FBC Hammond More Unified Than Ever After Schaap Debacle

"But the church is actually more unified today than it ever has been…" 

Eddie Wilson, FBC Hammond Public Relations Director


Two weeks ago First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana was rocked to its core when Pastor Jack Schaap admitted to having a sexual relationship  with a young teenage girl.  We covered this breaking story with a post entitled: IFB Megapastor Jack Schaap Fired for 'Inappropriate Relationship' with a Teen.  We followed up that post with Ousted Pastor Jack Shaap's Misogynistic Flap, which generated much discussion.

The Christian Post just conducted an interview with FBC Hammond's spokesman, Eddie Wilson, who indicated that the church is more united than ever in the wake of Schaap's dismissal.  Wilson indicated that investigations are continuing, but that the decisive action the church took in firing Schaap has allowed the church to unite in an effort to move forward.  Here is an excerpt from that article:

"People are very pleased at how fast our deacon board acted in the dismissal of our former pastor. Seems like that has helped them, the fact that they made the right choice and they are very open," said Eddie Wilson, spokesperson and public relations director, to CP in a phone interview on Monday.

Last week, the church's board of deacons revealed that Schaap, 54, had admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a school girl who is currently 17. The girl, however, would have been just 16 years old when the inappropriate relationship began. Schaap had led the 15,000-member congregation for the past 11 years, and has not yet made a public comment since the FBI launched an investigation into his relationship."

Wilson further stated:

"The investigation is still open, and they are saying that he could be charged at any time, but there are no new findings. We speak to the local authorities just about every day, just to find out what's being done," Wilson added, revealing that the church has little information on Schaap's current whereabouts, though they believe he is out of state."

Members of this megachurch, which is 125 years old, are not 'doom and gloom'.  Instead, there is unity, commitment, and hope among the parishioners at FBC Hammond. 

What have we learned from this horrible situation?

– In 21st century Christendom, congregations face world-wide scrutiny via the internet.  If a pastor commits a sexual sin (or other kinds), it will in all likelihood go viral.  There is no where to hide…

– Dealing with pastoral sin swiftly is crucial for the stability of the church.

– Hyper-authoritarian pastors are looking more and more foolish, especially when their diatribes are uploaded on YouTube.  Take a look…

Trigger Alert
This video is rather explicit. Keep in mind it was delivered at a youth conference.

What other lessons have we learned from the First Baptist Church of Hammond debacle?  We would love for you to weigh in. 

Lydia's Corner:  Genesis 26:17-27:46   Matthew 9:1-17   Psalm 10:16-18   Proverbs 3:9-10


FBC Hammond More Unified Than Ever After Schaap Debacle — 49 Comments

  1. I agree with the comments left by Julie Busby at the ChristianPost article.

    I will add that the Hammond cult has no future and no ability to reform. As Jeri Massi pointed out, they fully intended to cover up this when they first announced that Schaap was being placed on “medical leave.” Now they’re having David Gibbs try and prevent other possible victims from speaking to the police or FBI. They’ll just cover up their sins until the very end.

  2. "Stop this" the church is not a cult, I was a bus kid there at the church I grew up in Chicago. This church has been there for me ever since I was five and I am now 41. Harp on the Catholics they hide the sex offenders and move them to another parish but not us; the church exposed Jack Schaap and turned him over to the police and FBI. How about all the good first baptist has done lets talk about that ya if your getting mad reading this that's fine. And by the way lets expose every thing you have done wrong. Thank God that my God has mercy, and maybe you should to I don't know about you but I'm not perfect and I will admit that but if you were really honest with yourself your not perfect to. And please don't believe everything you hear.

  3. I showed this clip to my husband and he said he couldn’t believe that lightning hadn’t hit the pulpit.


    How in the name of God could people sit there and just watch that?

  4. Somewhat related observation that’s only reinforced by this. Warning – rant coming.

    The Christians I know are TERRIBLE at acknowledging the legal implications of the age of consent. I know one mother who was actually having a serious debate about whether to let her 14-year-old daughter date an 18-year-old guy at their church. I know one 18-year-old girl (but only just 18) who just got engaged to a 38-year-old divorcee with a 12-year-old daughter. And my friend (19) insists (over and against all statutes) that there was nothing wrong with him dating a 15-year-old earlier this year.

    Here’s the problem. Age of consent in CT is 16, but there are still legal complications until 18 if the other party is more than two years older. Basically, if a 17-year-old girl is dating a 20-year-old guy and it goes south, there are still situations where he can get in serious trouble. Thus, at our house, in the interest of keeping our legal noses clean, it’s pretty much an absolute rule that nobody dates anybody until 16 (and after that, only within the two-year range).

    Now the first response to this is always “Well, everyone matures differently. A 15-year-old might be mature enough to date.” Now emotionally, that may be true, but we’re not talking emotions here, we’re talking LAW. The law doesn’t care how mature you are in cases like this. And besides, if you really are that mature, shouldn’t you be able to wait a few months for your next birthday? Patience and self-control and all that jazz?

    This is always followed by the second response of “We don’t have to worry about it, they’re Christians so nothing will happen.” Besides the fact that this is extremely naive, as well as statistically disproven by the huge percentage of people who break their purity vows – sometimes it doesn’t take full-blown sex to get you in trouble with the age of consent. Plenty of the steps leading up to sex could get you in some pretty hot legal water if the other person was truly underage.

    And what kills me the most is that the guys (and their parents) just don’t seem to understand that if they screw up here, they could end up on the sex offender registry FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. They will be those people that make potential homebuyers go to another neighborhood simply because they live there (because, as was pointed out in another thread, the sex offender registry doesn’t distinguish between a 20-year-old who slept with his 17-year-old girlfriend and a serial child rapist; and most people don’t look any further, they just see “sex offender” and head for the hills). It’s a perfect example of a single bad decision haunting you forever. And they simply refuse to acknowledge it, because they’re just too smitten and impatient. They have no idea the danger they’re putting themselves in.

    I’m sure the rampant focus on “Biblical” patriarchy doesn’t help this either. I mean, when girls got married off at 12 to the local warlord and Mary was probably only about 14 when she had Jesus, how bad can 16 be, right?

    Note: I am NOT saying that teenage boys who date too young are the same as Jack Schaap. Jack Schaap is an adulterer and a creep.

  5. Robertannie,

    Thanks for your comment.  I am glad that your church has been a blessing in your life; however, I cannot overlook the fact that Jack Schaap has corrupted a young teenager. 

  6. Hester,

    You have given us a lot to think about.  I’m counting my blessings that my older daughter didn’t start dating until she was 21.   My 20 year old daughter hasn’t started dating yet.  Both are making wise choices.  🙂

  7. I’m glad they ejected him and disavowed any support. My heart goes out to that girl and her family, and any others he hurt.

    That youtube was crazy. My kids are in the next room so I had the volume on low. What what on earth was he doing there? How did they tolerate this guy for so long?

  8. Oh my… Hester, you’d be appalled at the church I grew up at. ‘Age of consent’ was something I never heard of. It was never talked about. My youth group ranged from 9th graders to singles in their early 30s. There were a lot of older guys dating (and flirting with) teenaged girls – one in his 20s got a 16 year old girl pregnant. I myself dated a guy in his mid-20s when I was only 16 for over a year (thankfully a good guy who didn’t pressure me to try anything). There was one man in particular, early 30s, who would flirt with girls as young as 14 – and they would flirt right back. It’s just how it always was. Lots of married couples with big age gaps are the result.

    Since then, I believe they’ve separated the high school youth group from the adult singles, but I just can’t believe, looking back, that no one had the wisdom to see the need for that back then.

  9. Calvinista Church Member,

    CRAZY is right!  Here is some info I found on the Stuff Fundles Like website. 

    “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.”

    So this perverted behavior was witnessed two years ago at a church youth conference? The Stuff Fundies Like post has hundreds of comments, which I may peruse later.

  10. Jan said: “My youth group ranged from 9th graders to singles in their early 30s. ”

    Wait. What?! This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard in my life, though it doesn’t surprise me. Who in their right mind would organize a group that included teenagers and adults as a “youth group.” Huge potential for all kinds of abuse there from the adult men and women.

  11. Oh, Jan, my above comment was not aimed at you, but at the ridiculousness of the situation from your former church. 🙂

  12. NMP, no worries, I know what you meant. 🙂

    I had no idea, at that age, how dangerous it truly was… but now that I am married with kids I just look back and shake my head and wonder, how was this acceptable?

  13. I still think that church looks like a converted Wal-Mart pretending to be a Little Colonial Country Church.

  14. So this perverted behavior was witnessed two years ago at a church youth conference? — Deb

    Including by the hand-picked deacons (dressed in white just like Comrade Dear Leader who hand-picked them) giving the “AMENs” just like at Rev Leroy’s Church of What’s Happening Now.

    “All animals are Equal. But some are more Equal than others.” — Comrade Napoleon, Animal Farm

    And a “Man-o-GAWD” (SFL term) is the Most Equal of All.

  15. Thanks, everyone, for not jumping down my throat! You have no idea how upset some people get when I say what I just said about this topic. And Jan, sounds like the seeds of criminal activity going on in that “youth group”!

    I don’t know how people don’t understand this. Sexual activity with someone under the age of consent is a CRIME. C-R-I-M-E. Meaning, AGAINST THE LAW. Christians are called to obey and respect not only God’s law, but the laws of the country they live in. We harp on our kids that they should follow God’s rules for their sex lives. Why not the state’s, too? It’s just as Biblical.

    Also the self-control issues I brought up in my first comment. Many parents say it would be unfair to require their kids to wait to start dating when “they’re in love” (note: teenage infatuation is rarely “love”). But they seem to think it’s fair to make them wait to have sex, save up for a bike, and go to Disneyworld in July instead of February when they first got the idea. Sometimes you just have to wait for the good things in life. And sure it’s hard! That’s why patience is a virtue and self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit.

  16. Also, per the idea that the age of consent is an artificial cutoff invented by squeamish modernists who don’t want kids to grow up: it’s always been fairly rare (in America, at least) for girls to marry before age 16. I’ve done genealogy for years so I see this firsthand in old records all the time. I have to go now but when I get back I will post some links to stories about Joseph Smith’s 14-year-old wife. People were disturbed by it even back then and that was a cult situation.

  17. Ok, seriously. That gesture was not what it looked like. He is “polishing.” As bad as it looks with the clip without a whole lot of context, it looks a lot worse than it actually is. His vocal inflection and facial expression sure don’t help any though. I find the way he goes from whisper to shout in half a second quite abrasive. However, I will admit that his little performance may have been the gestural equivalent of a Freudian slip. But listen to what he is saying: God is polishing those who yield to him. Not the worst message you could get from the IFB. I’ll grant, though, that anybody using such an awkward gesture to illustrate this idea is either severely limited in creativity, or trying to drop a hint that something isn’t quite right upstairs.

  18. Thanks Miguel. I’ve tried to watch the clip but just couldn’t do it. The whisper/shout thing made it impossible for me to figure out what the heck he was trying to say. What you’ve said makes some sense of it – and I’m voting that something isn’t quite right upstairs.

  19. In some cases, I think God might use the “laws of the land” (i.e. age of consent laws) to keep us physically and emotionally safe from ourselves. Many young women died in childbirth. Safe (safe is debatable) birth control is a modern invention.

    There was a time when girls were married off at a young age — too young — for various reasons. I don’t know that many of the reasons were honorable or had to do with Godly virtues. Even today, when women are physically larger and healthier, young women (under 18) are in the “high risk” category for complications during pregnancy and childbirth. It was not that long ago that children were a commodity. The fate if the child was determined by whether they could bring more wealth and prestige to the family by staying, or leaving, the family.

    I think it is wise to have an age of consent, as well as laws for age of consent for marriage.

  20. Nicholas–

    After having spent some time over at Stuff Fundies Like, I’m almost in total agreement with you. Almost… Just because I don’t have exact knowledge of all IFB churches, but you see what I’m saying. I agree.


    I am a little afraid to look at that video of him polishing a shaft. I am floored.

  21. As promised, here are the links about Joseph Smith’s 14-year-old wife, Helen Kimball (w/pertinent excerpts):


    “The next morning Joseph visited the Kimball home. ‘[He explained] the principle of Celestial marriage…After which he said to me, “If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation and that of your father’s household and all of your kindred.” The promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward.'”

    (Not that he was above using his power and influence to get what he wanted or anything.)


    “There is no documentation to support the idea that marriage at fourteen was ‘approaching eligibility.’ … American women began to marry in their late teens; around different parts of the United States the average age of marriage varied from nineteen to twenty-three.

    In the United States the average age of menarche (first menstruation) dropped from 16.5 in 1840 to 12.9 in 1950. … The mean age of first marriages in colonial America was between 19.8 years to 23.7, most women were married during the age period of peak fecundity (fertility).

    The psychological sexual maturity of Helen Mar Kimball in today’s average age of menarche (first menstruation) would put her psychological age of sexual maturity at the time of the marriage to Joseph Smith at 9.1 years old.”

  22. Trina,

    Here’s what I’d like to ask Jack Schaap:

    “Why were you polishing a shaft in the first place?  Couldn’t you have chosen another object with a different shape?  Heck, you can even polish concrete! ” 

    That kind of demonstration would have looked much different… My guess is that Schaap doesn’t have much experience with the hard work of polishing.

  23. Sex with someone incapable of consent is RAPE. That includes those younger than the age of consent, those who are mentally incapable of understanding what the sex act really is, those with dementia or severe retardation. It can include those who are physically unable to resist and express alarm, including the elderly.

  24. Hester

    There is a movement to get kid “married off” in many of the Calvinista churches. My former church had a pastor who said it was his desire to see the married student dorms  become the predominant dorm on campus. His reason: Mary was betrothed when she was 14 so it is the biblical thing to do.

  25. Deb –

    Exactly! He could have been polishing a silver tray, a model car, a piece of jewelry, a table, a gun, his pulpit. How many people sit around and polish arrows to begin with — men, women, anybody?

    Maybe he needed a woman’s wisdom on this one 🙂

    Miguel –

    I always love what you bring to the conversation on blogs, but — Freudian slip?

  26. I don’t think it was a Freudian slip – I think he thought it a clever double entendre. Weirdo.

  27. Deb – let’s not forget that anyone 20 feet back would have a hard time seeing what was in his hands so all they would see are the hand movements. The choice of object seemed intentional to me.

  28. Deb – I know – I did a blog post on this ridiculous video and had to change my wording a number of times because of all the double meanings. I could get myself in trouble really quickly – or else get quite the reputation. 😉

  29. You know how these bozo pastors like to “project” (psych term)?

    I have a hunch that his next sermon/teaching to the youth was on “Purity”. Sure, let’s model to the kids how to masturbate and then give them a sermon on remaining pure. It would cause them to feel guilty immediately for having thought “those” thoughts about the previous Polishing Shaft talk.

  30. @ Dee:

    “My former church had a pastor who said it was his desire to see the married student dorms become the predominant dorm on campus. His reason: Mary was betrothed when she was 14 so it is the biblical thing to do.”

    That pastor should have been fired. No questions asked. If he really did advocate 14-year-olds getting married (i.e., having sex), he was advocating breaking the law. I would also wonder if he could be charged as some kind of accomplice to risk of injury to a minor if he ever did officiate the marriage ceremony of a 14-year-old.

  31. Addendum @ Dee:

    “There is a movement to get kids ‘married off’ in many of the Calvinista churches.”

    Which is just more evidence of the undeniable march of patriarchy into mainstream evangelicalism. There is some wacky, wacky crap in the courtship camp. For instance, this story from my area.

    The son of family X and daughter of family Y start courting and decide to get married. Neither of them, to my knowledge, have jobs or a degree, neither has graduated high school and both are about 16. Instead of telling them to wait until they can start building their own life, the X family converts their woodshed into a bedroom and allows the (unemployed) newlyweds to move in there. They eat and use the bathroom in the main house. What happens when the happy couple has their first child (usually happens pretty quickly in these circles)? No clue. And these are the same people who pontificate about the evils of the welfare state.

  32. Deb, “Schaap” apparently rhymes with “Stop!!!!” Wish they just would. The parishioners OUGHT to be “doom and gloom”, and questioning what it is they’ve been supporting these last 50 years. If their predominant attitudes are “unity, commitment, and hope” the deacons will likely just install another one, just like the other one, and the other one before him.

  33. When they say they are more unified than ever it is nothing but a PR ploy. The powers to be are so afraid they are going to lose people=money and power over these people. I just do not get it!

  34. @Miguel
    Ok, seriously. That gesture was not what it looked like. He is “polishing.” As bad as it looks with the clip without a whole lot of context, it looks a lot worse than it actually is

    OK. Maybe so. But then where were the deacons/elders with a spine to tell him how this would come off to anyone watching the video. Surely in a church of over 10K there was someone who knew how this was going to look.

  35. I must admit, I found the clip baffling rather than outrageous, but it still gave me the impression he was using the sexual act between two people as a metaphor, which at best is open to all sorts of horrible misunderstandings.

    Re the age of consent, it is true that centuries ago (in the Middle Ages, perhaps) girls were married off quite young, especially if they were part of a diplomatic agreement (cementing an alliance, making peace, etc) but I’m not sure that necessarily meant that they would have been having conjugal relations with the spouse immediately.

    I did think of a disturbing parallel though and that was with David “Mo” Berg’s Children Of God sect. One of his pamphlets was I believe put out questioning how old Adam and Eve were when God married them. The group has since taken a lot of hits for allegations about child abuse.

    At my own church it was always the rule that different ages of youth were in different age groups: 11-14, 14-18, and above, etc. It does save a lot of problems – plus people in those age brackets change so much within a few years that a 14 year-old isn’t going to have anything like the same outlook at a 25 year-old (IMO anyway). I was at one church where teens did mix in a group with early twenties, and while there wasn’t any scandal I think it did hold some of the older members back a bit.

  36. @ Kolya:

    Yes, in the Middle Ages that was done frequently. I imagine it was more common in the aristocracy, where marriages were more about money and position than anything else. Probably many of the earlier marriage ages in those times were due to an overall shorter life expectancy, i.e. you had to reproduce as soon as possible if you wanted to reproduce at all.

    I’ve never heard of the Children of God sect. Who were they?

  37. A couple of things–when I was a Christian high school teacher in my early 20s, I was encouraged to attend a “youth group” that had an age range of 7th grade to early 30s. It was the only ministry in the church for single adults. They were not allowed in other adult groups which were only for married people. I refused to attend a group with my own students.

    Also as a young teacher in a Christian school, I was given a book to read about the “ideal Christian school”. It included the idea that high school students would be allowed to attend even if married because parents should encourage their young teens to marry as soon as possible, let them live with one set of parents and finish high school. The reason: it would be the best possible way to prevent them from having premarital sex. Far easier to have them get married than teach them the value of abstinence.

    There is a lot of complete insanity in Evangelical circles.

  38. Hi Hester & everyone,

    I’m sure some of you will remember the “Children of God”, but they’re apparently now known as “Family International”. For more information:


    It pays reading this article as you may notice certain interesting similarities between the situation being discussed here and David Berg’s ideas, although I do not think Jack Schaap ever regarded himself as a “spirit guide”.

  39. The video speaks for itself.If this did not wake up the deacons or pew sitters then nothing would.

  40. Bill – you’re right. Either they are so used to this kind of thing and so it is “normal” or they are kool-aid drunk zombies whose critical thinking muscles are paralyzed.

  41. They knew what he was simulating and so would anybody with a brain larger than a split pea. The chosen few with the white jackets are as big of a joke as this so-called man of God is.