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Our View: Pastor’s fall from grace wasn’t one isolated event

Updated: November 3, 2012 6:20AM



Some evil is simply wrong. Sometimes it’s also illegal.

The law is not mysterious. The law usually says what it means.

Thus we are perplexed how a massive spiritual entity such as the 15,000-member First Baptist Church of Hammond did not know that adults taking children across state lines for sex was a crime. It’s been a crime for more than a century.

When the leadership of the church fired pastor-in-chief the Rev. Jack Schaap last summer for that activity and turned his case over to police, they seemed puzzled about the law. At his sentencing, Schaap also expressed surprise that what he did was a crime.

They all know better now, but what gap in their civic education led them to miss the crime? Willful naiveté? Deliberate ignorance?

So Schaap is now sentenced to 10 years in prison after admitting the crime and taking a deal. It’s a gift to him. He could have gotten life.

The Internet is filled with videos of Schaap preaching loud, misogynistic rants demanding the Heaven-ordained subservience of women, the original “source of sin.” Schaap spent years lecturing his flock about their moral weakness. Good thing for him that arrogance and irony are not federal crimes.

Schaap’s fall from grace was not a single, isolated event. He had several such assignations, including one when he took the then-16-year-old girl across the border to Crete.

He was not only the girl’s pastor; he was her self-assigned counselor at the private school the church operates. He’s written books on proper dating. He married the daughter of the church’s founder.

The name of the church says Hammond, but First Baptist is a vast empire that draws worshipers from around the Chicago area.

Its power and insulation from the outside, along with that of its affiliated Hyles-Anderson College, marks First Baptist as a major cultural force not answerable to anyone but itself. No one will change that, of course. Those who worship there are free to believe as they wish.

But if they have not gained appreciation for humility through Schaap’s flaming exit, they missed a chance for spiritual education.



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