SNAP Plans to Protest Controversial Pastor
By Matthew Glowicki
April 11, 2016
The leader of a local church who had been associated with allegations of sex abuse cover-ups is scheduled to speak this week at a religious conference for preachers, drawing the criticism of a support group for clergy sexual abuse survivors.
C.J. Mahaney, the current senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, is set to speak at the Together for the Gospel conference, a gathering expected to draw thousands to town Tuesday-Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center.
Leaders with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests plan to protest outside the conference Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. by speaking out about the allegations against Mahaney and the church he formerly pastored, Sovereign Grace Ministries. It was a denomination comprised of a network of dozens of churches now known as Sovereign Grace Churches. The denomination moved its headquarters from Maryland to Louisville.
A 2012 civil lawsuit filed in Maryland accused Mahaney of helping to cover up sex abuse by both church leaders and members in the Maryland church, the Courier-Journal previously reported.
That lawsuit has been dismissed because the plaintiffs waited too long to sue under the state’s statute of limitations, as many of the alleged crimes are decades old.
Sovereign Grace Ministries said at the time its own internal review found no evidence of a cover-up.
Mark Prater, executive director of Sovereign Grace Churches, also issued a statement about the allegations that highlighted what the organization of churches was doing to protect children.
"Let me be clear that we deny—in the strongest terms possible—that any Sovereign Grace leaders conspired to cover up abuse as alleged in this lawsuit," Prater wrote in 2014, adding specifically that the organization did not believe the allegations against Mahaney and others to be true.
Mahaney formerly led Sovereign Grace Ministries for decades before stepping down in 2013 amid the pending lawsuit and criticisms of his leadership style, the Courier-Journal previously reported. However he did continue his role as pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, which opened its doors in 2012.
Mahaney stepped down from speaking at the most recent biennial Together for the Gospel conference in 2014 amid the high-profile lawsuit, saying he didn't want his presence to be a distraction.
SNAP leaders said in a news release they reached out to conference organizers and asked them to rescind their invite to Mahaney, but they have not received a reply.
Reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at 502-582-4989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.