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Ex-Megachurch Pastor: Sex With Teen Was 'What Christ Desires'

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 14, 2013 5:20PM

Former First Baptist Church of Hammond Pastor Jack Schaap
Jack Schaap, the former pastor First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana who pleaded guilty last September to transporting an underage parishioner across state lines to have sex with her, wrote letters to the girl claiming their affair was accepted by Jesus Christ.

The letters were included by prosecutors in a sentencing memorandum filed in federal court in Hammond Wednesday, according to the Post-Tribune. In one letter, Schaap expresses it was Christ’s desire for them to be together. “He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!” the letter read.

XOXO in Christ's name!

Other letters repeated a theme that the girl, who came to Schaap for counseling in April 2012, was preordained and that it was his calling to put her on a “better path of living — that’s what we call Righteousness” and wished he could spend more time with her in the name of Christ. Schaap blamed stress and working "100-hour weeks" in his lapse in judgment. He admitted to the affair in July 2012 and was fired by First Baptist's board of deacons shortly after. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster wrote in the sentencing memorandum "(t)he only way (Schaap) could have been working 100-hour weeks during the time period investigated by the government is if he’s counting the many hours he dedicated to grooming and sexually abusing the victim."

The sentencing memorandum included letters written by the victim where she said Schaap preyed on her trust in him and her vulnerability, and that she and her family are afraid to go back to First Baptist. (Given the institutional culture of physical and sexual abuse and misogyny at First Baptist detailed in this December Chicago magazine profile, why would they want to return?)

Still, Schaap is not without his supporters and they’ve been writing letters to U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano asking for leniency in sentencing. Wesley Wilson, a former student of Schaap’s at Hyles-Anderson College, asked Lozano consider “justice, understanding and grace,” adding that Schaap’s outreach for First Baptist never wavered, never put himself before the church's needs and that the church's community outreach grew exponentially under his stewardship.

If you ever see one of First Baptist's buses in your neighborhood, run as fast as you can away from it.

Schaap is to be sentenced March 20. Under the plea deal prosecutors are seeking a 10-year prison sentence. If Lozano is being asked to consider "justice, understanding and grace" in his sentencing, he may want to take a look at this video and give Schaap plenty of time to polish his shaft.