I wasn’t going to talk about growing up fundie just yet. But I can’t let this day go without addressing the latest. This is a big one. IFBxers(Independent Fundamental Baptist extremists) joke that First Baptist Church of Hammond and its college, Hyles-Anderson, is their Mecca. Mecca is going down in flames. Jack Hyles, Schaap's father-in-law, is the most recognized name in IFBdom. Jack Schaap himself is well-known. And this is far from the first time that sexual scandal has touched this family and church.
Hammond Megachurch Leader Removed From Pulpit As Authorities Investigate His Relationship With Teenage Girl
The First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind. fired its pastor, Jack Schaap, Tuesday for committing “a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor.” In a press release, First Baptist said they’re in “full cooperation with local authorities in their investigation of this matter.” It doesn’t take a mind-reader to figure out exactly what was the nature of the sin.
According to the Times of Northwest Indiana, Schaap admitted to having an extramarital affair with a member of his 15,000-strong congregation. Lake County (Ind.) Sheriff’s authorities and the FBI are trying to determine if the female in question was 16 at the time Schaap initiated the relationship. Times of Northwest Indiana columnist Mark Kiesling reports that the girl was transported to a Cook County Forest Preserve and Michigan for interludes with Schaap, which would explain the FBI's involvement. Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said the investigation involves the church and Hyles-Anderson College, which it operates.
Church spokesman Eddie Wilson told the Times its deacon board made the decision to remove Schaap and that the relationship was a dismissible offense under the church’s bylaws.
Schaap is the son-in-law of First Baptist’s founder, Jack Hyles, who built the church into one of the largest in the country using a massive bus ministry that incorporated carnival antics with testimonials, targeting Chicago’s South and West sides: a program that exists to this day. In the mid-1970s Time magazine quoted First Baptist as having the “world’s largest Sunday school” and up to 14,000 people attended services weekly.
This is not the first time First Baptist has been involved in a sexual scandal. A 1997 lawsuit claimed that a 42-year-old woman who attended the church was raped and beaten multiple times between 1991 and 1996; Jack Hyles was named as a defendant because he failed to protect the woman.
Schaap has often been criticized for his misogynistic and sexist approach to Christianity. His teachings and writings have consistently referred to a relationship with God in a sexual context, with God being the male in the relationship and man the female in a “spiritual intercourse.” He’s also preached that God said that men must be the dominant partner in a marriage.
* Please note that while this article states “extramarital affair” and I don’t know why the church would have reacted as they did if intercourse had not occurred, so far, to my knowledge, no official statement has been made that intercourse did occur, just that Schaap had committed “a sin that caused him to forfeit the right to be our pastor”.
If social media (i.e. the internet rumor mill) is to be believed, like Tina Anderson (featured on 20/20- http://abc.go.com/watch/2020/SH559026/VD55121488/2020-48-victims-forced-confession ), this girl had been sexually abused in the past. Did that somehow make their rapists (see above*) rationalize their abuse, “The girl's already "dirty" so it's really okay? It's not like I'm taking their virginity?” I am a Christian who believes in purity before marriage but when your focus is on hymens not loving God so much you don’t want to do anything that would sadden Him, is this what you get? Damaged goods are fair game? Even if the law decides that this girl was of the age to consent , I was raised in this type of environment. You do what the man of God tells you to no matter what, so even if she "consented" it would still be rape in my book.
When I brought up the 20/20 show on IFB churches when it aired in April of 2011, IFB people said that it was sad such lies were being spread. But I knew they weren't lies. I attended a church where abuse was happening. When accusations were made and legal charges brought, we, the church members, were told it was an attack of the devil against the church. It was all lies. Support this poor man. I certainly wonder now if that man was innocent.
Will this newest revelation of abuse in IFB churches wake the members up? Schaap admitted to sin (though we don’t know conclusively what that was). Logic says that this cannot be shrugged off as "lies". But if you read the comments on the articles linked above, there are still poor people who think that this is an “attack of the devil”- “you are all a bunch of LIARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that is NOT NOT true!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All Pastor Schaap is trying to do is get all of you BIG mouths from going to hell!!!!!! Get your nose out of First Baptist Church's business and start worrying about where you will spend eternity!!! Pastor Schaap is a GREAT man of God!!!!!!” (by “Emma” on the cbslocal.com page).
His victims are more than the girl that he took advantage of. His family members are victims. I don’t know if they were surprised by this news or if they had suspected, but either way, they have been deeply harmed by his actions. The church members that he led are victims, lemmings that sat there and “amen-ed” as he told them with relish about the sex lives of their teenagers and equated the Lord’s Supper and the Holy Spirit’s abiding in believers with intercourse and never wondered “what is wrong with this man?”, the college students who left their homes and churches and paid money to attend the revered Hyles-Anderson College are victims. The thousands of IFB pastors and church members who looked up to this man as the son in law of Jack Hyles, the one who took up Jack Hyles’ mantle are victims. As one commenter reported, “This changes everything.” If you’ve been following this “great man of God” instead of a “great God” this does change everything. You find out that the world that you’ve been living in is all a lie.
Until 9:45, I’d agree with him and then suddenly it all falls to pieces. The Holy Spirit abiding in us is spiritual sex? Children should be sent to him for the birds and the bees talk? Purity rings?
I am sickened for the victim(s) and so saddened to see an icon of my childhood fall, though not surprised. When you set yourself up as a god, you can expect a great fall. I don’t think that Jack Schaap sat down one day and said, “I will be like the most high”- Isaiah 14:14, but I do believe that he thought of himself as a “great man of God”. He was trained to believe that the man of God is not to be questioned and continued to train others in this belief. After all, doncha know, God sent she-bears to eat the children that made fun of the man of God, Elisha- 2 Kings 2:23-24.
I want to applaud the deacons who did not try to hide this even though in recordings of interviews played on the networks, PR spokesperson, Eddie Wilson, said they did not believe any illegal activity occurred. Too many times these abuses have been hidden, people suddenly “called to another ministry”, rather than revealing the problem. Thank you, deacons, for doing the right thing.
“They conform on the exterior but they buckle on the interior.” Jack Schaap was right on the money there. And to myself I say, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12
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