Throwback Thursday: Remembering GR’s Shocking Sunday School
40 years ago, a Baptist minister was called out for his unique of getting kids to memorize the Bible.
It was a pretty big news story in the area back in 1981, the Reverend Dwight Wymer was told by the Kent County Prosecutor at the time, David Sawyer to stop using electrical shocks to punish kids in his Sunday morning Bible class.
Sawyer convinced Wymer to stop the shock treatment by reminding him that he would be charged with manslaughter if one of the kids had a heart attack from the shocks, which were provided by a stool hooked up to a 12-volt car battery.
Wymer said the 'shock stool' allowed him to teach the kids that to ignore the word of God could bring bad repercussions.
'I tell them God speaks to us, and sometimes we don't listen,' the 36-year-old pastor told the Grand Rapids Press at the time. 'God tells us to do something or suffer the consequences. When we don't do it, zap.'
Children as young as 7-years-old were being shocked by the stool.
The story made national news, appearing in publications like this one in Nevada.
Most local religious leaders agreed with the Prosecutor and agreed with the decision to end the practice.
'This is a most bizarre teaching method,' said the Rev. Louis Stasker of St. Andrews Cathedral. 'The gospel is about God's love, not pain.'
But the minister had his supporters as well.
The Reverend David Wood of Heritage Bible Baptist said the whole thing was too much concern about too little.
'I believe that this particular story, like other stories of its nature, has been taken out of context almost in a purposeful manner by media leaders to discredit leaders in evangelical circles,' he said.
At any rate, the fabled Weekly World News, the most wacked tabloid of its time picked up on the story and gave it massive coverage in its August 1981 issue, right above an equally shocking story at that time, that women drivers were better than men.
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