Church-planting network sued for alleged abuse cover-upcomment (0)
November 1, 2012
A controversial church-planting network with ties to a Southern Baptist Convention seminary has been sued in Maryland for allegedly covering up allegations of sexual abuse of children in the 1980s and 1990s.
According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit filed by three unnamed female plaintiffs claims that Sovereign Grace Ministries did not report abuse allegedly committed by church members to police. The lawsuit says church leaders counseled suspected pedophiles about how to avoid prosecution and forced victims to meet with and “forgive” their abuser.
Sovereign Grace Ministries, which moved its headquarters recently from Gaithersburg, Md., to Louisville, Ky., released a statement at press time saying officials had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit and were in no position to comment on the allegations.
“Child abuse in any context is reprehensible and criminal,” said Tommy Hill, the organization’s director of finance and administration.
“Sovereign Grace Ministries takes seriously the biblical commands to pursue the protection and well being of all people, especially the most vulnerable in its midst: little children.”
The scandal comes at a particularly bad time for Sovereign Grace, a 30-year-old network of about 80 churches at the center of a multidenominational Neo-Calvinist movement that emphasizes God’s sovereignty and downplays human free will.
Last year Sovereign Grace President C.J. Mahaney went on leave of absence for several months while his board investigated accusations of dictatorial conduct that estranged former members.
One of Mahaney’s staunch defenders throughout the ordeal was Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and, alongside Mahaney, a leading figure in the “new Calvinism” church movement.
Mahaney has in the past spoken in chapel at Southern Seminary. Mohler and Mahaney are listed as council members of The Gospel Coalition, a group concerned about moral and theological relativism among evangelicals.