Pilgrims Covenant Church (Ralph Ovadal)

A fundamentalist Baptist Church led by a pastor who has been arrested over 100 times for his anti-abortion activities

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Independent Fundamental Baptist
Founder: Ralph Ovadal
Founded: 1986
Location: Monroe, Wisconsin, United States
Website: pilgrimscovenant.com

Pilgrims Covenant Church (PCC), located in Monroe, Wisconsin, stands out as an independent, reformed Baptist church, embodying the fundamentals of doctrine while upholding a biblical form of governance. The church has a strong focus on sound doctrine and practice, emphasizing the sharing of the gospel both locally and internationally. This commitment extends to supporting missionary activities, including evangelism, church planting, and running an orphanage in Nepal​​.

The church is led by Pastor Ralph Ovadal, a figure known for his controversial views and activities. Ovadal has been a vocal opponent of modern Bible translations, the Roman Catholic Church, homosexuality, and abortion. He has made claims that the pope is the “antichrist” and suggests a plot exists to turn Protestant America into a Roman Catholic country, among other contentious assertions.

Ovadal’s vigorous public actions have frequently resulted in legal confrontations. Between 1988 and 1992, he was arrested approximately 120 times for non-violent intervention at abortion clinics, such as blocking entrances. These arrests led to the loss of his driver’s license for ten years and significant time in jail. He has also faced legal challenges due to his protests against nudity, particularly at Mazo Beach, a legal nude beach in Wisconsin. In August 2000, he was convicted of disorderly conduct for an incident at this beach, and he faced similar charges again in 2002. Members have also found themselves in court over actions taken during protests or for refusing to comply with laws that they believe conflict with their religious beliefs.

One of the more notable aspects of PCC’s doctrine is its strict adherence to the King James Bible, asserting that modern English Bible versions are corrupted due to faulty translation techniques and the use of the Alexandrian, or Critical, Text. The church promotes the doctrines taught by the Apostles and central to the Protestant Reformation, such as justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. PCC explicitly rejects neo-evangelicalism, ecumenism, charismaticism, antinomianism, and Romanism, holding firm to the belief that the pope embodies the figure of the Antichrist as described in biblical prophecy​​.

In terms of worship, PCC adheres to the use of traditional hymns and Psalms, distancing itself from contemporary Christian music and rap, which it deems unscriptural and dishonoring to the Lord. The church also advocates for Christian education, encouraging the schooling of children in Christian settings or through homeschooling​​.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a body that monitors hate groups across the U.S., has classified Pilgrims Covenant Church as an anti-LGBT hate group. This designation stems from the church’s publications, activities, and Ovadal’s public statements, which have been interpreted as maligning an entire class of people based on immutable characteristics.

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