Al Mohler, a leading figure in the Southern Baptist church, is publicly apologizing for supporting C.J. Mahaney, the former head of Sovereign Grace Ministries.
Lawyer, former gymnast and #MeToo activist Rachael Denhollander has called the Sovereign Grace scandal “one of the worst, if not the worst, instances of evangelical cover-up of sexual abuse.” She also said it was “one of the most well-documented cases of institutional cover-up I have ever seen.”
As The Baptist News explains, a lawsuit “claimed that Mahaney’s church and another congregation aligned with Sovereign Grace Ministries (now Sovereign Grace Churches) routinely discouraged victims of child sexual abuse from calling the police so elders could deal with the allegations internally as a matter of church discipline.”
In the suit, eleven individuals said that Mahaney and other members of Covenant Life Church allowed for decades of sexual abuse of young children. That lawsuit was ultimately dismissed because of the statute of limitations.
Mahaney has denied the allegations and has continued his career as a pastor.
For years, Mohler has defended Mahaney and even joked about Sovereign Grace protestors. Following the recent SBC scandal, Mohler was interviewed by the Houston Chronicle and issued a lengthy apology.
“I believe in retrospect I erred in being part of a statement supportive of (Mahaney) and rather dismissive of the charges,” Mohler said in the interview. “And I regret that action, which I think was taken without due regard to the claims made by the victims and survivors at the time, and frankly without an adequate knowledge on my part, for which I’m responsible.”
Referencing the joke he made about protestors, he said, “What I did was wrong and caused hurt to the victims and survivors who felt that their experience had been trivialized and dismissed, and I grieve that, I apologize for that, it was wrong. I would never make such a comment again.”
Mohler added that he wishes he had called for a more serious investigation into the allegations.
“I should have been very clear about insisting on an independent, credible third-party investigation,” he said. “I should have said nothing until I had heard from those who were victims and who were making the allegations. I should have sought at that time the advice and counsel of agencies and authorities who were even then on the front lines of dealing with these kinds of allegations.”