No one could have imagined he would grow into the larger-than-life figure whom critics would dub the Godfather and others would consider the Chosen One.
Independent baptist dating
By the time he took charge of the 44-member Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, in 1952, he was a full-fledged, fire-breathing, stem-winding spellbinder, blessed with a booming preacher’s voice, a savant’s recall of the Bible, and a charisma that could almost magically levitate people from their seats to surrender their lives to the Savior.
Outbursts of anger, an unwillingness to brook criticism, and a penchant for ironfisted control were also part of his repertoire.
According to dozens of current and former church members, religion experts, and historians interviewed by —plus a review of thousands of pages of court documents—he is part of what some call a deeply embedded culture of misogyny and sexual and physical abuse at one of the nation’s largest churches.
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.
After serving in the army in World War II, he married his sweetheart, Beverly Slaughter.
The fire-and-brimstone words of his mother burning in his head, Hyles then enrolled at East Texas Baptist College in Marshall, Texas, where he became a student pastor.
After graduation, he set out to spread his particular brand of harsh theology.
In a show of modesty that would be almost unthinkable in later years, Hyles acknowledged that he didn’t immediately set bushes to burning.
Head thrown back, eyes squeezed shut, mouth gaping, he began rubbing the shaft rapidly with the cloth, up and down, up and down. To the hundreds of people who posted comments under a You Tube video of the event, the lack of reaction is as shocking as Schaap’s sermon itself.