Statement from R. Albert Mohler Jr. on Sovereign Grace Churches
As many are aware, I have recently apologized and asked forgiveness for serious errors I made in how I responded to concerns that were raised about Sovereign Grace Churches and CJ Mahaney.
In 2013 I was part of a statement supportive of CJ and dismissive of the allegations and concerns raised regarding SGC’s handling of sexual and domestic abuse claims. This was motivated by several factors. At the time the allegations surfaced, I did request that CJ and the ministry participate in an independent investigation, and I was pointed to the investigation that Covenant Life Church had commissioned. I did not realize until this past year that SGC and its leaders had not participated in that investigation, nor was I equipped to know the shortcomings of how that investigation was conducted. I wrongly believed that an investigation had been done, and relied on that assurance and the court dismissal of the civil suit, along with my personal knowledge of CJ, when I issued my statement of support in 2013. I deeply regret this. I frankly was not equipped to sift through the allegations and did not grasp the situation, and I am responsible for that and for not seeking the counsel of those who were.
I also deeply regret my introduction of CJ at Together for the Gospel the following year. My words were intended to reference the general fog of information on the Internet, and I am grieved to acknowledge that I did not even grasp the context I was speaking into. This was wrong, a serious error, and caused hurt to the victims and survivors who felt that their suffering had been trivialized and dismissed. And I grieve that, I apologize for that, I am deeply sorry, it was wrong and I must say so without excuse or minimization. I would never make such a comment again.
When this issue resurfaced a year ago, I was made painfully aware of my serious mistakes. I immediately urged that an independent investigation be conducted and agreed that CJ needed to step down from public ministry until that took place. This resulted in a severing of all personal and ministry ties, and I have had no relationship with CJ or SGC since that time.
I was deeply affected by the documentation offered by Rachael Denhollander. I met with Jacob and Rachael soon after she released the documentation and I have deeply appreciated her counsel. That first conversation fundamentally changed my understanding of this issue.
I issued a statement in May making it clear that any ministry or organization facing these allegations must submit to an independent investigation. I did not specify SCG by name because I was concerned it would appear self-serving and a political effort to save face. In hindsight, I believe speaking more specifically, earlier, would have been wiser. I sought to be clear by my actions in severing public ties and calling all ministries to a higher standard, but as I am learning more I have realized that this did not communicate to the extent I had intended it to.
I wish I had spoken more forcefully. I should have been very clear about insisting on an independent, credible, third-party investigation right from the time these allegations arose. I should have said nothing until I had heard from the survivors who were making those allegations. I should have sought advice and counsel of agencies and authorities and experts who were even then on the front lines of dealing with these kinds of allegations.
It is my own mistakes that, in large part, are driving my sense of urgency to respond clearly and forcefully to the problems in the SBC which the Houston Chronicle has detailed.
A word to our students, particularly survivors on this campus: I want you to know that I am grieved at these errors, I am seeking input from those who know more. We have stringent policies in place but are working on a public document outlining our policies for handling allegations of abuse and where to go for help, which we will post to ensure the greatest accountability possible. We also have a liaison available to you if you have suffered abuse or harassment who can offer support, advocacy, and help.
To the survivors who were hurt by my errors, please know how grieved I am. Some will question whether the force of public pressure explains the timing of my statement and its public nature. In all candor, this pressure is no doubt part of that explanation. That fact should serve to encourage survivors and their advocates to maintain such pressure.
And for survivors who may not yet have spoken up, especially regarding allegations of abuse that have not yet been investigated by law enforcement, I urge anyone with information to report to the proper legal authorities so justice and the truth can be pursued.
I can only speak for myself, but I wish to do so clearly, acknowledging these errors, grieving at the harm that was done, and committing to do everything I can to lead well and to serve Christ faithfully.
Albert Mohler, Jr.
Contact: Colby Adams, (502)-897-4139