(Warning: if you are, or have been, a victim of abuse, this may trigger memories.)
Sexual Abuse in the
Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Church
Part 2 of 3
Written and Illustrated by Nancy Bicknell
I now knew not to talk about my feelings. I needed to appear cheerful because we were IFB faculty. I put on my blinders, and my happy face. Eventually, I graduated and started to work as an MBBC faculty member teaching art and drama. They recognized my talent, and that was enough to allow me to teach college classes with only an undergrad degree. Hiring was based on character, not education level.
Trapped on IFB Island
We were isolated from the community, and indoctrinated into the inflexible IFB life style. But, one day an event started me thinking independently from the IFBs. My pre-teen son, Doug, came home from school looking pale. He stared at me with hollow eyes, and I asked what happened. He said he had been spanked at school. When I looked at his bare butt, he had welts with blood droplets where he had been beaten with a board. I talked to my husband and told him to never ever let them touch our boys again. I was disillusioned but we were trapped on an IFB Island.
My 16-year-old son, Scott, was doing well in the MBBC academy until one day he came home complaining. He said that there were some serious problems with the judgmental thinking at MBBC, and he was unhappy with the rules. A month later he got ill with extreme anxiety and panic attacks, and eventually he came down with Mono. He was immediately put under strict doctor’s care. He stayed home from school to recoup. A kindly teacher, Mrs. Jones, volunteered to tutor Scott. She came faithfully two or three times a week.
After a couple of months, Scott was well enough to return to MBBC. The first day of classes we were called to come to Dr. Wineger’s office. He was the president of MBBC. He told my husband and me that he had just discovered that our 16 year old son had been dating and kissing his teacher, Mrs. Jones. My first thought was how is it possible that a 16 year old could date and kiss his married adult teacher?”
Well, the teacher was fired, and Scott was expelled from school and banned from the youth group activities at Calvary Baptist Church. Pastor Lincoln decided Scott should make a public confession, which was to be read in church the next Sunday evening. Pastor Lincoln wrote the confession for Scott and read it in front of the congregation. It was short and not-so-sweet. Scott had sinned. Pastor Lincoln demanded that Scott be sent to Lester Roloff’s home for boys.
I refused to send Scott away, so Lincoln had us drop Scott off at the church in the morning, where he locked Scott in a room in the basement with his Bible and his lunch. Lincoln checked on him occasionally, and prayed with him. My son was locked in the basement room with from 8:00 until 3:00 during school hours because according to the MBBC system, a “bad kid” like Scott could not be around any other IFB kids to prevent him from tainting the good kids. He was in the church basement for 2 weeks before Pastor Lincoln decided we should home school Scott. One day, Mrs. Jones contacted Scott. He was caught at her door by Pastor Lincoln, who then fired my husband from his job at the end of the year.
We were shunned and discredited at the IFB church. Eventually, we left the IFB feeling angry and ashamed for being compelled to follow the IFB dictates concerning Scott. I began an art business, and got my masters in counseling from UW Whitewater so I could help other victims.
Our marriage fell apart due to the stress of the IFB secondary abuse, and having to reenter into the community; we were divorced. Later I remarried and began working as a therapist.
I could still hear the IFB drums calling from the IFB Island. I still felt that perhaps they did have the true God, and I gradually started attending a few things at the same IFB church. I thought things were different now. I was counseled to forgive and forget the past, and I tried to fit back in to the IFB.
Then, the sharks attacked again. Doug, who had never recovered mentally from his beating, had become depressed and an alcoholic. Nevertheless, he had married and had a child. I loved being a grandma, and helped him with the baby. One day when he was in his early 30s, he came to me crying and sobbing like a little boy. Choking and sobbing, he asked me if I remembered the spanking he got at Calvary. I had never forgotten that little boy’s face. “Yes” I said feeling ashamed, “you could not sit down in the car and you said your butt was bleeding. Yes, I remember the beating Doug,”
He then told me what had happened to him during the spanking as a child. I can’t repeat it, but imagine the worst and you have it. He had physical scarring and issues which he said occurred during the spanking that were causing him medical issues and triggering his PTSD. (That scarring had to be repaired with surgery this last year.) I used my counseling skills to calm Doug. He had finally spilled the beans after so many years of holding the terrible secret, and using alcohol to dull the pain.
Eventually we worked through his fear enough to talk about the abuse and we went to the IFB pastor to report Doug’s abuse because Doug’s alleged abuser was still in the church. The pastor acted loving, but he never confronted the abuser. We were asked yet again to forgive and forget
After a year, I confronted the alleged abuser myself at church. He defended himself saying “I spanked those boys because I loved them.” I then went to a higher authority, Dr. Phelps, who is the current president of MBBC. When I told him about Doug’s abuse allegations, he said I could take Doug to the police, but that he had no authority in the church to help us. He denied knowing about Scott’s abuse in MBBC’s history either. No one would help me, so I went to the head of MBBC counseling program. I thought he would help me after hearing my boys’ stories of abuse since he had specialized in abuse as a Christian Counselor Educator. He never called me.