Lester Roloff

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Martin, Oct 13, 2007.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    Does anyone know anything about Lester Roloff?

    I heard him preaching on XM radio this morning. He seemed rather weird/extreme. I looked him up on the internet and found out that he was somewhat controversial. He died in '82, so I was way too young to know anything about him.

    Would you consider him to be a cult leader? From what little I know about him, I would.
     
  2. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Quirky - yes.

    Cult leader - absolutely not.

    I am old enough to remember him.
     
  3. Salty

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    I was in Germany when his plane went down. I hear about it on Paul Harvey.
    Many of his followers called him Uncle Roley.
    He begun several homes for wayward boys and girls.

    He was controversy because he did not want the State of Texas inspecting and controlling his homes. It all started when a couple girls made complaint which really were not warranted.

    Here in New York, Freedom Village http://www.freedomvillageusa.com/ was modeled after Uncle Roley's homes

    Salty
     
  4. abcgrad94

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    He is well loved by Independent Baptists, especially the more conservative ones. I heard many of his sermons via radio while growing up and wouldn't consider him a cult leader at all. He had a few strange ideas, like not believing in wearing deodorant because he thought it was unnatural and therefore sinful. But I believe he really loved the Lord.
     
  5. Bob Alkire

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    He was rather different, but not a cult leader. He was rather controversial in the eyes of a lot of folks.
    I heard him preach many times.
    On what foods he ate, he was rather quirky, to take a word from Roger.
    His home coming is one thing I'll never forget.
     
  6. Ed Franklin

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    I never thought of him as "quirky" back then. A lot of revisionist history abounds today (much of which is suspect).

    I remember him being different from so many "big name" ifb preachers in that he demonstrated openly his great love for souls--he sowed in tears--not merely polemical preaching on doctrine or "standards"

    First place I ever saw him preach was at Highland Park, Chattanooga, when Lee Roberson was pastor....hardly the pulpit where one found "cult" leaders! He gave my (then) 4-year-old daughter a Bible which she still has.

    I still have dozens of cassette tapes with his sermons...need to get them transferred onto cds before they disintegrate. I look back fondly to the times I spent with him, knowing the real Lester Roloff and not what today's critics try to make him.
     
  7. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Quirky is not necessarily negative ;)

    Thats the first place I ever heard him as well.
     
  8. swaimj

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    When I change my 17-month-old's diaper, I always exhort him, as he lies on the changing table "DON"T ROLL OFF, LESTER!!!". He always chuckles at this. His mom simply wonders what I'm talking about. I figure that if she doesn't know who Lester Rollof is, she's better off.

    He was NOT a cult leader, IMHO, rather he was one of the most respected leaders of Independent Baptist Fundamentalism in the late 60s and through the 70s. He's one of only a few men who could bridge the divide between BJU and TTU/Southwide Baptist Fellowship/Sword of the Lord during that time; being invited to speak at both places.

    Was he a little strange? Here's a true story: Once, in the late 70s, his office contacted my father, who was pastoring a church in NC at the time. His office invited by father to come meet Dr. Rollof at the airport and fly to Texas to see and tour the girl's home, and, of course, get to know Dr. Rollof. Rollof did this often so as to introduce pastors to his ministry. On the flight, Rollof, the only pilot aboard, put the plane on auto-pilot, got up and went to the facility for several minutes, then returned to the pilot's chair. What words can we use to describe such an action? Foolish, dangerous, unethical....
     
  9. Martin

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    ==I have never really heard him before. His sermon today was very strange. He would sing while preaching and he seemed to follow no real outline. I got the cult idea from the "homes" that he ran. It seems that he was big on controlling people's lives. If the wikipedia site is even half correct on the activities in his "homes", I standby my belief that he was somesort of cult leader. Maybe not in the sense of Marshal Applewhite (sp?) or Jim Jones, but certainly in some loose sense of the word "cult".
     
  10. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    You base your research on Wikipedia instead of men here who remember him? Did you notice how often "citation needed" was used in the article?

    Standby your belief if you wish - it won't change who Bro Roloff was.
     
    #10 NaasPreacher (C4K), Oct 13, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2007
  11. Magnetic Poles

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    I believe he was indeed a cult leader and child abuser. This is why he resisted oversight for basic standards of his home for "wayward" children. IMO he was an evil man, and this comes from first-hand research at the time.
     
  12. D28guy

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    I remember listening to his broadcasts back in the early 80's when I was born again. He was part of the evening lineup on that radio station that included John McArthur, Chuck Smith (Oh let the Son of God enfold you..."), J.Vernon McGee ("How firm a foundation..."), Kenneth Copeland, Focus on the Family and a local broadcast.

    I was blessed by his broadcast. He was *quirky* thats for sure.

    Mike
     
  13. Bob Alkire

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    Keep in mind that most of those kids, it was there last chance. Those kids were not the ones you would see in SS on Sunday. Many a child had there lives changed there and are now living a better life than they would have if it wasn't for the home. Lets call it like it was, most of the kids are what so many call bad kids, getting into trouble, ready for jail, some came out of jail. He believed if one got right with God, got saved and lived for Him they would be better off.
     
  14. Pastor_Bob

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    He was in no sense of the term a cult leader. I had the privilege of hearing him preach several times. He did not resist oversight in the least. He did, however, refuse to take a state license. It was indeed his constitutional right to refuse a state license for his church ministry. He spent time in a Texas jail for standing for what he believed in.

    To say that he was evil is absurd. He single-handedly set the precedent for churches to have the freedom to continue in their respective ministries unmolested from the state.
     
  15. D28guy

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    Sometimes when a preacher or teacher strays from, or does not start with, his outline is when the best preaching takes place.

    Mike
     
  16. Magnetic Poles

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    I too have heard him preach. That means nothing. I stand by my opinion of him. Many children were abused at his homes, and while he had the right to his beliefs, he had no right for what he and his minions did to kids. Good riddance, I say.
     
  17. Martin

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    Is the article a fair representation or not? I don't know, that's why I asked the question. Do you know of a place where I can get a more "balanced" view of Mr. Roloff?
     
  18. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    A lot of places other than wikipedia - anyone can post anything and it sits there with "citation needed."


    A lot of folks here remember him well. The comments here have been pretty representative.
     
  19. Martin

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    ==So it was sort of a private juvenile hall. Maybe like the modern boot-camps? If so, then his control over thier daily lives makes more sense. I was thinking it was a religious home.
     
  20. Magnetic Poles

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    From a report at : http://www.tfn.org/files/fck/TFN CC REPORT-FINAL.pdf

    Alternative Accreditation for Faith-Based Children’s Services
    In 1997, the Texas Legislature established an Alternative Accreditation program that allowed faithbased child-care centers and residential children’s homes to attain exemption from state licensing by instead submitting to “alternative accreditation” where they were monitored by a non-governmental
    entity, such as a group of pastors. The only such non-governmental entity approved by the state was the Texas Association of Christian Child-Care Agencies (TACCCA). Approved by the state in December 1998, TACCCA was charged with reviewing and approving applications for accreditation,
    and conducting inspections of accredited facilities.

    TACCCA began accrediting faith-based children’s facilities in 1999, starting with the Roloff Homes, which prior to the Alternative Accreditation program were barred by the U.S. Supreme Court from operating in Texas without a state license. TACCCA accredited a total of only eight facilities in the
    four years the Alternative Accreditation program was in place. Over the same period, more than 2,000 faith-based child-care facilities chose to continue operating under a state license.20

    In theory, TACCCA was required to enforce the same standards, and conduct the same inspections, at facilities it regulated as were enforced at state-licensed facilities. In reality, however:
    • Three of the eight facilities accredited by TACCCA – the Roloff Children’s Home,
    Channelview Christian Daycare and Miller Road Baptist Daycare21 – were run by pastors who
    served on the TACCCA board. Thus, these pastors were in charge of approving, inspecting
    and policing their own facilities.22
    • TACCCA was cited by the state for failing to conduct any unannounced inspections of its
    facilities, as were required by state law and TACCCA’s state contract to be conducted annually
    at each facility.23
    • The rate of confirmed abuse and neglect at alternatively-accredited facilities was 25 times
    higher than that of state-licensed facilities. Alternatively-accredited facilities had a 25% rate of
    confirmed abuse and neglect,24 compared to a rate of less than 1% at state-licensed facilities.25
    • The complaint rate at alternatively-accredited facilities was 75%,26 compared to a 5.4%
    complaint rate at state-licensed facilities.27
    • The state could not conduct site visits or address complaints at alternatively-accredited
    facilities unless TACCCA filed formal allegations of abuse against a facility it accredits.
    • Alternative Accreditation buffered faith-based organizations from state oversight, but left the
    children in their care vulnerable.
    In Spring 2001, the Texas Legislature chose not to renew the state’s Alternative Accreditation program
    for faith-based child-care providers, dismantling one of the pillars of the state’s faith-based initiative.

    *** For more on Teen Challenge, see case study in Appendix H.
    ††† For more on the Roloff Homes, see case study in Appendix G.


    And here is Appendix G

    Appendix G.
    CASE STUDY
    Roloff Homes: Jeopardizing People in Need
    We have already caught a glimpse of the harm that can come of relaxing government regulation
    through the dramatic example of the Roloff Homes—a faith-based home for troubled teens notorious
    for a history of abuse allegations and a refusal to succumb to state licensing.
    The Roloff Homes were founded by Lester Roloff, a fundamentalist preacher and head of the People’s
    Baptist Church in Corpus Christi. Responding to a string of abuse allegations in the early 1970s, the
    state ordered the Roloff Homes to allow state inspections of the facilities. Roloff refused to submit to
    state oversight or obtain a state license, arguing that the homes administered ‘tough Christian love,’
    not physical abuse and that the state had no right to license his religious children’s homes. The state’s
    case against the Roloff Homes went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the Homes must
    either be licensed by the state or shut down.
    In 1985, rather than accept state oversight, the Roloff Homes closed down and moved to Missouri—
    where they stayed until invited by then-Governor George Bush to return to Texas and take advantage
    of changes in state law that now exempted faith-based children’s facilities from state oversight and
    regulation.
    In 1997, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 2482, which allowed children’s homes and child-care
    facilities to be accredited by private sector entities in lieu of being licensed and regulated by the state.
    Texas Association of Christian Child-Care Agencies (TACCCA) was the first and only means of
    alternative accreditation created for faith-based children’s facilities. In 1999, the Roloff Homes were
    the first of eight faith-based child-care facilities accredited by TACCCA.
    Since the Roloff Homes received accreditation from TACCCA to again operate in Texas, there has
    been a string of abuse and neglect allegations against the homes. In June 1999, the state issued a
    finding of physical abuse, neglectful supervision and medical neglect at the Roloff Homes’ Rebekah
    Home for Girls. Faye Cameron, supervisor of the Rebekah Home and Wiley Cameron’s wife, was
    banned for life from ever working or being present at any juvenile home in Texas.
    In early 2000, the state began an investigation into new allegations of abuse at the homes and filed
    criminal charges against the facilities’ administrators. Within two weeks of the resulting arrests,
    however, TACCCA re-accredited the Roloff Homes.
    Until the criminal charges were filed, Wiley Cameron (who took over the Roloff Homes when Roloff
    passed away) served on the TACCCA accreditation committee. Cameron voluntarily resigned his
    committee seat during the investigation due to the conflict of interest. Administrators at the Roloff
    Homes’ Lighthouse Home for Adults were found guilty of abuse in a criminal trial in June 2001.
    In the Spring of 2001, the Texas Legislature chose not to renew the state’s Alternative Accreditation
    program for faith-based child-care facilities, signifying a major rollback of the state’s faith-based
    initiative. The Roloff Homes and other alternatively-accredited facilities were forced to either pursue
    state licensing or close their doors in Texas. The Roloff Homes chose to move their operations to
    another state.44
     

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