C.J. Mahaney Back on Center Stage

By | September 10, 2015

RESOLVED, That we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse;
-A Resolution from the Southern Baptist National Convention in Houston, TX, 2013.

2015-09-16 immunity to abuse by nakedpastor


“This is what the Lord says:
“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom,

or the powerful boast in their power,
or the rich boast in their riches.
But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord have spoken!””
Jeremiah 9:23-24

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.”
Proverbs 31:8-9


“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
Luke 11:42


The men pictured below are scheduled to be the “Plenary Speakers” at the Together 4 the Gospel Conference in April of 2016. You will notice that C.J. Mahaney, (6th from the left) who was not a speaker in the 2014 conference, is now slated to resume his spot in the limelight.


t4g 2016 speakers

Mahaney dropped out of the 2014 conference due to the public outcry opposing his speaking because of his role in conspiring to cover up the sexual abuse of children in several of his denomination’s churches.  A class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of many of the victims of sexual abuse.  The lawsuit was dismissed due to statute of limitations constrictions, the merits of the lawsuit were never ruled on.  However, Nathaniel Morales, one of the pedeophiles who attended Covenant Life Church and worked with youth of the church, on May 15, 2014 was convicted on 5 counts of sexually abusing minors and sentenced to 40 years in prison.  Mahaney was serving as Senior Pastor of Covenant Life Church when the abuse occurred.  He has steadfastly claimed that he had no knowledge of the abuse.  Here is a statement he released:2014-11-09 Mahaney statement of innocence


A couple of things to point out.  During the trial of Nathaniel Morales the defense called Grant Layman to the witness stand.  Layman is the brother-in-law of C.J. Mahaney and was an assistant pastor at Covenant Life Church.  Under oath Layman testified that church leaders knew of the Morales sexual abuse, knew that they should have reported the facts to law enforcement, but chose not to.  While he did not directly name C.J. Mahaney as one of the leaders with knowledge of the abuse several individuals with intimate knowledge of how things operated in Sovereign Grace Ministries said Mahaney would have undoubtedly known about this.  

The second item of note is Mahaney, in his statement above, said, “I look forward to the day when I can speak freely” but was unable to do so at the time because of the ongoing civil lawsuit. The lawsuit was dismissed  May 24, 2014. Sixteen months later Mahaney has yet to speak freely about the facts of the case.  Why the continuing silence Mr. Mahaney?

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Boz Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham and noted expert in the field of sexual abuse of children, especially abuse in churches,  stated that the lawsuit was “one of the most disturbing accounts of child sexual abuse and institutional ‘cover up’ I have read in my almost 20 years of addressing this issue.” 

That C.J. Mahaney is still pastoring a church is shameful, that he has now returned to the conference circuit is a travesty, that these national Christian celebrities willingly share the stage with Mahaney is scandalous and points to a very serious lack of discernment on their part. While many of the men who will be sharing the stage with Mahaney are gifted and intelligent, the mantle of leadership bestowed upon them by their adoring fans deserves to be seriously questioned.

Again I quote Boz Tchividjian:

“These leaders (who are supporting C.J. Mahaney) have once again, and perhaps unwittingly, demonstrated the art of marginalizing souls for the sake of reputation and friendships.”

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Carl Truman, in “Risking the Truth – Interviews on Handling Truth and Error in the Church,” by Martin Downes, pages 30-31, had this to say:

“One of the secrets of great leadership in any walk of life is to place those close to you who are not simply yes-men but who are prepared to be honest with you when they see you making a mistake. This is absolutely critical in the church: having true friends who speak the truth in love is vital.

I think of church leaders who simply became such objects of adulation by their people and by the wider evangelical world that, when they fell, it was clear that they had simply come to be regarded as too big to be held accountable. Nobody dared call them to account; nobody ever even suspected they needed to be held to account. I can think of others who started to believe their own propaganda and saw any and every criticism as a personal attack. Such people were disasters waiting to happen; and their problem was that they lost sight of the basics of the Christian life and made themselves accountable to no one. And I am always amazed at the cronies such people manage to gather around themselves: there is always someone willing to stroke the ego of such types, to tell them how wonderful they are whatever shenanigans they get up to; yet a true friend knows the necessity of speaking the truth out of love in all circumstances.”

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None of the leaders pictured above can claim ignorance as it relates to C.J. Mahaney and the sexual abuse scandal and cover-up which took place within Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Brent Detwiler, who at one point was number two in command at Sovereign Grace Ministries, wrote a letter detailing the case against C.J. Mahaney.  In this letter he stated in part:

“Gentlemen, I’ve worked with C.J. since I graduated from seminary in 1979.  I wrote the Statement of Faith, founded the Pastors College, oversaw 23 churches in the southeastern United States, directed our outreaches in Asia and the Caribbean, served on the Board of Directors for 25 years, and was one of four men who started Sovereign Grace Ministries in 1982.  I say none of this to impress you, only to establish some credibility with you.  

In 2007, I stepped down from the Board of Directors largely due to my loss of trust in C.J.  In 2009, I left SGM because of the pride, deceit, hypocrisy, and heavy handedness that characterized the leadership culture.  It became unconscionable.  I could not stay.     

I am not a lone wolf in my assessment.  Over the last seven months, the majority of C.J.’s closest friends and colleagues have severed ties with Sovereign Grace Ministries for the same reasons.  The entire ministry is convulsing and the problems are only worsening.  More and more pastors and churches will be leaving in the coming months.  

Nathaniel Morales is the alleged criminal pedophile cited in the article above, but he is not the only one whose activities were concealed.  I’ve attached the [first] amended lawsuit.  It is a must read.  Evangelical leaders who protect sex abusers out of self-interest, fail to involve law enforcement, and obstruct justice must learn from the consequences SGM is about to experience.  It could likely bankrupt the ministry and key leaders.  

…Deceit, hypocrisy, self-preservation, love of reputation, lack of integrity, injustice, lying, spin, manipulation, lording, cover up and partiality have only increased over the past three years.  None have been acknowledged by C.J.  Yet these sins are the source of the problems that exist in SGM and the reason for God’s providential discipline. 

…Given all these developments, C.J. should not be a Council Member on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood or The Gospel Coalition.  Nor should he be speaking in seminaries or at conferences around the nation and world.  Those that know him best, know he is in need of private repentance and public confession.”

Brent Detwiler distributed this letter to 77 national Christian leaders.  Every man in the photo above was included in that list.  You can read the entire letter and also see the names of the recipients here.  

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John MacArthur, David Platt, Thabiti Anyabwile,Ligon Duncan, Kevin DeYoung, Matt Chandler, John Piper, Albert Mohler, and Mark Dever – I urge you to reconsider your participation in a conference with C.J. Mahaney.  I believe allowing C.J. Mahaney to participate in this conference brings reproach on the name of Christ. As John MacArthur has said: 

“But it is our duty to pursue integrity relentlessly nonetheless. Perfect ethical consistency is a vital aspect of that consummate goal — absolute Christlikeness — toward which every Christian should continually be striving (Phil. 3:12-14). No believer, therefore, should ever knowingly sacrifice his or her ethical integrity.

The person who neglects ethical integrity is telling a lie about God with his life and his attitude. If he calls himself a Christian and professes to be a child of God, he is in fact taking God’s name in vain at the most fundamental level. That puts the issue of ethical integrity in perspective, doesn’t it?

That’s what we need to call to mind whenever we are tempted to adapt our ethical principles for convenience’ sake. It isn’t worth the high cost to our reputation, our character, or our testimony.”
-John MacArthur, Above Reproach


“I think taking care of the victims is the first concern of the Spirit-filled church. Most fallen leaders already suffer from an exaggerated view of themselves and love being the center of attention. We generally think of “restoring” them first. I rarely hear people say let’s reach out to the victims. ”

“For me restoring those people is a much higher priority than helping a disgraced leader climb back onto center stage. I think we need a national movement to restore and heal the victims of church abuse. Our lack of concern for these people is killing our ability to reach the lost. ”
-Doug Murren
“Question Mark: Why the Church Welcomes Bullies and How To Stop It” by Jim Henderson and Doug Murren pages 111-112

2014-05-15 PCA Pastor comments on celebs


For further information:

Controversial Preacher Returning to T4G Stage  A great article at “Baptist News Global” by Bob Allen.

Together Again Deb from “The Wartburg Watch” reacts to the news that Mahaney will be rejoining his BFF’s.

“Blight In the Vineyard: Exposing the Roots, Myths, and Emotional Torment of Spiritual Tyranny” An outstanding book authored by John Immel, a former member of Covenant Life Church.  Covenant Life Church was formerly the flagship church in the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination.  They, along with about 40 other churches have withdrawn from the denomination.

“How To Stop Being a Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian”  A must see video! David Packman interviews Frank Schaeffer.  The first 2 minutes Schaeffer talks of the many “Popes” in Christian Evangelicalism and their adoring fans. From 9:00-11:00 Schaeffer speaks of the money and its corrupting influence on the leaders of Evangelical Christianity.  I believe much of this applies to those in the group photo above.

Southern Baptist Resolution Urges Discretion in Associating With Those of Questionable Character This is an article I wrote which covered the concerns many within the Southern Baptist denomination had with Albert Mohler/SBTS’s close association with C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches.  Obviously Mohler feels that after 2 years nobody will remember the resolution passed at the Southern Baptist Convention.

Do clergy have immunity to abuse their people? Nakedpastor David Hayward produced a great cartoon on this subject and also had some good comments to say concerning the Sovereign Grace Churches/C.J. Mahaney situation.



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Don’t you think the fact that these other celebrities continue to prop up CJ tells us something else?

First of all, it tells us they really do believe that people will think differently about the situation because of their gravitas. People are easily seduced by the externals of “ministry”. One is the position of the gurus who end up defining not only sin but grace. Therefore, the definition of character and integrity is totally changed within a “Christian” paradigm. Something that blows my mind and requires we totally eschew basic common decency.

In their structure, who you are and where you are in the Christian caste system basically determines where you stand with truth.

This is so dangerous and such a lie, I hardly know where to start when we are dealing with thousands of young men pastoring churches who see this as Jesus Christ….through the eyes of their gurus.

This thinking and the potential damage is so vast that it seems the only course is to avoid them at all costs.

“Don’t you think the fact that these other celebrities continue to prop up CJ tells us something else?”

I agree with everything you’ve said Lydia, but also think C.J.’s reinstatement means he has dirt on guys like Mohler and Piper and isn’t afraid to subtly or not-so-subtly black-mail them by threatening to disclose it if they don’t put him back on the circuit tour.

Also, please see longtime-Pastor Joshua Harris’ statement to the Washington Post saying that he and other Covenant Life Church leaders, which many insiders have said would have included Mahaney, conspired to cover-up sexual abuse in 2007.


The content of the article above and many other things indicate that, if nothing else, C.J. Mahaney is far from being above repute and should therefore not be speaking at this conference.

jlc, I hope you did not interpret my comment as making excuses for the celebs who share stages with him.

On the contrary. They can hide CJ away all they want and it still won’t change the way they think and want us to think. And that is the real problem and the reason why this is happening in the first place. A piece in the secular WaPo is simply persecution fodder for them.

Again, one must throw out common decency and reason to be involved with these men or even think of them as purveyors of truth. They somehow have managed to paint a Jesus who is more concerned with their position and power than innocent vulnerable little children.

That is what really scares me the most.
People give to these leaders what must be reserved for Jesus Christ.

I am not one bit interested in whether these leaders do the right thing concerning CJ. That is an exercise in futility and negates their reason for being celebrities in Christendom.

How would Mohler explain the fawning and giggling from CJ at every word he said in T$G promo vids for years? How would he explain all the perks given by SBTS to the SG entourage who came to Lousiville? How would he explain his words about CJ to Peter King the CJ reporter? (He had that article deleted) How would he explain the bizarre decision to give SBTS academic credit to SG pastors college students? The list goes on and on.

This is not just about dissing CJ in public but a much deeper way of thinking . So many ignore the real reason for all of it as in the process of building a Neo Cal empire of speaking gigs that pay well.

I am more interested in analyzing our thought processes that get so many of us involved with these types in the first place. There will always be charlatans. May there not always be followers, though! :o)

Even if they ditched CJ and said “sorry” it would not change much at all. Mohler is not one for common decency or character nor is Dever with his authoritarian 9 Marx. The problem is so much deeper than dissing CJ in public, although that would be nice. And a first step?

These are people who are thoroughly invested in “Doctrine over People” and that thought reform tactic is for one reason: Power. It is all about power/celebrity/followers and yes, even wealth at some point because one gets used to it.

Hi Lydia,

I’m Janna L. Chan, a good friend of Todd’s and Brent Detwiler’s who has been advocating against sexual abuse at SGM/CLC for more than 5 years.

I’ve also interacted with SGM abuse victims directly extensively.

In other words, I’m on your side in every way and fully agree with what you’ve said.

I could write hundreds of comments about the whole Mahaney/SGM/”Mohler Inc.” (what I call the Together for the Gospel folks.).

However, I’ll limit myself to a few words about The Washington Post article. I don’t think it’s easy to dismiss as a form of persecution because Joshua Harris himself requested its publication and freely stated that he had covered up sexual abuse.

In other words, there was no “gotta question” situation respecting that article. After years of slandering victims and claiming he would never cover up sexual abuse, Harris switched gears and told the truth, for whatever reasons he did.

I think he was motivated to switch gears by testimony given under oath, in a criminal trial, by fellow long-time CLC Pastor Grant Layman.

In the criminal trial of Nathaniel Morales, a now convicted pedophile and former CLC youth leader, Mr. Layman said that all the CLC Pastors got together in 2007 and agreed not to report allegations that Morales was a pedophile even though they knew they were required by law to do so.

Please don’t think I admire Harris for finally admitting covering up sexual abuse after testimony in a criminal trial made it difficult for him to claim otherwise.

However, his decision to do so further implicated C.J. Mahaney in covering up abuse.

Lastly, I’m not trying to address the hearts and minds of C.J. Mahaney and his apologists.

I agree that they won’t care about that article. However, some of the thousands of people who have viewed this article in the past 3 days, who are not Mahaney adherents, might,

In addition, I hope that anyone considering joining a Church affiliated with any of the men pictured above will think twice before doing so given their despicable cynical decision to put C.J. Mahaney back on the speaking roster.

I hope that clears things up. 😉

Hi Janna,

Yes, thanks for the response!

“Please don’t think I admire Harris for finally admitting covering up sexual abuse after testimony in a criminal trial made it difficult for him to claim otherwise.”

And I also think it takes insider whistleblowers to bring it to light. The whistleblowers have so much to lose and it takes great courage. And they rarely get any empathy because they were part of the problem for so long. It is a thankless position as I well know.

But when we grow up and mature, we admit to what we were involved in that was clearly wrong and even misrepresented Christ on purpose—though we might not have realized it at the time. There really is no excuse for that except to admit and work to right the wrongs. Justice is very important in our walk with Christ.

Thank you for your efforts!


Thanks, Lydia. I’ve followed your comments on other blogs and liked them very much.

I’m actually a different kind of whistle-blower in that I’ve never attended an SGM or even an Evangelical Church.

I’m a dreaded (insert smiley face) liberal Episcopalian who got interested in advocating against sexual abuse at SGM Churches after interacting with victims.

I’m also from Montgomery County, Maryland, CLC’s neck of the woods, and consider Covenant Life Church a menace to my entire community. Most of the public has no idea that CLC is letting known (to them) pedophiles wander around the premises because the Pastors would go to prison if they admitted they’ve been harboring these guys for so long.

So I don’t get accused of creating the problem in question.

I’m just told that sexual abuse at SGM is none of my business because I’m not an Evangelical.

It’s hard to argue with logic like that, which is why I don’t anymore.

I just try to keep new folks away from CLC/SGM.

Thanks for the kind words. 😉

Ruth McPherson

Both Liberal and conservative denominations have been found guilty of crimes against children. The United Church of Canada is responsible for the murder of 50,000 or more native children over the last century. In virtually every instance, crimes against these children were carried out by clergy!

Thanks for the comment. I don’t disagree even though most of my advocacy work deals with clergy and church members who have covered up child sexual abuse, as opposed to engaging in it themselves.

In broad terms, I think that children are often safer in churches that respect the secular rule of law.

Unfortunately, in my experience, a disproportionate number of conversative Evangelical churches have developed informal cultures that discourage people from reporting crimes to the police. Folks in these churches often appear to worship their pastors not God.

That’s my take after doing more than 7 years of informal advocacy work regarding the issues above.

Almost all my experience is with churches and victims located in the US.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

P.S. – I found the whole text of the article in the Louisville Courier about Mahaney that Al Mohler went to great lengths to erase.

I’d rather not post the URL here lest Mohler try to get it taken off the site it’s presently on, yet feel free to get in touch with Todd if you’d like to see it, Lydia.

Thanks. Janna

“P.S. – I found the whole text of the article in the Louisville Courier about Mahaney that Al Mohler went to great lengths to erase.”

Oh wow! I am so glad!

I was very disappointed in Peter King for going along with deleting that. And of course both will say Mohler had no hand in deleting it. But it was being linked to quite a bit for months and was becoming a source of embarrassment as more and more info came out.

If you looked at the date on the article someone had to have contacted Peter King right away for this to be put out there with Mohler quotes to try and shore up Mahaney in SGM. Mohler even insults bloggers in the article. It seems his quotes to praise Mahaney’s leadership and insult bloggers was the real reason….as T$G is always held in Louisville and quite the money maker.

But his quotes soon became an embarrassment as more and more info came out.

Mohler is very influential in Louisville, too. He is heard on a huge radio station with his culture war minute.

Thanks for the info, Lydia. I had no idea that Peter Smith’s original Louisville Courier article about SGM had been erased until you pointed that out.

I will say that, as your comment suggests, I’m surprised people think that Mr. Smith was Mohler’s mouthpiece because I had some very good informal e-mail discussions with him.

As a professional journalist Mr. Smith couldn’t make dramatic judgments but he did ask me, in 2011, whether any lawsuits had been filed and I sensed that he cared about victims of SGM.

I doubt he would comment about why the article was deleted but it wouldn’t surprise me if Peter Smith was told he would lose his job if he didn’t agree to take it down.

It seems that Al Mohler is perfectly capable of getting anyone in Louisville fired for standing up to him.

At any rate, I hope others can give Peter Smith the benefit of any doubt respecting the possible involvement he had in taking the article down, because I doubt he would have interacted with a non-Mohler fan like me at all if really was on Mohler’s side as opposed to trying to be an impartial professional journalist.

And, in the end, the real culprit is the Louisville Courier. An independent newspaper should not let itself be pressured into taking down an article just because someone with influence and wealth doesn’t like it.




This situation illustrates one of the reasons for the decline in the American Christian Church. When they refuse to purge an abomination from their ranks, that one person destroys the credibility of all. Not only that, these people have loyal and adoring followers. Yet, Christians still want to be taken seriously.

People – ALL churches are congregational. Vote with your wallet and with your feet, and in that order. That is how you hold each of these men to a standard.

Adding C.J Mahaney to this conference seems strange given that he’s hardly a model Pastor apart from his alleged ongoing role (with very credible allegations) in covering up sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries’ Churches.

He does not believe he should be subject to the Church disciplinary standards he imposes on others. Rather than submit to Church discipline respecting his disputes with the Pastors and members of Covenant Life Church, of which he was a member, C.J. Mahaney hid at Mark Dever’s Church, with which he had no formal affiliation, in 2011.

He was also a big part of Sovereign Grace Ministries hasty and arguably illegal (they did not seek Covenant Life Church’s permission prior to leaving Maryland per their non-profit by-laws) move to Louisville, which has been disastrous to the organization.

Arguably, Sovereign Grace Ministries is on the brink of bankruptcy, according to its own financial statements, when it once had millions of dollar in reserves.

C.J. Mahaney single-handedly destroyed a successful Church planting organization in less than a year due to his poor judgment.

Therefore, his presence at this conference can only be a source of stress and divisiveness.

Hopefully, people will boycott an event featuring C.J. Mahaney in 2016, as they did in 2014


I’m a fan of many of these men and have been blessed by T4G over the years. That being said, when I found out that CJ was back on the speaking circuit, I was shocked and disappointed. In light of the momentous occasion celebrating the 500th and a focus on protest, how is it possible that these men are not recognizing the plank in the eye?! Praying for God to work for His justice and glory moving forward. Sad to think that this is the main reason why I probably won’t be attending in 2016. Thanks for all your hard work and perseverance through the years.


Could you have done any more to churn our stomachs? That photo. Ugh!


Indeed. That photograph is so annoying to look at.


I just love their regulation Pastors College Perma-grin smiles….