The moral scandal of mega-church pastor Bob Coy leads others to come forward to tell their personal stories of corruption and abuse among the Calvary Chapel franchise of churches.
You may have heard of the recent scandal by Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale Pastor Bob Coy. The church elders called a special church meeting on Sunday where it was announced:
“On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985.” (Source)
58-yr old Bob Coy with his wife founded Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale nearly 30 years ago. The church reportedly has over 20,000 attendees and a staff of over 1,000 at 10 different campuses.
Michael Newnham at Phoenix Preacher blog reported:
We have confirmed that Coy has admitted to at least two affairs in the past year alone and has had a long standing “problem with pornography”.
Word of this scandal was first leaked in an anonymous comment on the Calvary Chapel Abuse blog run by Alex Grenier.
Alex Grenier began Calvary Chapel Abuse blog four years ago to go public with accounts of alleged abuse and corruption among the Calvary Chapel family of churches and to give others an opportunity to share their stories. Incidentally, Alex Grenier was sued by his step-father, Calvary Chapel Visalia Bob Grenier, for publicly speaking out about alleged abuse he, his brothers (physical and sexual), church staff, and church members (spiritual abuse) at Calvary Chapel Visalia incurred. This defamation lawsuit is now in appeals. (Calvary Chapel Visalia Pastor Bob Grenier Lawsuit and Sex Abuse)
Alex Grenier had this to say on his blog about the Coy scandal and the lack of accountability at Calvary Chapel churches in general:
Coy will suffer loss for his sin. He was a big boy and took risks and made the choices he made and now it’s time to pay the piper. Many don’t get caught in Calvary Chapel and they get away with their sin for many years. My step-dad is one such example. I have more sympathy for a “moral” issue like Coy’s appears to be than I do for someone who hurts kids…but regardless, we’re all sinners and we all need Jesus. None of us get “transformed” and none of us can meet the standard…even after we’re supposedly saved. That is the great myth of Calvary Chapel’s brand of Christianity*…there is no such thing as the “transformation” gospel. We’re all still sinners after we’re saved and we’re all just as capable of sinning as we were before we were saved…which is why we NEED ACCOUNTABILITY measures in place to protect kids and to have open finances to keep things on the up-and-up with the Jesus money. (Bob Coy to resign as senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale: Update 4/6/14)
This scandal has brought scores of people to Alex’s site, wreaking havoc on the server. At one point there were over 3,700 visitors at one time. Alex said that this amount of traffic is far more than when the story broke of Chuck Smith’s death. But large traffic is not new to CCA. It continues even when there is not a consistent flow of new articles. Why is that????
It is important to note that Calvary Chapel churches use the Moses Model of church governance. This system of governance, I believe, creates an environment ripe for corruption and abuse to take place because there is little to no accountability among the pastors. Here is part of an interview from 2007 in which Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith (now deceased) describes the Moses Model system:
“We take the model from the work that God established in the nation of Israel,” Smith says. “Moses was the leader appointed by God. He took 70 men, and they assisted Moses in overseeing the mundane types of issues that developed within the nation. There was the priesthood under Aaron.” Similarly, he says, “we have assistant pastors, and they look to me as the senior pastor. I’m responsible to the Lord. We have a board of elders. We go over the budget. The people recognize that God has called me to be the leader of this fellowship. We are not led by a board of elders. I feel my primary responsibility is to the Lord. And one day I’m going to answer to him, not to a board of elders.” (Source)
For more information, including diagrams, on the Moses Model system and why it is problematic, please see this article: Calvary Chapel, Chuck Smith, The Moses Model: Let the Little Dogs Bark!
It’s interesting to note that in this franchise of churches of which each church is governed independently, they sure know how to come together quickly and efficiently to do damage control and internet scrubbing when there is a scandal. Michael Newnham made this observation:
There is no more bizarre, anti-Christian ritual in evangelicalism than the expunging of a man’s life work from the church and the internet when he falls. Coy has been deleted from the CCA website and they are wiping the CCFTL site as fast as they can. (Things I Think)
When you have a corrupt system, sometimes leaders will face the consequences of their sin or moral failure, sometimes they go on with life and continue their ministry work without getting caught. In the comment section at Calvary Chapel Abuse blog, a personal story from Lianne shows us what it’s like when a leader does not get caught and she, the wife, and now victim, is left to face the consequences of that corrupt system.
I am a former CC wife. Former is the key word! My ex husband was in ministry in South Florida. He was heavily influenced by CCCM Pastors who viewed me as too worldly to be his wife. They planted many lies in his head about me that had no merit but that he very much took to heart.
What I did not know was two years before we had met, my ex husband had confessed to the head Pastor his sexual issues including visiting strip clubs and buying pornography. His punishment was a month off and then right back into Ministry. Not once during marriage counseling did either one of them disclose this very important information to me.
What took place after our wedding was nothing short of a living hell. I had no clue the seriousness of his sexual addiction. He was still being encouraged to be in full time ministry. Yet I was the one being blamed for any problems he had.
We were later transferred to a Central Florida CC where he was on staff. The Head Pastor walked around with body guards! If you attempted to approach him, you were immediately swarmed by them. It was rather ridiculous considering the size of the CC. This is where I became very disillusioned with CC.
When you attend church as a member, it is far different than attending as a spouse of a staff member. You here [sic] them talk about people, you hear them being petty and cheap, spending money else where rather than helping others. It’s where you see church being ran as a business rather than as a place to help and minister to others.
My ex husbands sexual issues continued to run rampet [sic], so much so he was caught at church having viewed several pornographic material. Once again, nothing was done. I was scolded told I needed to be more sexual for my husband everything would be ok!
This same year I discovered his former Pastor was forced to resign from his position due to sexual harassment of another staff members wife. What happened after was sickening. He was called back to CCCM by the founder to serve as Associate Pastor. He was eventually fired from CC but not until the damage was done.
My ex was a fraud. He preached dating wasn’t of God. He preached not to be alone with any girl or to hold hands. Not kissing before marriage. Yet behind close doors he was having disgusting sexual conversations with woman online and had an active membership to a pornography store in town. Yes everyone makes mistakes and everyone sins. But that is why God holds Pastors and teachers to a higher standard than anyone else. If you can’t live it yourself, you have no business preaching it to anyone else. It’s spiritually damaging to believe in someone, trust someone, especially with your faith and to find out they are living a double life.
It took me years to get over the emotional brainwashing and abuse that took place while I was with him. Total character association placing all his faults on me because the church needed him. For a long time I believed I was at fault. I wasn’t good enough but God finally opened my eyes to the lies I was believing. He never intended for me to be hurt and used the way this man treated me. My ex chose it, not God. He will one day at judgement answer to God for what he put me through. My ex would not get help. Would not stop lying or cheating. He didn’t want me to leave, but he also did not plan to repent and fix what he was doing.
After much prayer, I took the out the Lord gave me and divorced him. I am finally healed from the damage both physically, emotionally and spiritually inflicted by these CC pastors.
I attended CCFTL for many years. Even before it was the mega church it is today. I loved Pastor Bob! Still do. I am very saddened to hear he himself was living a double standard. I ache for his wife and kids. It feels like a nuclear bomb is dropped on you when you discover your Pastor, husband and spiritual leader is betraying you. That he cared more about his needs than keeping the sacred vows he made to you before God. CCFTL’s staff did the right thing by asking for his resignation. When you marry a Pastor you would believe you’d be safe from dealing with any of this. After all, no one knows the Bible inside and out like they do, especially CC pastor’s who pride themselves on commentary and chapter by chapter vs by vs to keep it all in context. Unfortunately it’s not the case at all.