Former ministers file abuse charges against Seattle’s ‘Rush Limbaugh of Christianity’
Twenty-one former ministers from Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church have filed charges saying that Driscoll created an “abusive environment” at the church and asked in a letter to church elders that he be removed as its head.
“Accompanied by a cover letter, briefs on workplace bullying and a summary of the powers of Mars Hill elders,” wrote Warren Throckmorton at the faith-oriented blog Patheos, “the charges are being leveled by well-respected former pastors and are in the possession of the Mars Hill leadership.”
The group of clergy demand that Driscoll be fired from his position at Mars Hill, a sprawling evangelical congregation with an estimated 15,000 members worshipping at a network of 15 churches located throughout the northwest.
“We have submitted to the Mars Hill board of advisors and accountability the attached formal charges of Mark’s disqualification from the pastoral office,” said the ministers’ cover letter. “We have signed these charges and intend to stand as witnesses. There are additional witnesses whose names have been withheld for their protection, but who also intend to testify in an investigation of these charges.”
Driscoll — known by some as the “Rush Limbaugh of Christianity” for his fiery sermons denouncing liberal Christians, feminism and President Barack Obama — reportedly bullied and abused subordinates, creating a “culture of fear” at the church.
According to the New York Times, Driscoll is accused of not only browbeating and intimidating followers, but of plagiarism, of “inappropriately using church funds,” and of sexually inappropriate remarks and behavior.
The letter against Driscoll accused him of 25 specific instances of inappropriate conduct. The pastor reportedly denied one man a chance to move up in church leadership because “his fat ass is not the image we want for our church.”
He is also accused of making “inappropriate sexually-oriented comments…to and about other men’s wives, particularly in casual social settings.” He reportedly shouted at a church elder who expressed concern about his leadership style, “I don’t give a shit what you think. I’m trying to be nice to you guys by asking your opinion. In reality, we don’t need your vote to make this decision. This is what we’re doing.”
Act 29, a church-building group founded by Driscoll has forced him out, urging him “to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.”
Christian book publisher LifeWay Christian Resources has pulled Discoll’s books from the shelves after discovering multiple instances of plagiarism in the pastor’s books on marriage, relationships and raising children.
Staff and worshippers are reportedly fleeing Mars Hill in droves as organizations withdraw their speaking invitations to Driscoll and more coworkers and employees step forward to denounce him.
New York pastor Timothy Keller told the Times that Driscoll has gone from being a boon to the evangelical community to an albatross around its neck because of his outspokenness and hot temper.
“He was really important — in the Internet age, Mark Driscoll definitely built up the evangelical movement enormously,” Keller said. “But the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships — which he himself has confessed repeatedly — was obvious to many from the earliest days, and he has definitely now disillusioned quite a lot of people.”
[image of Pastor Mark Driscoll via Facebook]