Thabiti Anyabwile is a social justice activist but he was a social justice pacifist when it came to the victims of sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries under the leadership of C.J. Mahaney. In 2014, Anyabwile refused to talk or meet with me after I wrote him a thoughtful appeal (below).
In 2016, he defended Mahaney’s innocence on Twitter and regurgitated the talking points that were fed him. Later, he destroyed most of the tweets. I saved all of them. The before and after comparison reveals his deceit, partiality, and ignorance.
The only “cause” Anyabwile was willing to embrace was supporting his corrupt friend, C.J. Mahaney, who was covering up crimes. He had no interest in seeking out the truth or pursuing justice. He was a social justice pacifist when it came to heinous crimes in Sovereign Grace Ministries (now Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.).
I’ve been sending Anyabwile evidence for many years. He was one of the original 77 national leaders to whom I appealed in February 2013 when the first amendment to the lawsuit came out against Mahaney and others. It had nine plaintiffs/victims alleging a conspiracy to commit and cover the sexual abuse they experienced. In May 2013, it was amended to 11.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 5:38PM
I think widespread respect for Anyabwile has declined the last couple of years because of his increasingly radical and “racists” views in my opinion. I hope to write about that in a future post. This year, he was not invited to speak at Together for the Gospel 2020 unlike the previous six conferences over 12 years. On the other hand, he remains a Council Member at The Gospel Coalition. He is a pastor at Anacostia River Church in Washington D.C. and a disciple of Mark Dever.
This is the official photo from Together for the Gospel 2016. Thabiti Anyabwile is on the far right (his original name was Ken Burns). Mahaney is third from the left.
In January 2014, I heard Thabiti (I use his first name henceforth) was going to preach at Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. I wrote him a thoughtful appeal with this offer.
If you are interested in the evidentiary facts, I am glad to meet with you and other leaders from Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition. I am happy for C.J. to be present. In fact, I want him to be present so he can offer a defense and I can cross examine him. … I am prepared to engage you in such a process. I sincerely hope you will not reject this offer and thereby continue to justify a man and ministry that is guilty of great iniquities. … I am dead serious about my offer to meet with you, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, John Piper, Don Carson, Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung. You men have not heard the truth! I’d be ever so grateful if you called me at 704-935-9487 to discuss the contents of this appeal.
He never called or answered and went forward with preaching and a glowing endorsement of Mahaney and Gary Ricucci. Ricucci has been accused of sex crimes and covering them up. You can listen to Thabiti’s message here.
From:Brent Detwiler Sent:Saturday, January 18, 2014 5:47 PM To:Thabitti Anyabwile Subject:Preaching and Commending C.J. at SGCL Importance:High Hi Thabitti, I’ve never had the opportunity to meet you but felt the need to drop you this short note as a matter of conscience regarding your plans to preach at C.J.’s church tomorrow. I assume you will take the occasion to support and commend C.J. like other noted leaders before you. If so, you are making a grave mistake. I appeal to you in the sight of Christ, please don’t proceed to honor C.J. Let me explain. C.J. was once a dear friend. I knew him as well as anyone. We began SGM in 1982. Larry Tomczak led it until 1991 when C.J assumed that role. From 1991 to 2007, I was the person primarily responsible for the care of C.J.’s soul in SGM. In 2007, I resigned from the Board of Directors after 25 years of service because I could no longer support C.J. His character had eroded so badly, I could not trust him and I no longer respected him. For many years, I did all in my power to care for his soul but it came to nothing. Other leaders also tried to help him grow in Christian character. The vast majority of them have left SGM and no longer relate to C.J. Those that stayed with C.J. compromised their integrity. Two of them, John Loftness and Gary Ricucci, allegedly conspired to commit and cover up sex crimes as detailed in the extensive lawsuit against SGM. You will see Gary in the morning when you preach. He is C.J.’s brother in law, a pastor at SGCL, and the Director of Student Care in the Pastors College. Of course, C.J., John and Gary have denied all wrong doing. In so doing, they have made the victims and witnesses out to be the most vile liars imaginable. Yet, the facts show C.J. failed to report known and suspected sex abusers to law enforcement for over 30 years and he counseled others to do the same. As a result, scores of children and youth were sexually abused and exploited in SGM. Do you understand what is going on here? C.J., John and Gary are lying when the say the victims of sexual abuse in SGM are liars. And do you intend to promote these men and their ministry? Thabitti, if you commend C.J. you are enabling C.J. in the worst possible way. He needs to be publicly rebuked not empowered. I find absolutely no pleasure in saying that C.J. has a long and proven record of lying, hypocrisy and abusive leadership. These are the plain facts. I say so without malice. I know well the C.J. you are impressed with and attracted to; but that is not C.J. at the core of his being. Leaders like yourself have been drawn to his personality, gifting and doctrine. I understand the attraction. What I don’t understand is your disregard of the evidence against C.J. This failure to study the evidence is grossly irresponsible. As a result, men like yourself have been deceived by his pretentions of character and accepted his demonizing of men like me. You treat C.J. with partiality and favoritism when you neglect to closely examine the evidence using the rules of evidence. It is a deplorable state and ever so grievous to our Lord Jesus Christ. If you are interested in the evidentiary facts, I am glad to meet with you and other leaders from Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition. I am happy for C.J. to be present. In fact, I want him to be present so he can offer a defense and I can cross examine him. If you’ve read my documents, you know C.J. and SGM repeatedly promised this kind of objective hearing. In the end, they broke every promise and created a process that was thoroughly corrupt. Every aspect of due process promised me was deceptively and intentionally violated. That is a matter of fact statement, not a bitter statement. As a result, C.J. was never held accountable which means he never received the help he needed. I care deeply about C.J. My appeal to you is born out of love for my brother and concern for Christ’s church. Evangelical and Reformed leaders who commend C.J. as a qualified minister are doing him and the Body of Christ a great disservice. The leaders of T4G and TGC should have been calling C.J. to account the last 2½ years. Instead they justified C.J. at every turn without any judicial inquiry or hearing of evidence. Rather than pursuing the truth, they accepted as true the talking points provided them by C.J. and SGM. Those talking points amounted to gossip. That is, the whisperings of false information behind closed doors where it could not be known or challenged. This gossip was accepted like false prophesy that goes unjudged by Scripture. It is my fervent prayer that God will raise up national leaders that will not be duped or intimidated by SGM and their enablers. C.J. has never been held accountable in any real sense. The evidence against him from the past 30 years has never been heard or justly tried. That includes the conspiracy to commit and cover up sex abuse in SGM. Law enforcement may not secure the kind of evidence needed to convict in a court of law but that does not absolve C.J., John, Gary, et al. of crimes and heinous transgressions. The evidence against these men should be presented to leaders of T4G and TGC since SGM is a notable evangelical organization with a history of increasing abuse and corruption. I am prepared to engage you in such a process. I sincerely hope you will not reject this offer and thereby continue to justify a man and ministry that is guilty of great iniquities. To date, the leaders of T4G and TGC have claimed C.J.’s innocence and protested his guilt. They have done so without ever evaluating the evidence against him. Please don’t follow their example as you address C.J. and the church in the morning. Thabitti, I hope you will be different. I am dead serious about my offer to meet with you, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, John Piper, Don Carson, Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung. You men have not heard the truth! I’d be ever so grateful if you called me at 704-935-9487 to discuss the contents of this appeal. God’s grace to you in discerning the truth and taking a stand for righteousness sake! Brent
I never heard back from Thabiti. The social justice activist had no interest in justice being done! He had no interest in the truth! He had no interest in obeying Scripture! Over the next two years, Thabiti put his head in a hole, intentionally refused to study the evidence, and blindly supported Mahaney. He was no different than all his cronies.
Two years later, there was a riveting exchange on Twitter between him and Amy Smith, Mike Sloan, Dee Parsons and other knowledgeable individuals regarding sexual abuse. They held his feet to the fire for defending Mahaney but their pointed questions did not prick his conscience. He expressed no regret for his irresponsible ignorance, nor any no interest in pursuing the truth. That tells you a lot about the man.
Last week, I went back and read the 2016 Twitter exchange. Then I compared it to his Twitter account as it reads today. No surprise! He removed two-thirds of the tweets. All incriminating. This was likely done after Rachael Denhollander (Jan 2018) or Mark Galli (Mar 2018) or Al Mohler (Feb 2019) spoke out against Mahaney.
Thabiti demonstrates no humility or integrity in the matter. Instead of coming back on Twitter to acknowledge his faults, he destroys the evidence. He has remained silent to this day.
One more point. These celebrity leaders coverup for one another. Why? Because they benefit from one another’s acclaim. In this case, Thabiti benefits from Mahaney’s endorsement and promotion. He is not going to take a stand against him. It is a racket. They profit from one another.
I’ve added notes below and indicate which tweets were removed. Thabiti’s vacation gets off to a rough start when he puts himself forward to answer questions from his fan base but people show up with hard questions.
March 28, 2016
6:57 PM - 28 Mar 2016
Never done this before... but my wife is hosting her ladies’ Bible study and I’m on vacation. Here goes: Any questions for next 30 mins.
@ThabitiAnyabwilstill supporting@cjmahaney? Are u concerned about the children sexually abused in SGM? http://thewartburgwatch.com/2016/03/28/as-cj-mahaney-is-honored-at-t4g-2016-alleged-pedophile-from-covenant-life-church-is-arrested-and-charged/...#T4G2016
Note: Thabiti lets C.J. (@cjmahaney) know he is supporting him.
@ThabitiAnyabwildid u read this? You don’t believe the victims of SGM abuse who say your friend covered up crimes?https://time.com/4226444/child-sex-abuse-evangelical-church/
Note:This is an article in TIME magazine about the article,The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch - Inside the rise and fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries. It was featured in theWashingtonianwith a readership of 400,000. I worked with the author, Tiffany Stanley. It had a huge impact. The publication is for the Washington D.C. region where Thabiti lives. He never read it. I wrote about it here.
@watchkeepI know it was all decades before I was a Xian [Christian] or knew CJ. I’m left to trust the courts who have had their say.
Note: Thabiti’s says “I know it was all decades before.” Really? How does he know? Of course, that is what Mahaney and Mark Dever were telling him. But it doesn’t end there. Thabiti wildly exaggerates the talking point.
Thabiti became a Christian in July 1997. “Decades before” puts the abuse in the 1950’s (4 decades) or 1960’s (3 decades). That’s nuts. Mahaney was converted in 1972. We started Sovereign Grace in 1982. The coverup of sexual assault began in 1980 with Charles Schmitt. It continues to this day as evident in the refusal to do an independent investigation. Thabiti protects Mahaney and discredits the victims by erroneously confining their abuse to eons ago which is easily disproved.
For example in 2010 when a senior pastor’s son was exposed for repeatedly sodomizing the associate pastor’s young son. Mahaney moved the senior pastor and his predator son to another Sovereign Grace church and later silenced the family of the abuse by setting up a “hush fund” in exchange for their signing a non-disclosure agreement in 2013. I wrote about it and sent the article to Anyabwile. He never read it.
Thabiti also states, “I’m left to trust the courts who have had their say.” This is pathetic! He has no idea what the judge and courts actually said. They NEVER ruled on the merits of the 46 page lawsuit filed by one of the most acclaimed lawyers in Washington D.C. area. The lawsuit was dismissed primarily because the seven year statute of limitations (SOL) in Maryland had expired.
Note: Notice, this is the first tweet removed by Thabiti in the exchange. His relationship with Mahaney started around 2002. That means Mahaney’s “troubles” ended in 1982 because they predate their relationship. In fact, they were beginning. Thabiti removes this absurd statement which reveals his abject ignorance. Furthermore, he refers to the conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children as “troubles.” No, they were crimes. Mahaney and several pastors on his staff should have gone to jail.
Note: Thabiti repeats one of the talking points put out by Mahaney, his lawyers, and his surrogates. That is, the statute of limitations on sexual abuse was good and necessary in their case. No, it was evil! A victim of child abuse had seven years to report after the age of maturity (age 18). That means they had to file a civil suit before they turned 25. That rarely happens due to the trauma suffered. It can take decades before a victim is ready to go public. Thank God the law was changed in Maryland when the lawsuit was widely reported on by the press and brought to the attention of the state legislature by Pam Palmer, the mother of a victim at Covenant Life Church. The SOL was increased to 20 years or age 38. Unfortunately, it was not made retroactive or the lawsuit against Mahaney, CLC and SGM would have been heard.
Note:Janey The Small is referencing specific allegations of fact in the lawsuit. Of course, Thabiti removes her tweet. God forbid anyone read it. I sent him the lawsuit in 2013. It is absolutely disgraceful he never read it.
Note: A statute of limitations can serve a just purpose in appropriate cases but that is not the case with a seven year SOL for sexual abuse. The Roman Catholic Church has fought hard to retain short SOLs so they cannot be sued for past abuse. Members of Covenant Life Church and friends of Mahaney did the same thing at the hearing in the Maryland legislature. They lost and were shamed.
@anne_sades34 No, I’m sorry, I haven’t. More than that, I’m sorry anyone was abused--even more so in a church.
4:17 PM · Mar 28, 2016
Note: The testimonies of the victims are found in the Second Amended Complaint (i.e. the third edition of the lawsuit). That is the most damming thing anyone could say. The first piece of evidence to be read is the lawsuit. Three years after it came out, Thabiti had not read it yet he is defending and justifying Mahaney. He says, “No, I’m sorry, I haven’t.” Of course, he is not sorry. If he were, he would have said I will read it and research the evidence and speak out even if it costs me my friendship with Mahaney. If he were concerned about abuse “in a church,” he would be concerned about the abuse in C.J.’s Covenant Life Church. He is not concerned at all.
@ThabitiAnyabwilnot about how long you’ve been a Christian & time has no bearing. U think it’s ok that CJ told parents not to call police?
@watchkeep Don’t think I’ll play “he said”/”she said” w/ events I have no knowledge of w/in decades. Better investigators than me have spokn
Note: On the one hand, he says “I have no knowledge.” On the other hand, he says “Better investigators than me have spokn [spoken].” He is taking about the “finding” of innocence by the law firm Thaler-Liebeler, LLP. They were hired by Covenant Life Church to do a fraudulent interal review that was biased, limited, and corrupt. The law firm never even talked to the victims! Mahaney and Dever were telling everyone this “independent investigation” vindicated Mahaney, CLC and SGM. Thabiti, like countless other leaders, foolishly believed every falsehood he was fed without reading any of the evidence.
Note: Larry Caffery, a member at CLC who worked in the children’s ministry, was arrested. Read here.
Note: No, but he authoritatively references the “experts” in his defense of Mahaney.
Note: Once again, Thabitti defends Mahaney. He claims “others who do [have a way to adjudicate these things] have reached their conclusion.” The “others” certainly includes Mark Dever from 9Marks. He is a close friend of Thabiti and been Mahaney’s staunch advocate and protector. Dever did his own review and was deceived by Mahaney like Al Mohler was deceived. It changed for Mohler in March 2016 when he was provided evidence from the transcripts I made of Liebeler’s secret oral reports to Covenant Life Church back in October 2014. At that point, he realized Mahaney had lied to him and severed all ties.
@ThabitiAnyabwil@wartwatchGrant Layman testified that they did cover up child sex abuse at SGMhttp://m.christianpost.com/news/megachurch-pastor-confesses-to-protecting-child-molester-for-years-119877/ …
Note:He sure did! Grant Layman worked for Mahaney and is his alienated brother-in-law. The evidence is indisputable. I sent thisevidenceto Thabiti. He made the willful and damming choice not to know the truth or care about the victims.
Note: Thabiti is delusional. He has defended Mahaney at every point. First, it all happened decades ago. Second, the courts have vindicated Mahaney. Third, “better investigators” like Dever and Liebeler have concluded innocence. His defense continues below.
Note: “But I don’t.” The only reason Thabiti didn’t know was because he determined not to know. I sent him the transcript of Grant Layman’s sworn testimony from the trials of convicted sex abuser, Nathaniel Morales, where Layman testified to covering up his crimes along with at least four CLC pastors including Mahaney. “If a friend is wrong and I know it, I say so.” That is laughable. I asked Thabiti this week if he now knows C.J. is “wrong.” He hasn’t answered me.
Note: Thabiti claims ignorance. That is damming. “Knowledge of the events” was at his fingertips. He already said, “I’m left to trust the courts who have had their say.” No, they didn’t! The courts NEVER ruled on the merits or substance of the case made in the lawsuit by 11 plaintiffs. Thabiti never acknowledges his total irresponsibility for knowing nothing about the events except what was told him. His was happy to believe Mahaney and Dever. He stubbornly refused to study any of the evidence. His ignorance was willful. He didn’t want to know.
Note: “Amen.” What a hypocrite. He had no concern for the victims of abuse, only for Mahaney who covered up their abuse. For over three years, he refused to read any of the evidence including the civil lawsuit and court transcripts from the criminal trials of Morales. That is utterly immoral.
Note: He didn’t grieve for any of the victims of abuse in Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries. If he did, he would have sought to contact them to hear their stories and care for their souls. Instead he defended Mahaney and SGM who labeled them liars.
Note: The Gospel Coalition and Together for Gospel defended Mahaney’s innocence to the max based on the talking points provided them by Mahaney, his surrogates, his lawyers and Mark Dever. It was willful, not just apathetic. They refused to talk with me and took no initiative to talk with any of the victims. Only Al Mohler has asked forgiveness for aspects of his horrific sin. Dever and Duncan are silent. Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition continue to defend Mahaney with their hideous statement on its website.
Note: Thabiti didn’t respond. If he cared for the victims, he would have called for a truly independent investigation in 2016 and today.
End of Thread
I planned to write this article a few years ago but the tweets would not have been deleted. In the providence of God, I was prompted to write to write now. I contacted Thabiti yesterday and ask for a response by this afternoon. I’ve heard nothing.
From:Brent Detwiler Sent:Wednesday, June 24, 2020 11:00 AM To:Thabiti Anyabwile Subject:Where Do You Stand Today on C.J.? Importance:High Hello Thabiti, I wrote you a lengthy appeal in Jan 2014 before you spoke at C.J.’s church. I asked to talk or meet. I never heard back from you. In Jan 2016, you defended C.J. on Twitter. Later you deleted many of the tweets. For the last 7 years, I’ve been sending you evidence documenting the conspiracy to cover up sexual abuse by C.J and others. I am working on an article and would like to know where you stand today. Do you still support C.J. and his claim there was no conspiracy? Or have you changed your mind? If so, how? Lastly, have you called for an independent investigation? Sincerely, Brent
From:Brent Detwiler Sent:Wednesday, June 24, 2020 11:51 AM To:Thabiti Anyabwile Subject:RE: Where Do You Stand Today on C.J.? I’ll be publishing tomorrow. If you care to answer my questions, please do so before 1:00 PM Thursday.
Thabiti refused to pursue truth but gladly believed lies. Then he covered his tracks by deleting incriminating tweets. He has not publicly called for an independent investigation but protests in the streets against racism. He will not speak out against C.J. Mahaney or Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. Instead, he remains silent in the face of great iniquity. He teaches accountability in his church but does not answer my questions. He won’t tell me where he stands today. This all amounts to favoritism, injustice, deceit, cowardice, compromise, hypocrisy, and cowardice. He is like scores of national leaders who done the same with respect to C.J. Mahaney.
My efforts are designed to help Christians judge righteously, think biblically, and live courageously. Your financial support makes that possible. Please consider a gift today at PayPal.Me/BrentDetwiler. It is easy to use. Checks can be sent to my address below.
Any gift is greatly appreciated!
2237 E. Bel Air Lane
Gilbert, AZ 85234