Chicago Magazine Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church

Good read. Chicago magazine reporter Bryan Smith’s in-depth look at the culture of First Baptist Church of Hammond Indiana in Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church: 

Last September, Schaap, 54, a married father of two, pleaded guilty to taking a 16-year-old girl he was counseling at First Baptist across state lines to have sex. Denied bond, he awaits sentencing in the Porter County Jail; the minimum term is ten years.

But Schaap is not simply one of those rogue evangelists who thunders against the evils of forbidden sex while indulging in it himself. According to dozens of current and former church members, religion experts, and historians interviewed by Chicago—plus a review of thousands of pages of court documents—he is part of what some call a deeply embedded culture of misogyny and sexual and physical abuse at one of the nation’s largest churches. Multiple websites tracking the First Baptist Church of Hammond have identified more than a dozen men with ties to the church—many of whom graduated from its college, Hyles-Anderson, or its annual Pastors’ Schools—who fanned out around the country, preaching at their own churches and racking up a string of arrests and civil lawsuits, including physical abuse of minors, sexual molestation, and rape.

Smith gives a solid history of the troubled church,  weaving up to the present, giving voice to former members and victims of Hyles men who preyed on obedient, isolated and unquestioning congregants, while noting the number of predators who have been tied to this church.  He focuses on Schaap, the most recent disgraced leader, and at some the fallout from Schaaps arrest and guilty plea.

Walking into federal court last September for a hearing about his alleged sexual misdeeds with a minor, Jack Schaap smiled and looked relaxed. Wearing a gray blazer, a red patterned tie, and dark pants, clutching a Bible in his left hand, he stopped in front of the TV cameras and planted a long kiss on his wife, Cindy, 52.

Before the judge, if Schaap wasn’t exactly defiant, he was far from submissive. He said that he didn’t know he had broken “man’s law” but knew he had violated “God’s law.” With that, he entered a guilty plea—and was immediately escorted to Porter County Jail to await sentencing.

Back at First Baptist, prayers for “Brother Schaap” have been asked for and received. (Similar concern has yet to be expressed for his victim.) One of Schaap’s adult children, Kenneth, has mounted a letter-writing campaign to the judge.

Eddie Lapina, a Hyles-trained church fixture, is acting as interim pastor while a committee searches for Schaap’s replacement. Among his moves: announcing in October that fully a quarter of the church’s staff had been laid off.

Hyles-Anderson College appears to be struggling, too. About 1,000 students are currently enrolled, down from 2,700 in its heyday, according to admissions director Joe Peete, who gave a Chicago intern a tour of the premises in late October.

Meanwhile, the church’s lawyer, David Gibbs, has called for other victims to come forward with their stories. He promises that “there will be no cover-up. There will be nothing swept under any rug. . . . This is a moment when we need, as people of integrity, to be honest in all of this. So [authorities] have asked us to come in and conduct a thorough investigation. And it shall be done.”

Critics are skeptical. “They will no doubt tighten the reins some,” says Glover. “But all that needs to happen is for the right pastor to come along—i.e., a man with a strong, charismatic personality who is a leader—and boom! They are right back in the same trap.”

Media coverage of the years is mentioned, as well as books written by former members.

Smith generously includes comments by Jerri Massi of Blog on the Way. Jerri has tirelessly documented the IFB culture. The outstanding efforts of the Facebook group, Do Right Hyles-Anderson, populated with many former members who faced spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse in the Hyle kingdom, is also featured. The closed world of Independent Fundamental Baptists can no longer silence the voices of it’s abused. Leaders at First Baptist Church of Hammond chose not to be available for this article. Those who know the church expect leaders to come out swinging: shooting the messenger, demeaning those willing to go on record and discounting the damage done to so many lives.

Independent Fundamentalist Baptists rocked by dismissal and investigation of Jack Schaap
Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Pastor Jack Schaap enters guilty plea

Update: Schaap sentenced to 12 years in prison

Jack Schaap – Polished Shaft sermon

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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12 Responses to Chicago Magazine Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church

  1. highrpm says:

    what a sick f***.

  2. VanPastorMan says:

    Stories like this bother me because I don’t do terrible things like this and I can’t get people in the church to serve in different ministries. If these reprobates can get their people to do anything, then what is wrong with me that I can’t even get my people to serve?

  3. SP says:

    VanPastorMan, it is not up to you. It is up to them and God. Anything done to please you will wind up with them being burned out and resentful. That’s not the way it ought to be. Don’t guilt them into it. It’s not about you.

  4. Sherri T says:

    VanPastorMan, I am a product of First Baptist Church Hammond. Trust me, they get people to do anything because they are a cult. They scream, shout, shame, coerce, manipulate, berate — Jack Schaap even cursed out his staff at public meetings on numerous occasions. People fall into step and obey orders because they are afraid; they are on a treadmill — constantly trying to prove themselves worthy and good enough. Just love your people — love them, care about them, care for them, show them infinite compassion and grace, and praise them to success. If you take good care of them, they will take good care of you and that is infinitely better than “scaring them out of hell” by scaring the hell out of them, as happens at FBCH.

  5. There are several quotes on page 2 of this article that describes PBI to a T. “Hyles was a full-fledged, fire-breathing, stem-winding spellbinder, blessed with a booming preacher’s voice, a savant’s recall of the Bible, and a charisma that could almost magically levitate people from their seats to surrender their lives to the Savior.
    Outbursts of anger, an unwillingness to brook criticism, and a penchant for ironfisted control were also part of his repertoire.” (Just like L.E. Maxwell)

    “A seemingly endless list of rules—both written and unwritten—grew and multiplied. Men were to wear jackets and ties and close-cropped hair. Women were to wear skirts that covered the knee… Rock music was out, of course, as was any music with a syncopated beat. Even Southern gospel music was sick and sinful and of the devil.” (We certainly know there were rules, rules and more rules!)

    The Bible was to be interpreted literally and by Hyles (L.E. Maxwell) alone. According to his reading, men ruled absolutely. “The belief was that women needed to be in complete and total submission to their husbands and to male leadership…If a man did ‘stumble’—having an affair, say, or visiting prostitutes or abusing children—the question wasn’t how he could have but rather what the woman, or the child, did to drive him to such sin, some former church members say. They have a system where abusers and pedophiles can flourish, because you can’t challenge the men, opines one. You have to submit 100 percent of the time, and whenever anything goes wrong in a marriage, it’s because the woman didn’t do enough. (This mentality was definitely alive and well at PBI)

    Hyles (L.E. Maxwell), meanwhile, exerted extreme control over every aspect of his flock’s lives—control that members say they welcomed because they believed it was divinely inspired…One area he exerted particular control was child rearing. In this, his views were severe unto merciless. Using biblical passages as justification, Hyles preached that spanking was more than tolerable; it was a sacred duty. In his 1979 book How to Rear Infants, he wrote: ‘The parent who spanks his child keeps him from going to hell’…Spanking ‘should be deliberate and last at least ten or fifteen minutes,’ he continued. The blows ‘should be painful and should last . . . until the child is crying, not tears of anger but tears of a broken will.’ (Many staff parents literally relinquished their responsibility for raising their kids.)

    We read this article and are shocked and wonder how this could happen. The truth is it happened for decades at PBI. And we wonder why there was so much abuse, why so many people were scarred for life and now why so many are still afraid to come forward. Hyles, Schaap, and LE Maxwell – I really see no difference.

  6. hopesome says:

    I guess he’s what they call a DARK HEART with a dark mind walking alongside it leaving nothing but distortion and perversion in its wake

    The Destroyer : mesmerizes, lulls and then destroys human capacity and its ability to know what love really is as he leads us into his darkness ……………. Unless that spirit of darkness is taken then indeed A GREAT DARKNESS WILL COVER THE EARTH

    Lord have mercy – in this case – is what ………………….. well who perverts things and translates things into sickness ! the weakness of man – therefore take a good look at why you NEED love – need is always a weakness

  7. Jeri Massi says:

    Hi Bene,

    Many thanks for linking readers to this article. Anybody who wants ot now more about this epidemic of sexual abuse against children in Baptist and other Fundamentalist churches can visit my blog, where I have an index down the right hand side of the page of, sadly, about *80* abusers. I have also listed an index of churches and pastors who have defended, sheltered, and even assisted these abusers.

    Jeri Massi

  8. Bene D says:

    Schaap saw nothing wrong with his misogyny and vulgarity and had no use for media telling the truth.

  9. hopesome says:

    Bene thats the problem: They sit in a place of immunity where nothing seems to phase them out – Their divinity sits somewhere that protects them and renders them oblivious to their acts of depravity – Thats what scares me their total belief in redemption NO MATTER WHAT – with hells mantel on the rampage how can we be sure that redemption is ours unless of course they are hell and thats why they walk with such assurance – hell in the mantel of hope THE GREAT DECEPTION – what better way to trash Jesus’s true identity

  10. mark says:

    all of you have a ferverted mind about what is truth and wrong
    these preacher is just a person like us..the only different is he is a preacher..
    Wake up guys who is here is not committing sin in their entire life??tell me.,so don’t judge the person for the things that he did…he is not a perfect one..

  11. Jeri Massi says:

    Actually, the church *IS* commanded to expel those who profess Christ and yet commit gross sin. Misusing authority to have sex with a teenager is gross sin. Instead of telling people who believe the Bible what they should and should not do, how about if you go READ IT FIRST. And then comment.

  12. Brano says:

    BIZARRE comment mark:Scripture is very clear on conduct & behaviour of a pastor!
    If one can,t handle it…go dig ditches-leave!!!

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