Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church – article about sexual abuse in Baptist churches
Standard disclaimer: Being married and a parent, or saying you are a Christian, or working as a preacher, does not automatically make you more godly, ethical, or loving than anyone else.
And single Christian ladies who’d like to get married: time to give up on the “be equally yoked” teaching, since so many Christian men are rapists and perverts.
I blogged about one of the pervy idiots mentioned in the article before, here:
Notice in the article below that one of the sexual assault victims was depicted as being a “temptress.”
I have blogged on something along those lines before, please see
- (Link): Christian Stereotypes About Female Sexuality : All Unmarried Women Are Supposedly Hyper Sexed Harlots [Sexual Temptresses] – But All Married Ones are Supposedly Frigid or Totally Uninterested in Sex
- A string of assaults and sexual crimes committed by pastors across the country have one thing in common: The perpetrators have ties to the megachurch in Hammond, Indiana.
BY BRYAN SMITH
PUBLISHED DEC. 11, 2012
… [Baptist preacher] Schaap continued to rub the stick—up and down, up and down—and converse with God, sometimes angrily, sometimes ecstatically, for more than a minute. What he was doing was unmistakable: simulating masturbation, in front of thousands of children, in the middle of a church service. A row of white-coated high-ranking churchmen seated behind Schaap watched in silence. At the end, as usual, young men streamed up to the stage.
… The true believers of the ultrafundamentalist Independent Baptist movement were accustomed to Schaap’s style.
If he wasn’t scolding his flock for not living up to God’s demands (tithing, volunteering, “soul winning”), he was delivering R-rated sermons that, for example, likened the Lord’s Supper to having sex with Jesus Christ. “He would just repeatedly talk about sex and repeatedly talk about women, how they were dressed and body parts . . . in graphic detail,” recalls Tom Brennan, who attended the church for six years and is now an Independent Baptist pastor at Maplewood Bible Baptist Church in Chicago.
Unfortunately, it went well beyond talk. 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.
It is a culture, past and present members say, enabled by cover-ups and cultlike control. For example, after Schaap’s conviction, many church members blamed his victim as a temptress. “We were taught to not question and to take the ‘man of God’s’ [Schaap’s] word over everything,” says Julie Silvestrone Busby, a former First Baptist member who now hosts a Christian radio show in Iowa. She left the church after alleging that Schaap behaved inappropriately during marriage counseling sessions in 2004 through 2009.
First Baptist Church’s longtime lawyer, David Gibbs, declined a request for comment on this story. The spokesman for the church, Eddie Wilson, did not return numerous calls requesting an interview. Schaap did not respond to an interview request made through Porter County Jail.
It’s important to stress that even the people I spoke with who felt victimized by the church did not suggest that the majority of members are anything other than sincere seekers of Christ. “There are some very good people still there whom I love dearly and who truly have hearts for the Lord but were deceived,” Busby says. “I grieve for them.”
Nevertheless, the story of First Baptist is epic enough to rival the most sordid Old Testament tale. “It really is astonishing,” says Jeri Massi, a researcher from Raleigh, North Carolina, who has been documenting the sexual abuse of children in Christian fundamentalism since 2001. “The wickedness, the heartbreak, the ruining of lives.”
Examples from First Baptist “take in everything: pedophilia, violence, defamation of the innocent to protect the guilty, heresies against Christian doctrine, defiance against lawful authority. . . .” And all this barely half an hour’s drive from downtown Chicago.
That is from PAGE ONE of the article. Please click the following link to start reading (Link): PAGE TWO. (There are seven pages in total)
Excerpt from page 4:
The bombshell exploded with apocalyptic force in May 1989. The Biblical Evangelist, a magazine devoted to “historic evangelical fundamentalism,” published a series of articles accusing Hyles of a years-long romantic affair with his secretary, Jennie Nischik, who happened to be the wife of a church deacon, Victor Nischik.
The articles also alleged financial improprieties, accusing Hyles of using church money to lavish tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts on Jennie, including a car, clothes, and home remodeling.
Sermons on the scandal rang out from pulpits across the country. Local papers, from the Hammond Times to the Chicago Tribune, featured the story, as did the tabloid TV news show A Current Affair.
It was irresistible: The great Jack Hyles, the man of God, whose schools had dating rules so strict that you could earn a demerit by accidentally touching the end of a pencil held by someone of the opposite sex, was committing adultery.
… Voyle Glover, an attorney and longtime church member, was not among the defenders. Disillusioned, he wrote Fundamental Seduction: The Jack Hyles Case. The 1990 book details the affair and many other misdeeds, including a “Watergate-like coverup” of affairs and sexual abuse at First Baptist.
The wrath of Hyles and his supporters again rained down. “I was called the Antichrist and worse,” Glover says. “I was threatened with physical harm, death threats.” His office was broken into. Excrement was left on his doorstep.
Some of the abuse that Glover described in his book—as many others would later allege—was perpetrated by Hyles’s son.
In the early 1980s, David Hyles, then in his 20s, was the youth pastor at First Baptist. Whispers began that he was having an affair with the daughter of a high-level administrator at Hyles-Anderson College. Backed into a corner by a he-goes-or-I-go ultimatum from the administrator, sources say, Hyles arranged for his son to take over as pastor at his old church, Miller Road Baptist in Texas.
The new pastor was soon kicked out after allegations that he had more than a dozen affairs with churchwomen, many of them married. His wife, Paula, divorced him. He returned to the Chicago area, to Bolingbrook, moving in with a woman named Brenda Stevens.
… As soon as one First Baptist–related scandal died down, another seemed to surface. In June 1991, a Sunday school teacher accused A. V. Ballenger, a 57-year-old deacon who had spent two decades in the church, of fondling a seven-year-old girl. Despite two eyewitness accounts, Ballenger denied the charge, was released on bond, and returned to the church. At Hyles’s prompting, the congregation gave him a standing ovation.
…Then there’s Chester Mulligan, a pastor who was ordained in Hammond by Hyles. Four years ago, he pleaded guilty to felony stalking of a 14-year-old girl while pastor of Central Baptist Church in East Chicago. He was sentenced to a year of probation. That experience didn’t cause Mulligan to rethink his career choice, however. His current job: pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Miami.
Excerpt from page five:
- As Schaap consolidated his grip on the congregation, says former church member Linda Gensaw, “he became more brazen—graphic sexual sermons to the point that I didn’t want to take my children.”
Tom Brennan, the Independent Baptist pastor in Chicago and former First Baptist member, agrees. “He was beyond the bounds of what was appropriate,” says Brennan. “His preaching had gotten so—I hesitate to use the word ‘pornographic.’ It was so vulgar sometimes that it was just a grief to my spirit.”
Challenging Schaap, Busby says, was not an option: “He had absolute power. He could destroy you.”
In fact, he nearly destroyed Busby’s marriage. After she and her husband hit a rocky patch, they turned to Schaap for counseling. At first, Busby says, “it really seemed like he wanted to help us.” But soon Schaap was requesting numerous sessions with Busby alone. “When he would counsel me,” she says, “he would be asking me these shocking questions about sex. I mean, absolutely, purely shocking. I would literally vomit before some of our meetings it got so bad.”
When the couple eventually left the church, Schaap turned on her, Busby says. “He got up in front of a staff meeting—in front of the whole staff—and shared all kinds of confidential stuff that never should have been shared. He told people to shun me.”