Introduction to Pastor Bruce Goddard
Pastor Bruce Goddard is the founder and head pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California, a prominent Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation of over 1,000 members. Goddard founded Faith Baptist in 1982 with just a handful of members and grew it into an influential church in Southern California over the next four decades.
Goddard converted to Christianity at age 18 after being led to the Lord by a friend in a city park near his home. Unlike many IFB pastors, Goddard has no formal theological training or seminary education, only a high school diploma. This lack of official credentials is common among IFB leaders, who value charisma and persuasion over education and prefer to maintain independence from accredited institutions.
Faith Baptist Church identifies as Independent, Fundamental, and adhering solely to the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Goddard emphasizes timeless, traditional worship services directly from the KJV and this strict biblical literalism appeals to many Christian fundamentalists. Under Goddard's leadership, Faith Baptist grew from just a handful of members when founded in 1982 to over 1,000 regular attendees by the 2010s, indicating the church's expanding reach and influence in the region.
Rise to Fame in the IFB
As Faith Baptist expanded, Pastor Goddard developed close associations with other prominent IFB figures, reflecting the insular nature of the IFB social network. Goddard has frequently collaborated with Pastor Allen Domelle of Old Paths Baptist Church in Tennessee and exchanged speaking engagements. These inter-church connections demonstrate how IFB pastors support each other's ministries and ideology, allowing abuse and corruption to spread between congregations.
Within the IFB, Goddard is known for his particular reverence and devotion to Jack Hyles, the notorious former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. Hyles is a towering and controversial figure in IFB history who mentored the movement's current leaders. Goddard's worship of Hyles indicates a cult-like devotion to this singular authoritative figure that is characteristic of the IFB mentality.
Goddard's social media presence has also raised his profile within IFB circles. He maintains an active Twitter account to promote Faith Baptist's ministry, attack critics, and connect with fellow IFB pastors. This online activity allows Goddard to widely share his interpretation of scripture, condemn those who disagree with his fundamentalism, and control the public narrative about his church.
Disturbing Allegations of Abuse and Corruption
Despite Pastor Goddard's veneer of righteousness, over the years numerous disturbing allegations have surfaced surrounding sexual abuse cover-ups and cult-like practices at Faith Baptist Church.
In the 1990s, former youth pastor Laverne Paul Fox left Faith Baptist after admitting to sexually abusing minors in the church's youth group. However, Goddard and his wife were accused of covering up Fox's misconduct rather than contacting law enforcement. Additionally, they allegedly enabled Fox to obtain youth pastor positions at other IFB churches by failing to disclose knowledge of his abusive behavior. This pattern of shuffling perpetrators of abuse to different churches and denying victims justice is tragically common within the IFB.
Goddard is also accused of fostering a patriarchal culture at Faith Baptist that enables further abuse against women. His teachings emphasize strict gender roles, male headship, and female submission. By propagating this misogynistic theology, Goddard creates an environment where women are stripped of autonomy and vulnerable to mistreatment.
Moreover, former members claim Goddard suppresses dissent and criticism through threats and intimidation. Those who question his authority or the church's practices report being shamed and coerced into silence. This stifling of dissent is characteristic of authoritarian cults and allows abuse to flourish unchecked at Faith Baptist.
Lack of Financial Transparency
Faith Baptist operates with remarkably little financial transparency or accountability to its members. Very little public information exists on the church's finances, governance structure, or leadership compensation. This opacity around church funds is unfortunately standard practice within the IFB, enabling unethical activities like misappropriation of donations and tax evasion.
Goddard demands members tithe 10% of their income to Faith Baptist but refuses to fully disclose how these donations are allocated. The sheer amount of revenue he collects, combined with the lack of oversight on spending, creates conditions ripe for embezzlement and abuse. Goddard's defensive posture when asked about Faith Baptist's finances also raises red flags.
Mixing Religion with Right-Wing Politics
Like many IFB pastors, Goddard frequently infuses right-wing political ideology into his sermons and ministry. He openly aligns himself with the Republican party, endorses conservative candidates from the pulpit, and attacks Democratic policies as contrary to scripture. Goddard also uses his Twitter account to amplify partisan viewpoints on issues like abortion, LGBTQ rights, and public education.
This blending of fundamentalist Christianity and extreme conservative politics is deeply problematic. It contributes to the polarization of American society and gives the impression that Goddard's political stances are divinely ordained rather than based on earthly ideologies. The IRS prohibits non-profit churches from participating in political campaigns, but this regulation is rarely enforced.
Bait-and-Switch Recruitment Tactics
Former members report that Goddard employs deceptive bait-and-switch tactics to attract new recruits to Faith Baptist. Initially, he presents the church as welcoming and focused on God's love. However, after joining, members describe being gradually introduced to authoritarian leadership, ultra-conservative ideology, and rigid lifestyle regulations. This gradual indoctrination manipulates members into accepting practices they would likely reject if revealed upfront.
Once immersed in the intense culture of Faith Baptist, many find it psychologically difficult to leave due to fear of shunning by the community. Goddard's bait-and-switch techniques reflect a deceptive model of luring people into abusive systems that is characteristic of coercive religious groups.
In summary, while Pastor Bruce Goddard has achieved substantial influence within IFB circles through his leadership of Faith Baptist Church, serious allegations of abuse, corruption, and cult-like activities cast a disturbing shadow over his ministry. The culture of secrecy, lack of accountability, and suppression of dissent at Faith Baptist has likely allowed exploitation and misconduct to flourish unabated.
Goddard's defensive and evasive responses to repeated allegations against his church also raise concerns. Without meaningful reforms to implement transparency, accountability, and protections for abuse survivors, Faith Baptist seems likely to remain a breeding ground for corruption and harm under Goddard's authoritarian stewardship.
The long-term impacts of spiritual abuse and manipulation on survivors, as well as the barriers to justice created by statute of limitations laws, demonstrate the need for continued investigation into IFB churches like Faith Baptist. Only by fully exposing abusive systems can the cycle be broken and the healing process truly begin for victims. DISCLAIMER: The information provided by Stop Pastoral Abuse, through its communications and website, is for general informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as, and should not be construed as, legal, clinical, or therapeutic advice. Our mission is to champion the rights of those victimized by oppressive religious practices and to provide support and advocacy. However, we do not provide legal, medical, or psychological services. We encourage individuals seeking such assistance to consult with qualified professionals. While we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to the information, products, services, or related graphics contained for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. Stop Pastoral Abuse disclaims all liability for any actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this document or our communications.