How to handle a pastor who rapes
Mom, dad, listen to me. I don’t need more business, but when your children reach that age, and they start going through that 13, 14, 15 year stage, send them to me, I’ll talk to them. Please don’t look at me like I’m stupid, why are you talking this way? Because I don’t want to lose your kids, that’s why. Because you don’t want to find out about it do you mom and daddy. And I’ll tell you three reasons why. Number one, because you’re dirty yourself.
This is part of what Jack Schaap, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, a 15,000-member megachurch outside of Chicage, said in a sermon he delivered on July 8th about how younger members of his church were having sex behind their parents’ back. Only problem was that one of those young members, a 17-year old girl, had since the age of 16 been having sex with… Pastor Schaap!
(You can listen to the sermon here, but let me warn you: It requires a strong stomach to stomach. It’s incredibly slimy. What insane audacity!)
Plenty of people are commenting on this and there’s not much to say really. Other than, perhaps, that it seems that those who are most unforgiving and un-humble towards sin and, crucially, those who sin often turn out to be the ones with the biggest sins to hide.
But can I mention one positive thing in this whole nasty affair? I think the swift and decisive action from First Baptist Church should be noted and commended. Especially when compared to a certain other ecclesial institution. This is how you deal with sexually predatory clergy. You don’t shift them around to other churches, crossing your fingers they won’t do it again. You don’t hide things from the authorities. No. You cooperate fully with the authorities, just like First Baptist, and you kick out the pastor at once, just like First Baptist. Apparently, the church had a clause in their contract with the pastor which designated adultery as grounds for dismissal. That’s good. Does the Catholic church have such structural checks in place?
It’s because First Baptist has less to lose than the Catholic church that it, ironically, has much more to lose. First Baptist is an independent church, not officially affiliated with any denomination, and has only 15,000 members to work with. The Catholic church has a billion. How much of all of this boils down to politics and public relations is hard to say, but I’m certain that the size of the Catholic church makes it easier for them to entertain the hope that it will all go away in time. First Baptist cannot afford the gamble. Especially not since the Catholic church has basically lost that gamble. If they can’t do it, who can?
(Disclaimer: I don’t want to come across as catholophobic. I love much of what the Catholic church does. I’ve gotten a whole lot out of reading Catholic theologians. I’ve got good, honest and great Catholic friends. More often than not, I find myself defending the Catholic church against its critics, a role I proudly assume. And I don’t think Catholic priests are disproportionately pedophiles. They’re not. But I do reserve the right to criticise the Catholic hierarchy for not being accountable and for not doing enough to fix its problems. That’s the only thing I criticise. And I do so as a friend. I want my Catholic friends and any Catholic readers to understand that.)