Sex Abuse Scandal in Non-Catholic Non-Celibate Churches
After the horrific sex abuse scandal of the past decade in the Catholic Church, involving less than 4 percent of the priesthood, the conventional wisdom was that sex abuse is the direct result of forced celibacy. What doesn't get breathlessly reported by the media is the pedophile scandal and cover-ups that are occurring in the non-Catholic ecclesial bodies that do not hold to celibacy.
How many of you know of the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries? SGM is a large reformed Christian denomination that has been been supported by Dr. Albert Mohler, the un-official "pope" of the neo-reformed movement in America. The lawsuit was just dismissed because of a statue of limitations clause but the lawyers for the victims of pedophile abuse are still pursuing an appeal and criminal suit. The reason this story peaked my interest is that the SGM denomination was started by two former Catholics, CJ Mahaney and Larry Tomczak .
In 1975, I went to a "christian woodstock" called Jesus 75*. It was a huge Jesus festival of music and preaching and charismatic worship with rock bands that was held on a muddy farm in the middle of Pennsylvania. I sat transfixed listening to the testimony and preaching of CJ Mahaney and Larry Tomczak. Both were still twenty-something Catholics at the time and had not yet left the Church and were popular speakers in the charismatic movement of the early 70's. Larry Tomczak was the author of Clap Your Hands, a testimony of his conversion which carried the imprimatur of his local bishop on the inside foreword! Sadly, by 1982, both had distanced themselves from Catholicism and founded a new church which came to be known as Covenant Life, a flagship church of the Sovereign Grace Ministry which grew to over 100 churches. CJ Mahaney adopted calvinism and the denomination became reformed. Larry Tomczak later had a falling out with CJ over doctrine and leadership styles and started his own church in a sadly not-uncommon scenario.
In the lawsuit against CJ Mahaney and Larry Tomzcak and many other leaders in the SGM, there is revealed a consistent pattern of abuse and cover-up by the leadership. The majority of those accused of pedophile acts are married laymen in the Church, as well as married leaders in ministry! While the mainstream media essentially ignores this story, it is my hope that the leaders of the reformed movement in the US who supported SGM will now stand up and speak out against these abuses and cover ups. They certainly were not silent regarding the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.
*The early 70's saw the start of many Christian music festivals featuring contemporary Christian artists and popular preachers and teachers. I saw Phil Keaggy perform Lion of Judah with Ted Sanquist for the very first time at Jesus 78 festival sitting in a muddy field.