Sex offender back in pulpit: Despite prison term, preacher welcomed by Baptist congregation
A southwest suburban Southern Baptist congregation allowed a convicted child sex offender to preach for the last few years -- despite his past, and a warning from his previous church that he might still be dangerous, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
In 1996, Jeff Hannah was sentenced to nine years in prison for having sexual relations with four underage girls -- ages 15 to 17 -- while a married youth minister at Crossroads Church in Libertyville.
Hannah was paroled in 2001 and joined the First Baptist Church of Romeoville, where his new wife was a member. Soon after, the pastor moved on, and church members -- aware of Hannah's crimes -- asked him to step into the pulpit until a replacement was hired, according to church members, Hannah and others.
Hannah served in that role for three years and ever since has been a fill-in preacher, teacher and music minister at the church.
The Rev. Steve Farish, pastor of Crossroads Church, which has relocated to Grayslake, said he considered Hannah so dangerous that he warned the Romeoville church and a regional Southern Baptist official.
I preface my remarks by saying:
- I am a Baptist
- While I am not a Southern Baptist, I know there are many good Southern Baptist churhes.
Comment: When the church lowers its standards to the world's level (or in this case, below the world's level!), it's no wonder that it has so little impact on society. (Matthew 5:13, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men".)
A little leaven