“What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord.”
In the audio above Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. in an address titled, “Don’t Just Stand There – Say Something: The Sin of Silence in a Time of Trouble,” urges SBTS staff and students to bravely speak the truth, even though the truth may cost you. The video from which this sound-bite is taken may be viewed here.
As I discuss below, Dr. Mohler has often spoken the truth boldly on numerous subjects of concern to the Christian church. We find, however, that when the truth requires confronting his close personal friend C.J. Mahaney, the “sin of silence” is, sadly, on full display.
“When the truth walks away, everybody stays.” -The Offspring
“When a leader walks into a room, a passion for truth had better enter with him.”
-Albert Mohler, “The Conviction To Lead”
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
“When it comes to marriage and morality, Christians cannot be silent – not because we are morally superior, but because we know that God has a better plan for humanity than we would ever devise for ourselves. Beyond that, we cannot be silent because we know that Jesus Christ is Lord and that he came to save us from our sins. We cannot rightly tell people about the gospel of Jesus Christ if we do not speak rightly about sin and its consequences.”
-R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “We Cannot Be Silent”
“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 NLT
The newly published book of Al Mohler, “We Cannot Be Silent” is written with the purpose of motivating Christians to speak out against homosexuality. It is not my purpose to discuss that topic in this blog article. Rather, what I desire to draw attention to is another issue Mohler spoke out against strongly – the sexual abuse of children. Mohler minced no words when he said we all need to oppose the sexual abuse of children. He gave some excellent advice on the topic (see his article below). Mohler did not hesitate to say the firing of Paterno and Spanier was necessary. He also said, “The moral and legal responsibility of every Christian — and especially every Christian leader and minister — must be to report any suspicion of the abuse of a child to law enforcement authorities.”
On November 10, 2011, R. Albert Mohler, Jr. wrote an article titled “The Tragic Lessons of Penn State – A Call to Action.” He had this to say:
“When the facts became known, the firings of both Paterno and Spanier were inevitable and necessary. Both men had credible knowledge that young boys were being sexually abused, and neither did anything effective to stop it. Most crucially, neither man did what they should have done within minutes of hearing the first report — contact law enforcement immediately.”
…The detonation of the Penn State scandal must shake the entire nation into a new moral awareness. Any failure to report and to stop the sexual abuse of children must be made inconceivable. The moral irresponsibility that Penn State officials demonstrated in this tragedy may well be criminal. There can be no doubt that all of these officials bear responsibility for allowing a sexual predator to continue his attacks.
What about churches, Christian institutions, and Christian schools? The Penn State disaster must serve as a warning to us as well, for we bear an even higher moral responsibility.
The moral and legal responsibility of every Christian — and especially every Christian leader and minister — must be to report any suspicion of the abuse of a child to law enforcement authorities. Christians are sometimes reluctant to do this, but this reluctance is both deadly and wrong.
Sometimes Christians are reluctant to report suspected sexual abuse because they do not feel that they know enough about the situation. They are afraid of making a false accusation. This is the wrong instinct. We do not have the ability to conduct the kind of investigation that is needed, nor is this assigned to the church. This is the function of government as instituted by God (Romans 13). Waiting for further information allows a predator to continue and puts children at risk. This is itself an immoral act that needs to be seen for what it is.
A Christian hearing a report of sexual abuse within a church, Christian organization, or Christian school, needs to act in exactly the same manner called for if the abuse is reported in any other context. The church and Christian organizations must not become safe places for abusers. These must be safe places for children, and for all. Any report of sexual abuse must lead immediately to action. That action cannot fall short of contacting law enforcement authorities. A clear lesson of the Penn State scandal is this: Internal reporting is simply not enough.
After law enforcement authorities have been notified, the church must conduct its own work of pastoral ministry, care, and church discipline. This is the church’s responsibility and charge. But these essential Christian ministries and responsibilities are not substitutes for the proper function of law enforcement authorities and the legal system. As Christians, we respect those authorities because we are commanded to do so.”
Four months prior to writing this article (July 2011) Mohler’s good friend, C.J. Mahaney stepped down from the leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries because Brent Detwiler had released some incriminating documents about him. Eleven months after Mohler’s Penn State article (October 2012) attorney Susan Burke filed a lawsuit on behalf of some of the victims of sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Churches charging Mahaney, among others, with a conspiracy to cover-up the sexual abuse of children in their churches.
Mohler said nothing.
Dr. Mohler, the man who said, “any report of sexual abuse must lead immediately to action,” said absolutely nothing for 178 days!
The Wartburg Watch, a blog that reports on abuse in Christian churches and organizations, kept a close eye on the silence of the Evangelical world as it related to the Sovereign Grace lawsuit.
Finally, the public outcry became so loud that Mohler and friends summoned the courage to speak up. They said this:
“A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney.”
-Joint statement of T4G leaders Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler and Mark Dever in support of C.J. Mahaney
The problem with the above statement was that it was factually incorrect. Mahaney was in fact charged with credible, serious and direct wrongdoing. Mohler, Dever, and Duncan then changed the embarrassing statement, republishing it without any notification of having done so, an ethically questionable maneuver which they were immediately called out on.
Why did Mohler write so passionately and correctly about the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State and then refuse to follow his own advice when his friend, C.J. Mahaney, found himself in nearly the exact same situation as Joe Paterno was in? My opinion is money, boatloads of money. In excess of $200,000 of money. Read this account by the ladies of the Wartburg Watch.
“First, regardless of Together for the Gospel’s rewriting of its history leaving out one of the key founding members, C.J. Mahaney, fellow Together for the Gospel founder, Al Mohler, remains close friends with Mahaney, so close in fact Mohler has offered unwavering support for C.J. Mahaney publicly insisting upon Mahaney’s total innocence from any wrong-doing toward the sexually abused victims. Nor did Mohler fail to unequivocally defend Mahaney when specific charges of failed leadership were brought by prominent pastors in Mahaney’s own denomination. Mohler publicly dismissed their complaints outright.”
“Al, Lig and Mark’s defense of C.J. has already undermined their credibility. There has been a massive cover up and it is only a matter of time before people are arrested and C.J. is exposed. I’d encourage to read my latest post, “The Conspiracy Surrounding Plaintiff Grace Goe at Covenant Life Church.” It lays out the evidence for the cover up by C.J. and others. The same type of evidence exists in the case of other Plaintiffs.”
Additionally, read this damning information from Brent Detwiler taken from one of his blog posts titled, “C.J. Mahaney Withdraws from Together for the Gospel & Founders Remove Statement of Support.”
Mark, (Mark Dever) Lig, (Ligon Duncan) and Al (Albert Mohler) explicitly state that C.J. has not been accused “with any credible, serious and direct wrongdoing.” You’ve got to be kidding. This is one of the most irresponsible and embarrassing comments I have ever read! It is absurd. Did they even read the Second Amended Complaint? [It turns out they did not read the SAC.]
They go on to claim that C.J. is “charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals.” Wow. They pulled that one out of thin air. No such charge is contained in the lawsuit. Furthermore, it would be absolutely stupid for anyone to sue C.J. for “founding a ministry and teaching doctrines and principles.” The lawsuit is about alleged crimes, not the Bible.
The word “Defendants” appears 198 times in the lawsuit. It almost always includes C.J. For example:
Complaint 109. Defendants Ecelbarger, Gallo, Mullery and V. Hinders, conspiring together and with Defendants Mahaney and Loftness, violated their mandatory reporting obligations and conspired together to cover up [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion]’s molestation of children.
Complaint 112. Defendants Ecelbarger, Mullery, V. Hinders and D. Hinders conspired with Defendant Loftness, Mahaney, and upon information and belief the other individual Defendants to cover up [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion]’s ongoing molestation of young children and to violate the laws on mandatory reporting. Defendant Mahaney and Loftness imposed “church discipline” on [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion] for failing to control his [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion]. This conspiracy remains ongoing.
Complaint 138. Discovery will show that Defendants Mullery, David Hinder and Vince Hinders spoke with Maryland-based Defendants Mahaney and Loftness, and together conspired to prevent any reporting to the secular authorities.
Complaint 157. Rather than report the ongoing abuse to the secular authorities or take any steps to stop the abuse, Defendants informed the father that his children had reported the abuse. This led to further abuse by the father. In exchange for the conspiracy of silence, the abusive father paid to send Defendants Mahaney, Ricucci and Layman and their families on vacation to the Kiawah Islands, South Carolina.
After receiving extensive and often furious feedback, Mark, Lig, and Al removed these two sentences.
“No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals.”
They did so without notification or explanation. That’s a play taken right out of C.J.’s playbook. It’s called, “Don’t be honest, transparent or accountable when you sin or err. Instead, cover up and protect your self-interests.”
In place of these two sentences, they substituted the single sentence, “We believe this lawsuit failed that test.” Therefore, the Second Edition reads as follows in context.
“A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. We believe this lawsuit failed that test. For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way.”
This change is an tacit admission that the Second Amended Complaint did in fact accuse C.J. of “direct wrongdoing.” But no matter! According to these men not a single charge of “direct wrongdoing” against C.J. was “credible” or “serious.” Here we go again. Another statement that defies all reason.
Who are Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and Albert Mohler to pompously pronounce the lawsuit contains absolutely no credible or serious charges of wrong doing against C.J. Have they interviewed the Plaintiffs? Talked to their lawyers? Interacted with the victims and witnesses? Sat down with detectives and investigators? This is the kind of blatant partially in judgment that the Bible condemns. These men cannot be trusted to act justly in this matter.
These men believe C.J. is innocent and the lawsuit against him is a sham. “For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way.” That will change. God’s Providence will see to it. Moreover, I pity all the men C.J. has lured to preach at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville with his deceitful talking points, false humility, prolific praise and big honorariums. He has taken advantage of their good reputations in order to shore up his bogus reputation. They not only come to preach, they come to promote C.J. They are being used.
Mark, Lig, and Al had two stark choices before them. Dismiss as bogus the charges against C.J. in the lawsuit or entertain as legitimate the charges against him in the lawsuit. They chose the former. C.J. remains in ministry.
Had they chose the latter, C.J. would likely be out of ministry. In their words, “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry.” That’s exactly right! Anyone who believes C.J. has been “charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing” should advise him to step down from public ministry.
Notice the words, “charged” and “any.” If charged, not if found guilty, he should step down until resolved. And for any, not an abundance of wrong doing, he should step down until resolved.
Peter Lumpkins had this to say:
“However, there still remain some troubling events taking place concerning the continued support of C.J. Mahaney, especially unnecessary public support from high profile Southern Baptists. I’ll mention two.
First, regardless of Together for the Gospel’s rewriting of its history leaving out one of the key founding members, C.J. Mahaney, fellow Together for the Gospel founder, Al Mohler, remains close friends with Mahaney, so close in fact Mohler has offered unwavering support for C.J. Mahaney publicly insisting upon Mahaney’s total innocence from any wrong-doing toward the sexually abused victims. Nor did Mohler fail to unequivocally defend Mahaney when specific charges of failed leadership were brought by prominent pastors in Mahaney’s own denomination. Mohler publicly dismissed their complaints outright.
Not that being friends with Mahaney is morally inappropriate. However, it seems to me Mohler’s public support for Mahaney continues to cross the threshold of proper discretion by dragging all Southern Baptists across the threshold with him. The fact is Al Mohler is an employee of Southern Baptists. He cannot and should not be empowered to jeopardize either our entities or our name by forging friendly liaisons with people or organizations who pose probable liability to us.
And, we so much as said so at the Southern Baptist Convention in June of this year by resolving to “encourage … employees of the Southern Baptist Convention” to utilize the “highest sense of discernment” in their affiliations with “groups” or “individuals” that possess “questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse.””
“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.”
Boz’s words are spot on. Here is a comment Marcia Griffeth made on my blog. Marcia married Nate Morales after Morales left Covenant Life Church and moved to Las Vegas. She had no idea she was marrying a monster. She divorced the man as soon as she discovered the truth about him. Morales was a pedophile who abused numerous boys while he attended Covenant Life Church, the flagship church of the Sovereign Grace denomination. Mahaney was the Senior Pastor of the church at the time of the abuse. Grant Layman, an associate pastor, and brother-in-law of C.J. Mahaney testified at Morale’s criminal trial that church leaders knew of the abuse and did not report it to law enforcement. Morales was found guilty and is serving a 40-year sentence. Covenant Life Church Senior Pastor C.J. Mahaney and his staff of assistant pastors decided not to report Nathaniel Morales sexual abuse of children in their church to law enforcement. This decision led directly to Marcia Griffeth having three of her boys sexually abused by the monster Morales.
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep?”
Meanwhile, R. Albert Mohler, Jr. proves that the title of his new book is a fallacy. We can indeed remain silent. Mohler has been instrumental in getting Mahaney back on the conference speaking circuit. This April Mohler will be sharing the platform with C.J. Mahaney and a host of other compromised Christian “leaders” at the Together 4 The Gospel Conference.
Proving only that every man has his price.