Jack Schaap used to be the pastor at Indiana's huge First Baptist Church of Hammond up until just this past Tuesday. The 54-year-old man had led the gigantic 15,000-member congregation for 11 years, written a slew of relationship religious books, even transmitted his sermons worldwide. But all that went down the gutter when it was discovered that he was having an "improper relationship," according to a church spokesperson, with a teenage girl. 

Translation: He had sex with a girl who was underage.

According to the church spokesperson, the girl in question was "at least" 16 years old at the time of the incident, which is the legal age of consent in Indiana. For me, as the daughter of a pastor and a result of a super religious upbringing, the charges and their aftermath are not all that surprising. 

One of the reasons I had a break with my family's religion was the deep-seeded hypocrisy I saw across the board. I'm not saying that my parents are hypocrites or that their church was, but in general, the belief of some religious groups that they are above others or that they are he one and only path to salvation always made me bristle (take for example the recent Westboro Baptist Church craziness). And most of all, I hated the self-righteous attitude of the few church members and leaders, despite the fact that they were very far from being perfect.

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Pastor Schaap is a great example of this. Not only did he violate the trust of the church, but most importantly that of his family. And let's not gloss over the fact that the girl was UNDERAGE! The reprimands from the church seem to focus more on the fact that he cheated--horrendous in itself--and less on the age of the girl with whom he had this "improper relationship." So many levels of wrong here... and not just because Schaap is the author of several books about relationships and religion, but because he was a spiritual leader who talked about how he "lived by the rules." Take a look at a part from one of his books:

When it comes to marriage, I want to live by the rules. As a marriage counselors, I'm weary of couples who come asking me to make exceptions to the rules because they just don't see it the same way God does. .. Nobody has a right to decide if they are an exception to the rule. Decide to be a person who lives by the rules.

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All that, sadly, seems laughable now. It's good that he was removed from the congregation and that he's now trying to reconcile with his wife--but what about the victim here, the now-17-year-old girl? The church seems to be more concerned with its reputation and less with the fact that the only victim here is an underage girl--I don't care what Indiana law says. 

It goes without saying--and I'm sorry for this pun--that Schaap should have taken a page from his own book. 

What do you think of this pastor's indiscretions? Should he also be charged with statutory rape? 

Image via WGN

About the author

Yuliana is the Assistant Managing Editor of Mamás Latinas and a new-ish mamá (as her son is almost a toddler, she can't claim new mami-hood anymore). She was born in Medellín, Colombia and raised in New Jersey.

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msant...

Yes you are truly right... what about the 17 yr old victim? I actually work a block away from this mega church in Hammond, indiana, and totally disgusts us as that this occured, but yet that they are soo concerned with his well being and marriage and the church. what about the young girl? Where is her justice, and rights? Im quite happy to see this made it to Mamas Latinas, because this is important, this was someone that church goers trusted and believed. This is why you never put your trust in Man.

Melanie

East Chicago, Indiana

 

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