Even so, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, and Al Mohler probably didn't expect the negative response to their defense of Mahaney they posted on facebook, negative responses logging at about 10 to 1 for every positive comment posted. Knowing the post wouldn't remain, I contacted a friend to see if she could get a screen shot of it before it was taken down. But she was in no better position at the moment to get it than I. I managed to get the post itself but time ran out before I could get the comment section (however, see here and here for many of the comments Bill Kinnon captured before the post disappeared). The post was pulled only an hour or so after I first read it.
A similar statement to Duncan, Dever, and Mohler's was posted on The Gospel Coalition website, a joint statement by Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor on why they'd been silent about C.J. Mahaney's fiasco (no comments allowed on that particular post). And, while many have offered valuable criticism on their piece, I would make only a few remarks (no particular order followed). Concerning their silence about Mahaney's legal troubles, they ask:
Would it have served anyone to take to the blogosphere to express our legal opinion about the conspiracy allegations before the case was decided, much less before it even went to trial? Would it have changed anyone’s mind? Would it have helped the case itself in any way? We deemed it wiser to let an impartial judge rule on whether the case should be considered, making a determination based on all the facts available.
First, why would Carson, DeYoung, and Taylor assume the Christian community desired them to make a formal public statement expressing their legal opinion about C.J. Mahaney? We waited not for their legal opinion about Mahaney; how crass would that be? Carson, DeYoung, and Taylor might be brilliant Bible scholars and/or theologians, but neither is qualified to state a legal opinion about Mahaney or anyone else for that matter. We were waiting, however, for a moral opinion concerning child abuse, cover-up, and the 150+- moral complaints lodged either directly or indirectly against Mahaney. We didn't need any courts for that. Nor was it about helping or hurting the legal case against Mahaney or even changing other people's minds. Rather it was about integrity, moral accountability, and protection of children. Now for sure Carson, DeYoung, and Taylor are certainly qualified to make their moral opinion known; and, what is more, morally obligated to do so.
They go on to write "Another reason we have remained silent is because we have detailed charges from one side, but essentially no defense from the other side." Granted. But C.J. Mahaney and lawyers had every opportunity to offer a defense to the "detailed charges" but instead insisted they possessed neither legal nor moral duty to answer the charges due to their constitutional religious right to remain silent. This is church business, after all. So, to suggest we cannot make a judgment since only one side of the argument is heard when the other side refuses to speak is morally absurd.
Finally, they claim "As to the specific matter of C. J. participating in some massive cover-up, the legal evidence was so paltry (more like non-existent) that the judge did not think a trial was even warranted." I can hardly believe these three highly-educated men would pen such undiluted fully verifiable nonsense. The judge did no such thing and Taylor, DeYoung, and Carson are simply perpetuating nothing less than what some would understandably call a polite fib. The judge didn't cite lack of evidence as a reason to dismiss but the statute of limitations, a lawful limitation not even legally applicable to at least two of the plaintiffs. If nothing else in the article gave the impression Mahaney's buddies were covering for him, this statement surely did.
One of the most enlightening comments on the pulled facebook piece written by Duncan, Dever, and Mohler came from Basyle "Boz" Tchividjian, an attorney for G.R.A.C.E.--"a non-profit organization made up of highly trained and experienced multi-disciplinary professionals who seek to educate and empower the Christian community to identify, confront and respond to the sin of child abuse" (from their website). Tchividjian is grandson of Billy Graham and brother to Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL. "Boz" Tchividijan also serves as Assistant Professor of Law at Liberty University Law School. He later teased his comment out into a full post on the G.R.A.C.E. website. Entitled "Where are the Voices? The Continued Culture of Silence and Protection in American Evangelicalism," the LU law professor pulls no punches:
This past week, I have fluctuated between anger and tears as I read about Christian leaders who proclaim the Gospel with their voice, but remain silent and/or defensive about the horrors of child sexual abuse within the Church. These leaders have once again, and perhaps unwittingly, demonstrated the art of marginalizing individual souls for the sake of reputation and friendships. ...
On May 23rd, a joint statement by the founders of Together for the Gospel was released. Some leaders of the Gospel Coalition released a similar statement this morning. Without addressing both statements in detail, let me make four quick observations:
- Neither statement makes mention that the heart of this lawsuit is about a systematic church effort to discourage and eventually prevent the families of children who were allegedly (and repeatedly) sexually victimized by church officials from speaking out and reporting to law enforcement...
- Neither statement mentions that CJ Mahaney was actually the Senior Pastor at one of these churches where all of this horrific abuse allegedly occurred AND where these families were discouraged from bringing this matter to the God ordained civil authorities?
- The statement by T4G fails to mention that this lawsuit was dismissed for one reason and one reason only…expiration of the statute of limitation. ...
Tchividjian goes on to conclude: "Many of these men have not hesitated to write (or tweet) on the Penn State horrors, homosexuals in the Boy Scouts, and universal healthcare, but have been conspicuously quiet on this issue. And when they finally speak, what is omitted speaks more than what is said."
In addition to Tchividjian's right-headed missive toward all six nationally known conservative leaders (seven counting Burk), evangelical theologian, Scot McKnight, signed his supporting signature to Tchividjian's critical letter to Mohler, Carson, Dever, Burk, et al. He wrote: "[I am] with Boz Tchividjian, a former prosecutor and one deeply committed to fighting injustices against children, on this one. There is blatant failure here to recognize the complicity of a leader in what transpired under his watch. God have mercy" (//link).
The strongest criticism of Mohler and company for their perceived protection of Mahaney and callousness toward sexually abused victims is also the most recent to get into the fray. David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, an organization offering help to the hundreds of sexually abused victims particularly from Roman Catholic priests, spoke some stinging rebuke to those who appear to be coddling Mahaney. According to Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press, Clohessy indicated that the religious leaders voicing support for C.J. Mahaney "sends the wrong message to abuse victims everywhere" and therefore they "ought to be ashamed." Allen reported:
“It’s dreadfully hurtful to child sex-abuse victims when people in authority publicly back accused wrongdoers,” said Clohessy, one of just four abuse survivors to testify before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at their historic meeting in Dallas in 2002. “And it hinders criminal investigations, because it intimidates victims, witnesses and whistleblowers into staying silent”. ...
“Support Rev. Mahaney if you must,” Clohessy pleaded. “But do so privately in ways that don’t further harm, depress and scare other child sex-abuse victims into keeping silent and thus helping child predators escape detection and prosecution.”
“It’s always heartbreaking to us to see congregants immediately and publicly rally for an accused child molester instead of keeping an open mind and urging anyone with information to come forward,” he said. ...
“As responsible adults, we must make it less hard, not more hard, for victims of these heinous crimes and cover ups to step forward, get help, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing.”
Clohessy acknowledged that legally speaking Mahaney and the other defendants are innocent until proven guilty, but public support in the meantime sends the message that alleged victims are either wrong or lying. “That, in turn, frightens other victims into staying trapped in frustration” (//link)
Is the Resolution on the Sexual Abuse of Children still needed?
Now more than ever.
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE: "SNAP leader shames Mahaney supporters" by Bob Allen