Hugh Freeze, Briarcrest, and Ole Miss

Until about 2 weeks ago, Hugh Freeze’s coaching career was a real-life Facing The Giants story: he had no college football experience, but would go on to lead Briarcrest Academy (Memphis, TN) to two state football championships and four state girls basketball championships.

From there, he would go on to take an Ole Miss football program that was notoriously low-performing and take them to four bowl appearances, including two victories against Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide.

He was known as a devout Christian who held students and players to high standards of conduct, not unlike Bill McCartney who once coached University of Colorado and founded Promise Keepers.

But now, Freeze is gone. Part of that downfall began with some recruiting violations–that’s bad, but not the end of the world–but the final straw was “personal conduct”, including at least one phone call, on his university-issued cell phone, to an escort service.

Now, the accusations are bubbling, going all the way back to his days at Briarcrest. (HT: Amy Smith of Watch Keep via FB.)

While it does not appear that the accusations involve him having sex with students, they do call into question both his judgment and a potentially-twisted sexuality.

Back in the day, when I was in middle/high school (8th-9th grade) in Memphis, paddling was not uncommon.

I was paddled 5 times. Twice by one of the principals and three of those times by one of the football coaches. One of which involved the coach goofing off (I made him laugh when I responded with, “Thank you sir may I have another!”, so he ended the punishment right then.)

But typically, whenever a teacher gave a paddling, he (or she) had at least one other teacher as a witness. And if the recipient of the paddling was female, the teacher doing the paddling was typically female.

From what I am reading about Freeze, if the accusations are true then there is some definite red flag creepiness.

I mean seriously…having a girl change her shirt in your office???

(Having her in his office without at least one other staffer present would be very bad judgment. But having her change her shirt in his office is a very serious issue.)

Personally, I hope, for Freeze’s sake, that those were just instances of bad judgment and that he learned his lessons.

But the cynic in me says he has a serious problem and he needs to take this opportunity to face those demons before it really blows up in his face.

Getting fired from a coaching job for “personal conduct” is not the end of the world, as the case of University of Louisille football coach Bobby Petrino shows.

But if Freeze does not face his demons, he’s a time bomb waiting to explode.

Burn Him At The Stake

Deb at TWW reports on the case of Steve Jesmer, pastor of what was The Dialogue Church, who raped a 13-year-old girl in his church office.

One more reason you ought to be skeptical of anyone who has charisma.

To their credit, church leaders who became aware of the incident were prompt in getting to authorities. And by all accounts, the church was cooperative in the investigation.

Do NOT Give a Dime To Voice Of The Martyrs

I have always respected the work of the Wurmbrand family. Richard Wurmbrand, a pastor in Romania who dared to stand up for Christ in a Communist society, founded Voice Of The Martyrs. The Wurmbrands have long been instrumental in exposing the persecution of Christians by regimes hostile to Christians.

I have a late friend who–before she died at age 85–diligently gave money to Voice of the Martyrs every month. She even gave presentations at churches on their behalf.

VOM has enjoyed a very strong reputation in Christian circles for decades.

Unfortunately, since the deaths of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, VOM has drifted into disaster.

In 2012, the Executive Director of VOM, Tom White, committed suicide after learning that he was under investigation for the rape of a ten-year-old girl.

Michael Wurmbrand, in light of the revelations about White, called for an independent investigation into potential child molestations at VOM. He was subsequently dismissed from the board.

In the aftermath of this, the revelations about VOM include potential financial malfeasance in addition to the coverup of child sexual abuse.

This year, Todd Wilhelm of Thou Art The Man, a watch-blog that specializes in the expose’ of abuses in Church and parachurch circles, in concert with leaders from Reformation Baptist Church of Youngsville, NC who raised serious issues after their visit to a VOM-funded orphanage in Nigeria, provided a blistering assessment of VOM and Isaac Newton, the Director of the Stephens Center orphanage in Nigeria. A former VOM employee, “Mr. Jesperson”, provided a personal testimony of his time working for VOM.

My take:

(1) I believe Wilhelm and the Horn family of Reformation Baptist Church: Isaac Newton needs to be investigated.

(2) I believe this is a job for the International Justice Mission.

(3) I’m very skeptical of VOM.

Personally, I want the accusations about VOM to be bogus. But if you’re dealing with multiple accusations of abuse, all I can say is where there is smoke, there is usually fire. My cynical side says that what we are seeing is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

For now, it is on VOM to show that they are a transparent Christian organization that is committed to reaching out to Christians under oppression, and doing their best to keep predators out of their ranks and do justice to those harmed by malevolent parties.

Until they can demonstrate that, I recommend giving your money to other reputable organizations. I suggest the International Justice Mission.


Not Looking Good for Word Of Faith Fellowship

The Deebs are pounding on a “church” that desperately needs a serious pounding or ten. Keep hammering them, and don’t be charitable.

It appears that the AP report has drawn the interest of both American and Brazilian governments.

This is bad. People are going to be heading to jail for a substantial amount of time.

The whole Word of Faith movement–long having proven themselves to be heretical at best–can’t get a black enough eye.

Burn Some Word of Faith Leaders At The Stake

I saw this on the Charlotte Observer yesterday in my news feed. Amy Smith followed up on that with a tweet, and now Deb at TWW has followed up on it. This is not the first time TWW has given Word of Faith Fellowship of Spindale, NC a well-deserved kick.

As far as I am concerned, the ministerial staff at WOFF has provided a good case for why we need to bring back burning at the stake.

Or better yet, let Pilgrim and myself have their leaders for a weekend in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky…

Kentucky Senate Might Get Shakeup

If this story has traction–and since there is an audiotape of the exchange, it appears to have legs–there could be a major shakeup of the Kentucky political apparatus.

Julian Carroll (D), a former Governor, has enjoyed a very secure position in the Kentucky Senate. His level of influence in the Democratic Party in Kentucky is not far-removed from that of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for Kentucky Republicans.

If this were simply about Carroll’s offenses, that would be bad enough.

But the larger issue here is the political apparatus that has swept offenses like these under the rug.