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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.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. 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. 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.
But in July 2010, an hour into the “Polished Shaft” sermon—in a church packed with thousands of teenagers there for a youth conference—Schaap went further. What he was doing was unmistakable: simulating masturbation, in front of thousands of children, in the middle of a church service.Nine of the offenders, from top left: (first row) A. Ballenger, Christopher Settlemoir, Chester Mulligan; (second row) William Beith, Jack Schaap, Tedd Butler; (third row) Joseph Combs, Craig Sisson, Russell Overla he sermon was called “The Polished Shaft,” and in the many times that Jack Schaap, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, had delivered it, it was the kind of showstopper that made him a rock star to his flock.(Or would have, had Schaap not habitually railed against the evils of rock music.) As with most of his sermons at the northwest Indiana megachurch—the 14th largest in the country and the biggest Independent Baptist house of worship in the nation—the message struck as bluntly as a pounded nail: Submit to God’s plan for your life or be snapped like a twig and flung away (as Schaap would demonstrate by cracking a stick over his head, tossing it aside, and barking, “Next! When you do submit, be prepared to endure excruciating pain.“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. .” And all this barely half an hour’s drive from downtown Chicago.“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. In the beginning—1959, in this case—Jack Hyles arrived at the First Baptist Church of Hammond as a skinny, charismatic Bible thumper with a Southern-fried drawl and a couple of cheap suits.