ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH, Clergy Misconduct, Crazy Things Church Leaders Say & Do, Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence and Churches, Harvest Bible Chapel, James MacDonald, Leaving the Church, Narcissistic Pastors, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Authority, Spiritual Bullies

Harvest Bible Chapel’s Pastor James MacDonald is OUT; the Painful Personal Stories Left in the Wake

James MacDonald is finally fired!!

Well, he finally did enough damage that even his elders cannot cover this up. James MacDonald was caught saying despicable and cruel things on a recording which was aired by Chicago-area radio personality and former Harvest Bible Chapel congregant, “Mancow” Muller on
WLS/AM 890. And he was fired!

Brandon Showalter of The Christian Post reported about the audio:

Among the things said in the audio is MacDonald talking about planting child pornography on Christianity Today CEO’s Harold Smith’s computer, crude remarks about Julie Roys — including joking that she had an affair with CT Editor-in-Chief Mark Galli — and a vulgar reference to Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.

This was a shocking audio. I listened to it yesterday. It most definitely sounds like James MacDonald – you cannot miss his unique voice. What we know about narcissists is they immediately attack those who are threatening them. Yes, Christianity Today and Julie Roys were a threat to James MacDonald’s reputation, and they were sharing the truth. But James MacDonald could not let it go. He had to attack those who were exposing the truth!

Can you imagine what could have happened if Harold Smith’s computer was found to have child porn on it? That could have been a prison sentence for him, loss of employment, time away from his family, etc. That is unbelievably cruel. Additionally, every time an image of child porn is passed along, it is another abuse to the children who were harmed in the making of the porn. This is clearly evil. James MacDonald will likely become very familiar with the millstone verse.

Mancow Muller still has much more audio to listen to, so I’m sure there will be more coming out, but thank God it was enough for the elders to do what should have been done years ago. Here is the announcement posted at HBC website from the HBC elders:

Message to Harvest Bible Chapel Members from the Elders

Dear Harvest Bible Chapel Family:

It is with great sadness that we as the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel wish to convey to you a very recent development that has caused us to take immediate action regarding our Senior Pastor, Dr. James MacDonald.

Following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion, the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel had determined that Pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of Senior Pastor. That timeline accelerated, when on Tuesday morning highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported. Given that and other conduct under consideration, in accordance with the procedures in our Bylaws, Pastor MacDonald was removed as Senior Pastor and as an Elder of the church for engaging in conduct that the Elders believe is contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church. His employment has been terminated from Harvest Bible Chapel, effective today, February 12, 2019. This decision was made with heavy hearts and much time spent in earnest prayer, followed by input from various trusted outside advisors.

Our Elders and Staff are committed to fulfilling our fiduciary duty as the leadership of this congregation, knowing that at times the outcome may be misunderstood or emotionally painful. A more detailed communication regarding next steps for our church will take place in our weekend services.

We sincerely thank you for your prayers, your support, and your patience as we work together to restore a trust in leadership, a humility to surrender to biblical authority, and a firm resolve to move forward as a church family. Please continue to uphold our church, the Elder Board, staff, and the MacDonald family in prayer at this time.

– The Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel

In addition to being fired, Lifeway Publishing informed Julie Roys that they will no longer be publishing his books:

Others Have Had Enough of MacDonald, Too

Harmed: The Good-Hearted People Looking for Christ

WhatMancow Muller gets it in this tweet. This is the heart of the matter – the many, many families who have been harmed by bully, James MacDonald:

Keep in mind there are people at Harvest Bible Chapel who will still defend James MacDonald despite the recent developments. This is what happens when you have a charismatic leader in charge. People are reluctant to throw in the towel on their beloved leader.

But let’s take a look at some of James MacDonald’s ordinary behavior. I find this behavior shocking, but for those who have been around a bully for a while, it’s easy to get numb to their bully ways.

Act Like Men Event and Publicly Shaming Men Who Are Late

A couple of summers at Palooza, there was a men’s gathering/conference, called “Act Like Men.” Take a look at what was posted by the ActLikeMen Instagram account. They want men to be at the event before 6:00 pm. If men arrived late, they were paraded to the front of the group wearing a pink shirt that said, “I was late.”

That is ridiculous. There could be many legitimate reasons why a man might arrive late, but instead of being gracious and kind, James MacDonald and his cohorts act like bullies to the men who were late. Even if the men didn’t have an excuse, there is still no reason to treat people like this.

The idea of the men wearing a pink t-shirt is troubling to me as well. I happen to love seeing guys wearing pink. My boys look great in the color. But in this case, I suspect it was deliberately chosen because pink is seen as a feminine color. [My legalistic ex-pastor who sued me told us that men should never wear pink – it’s for women only. Apparently he and James MacDonald went to the same school of thought.] So, parading tardy men to the front of a mens’ event wearing pink shirts is not acting like men, so is the implication that they are acting like women? I think so.

Get to the Palooza on time! Arrive by 6:00 pm EST this Friday. #actlikemen #almpalooza

A post shared by Act Like Men (@actlikemen) on Jun 6, 2017 at 3:16pm PDT


Anne Frers shared her personal experience with Harvest Bible Chapel on Twitter. It’s important to note that when there is an evil man at the top of the food chain, the people beneath him usually act like bullies, too. What this woman went through is unfathomable:

Anne’s Personal Story

Chantel Shares Her Heart to James MacDonald

And finally, the following is a YouTube video of a woman from Harvest Bible Chapel. This woman probably represents the majority of congregants who have been harmed, but don’t have “big” stories like Anne’s above. But the pain is real. It is deep. And as she says in the video, it makes it very difficult for her to step in a church again. I’m glad Chantel has spoken out.

27 thoughts on “Harvest Bible Chapel’s Pastor James MacDonald is OUT; the Painful Personal Stories Left in the Wake”

  1. “It is with great sadness….”

    “Pray for us….”

    Really? They’re sad that they let him go? It should have been done long ago. He never should have maintained a position of power for this long. No talk about how J Mac’s behavior and their enabling affected people.

    I don’t feel sorry for these church leaders at all. They’ve allowed people to be wounded and only show concern for themselves and MacDonald.


  2. I couldn’t agree more, Kathi. They enabled the bad behavior they knew about for years! Now it will be interesting to find out about the financial situation and what will happen to his sons who are in leadership there.


  3. I have noticed men who are insecure about their manhoods don’t take child sexual abuse seriously. Doug Wilson being the main one.

    The man who sexually abused me pretended to be butch.


  4. The blog is now a beige color with a picture of sheep at the top.
    It’s weird not seeing the usual navy blue color scheme with the photo of the musical instrument strings at the top of the page.

    On topic: James MacDonald is awful.


  5. If I were Harold Smith, I’d hire a forensic tech to go over my computer(s) with every skill she/he has. I’d report the threat to police immediately upon hearing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. BD – I would, too! And since I recently graduated with a Cyber Security degree, I know that I wouldn’t touch the computer until the forensic expert could copy everything.


  7. The blog is now a beige color with a picture of sheep at the top.
    It’s weird not seeing the usual navy blue color scheme with the photo of the musical instrument strings at the top of the page.

    I wonder if James MacDonald did something to my blog.


  8. One thing that authoritarians ought to note is that apparently at least one person, and probably a number of people, had checked out mentally before leaving physically, and recorded some things to help explain why. You can’t suppress it forever.

    It reminds me of an employer where the staff were treated poorly, and when someone had their fill, what they would often do is strategically schedule absences to inflict the most disruption on the production schedule. They knew they wouldn’t be fired until they got enough “points”, and they knew they could get a new job elsewhere, and they hated management. Hence they decided they would get paid to inflict maximum damage.


  9. Can you imagine what could have happened if Harold Smith’s computer was found to have child porn on it?

    Especially if the hack-and-plant was followed by an Anonymous Tip to the authorities from a “Concerned Christian(TM)”…

    Isn’t something like that legally actionable on Smith’s part?


  10. Now it will be interesting to find out about the financial situation and what will happen to his sons who are in leadership there.

    You mean the Heirs to HBC’s Iron Throne?
    If they’re smart, they’ll be planning Red Weddings for each other and never accepting an invitation themselves. Because There Can Be Only One.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I wonder if James MacDonald did something to my blog.

    All I can say is I was reading this blog yesterday (early afternoon Pacific Standard Time) and saw the switchover. I backed out from a comment thread to the main blog page and the format changed between one page and the next.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. HUG – I always laugh when I make formatting changes thinking of the 3 fairies (or whatever they were) changing the color of Sleeping Beauy’s dress with a wave of the wand. 😂😂😂. I’m sure it could be crazy making if you are on the site.


  13. Regarding legal action, if indeed MacDonald had either planted such pictures on another person’s computer, or quite frankly even if he’d simply made a report to police, either is legally actionable. I am guessing the former would be far more severe, as it amounts to possession and distribution of child porn.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I just want to express my admiration for Chantel and her courage in speaking out and sharing her pain at the betrayal of MacDonald and HBC. As she pointed out, no one expects perfection but we DO expect admission of wrong, humble confession of sin and acknowledgement of the hurt that has been caused. The confession needs to be specific and genuine, not just a general “oops” or “now that I’m caught, I guess it would look good to offer an apology of sorts”. Chantel demonstrates the type of openness we all want to see in spiritual leaders.


  15. I would suggest that if they actually had any integrity, the elders would sack themselves, too. JM wouldn’t have been able to harm so many people without them enabling him. And it’s not like they can claim they weren’t alerted to the problems a long time ago. They made a deliberate choice to ignore those warning cries, to support an abusive man, and to help him intimidate and silence his victims.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Use of the idea that prayer is a part of their decision process boggles my mind. This is headship rhetoric. Each time I hear of this, I wonder who they are praying to.

    Surely, if they were praying to God, the Shepherd of the Flock, they would be laying awake at night with their hearts and minds being flooded, for years, with instruction to rid the church of said leaders and begin repentance and protection for the wounded church body.

    God has NOT been silent. The leaders’ gods are not the Holy God Almighty.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Just so shocking that MacDonalds behavior could go on for so long. As the Apostle Paul said:

    ” You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!” 2 Cor 11:19-21

    It is just shocking that so many would put up with this pink t shirt episode that happened years ago. Maybe this shows what happens when a leader is so revered if not idolized that people lose the ability to think or question what that leader does. Just so appalling that they let this monster named James MacDonald get even worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Just read more material about January lawsuits and Macdonald claiming platform in church in Florida while set aside in Illinois.

    Shame on everyone who has for one moment defended or protected this very sick man and his promoters.

    It might be best to wipe out the name “Harvest Chapel, et al.
    Level the building and place a tombstone least anyone be confused.
    Leave no remnant of such evil.

    This evil did not ‘just’ occur. I lament each wounded person who has been leveled by such evil over years of ongoing cover ups and tolerances.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Churches can hurt cause they’re made of human beings. Sounds like the leadership should have put on their pink ties and spoken up before they were forced to. Those are not true men who can lead.
    Easier said than done, but the damage done here I’m reading about and seeing, SHOWS the importance of being able to be speak the truth in love. Come on, we need to learn from this. This is really bad. And yes, we should definitely pray for them regardless of the pain they’ve caused. And forgive.


  20. These “elders” refused to see the truth about this vile bully egomaniacal megalomaniac YEARS AGO! TWENTY years ago I discerned and experienced a spirit about him that was not holy in an any way shape or form but spiritless evangelical leaders worship at the alter of growth at any cost! There is another such leader in Desplaines who was a proud friend of MacDonsld’s cut from the same clothe who is foisting an ungodly purpose driven franchise upon blind sheep who are shunned and destroyed if they dare question this man and I pray that he is the next one to fall!


  21. This is over a year later, but those “I WAS LATE” shirts are not exactly pink.
    More like LAVENDER.
    Parading the offenders before everyone at an Act Like Men conference in Lavender wear was the public equivalent of “everyone point fingers and scream FAG! FAAAG!! FAAAAAAAG!!!”

    P.S. Up until the 1920s, PINK was THE masculine color and BLUE the feminine color.


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