The New York Times did a story the other day about Mars Hill Church founder Mark Driscoll and the avalanche of allegations that have knocked him off his pedestal and may well destroy him and his megachurch career. Plagiarism and shady schemes to get his book on the bestseller list were just the beginning of his troubles:
The church he founded, Mars Hill, enjoyed rapid growth in the Pacific Northwest — one of the most secular regions of the nation — and it claims 15,000 members worshiping at 15 campuses in five Western states, and 200,000 more people watching its services online every week. Mr. Driscoll became a celebrity in conservative Christianity, a sought-after speaker and prolific author known for a celebration of masculinity that helped Mars Hill attract young men, a demographic noted in church life mostly for its absence.
But now Mr. Driscoll’s empire appears to be imploding. He has been accused of creating a culture of fear at the church, of plagiarizing, of inappropriately using church funds and of consolidating power to such a degree that it has become difficult for anyone to challenge or even question him. A flood of former Mars Hill staff members and congregants have come forward, primarily on the Internet but also at a protest in front of the church, to share stories of what they describe as bullying or “spiritual abuse,” and 21 former pastors have filed a formal complaint in which they call for Mr. Driscoll’s removal as the church’s leader.
Mr. Driscoll is rapidly becoming a pariah in the world that once cheered him.
Two weeks ago, Acts 29, a church-building organization co-founded by Mr. Driscoll, said it was removing him as a member and urged him “to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.”
On Sunday, he announced that he would be taking a few weeks off as charges against him are investigated by the people who work for him at the church he created and controls (but I’m sure the investigation will be thorough and impartial /sarcasm). I have to admit, this is really fun to watch as yet another con man is exposed. Driscoll is going down in flames and I’m happily roasting marshmallows. S’mores, anyone?
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