“These also are sayings of the wise.
Partiality in judging is not good.
Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the
right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred
by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked
will have delight, and a good blessing will come
upon them. Whoever gives a honest answer
kisses the lips.”
Proverbs 24: 23-26
Friends, it is time to call a spade a spade. It may shock your sensibilities but pastors have been known to lie. I have experienced personally being lied to by a pastor in Dubai. A good friend of mine was slandered and lied about by this same pastor; first the pastor lied to his fellow elders, and then to the church membership. My friends was subsequently excommunicated from the church. Why did the pastor lie? In the case of my friend I surmise it was a preemptive strike carried out by the pastor to save his little kingdom.
Mark Prater has just done the same thing. In his open letter of October 9, 2014 Prater has called the allegations of abused Sovereign Grace Church members untrue. He then states that not only he, but the entire Sovereign Grace Leadership team fully commends the character and ministry of the men named as defendants in the lawsuit!
I can only say one thing to Sovereign Grace Church Members – run away! Get out of that corrupt denomination as fast as your feet will carry you. The entire leadership team has demonstrated themselves to be liars and cowards concerned only with keeping the listing ship afloat. Let’s face it, Sovereign Grace is facing hard times financially, their future, and thus, these men’s livelihoods, are in question. So who among them is willing to stand for truth – no matter the cost? It appears not one of them. Who among them has a heart for the hurting and abused? It appears not one of them. Oh sure, Prater paid lip service to them, saying:
“Sexual abuse is a heinous sin which causes harm to all victims of abuse and their families. Therefore it is right that we grieve with them, do all we can to care for them, and pray that God would grant them the comfort and hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
But let’s be honest. In Prater’s call to do all we can to care for the victims, what exactly has SGM done? Nothing! Instead, in the very next paragraph he indirectly calls them all liars. Prater’s statement above is merely an attempt to stave off criticism. He knows if he didn’t mention the abused in his letter he would be called out on it, so he includes the cursory paragraph about caring for the victims and their families, blah, blah, blah. It is simply bovine defecation – B.S., if you will pardon my french.
Look, when this story initially came to the attention of the public, those in the SGM hierarchy, T4G, The Gospel Coalition and all the other Christian celebrity leadership positions could perhaps plausibly stand behind their man, C.J. Mahaney. To do so today stretches the limits of credibility beyond the breaking point. Men like Prater who publish statements of support, men who have journeyed to Mahaney’s church to preach and attempt to lend credibility to his damaged ministry, men from T4G and The Gospel Coalition who have published strong statements of support for Mahaney and never rescinded them should be ashamed of themselves. They have lost all credibility and should be removed from their positions of leadership.
It should be noted that the class action lawsuit filed by some of the abused Sovereign Grace victims has been dismissed on appeal due to statute of limitations restrictions in the state of Maryland, not on the merits of the case. Soon two of the individuals will file another lawsuit in the state of Virginia. I only hope the result of the lawsuit will afford Prater and SGM the opportunity to “care for” the individuals by a court mandated cash settlement. Then perhaps the SGM leadership team will be exposed to be the hypocritical liars they are.
Criminal investigations are ongoing. When the time comes I will be here to ask Prater and his board if they still commend the character and ministry of C.J. Mahaney.
“These pleas have only intensified over the last week in light of reports of testimony in a recent trial. I look forward to the day when I can speak freely. For now, the simple and extraordinarily unsatisfying reality—for myself and others—is that in the face of an ongoing civil lawsuit, I simply cannot speak publicly to the specifics of these events. Even with those constraints, however, let me be clear about this: I have never conspired to protect a child predator, and I also deny all the claims made against me in the civil suit.”
-C.J. Mahaney, “A Statement From C.J. Mahaney”
“Second, there is my response as Executive Director for Sovereign Grace. The specific allegations made against Sovereign Grace in this suit were those of conspiracy claiming that we covered up abuse. Let me be clear that we deny—in the strongest terms possible—that any Sovereign Grace leaders conspired to cover up abuse as alleged in this lawsuit. There were allegations made in the civil suit against current pastors of Sovereign Grace churches, namely John Loftness, Gary Ricucci, and C.J. Mahaney. I want to be clear regarding these men: We believe these allegations are not true. I along with the entire Leadership Team continue to fully commend the character of these men and their ministry to the body of Christ. In addition, the elders in their local churches continue to commend their character and ongoing service as pastors.”
-Mark Prater, “An Open Letter to Members of Sovereign Grace Churches”
The statement above can be found on The Wartburg Watch here.
“C. J. Mahaney, who founded the SGM, along with other ministry leaders, was hit with a civil lawsuit last year alleging that they conspired to “permit sexual deviants to have unfettered access to children for purposes of predation and to obstruct justice by covering up ongoing past predation.”
While the lawsuit was thrown out due to statute of limitations, Tchividjian said that unlike many of those connected to TGC who considered Mahaney a friend and claimed that he had “been the object of libel and even a Javert-like obsession by some,” he saw the situation differently. In his eyes, given that Mahaney’s brother-in-law and fellow former pastor at Covenant Life Church had confessed to knowing about sex abuse claims and withholding that information from police last week, the SGM pastor was guilty.
“Give me a break. These people, they’re family. Of course he knew,” Tchividjian told The Christian Post. “C. J. was, for many years, the micro-managing head of the organization and nothing happened under the umbrella of Sovereign Grace that he wasn’t made aware of, so for anyone to say, ‘Well he didn’t know,’ that’s totally naive.”
Tchividjian added that he was “pretty disturbed” when Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor published a statement on TGC website in May 2013 which defended Mahaney, saying that it looked “like the good-old boys club covering their own.”
“I thought it was premature. I thought it was insensitive. I communicated with the guys who wrote this statement that I was disappointed, that I thought it was unwise and premature and that they needed to clarify that their statement was not a statement from The Gospel Coalition, per se, but was their own personal statement,” Tchividjian explained.
“There were some of us on the coalition, or who were associated with it, who didn’t want to be associated with their defense of C. J.,” he continued. “I’ve just been sort of disgusted by the whole thing.””
-Morgan Lee, Christian Post Reporter, “Tullian Tchividjian Blasts Sovereign Grace Ministries Handling of Sex Abuse Scandal; Prematurely Departs the Gospel Coalition”
“Well if you look at the contrast between what C.J. Mahaney and the various church leaders have stated about the flat denials and then you look at the sworn, under-oath testimony that came out in the Morales trial you see a clear discrepancy. Obviously we are hopeful we will get to a trial, in which case all the testimony will be under oath and we believe we have the evidence needed to prevail.”
-Susan Burke, lawyer for the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against C.J. Mahaney and SGM. Source – The Janet Mefferd Show.
“Many of these same high-profile Calvinist leaders continue to point to Mahaney as a beacon of light. For instance, Kevin DeYoung just preached at his church. How can this be? How can anyone be commending Mahaney at this point?
Mahaney and Driscoll have been lying, spinning and covering up for a long time. Their deceit greatly exceeds that of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) and yet there have been no high profile “Peter’s” in the evangelical church willing to call them to account. It is not enough to remove Mars Hill from Acts 29 for causing problems. Driscoll needs to be publicly rebuke and removed from ministry for long standing patterns of serious sin. The same is true of Mahaney.
Here’s my real question. When is someone going to expose Mahaney and Driscoll for the glory of God? When is someone going to address their deceit and hypocrisy? When is someone going to examine them and ask them, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” (v.3) This has clearly happened!
In the same way, when is someone going to ask their deceitful enablers, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?” (v.9) Mahaney and Driscoll have been let off the hook time and time and time again. Doesn’t anyone care about the holiness of God beyond a seminary classroom? They could be carried out dead tomorrow.
Moreover, they have done great harm to a great many people and yet national leaders rally around them rather than around their victims in prayer.”
-Brent Detwiler, “Mark Driscoll, High Profile Pastors, and Credibility”
“Cook and his fellow victims, now all grown men, are also upset with former church elders at Covenant Life Church who, investigators say, tried to cover-up Morales’ sexual abuse for decades. Cook tells ABC 7 News their concealment is something they’ll have to live with the rest of their lives.”
By Brianne Carter and Kevin Lewis, reporters for ABC 7, Washington, D.C.
“Among the crowd of victims and their family members was a woman named Pam Palmer.
“We thought we were the only ones. We thought this was some unique tragedy that had happened to our family, and yet we found out it happened to many, many families,” Palmer stated.
While Palmer acknowledges Morales’ sadistic behavior, she believes Covenant Life Church is partly to blame. Palmer, who attended the megachurch for 23 years, says her daughter, now 24, was abused by a male teenage member during the 1990s. Only two-years-old at the time, Palmer claims the church’s pastoral team tried to cover-up her daughter’s abuse.
“One of the pastors told us, ‘don’t go to the police,’” Palmer remarked. “They had a lot to protect. They had money, power and prestige.”
Palmer, however, contacted investigators who pursued charges against her daughter’s teenage attacker.
“I just had to do something. I felt like I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t,” Palmer said. “How can you walk away from innocent children being abused and do nothing?”
Palmer says Covenant Life Church has a longstanding reputation of burying sex abuse allegations. In fact, during Morales’ trial this week, public defender Alan Drew drilled former pastor Grant Layman while on the stand.
Drew: “Did you have an obligation to report the alleged abuse?”
Layman: “I believe so.”
Drew: “And you didn’t?”
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy says his office cannot prosecute anyone unless crimes are reported to police.
“I think we’ve come to realize that’s not the right way to deal with these matters,” McCarthy stated in response to how Covenant Life staff handled the Morales allegations.
“Certainly I think there are people in Covenant Life Church that have a bit to answer for. They left this predator on the street when they had knowledge, and ultimately they’ll have to answer to that, whether it be to the courts, or whether it be to God,” Cook concluded.”
-Kevin Lewis, reporter for ABC 7, Washington, D.C. “Nathaniel Morales of Covenant Life Church convicted of sexually abusing young boys”