Thursday, September 20, 2012

Former IFB pastor Jack Schaap pleads guilty in federal court on sexual abuse charges

Jack Schaap former megachurch pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, and unofficial head of a major branch of the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement plead guilty to federal charges for sexually abusing a 16 year old follower of the church (and student of the church's Hyles-Anderson College), read more about the plea deal in this article from CBS 2 Chicago.

He was fired in disgrace by his congregation this summer after the allegations came to light, the Indepedent Baptist movement that he was a major leader in (along with his late father in law, Jack Hyles) is so extreme right that even most Evangelical/mainstream fundamentalist churches tend to keep their distance from it.
In this group, married women are not allowed to work (outside of ministry or a family business), and having many children is seen as a sign of God's blessing. Schaap stirred up controversy several years ago by telling a reporter after a critical 20/20 special came out on the movement and rampant sexual abuse within it that "it would be a cold day in hell before I would get my theology from a woman" and "the reason your (the reporter's) sorry soul is going to hell is because a woman told Adam what God thought of things".
Look up "Jack Schaap, sexist preacher" on Youtube for the video of him repeating these statements personally in a sermon.

I have personal experience with this movement, which some go as far as to label as a "cult". From kindergarten to 5th grade I was part of a St. Louis area school ran by a IFB church. The pastor and his wife who owned and ran the church/school were both graduates of First Baptist Hammond's Hyles-Anderson college, and I was home schooled from 5th-12 th grade using the A.C.E curriculum that many IFB schools use. (If you really want an eye-opener, read one of my favorite blogs, Leaving Fundamentalism by blogger and musician Jonny Scarmanga, who was raised up with A.C.E, and has made it his mission to expose the extremism that it teaches to students.) My sister graduated from Hyles as well, and was part of First Baptist Hammond (Schaap's church) until about 3 years ago.

Whenever I would visit my sister as a teen, inevitably I would end up attending church with her there at FBC Hammond it was like stepping into a different world entirely. Even though the curriculum I was raised up with came from the IFB movement, I attended primarily Southern Baptist churches, even as fundamentalist as that denomination is, they seem mild compared to the IFB's.

Imagine walking in, and everyone is dressed, well, like Mormon missionaries, men are in suits or buttoned shirt with tie, women are wearing dresses well past the knees, and most families have plenty of children they are bringing along. I remember if was a regular occurrence for young couples to tell my sister and brother-in-law that they just had their sixth child. No, you're not reading a typo, I said 6 children, and they talked about it as if it were just another day in paradise. I remember a sermon where the pastor ( the infamous Jack Schaap)actually told his followers that if they had the finances to get a loan for a new car, they shouldn't get the new car, but take out a loan and give the money to the church, that's right, go into debt to donate to the church, and deprive themselves of what could be a very much needed car. The hilarious hypocrisy in that is when I left, and my mother pointed out a brand new 4 door Cadillac that would have easily sold for $30,000 (in the early 2000's), and when questioned about it, my sister and brother in law admitted that it was in fact the pastor's car, and that the church/Hyles Anderson security staff made sure to check on it on their patrols to make sure no one tried to steal it or damage it.

I remember another instance where I attended a  IFB denomination wide conference with my sister and brother in law, when the pastor who had converted my brother in law.when he was a teen in upstate New York. showed up and started talking to them. My sister introduces me, and immediately he starts questioning me about what church I go to when back home. I tell him the name, he questions further about it, and once he finds out it's a Southern Baptist church, he went ballistic. He turns to my sister and scolds her right there openly that it's her responsibility to make sure that I'm in a "Bible-believing" church. You see, as his statement implies, even other fundamentalist churches and denominations to the IFB movement are not "true Christianity". My sister looks shocked and embarrassed at his outburst not only at the boldness of it, but after all, even though she did help to raise me growing up, she is only my sister, she's not my mother. I didn't live with her, she didn't have custody of me, how was it "her responsibility" to force me to become part of their denomination?

Needless to say, going there was like descending into an alternate reality, where women were second class citizens who had to have many children and the stress that goes along with raising them, and all other Christians were not "Bible believing". Also, association with people who did not consider themselves Christian was highly discouraged, to say the least. This kind of forced isolation is most of what caused the "cult" label passed onto it by many conservative groups.

At least my sister is no longer part of this organization, she has since joined a Southern Baptist church that her and her kids are happy with, at least she is no longer in this group, but it's a rather scary group still, with a lot of influence in some areas of the country. FBC Hammond is 6,000 strong, in their English speaking services only, Spanish services are over 3,000 people, their buses run for about a 50 mile radius around, and they have affiliate churches all over the United States, and even Canada, I have heard, plus missions in many countries. The FBC Hammond branch is also not the only branch of the movement, I keep calling it a movement, because it is not an organization denomination. There is no board, council or organization guiding the group, it draws it's inspiration and organization from several different headquarters churches. FBC Hammond is one, but Bob Jones University and the minister Bill Gothard and his organization "Vision Forum" are two other branches. Their reach goes far, don't let people around you become part of it without you speaking up. Their extremism is something to be wary of.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No spam, proselytizing, or personal attacks, such comments will never see the light of day around here.

Disagreeing with me is fine (I encourage it), but have some decency when writing your comment