HAMMOND - The Rev. Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond,
called Wednesday for a rebuttal of allegations by certain media and told a
congregation of about 4,000 not to be scared by reports about his ministry.
He called a series of reports by a Detroit television station a libelous
pack of lies that make him look like Waco cult leader David Koresh and
maliciously paint his "pure, decent church" as a ministry that spawns "sex
satellites" across the nation and uses buses as its ploy.
What's at stake, he told his congregation at a regular Wednesday night
service, is a bus ministry that reaches out to all the poor, ghetto children of
"They've attacked us at our strongest point," Hyles said from the pulpit.
"And we're not going to lie down and take it. I'm not going to let the bus kids
and poor ghetto people go uncared for."
He also announced a national counterattack.
Hyles said he has already gotten commitments from 400 pastors across the
nation to march June 1 to Detroit for a news conference at which he will field
questions on behalf of the "bus ministry of America."
Plans are under way to host a nationwide, bus kids parade in downtown
Chicago this summer, he said. Hyles predicted a turnout of 20,000 people.
Hyles said he has placed advertisements in The Times and other area
newspapers. These ads, which take the form of an open letter from Hyles about
his commitment to the church and the nation's poor, are expected to be
published within the next few days.
Former and current students of Hyles' affiliate school, Hyles Anderson
College of Schererville, were urged to call and write the newspapers and
television stations in Detroit and Chicago to admonish them politely about the
reports against his church.
Anyone who has ever attended Hyles' annual pastors school has been contacted
with the same request, Hyles said. The 4,000-plus members of his congregation
attending Wednesday night's service were similarly asked to devote 30 minutes
of their time to let the media know there are "decent people who believe in
this ministry all over America."
A number of calls came in to The Times before and after Hyles' sermon.
Hyles took a harsh approach toward WJBK-TV2 of Detroit, Mich., which on
Sunday began airing a series of reports that allege Hyles' proteges, graduates
of Hyles Anderson College or participants in his pastors school, have been
ensnarled in child-abuse scandals in seven churches across the nation.
The WJBK report also has carried accounts from ex-followers who described
the church as a compound without walls.
"They are a bunch of bold-faced liars," Hyles said.
Hyles asked his congregation to write to WJBK and call it to say there are
"enough lies in (the news reports) to make it libelous." He urged the
congregation to ask that the CBS affiliate in Chicago, WBBM, also refrain from
carrying the Detroit-based series.
"Don't tell me 'BBM won't take notice if they get 10,000 phone calls, I
guarantee it," Hyles said.
He asked the letters include a request that they be put on file at the
stations for Federal Communications Commission consideration when their
licenses come up for renewal. "Then tell them, we do have a sale on file
cabinets here," he quipped.
While he admitted to being "wounded" and "scared" the first couple days of
the "attack," Hyles said, "The bleeding has stopped."