Speaking up for sex abuse victims

The First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind., sits just southeast of Chicago. It buses in thousands of people from the Chicagoland area to attend its many Sunday services. During the 1970s it boasted to be the "World's Largest Sunday School." It is now considered a megachurch.

I used to be a member.

I was interested in July 31 news reports that the church's pastor, Jack Schaap, was fired for having sexual relationships with a minor whom the church bused in from Illinois. Schaap is the son-in-law, of the late Pastor Jack Hyles who founded and pastored the church for 42 years.

This church has a sordid - and criminal - history, which was first revealed by attorney Voyle Glover in his book "Fundamental Seduction," and by Victor Nischik in "Wizard of God." Glover writes about the many church workers who were sexual predators, and thus advises churches to apply a thorough review process of workers in order to keep out pedophiles. Nischik's book exposes the affair long time pastor Jack Hyles had with Hyles' secretary, who was Nischik's wife. Hyles had a secret adjoining door to his office.

This item caught my eye because during the 1970s I too was sexually abused by a number of preachers, youth directors, and others who believed that such acts were noble in light of Biblical heroes. One preacher justified his acts by saying "Well, look at King David, and King Solomon!"

Dave Hyles - the son of the founder - was the church's youth director while I was being abused. My own father, who was a Hammond police captain, confronted Jack Hyles about Dave's behaviors and nothing was done until years later when Dave was placed in a different church in Garland, Texas. There, Hyles continued the sexual misconduct and was again dismissed.

This firing is just the latest in a series of outrageous tragedies. The church's ministry is a breeding ground for sexual predators. Their ministry includes a youth center, a college, and a school. Joe Combs, former Bible professor at their Hyles-Anderson College, is currently serving prison time for the repeated rape and abuse of his adopted daughter. A.V. Ballenger, a church deacon and bus route driver of the church was convicted in 1993 for molesting a seven-year-old girl.

Because of the newest church news, a few of my Hammond Baptist High School classmates have come forward about sexual abuse perpetrated by the church authorities.

Many Christians ask me why I am now an atheist, a Buddhist to be exact. I tell them that they carry around a book that explicitly silences women, abuses children and supports a capitalistic system where there will be a group of people who go to "hell."

As of this date, Schaap has not been convicted of a crime. Evidence thus far is his cell phone of which the minor, the abused, sent him a picture of them having sex.

It is important that the media includes the voices of abuse victims. In this recent case the victim is a minor, and thus her name is not public. Many of us victims were minors when the abuse happened. But now that we are adults, more knowledgeable and able, we must speak up. We are the primary resources. Our healing continues knowing that this abuse is believed and that it will stop.

Further information can be obtained by calling the Lake County, Indiana Sheriff's office at: (219) 755-3400 or their switchboard at (219) 755-3300.


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  • Tenzin, you are to be commended for your bravery. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the abused. I do want to add that I grew up in a church where women were valued. There was more of a pioneer woman attitude where she and her spouse were more on an equal plane than the southern belle type woman Dr. Hyles pushed on us. in fact, we discussed it one of the many times I was called into his office. I told him I was not interested in his version of being a lady. and for what it's worth, I don't believe that a capitalist society is any more patriarchal than a communist society. My mother raised us five kids alone after my dad passed away. She owned a coal company, restaurant, ice cream stand, gift shop, two gas stations and a car wash. And yes, she was the brains behind it all. :) Perhaps one influences the other but it does not require the other. I'll have to give it much more thought. My love to you.

    Posted by Rhonda Stahlman Bell, 03/28/2013 3:37pm (3 years ago)

  • Please understand that the Bible does not teach the silencing of women, but the bad men who misinterpret it that way and twist it out of context for their own false teaching. Jesus cared for the women who followed Him. The looked at them as intelligent, thinking people, who had real human value in life. It's sinful men who twist the Bible for their own gains, not what the Bible actually teaches.

    Posted by ALBA, 03/21/2013 10:32am (3 years ago)

  • Obviously using a pseudonym... I went to that church during that time... it happens everywhere all the time.. If christians were more like christ perhaps I'd still be one... Pagan, and Witch. Finally, safe, ahppy, and loved. Life couldn't be better.

    Posted by Dazel, 01/23/2013 9:55am (3 years ago)

  • Do not go to the Hyles Anderson site! Big ethical problems. Go instead to https://www.facebook.com/groups/SurvivingIFBcultabuse/

    Posted by Survivor of religious abuse, 12/11/2012 5:08pm (3 years ago)

  • Check this FB page "Do-RIght Hyles Anderson" a FB page for tose abused by First Baptist Church Hammond and other Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches https://www.facebook.com/groups/210248275769396/

    Posted by John Baker, 12/03/2012 2:35pm (3 years ago)

  • Tony, you are right, FBC was founded long before Jack Hyles was born. And you are right that the church does not have a long criminal past. But it does have members from the church who are serving long terms in prison for criminal behavior. Joe Combs was one of the most freqent speakers at Hyles Anderson Chapel and will never see the light of the outside world again because of the violent abuse to his not legally adopted daughter, catch it on the net, just put in his name and it will give you all the details. And there are several more former members behind bars for sex crimes.

    Yes, there are good people in FBC. Absolutely. But for the record, Jack Schaap DID commit a criminal act, is in jail and will see prison time, no less than 10 years and will be registered as a sex offender. He is a pervert. Many of his sermons on You Tube, leave one to wander (and yet we know) WHY no one on the platform or in the audience didn't stand up and say, get off the platform you are preaching untruths. The why is because you have been taught to TRUST the preacher, not to stand up against God's annointed (when David said, I will not lift up my hand against God's annointed, he was talking about King Saul.) The Bible is very clear about exposing error. The Pastor is never to be a dictator, there is balance in the deacon board who can aye or nay his ideas. At FBC, until recently, they've been saying aye to everything for 53 years. They finally said nay and KUDOS to that deacon board for finally standing up for Christ and His word above and beyond the preacher. There is hope, as long as they break the chain of command and hire a pastor who is outside the "family". The deacons need much prayer in this decision.

    Posted by plain jain, 09/30/2012 7:38am (3 years ago)

  • I too went to the church in the 70s, jean you are wrong! There WAS a door between Hyles and Jennie Nischik's office. I was interviewed for a position in Mrs Nischik's office, the door was there, very visible, window, door knob...I was counceled in Pastor Hyles office, that door was covered quite carefully with panelling, that opened when the door was opened and no one going into hyles office could see the door. I was there, saw the door in her office and it was she who had to open door to go into Hyles office. Like Linda said...Jean, you drank the Kool-Ade. You bought into the LOYALTY philosophy which is not biblical. The Bible teaches, Trust God and Him alone, in Isaiah it says to Trust God and let Him be your confidence and strength and He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. Wake up! These were human beings - Hyles and Jennie, they messed up - you can forgive them and move on, but DO NOT keep covering it up. Open your eyes, let the Word of God be your eye salve.

    Posted by Kay, 09/24/2012 8:51am (3 years ago)

  • Sir: Your Reporting Is Very "Sloppy":

    #1.1st Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana Was NOT "Founded" By Dr. Jack Hyles: The Church Was In Existance 70 Years Before Dr. Hyles Was Pastor There !

    #2.I'm Originally From The SoutheastSide (Born; In HydePark & Raised In SouthChicago) Of Chicago, And Have Been At 1st Baptist Since 1966:

    And Know For A FACT That The Church Does NOT Have "a sordid - and criminal - history" As You FALSELY & SLANDEROUSLY Report !

    Truthfully, Honestly & Sincerely Yours,

    Tony Cisneros
    2011 Candidate For City Treasurer,
    City Of Chicago,
    State Of Illinois,
    United States Of America.

    P.S. Dr. Schaap & The Young Woman BROKE NO LAWS &-OR COMMITTED NO CRIMES In The States Of ILLINOIS & INDIANA !

    Posted by Tony Cisneros, 08/11/2012 1:32am (4 years ago)

  • Nanette, this took so much courage to write publicly part of your story. You were a victim for yrs and you cant get those yrs back. But You are helping so many other victims by coming out with this, and supporting them On the Do right Hyles Anderson website. I cant even take in mentally all the victims. we walked the same halls together and I never Knew. If I had I would of helped you. Im so sorry more victims keep coming forward with awful stories, Its like a never ending chain of sexual perversion of Supposed Men Of God. I never felt safe there and always rebelled perhaps is why I was never molested. They knew I would shout it out from the roof tops. Well Now is your time to Yell.. Heal and help others. You are a very strong women! Love you! Kim

    Posted by Kim Nicks, 08/08/2012 11:37pm (4 years ago)

  • Much of this is lies out of HELL itself!!!

    Posted by Tom Holford, 08/05/2012 11:41pm (4 years ago)

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