A video of a pastor who says he punched a teen in the chest to bring him to God is going viral this weekend. Though the clip was posted in mid-December, it’s getting a lot of attention now, suddenly shooting up to 300k views. This may be due to the attention it’s had from popular atheist blogger Hemant Mehta — The Friendly Atheist.
In the clip, the pastor talks about being a youth pastor and dealing with a kid who kept “trying to push [the pastor’s] buttons” and “not taking the Lord seriously.” His solution, he says, was to walk up to the teen, punch him in the chest, and then lean over him to talk about God.
“I punched him in the chest as hard as I — I crumpled the kid.”
While he says this took place years ago — and almost everyone can name a time when they carried out their job in a less-than-appropriate way — what’s particularly striking about this sermon is that the pastor appears to still be proud that he punched a teen in the chest, and still seems to think this was the best way to go about converting the teen to Christianity.
The clip ends with the pastor saying, “There’s times when that might be needed.”
Here’s the clip.
The Christian Nightmares Tumblr has tentatively identified the pastor in the clip as Eric Dammann, of Bible Baptist Church in New Jersey. However, at this point, the church has neither confirmed it nor responded to requests for further information.
Though Bible Baptist shares sermon videos on their site, a link that once reportedly went to the sermon in which the pastor says he punched a teen now returns a page saying the video has been deleted.
Comments have also been disabled on the videos (more than 300 of them) that remain, but that’s not the case on the church’s Facebook page, where commenters are calling the church out for “conversion by violence,” child abuse, and a cover-up scheme.
“So ‘conversion by violence’ is an acceptable method used by the Bible Baptist Church?”
You have an admitted child abuser in your Church who is bragging about it to the congregation. How come no one in your organization is doing anything about it?”
“If BBChurch honestly believed that there was nothing untoward about pastor Eric Dammann’s statements, then why did they hide / delete the original Vimeo video? One can only gather that the church is now scrambling to contain this, despite it being something now uncontainable.”
“I’m guessing you’ll say that this is taken out of context, in what context is it ok to punch a minor?”
There are also several comments accusing the church of deleting comments, as well as mentions of the video’s deletion.
It’s not clear whether the pastor really punched a teen to convert him to Christianity, or if he’s just telling a story. Either way, the shocking clip appears to promote this type of conversion, and it’s drawing attention. If the church responds to requests for information, this story will be updated.