Last year, I was able to spend a couple of days with Deana in Tucson which was having some wild and crazy weather. I have long admired her and was excited to get a chance to meet her. Deanna is a protester. Ofter a lone protestor. She stands out with her beautiful red hair and placards that speak truth.
I have wanted to write about her for the longest time. At the moment, she is standing outside of the Yum! Center in Louisville, protesting T4G’s longstanding relationship with CJ Mahaney. Do you know that the “4” in T4G stands for four men: CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan? These men are the closest of friends and they defend Mahaney with every ounce of their being.
Do not be fooled. Mahaney *stepped down* from speaking this year. Did you know that he did that in 2014? He still attended and was given a seat of honor with his BFFs, right up front? The boys had a good giggle with that one. Then he returned in 2016 (the conferences tale place every 2 years.) His good buddy and former SGM associate leader (or apostle or whatever the heck they decided they were) Bob Kauflin, who was there for it all, is leading music at T4G 2018. Mahaney is NOT gone, merely hiding under the protective wings of his BFFs.
Deana-Keep an eye out for him!
Here is Deanas story. We will provide an update on her time at T4G 2018.
Over the past few decades, I’ve protested a number of organizations. I was one of the “Old Guard,” those people who weren’t Scientologists but who thought Scientology raiding and suing people for posting their “secret scriptures” was a bit much. It wasn’t until later that we outsiders learned about the way Scientology vacuums up any spare money you have lying around for “courses” and “contributions,” or about people dying in the custody of Scientology, or Scientology’s “disconnection” policies. That, of course, put more urgency into our picketing of Scientology properties, because people were really being hurt by Scientology policies.
When it came to Mark Driscoll, it was rather the opposite. I had been following his craziness since 2007, when he’d said Ted Haggard wouldn’t have fallen if his wife, Gayle, had kept herself up. Well, that was a bridge too far for me, I sent him an annoyed email (no response, of course), and from then on he was on my list. So I heard about the various things he was doing at Mars Hill, had a good idea of what Driscoll was doing and watched as Mars Hill imploded in real time in 2014.
At one point in all of this, I said, off the cuff, “if he ever comes to Arizona, I’m going to have to picket him.” He ended up in Scottsdale, and I thought, there are plenty of things to let people know about Driscoll, and they don’t really have much to do with doctrine. After all, wouldn’t you like to know if your pastor was:
- a plagiarist,
- used church money to get himself on the New York Times bestseller list,
- used a skeevy company to game the New York Times bestseller list,
- used money donated for missions to expand the Mars Hill footprint, denigrated women in many and various ways—I could go on and on.
So I picketed Driscoll’s church for much of 2016, and have recently started picketing again. He’s worn out his welcome with the Young, Restless and Reformed and is moving on to fleece the Charismatic flock with a new book coming out in October. People need to know about his shenanigans.
Child sex abuse is part of the whole package
I give this background to let people know I never specifically picketed over child sexual abuse, which I believe is a horrible crime with lifelong effects. It’s not that I didn’t care about child sexual abuse, it’s just that with Scientology, the coverup of child sexual abuse came as part of the whole awful package (yes, Scientology has a couple of scandals in this regard). With Driscoll, the only thing I remember was that he claimed to “see things,” and claimed to have seen someone getting sexually abused. He didn’t report it to the police, which of course makes me question his oracular vision.
Sovereign Grace and CJ Mahaney
However, the issues with Sovereign Grace and C.J. Mahaney have been lurking in the background for years. We have known for quite a number of years that there are credible allegations regarding the coverup of child sexual abuse at Mahaney’s old church in Maryland, Covenant Life Church, and within the Sovereign Grace organization as a while. That’s because Sovereign Grace had a policy of basically keeping child sexual abuse in house and not reporting it to the police. So you have horrible, awful incidents like Nathaniel Morales sexually abusing boys back in the 1980s, but not being brought to trial until a couple of years ago. (He was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison.) And, of course, there was the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace, which was dismissed due to the inability to get past the current statute of limitations in Maryland (and NOT, as C.J.’s friends say, because there was no evidence).
Earlier this year, Rachael Denhollander, who shot to national attention as the face and voice of the victims of Larry Nassar, used her public status to point out that there was an ongoing question with regards to Sovereign Grace and C.J. Mahaney. The first time she spoke up, Sovereign Grace Churches came out and tried to trash her. I had been toying with the idea of protesting at “Together For The Gospel 2018” in Louisville, but the way SGC went after Denhollander angered me, so I got the time off from work, bought a plane ticket, and booked a hotel room, because C.J. Mahaney was still speaking.
Over the month of February and into early March, Denhollander continued to speak, laying out damning evidence that all was not right with Mahaney and SGC. I can’t say that Denhollander forced Mahaney to withdraw from speaking at T4G18, but it would be highly coincidental. Even though there was a moment when I thought I might not go to Louisville, I decided to continue with my mission because one of C.J.’s longtime buddies, Bob Kauflin, is still leading the music and SGC has a breakout session at T4G18.
I was amazed and astounded when Christianity Today called out SGC and said there should be an independent investigation. I thought, FINALLY, we are getting somewhere. However, when I read SGC’s response, I was depressed. They weren’t going to do anything, they were going to try and slide on through with the notion that they couldn’t impose an investigation on their 72 churches. But I did catch this in the statement:
“While there is a specific process by which a charge may be submitted against an elder by any current or former SGC church member, SGC leadership has no authority to mandate an investigation by an outside authority upon all of our churches.”
Sovereign Grace Gilbert
The thought that came to mind is, “I could go and stand outside the local Sovereign Grace congregation with a sign and ask for an independent investigation on Sunday morning.” And I did. I made a couple of signs, let Sovereign Grace Gilbert know I was coming by tweeting at them and went out there on March 25. I also went out on Easter Sunday with special signs for the day (“Happy Easter! Now about that independent investigation of C.J. Mahaney…”)
What can I say about the experience? Everyone has been so very nice. They’ve given me water and goodies and an Easter basket and we’ve talked. I’ve let everyone, from the pastor Rich Richardson on down, know that I’m out there because I’m requesting an independent investigation of C.J. Mahaney and I’m not there to bash their church. We’ve had good discussions. I even had a person come up to me and tell me they had filed a charge against C.J., but I don’t think it hasn’t really gone anywhere. I was also informed that the leadership has had several meetings, so in their minds, they’re trying.
In my mind, the only way to get through this situation is to do what C.J. has tried to avoid for years and that is to have an independent investigation. Otherwise, this, and my general presence outside Sovereign Grace Gilbert will continue. I would prefer to spend my Sunday mornings picketing Driscoll, but I will continue to fit Sovereign Grace Gilbert into my schedule for as long as it takes.
I will be in Louisville for T4G18, April 11-13. You can find me outside the main conference venue at the YUM! Center.