Tim Dunkin
January 4, 2012
In defense of Hephzibah House
By Tim Dunkin

As most people who use it a great deal know, the internet is an invaluable tool. However, it is also a potential source of great evil. When most people think of the dangers of the internet, they usually have in mind things like uncensored access to all kinds of pornography and violent or sexually explicit videos, or else things like identity theft and other forms of hacking. However, one way in which the internet can be abused that is often overlooked is in the facility that it gives to those who want to be able to gossip, defame, spread rumors, and otherwise harass — often anonymously or behind the "disguise" of an internet "handle" — those who draw their ire by doing so on public access internet forums and other places where they can launch accusations, etc. without having to worry about repercussions. It is part of man's sinful nature than when he can do evil to others with a reasonable assurance of being able to "get away with it," he is much more likely to do so. As conservatives, Christian or otherwise, we should be above all of that. We should be the adults in the room, so to speak. Nevertheless, sometimes folks on our side of the aisle are not, and are often insensate to the damage that stupid and foolish gossip, name-calling, and otherwise treating the internet like some anonymous punching bag can cause. To illustrate what I am talking about, and to try to call upon conservatives and Christians to rise above this primitive and degraded level of discourse, I would like to use the example of a Christian ministry known as Hephzibah House to draw attention to exactly this sort of bad behavior on the part of folks who hide behind the internet when doing their dirty work. If we (rightly) remonstrate against those on the Left for breaking down the quality of discourse in our country, then we should avoid the behaviors exhibited in the case of how Hephzibah House has been treated on various internet forums.

For the past four and a half years, Hephzibah House has faced one battle after another. For those who are unfamiliar with this ministry, Hephzibah House is a fundamental Baptist girls' home and boarding school that focuses on helping teenage girls, largely from independent and fundamental Baptist homes and churches, by maintaining them in a biblically-oriented living and educational environment. Typically, these are girls who have become such disciplinary problems that their parents are unable to deal with them anymore — we're talking about things like involvement with drugs and alcohol, girls who have threatened their parents and even pulled knives on them, and so forth. This ministry and its founder Dr. Ron Williams, however, have faced a lot of, shall we say, robust criticism in recent years from several former students and their supporters, many of whom have taken to unaccountable internet forums in an effort to spread the message about their dislike for Hephzibah House, and (as I mentioned incidentally in an earlier article) were recently given a soapbox by CNN.

One must admit, the accusations leveled against Hephzibah House by these folks are pretty grim. Tales are told of all kinds of physical and psychological abuse. Lurid details are poured out onto various forums, full of stories of beatings, degradation and humiliation of these girls, starvation, forced overfeeding, and so forth. Terms like "criminal" and "child abuse" are stock fare in most places where this facility is discussed. Many of Hephzibah House's accusers sound as if they consider themselves lucky to have even escaped with their lives. There certainly is a lot of bitterness and resentment against the ministry from these former students.

However, I'd like to take a different approach to the discussion about Hephzibah House, one that deals with facts and reason, rather than emotion and innuendo. And let's face it — there doesn't seem to be much to actually substantiate the allegations being lodged against Hephzibah House.

I think it would be fair to grant that when dealing with the subject of young women — teenage girls, in this particular example — there is the tendency on the part of most folks to have a predisposition towards wanting to protect them. Few other groups of people are more vulnerable, because of their youth and their na´vetÚ (however much they may deny the latter), than young women. In many cases, there is an almost impulsive "protective" instinct that people have when we hear of cases of young women and teenage girls bring mistreated. Fathers can easily imagine something happening to their daughters, and the anger wells up. Mothers turn into "mama bears" just thinking about somebody doing something to their little girls, when they hear about something happening to somebody else's. As such, this sort of topic is one in which it is very, very easy for people to allow emotion and "righteous" indignation to overrule the good sense and the requirement for fairness in judgment that God demands from His people. I think it is also fair to say that in the case of the accusations against Hephzibah House, and the responses that many people have on these forums and other venues, good sense and fairness have well and truly taken a backseat to emotionalism.

Simply put, and to their shame, most of the people who I have seen discussing Hephzibah House on various public internet forums where hundreds, possibly thousands, of people congregate — most of which profess to be Christian, and even fundamental Baptist — have not shown the level of Christian maturity that ought to exist when discussing a case where such grave accusations have been made. Instead, most of what I have seen are knee jerk, angry responses to grossly prejudicial, one-sided allegations repeated endlessly in an extremely shrill and angry way. On many of these forums, there definitely seems to be a concerted effort at intimidating dissenters who would question the line being told by the "Hephzibah Haters," whose word is generally taken as gospel without any sort of critical investigation or verification. Not much in the way of evidence (as opposed to accusation) has been discussed, and it is extremely rare to see someone on these forums actually step back and start asking some critical questions of the accusers. In fact, doing so — attempting to actually get at some facts instead of merely taking what has been charged at face value — tends to get people attacked, cussed out (on so-called "Christian" forums!), and condemned as (ironically) "unloving," "uncaring," and even "supportive of child abuse." Amazingly, there are some on these forums who, with no other information or actual knowledge of Hephzibah House other than stories told on an internet site, have gone so far as to compare Pastor Ron Williams to Hitler and Mengele, and Hephzibah House to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and to the Holocaust.

What ever happened to, "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." (Colossians 4:6)?

In fact, those brave individuals who do go onto these various internet forums and other venues to defend Hephzibah House — many of whom, by the way, are also former students from this ministry (more about them later) — run a gauntlet of hatred that is simply astounding in its viciousness and vitriol. They are called names, accused of all sorts of false and defamatory things, sometimes their posts are simply deleted and they are banned. Perhaps the most egregious example — likely because she is the most prominent and publically-known — is the example of Mrs. Lucinda Pennington, a former "Hephzibah Girl" who has been at the forefront of those defending the ministry from its detractors. As a result of her public stands, she has not only been called all manner of vile names and had all kinds of disgusting things said to and about her, but the "Hephzibah Survivors" (as the attackers presume to label themselves) have gone so far as to harass her in her personal life, even at one point calling her place of employment to try to get her terminated from her job. Because she publically refutes their false accusations. What could be more irrational, immature, and downright petulantly childish than this?

Do these sound like the actions of people who have truth on their side? They don't to me. Truth doesn't need to muzzle people. Truth doesn't need to shut people up when they start saying things that debunk the narrative you're trying to build. Truth doesn't need to stalk people by calling their places of employment to get them fired.

No, clearly what we see going on in these forums is not an inquiry into truth, but an inquisition against those who stand up against the "Hephzibah Haters" and the falsehoods that they've been spreading across the web. The intention is to try and intimidate those, especially former Hephzibah girls, who would contradict the tales being told. Nevertheless, this is something that needs to be made clear — the accusations being made against Hephzibah House, regardless of how shrilly they are made or how endlessly they are repeated — have not been substantiated. In place of verifiable facts, the "Hephzibah Haters" have interjected innuendo, exaggeration, spin, and falsehood. Further, they hope that by "crowding out" the field of public opinion, they can effectively drown out anyone who would be able to present an opposing case. Emotion and accusation cannot be allowed to replace fact and reason, however.

"He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him." (Proverbs 18:17)

To begin with, the reasonable person ought to be suspicious of these accusations because of the fact that there are so many other former students and residents of Hephzibah House (many of whom were there at the same time as the principle accusers who have been "driving" the campaign against this ministry) who flatly deny that the abuses and over-the-top behaviors ever happened. Many former Hephzibah girls, in fact, have positive memories of their time there. Somehow, they don't remember all of the beatings and starvation and "ritual abuse" that seemed to be going on under their noses. Mrs. Pennington herself falls into this category. Further, the number of former residents who don't remember all this horrible abuse going on is not insignificant. Despite the claim of one of the primary opponents of Hephzibah House, who told me in a hatred-laced email that "the vast majority of the former students...have come out against the abuses in the school" and that the number of girls supporting the school is "a tiny handful," this does not seem to be the case. In fact, on one of their websites against Hephzibah House, they have claimed to have 120 former residents willing to speak out against the school. Yet, they only have 28 statements listed — out of the hundreds and hundreds of girls who have gone through Hephzibah House in the last 40 years.

A number of former residents have spoken out in favor of Hephzibah House. A very few of the many that could be given (but aren't, for sake of space) are provided below,

"As a former student of Hephzibah House, I am eternally thankful for the love and sacrifice of the servants in this ministry.

"Thank you Williams' family for your love, sacrifice, and patience, for us girls! The full extent of your sacrifice will only be fully realized when we reach Heaven's shores, but I want you all to know, now, that you are loved and appreciated. Galatians 6:9 states: "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." I know how weary you must get sometimes but I pray that you continue to find joy and delight in Christ our Saviour.

"For those who have not heard of Hephzibah House, they are a Christian boarding school for rebellious teenage girls. They have a structured schedule that includes daily devotions, Bible memorization, household chores, working in a beautiful garden, family style activities and many other things conducive to raising a God-fearing family. They also have a learning center where the girls can learn academics in a good Christian environment. I appreciate the privilege of living at this home for 1-1/2 years.

"I know God will reward us in heaven for our works here on earth, but I pray that God continues to shower His blessings on this WONDERFUL ministry now because they are most deserving

"I was sent to Hephzibah House in June of 2009. From the moment that I arrived there to the moment I left, I was treated very kindly and with the utmost respect. Dr. Williams is one of the most amazing and Godly men that I have and ever will meet. When I arrived at Hephzibah, I was full of bitterness and anger toward myself. I was only thinking about what I wanted and I didn't care about those around me. When I met the staff at Hephzibah, I knew right away that they cared for me and loved me. While I was there I gave my life to the Lord and surrendered everything to Him. I came clean with my parents and my God.

"I was NEVER beaten or abused in any way! The staff is very kind, helpful, loving, and patient. They love all the students that have and ever will come to Hephzibah House. I was never starved or overfed, and I was never treated like a slave. When I was at Hephzibah House I felt safe. I knew that I would never be hurt or made to feel dumb or insecure. I was loved and still am to this day. Dr. Williams, Pastor Don, and Pastor Halyaman still call or write just to see how I'm doing! I'm so thankful that I went to Hephzibah House because I had the chance to get right. God loves us all and will give us a second chance and so did the people of Hephzibah House. I love you, Dr. Williams

"I was at Hephzibah House for two and a half years. I was a very troubled teenage and desperately needed God in my life. So, in February of 2006 my parents sent me to Hephzibah House. I was very angry and bitter at my parents for sending me there but then God began working in my life. A few weeks later I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and began purging my life of sin and growing in God's Word. I left in Aug of 08 and I hold no bitterness nor regret for being there. My time there was a learning experience of how to be a Christian and a godly woman which has aided me now in my life. God did a great work in my life while I was there and I appreciate all the staff there."

"All the things said against Dr. Williams are completely untrue! He is the sweetest man on earth and to me he is a father figure even today. He never judged me, never yelled at me, never was disrespectful to me. He was always kind and understanding when he counseled me. I remember talking with him and I would tell him things I used to do, and would see tears in his eyes. I could tell from the first time I met him that he truly cared for me and that he would do anything to protect me and help me. He always prayed with me, and I know he always only wanted the best in each of our lives no matter how rotten we were. He was always there to listen and help.

"I believe that the reason some of these girls are saying all this stuff against the ministry (that only wanted to help them) is because they have unresolved bitterness in their hearts. What a shame it is to hold bitterness in your heart against the only chance you might have had in your whole life..."

The thing to keep in mind is that each of these women, plus many others who have provided statements of support for Hephzibah House, are former residents. They are not there now. They are not "in Hephzibah House's power." They can't be "punished" for not "toeing the line." Many of them are not even in fundamental or independent Baptist churches. They have all voluntarily chosen to come forward and deny the abuses that the opponents of this ministry claim to have endured there. Further, these former students are just normal people from around the country who have seen the attacks and responded by giving their own statements in defense. They haven't banded together for a common cause like those who are attacking Hephzibah House have. They haven't sat around on anonymous internet forums for the last four years, coordinating the narrative that they want to present as a unified front. Logically, this militates against the truthfulness of the claims being made by the "Hephzibah Survivors." There's no reason for these women to deny abuse that took place, if it really did. The fact that they deny it happened tends to lend credibility to those who defend Hephzibah House over and against its attackers.

Another reason to doubt the veracity of the "Hephzibah Haters" is because of the fact that no governmental agency, either from the state of Indiana or in Kosciusko county, has ever found any evidence for the abuses that Hephzibah House is accused of, despite the fact that they've been investigated numerous times in response to complaints made against the ministry. It would be impossible to hide evidence of these abuses from the authorities — these are people trained to know what to look for when it comes to abusive situations. Further, most government agencies that deal with child care and social services are not exactly inclined to turn a blind eye to real abuse — in fact, the pendulum usually swings in the other direction to the point that social services agencies tend to see abuse where none is present. The fact that official government investigators of Hephzibah House have found the accusations to be spurious is very telling. Not only is it simply the word of one set of former students against another, but the government — the "neutral arbitrator" between private parties — has found no evidence that these abuses actually existed, either.

At this point, I'd like to take the opportunity to further impeach the testimony of the primary "Hephzibah Haters" who have been conducting their pseudonymous internet campaign against this ministry on these various forums by pointing to their character as evidence against their accusations.

To begin with, people should keep in mind that, while there have always been occasional disgruntled former residents who were angry and bitter about their time at the House, these attacks against Hephzibah House only began in earnest about four to five years ago. So what went on prior to that, you might ask? After all, several of the main accusers were there nearly two decades ago or more. Well, prior to about five years ago, many of these same people who are now attacking Hephzibah House were in friendly correspondence with Pastor Ron Williams and others from the ministry. They kept them informed of their families. They sought out advice from them. They would send staff members at Hephzibah House their family photos, and even sent clothing for the grandchildren of staff. Some of them even invited the Williamses and others to their weddings.

If that doesn't sound like the behavior of people "grieving" from the "devastating effects" of the abuse wrought upon them by Hephzibah House to you...well, it doesn't to me, either.

It was only less than five years ago that a small cadre of former students decided to do a 180║ turn, take to the internet, and start attacking the people they'd formerly been inviting to their weddings. That does not speak well for the fundamental honesty of these people, or for the genuineness of the charges they now make against Hephzibah House. In the political world, we'd call them "flipfloppers" and use that as a reason for not voting for them. Why should the standard of trust concerning testimony we give credibility to be any less for those within professed Christian circles?

Further, many of the statements against Hephzibah House that are made anonymously or pseudonymously online are "spun" to try to appear worse than they otherwise might, or are otherwise non credible.

Take, for example, the fact that before taking a student, Hephzibah House requires each girl to undergo a physical examination. From their own website, they state the reason for this,

"A physical exam is required of every student to ensure she can participate in our exercise program and school activities. This also ensures she is free of disease and is not pregnant, for her and other students' protection. We prefer that these physical exams be done before arrival, but will, at the parents' request, have an area licensed medical doctor do the physical exam. Our nurse helps the students with minor ailments under the directions of our doctor. If emergency medical care is needed, the students are referred to local medical facilities."

In other words, before her parents and church can put her into Hephzibah House's care (and remember, this is a semi-public facility where many young women are living in close proximity), she is given a physical to check her physical fitness and to identify any sexually transmitted diseases, if present — presumably not much different than the kind she would have to undergo if she wanted to be on a high school sports team, or before she could enter many colleges. Okay. So now, what to make of the pseudonymous claim of one of the "Hephzibah Haters" on a forum that she was "forced to allow some man to probe her with some metal things," as if the Hephzibah House staff had the groundskeeper in there with his gardening tools or something. No — rather, the "man" was a licensed medical doctor and the "metal things" were the same medical tools anybody receiving a physical exam would have used on them. But, as it's presented, the story sounds so much more unwholesome and sensational than the reality. The former student making the claim is now a full-grown, mature adult, so it's extremely unlikely that she wouldn't now know, even if for whatever reason back then she didn't, that her exam was performed by a medical doctor using standard tools of that trade. Her choice of wording, however, is designed to make her testimony sound more "abusive."

Other examples exist in which some of the main attackers of the Hephzibah House ministry have been caught in lies. For instance, one of them claimed on one forum that she was repeatedly called a "slut," among other things, by Dr. Williams and the staff of Hephzibah House. Yet, on another forum, she stated, "So no they never said ...hey Amy you're a slut...instead they did so much worse." Which is true? Did they call you a slut, or didn't they? Does it depend on which forum you're on, and which will make for a situationally worse sounding story? In yet another set of cases, a couple of former students alleged that they were "given exams" in a "closet" — yet these students had actually received examinations prior to their ever coming to Hephzibah House, and the "closet" that they point to is actually an 11'x11' examination room (such as, say, the ones we are in once a year at the doctor's office) used by the licensed doctor who provides health care to Hephzibah House. Further, one woman who had claimed a few years ago to have been given an exam in a "closet," stated much more recently that it was actually in a "staff room," (i.e., not a closet, with all the "abusive" sound that the word has in this context). Which is it? A closet, or a much larger staff room?

Another of the former students who make up the central cadre against this ministry at one place claimed about being sent to Hephzibah House, "My crime was never disclosed to me. I never had a trial, I never had a voice. I was 15." Yet, at another site, a bit more candidly perhaps, she stated, "I wanted to go to Hephzibah House." This same woman is also one of the ones who admitted on several sites that she sent the Williamses invitations to her wedding and announcements about the birth of her children, yet her husband (who has been very active with her in attacking Hephzibah House) elsewhere claims, "As you well know my wife has never been a supporter of Hephzibah House. It is an evil hole that damages and abuses girls. My wife has opposed that festering sour of a false ministry from her first day out of there." Which is it? Did your wife hate the place as soon as she got out, or was she sending the Williamses an invitation to her wedding and keeping up friendly relations with them for a long time afterward (which is what, in fact, happened)?

Even with examples that don't involve circumstances that could be quite so blatant, the spin still seems to exist. For example, at a blog supportive to Hephzibah House, a post was put up which questioned the truthfulness of a statement appearing on another site to the effect that a pastor of a church which had a girl in Hephzibah House had been "denied entry" when he came to investigate after starting to get "bad vibes" (the original claim, of course, had no name attached to it). The blog owner stated that she'd been to the church with which Hephzibah House is associated (students go there) and that there were multiple entrances, nobody watches the doors, nobody is kept out. Well, an anonymous commenter, claiming to also be a former student, stated that there is only one entrance to the church, and that it goes through a fenced in and guarded area — basically making the church sound like some kind of prison camp that these girls are forced to go to. I'll admit, I've never been to the church in question, but the satellite view of the church and its property that I looked at through Google Maps suggests, based on the walkways going in and out, that there are at least three different entrances to the church, and no evidence of any "fenced in and guarded area," though there apparently is a fence that runs alongside the main walkway into the building — yet this is hardly the concentration-camp style atmosphere that the poster tried to encourage their reader to envision. There doesn't even appear to be a chain across the driveway onto the property, much less guard towers with machine guns or landmines around the perimeter. In short, this anonymous commenter was making a statement that was designed to cast the ministry (and its controlling church) in a bad light.

These, as well as many other examples that could be given but for the sake of time, exhibit the lack of commitment to truth that is exhibited by the people attacking Hephzibah House. It certainly should give one pause when considering the credence to give to the claims of abuse being made anonymously on the internet.

Let's also consider the character of some of the main critics of Hephzibah House. Keep in mind, that all of what I'm about to say are things openly admitted by these people themselves, as they have indicated on these various forums. One of them is a practicing witch who follows occult practices, as well as having being involved in belly dancing and was a "sex worker" in her younger days. Another writes pornographic books (both homosexual and heterosexual), and even utilizes sexual innuendo in her comments on the "fundamental" forums that she posts to (comments which are, by the way, approved and laughed at by others on these "good Christian" forums). Another is an out and out drunkard. Yet another one is a lesbian who tried to run over some members of Hephzibah House's governing church with her car while there "protesting" with her "wife." Another couple (a former student and her husband) claim to be "good fundamental Baptists" but have openly stated that they have no problem with engaging in close fellowship with these others or having them influencing their children. Aiding and abetting the activities of these folks is a rabid atheist who has frankly stated that he wants to attack and destroy Christian ministries.

So, is all of this important? You bet it is. Not only are there simply some severe character issues with them, but even more, most of them have a vested interest in attacking fundamental Christian ministries. Some of them have said as much. They live lifestyles which are not only incompatible with Christianity, but whose practitioners are also, more often than not, antagonistic against Christianity. They have a positive interest in attacking ministries like Hephzibah House any way they can. They know that solid fundamental Christian ministries are their "enemies." They're open about that. People who stand for biblical principles will be disliked by them. A ministry whose purpose is to reform and salvage teenage girls from Christian homes will be hated by them. There is every reason in the world to think that these main "Hephzibah Haters" have their own agenda in attacking this ministry. In a court of law, they would be witnesses whose testimony would be given little or no weight because of their obvious hostility and bias.

Something that should disturb the reasonable observer is the very anonymous and pseudonymous nature of the slander campaign directed at Hephzibah House. Until the very one-sided presentation given on CNN, many of the "Hephzibah Haters" were hiding behind the "anonymous" label, or used pseudonymous "handles" on the various forums where they would go. This obviously presents a problem for those who believe that these sorts of accusations, being made openly as they are, should give their targets a fair opportunity to respond. In fact, fair response is far from the minds of the people on these forums — one moderator of a forum even told a woman and former student (who, by the way, provided her name on her post) who posted in defense of Hephzibah House to "GET OUT!!!" (in big oversized letters). Obviously he isn't interested in truth, and he obviously doesn't care about giving his fellow believers a fair shake to actually speak on their own behalf.

The problem with internet forums is that, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, a lie can be halfway around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on. Take the recent example in the world of internet chat rooms, social networking, and blog publishing provided by one Andrew Meyer, a resident of Seattle. Mr. Meyer and a girlfriend went to a restaurant, and apparently the service — provided by their waitress named Victoria Liss — was not to their expectations. Mr. Meyer did not leave a tip on his bill, but did give Ms. Liss a little advice, that she should "loose [sic] a few pounds." Well, Ms. Liss got his name off of the credit card slip, and posted a scan of the receipt onto the internet as a way of getting revenge. The indignation among the internet community caught fire immediately. Facebook groups sprang up denouncing him in unmentionable ways, and all manner of opprobrium was heaped onto him in forums across the web. Further, and more disturbing, people began posting his address and telephone number online. He started getting rude calls, even death threats. Folks spammed his email with viruses and pornographic images. People campaigned to get him fired from his job, and to have him hacked as punishment.

Problem is, the guy that this all was happening to was the wrong Andrew Meyer — something that the people attacking him never bothered to verify before they went wild. Further, while the "real" Mr. Meyer's comment on the receipt may have been ill-advised, the fact remains that we never heard his and his date's side of the story as to why he didn't leave a tip — who knows, maybe the service really was just that lousy.

That's the sort of thing that has been going on for the past four and a half years on too many supposedly "Christian" internet forums where the "Hephzibah Haters" have been spreading their one-sided propaganda, as well as having spread to non-Christian and atheistic sites. We have a group of people who have lied and who have managed to create an organized electronic lynch mob on these various forums to perpetuate the dirty work that they started, convincing other Christians without actual evidence and without proof, other than their oft-repeated yet unverified and unverifiable stories, that Hephzibah House is some horrible, terrible place. Yet, the impression — as best as can be told from actual evidence and reason — is based on fantasies, inventions, and half-truths.

Pastors and churches who have believed these slanders without bothering to investigate for themselves and to hear both sides of the story, and who have punished Hephzibah House by dropping support, passing on false information, encouraging other pastors and ministries to drop support, and so on ought to be ashamed of themselves for their unscriptural behavior. I'll say that again — they ought to be ashamed of themselves for their unscriptural behavior.

"He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." (Proverbs 18:13)

The Bible instructs Christians that we are not to receive accusations against a pastor except from two or three witnesses. I think it should be obvious that anonymous internet posters passing around slander on a web forum under a "handle" are not "witnesses" by the contextually-understood meaning of the term. Instead, such people are "backbiters." Biblically speaking, witnesses had to be people who were willing to directly face those they were accusing. They had to be the first ones to engage in dispensing the punishment once the verdict was rendered. They had to willing to put their own testimony on the line where it could be investigated and potentially refuted. Witnesses, biblically, were not anonymous lodgers of allegations, hiding in the shadows behind assumed names.

Further, simply having two or three witnesses willing to say the same thing does not mean we should automatically believe everything they say. Implicit with the fact of a witness was that they should be truthful (Deut. 5:20). The judge in a matter was tasked with diligently inquiring as to whether what the witnesses said was true or not (Deut. 19:18). This was meant to prevent collusion between false witnesses who might decide to all band together and present a common story for the purpose of technically satisfying the "two or three witnesses" law and getting an enemy punished.

In the matter presently under discussion, even though there are certainly more than "two or three witnesses," or at least those putting themselves across as witnesses, the testimony of the evidence and of reason suggests that these do not scripturally qualify as "witnesses."

In summation, I believe that it would be very difficult for the reasonable observer who is interested in facts and truth to give credibility to the claims being made against Hephzibah House, as well as against its staff and Ron Williams. Many former students have come forward to refute the charges made — and there have been many attempts to "shut down" these dissidents from the "party line" being pushed by the "Hephzibah Haters." The state itself has found no evidence to substantiate any of the slanders, despite ample opportunities for this to have been found. The character and lack of truthfulness of the attackers themselves should give pause to being too willing to believe their stories, as well. Nevertheless, it is to the shame of too many people, within and without fundamentalism, that they have naively believed these stories without evidence and without compunction. Truly, the saga of Hephzibah House is a blight and a stain upon the name of fundamentalism in America, but not for the reason that its attackers would say. The stain exists because too many professing Christians have been willing, without evidence and against all reason, to believe lies about a man of God and the ministry God has called Him to.

© Tim Dunkin


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Tim Dunkin

Tim Dunkin is a pharmaceutical chemist by day, and a freelance author by night, writing about a wide range of topics on religion and politics. He is the author of an online book about Islam entitled Ten Myths About Islam. He is a born-again Christian, and a member of a local, New Testament Baptist church in North Carolina. He can be contacted at patriot_tim@yahoo.com. All emails may be monitored by the NSA for quality assurance purposes.


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