Mahaney took a leave of absence in 2011 after other pastors in the Sovereign Grace network charged him with “expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy.” Six months later, the group reinstated Mahaney, declaring full confidence in him. Last October, the same month that the lawsuit was filed, Mahaney told the Sovereign Grace board that he would step down to focus on pastoral ministry. Two months later, the flagship church Mahaney started in Gaithersburg, Md., Covenant Life Church, voted to leave the Sovereign Grace network.
Several leading evangelical pastors and authors have come to the defense of a pastor accused in a lawsuit for covering up sexual abuse of children.
C. J. Mahaney was named as a defendant in a lawsuit, which charged that he and other leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries permitted the abuse of children to occur in churches that formed part of the group. Sovereign Grace, an association of 80 Reformed evangelical churches, is based in Louisville, Ky.
Maryland Judge Sharon V. Burrell dismissed the lawsuit ruling that nine of 11 plaintiffs waited too long to sue under the statute of limitations. Their attorney plans to appeal the judge’s decision.
After the dismissal, leading evangelicals are stepping up to defend Mahaney.
“We have stood beside our friend, C. J. Mahaney, and we can speak to his personal integrity,” wrote Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Ligon Duncan, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Miss.; and Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
The trio, who said they did not want to comment on the case while it was still in court, posted the letter on the Together for the Gospel Facebook page. Together for the Gospel is a biennial Christian conference the three founded with Mahaney.
Early Friday (May 24) morning, a string of negative comments had been posted on the Facebook wall, and the post was moved to the Together for the Gospel website.
But not everyone is rushing to Mahaney’s defense. Boz Tchividjian, a law professor and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations, found omissions in the pastors’ statement.