Over on Hammond Indiana something deeply disturbing took place at the First Baptist church. The impact of what happened ruffled so many feathers that the pastor, John Wilkerson, needed to put out a deeply sincere formal apology for what happened.
OK, so I have a reveal coming up that explains what actually happened, and trust me, it is simply hilarious, you will indeed enjoy it.
No spoilers yet.
First, a bit of Background
I should perhaps explain that this church is not a tiny strip mall setup. They are large, very large, and qualify as a megachurch. The wikipedia page that describes them explains that they are the largest church in the entire state of Indiana and were founded in 1887.
If asked to guess, then yes, large enough to have had many sexual abuse scandals committed by various pastors and deacons over the years. For example in 2012 Pastor Schaap was formally charged in a U.S. District Court for taking a minor across state lines to have sex with her. His defence was “Well gosh, I had no idea that this was illegal” (I’m not kidding, it really was).
Then a month later in October 2012 a quarter of their staff were laid off because …
“A string of assaults and sexual crimes committed by pastors across the country have one thing in common: The perpetrators have ties to the megachurch in Hammond, Indiana.”
The above are just examples and not unique.
With that buildup, and also knowing what often happens in such places, you are perhaps assuming that the deeply shocking event that merited a formal apology is sexual abuse … right?
Nope, it was something else that was so deeply scandalous it truly shook them to the core because it challenged their beliefs in a most unexpected manner.
We will come to the reveal soon, so prepare to be deeply shocked.
Well OK, those of you over there in the back who are sniggering, yes you know what is coming, so please don’t spoil it by giving it away too early.
The Pastor’s Apology
To ensure they are truly hip and with it, the Pastor is on Instagram.
Here is a transcript …
Hello friends, thank you for giving me just a few minutes of your time by way of this video.
Recently, we had a Creation seminar hosted here at First Baptist Church of Hammond. With all my heart, what I wanted to do is to educate and equip and empower God’s people to face and to give ammunition for the fallacies of evolution and humanism that permeates our society.
Though that was my goal, I grieve to tell you that I probably did not make the best decisions in many arenas. I failed to screen properly what was gonna be said or shown in some ways, and I think I hurt many people.
I grieve that I embarrassed the First Baptist Church family [who] for 136 years have been serving Christ and [staying] by this stuff. I think for the Hyles-Anderson College students and the men and women who have sent their students here, if I sent an uncertain sound, I apologize and I sincerely ask for forgiveness. I don’t want to cause a distraction. I don’t want to be divisive, in a world that needs the gospel …
… And I would like to just say, please forgive me, but also, I want to say “thank you,” for the many folks who have loved us and stayed faithful to pray that God would give us wisdom and help and strength to keep going. I plead with you: pray that God will help me make good decisions…
He does not say exactly what happened.
We learn that there was a Creation Seminar, and now begs for forgiveness for the embarrassment hat this event generated.
He says his goal was to … “give ammunition for the fallacies of evolution and humanism“. Well yes, you can indeed roll your eyes at this point.
So what the hell did happen?
He does not say.
The Creation Seminar
As advertised via their official twitter account on Nov 3, it was this three day event on Nov 11-13 …
As mentioned above by the pastor, his motivation in setting this up was to … “give ammunition for the fallacies of evolution and humanism” … so perhaps church members were embarrassed by the anti-science Creationist stance?
Er … no.
Did the creationists promote heresy. For example, were they old earth Creationists, and the church preaches young earth creationism, or perhaps it was the other way around?
Nope, not that either.
What is clear, to you and me, is that “Creationism” is a very diverse term that promotes rather a lot of stuff that contradicts itself, reality, and the very robustly well-established fact-based scientific reality of evolutionary biology that has mountains of evidence. Creationism predicts nothing, has no credible evidence, and is not actually scientific at all.
OK, that’s a hot button for me, so stick with me here for a bit while I briefly go off on a tangent and cover that.
Science, as I’m sure you know, is not a dogma, nor a belief, but rather is a process, a methodology, that enables you to work out what is and is not wrong.
You form a hypothesis to explain an observation, then you robustly test it. If the test fails then your hypothesis in wrong, if the test works, then it is not wrong. The difference between being “not wrong” and being “right” is that being “not wrong” leaves you open to changing your hypothesis if new evidence emerges. In other words, you start with observations and work your way towards provisional conclusions that can be modified when it is appropriate to do so.
Meanwhile, creationism works in reverse. It starts with a conclusion, and then works backwards cherry-picking stuff that confirms it, and also discards anything and everything that conflicts with the conclusion. It is also not a testable hypothesis, and so I would strongly argue is not in any way scientific. Some, such as the Discovery Institute, even play word games by removing all religious jargon and strive to present this pseudoscience as scientific by using other words such as “intelligent design”.
A common quip often made by creationists is that if evolution was put on trial it would be found guilty.
The deeply embarrassing reality is that via the famous Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial back in 2005 this is exactly that happened. Notable creationists turned up for that and did their very best. This was the outcome …
On December 20, 2005, Jones issued his 139-page findings of fact and decision ruling that the Dover mandate requiring the statement to be read in class was unconstitutional. The ruling concluded that intelligent design is not science, and permanently barred the board from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring ID to be taught as an alternative theory
In other words, not only is evolutionary biology a scientific fact, but thanks to creationists, it is now also a legal fact that their supposed “alternative” is total BS.
One other point to make is that this is not a science vs religion issue. It is not a binary choice, it never has been. Plenty of deeply religious people can and do also happily accept the prevailing scientific evidence. The rather obvious resolution is to conclude that evolutionary biology is how god did it.
So, is the promotion of creationism the embarrassment that the pastor refers to?
Nope, not at all, he is very clearly on board with some flavour of creationism.
So let’s go for the reveal now.
Now gird your loins and be prepared to be “deeply shocked and horrified” by what happened.
Well no, not really. You are in fact about to fall on the floor laughing.
On Nov 15, Pastor Allen Domelle blogs about the “Blasphemy” that occurred during this creationism event …
There are times my heart breaks, and this is one of those times …
oooh … it much be serious stuff then, so here you go, the details.
Heresy 1 … The Creationists were not Baptists – Oh the horror … (shudders) … one was even a Methodist
…This past weekend, November 12, 2023, First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana invited a group of men into their church to teach on creation. Then on Monday, these same men went to Hyles-Anderson College and taught the students. These men were not Baptists and do not claim to be Baptists. In fact, one is a member of a Reformed church, and another claimed from their pulpit that he is a Methodist…
Heresy 2 … one had long hair
On Sunday evening, I received a text from a pastor with a picture that showed a long haired hippie teaching in the pulpit of FBC Hammond.
Here is the picture of his “long haired hippie” …
Irony Alert: If he wants to be just like Jesus then his hair is way too short when compared to almost every single image ever created of Jesus.
Heresy 3 – The wrong version of the Bible was being used
Then I received multiple calls from preachers about how they were told that the NIV was used on slides …
Never are we to allow anyone in our pulpits that would use anything else other than God’s Word, the King James Bible.
Alas me thinks he doth not grasp that the King James version is just a flawed sloppy translation. The scholars of the day read into some texts their own biases, prejudices, and dogma. If he wants textual purity, he should roll with the original Greek and Hebrew, and good luck doing even that.
His overall response to all this “heresy” is that …
I am sickened by this
So to sum that up, here is the complete list of things he is sickened by …
- A Methodist
- A guy with longish hair, and honestly it is not all that long
- Not exclusively using the King James version of the bible
That’s it, that is the complete list of things that merited a grovelling apology by the pastor.
I should perhaps send them a sincere “thank you” note because without contributions like this we would not have so many heading rapidly for the church exit.
Meanwhile, of all the things they truly do need to apologise for, none of the above hilariously weird and funny deal-breakers make that list.