Sunday, March 5, 2023

"Satan's Bid for Your Child" and where have I heard all this before?

OK, so, this is a staplebound booklet featuring the text of "Satan's Bid for Your Child," a long sermon that was delivered by Pastor Jack Hyles on May 23, 1971, at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. The sermon runs for 27½ single-spaced pages in the booklet.

This is the July 1972 third printing of the booklet. As of this printing, 300,000 copies of "Satan's Bid for Your Child" had been distributed across the United States. I don't know how many additional printings followed. Or how many drawers this booklet is still tucked away in. Copies aren't especially hard to find. The original sermon would have also been heard by the thousands who were bused in to attend Hyle's mega-church that day and by the untold number of folks listening along on the live radio broadcast.

All of that's a shame.

It's a bunch of moral panic nonsense.

Plus, Hyles was quite the hypocrite. (And likely far worse than that.)1

Not much has changed in 52 years, has it? Just the platforms via which the moralizing, nonsense, irrational fear and hatred can be transmitted to the susceptible masses.

We're deeply embedded in another moral panic in America at the moment. It's an especially hateful and harmful one. Dangerous folks are creating hysteria and convincing people to be afraid of children's books, of teaching students the full and true history of the United States, of transgender people, of refugees seeking asylum, of sex education, and of almost everything else that doesn't specifically relate to white evangelicals and their narrow worldview. And while doing all of this, many of them outrageously cast themselves as the true victims.

I'm going to use some asterisks in the middle of words in the next few paragraphs, because I don't want to give these folks even the tiniest benefit of search-engine amplification.

At a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference last night in Maryland, political commentator M*chael Kn*wles spewed this hatred: "There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism. It is all or nothing. If transgenderism is true, If men really can become women, then it's true for everybody of all ages. If transgenderism is false — as it is — if men really can't become women — as they cannot — then it's false for everybody too. And if it's false, then we should not indulge it. ... For the good of society, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely."

That last despicable sentence — that threat of erasure, elimination or whatever you might perceive from such barbed words — drew loud applause from the audience.

And, no matter how you perceive those words, there can be no doubt that Kn*wles and other conservatives are putting transgender lives and livelihoods at risk with their venom and aggression. What they're doing is evil, full stop.

Then there's this, from this morning's coverage in The Washington Post of what's happening in the state governed by 2024 GOP presidential hopeful R*n DeS*ntis:
"Florida legislators have proposed a spate of new laws that would reshape K-12 and higher education in the state, from requiring teachers to use pronouns matching children’s sex as assigned at birth to establishing a universal school choice voucher program.

"The half-dozen bills, filed by a cast of GOP state representatives and senators, come shortly before the launch of Florida’s legislative session Tuesday. Other proposals in the mix include eliminating college majors in gender studies, nixing diversity efforts at universities and job protections for tenured faculty, strengthening parents’ ability to veto K-12 class materials and extending a ban on teaching about gender and sexuality — from third grade up to eighth grade."
Those are anti-democratic, anti-education, anti-LGBTQ initiatives from a state that's already been emboldened by its "success" in banning all sorts of books and curriculum from public schools. 

But, like I said, moral panics are nothing new in America. What's different this time, perhaps, is the ability of those in positions of power and influence to leverage moral panics for actions that cause widespread and real harm. Also, the verdict is still out on whether we as nation can successfully push back against this wave of hatred and prejudice, as we've done with past waves.

So let's circle back to Hyles and "Satan's Bid for Your Child." Here are some excerpts from his sermon 52 years ago. You may find some of it outrageous. Some of it laughable. Some of it hypocritical. But you should find all of it familiar. We've been down this path many times, the path of pointing fingers at the people, the institutions and the arts that we perceive to be "ruining" America. 

  • "The truth is that many parents do not know what is happening in our public schools. Hence, I am going to be very frank tonight and spend myself to save your boys and girls."
  • "Have you ever been taught evolution?"
  • "Do any of your teachers wear pant-dresses?"
  • "Have you ever heard the American way of life, the establishment, and capitalism criticized by a teacher?"
  • "Have you been asked to read such books as Of Mice and Men, Soul on Ice, The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, or any other book that includes cursing?"
  • "That battle is not just to save a country; it is to save your children!"
  • "Satan is after your child. He has pointed every gun in his arsenal at the soul, body, and mind of your child, and he is basically doing it through the school room."
  • "During the years of this extensive effort to use our educational system to help change the American way of thinking, a key propaganda gimmick used to keep communists, socialists, and other undesirables on teaching staffs was the cry of 'academic freedom.'"
  • "Many of you do not know what your kids are reading. You have not checked. You have no idea, so I have to tell you. I'm going to open a few of the books. I will not say the bad words; I'll just spell them."
  • "Television and radio programs by the dozens which have traditionally been for good solid music now have on their programs such guests as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I can't sing, I don't know much about music, but I know that is not music!"
  • "We must get back to decency. Rock music is ruining our young people and overwhelming our country with communism. What can we do about it? Here is what we must do: 1. Teenagers, destroy every record, picture, and magazine you have that has anything to do with these revolutionary singing groups. Don't give them away. Burn them! Break them! Destroy them!"
  • "Sensitivity training is sex education encouraging students to express all points of view freely. They also use four-letter words."
  • "Get your child into a Christian school. I mean it."
  • "It is time we called a national emergency on the devil. We've got to do it. Let's save our children!"

Not much has changed, has it? Hyles died in 2001. Were he alive in today's world, I strongly suspect that he would have attended and applauded at last night's CPAC gathering in Maryland.

But, wait, there's more (unfortunately)
Related posts
1. Excerpts from those sources:
  • "The Women Who Knew Jack Hyles" (by David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, Sept. 5, 2021): "Each of these testimonies agree in major points that should cause any Bible-believing preacher to reject Jack Hyles as a gross hypocrite who was unqualified to be a pastor and as a cult leader rather than a true shepherd under Jesus Christ."
  • "Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church" (by Bryan Smith, Chicago magazine, Dec. 11, 2012): "Multiple websites tracking the First Baptist Church of Hammond have identified more than a dozen men with ties to the church — many of whom graduated from its college, Hyles-Anderson, or its annual Pastors’ Schools — who fanned out around the country, preaching at their own churches and racking up a string of arrests and civil lawsuits, including physical abuse of minors, sexual molestation, and rape."

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