The pastor of one of the nation’s 20 largest megachurches has been fired over an extra-marital affair, possibly with an underage woman.
Pastor Jack Schaap of Indiana’s First Baptist Church of Hammond is the subject of a criminal investigation, as is Hyles-Anderson College, which is affiliated with the church.
Since adultery is not a crime in Indiana, observers believe there’s more to the story than an affair.
Eddie Wilson, the church’s public relations director, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he does not believe Schaap is being investigated for anything criminal. He said the church is cooperating with the Lake County sheriff's department “for the sake of transparency and honesty.”
But Mark Kiesling, a columnist for the Times of Northwest Indiana, believes the investigation is the result of “an alleged dalliance with a teenage girl associated with the church's college.” He also wrote that “sources close to the investigation say the girl was taken to Illinois and Michigan for Schaap’s interludes.”
The church issued a statement on its website announcing Schaap’s dismissal.
“At this time, we deeply regret the need to announce that First Baptist Church has dismissed our pastor, Dr. Jack Schaap, due to a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor,” the statement read. “Our church grieves over the need to take this action and the impact it will have on our people. We ask that everyone pray for the families involved and pray that the situation will be handled in a Christ-honoring manner.”