways. I hope that someday Jenny can see that. As to fundementalism being just about the fundementals that isn’t true. Todays fundementalism is ascociated with extreme legalism. The apostle John wrote to Christians to be “known for their love” after all Christian does mean “little Christ” Jesus was known most for the love he showed for everyday common people. This is something sadly missing amongst most fundemental churches the love that they should show towards all those around them and each other.

    The author brings up modesty nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus ever touch on modesty other authors do but Jesus in all the times he talked to various people of ill repute never did he ever mention modesty. Perhaps Jesus really didn’t place that much import on it he was more concerned about the heart of the person and showing compassion. The only people Jesus ever condemned were the religious leaders who he called out for their hyprocrisy. Openly shunned sinners like Zacheus who was a tax collector and a cheat he said nothing too, he simply anounced that he was coming to his house for dinner and offered the gift of his friendship. It was Zacheus who came to Jesus and asked about repaying what he had stolen only then did Jesus tell him how to repay and how much but he never condemned. He sheltered the woman caught in adultery, and most likely wrote the sins of her accusers in the dust at his feet, when they left in shame he asked her “woman where are thy accusers?” and she answered “they are gone” and he told her “neither do I accuse you” and told her to “go and sin no more.” Notice that he said nothing to her about dressing more modestly from now on so she didn’t tempt those around her. Maybe Jesus knew that modest doctrines and slut shaming were just ways for people to hide behind an issue and not love those who are different?

  • Lori Sagala

    After a few minutes of reading this drivel, all I can think of is how very jealous this blogger is. They do not have any willingness to accept the fact that there was a difference in between them & the Hyles girls. No Hyles girl could earn $ selling products, they would not have been allowed. It would have been like the Bush twins contacting people to sell Mary Kay. Talk about an endorsement of a product & a not so subtle pressure to curry favor with the leadership than to make a purchase from their offspring. I remember that Dave Hyles used his name in trying to sell financial products. After he had ripped off a large # of FBC people, his dad forced him to stop trying to sell his products in the Region.
    Get a clue, you are overflowing to jealousy & anger that you weren’t one of the “inner circle”. You need to let go of it, leave it behind you & focus on your own life. If you weren’t a victim of the FBC abuse, don’t try to deny it exists, thank God you weren’t subjected to it. I lived it, my family was in the “inner circle”, but I’ve let it go & have learned to move on. I thank God for my freedom in Him, but that doesn’t mean I try to claim that the abuse did not happen, it means I thank God for freeing me from it.

  • Jo McGuire

    This is the most vile, venomous, hate-filled, jealous rant I have read in a very long time. If this typical of Fundamentalism ….. hello, here indeed is the problem: hatred, judgement, vitriolic abuse spewed forth in order for someone to be “right”. Disgusting and sad.

  • Cheryl Colsten

    Hello! its been a while since I’ve seen you! I’m surprised at your tone in this letter. You come off arrogant! There was lot of “stuff happening” behind the scenes. You only knew what you saw on the surface. And until we walk in another persons shoes its hard to know what they went through. Just because people are Taken care of financially doesn’t mean anything. (you referred to the stores they shopped at & trips to Chicago shopping & eating out) many of those girls would have traded places with those who had semi happy stable homes & had no frills. They were a product of their environment! The arrogance of that type of church affected us all. Obviously you have your fair share still. My experience in that church & in those schools were sub par at best. The stress of the rules, & the legalism was very suppressing for me. All the drama of being involved In that youth group under Dave hyles was life altering for me. Just because we left that movement doesn’t mean we can’t find the ultimate love & supreme stamp of approval by my Lord & Savour Jesus Christ. Quit speaking for the Lord Jesus because you have know clue of what He really is about! I think you will be sorry someday for feeling the need to respond to Linda’s letter. Her motives & yours are worlds apart!

  • Harmony

    In the midst of everything else that Jacklyn Schaap Weber has gone through in the past few months, having her aunt on one side of her family, Jenny Weber, attacking her other aunt on the other side of her family, seems unnecessary and selfish. As if being a part of the Hyles/Schaap family wasn’t stressful enough, Jenny Weber thought that throwing her 2 cents in and putting her own hurt feelings ahead of her nieces pain would accomplish what? She did nothing to help the situation or heal. Her letter is just another example of the sad and crazy that seem to spew forth from those who were heavily influenced by FBC thinking.

  • Mercy

    I was sad to see you give this letter a platform. Linda’s letter was gentle and gracious. This letter is a cruel personal attack.

  • Carolyn

    Jenny enjoys a little pushback or a good argument?? But at what cost? I don’t know what Linda Murphrey’s intentions are today. But to assume Linda wasn’t a victim and family came first in her father’s life is truly just that…an assumption. There have been several accounts that Jack Hyles often bestowed monetary gifts on those he wanted to keep silent and close to him for control. So, just because the Hyles children appeared wealthy and taken care of doesn’t mean they felt loved by their father and not victimized and psychologically abused. Unless, you equate money with affection and love. It may have been complete hell behind those doors, maybe not. But, why would you judge Linda by the person you thought she was so many years ago? I recently saw a story about a survivor of a North Korean prison camp, Shin Dong Hyunk He was born in the camp and knew nothing of the outside world…only the rules and life ingrained in him. He didn’t know anything about love or a family unit and even turned his mother and brother in for trying to escape which he knew would lead to their execution. He had no concept of love..didn’t even know the world was round or what existed outside the camp. He is now beginning to regret what he did to his mother as he is now understanding life and the concept of love and family now that he is free. I find it unfair to judge someone today (especially at such a young age) based on who they seemed to be or you assumed them to be years ago when they were in a complete mind-controlled, cult-like situation. My eyes have been opened greatly by the suffering of others whom I thought came from a “great family” or had it all together.
    All the arguing about fundamentalism and rules, I do not believe is the cause of Christ. Ephesians 4:2-3 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Contemporary, non-contemporary services…that’s all relative,. Sing a new song to the Lord…worship Him with gladness come into His presence with singing!! Jenny, you are a beautiful woman and obviously very talented and looks like you have a loving family. I’m sorry for the pain you endured as a child and being told and felt to believe you were less than. Maybe you just want your story to be heard. But, I hope you can uplift Linda in love and prayers. Just ask yourself as a Christ follower…. if Linda or others will be drawn to Christ thru your open letter, or put off?

  • Jeanette Young

    In the introduction part of J Weber’s post before the “open letter” , she mentions that her nephew is married to J Schaap’s daughter, not her son.

  • Jeanette Young

    Harmony, It’s been posted here earlier by more than one of us that – – – – – Jenny Weber’s nephew is married to Schapp’s daughter, not her son. This is mentioned by Weber in the introduction she wrote before the “open letter”.

  • Sue Cash

    Thank you for that last question. It is one we all should keep in mind.

  • Persephone

    I think Jenny Weber would still be her aunt.

  • Georgia

    WOW! Jenny, I feel so sorry for you. You actually were a fly on the wall of the Hyles home and saw everything Linda went through?? That’s amazing! No matter how you try to deny it, you’re a Hyles follower and you still worship him. You need to get a heap of compassion and let go of your jealousy and bitterness. You should consider reading Linda’s open letter again with an open heart. Your (very lengthy) letter is one you should have written, gotten it off your chest then shredded.

  • newcomer

    Follow-up: the one possible insight that I did find in this letter, which resonates with all I’ve heard of Hyles, was sparked by her insistence that his family did indeed come first, that she as a member of the congregation felt far less loved (much the same way that Linda felt less loved than the congregation). Could it be that what the man truly loved best was HAVING a congregation to hang on his every word, to aggrandize him, and his family were most valued for their ability to play their parts, to further his power over the congregation by being living examples of how idyllic life could be if his words were believed, props to prove how much God favored him and his messages? Could it be that the love of that power came before both church and home; that to his congregation he seemed to have placed his family on an untouchable pedestal quite apart from the rest of them, and to his family their every action had to revolve around the congregation (and what the flock would think if they ever appeared less than perfect)?

  • David Meyer

    Wow, amazing…the tone of this letter…I myself am happy Linda is finally telling the truth as she knows it…I remember growing up in that cult and went to Hammond Baptist schools actually when your husband was the principal…I remember that summer when all the stuff came out about Hyles….I knew right then it was a cult…people wearing buttons saying they are 100% Hyles and no one could question anything…I still believe in God , but I do not believe in religions that control people…God wants us to take care of ourselves, each other, and the earth…that’s all…everything else is just people trying to control people…FYI, us Homosexuals are not poorly understood…If you get to know some of us, you may change your mind like the majority of Americans are…The tone of your letter was harsh…if someone, anyone wants to speak their truth, I applaud them…I myself still think I in somes ways am a victim of that Fbc system, but over the years have learned thankfully that I don’t have to deal with that anymore

  • Theo

    I’m disappointed that you feel posting this piece of vitriol is in keeping with your goal of presenting “many views,” and also that you apparently think this piece is somehow appropriate for people recovering from abuse who’ve chosen to remain Christians. What. If I’d read something as stupid as that when I was still trying to find a way to stay in the Church, I’d have been monumentally offended to learn that, in the eyes of fellow survivors, Jenny’s way was just as “valid” as mine. Jenny may be an abuse survivor, but she is now also abusive; the past pain she has suffered don’t excuse her fucked-up behavior now. Thanks for telling us we need to afford the same space and respect and courtesy to ALL points of view, regardless of how threatening or damaging they are!

    I can’t even BEGIN to comprehend why you initially posted this without a trigger warning.

  • madame

    I think you are very right. He needed his family to give him the “family man, husband of one wife, keeps his home in order” image, and he needed the church to give him the status of megachurch pastor.

  • Keith Huffman

    This reads like nothing more than a bitter response to someone who is jealous. It’s pretty pathetic.It’s sad reading someone pours their soul out and then you opt to trample on it.

  • dblearon

    I cannot believe you people! I read the entire letter. Then I read about 20 comments, and I am so shocked that I have actually decided to break one of my rules… “never comment on internet posts.” This letter by Jenny is a perfect, synthesis of everything that has happened. She speaks from evidence… evidence that can be called upon by ANYONE who saw Linda at the time Jenny did. You speculators talk of jealousy and harsh tone. Some of you even claim to be of Hyles’ production, yet all you can do is jealously and harshly break down Jenny’s letter. And, as Jenny spoke about, you choose YOUR truth. You ignore the facts and decide what YOU want to believe… this is pathetic. You people are so out to get the “fundy” movement, and so hurt by a fundamentalist who “stepped on your toes” that you go to all ends trying to destroy anything on the internet related to “fundamentalism.” UNBELIEVABLE!
    Thank you for you very thoughtful and insightful letter Jenny.

  • Beth Harris

    “evidence that can be called upon by ANYONE who saw Linda at the time Jenny did”
    I was there during that time, and what I saw was a standoffish, almost awkward and reluctant celebrity. Linda never seemed to be one who relished the spotlight, and from my viewpoint, she wasn’t – at all – someone who lorded over those of us not privileged enough to have been born and ‘reared’ at FBC.
    Jenny has dissected the letter, and she’s done an apt job, but to conclude Mr Hyles loved his children, loved his adulterer, pedophile son, while he conducted an (at a minimum) emotional affair with his secretary and set the stage for Act Two – the downfall of Jack #2 – is simply rubbish. His unwillingness to correct his son and his ability to insulate himself from any accusations of wrongdoing enabled all of it.
    The timing of Linda’s TEDX talk is pre-Jack arrest. By the time she’d participated in that seminar, she’d already started her coaching business. And why shouldn’t she, as a survivor of a CULT (yes, I said cult), be considered an expert and someone who could help others who are on their own journey of recovery? We live in a culture where celebrity equals authority. If being the daughter of Jack Hyles can help her gain audience and increase the numbers of those who hear the truth, then I am all for her using that name.
    fyi – Pedophilia is not “stepping on toes”. Telling young women it’s the will of God to engage in sexual acts is not “stepping on toes”. Having an affair with your secretary while standing in the pulpit three times a week and telling people what NOT to do is not “stepping on toes.”

  • Lorree

    I grew up in FBC of Hammond and all of Bro. Hyles kids were older than me. Cindy is 4 years older than me. I was raised in a loving Christian home and was in church every Sunday a.m and p.m and Wednesday p.m. I graduated from HBHS. But you know what I remember…Silly Billy and Fueydini from Bible scool. I remember white castle after prayer meeting on Wednesday nights. I thought Brother Hyles was strict and he wasn’t going to dictate to me what I would wear. But looking back and listening to his old sermons I wish I would have listened to what he was saying. I’ve been reading a lot of these comments especially from the people who grew up in FBC of Hammond and I don’t know what is true and what isn’t, I only know when I came from the public school to HBHS my freshman year it was nice not seeing young people kissing and making out in hallways. It was nice seeing girls look like ladies and boys who looked like boys. Yes their was all the teen drama just like everywhere else. I understand a lot of kids didn’t have a lot. We weren’t rich by any means. But like my dad, who is with Jesus, always taught us was to be ourselves and do the best we can. Praise God for my parents and grandparents. And Praise God for Jesus who died for me so thru him I have God’s mercy and will have eternal life.