Many in the Christian community are criticizing the warm reception many Christian leaders, including Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, gave Pastor C.J. Mahaney in Mahaney’s return to public after the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging he covered up sex abuse at his church.
Mahaney recently spoke at the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Kentucky, which is also the city of Sovereign Grace Church where Mahaney serves as pastor.
The Daily Beast reports that the theme of the Together for the Gospel conference was to celebrate the “Protest” in “Protestants”--a theme which was seen as ironic by some who protested Mahaney’s presence at the conference.
Mahaney has been accused of covering up child sex abuse scandals in Covenant Life Church, a church he pastored for 27 years in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Although the lawsuit brought against Mahaney by the alleged victims of the abuse was dismissed on a technicality, many individual Christians, as well as organizations, maintain that Mahaney is guilty and should not be welcomed back into the public spotlight.
“By allowing C.J. Mahaney to speak in an international place of prominence,” wrote the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in a letter to Together for the Gospel on March 31, “you are inadvertently sending a message to all sexual abuse victims—and in particular those from within Sovereign Grace Churches—that their trauma is not worth your consideration.”
Mahaney initially left Sovereign Grace Ministries in June 2011 after being accused of “pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.”
At that time, Mahaney stepped down from his leadership position to reevaluate his life, but later returned as the ministry’s president after an internal review process and affirmation by the ministry’s board.
In 2012, a lawsuit was filed accusing Mahaney and other Sovereign Grace leaders of covering up sexual abuse within the church.
The case was dismissed in 2013 due to Maryland’s statute of limitations, but another case has been opened in Virginia for victims who claim abuse in that state.
Because of the accusations against him, many decried Mahaney’s warm welcome at the Together for the Gospel conference, and criticized Al Mohler’s remarks upon introducing Mahaney.
“I told C.J. that in getting ready to introduce him I decided I would Google to see if there was anything on the Internet about him,” said Mohler, in what many have interpreted as inappropriately making light of the situation.
Mohler went on to make a comment on the unreliability of information on the internet, implying that the accusations against Mahaney have no foundation.
“Mohler’s flippant remarks, like TG4’s [sic] invitation to Mahaney, are extraordinarily callous,” wrote David Clohessy, director of SNAP, in an email to The Daily Beast’s Brandon Withrow. In saying what he did, adds Clohessy, Mohler and T4G “make churches more dangerous and help predators hurt more kids.”
Publication date: April 18, 2016