The Women Who Knew Jack Hyles
I am continually amazed at the pastors who defend Jack Hyles, denying that he was a moral reprobate as well as a dictatorial cult leader.
One pastor wrote to me recently to say,
“Jack Hyles was a personal friend. I knew the man. I have listened to over 1,000 sermons on tape which he preached in his own pulpit in the 70s and early 80s. I attended at least 12 Pastors’ Schools. I sent students there and hired graduates from HAC. I have sat in his office and he in mine. In fact, he has sat at my table in my home. It is easy to sit decades later and call that ministry a cult. Were there problems, particularly in the latter years? YES. But a cult, no. Hyles certainly had enemies -- back then, more so. Many rumors and much slander developed, some of which continues to rattle around to this day. You call him a liar. That is a strong statement. I knew the man first hand. You only know about him from a distance and years later. You call him an adulterer. However, the same deacons who investigated and fired Jack Schapp also investigated the charges of adultery against Jack Hyles and exonerated him.”
The pastor continued in this vein at some length, proving himself adept at building straw men, creating smoke screens, and straining at gnats.
In light of the firsthand testimonies that have been published, this pastor is simply closing his eyes to the truth, for whatever reason. There is a gross lack of spiritual discernment at play here.
It is a frightful fact that man’s will drives his discernment. If a man doesn’t want to believe something, he simply will not believe it. This is why the atheist doesn’t believe in God and why the devoted Roman Catholic doesn’t believe his church is apostate. But even a saved man can deceive himself. If it were not so, the Bible would not thrice warn in the New Testament Epistles, “Be not deceived.”
As to getting to the truth of the issue of Jack Hyles, let’s not listen to his deacons, of whom he bragged publicly that they would have jumped off a bridge if he told them to do so. Hyles had deacons come forward during Pastor Schools and would order them to “sit down,” “stand up,” “sit down,” “stand up” repeatedly to demonstrate his unquestioning power over them.
Instead of hearing from Hyles’ deacons, let’s consider the testimonies of three women who knew Hyles far better and more intimately than the aforementioned Hyles defender knew him, better, in fact, than any pastor who is defending him today.
No person has perfect knowledge or perfect memory about events that occurred years in the past, and it is always possible to quibble about some detail of someone’s story, as any court trial would demonstrate. Lawyers are trained in using minor mistakes to draw attention away from major facts.
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.
The major points that these women who knew Jack Hyles agree on are these: that Hyles had a morally inappropriate relationship with a woman who was not his wife, that he lived a double life by deception, and that he was a cult leader who controlled his people as a lord and not as a godly shepherd. The last point is just as unscriptural and wrong and dangerous as the first.
I have no spiritual respect for a preacher who defends Jack Hyles. I am reminded of the lessons of Proverbs 29:24-27 --
“Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not. 25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. 26 Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment cometh from the Lord. 27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.”
First, we see that refusal to separate from those who are immoral takes away the ability to protest their evil. This is what happens to preachers who continue to associate with men like Hyles and their defenders.
Second, the fear of man brings a snare. The fear of man is as much a problem among preachers as it is among teenagers, and it makes a man weak and incapable of taking the proper stand for truth.
Third, men naturally tend to have their eyes on “big men” rather than on the Lord. We can see men, but we can’t see the Lord except through faith, and the preacher who is not walking by faith in God’s Word will be a man pleaser. Having been an independent fundamental Baptist preacher for nearly 40 years, I am convinced that Bigism and Big-Manism is a major disease.
Fourth, our attitude toward sin reveals the condition of our hearts. A truly just man will not look with favor on an unjust man. He will “abhor that which is evil” (Rom. 12:9).
FIRST, TO GIVE THE BACKGROUND, LET ME QUOTE FROM THE BOOK “THE TWO JACKS” IN REGARD TO HYLES’ RELATIONSHIP WITH JUDY NISCHIK
Evidence was provided by Vic Nischik, a long-time deacon at First Baptist, proving that Jack Hyles stole the affection of his wife (Hyles’ secretary), even if he didn’t actually commit physical adultery with her. Where there is longstanding passionate romantic steam there is probably physical adultery, but certainly there is mental adultery. We will see that Jack Hyles’s own daughter and Judy Nischik’s daughter both believe that the two had an adulterous affair.
Regardless of whether Hyles actually committed physical adultery, he was unquestionably guilty of a grossly improper relationship with a woman who was not his wife, and was thus disqualified to be a pastor. For a pastor to develop a romantic relationship with a church member is gross, gross abuse of his position and of his solemn marital vows.
Further, this was not just one pastor. This was not merely a simple local church issue. Jack Hyles set himself up as the saviour of “fundamentalism” and the pastor of pastors. His influence was vast. There should have been a cry against him from every Bible-believing Baptist pulpit in America. Instead, the silence was golden, and it still is.
The bravest voices lifted against him were the voices of women, the very women who had been hurt by this man’s ungodly actions, women who showed themselves stronger than a huge number of weak-kneed, ostrich-like pastors.
Vic Nischik testified:
“These were passionate love notes from Jack Hyles to Jennie, all signed ‘Your aching guy, Jack!’ They expressed undying love, telling Jennie that she was the only woman he loved. … There were references to secret meetings with him in different places” (Nischik, The Wizard of God: My Life With Jack Hyles, pp. 57, 58).
Hyles arranged for Jennie Nischik to work as a secretary in an adjoining office in the late 1960s, and she would not allow her husband to touch her by 1971.
Her office had a door opening to Hyles’ office, but there was a drape in front of it so that no one coming into her office could see it. Their offices each had a door opening to the hallway as well as the private door connecting the two rooms.
Hyles lied about the existence of the door, saying, “There IS no door,” which was technically true at the time, since it had been removed after the matter became public! With America’s supposed Bible-believing preachers lying like this by abusing the tenses of verbs, it is no wonder that the president of the country testified under oath some that “it depends on what the definition of IS is.”
Various other people testified of the existence of the door, including Dave Hyles’ wife and a preacher who was long associated with Hyles but left in 1988 because he could no longer tolerate the deception and who wrote to Robert Sumner about the matter in 1989. This preacher, who had held Hyles up as his hero for 20 years and loved the man deeply and prayed for him passionately, approached him in fear and trembling about the matter of the door. The preacher quoted 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” but Hyles brazenly replied, “My people need to trust me.”
In 1971, Hyles, without his wife, took Jennie and three other women to Hawaii and stayed in the same hotel, being the only male in the group.
In a scene right out of some cheap romance novel, Hyles arranged for Vic Nischik to sleep in the basement of his own house and to pay rent to Jennie. Later Hyles paid to have a room built for Vic over the garage, where he lived without being allowed any conjugal relationship with his wife.
When Nischik confronted Hyles in 1985 and demanded that he leave his wife alone, she filed for divorce at Hyles’ insistence. Hyles made the arrangements for and settled the terms of the divorce, and Hyles even paid for it! After the divorce, Jennie moved into a brand new $150,000 condominium at Hyles’ generous behest.
Nischik twice tried to present the matter before the deacons of First Baptist, but he was shut down. When he tried to read a three-page letter, Hyles cried out, “You are trying to destroy fundamentalism!” and the deacons chimed in by shouting the poor man down. Nischik’s letter, which he later publicized, said in part,
“MY HOME WAS TAMPERED WITH AND MY MARRIAGE DELIBERATELY WRECKED BY JACK HYLES. HE STOLE MY WIFE, HER LOYALTY AND AFFECTION, and when the divorce hung in balance, unilaterally met with the two attorneys and negotiated the divorce settlement.”
After Nischik went public with the dirty business, Hyles tried to blacken the man’s reputation and turn attention away from his own deeds in a self-serving letter he mailed to 60,000 pastors. He claimed that he had long heard reports that Nischik was immoral, but the following important observation must be taken into consideration in this matter:
“Throughout all of this, Hyles being privy to most if not all of it by his own testimony, Vic remained a member in good standing of the First Baptist Church, song leader in Dr. Hyles’ own adult Sunday School class, choir member, a key worker in the bus ministry (where the ‘pickings’ would be delightful among love-starved, fatherless, teenage girls), a trustee of Hyles-Anderson College, a financial adviser and assistant who helped him obtain a $1,500,000 loan for the purchase of the Hyles-Anderson campus, as well as a respected deacon in the First Baptist Church! On the basis of Dr. Hyles’ own admissions, I rest my case about the massive cover-up of sin under his leadership. In passing, it is interesting to note that Hyles’ evidence against Vic is loose, unsubstantiated, secondhand, hearsay gossip from unnamed sources” (Robert Sumner, The Jack Hyles Story, chapter 5: “The Hyles Reply”).
THE TESTIMONY OF JUDY NISCHIK’S DAUGHTER
Letter to Jack Hyles
From Judy (Nischik) Johnson
October 1, 1986
As I am sure you are well aware, my husband and I are moving to the Los Angeles area this month. The culmination of many events in our lives brought us to the decision that we have made to move. By this letter I wish to express my thoughts on the role you have played in these events over the past fifteen-plus years.
I remember hearing once that it is not wise to put anything in writing that one would not want the entire world to see. (You know well the horrifying effects doing so can cause, don't you?) That thought prompted me to write you on my leaving, for it would be the pleasure of my life to have the entire world see in print my feelings on you, your establishment and your gross perversion of the sacred role of Pastor.
For over fifteen years I have watched and learned much from the circus that you have performed with the lives of those I love most in the world. With your own insecurities and personal failures as your driving force, you have quite simply played havoc with an entire church, some of my dearest friends and worst of all, my family. The saddest realization is that it has all been under the guise of Christianity. How I emerged from such a pit of secret sin, manipulation, and hypocrisy with the slightest interest in my professed religion at all, I do not know.
Actually, I have become quite a person with these many lessons of life under my belt and must admit that you were quite a teacher. You exemplify everything in this life that I do not want for myself, my marriage or my children. I thank God for giving me the sense to decide not to become one of the neurotic puppets you employ. That decision and my close friendship with your ex-daughter-in-law (you remember her, don't you?) helped salvage what was left of my self-respect. In an incredibly short amount of time I have healed much and think I would surprise even you with the strength I have gained.
Incidentally, Paula and I have volumes of stories to swap, and it is interesting to see just how similar they are. What was it that you used to say, 'Little leopards have spots because big leopards have spots'? How true it is.
Sadly, in your very heart of hearts you must be the most miserable, lonely person alive. You are a self-proclaimed giant, sensationalist, exhibitionist, and 'big-time spender' grasping for every expression of love, admiration and loyalty that you can get your filthy little hands on. Yet, you have failed with the most precious gifts God could have ever given you – your wife, your children, and now, your ministry.
I pity you ... for you will be experiencing the consequences of your actions for a very long time. You may have convinced your following in the past twenty years that 'it did not happen if they did not see it,' but God has seen every moment of those years, and my faith will not let [me] believe that He will let you go unpunished.
With these thoughts expressed, I bathe myself of you and any influence you may have had on me in the past. With God's help, I will make my life in California everything that He would have it be and, unlike you, will not fall.
(Signed Judy Johnson)
After Hyles’ son-in-law, Jack Schaap, got caught in an adulterous relationship with a teenager recently, Judy sent the following e-mail to David Gibbs, who is helping the church at this time:
From: Judy (Nischik) Johnson
Date: Monday, August 6, 2012
I just watched the video on the First Baptist Church website where you, Terry Duff and Eddie Lapina discussed the church's current scandal. Your statements that your investigation will reach far and wide, and that unbelievers will see at its conclusion that the church didn't try to hide wrong doing were encouraging.
If you mean what you said, you have a lot of work to do.
I'm Jennie Nischik's daughter. The earliest memory of my mother's affair with Jack Hyles that I can remember dates back to the 1960's. Maybe you could start your investigation there.
Both Terry Duff and Eddie Lapina can help you fill in the details. Terry was a deacon in the late 1980's when the deacon board rejected my family's appeal to them to -- finally -- deal with Jack Hyles and his decades-long affair with my mother. This, of course, was well after his son, Dave, had wreaked havoc on the youth department and had moved on to terrorize more than one church in Texas. Eddie Lapina was witness to all of that. But, of course, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.
If you and your client really want to do the right thing, you'll face the fact that First Baptist Church has had a cancer growing in it for nearly 50 years. Forgive me, but the shock and awe of this latest scandal is only felt by those faithful who have turned a blind eye to the systemic corruption and sin that has plagued FBC for decades.
So, best of luck. I anxiously await the day that I can say with all honesty, "They did the right thing".
Judy Nischik Johnson
THE TESTIMONY OF JACK HYLES’ DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
The following are excerpts from
Dave Coleman’s Interview with Paula Hyles Polonco
First wife of Jack Hyles’ son, Dave
November 1, 1989
Did David’s dad know that he was adulterous before we went to Texas? The answer is definitely yes and there are a hundred people who know that. Why he lies about that I will never know. I went to him twice about things I had heard about Dave. One of the girls told me and Dave’s sister that she was sleeping with him, and we told his dad. Another occasion was the girl who was working at the cemetery. ... I told his dad about that.
His dad’s philosophy is if I didn’t see it I don’t believe it. And I was the one who was made to look like the bad guy in both instances. It was going to be me and my big mouth that ruined my marriage, not David’s actions. So yes, he did know. ... There were so many mothers who went to him who David was having affairs with and told him. ... Brother Evans’ daughter was one of the ones that David had an affair with. ... Dr. Hyles’ lying was blatant just like David’s. David was a blatant liar. He told lies that he couldn’t possibly get away with. The problem is that his dad has set himself up so good, that everybody doubts everything because that’s how they have been taught. If you don’t see it, don’t believe it. Another philosophy of his is that he doesn’t want to hear anything, because then he doesn’t have to deal with it.
When all of this happened with our church in Garland, his dad didn’t want to hear it.
I believe that Brother Hyles knows that David had moral problems from the day he hit puberty, but it has never been dealt with. I mean when I was dating David, the books that Hyles has written on teenagers and dating, we never did one thing that he taught. We never double dated. He came and went as he pleased. That boy had not one rule for his life. Never. He did what he wanted to do. I met him fresh out of high school. We both graduated the same year and went to college. He never had restrictions on his life. And his dad would get up and preach this and browbeat everybody to death to do their kids that way, but David didn’t have to live that way. I would just sit there, and he would say, ‘My son David and Paula never single dated,’ and I would look at David and start laughing and think, ‘This is hilarious; I can’t believe that he gets up and says this.’ His dad gave me six months of sex counseling before David and I got married, and I could nail him just with that and what he said to me. He was so interested in mine and David’s personal relationship. Every time we talked he would ask me if we kissed, and I would say yes, and he would ask me real intimate questions about when we kissed and what happened when we kissed. And the night we got married, he told everybody it was our first kiss! I about laughed in his face. I was embarrassed and humiliated that he said that, because David had kissed every other girl in the church, too, and they were all sitting there laughing. What I can’t comprehend is telling a lie that so many people know is a lie.
There was definitely a door between their offices [Jack Hyles’ and Jenny Nischik’s offices]. I don’t know if there is right now. My understanding is that with all the stuff going on they’ve done something with it. But yes, there is most definitely a door. In fact, she kept it covered with a curtain. You could still see it from his office. You had to really look. There was a door knob there, but it looked like part of the paneling, and there was a picture hanging there, so you really had to be studying to notice that there was a door there from his office. When she put that curtain that went across the wall, it probably stuck out a good four feet from the wall and it went all the way across, so you had to go behind the curtain to see the door after she put that up.
[As to why the people at First Baptist allowed these things to go on] the only thing I can tell you is that you are so totally brainwashed. It’s hard to believe. And now that I’ve had a chance to step back and take a look at it from a distance, to think that I was sucked up in that really scares me. But that’s what it is. They are so influenced by him that I think if he told them that he was a black man they would believe him. He really does have that kind of influence on those people.
Do I have any reason to believe that the Hyles don’t love each other? Yes, they haven’t slept together in probably 25 years, they don’t share the same bedroom, they don’t speak. ... He’s never said that he loved Mrs. Hyles. He’s never spoken of her in endearing terms.
(The previous are excerpts from Dave Coleman’s Interview with Paula Hyles Polonco, first wife of Jack Hyles’ son Dave, November 1, 1989).
THE TESTIMONY OF JACK HYLES’ OWN DAUGHTER
The following is excerpted from Linda Murphrey’s testimony at the TEDxOjaiChange event in Ojai, California, April 5, 2012. Linda is Jack Hyles’ daughter, and it appears that the hypocrisy she witnessed has driven her into the arms of skepticism, which is very sad, but it was not necessary. I, too, witnessed a lot of hypocrisy growing up in a Baptist church, but my unbelief and rebellion was my own fault and not something I could blame on others. If we have our eyes on Christ and our own personal responsibilities before Him, we will not stumble when men fail us.
“My dad pastored a church that evolved into a 50,000-member cult. It operated and still operates under the guise of an independent fundamental Baptist church. But those who have left, the followers who have tried to leave, the outsiders, even the media (it was on 20/20 last year) recognize that it is clearly a cult.
“Every member was in complete obedience to my father. They didn’t dare disagree or be disloyal, for fear of being publicly ridiculed or punished or banished for doing so. They didn’t go on a vacation without asking my dad’s permission, and if he had said to drink the Kool-aid, I’m not kidding, they would have.
“My dad lived a double life, one of a righteous family man and of a dynamic speaker in the public eye, but [another] one of sordid sexual secrets privately, secrets that only my siblings and me and my mom knew. He hated my mom. Hated her. Treated her terribly. Abused her. And even turned his own children against their mother. We hated her. He told us she was crazy. We thought to make him happy, we would hate her too. Our home was so full of turmoil, hatred, stress, strife, and as a little girl, it was isolating, it was intense, and it was frightening. He had affairs. He had a mistress for many years, the wife of a Sunday School teacher. He built her family a beautiful home right around the corner from our house. You could see their family from our back door. It was craziness, living one way, preaching another.
“My older brother became another version of my father. He pastored a church in Texas and was found to be having affairs with 14 different women. He divorced his wife and married one of the 14. My father tried desperately to cover it up. He moved him to another church where he was found to have had 17 affairs with different women, and he just recreated what he had seen my dad live. And my dad did nothing but cover it up.
“I felt like I had one main responsibility as a child. It was simple, but daunting, and that was to keep all the secrets, and there were so many.
“You see, he had taught us that the best way to please God was to please him, because he was God’s man. He taught us that to please him we had to keep all the secrets. We could never even tell our best friends what went on in our home, because we might be the cause of the destruction of his ministry. I literally feared for my very life if I ever told what went on in our home, for fear that it would hurt his ministry. I was so afraid, and the greater the secrets, the greater my fear, and the greater my determination to keep quiet.
“He was very wealthy. And even to our adult years, he owned us. He owned our homes, our cars, our furniture. He owned our lives, and we didn’t dare cross him, because we were too afraid we would lose everything. He died a multi-millionaire. He left nothing to his children. He left everything to the organization, which my younger sister and her husband now lead. [This was before Jack Schaap got caught in adultery with a teenager.] And they still perpetuate his legacy: the strict rules, the undying loyalty, and they still try to keep all the secrets” (Linda Murphrey’s testimony at the TEDxOjaiChange event in Ojai, California, April 5, 2012).
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