A former Indiana megachurch leader who had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl claims that his actions were a result of God’s command. Jack Schaap, 55, was discovered to have had the affair with the teen and is awaiting sentencing Thursday by federal prosecutors. As a part of the investigation, letters have been released outlining the crude language used by Schaap in correspondence with the young girl. What God would warrant this kind of behavior? Schaap will now join the club of a long list of names associated with church related sex scandals.
“In our ‘fantasy talk,’ you have affectionately spoken of being ‘my wife.’ That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us & become eternal lovers!” Schaap revealed in one of the letters.
The letters also indicated that Schaap was “saving” the girl all in the name of Jesus’ mission. Schaap was one of the faces of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind., the church boasts over 15,000 members. The disgraced preacher first became involved with the girl when her high school administrator reached out to him, asking to provide her with spiritual guidance because she was emotionally confused.
The sentencing memorandum outlined the history of the relationship, documenting extensive correspondence between Schaap and the young girl. The preacher was officially charged and plead guilty to transporting the minor across state lines for sexual relations. Schaap is now awaiting a 10-year prison sentence.
The charges account for when Schaap manipulated church employees last summer to transport the girl from Illinois to Michigan. He argued that he needed to spend extensive alone time to help her in her time of need. On this occasion, the girl was allured to his cabin in Cadillac, Mich., where they spent over 36 hours together, engaging in sex.
Schaap was eventually discovered after employees grew concerned about the girl’s whereabouts. A church deacon exposed the preacher after finding an inappropriate picture on his cell phone of the teenager. He was since fired by the church in July, and will now face the harsh ramifications of his criminal conduct.
The girl has yet to be identified, but she reportedly had to transfer schools. She and her family remain under the radar while emotionally coping from this scandal. Now the question remains, is trust in all church leaders permanently damaged? While Schaap appears just to be a bad seed, it is alarming that sex scandals in different churches have dominated news coverage. Unfortunately there seems to be no end in sight, and it would not come as a surprise if similar scandals are to comeabout in the future.
Schaap delivering an energetic, sexist speech: