KY--Victims to protest huge Protestant conference
Victims to protest huge Protestant conference
Several controversial ministers are set to speak
Their denomination is accused of hiding predators
It’s now based in Louisville and has 70 churches as members
Group says ministers’ roles “will deter others from reporting abuse”
SNAP: “And it rubs salt into the deep wounds of those hurt on their watch”
Holding signs, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will hand leaflets to church members outside a big Protestant conference. The fliers urge attendees to
--tell conference organizers they’re wrong to let a minister who’s accused of hiding child sex crimes speak at the event, and
--boycott conference sessions led by several controversial clergymen
Tuesday, April 12, noon until 2:00 p.m.
Near the fountain outside the T4G conference at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville KY
About five members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including some whose loved ones were sexually violated by members of a controversial Louisville-based Protestant denomination
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is protesting at a major religious conference because a pastor who has allegedly concealed child sex crimes by at least 15 accused offenders will speak, along with other ministers in his controversial, Louisville-based denomination.
Rev. C. J. Mahaney is the former head of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), now known as Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC). It has roughly 70 churches across the US (mainly in eastern states) and in Australia, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Great Britain, Germany and Mexico.
He is a plenary presenter at the biennial international Together for the Gospel (T4G16) conference which is expected to draw 8,000 participants to Louisville on April 12-14.http://t4g.org/, http://t4g.org/speakers/
But in October, Mahaney was accused in civil lawsuits of ignoring and hiding known and suspected child sexual abuse by church staff and members while he led SGM and Covenant Life Church in Maryland. And last month, SNAP leaders urged conference organizers to rescind their invitation to Mahaney, but they ignored SNAP’s request.
Even before that, alleged victims of SGC/SGM predators and their family members and other concerned individuals privately and individually conveyed to T4G conference organizers and scheduled speakers their strong objections to Mahaney and SGM officials having any role at the event.
“Every time an accused or admitted complicit church official is honored, it discourages victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from exposing predators, warning parents and protecting kids,” said Pam Palmer of Hagerstown, a former SGM member whose daughter was sexually abused in 1993 by a teenager. “Giving corrupt men like Mahaney praise and visibility adds to the already strong sense of powerlessness that many who saw, suspected and suffered clergy sex crimes feel. It decreases the chances they'll find the courage and hope needed to speak up about horrific wrongs. So it basically sanctions the concealing of sexual assaults against children.”
“Common sense and common decency would lead T4G officials to say ‘Look C. J., we’re just going to wait until this litigation is resolved before holding you out as a moral figure,’” Palmer emphasized. “That would show compassion and prudence. But instead, these ministers all want to act as if these serious and pending charges don’t exist.”
A prominent Louisville clergyman, Al Mohler, who heads the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, co-founded T4G.
“It’s reckless and callous when clergymen give prominent positions to colleagues who face charges of concealing child sex crimes,” said SNAP director David Clohessy. “It actually makes churches more dangerous. It discourages other church members and staff who see, suspect or suffer child sex crimes from speaking up. It emboldens those w
Besides Mahaney, several current SGC/SGM officials will be speaking at breakout sessions at the conference. SNAP wanted them disinvited too.
For more than 30 years, Mahaney led both Covenant Life Church (CLC) in Gaithersburg, Maryland and SGM (now Sovereign Grace Churches). Multiple news sources have reported that he was forced to take a leave of absence as President of SGM in July, 2011 – in part, because of allegations of blackmail and abuses of power.