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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.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.No one could have imagined he would grow into the larger-than-life figure whom critics would dub the Godfather and others would consider the Chosen One.Born in the tiny Dallas suburb of Italy, Hyles often preached about his alcoholic father, his devoted and deeply conservative Christian mother, and the curse of growing up poor.
Multiple websites tracking the First Baptist Church of Hammond have identified more than a dozen men with ties to the church—many of whom graduated from its college, Hyles-Anderson, or its annual Pastors’ Schools—who fanned out around the country, preaching at their own churches and racking up a string of arrests and civil lawsuits, including physical abuse of minors, sexual molestation, and rape.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.He lifted a stick in his left hand and a silver cloth in his right. A row of white-coated high-ranking churchmen seated behind Schaap watched in silence.
He moved the bottom of the stick near his groin and angled it away from himself. At the end, as usual, young men streamed up to the stage.At this point, the sermon’s climax, Schaap would heave up a high-powered crossbow and fire an arrow into a red painted on a fake rock a few feet from his pulpit.