Weaning Yourself Off Mahaney Is No Easy Task

By | November 21, 2013

In the 6 months that elapsed between the time I sent UCCD my letter of resignation and the time the UCCD leaders removed me from their membership roster I had a few conversations with various UCCD elders.  During the course of one of these conversations I was told, with the hopes of getting me to reconsider my resignation, that UCCD had quit  promoting and selling C.J. Mahaney’s books.  I responded that I was happy to hear that, it was a wise and prudent thing to do.  In perusing the UCCD website today I noticed that, while there was no mention of C.J. Mahaney, they still have a link to the blog authored by  Mahaney’s wife and daughters.  I have also noticed that, while they may have ceased selling Mahaney’s books in the back of their church building (I have never been back to verify this) his books are still for sale in the Bible Society bookstore located in the lower level of the UCCD building.  Mahaney’s books are prominently displayed alongside of other neo-reformed celebrity authors such as Mark Dever and Kevin DeYoung.  While it’s true that the Bible Society is an independent book store, UCCD opinion carries much weight with the book store manager.  The manager, Babu Ganta, is in fact a member of UCCD.  I believe if UCCD leadership truly wanted Mahaney’s books removed from the Bible Society they would be gone.

On October 28, 2013 I sent the following email to Babu Ganta.  To date I have received no response:

Dear Babu,

I wanted to ask you if you would consider stopping sales of any books authored by C.J. Mahaney.  The man has blackmailed a co-founder of his church and covered up sexual abuse which occurred in the church he was a senior pastor of.  He has resigned as head of SGM ministries and fled the church he once was the senior pastor of – Covenant Life Church in the Washington D.C. area.  Covenant Life Church, along with about 20 other SGM (Sovereign Grace Ministry) churches have withdrawn from the denomination because of this issue.  I myself withdrew my membership from UCCD in March because John Folmar would not quit promoting Mahaney’s books.  It is a long story so I won’t share all the details with you unless you ask for more information, but I will send you a few links to some blogs I have wrote so you can get a feel for what is happening on this issue.  Feel free to write me if you have any questions.  I hope after you read some of this material you will agree to quit selling Mahaney’s books.

Kind Regards,

Todd Wilhelm

Here is the page of “Useful Online Resources” from the UCCD website:

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 12.06.29 PM

I decided to take a look at the Mahaney women’s website and judge for myself the usefulness of it. Carolyn Mahaney had this to say in her Girltalk blog:

“What are the most urgent needs for Christian women today?

Hint: It may have something to do with her husband. 

As an aside – when Mahaney states in the above recording that God will address us through the proclamation of His Word, does that mean God is addressing the individuals at the recent leadership conference in  this sermon recording below delivered by Mahaney?  I have difficulty imagining the God of the Universe proclaiming the words spewed out by Charles J.

 

We believe that the greatest need for Christian women today is to be women of God’s Word. And so we began our “Timely Cautions” series back in the spring by urging all of us to not neglect our pastor’s preaching.

The pastor’s preaching tops our list because God has appointed gifted men to “teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1, see also Acts 2:42, Heb. 13:7) and to deliver his Word to his church. If preachers are God’s messengers, called to bring his Word to us, we best pay close attention (J.I. Packer). We must also continually encourage and exhort one another to make it our “first great and primary business” to be in God’s Word on a daily basis (George Müller).

Which brings us, these many months later, to our second concern: that the Word of God “would not be reviled”—that we would not deny our doctrine with our lives, open a door to gospel-ridicule by our behavior, or give the enemies of Christ a reason to say evil about us, but that as Christian women, we would show forth the beauty and power of the gospel (Titus 2:5,8,10).”

I wonder if behavior that would open the gospel to ridicule would include, in the mind of Carolyn Mahaney,  the blackmail of the co-founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries by her husband, C.J. Mahaney?

Below are the words of Larry Tomczak, co-founder of SGM.  (The complete description of the events can be found here.)

2.  BLACKMAIL

On October 14, 1997 our journal entry records the following:  “Larry and our child talked by phone with a lawyer.  He advised Larry to tell the Team (the board) to ‘not even think of using our child’s confessed sins to blackmail Larry.’  ‘It’s blackmail and punishable by jail, prosecuted in every state – no exceptions.  It’s a breach of penitent/counselor confidentiality.’”

When  Ted Kober, the President of  Ambassadors of Reconciliation heard the tape recording of what was said to us repeatedly by the Team he dropped his head in dismay while his associate literally wiped away tears. 

The panel report says, “CJ allowed for the possibility of making known their child’s sin if Larry communicated that he was leaving SGM over doctrinal disagreement.”  This minimizes CJ’s sin and describes it far too mildly.  He made a direct, emphatic and unethical threat.  He was not allowing for the possibility, he was promising to expose our child.  In our conversation, we confronted him three times with the word “blackmail” to describe his threats.  His exact words back to us were “I’m stating it!”  He threatened us with blackmail!

  • At the first mention of the threat, Doris called CJ on it:  “That’s blackmail!”
  • In two subsequent taped conversations with other SGM leaders we again labeled it “blackmail.”
  • An attorney from whom we sought counsel defined it as “blackmail.”
  • National leaders who heard the tape recordings referred to it as “blackmail.”

I read the following words to CJ in Nashville from Webster’s dictionary:

“Blackmail:  extortion (the act of obtaining from a person by force or undue or illegal power or ingenuity) by threats especially of public exposure.”

Webster’s dictionary defines what it is and, as they say, “It is what it is!”  Why soft-pedal this coercive threat that was used to obtain our silence?  Plus we have the recordings to prove it and have requested on several occasions that the SGM board and others that were involved listen with us to themselves on the tapes before there’s asking of forgiveness.  To date they have dismissed our request.

While CJ, and the SGM board and the panel report acknowledge what happened was “coercive, wrong and sinful,” they all stop short of being specific about the most egregious offense which is immoral, illegal and unethical.  It was premeditated, repeated and agreed upon by all the leadership team.  (The report makes this clear.)    

Departed board members Paul Palmer and Brent Detwiler both cited “blackmail” when they asked forgiveness – the former over 8 years ago!  Yet when Dave Harvey called us the week before the report’s release, he (like CJ, Steve Shank and Larry Malament) hedged on using the accurate and serious designation.

Isn’t it time to once and for all stop any “spin,” man up, and confess it for what it is?  And an addendum…if CJ and Steve have a “vague recollection” (as stated in the report) of CJ supposedly calling us within a few days to “withdraw the threat” so it really didn’t “hang over” us for over a decade, why when CJ and Steve called our child years later to finally ask forgiveness for some of the areas of offense did they still refuse to call and ask forgiveness of Doris and me even when our child asked them to?  Why would it take 14 years before CJ and Steve would finally confess the injustice and even then “tone it down” with softer terminology?  These are real questions that warrant real answers.  By the way, they have a “vague recollection” of some call.  WE HAVE NO RECOLLECTION of any such call!  We wouldn’t have forgotten it or failed to put it in our journal of those events!!  

I wonder if behavior that would open the gospel to ridicule would include, in the mind of Carolyn Mahaney,  the attempt to cover up sexual abuse by her husband and pastor C.J. Mahaney?

Below are words found in a lawsuit brought against Sovereign Grace Ministries & eight defendants. (The document can be found here.)

PARTIES

7.  Defendant Charles Joseph (“C.J.”) Mahaney resides at 20911 Lochaven Court, Gaithersburg, MD 20882-4467. Together with Defendant Tomczak, he founded the Church in 1982. He presently serves as President of the Church.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

15.  The Church constantly engaged in the care of members’ children. Among other things, the Church directed the establishment of home schooling groups, arranged for and provided day care to permit members to attend services, and arranged for babysitting during multiple weekly Home/Care meetings. According to the Church’s own admissions, it was responsible for more than 800 children at its Gaithersburg Church, and many hundreds of others elsewhere.

16.  The Church failed to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of children under its care, such as requiring that pastors be licensed or ordained. The Church failed to adopt any processes or policies to deal with sexual predation, and failed to train adequately those placed in direct control over children.

17.  During the time frame at issue in this lawsuit (1987 to the present), the Church operated through a “Home Group” structure and required members to attend a Home Group meeting each week in various residential premises.[2] The Church issued and reinforced church organizational policies and practices through regular weekly teachings, books, and audio tapes conditioning members to follow “spiritual leaders.” The Church directed members to unquestioningly “obey” the Church in all matters, including methods of parenting, place of residence and employment.

18.  As early as 1987, the Church was on notice that sexual predation of children was occurring under its auspices. In addition to the incidents described below, the Church learned in 1997 through non-ministerial means that the son of a high-ranking Church leader was engaged in the sexual predation of children under the Church’s care. Yet the Church did absolutely nothing to protect the children.

19.  Between 1987 and the present, the Church repeatedly confronted occasions of sexual predation of children was occurring under the Church’s auspices. The Church failed to alert law enforcement authorities, and failed to take any steps whatsoever to protect the children from sexual predation.

20.  Instead, the Church taught members to fear and distrust all secular authorities, and expressly directed members not to contact law enforcement to report sexual assaults. This practice has not stopped, as is evidenced by teachings as communications as recent as August 2011. On those occasions when the Church was not successful in persuading the parents of the victim to refrain from contacting law enforcement, the Church interfered with the administration of justice by tipping off the sexual predators that they had been reported to law enforcement.

21.  The Church provided sexual predators with free legal advice and counsel on how to evade accountability, and repeatedly worked with sexual predators to mislead law enforcement. The Church was willing to, and did, make false statements to law enforcement officials and in courts of law in its efforts to protect sexual predators.

22.  Upon information and belief, the Church never initiated contact with the police or any other secular authority when it learned of sexual predation occurring under its auspices. Instead, the Church concealed the ongoing sexual predation in order to avoid any financial or reputational harms to the Church. The Church admitted that it placed such harms over the well­being of the vulnerable children in its care, claiming “[t]hat is our responsibility to protect the Church from harm, and that includes a lawsuit against the Church.”

23.  The Church forbade members from discussing sexual predation, which created additional opportunities for sexual predation to occur, as sexual predators repeat their conduct unless detected and incarcerated.

24.  The Church refused to alert members to the presence of known and convicted pedophiles, instead relying on such persons to “self-report” to church members. The Church knew that pedophiles were not “self-reporting” to church members and instead were participating in church events involving children. The Church permitted and, as reasonable discovery will show, is continuing to permit, known pedophiles to interact with children without advising the parents of these interactions. For example, the Church has permitted one known pedophile to homeschool children at his house, and has permitted another to attend a children’s camping trip.

25.  The Church exacerbated the harm to the innocent victims of sexual predation by forcing them (some as young as 3 years old) to meet and “forgive” their sexual predators. These sessions re-traumatized the victims and their parents.

26.  In the majority of instances of sexual predation, the Church managed to silence the parents of the child victims, and effectively prevented the involvement of law enforcement. The Church retaliated against those parents who refused to participate in the Church’s efforts to assist sexual predators evade secular accountability. The Church engaged in a series of coercive and retaliatory acts designed to isolate and harm, including threatening families’ financial well­being, threatening expulsion from the church, and threatening legal action against victims and their families.

27.  The Church misled its members by making a series of false statements designed to allay concerns about the ongoing sexual predation. During a meeting held on August 17, 2011, the Church claimed — falsely — that there had only been two incidents of sexual predation when the Church knew the number was far greater.

Well, these are all useful things to ponder.  I guess I can understand why UCCD links to the Mahaney women’s blog!  Drink up girls and boys!

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