Statement from T4G: Mohler, Dever, Duncan in Support of C.J. Mahaney Was Altered!

*     *     *

Today I was disappointed to discover that the public statement released by  highly respected Christian leaders, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, and Ligon Duncan in support of their friend, C.J. Mahaney, was altered.  The original statement which was posted on Facebook is not the same statement currently posted on the Together for the Gospel website.

This screenshot was taken from Boarshead Tavern blog showing the differences.  Notice the difference in length between the first paragraph (original) and the second paragraph (from current statement).  (H/T Bill Kinnon for the link)

Image

*     *     *

The producer of the Janet Mefferd Show sent me the following:

Janet interviewed Boz Tchividjian, founder of G.R.A.C.E., Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, about the latest on the Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit and the fallout over the Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition statements. Boz also is a professor of law at Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va., and former chief prosecutor in the Seventh Judicial Circuit’s Sexual Crimes Division.

Boz, of course, is also the grandson of Billy Graham.

While covering various issues related to the SGM lawsuit, Janet and Boz Tchividjian also discuss the fact that Together for the Gospel has altered its original statement on the Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit.

When first posted on May 23, 2013, the statement included this paragraph:

“A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C.J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals …”

Checked on the morning of June 6, it was discovered that two sentences — “No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C.J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals” — had been removed from the statement. This is how the new version reads: “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. We believe this lawsuit failed that test.”

However, the date on the statement remained May 23. No reference to an update was included on the changed statement.

Bill Kinnon has the complete Boz interview here.  It is an excellent interview.  Come on, Christian leaders, your behavior is very disturbing.  Where is the love?

*     *     *

35 comments on “Statement from T4G: Mohler, Dever, Duncan in Support of C.J. Mahaney Was Altered!

  1. I’m beginning to think the NeoCal’s don’t have a really good handle on how Social Media actually works. They are so used to being gatekeepers in their own domains that they believe they can operate that way in a wider context. Epic fail.

    Like

  2. Exactly, right, Bill. Thanks for sending the info, btw.

    I read somewhere (and I wish I could find it again), that their intent is to dominate the social media world with their brand. It’s biting them in the butt when they make epic fail errors like this. And come on, let’s be for real. I’ve never taken a journalism class in my life. I stumbled across this gig because of a lawsuit and even I, lowly mother of a passel of kiddos, know how to tell my readers appropriately when I make a significant revision. This is not rocket science, but an avoidance of responsibility and integrity. These guys should be above reproach and forthright. It really makes me sick.

    Like

  3. As someone who has studied the language of abusers (domestic abuse is my special area of interest) I can tell you that abusers often change their story each time they retell it. Slight modifications to their original story are common. Each modification obfuscates and veils their wrongdoing even more cunningly and craftily than the version before. And they deny changing their story when confronted about the discrepancies, or they bring up something as a red herring to throw you off track and prevent you from nailing them down. Each modification is ‘minor’ so they can plausibly deny that they are guilty of re-writing history, and they can counter-accuse by claiming that their critic is is being *petty* or *ridiculously fastidious about the truth*.

    In other words, what Mohler, Dever and Duncan have done is typical of the language of abusers (abuserese). If they had announced their revision and given the date of the revision, it would have been somewhat more acceptable. But true to form they are trying to use sleight of hand to pull the wool (wolfish-wool) over people’s eyes.

    However, not all sheep in God’s flock are blind!

    Like

  4. My first thought is these guys signed their names and then the document was revised. Does this mean they signed onto the revision? In internet world editing should be followed by a note that the post was edited at some point, even if you do not provide a date.

    Like

  5. And so another Comrade is airbrushed out of Comrade Stalin’s newsreels.

    Each modification is ‘minor’ so they can plausibly deny that they are guilty of re-writing history, and they can counter-accuse by claiming that their critic is is being *petty* or *ridiculously fastidious about the truth*.

    Salami tactics and blame-shift. Again, straight out of Comrade Stalin’s playbook.

    (But HUMBLY(TM), of course)

    Like

  6. Sadly there is a lot of similiarities between the conservative evangelical leaders and the fundamental homeschool leaders. And that’s sad.

    Like

  7. Good catch, Julie Anne. As even a novice blogger knows, when you change an article substantively, you are supposed to notate the change and the date you changed it. This is common courtesy and shows humility and transparency. None of us is perfect–we don’t need to pretend that we are by controlling comments and covering up our mistakes.

    I find this particular case troubling. These gentlemen apparently disliked the negative comments they received, re-thought their verbiage–changed it to a less offensive version–and re-posted it without comment. That’s a cover-up, regardless of what the intent was. Not cool. And not trustworthy.

    Like

  8. The statement from TGC says something similar to what was taken out of T4G: ” As the motion to dismiss points out, although C. J. Mahaney is named as an individual defendant, ‘the sole allegation against him in the Complaint is that he founded Sovereign Grace Ministries (“SGM”) and is currently its President. . . . He is not specifically identified or alleged to have performed any other act or omission throughout the 143-paragraph Complaint.'”

    TGC’s statement refers to the Amended Complaint of Jan., 2013. In that one, there is, indeed, no specific allegation against Mahaney. T4G’s similar passage makes no mention of what version of the complaint they are referring to, so they are vulnerable, since the Second Amended Complaint does mention Mahaney specifically several times. Maybe that’s why they took it out. Also, they may have realized that the “vast millions” part was silly.

    I have to confess that I made an error on this point also. When I commented (which was, of course, eventually deleted) on Justin Taylor’s blog criticizing TGC’s statement, one of the things I said that was untrue was that there were no specific allegations against Mahaney. I didn’t notice then that the reference was to the Amended Complaint. So, technically, TGC was correct and I was incorrect.

    Like

  9. Jeff, my take on the matter is that the TGC and TGFG guys clearly didn’t read the 2nd amended complaint or any of the legal documents pertaining to the case. They just believed whatever C.J. Mahaney whispered in their ears. That’s scary.

    They also completely ignored the defendant’s claims that the First Amendment gives Pastors the right to cover up abuse. That’s unconscionable.

    The TGFG Pastors also made the following contradiction/set of illogical comments:

    .”We could not speak to the issues involved so long as they were raised only in the context of an action in the civil courts. We have never made a public comment with regard to claims and counter-claims in a civil lawsuit, and we will not violate that principle now.

    Claims presented in a civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation are beyond the ability of the public to render judgment.”

    And then a few paragraphs below the revised statement reads as follows:

    “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. We believe this lawsuit failed that test. For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way”.

    So it’s wrong to judge someone based on information pertaining to a public lawsuit of any kind but these Celebrity Pastors are exonerating C.J. Mahaney based solely on their opinion of the civil lawsuit filed against him.

    These men have no principles. They’re making things up as they go along.

    Like

  10. The different versions of the Mohler, Dever, and Duncan letter are totally vacuous. It would have been more appropriate to say “Our friend C. J. is dealing with legal issues and this is a hard time for him” without taking sides, and to pray for everyone involved in the lawsuit. Taking sides might have something to do with the donations that SGM gave to SBTS, which might stop coming if the plaintiffs get an acceptable settlement and/or some SGM leaders get thrown in the slammer. 😛

    Like

  11. Sadly there is a lot of similiarities between the conservative evangelical leaders and the fundamental homeschool leaders.

    It’s not just similarities, Lana. It’s OVERLAP.

    Like

  12. Barbara Roberts said “As someone who has studied the language of abusers (domestic abuse is my special area of interest) I can tell you that abusers often change their story each time they retell it. Slight modifications to their original story are common. Each modification obfuscates and veils their wrongdoing even more cunningly and craftily than the version before.”

    Exactly, Barbara. Try to pin the tail on the donkey when the donkey is moving, it’s impossible! You get dizzy, a headache, give up….. they hope.

    More people need to see they are not immune. And for all their service, they are not protected. They may be vulnerable. I am very concerned for them. In God we trust. God does not require us to blindly trust others.

    These “leaders” teach total depravity of the saints (and unbelievers also). Total means 100%. 100% means all the time. We should ask ourselves: Do I want my family to be around someone who is convinced they are 100% depraved? Biblical teaching is Christians are new creatures in Christ, reconciled to God, desiring to do right.

    There are so many double standards among these “leaders” on this SGM situation alone: Silent until the court rules, but many commented before Sandusky was convicted. Statute of limitations expiring is the same thing as exoneration. HELLO. Run and don’t look back.

    They are above reproach, not based on their right actions, but because they declare each other to be. In their religion, actions don’t decide, they decide. In their religion, their highest calling seems to be protecting each other. Are these church shepherds or PR firm executives? I can’t tell the difference.

    Brothers and sisters, find a church that ministers, one that cares in action for you and others. Pink may be the new black. But their church discipline is NOT the new caring.

    Like

  13. So, these three men who are in roles of such high influence don’t issue inerrant statements about their friend C.J. Mahaney — and they’re okay with “stealth edits.”

    Good to know.

    But the drastic shift in their statement’s content and that paragraph’s seeming radical deletion of the authors’ sense of protective triumphalism on Mr. Mahaney’s behalf may rebound upon them.

    After all, concerning the ongoing civil and potentially criminal investigations, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” Will perhaps said statement again need some unsaid work, should the next legal round not go quite so well for the man they are linking their own reputations with?

    Like

  14. Good question, Brad. I was glad to see your comment because I know how you analyze things. Your comments always force my brain to skid and go to the other side 🙂

    Like

  15. Steve (Liberty for Captives) said:

    I find this particular case troubling. These gentlemen apparently disliked the negative comments they received, re-thought their verbiage–changed it to a less offensive version–and re-posted it without comment. That’s a cover-up, regardless of what the intent was. Not cool. And not trustworthy.

    Exactly! We must forget that in moving the original statement from Facebook to the T4G website, they completely ditched the 100+ comments. Many of the comments were lengthy, obviously with time and effort invested. TG4 essentially removed the voices of the people saying, “your voice doesn’t matter.” Who does that? Steve, you and I know where the no-talk rule is prevalent.

    Like

  16. Liberty for the Captives,
    You had said:
    ” when you change an article substantively, you are supposed to notate the change and the date you changed it.”

    That reminded me of when I was in the Navy, and when our office manuals had changes (we would receive changes to certain pages in the mail from time to time), the changes had a number and a date at the bottom of the page.

    Change 2 dtd 7 Nov 83

    And, if that page changed again at a later date:

    Change 3 dtd 18 Feb 84

    And so on, until a whole new manual was mailed to us reflecting all the changes.

    Ed

    Like

  17. Hi Julie Anne. The original statement posted on the T4G website actually did match what was on the FB page. See here :

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:BHpHJ7KGTr8J:t4g.org/statement/+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    So, it’s not like they made the modification during the transfer and thought no one would notice. There was an actual change made to the “official” statement on their website with no “editors note” – which would have been the right thing to do.

    Like

  18. Hi Brian – Welcome!

    Thanks for that info. That is new to me. So if the change was made after it was published on the T4G website, it makes their case look worse. If they did it during the Facebook transfer, they could have said that they were unable to update the Facebook page (which is a true statement). In this case, they have no excuse. They failed in ordinary transparency and integrity. They are not behaving as church leaders should behave.

    Like

  19. Julie Anne,

    They probably decided to release the statement without talking to any lawyers about the case. They make common assumptions (which seem to come up whenever there is a rape, sexual assault, or child molestation case), like that evidence = physical evidence, the alleged survivor just wants to ruin the alleged perpetrator’s life, etc. Many survivors want the perpetrator punished because what he did was *evil* and he’s a danger to others, and it’s possible to win a court case when you only have credible witness testimony.

    I’ve seen the same attitude especially in college sexual assault cases. You need to be suspicious of women who (like a significant amount of other college students) drink too much on the weekends, they’re just trying to ruin the perpetrator’s life, etc. And when there is a false accusation (like the admittedly horrible Duke University lacrosse scandal), you get an army of Angry White Males taking to the Internet to make it look like the rule rather than the exception.

    #rant 🙂

    Like

  20. When first posted on May 23, 2013, the statement included this paragraph:

    “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C.J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals …”

    Checked on the morning of June 6, it was discovered that two sentences — “No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C.J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals” — had been removed from the statement. This is how the new version reads: “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. We believe this lawsuit failed that test.”

    However, the date on the statement remained May 23. No reference to an update was included on the changed statement.

    Translation (in Newspeak; dig out your copies of 1984 for translation):

    cj dayorder 23-5-2013 togsite doubleplusungood refs doubleplusunstatements. doubleplusungood refs doubleplusunevents. memhole correct. LLCJ! LLCJ! LLCJ!

    Like

  21. Headless Unicorn Guy: LOL

    Sometimes the words just pop into your head and “feel right”.

    I am sure you got the parallel.

    Like

  22. Janna – You might be correct that none of them read through any of the complaints and just listened to what Mahaney had to say. That would make it slightly more plausible that they came to the conclusions they did, though they themselves would be even more disreputable.

    If I had a close friend who presided over an institution about which so many claims were made by 11 people over many years, and I read the claims, it’s difficult for me to imagine believing that my friend would have had nothing to do with it, esp. if he were a micro-manager like Mahaney. It would be too implausible. I certainly wouldn’t make a public statement in his favor; I’d just shut up and let the legal process continue.

    I wonder if in their heart of hearts they believe Mahaney is innocent in all of this. If they don’t think so, and yet publicly say they think he is, they can try to convince themselves that they are only giving their legal opinion. But, as someone (Boz, I think) said, who cares about their legal opinion? They are betraying their consciences if they publicly say what they don’t believe. Or they are just gullible fools. Either way, they aren’t leaders.

    If it’s eventually shown that they are either fools or knaves, their “ministries,” though probably diminished, will survive, because there are always people who don’t know or don’t care. Witness the popular “health and wealth gospel” people who survive any plausible attack on their integrity. We might think that Mohler, etc., have more intelligent and discerning followers; we might also be wrong.

    Like

  23. Jeff, I think that people who follow guys like Mohler tend to be more discerning. I assume that all those negative FB comments were from people who subscribed to the T4G FB page.

    Like

  24. Pingback: What Silence Says...

  25. Thanks, Jeff. I agree with what you’ve said. I think that part of the issue is that the celebrity pastors in question are being so deceitful that they’re having trouble keeping up with all the lies they’ve told.

    The big problem for C.J. Mahaney’s supporters is not the specific allegations against him. It’s that he’s not denying he covered up sexual abuse. He’s just arguing that an ordination certificate and the First Amendment gave/give him the right to do it.

    It should be noted that the judge did not dismiss the case based on the Freedom of Speech/Religion claims the defendants were making, so she probably didn’t buy that argument.

    Because they have not expressed outrage at the idea that Pastors have the legal right to obstruct justice by counseling people not to call the police about sexual abuse, Al Mohler and the other celebrity pastors have affirmed their fundamental belief that Pastors are above the law and common decency.

    I know many people think they’re too powerful to be de-throned but I disagree. I think they’re done. The question is who will replace them.

    Like

  26. Karl – I didn’t read too many of the FB comments. I hope you’re right that they are T4G-type people. Maybe they’re finally getting it.

    Janna – Mohler and the others are very quick to say that pastors should immediately call the police, etc. In general, that is. When it comes to Mahaney and SGM – well, there’s just not enough evidence, you know.

    Like

  27. Thanks, Jeff. I think that Mohler, Inc. is quick to tell people to call the police as long as doing so doesn’t affect its business interests. Fortunately they don’t control the civil or criminal legal system.

    Like

  28. I’m beginning to think the NeoCal’s don’t have a really good handle on how Social Media actually works. They are so used to being gatekeepers in their own domains that they believe they can operate that way in a wider context.

    “ABRACADABRA!”
    Literally “I Speak and It Is So.”

    Like

  29. Pingback: C.J. Mahaney withdraws Himself from T4G Conference | Spiritual Sounding Board

  30. Pingback: Thabiti Anyabwile Shows His True Colors! - Thou Art The Man

  31. Pingback: UCCD Borrows A Deceptive Tactic of T4G - Thou Art The Man

Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s