The Chicago Sun-Timesl reports:
The recently fired pastor of a Hammond megachurch will plead guilty to taking a minor across state lines for sexual activity, federal prosecutors in Indiana said Tuesday.
Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, was fired in August because he allegedly had a relationship with a 17-year-old girl. The church initially said its deacon board fired Schaap because he committed a “sin.”
The church has said the 17-year-old girl and her family are members of First Baptist, which was one of the first megachurches in the country. The church has a congregation of more than 15,000.
Schaap, 54, of Dyer, is scheduled to have his initial appearance Wednesday afternoon before U.S. Judge Paul Cherry in federal court in Hammond.
Church officials said in August that they didn’t believe any crime had occurred but that they had turned the case over to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff’s office and the FBI investigated the case.
Schaap graduated from Hyles-Anderson Bible College, which is associated with First Baptist, and married Cynthia Hyles, daughter of First Baptist founder Jack Hyles.
Church leaders have said Schaap has been spending time since leaving the church with his wife, as the two try to save their marriage.
I predict that the tune will now enter again the old refrain of “can’t we just forgive, forget, and not talk about this anymore?” It’s the same old song just louder and worse.
Let me take this opportunity to repeat myself from a previous piece I wrote about Bob Jones University which is equally applicable to their crazy cousins over at Hyles-Anderson.
The great stratagem is thus to continually change the terms of the debate until you prove that you are right on some solitary point. Once you have done this then claim that the point on which you are standing is the only one that matters and no other arguments can possibly count.
Has there been a moral failing? Point out that the people involved were legally correct.
Was what was done illegal? Appeal to some higher, biblical authority and decry the corruption of the legal system.
Was the action indefensibly immoral, illegal, and unbiblical? Then use your eternal trump card and claim that to focus on it would be a distraction from The Gospel and that nothing can possibly be more important than seeing souls saved.
And do all of the above while endlessly touting your own innocence and integrity and relentlessly denigrating the character and motives of your accusers. But whatever you do, don’t say you were wrong. Don’t apologize. Don’t make restitution. Don’t for a second doubt that you are right simply by being.
For no matter how many court rulings and media stories and witnesses and blogs and protestors rise up against you, you can be confident that you have never been wrong. This is your birthright. This is your heritage. This is the sacred trust passed down from father to son for generations: the gift of being always and forever right.
At the Wednesday service of FBC Hammond’s Youth Conference 2010, Jack Schaap gave his signature sermon “A Polished Shaft.” Then he proceeded to demonstrate exactly how to…polish a shaft.
And still we are to believe that nobody there had any clue that this guy might have some strange sexual proclivities? I suppose none are so blind as those who will not see.
Through the last few years, SFL has generally taken a light-hearted approach to the issues surrounding fundamentalism and hopefully we’ll get back to that satiric dialog and gentle mockery within a few days. However, as the saga continues to unfold at FBC Hammond it continues to demonstrate and validate things that have been discussed on this site and others in a very real way.
For starters, David Gibbs and the CLA immediately became involved giving the lie to the idea that the CLA’s main focus is on being “legal missionaries” to help churches who are being oppressed by the forces of liberalism. Although there is demonstrably no persecution of the church here (because the harm was done by the church itself) yet the CLA still shows up to provide legal counsel. Part of this counsel has reportedly been to have the church staff start calling up people who had previously made allegations against Schaap in hopes that showing them concern now will keep them from suing the church. There is no doubt in my mind that the CLA continues to serve as the “fixers” of fundamentalism.
Part of this role as “fixers” at Hammond now involves conducting an internal investigation with all the unbridled energy of men building their own gallows. As the video above demonstrates, the internal investigation itself is more than a little troubling since church members are being told to contact in-house counsel with their concerns and information instead of being told to take that information directly to the police. In some other place with some other people that might not seem to ominous but with a group of people who from the outset have been less than truthful about this situation it smacks of trying to control what facts get out and who is told what. If you’re a member of FBC Hammond or a student at Hyles Anderson University, I’d strongly advise you to talk to the police first and talk to David Gibbs as little as humanly possible.
Although they are claiming to make “transparency” their watchword right now, truth certainly does not seem to be of much concern to the folks at FBC Hammond. First the church was told by Eddy Lapina that Schaap was sick and on medical leave. He apparently said this from the pulpit with a straight face even while he must have known by that point what the real reason for Schaap’s sudden departure was. Once the story broke, however, what does the church do but put the man who just lied to them all in place as interim pastor. Of course they did. Why wouldn’t they? If history is any judge then being able to lie well is practically in the job description.
I’m sure there’s much more to follow on this story as it unfolds and I don’t intend to make this venue a place to report on every gory detail (that’s what Facebook is for!) but it is rather validating to see the corruption of Hyles writ large upon this place through these events. It’s validating, and more than a little sad.