Over the last few weeks, the Roys Report has been unpacking the sad, infuriating tale of David Gray, a former teacher at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC). MacArthur is a prominent pastor and teacher whose theology has shaped a good deal of contemporary Evangelical thinking around pastoral leadership, but the details Roys has uncovered are disturbing.
In 2004, Gray was convicted on multiple counts of the sexual and physical abuse of children, and is serving 21 years for aggravated child molestation, corporal injury to a child, and child abuse. The conviction came about a year and a half after Gray’s now-ex-wife Eileen Gray had been shamed by MacArthur from GCC’s pulpit. In an unearthed video, MacArthur excommunicated Eileen Gray for refusing to take her husband back after he had physically abused their children (she was not aware that he had also sexually abused them at the time).
“This is what the Lord wants,” MacArthur says in the video. “He wants discipline …to be put out of the church, to be publicly shamed, to be put away from fellowship. In this case it applies to Eileen Gray.”
MacArthur told the church that Eileen had committed a sin by deciding “to leave her husband, to grant no grace at all, to take the children, to go away, to forsake him.” MacArthur told the congregation to “treat her as an unbeliever — for all we know, she may be.”
You can watch the full video at the Roys Report.
Eileen Gray had told church leadership that her husband had abused her and her children, and threatened to kill them and himself. Instead of taking this report to the authorities, Roys says GCC leadership mandated spiritual counseling sessions and urged her to take her husband back into her house. She says Carey Hardy, then the GCC associate pastor, told her she needed to “suffer for Jesus.”
When church leadership failed to take action, Eileen Gray told the Roys Report she went to the police, who investigated the claims and eventually convicted David Gray in 2005. Hardy emailed the church a statement which was reportedly posted on GCC’s website, supporting David Gray.
“Many of you have interacted with David on a personal level,” the letter read. “And, like those of us on staff who know him, you have great difficulty believing the accusations that have been brought. It ends up being an issue of character—whether or not David has demonstrated the type of character that fits these accusations or not …we can still strongly say that the accusations do not fit with what we know of David.”
The letter did not acknowledge that, by that point, David Gray had confessed to abuse on multiple occasions, including a handwritten confession. Instead, it detailed an effort to raise nearly $300,000 for legal fees and bail.
Hardy was charged with failing to report child abuse and intimidating a witness, but the charges were dropped for reasons which remain unclear.
Last week, John MacArthur pulled out of the Ligonier Conference and at least one other speaking engagement, reportedly due to an illness.