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Abuse survivors urge Mahaney be disinvited from conference

(RNS) C.J. Mahaney is accused of failing to report abuse at a church he oversaw.


(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.

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)