Strange events are afoot at McLean Bible Church, a multisite megachurch in Washington D.C. pastored by David Platt. In a sobering, emotional and occasionally shocking address from the pulpit on July 4, Platt alleged a conspiratorial attempt on behalf of a “small group” of church members to sow misinformation among the congregation with the goal of taking control of the church. You can watch the full video here.
It started on June 30, during an all-church meeting convened to vote on confirming three new elders to the church’s leadership team. McLean’s constitution requires at least 75 percent in favor to confirm new elders, and the vote ended up being “too close to call,” according to Platt at the time.
Later, the McLean leadership team say they uncovered attempts on behalf of a small group of people both inside and outside the church body to slander the elder board candidates. “A small group of people inside and outside this church coordinated a divisive effort to use disinformation in order to persuade others to vote these men down as part of a broader effort to take control of this church,” Platt said.
Platt says this group’s leaders were able to “somehow” access private church records and used them to target church members. with misinformation. Platt says he and his team have heard reports that this group told other church members that the new elders would attempt to persuade McLean leadership to sell the church building to a local Muslim group for the purpose of building a new mosque.
“I wish I was making this up,” Platt said. “But we have emails where this is being passed around to members in the most inflammatory way possible.”
Platt said this group alleged that the new elders would lead the church “down the road of leaving the Gospel behind, leaving the Bible behind, embracing liberal theology and cultural marxism like the author of the Communist Manifesto, that we would change our stance on abortion and sexuality, that we would allow Critical Race Theory and Black Lives Matter and defunding the police to drive our agenda as a church.”
Platt said these things are “unquestionably untrue and in many cases completely unreasonable.”
Furthermore, Platt said that this group brought voters from all over the country to help sway the vote against the elders, bringing in numerous people from outside the McLean church family to tilt the odds in their favor.
Platt said the effort to sway the church vote was part of a broader conversation that’s been taking place for a “long time,” in which the church has dealt with complaints accusing McLean of creeping liberalism pertaining to its handling of issues like racial injustice. Indeed, an open letter from former church elder Mark Gottlieb accused Platt of transforming McLean into a “political, stripped-down version of what it used to be.”
According to Platt, others have offered far more offensive criticism.
“I’m hesitant to share examples because of how hurtful they are,” he said from the pulpit. “But just to give you a glimpse, I saw one email from one of the main leaders in this group, using race to say that ‘MBC is no longer McLean Bible Church, it’s now Melanin Bible Church.'”
Platt gets emotional at this point. “That is not acceptable for the body of Jesus Christ. That language has no place whatsoever here. I know it’s so ugly and painful to hear, but I want to point out the approach that’s being used by people giving leadership to this group in these meetings. I believe you need to know it because you don’t want to be a part of this. And we need to say loud and clear that definitively does not represent who we are as a church.”
Platt struggles through emotion to mounting applause from the congregation:
“We’re a family of brothers and sisters from all kinds of colors and backgrounds and perspectives and we will not apologize for our increasing diversity or our commitment to humbly address racial issues from God’s Word as we unite together on a glorious mission to proclaim this good Word and our great God in a city where five million plus men, women, boys and girls are on a road that leads to an eternal hell and need the good news of God’s love for them.”
Throughout the roughly 20-minute address, Platt strives to walk the line between grace and force, condemning the alleged actions while still pointing towards unity. “As I’ve prayed, I believe God desires to use all of this division to actually unify our church,” Platt says. “Right now, we have a golden opportunity as a church family after a really hard year in the world — an often tense and divisive year, especially here in Washington D.C. — we have an opportunity to say together as a church ‘what happened Wednesday night is not who we are as the Church of Jesus Christ.'”
In the ensuing vote, which required congregant names to ensure their membership status, the new elder candidates received won more than 80 percent of the vote, according to the church website.
Tyler Huckabee is RELEVANT's senior editor. He lives in Nashville with his wife, dog and Twitter account.