A blogger critical of First Baptist Church Pastor Mac Brunson wants to know why his Web site was investigated by a police detective who is also a member of the minister’s security detail.
Thomas A. Rich also wants the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to explain what suspected crimes led Detective Robert Hinson to open the probe into his once-anonymous Web site.
Rich also wants to know why Hinson revealed his name to the church despite finding no wrongdoing. Hinson obtained a subpoena from the State Attorney’s Office requiring Google Inc. to reveal the author of the blog.
Rich’s unmasking led to an eventual trespass warning banning the longtime member and his wife from First Baptist, despite the fact that Brunson and a top church administrator conceded the blog never threatened violence.
Because these guys can’t tolerate public criticism. That’s why. They are narcissists: brutal and selfish in their actions, and disconnected from the way their behavior affects other people.
Photo courtesy of the Jacksonville News.
The story in Florida is so familiar: I have friends who live out-of-state, and have for years—but are still afraid that Hymers will find them and retaliate against them for leaving one of his “churches” (cults) years ago. And then there are those like Socrates’ Gadfly and me: I will never back down unless Hymers apologizes to me personally, and to his former congregants publicly. I just don’t see any reason to: he’s left too many shattered lives behind him. And every time he threatens me (anonymously, of course, or via word-of-mouth), it stiffens my resolve.
Most people are in between, and simply want to get on with their lives. But there are, of course, plenty of hard feelings—even among the best of us. Even among the most spiritual.
But at least R.L. Hymers, unlike Brunson, hasn’t co-opted law enforcement to buttress his power; Hymers has merely glommed onto some in the evangelical and (in later years) the fundamentalist communities (for it appears that among some fundamentalists it is impossible to burn one’s bridges, no matter how loathsome one’s behavior or character is).
Perhaps Robert Hymers, II, should move to Jacksonville; it looks like there is plenty of prey for him there.
And maybe I am being unfair, on a certain level: after all, Hymers may have attenuated his power-hungry ways, somewhat. And yet, there is the matter of all the lives he ruined in the several cults he led, and all those who were his ministers and henchmen who have to carry that around with them for the rest of their lives: they are dealing with their personal tragedies, which came from being drawn into his web, and yet they are having to apologize to the lower-ranking victims whose lives they destroyed in turn . . . no. I am not being too hard on the man. Not at all. How many people were turned off from Christianity permanently after suffering from the abusive culture he established in Maranatha Chapel / Open Door Community Church / The Fundamentalist Army / The [Fundamentalist] Baptist Tabernacle?
The level of trust between a Christian and the pastor of his or her church requires good stewardship on the part of the pastor; to betray that trust is simply wicked.
Of course, as is always the case, an attempt to silence a blogger has merely inflamed the situation, because now the entire nation—the entire world—knows that the management of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida is capable of abusing its power, and that Mac Brunson in particular cannot simply address irregularities in his management style—rather than taking revenge upon a congregant. Brunson apparently thinks nothing of taking advantage of the fact that his own security detail has ties to law enforcement, and asking this individual to get information under false pretexts, or of abusing the information that emerges from this clear conflict of interest.
The sort of alliance between government and church that we see in the story about was exactly the type of thing the Founding Fathers were trying to head off at the pass when they instituted the separation of church and state: it had nothing to do with not displaying crosses at the tops of hills, and everything to do with keeping power from becoming concentrated in just a few hands.
It makes one want to weep—over the brokenness of human nature, over the hopelessness of transcending it. Over the relentlessness with which human beings turn what is delightful in this world into yet another manifestation of evil.
—Joy W. McCann
Little Miss Attila Online Magazine
La Cañada, California
Soldier in the “Army of Davids”