Abuse survivors urge Mahaney be disinvited from conference

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(RNS) A prominent advocacy group for victims of clergy sexual abuse is urging organizers of a Kentucky Christian conference to disinvite speakers who have been accused of concealing abuse.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, sent a letter Thursday (March 31) to leaders of Together for the Gospel, a biennial pastors’ conference, asking them to drop the Rev. C.J. Mahaney and other leaders once affiliated with Sovereign Gospel Ministries from its list of speakers.

“(W)e beg you to consider the implications towards the Gospel message if victims of horrific, life-scarring sexual abuse … are ignored and hurt again for the sake of the popularity of a preacher and the financial success of a conference,” SNAP wrote to several conference leaders, including the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

CJ Mahaney, founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries in a 2006 photo.

Photo courtesy of james.thompson, via Wikimedia Commons

C.J. Mahaney, founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries, in a 2006 photo. 

Mohler could not be reached immediately for comment.

The April 12-14 meeting in Louisville is expected to attract 8,000 participants.

Mahaney withdrew from the 2014 conference, saying a civil lawsuit “continues to generate the type of attention that could subject my friends to unfair and unwarranted criticism.”

RELATED STORY: Megachurch pastors leave Reformed evangelical network amid child abuse scandal

After the 2014 criminal conviction of Nathaniel Morales on charges of child sexual abuse at a church Mahaney oversaw, Mahaney resigned from the board of The Gospel Coalition, a key evangelical group.

A civil lawsuit involving 11 plaintiffs was dismissed, but SNAP said new legal action is pending.

Mahaney could not be reached immediately for comment.

A recent investigation by The Washingtonian detailed accusations against Sovereign Grace Ministries. But a leader of the network, now known as Sovereign Grace Churches, continues to deny it was involved in a cover-up of abuse.

(Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national reporter for RNS)

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  • Judy Jones

    Let’s hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed will find the courage to come forward and contact law enforcement no matter how long ago it happened.
    Silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
    SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc

  • Everett

    I do not really see a reason for disinviting someone like Mahaney, although he may withdrawal as he did before. I do see a problematic area concerning Mega-churches where they could be more accommodating for a child sexual predator where they could find a place to stalk incognito for a while. Mahaney was named in a lawsuit, which was dismissed based on “legal grounds”. I like the qualifier “legal grounds” that is used for someone who is presumed guilty by the writer (in the linked article) verses innocent for those whom the writer presumes.. well innocence. Duncan, Mholer and Dever felt that the law suit failed to meet the test of “credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing” by Mahaney.

  • Garson Abuita

    Have you considered changing your name to just “SNAP,” like Gay Men’s Health Crisis is just known “only” as GMHC now? AARP did this too.

  • Dee Parsons


    You are sadly mistaken. The lawsuit was dismissed for one reason, and one reason only, a state of limitations. Duncan, Mohler, and Dever may have
    *felt* the lawsuit was in error but then again, they are merely pastors and not trained in law.

    CJ Mahaney’s brother in law, Grant Layman, under oath, confessed that he knew Nate Morales should have been reported to the police but did not do so. Are you implying that perhaps Layman might not have mentioned this detail to his brother in law? As you should know, Morales is in prison for molestation.

    Please do some more reading. There is plenty out there that will prevent you from making a statement that is not correct.