When Christians Go Bad

Last week I questioned the educational background of Eric Porterfield, the  Trump-loving, MAGA hat-wearing, WV State Delegate who made national headlines for railing against the LGBTQ community. The information I found through my “sleuthing” (aka Googling) wasn’t impressive. In fact, I was left wondering whether Porterfield actually had a legitimate post high school education.

This week, he revealed a bit more about his educational background.

In  a Charleston Gazette Mail by Jake Zuckerman, (How Porterfield Went Blind in a Bar Fight,) Porterfield said he earned his divinity degree at Hyles-Anderson College in Indiana. Since the article was about how Porterfield was blinded in a bar fight after leaving a strip club, I doubt most people paid much attention to that nugget of information.

But I did, and it inspired me to do some more sleuthing. (In other words, I did some more Googling. Writing is my hobby, not my profession, so please don’t judge me.)

At first glance, Hyles-Anderson College may seem more legitimate than taking a correspondence course from Belle Meadow Baptist College. However, on further research, it raised numerous red flags.

Hyles-Anderson College is operated by the First Baptist Church of Hammonds, Indiana, which has a sketchy history of sex abuse (Let Us Prey ) and misogyny (Video of Anti Women Sermon) as well as accusations of investment schemes (Lawsuit against First Baptist Church).

Interestingly, despite all this, now Vice President and Former Indiana Governor Mike Pence has visited there on more than one occasion. (Mike Pence visits First Baptist Church in Hammond)

I spent some time looking into the non-accredited Hyles-Anderson College, and I wasn’t impressed. But my opinion about the school isn’t as relevant as my concern about how such schools and their affiliated churches are creating a version of Christianity that people like Eric Porterfield embrace and want to force onto others.

It’s a type of Christianity I don’t recognize.

I was taught that Jesus wanted us to love each other not to condemn people who think or live differently than we do. He wanted us to help the weak not to prey on them. He wanted us appreciate the importance of people rather than money and material possessions. He wanted us to welcome the stranger instead of build walls, care for the sick rather than decide who is worthy of care, and to turn the other cheek rather than instigate fights.

When Christians go bad, they don’t work to create Christ’s vision of a community of acceptance and peace.

Thankfully, many Christians still do.

I reflected about this Saturday night when a friend invited me to go to the Spanish Mass at a local Catholic Church, I’m not Catholic and my Spanish is limited, but I was literally welcomed there with open arms. My white skin and poor language skills went unnoticed, or at least unmentioned. Instead of feeling like I didn’t belong, I felt like people cared that I was there.

And that’s exactly how everyone should feel both in church and in America.

About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a theater kid in high school, a band kid at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on March 3, 2019, in current affairs, education, News, people, perspective, Politics, religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thanks for your sleuthing. Surely – SURELY – some action will be taken to get him removed. SURELY the people of Monroe County (and WV) find him totally unqualified, in addition to being an embarrassment.

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