As the Southern Baptist Convention prepares to hold its annual meeting later this week in Nashville, it is once again roiling in controversy. On June 2, Religion News Service published a “leaked” letter from Russell Moore, who last month resigned from the presidency of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). In the letter addressed to trustees of the ERLC in February 2020, Moore issued a scathing indictment of SBC leadership. He highlighted the mishandling of sexual abuse within the SBC, including the SBC’s Executive Committee’s “spur-of-the-moment” exoneration of churches from “serious charges of sexual abuse cover-up,” and he told of “constant backroom attempts” to impede efforts to address abuse.

Moore also recounted the controversy that played out largely behind closed doors when he hosted abuse survivor and activist Rachael Denhollander at the ERLC’s 2019 National Conference. Denhollander outraged members of the Executive Committee when she drew attention to the horrific treatment of survivors in the SBC. The response of certain leaders was ruthless: “It was, and is, chilling” Moore wrote, “especially seeing what they had in mind to do under cover of darkness.”

In an expanded version of the letter published this past week, Moore further details “backroom and hallway threats of retribution and intimidation.” Conversations behind closed doors were far worse than what was being reported by the media, he discloses; sexual abuse survivors were “spoken of in terms of ‘Potiphar’s wife’” (a biblical reference to a woman who tries to seduce and coerce a man into sexual relations), called “crazy,” and in one case referred to as “worse than the sexual predators themselves.”

Abuse was one flashpoint. Race was another, Moore wrote. His efforts to promote “racial reconciliation” and begin conversations within the SBC about current and past injustices prompted “constant threats from white nationalists and white supremacists,” including those within the SBC.

Targeted for his advocacy on both fronts, Moore endured specious “investigations” meant to undermine his credibility and was “attacked with the most vicious guerilla tactics.” Opponents made their strategy clear to him: “We know we can’t take you down…This is psychological warfare, to make you think twice before you do or say something.”

The public airing of Moore’s letter drew support from many who have toiled alongside Moore to address these issues within the SBC, but among the accused, it sparked heated denial. Others sought to separate what they claimed were the actions of a few from the SBC writ large. Daniel Darling tweeted about his “Pet peeve: using ‘The SBC’ when you mean a few awful leaders.” Instead, Darling insisted that “The SBC” entailed millions of ordinary people in our churches who mostly want to fund missionaries, train pastors, send [church] planters, and help you when a hurricane hits your town. People who don’t get caught up in the drama.”

Rachael Denhollander’s husband Jacob countered Darling’s take, asserting that “the drama” could not be reduced to a sideshow, and that these “awful leaders” are “either representative of the organization they lead, or are holding it hostage.” Why were these men allowed to hold power for so long, he alleged?

Black Christians also challenged Darling’s characterization. Having spent four years in an SBC church, Danté Stewart called out Darling’s “lie”: “The local level is as terrible as the national leaders.” John Onwuchekwa, a Black pastor who left the SBC last year, asserted that “If you’ve learned anything new about the SBC this week it may be because (1) you haven’t [been] listening or (2) you haven’t fully believed the people who have been saying this stuff.”

Moore himself appeared torn. On the one hand, he acknowledged wanting to scream: “But that’s not who Southern Baptists are! The people in the churches…are kind and loving and mission-focused.” And in his more recent letter, he insists that “the vast majority of Southern Baptists care about the abused and want accountability for abusers.” At the same time, he acknowledges his own complicity, his willingness “to be quiet,” to “smile and pretend that everything is alright,” to resist exposing the truth in order to protect the mission of the church. He challenged Southern Baptists, too, to decide “whether this sort of wickedness can continue to go on under their name.”

Moore is right to examine the question of complicity. Despite the enormous costs he has paid for battling the racism, sexism, and abuses within the SBC, he, and many other leaders, have also at times been complicit in their silences. This is true at the highest levels of SBC leadership, and it is true at the level of the local church.

History makes clear that the problems of abuse within the SBC are not due to “a few bad apples.” Cultures of abuse flourish within the SBC, and within white evangelicalism more broadly, because of—not despite—the theological teachings and leadership practices within these spaces. Even as men like Moore struggle valiantly to turn the ship around, “respectable” evangelicals continue to champion beliefs about sex and power that cultivate these patterns of abuse by insisting that patriarchy and female submission—religious, social, and sexual—is a requirement of Christian orthodoxy.

These teachings leave women vulnerable to abuse and victims without recourse within their own communities. Time and again, evangelicals have circled their wagons to provide cover for abusers in their midst, blaming victims and rushing to forgive perpetrators with little thought for accountability or justice, all in the name of protecting “the witness of the church.”

Writing in 2020, Moore insisted that the issues he raised had nothing to do with President Trump, and he dismissed such suggestions as a “lazy journalistic assessment,” despite the fact that his own opposition to Trump was the source of considerable conflict within the SBC. Yet the tendency of SBC leaders to engage in racism and misogyny and to wield power ruthlessly within their own circles is in many cases reflected in loyalty to Trump himself. And the same factors that lead rank-and-file members of the SBC (and of white evangelical churches more broadly) to cover up abuse, blame victims, and engage in collusive silence in order to preserve the status quo, are mirrored in white evangelicals’ overwhelming support of President Trump over the past four years.

History suggests that these patterns run deep, and that conservative evangelical support for abusive leaders is a feature, not a bug. At the heart of these patterns is the unapologetic assertion of white patriarchal authority, in all its guises.

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Three months into Donald Trump’s presidency, three-quarters of white evangelicals approved of his job performance, nearly twice as high as his approval rating among the general public. Trump’s evangelical support was strongest among regular churchgoers. Most evangelicals appeared to be far less conflicted about their crude, egotistical, morally challenged president than many had imagined them to be. But it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.[1]

Since the 1960s and 1970s, evangelicals had championed discipline and authority. To obey God was to obey patriarchal authorities within a rigid chain of command, and God had equipped men to exercise this authority in the home and in society at large.

Testosterone made men dangerous, but it also made them heroes. Within their own churches and organizations, evangelicals had elevated and revered men who exhibited the same traits of rugged and even ruthless leadership that President Trump now paraded on the national stage. Too often, they had also turned a blind eye to abuses of power in the interest of propping up patriarchal authority. In the 2010s, a number of high-profile cases revealed the darker side of the aggressive, testosterone-fueled masculine “leadership” evangelicals had embraced within their own homes, churches, and communities.

Mark Driscoll was perhaps the clearest embodiment of militant evangelical masculinity in the early 2000s. Ruling his Mars Hill empire with military discipline, he inspired a generation of conservative pastors and young Christian men. But in 2013, his empire started to come undone. The first sign of trouble came with accusations of plagiarism. Then came World magazine’s revelation that his church had spent $210,000 to buy his book Real Marriage a spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Only then, when Driscoll no longer seemed invincible, did twenty-one former Mars Hill pastors have the courage to come forward to accuse Driscoll of an abusive leadership style, of lacking self-control and discipline, of being arrogant, domineering, quick-tempered, and verbally violent. With allegations mounting, the Acts 29 network announced in August 2014 that it had removed Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from its network. Later that month Driscoll resigned his pastorate.[2]

The response of other evangelical men to Driscoll’s fall from grace was revealing. The day after Driscoll resigned, Doug Wilson defended his friend and colleague: “I liked Mark Driscoll before, and I like him now.” Wilson thought he knew what was behind “the Driscoll dogpile”: Driscoll was guilty of the sin of being an alpha male. He was “a tough guy,” and his “out-there masculinity provoked resentment among others.” In essence, Driscoll’s downfall could be seen as “the revenge of the beta males.”

John Piper, too, came to Driscoll’s defense. Although he confessed to harboring certain reservations concerning Driscoll’s “leadership attitude” and “unsavory language,” and regarding certain “exegetical errors,” he did not regret befriending Driscoll, speaking at his events, or hosting him at his Desiring God Conference. Instead, he chided Driscoll’s detractors and reminded followers that everyone needed renewal and restoration, not just Driscoll. What happened in Seattle was a tragedy: “It was a defeat for the gospel, it was a defeat for Mark, it was a defeat for evangelicalism, it was a defeat for Reformed theology, for complementarianism. It was a colossal Satanic victory.” Yet Piper reminded followers that God still used people to “speak gospel truth” despite their flaws. The Gospel Coalition cofounder and vice president Tim Keller seemed to agree. He admitted that “the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships” had been obvious from Driscoll’s earliest days, yet he still found opportunity to credit Driscoll with building up “the evangelical movement enormously.” [3]

But Driscoll wasn’t the only man in evangelical circles to run into trouble in the 2010s. In 2011, C. J. Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), a church-planting association of eighty predominantly white, Reformed evangelical churches, board member of The Gospel Coalition and CBMW, and cofounder of Together for the Gospel, took a six-month leave after other SGM pastors charged him with “expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy.” His alleged sins included bullying and attempting to blackmail his ministry’s cofounder to keep him from expressing doctrinal disagreements. After that brief hiatus, Mahaney was welcomed back and reinstated.[4]

In 2016, Driscoll’s good friend Darrin Patrick, author of The Dude’s Guide to Manhood, member of The Gospel Coalition, and vice president of the Acts 29 network, was fired from his St. Louis megachurch for his domineering and manipulative leadership style. In 2018, evangelical megachurch pastor and champion of complementarianism John MacArthur ran into trouble when accreditors placed his Master’s University and Seminary on probation for operating under a “pervasive climate of fear, intimidation, bullying, and uncertainty.” Accreditors also flagged his institution’s failure to comply with requirements of the Violence Against Women Act. In 2019, SBC megachurch pastor James MacDonald, author of Act Like Men, took an “indefinite sabbatical” after a World magazine investigation uncovered patterns of bullying, angry outbursts, abusive speech, intimidation, and financial mismanagement. Then, audio clips were released in which MacDonald lashed out at Christianity Today for its coverage of the evolving scandal. His choice of words is revealing: “CT is Anglican, pseudo-dignity, high church, symphony-adoring, pipe organ-protecting, musty, mild smell of urine, blue-haired Methodist-loving, mainline-dying, women preacher-championing, emerging church-adoring, almost good with all gays and closet Palestine-promoting Christianity, so of course they attacked me.”[5]

Driscoll, Mahaney, Patrick, MacArthur, and MacDonald had all risen to prominence through their aggressive promotion of patriarchal power. To those who cared to notice, it was clear that Trump wasn’t the first domineering leader to win over evangelicals. Yet what most puzzled observers when it came to evangelical devotion to the president wasn’t their eagerness to embrace a brash, aggressive, even authoritarian leader. Rather, it was the apparent willingness of “family values” voters to support a man who seemed to make a mockery of those values, the willingness of the self-proclaimed “moral majority” to back such a blatantly immoral candidate. The release of the “Access Hollywood” tape just weeks before the election had done little to shake evangelicals’ loyalty, nor had allegations leveled by at least sixteen women who had accused Trump of sexual misconduct that included harassment and assault. In the months after Trump took office, the puzzle of evangelical support for morally challenged men persisted.[6]

First there was Roy Moore. In 2017, Moore ran in a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions after Sessions was appointed attorney general. Back in the early 2000s, Moore had gained hero status among conservative Christians for ignoring a court order to remove the monument of the Ten Commandments he had installed in the Alabama Supreme Court. In 2011, he had contributed to one of Doug Phillips’s textbooks and appeared in an accompanying Vision Forum video. And in the run-up to the special election, Moore’s old friend James Dobson endorsed him as “a man of proven character and integrity,” a “champion for families” who would “govern the nation with biblical wisdom.” But then stories surfaced detailing Moore’s long history of sexual misconduct; in one case, he had allegedly pursued a relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl. In Alabama, however, evangelical support for the culture warrior remained firm. Some cast doubt on the women’s stories, while others saw no problem with a then-thirty-two-year-old man courting a fourteen-year-old girl. After all, hadn’t Jesus’ mother Mary been a teenager when she married Joseph?

But it was too much for Russell Moore (no relation to Roy): “Christian, if you cannot say definitively, no matter what, that adults creeping on teenage girls is wrong, do not tell me how you stand against moral relativism.” Yet once again Russell Moore found himself in the minority; one poll suggested that 37 percent of the state’s evangelicals were more likely to vote for Moore in the wake of the allegations. In the end Moore lost his bid, the first Republican to lose a Senate race in Alabama since 1992, but white evangelicals had voted for him at the remarkably resilient rate of 80 percent.[7]

No sooner had Roy Moore’s Senate ambitions been put to rest than national attention turned to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who had been paid $130,000 in hush money in the weeks before the 2016 election to avoid going public about her 2006 affair with Trump. By this point in time there was nothing shocking about allegations of Trump’s sexual conduct, and the response of Trump’s evangelical supporters was also predictable. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, explained that evangelicals “gave him a mulligan”—“they let him have a do-over.” Why? Evangelicals were “tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists,” Perkins groused, and they were “finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”[8]

Several months later, in the summer of 2018, the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court again centered the nation’s attention on allegations of sexual abuse. When Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct dating back to their high school days, white evangelicals found all sorts of reasons to doubt her testimony. (Around this time there appeared to be a sudden uptick in sermons on Potiphar’s wife, the biblical woman who had falsely accused the righteous Joseph after he resisted her sexual advances.) Moreover, close to half of all white evangelicals thought Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if the allegations proved true. Once again, observers were left wondering: How could evangelicals—who for half a century had campaigned on “moral values,” who had called on men to “protect” women and girls—find so many ways to dispute, deny, and dismiss cases of infidelity, sexual harassment, and abuse? Was this simply the case of political expediency, or naked tribalism, eclipsing “family values”? [9]

History, however, makes plain that white evangelicals’ tendency to dismiss or deny cases of sexual misconduct and abuse, too, was nothing new. Reminiscent of the 1980s, the 2000s saw a spate of sex scandals topple evangelical leaders. In many cases, the abuse or misconduct stretched back years, even decades. Many of the men implicated in the abuse, or in covering up cases of abuse, were the same men who had been preaching militant masculinity, patriarchal authority, and female purity and submission. The frequency of these instances, and the tendency of evangelicals to diminish or dismiss cases of abuse in their own communities, suggests that evangelicals’ response to allegations of abuse in the era of Trump cannot be explained by political expediency alone. Rather, these tendencies appear to be endemic to the movement itself.

Those lamenting evangelicals’ apparent betrayal of “family values” fail to recognize that evangelical family values have always entailed assumptions about sex and power. The evangelical cult of masculinity links patriarchal power to masculine aggression and sexual desire; its counterpoint is a submissive femininity. A man’s sexual drive, like his testosterone, is God-given. He is the initiator, the piercer. His essential leadership capacity outside the home is bolstered by his leadership in the home, and in the bedroom. The responsibility of married women in this arrangement is clear, but implications for women extend beyond the marriage relationship. Women outside of the bonds of marriage must avoid tempting men through immodesty, or simply by being available to them, or perceived as such.

Within this framework, men assign themselves the role of protector, but the protection of women and girls is contingent on their presumed purity and proper submission to masculine authority. This puts female victims in impossible situations. Caught up in authoritarian settings where a premium is placed on obeying men, women and children find themselves in situations ripe for abuse of power. Yet victims are often held culpable for acts perpetrated against them; in many cases, female victims, even young girls, are accused of “seducing” their abusers or inviting abuse by failing to exhibit proper femininity. While men (and women) invested in defending patriarchal authority frequently come to the defense of perpetrators, victims are often pressured to forgive abusers and avoid involving law enforcement. Immersed in these teachings about sex and power, evangelicals are often unable or unwilling to name abuse, to believe women, to hold perpetrators accountable, and to protect and empower survivors.[10]

One of the first sex scandals to rattle twenty-first-century American evangelicalism struck at the heart of evangelical power. In 2006, male escort Mike Jones went public with the news that Colorado Springs megachurch pastor Ted Haggard had been paying him for sex for the past three years—the approximate period during which Haggard had been serving as head of the National Association of Evangelicals. Haggard, the pastor of the muscular-angel-bedecked New Life Church, had at the time been lobbying for Colorado Amendment 43, a ban on same-sex marriage, and it was Haggard’s hypocrisy that prompted Jones to go public.[11]

Fellow evangelicals jumped to Haggard’s defense. James Dobson accused the media of spreading unsubstantiated rumors in order to derail the marriage-protection amendment. When it became clear that Jones’s allegations could indeed be substantiated, Mark Driscoll offered a different line of defense. Although no women were involved in this sex scandal, that didn’t keep Driscoll from finding a woman to blame. It wasn’t unusual, he explained, “to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go.” Women who knew their husbands were “trapped into fidelity” could become lazy. Moreover, a wife who wasn’t “sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about” might not be responsible for a husband’s sin, but she certainly wasn’t helping him.[12]

Not every evangelical sex scandal made the national news, but a dedicated cadre of bloggers and local journalists worked to bring to light abuses that otherwise might have remained in the shadows. One of these involved Joe White, president of Kanakuk Kamps, popular evangelical camps that combined cowboy and sports motifs to disciple young Christians. White’s work at the camps—and Dobson’s enthusiastic support for that work—positioned him as one of Promise Keepers’ early celebrity speakers. But in 2011, allegations of abuse began to surface. It turned out that White’s camp director, Pete Newman, had been molesting dozens of boys for years. White allegedly knew of Newman’s actions (including his penchant for riding four-wheelers while naked, and with naked “kampers”), yet Kanakuk continued to back Newman as a “devoted husband, loving, beloved friend and mentor to youth.” Newman, meanwhile, promoted himself across the nation as an expert on sexual purity, and it was at purity conferences that he allegedly engaged in inappropriate sex talks and mutual masturbation with boys. (He was known for having one-on-one “Bible studies” with boys in his hot tub.) Newman was convicted of child sex abuse crimes and is serving two life sentences. Critics likened White’s role in the affair to that of Joe Paterno in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Like Paterno, White was a “god-like” figure in his conservative Christian orbit, and he was accused of allowing Newman to use his “mantle of authority” to prey on children. But White remained a sought-after speaker in evangelical circles even after the allegations had come to light.[13]

Before long, C. J. Mahaney was back in the news. He had been reinstated after his six-month leave for bullying and other aggressive behavior, but his problems were far from over. In 2012, a class-action suit was filed against Mahaney and SGM for cultivating an “environment conducive to and protective of physical and sexual abuse of children,” and the details of the case threw into stark relief the dynamics of abuse within authoritarian, patriarchal communities. Plaintiffs described how women and children were “threatened and ostracized if they resisted efforts to ‘restore’ their abusive husbands and fathers to a position of ‘leadership’ in the family,” and according to a former member of a Sovereign Grace church, victims’ families were compelled or misled into not pursuing legal action. If charges were brought, church leaders wrote letters requesting leniency, or urged victims’ families to do so. Families were pressured to forgive perpetrators, and “even children as young as three were forced to meet their abusers for ‘reconciliation.’” One woman was informed by church leaders that her husband’s urge to molest their ten-year-old daughter could be attributed to her own failure to meet his sexual needs; she was told to take her husband back, lock her daughter’s bedroom, and have sex with him regularly. Accusations also included domestic violence, fathers beating children (even into adulthood), youth pastors abusing church children, and extensive efforts to keep victims from reporting abuse to the authorities. As Mahaney’s protégé, purity guru Josh Harris had taken charge of Mahaney’s Covenant Life Church a few years earlier as Mahaney shifted his attention to his larger church network. In that capacity, Harris was also implicated in failing to address the rampant abuse within the SGM community. [14]

In the assessment of former member T. F. Charlton, “the combination of patriarchal gender roles, purity culture, and authoritarian clergy that characterizes Sovereign Grace’s teachings on parenting, marriage, and sexuality” created an environment where women and children—especially girls—were “uniquely vulnerable to abuse.” Like many other proponents of militant patriarchy, Mahaney loved to write about sex. He opened his 2004 book, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God with a discussion of the gift of sex based on Song of Solomon, and he insisted that it was part of masculine leadership to teach wives what the Bible says about sex. He quoted Doug Wilson on the subject of sexual expectations, and like Marabel Morgan and the LaHayes, he included advice urging women to look after their appearances and to obey God by giving their bodies to their husbands, even if they didn’t feel like it. He was, in other words, treading on well-traveled ground. The 1980s book on Christian child discipline, God, the Rod, and Your Child’s Bod, was also “in heavy use” at SGM. The book offered parents guidelines for using harsh corporal punishment to ensure instant and “joyful” submission to authority. As Charlton recognized, “submission theology protects the privileges of the powerful.” [15]

C. J. Mahaney enjoyed an outpouring of support from his friends and fellow pastors in the midst of the allegations leveled against him, despite the fact that Brent Detwiler, one of Mahaney’s former associates, had sent a letter to key evangelical leaders urging them to stop promoting Mahaney until pending charges were resolved. Piper received the letter, but shortly thereafter decided to demonstrate his public support for Mahaney by preaching at his new Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Kentucky. There Piper offered a heartfelt endorsement of his friend, praising what God was doing through him and declining to mention the decades-long history of abuse for which Mahaney was being called to account. Other evangelical men likewise rejected Detwiler’s plea. Al Mohler and his fellow Together for the Gospel founders attested to Mahaney’s integrity, and to his “vast influence for good” among “Gospel-minded people.” The president of CBMW and leaders at The Gospel Coalition likewise expressed support, the latter pointing out that “high-profile Christians are sometimes targeted not because they are guilty, but because they are well known.” People who “hate the gospel” only stood to gain when Christian leaders were “unfairly attacked and diminished.” [16]

In 2016, Mohler again defended Mahaney, and his invitation to speak at the Together for the Gospel Conference. In introducing Mahaney, he made light of the allegations—joking about Googling to see what he could find about Mahaney online—to the delight of thousands of conference attendees. Instead, he lauded the “massive influence” of Sovereign Grace Ministries and praised Mahaney as a model of endurance, kindness, and steadfastness—“biblically defined as being immovable where the Christian man should be immovable, in the faith, in the truth, in Christ.” He assured Mahaney that he had “10,000 friends” in the room. The allegations against Mahaney and his ministry never made it to trial due to a ruling on the statute of limitations, but this technicality convinced state legislators of the need to change the law in this respect.[17]

Mahaney’s friends were loyal because of a shared stake in a patriarchal “gospel,” and also, it turns out, because Mahaney had been lining their pockets. According to Detwiler, “Mahaney made a habit of doubling his friends’ honoraria (speaking fees) while also providing them with lavish hotels, flight arrangements, new computers, and other gifts.” He gave Mark Dever’s church $10,000, and he and Sovereign Grace donated “$200,000 or more” to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Al Mohler, one of Mahaney’s strongest supporters, served as president.[18]

The most extreme corners of the evangelical subculture were also not immune to scandal. Far from it: the more an evangelical leader emphasized male authority and female submission, the more twisted his justifications for any personal scandal.

In 2014, Bill Gothard stepped down from his Institute in Basic Life Principles after more than thirty women—including some minors—accused him of molestation and sexual harassment. For over fifty years, Gothard had advocated modesty, parental authority, strict discipline, and other such “family values.” In 2016 ten women filed a suit against Gothard, charging him and ministry leaders with sexual harassment, abuse, and cover-up; one woman accused Gothard of rape. Gothard maintained his innocence. Conveniently, in his own writings Gothard had insisted that God had established “very strict guidelines of responsibility” for victims of abuse: if a woman failed to cry out for help, she was “equally guilty with the attacker.” In 2018 the suit against Gothard was dropped, “due to the unique complexities of this case, including the statutes of limitation,” but the plaintiffs wanted to make “abundantly clear” that they were not in any way recanting their allegations; they had calculated the costs, emotional and financial, and decided the costs outweighed the benefits of proceeding.[19]

The year before Gothard stepped down from IBLP, his protégé, Doug Phillips—the married Christian homeschool leader and Quiverfull proponent—resigned from his own Vision Forum Ministries after admitting to a “lengthy inappropriate relationship.” The next year, the young woman he was involved with—Lourdes Torres-Manteufel—filed a lawsuit against Phillips and his ministries, accusing him of treating her “as a personal sex object.” According to the complaint, Phillips began grooming Torres when she was fifteen, establishing himself as “the dominant authority figure in Ms. Torres’s life and family,” positioning himself as “her spiritual father” and dictating where she lived, worked, worshiped, and spent her time. The case detailed how Phillips’s patriarchal movement taught that women should be under the absolute control of men, and how he kept followers from interacting with outside authorities by fostering “a pervasive sense” that they were “engaged in a cosmic war.” Phillips established his own “church-court system,” and any disputes were brought before a board of male elders, without any of the protections offered in secular courts. Following in Gothard’s footsteps, Phillips’s community labeled gossip “a very serious sin,” effectively shielding perpetrators. Enmeshed in the patriarchal purity culture, Torres was in a no-win situation. If she rejected Phillips’s authority, she placed herself outside her community and in opposition to the will of God, yet in submitting to that authority she became “damaged goods” in the eyes of her family and her community.[20]

The accusations against Phillips left many of his acolytes reeling: “He was our hero—the man who could lead us to victory through this horrific war.” Doug Wilson, however, came to the defense of his fellow leader in the Christian homeschool movement. To begin with, Wilson argued, it was not appropriate to refer to Torres as a “victim.” She was an adult, and thus, “if his attentions were not entirely unwelcome, she was a player in the vice, not a victim.” If Phillips’s attentions had been entirely unwelcome—if she had been “freaked out by the creepster”—Wilson wondered why “she wasn’t down the road at the first opportunity . . . with Doug Phillips receiving notification of her opinion of what transpired via the sound of sirens.” That hadn’t happened, and so if there was a victim in this story, it was Phillips’s wife, “with both Phillips and Torres victimizing her.”[21]

Wilson had a long history of victim blaming. In his 1997 book on “biblical courtship,” he had expounded on the common view that immodest women were responsible for men’s actions. As he put it, girls should “cover up” and not dress in a way that “a godly man has to duck down alleys or climb trees to get away from her.” Wilson didn’t believe men should go to lunch with a female coworker; though he hated “to belabor the obvious,” he felt it necessary to point out that “under the clothes, their bodies are different, and hers looks like it would be a lot more fun than some male co-worker’s body.” Moreover, Wilson suggested that women who rejected submissive femininity were “unprotected”; women who refused masculine protection were “really women who tacitly agree on the propriety of rape.” Wilson also liked to draw attention to false accusers, real or imagined. Earlier, in his defense of Driscoll, he had pointed out that prominent figures like Driscoll were “regularly toppled,” whereas false accusers rarely were. His award-winning 2012 novel Evangellyfish, a book filled with sexual escapades recounted with apparent relish, turned on not one but two women who faked sexual assault.[22]

Like many conservative pastors, Wilson believed that “civil disputes” like Phillips’s should be settled among Christians, not in courts “run by unbelievers.” Failing that, he thought it prudent that society find “wise and godly men” to serve as judges, so that they could determine, in cases of alleged statutory rape, if “the one raped is almost of age.” It turns out Wilson had some experience with the court system. In 2011, he had performed the marriage of Steven Sitler to a young woman in his congregation. Sitler had been convicted in 2005 of child molestation, and at the time Wilson had advocated for leniency in sentencing. (Sitler had been a student at Wilson’s New Saint Andrews College and had attended Wilson’s church.) Sitler received a life sentence, but was released on probation after only twenty months; three years later, an elder at Wilson’s church arranged a meeting with the young woman who would soon become his wife. The couple eventually had a son, but in 2015 the court ordered that Sitler be restricted to chaperoned visits due to inappropriate sexual contact with his own child. When Wilson’s wisdom in marrying Sitler to a young woman in his church was questioned, Wilson hit back: the Sitler case was just “an easy way for enemies of our ministry to attack us.” He denied that his church was “protecting, covering, or advocating molestation of children.” The church existed to minister to broken people. Yet Wilson rejoiced in the “slander”; he and his wife celebrated with a bottle of single-malt scotch, and he used the attention to promote his latest book—which took up the subject of justice.[23]

As Wilson readily admitted, this wasn’t the first time he had been embroiled in scandal. The Sitler case brought to mind an earlier incident, that of Jamin Wight. Like Sitler, Wight was a former homeschool student. While enrolled in Wilson’s ministerial training program, the twenty-four-year-old boarded with a homeschooling family who were members of Wilson’s church, and during that time Wight groomed and sexually abused a young girl, starting when she was fourteen. While Wilson acknowledged Wight’s “sin,” he also blamed the victim’s father for failing to protect his daughter. At his sentencing, Wilson appeared with Wight in court; Wight’s charges were reduced to felony offense of injury to a child, and he reached a plea to serve four to six months. The judge in the case was apparently convinced that what had happened was best described as a “homeschool teenage love affair,” rather than a crime. [24]

In 2015, the Duggar family, devotees of Gothard’s teachings and stars of the TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, became embroiled in their own scandal when reports surfaced that oldest son Josh had molested four of his sisters, as well as the family babysitter. His father, who had known about the abuse years earlier and had sent him to a Christian counselor, insisted that “he was just curious about girls and he had gone in and just basically touched them over their clothes while they were sleeping.” His sisters, too, minimized his actions, and his mom Michelle went on Fox News to explain that everyone has made mistakes—“That’s why Jesus came.” She felt there was an agenda at work, that people were eager to slander the family. At the time, Josh Duggar was executive director of FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council, an organization known for anti-LGBT activism and for linking homosexuality with child abuse. In light of the revelations, Duggar resigned and, with advertisers fleeing, TLC canceled 19 Kids and Counting. In 2021, he again became the focus of national attention after being indicted for possession of child pornography.[25]

Across conservative evangelicalism, it was not uncommon for allegations of assault to be met with skepticism or otherwise covered up or dismissed. In 2014, an independent report found that Bob Jones University had been telling victims not to report sexual assault to the police so as not to harm their families, churches, and the university. For decades, too, they’d told victims they were to blame for their abuse. That same year, The New Republic published a report on sexual assault at Patrick Henry College, the school founded by Michael Farris to serve as a pipeline for homeschooled Christian culture warriors. The previous year, the college had required all students to attend a lecture in which a professor spoke of “witch hunts” waged against men even as “seductresses” lured men into “honeytraps.” “Recreational sex in the evening turns into accusations of ‘rape’ in the morning, even when it was entirely consensual.” Another PHC professor explained, “When you have a culture of license where you can’t tell the difference between what’s full rape or fake rape and what’s real rape,” it was hard to deal with rape at all. This reasoning echoed that of Missouri Republican Todd Akin, who had provoked outrage during his 2012 Senate campaign when he sought to distinguish “legitimate rape” from most rape allegations—a distinction that was common at places like PHC, where the burden of guilt rested on female victims.[26]

Elsewhere in the world of conservative evangelicalism, additional cases of abuse were coming to light. Among the more harrowing were those surfacing within the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement, the coalition whose flagship church was First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana. As far back as 1972, influential pastor Jack Hyles had been telling Christian parents to toughen up their boys, advocating corporal punishment and training in firearms in order to raise a generation of young men who wouldn’t capitulate to enemies like the North Vietnamese. His was a gospel of masculine power and female submission. As pastor of First Baptist, Hyles became the de-facto leader of a network of IFB churches, and the authoritarian curriculum developed at his college was exported across the country. Already in 1989, signs of trouble surfaced when an evangelical magazine alleged that he had been carrying on an affair with his secretary. News of the scandal spread through the religious world and the mainstream media: “The great Jack Hyles, the man of God, whose schools had dating rules so strict that you could earn a demerit by accidently touching the end of a pencil held by someone of the opposite sex, was committing adultery.” Hyles denied the allegations, and members of his church rose up in his defense. Some, however, broke with Hyles. One member, Voyle Glover, wrote a book called Fundamental Seduction, detailing Hyles’s offences and the “Watergate-like coverup” of sexual abuse at the church. Glover was threatened, called the Antichrist, and excrement was left on his doorstep.[27]

Allegations also dogged Hyles’s son, Dave Hyles. Stretching back to the 1970s, stories surfaced suggesting that he’d carried on affairs with more than a dozen churchwomen. Later reports alleged that he preyed on young girls, too. One woman recalled her own assault at the age of fourteen. “He was a man of God,” she recounted, and even though it felt wrong, she knew it must be what God wanted: “He compared himself to David in the Bible and how he was anointed, and said this is what I was supposed to do . . . to take care of him because he was the man of God.” After shuffling his son off to another church, Jack Hyles began to groom his son-in-law, Jack Schaap, to take the helm; the congregation, too, had been primed to embrace a pastor like Schaap. After Hyles’s death in 2001, Schaap—“a virtual Hyles clone”—received “a hero’s welcome.” Like Driscoll, Schaap cultivated an aggressive masculinity on all fronts. He rebuked members for not tithing enough, volunteering enough, or evangelizing enough. As he consolidated his power, he became more brazen, infusing his sermons with graphic sexual material to the point that they seemed vulgar, even “pornographic.” In 2010, in front of thousands of teenagers gathered for a youth conference, Schaap preached a sermon on the “Polished Shaft.” Holding a shaft of an arrow in one hand and a cloth in another, he placed the stick near his groin and simulated masturbation; by “yielding to God,” by allowing God to “polish his shaft,” promised pleasures would be his. When the video was posted on YouTube, viewers found the display shocking; to members of First Baptist, “it was all in a day’s preaching.”[28]

In 2012, Schaap pleaded guilty to crossing state lines to have sex with a sixteen-year-old girl he was counseling. Investigations revealed “a deeply embedded culture of misogyny and sexual and physical abuse” at First Baptist. More than a dozen men with connections to the church—including several preaching in churches across the country—were implicated in a series of lawsuits and arrests involving rape, sexual molestation, and the abuse of children. A “cultlike culture” led to a culture of corruption, including “pedophilia, violence, defamation of the innocent to protect the guilty . . . defiance against lawful authority.” This institutional culture caused “good people,” sincere Christians who had “hearts for the Lord,” to defend and enable abusers. Even after Schaap’s conviction, many of these “good people” blamed his victim, whom they labeled a “temptress.”[29]

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, in the early 2000s many evangelicals persisted in the belief that sexual abuse was a problem plaguing the Catholic church, and that any instances within their own communities were exceptions that proved the rule. But in 2018, the #MeToo movement came to American evangelicalism. The increasing frequency and scale of revelations of abuse within their own circles made this assertion more difficult to sustain.

It started after Jules Woodson, inspired by the larger cultural reckoning, sent her former youth pastor Andy Savage an email holding him accountable for sexually assaulting her nearly two decades earlier, when she was seventeen. In front of his Memphis megachurch, in a highly orchestrated event that couched his trespass in terms of redemption, Savage confessed to a “sexual incident”; members responded with a standing ovation. Caught on video, this jarring response prompted a backlash among outside observers, garnering the attention of the New York Times and other media outlets. In light of the outrage, Savage resigned his pastorate and decided to step away from ministry.[30]

Weeks later, Willow Creek megachurch pastor Bill Hybels was in the news after seven women accused him of sexual misconduct and abuse of power. Allegations went back decades, but the church had failed to address them. When the story broke, church leadership initially cast doubt on the women’s stories, and Hybels, too, received a standing ovation from his congregation. Accumulating evidence eventually forced his resignation. Hybels represented the more progressive wing of evangelicalism, demonstrating that egalitarians were not immune to sexual misconduct. Although he positioned himself as an egalitarian, however, Hybels was a man known for wielding power. Having perfected a demanding, top-down leadership structure, he then exported that structure across a network of thousands of seeker-friendly congregations. He was both architect and product of a larger evangelical culture. It was Dobson, according to Hybels, who convinced him of the need to view pornographic videos, which he then required his female assistant to watch with him. [31]

Before the dust had settled on the Hybels case, a new scandal reached the bastion of conservative evangelicalism, the SBC. Allegations centered on Paige Patterson, revered patriarch and president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and one of the leaders of the conservative takeover of the SBC four decades earlier. Patterson exerted enormous power within the evangelical world. A stalwart defender of Christian patriarchy, Patterson liked to don a cowboy hat and display big-game trophies in his office. It turns out he also had a history of commenting on young women’s appearances and advising abused women to stay with their abusers, and he had once told a student not to report her rape to the police and to forgive her rapist. (A later report would reveal that Patterson also had a history of downplaying allegations of sexual assault. Together with Jerry Vines, Patterson had facilitated the rise of SBC pastor Darrell Gilyard, despite multiple accusations of rape, molestation, and other forms of sexual misconduct alleged against Gilyard. Although Patterson oversaw Gilyard’s resignation from Victory Baptist Church in 1991, this was four years after allegations first surfaced, and even then, Patterson characterized many of the accusations as untrue, called attention to the “sins” of alleged victims, and praised Gilyard as a “spokesman of God.” Emboldened by the support of men like Patterson and Vines, Gilyard had threatened to “go after [the] jugular” of one of his accusers.) Meanwhile, Patterson’s coconspirator in the conservative takeover of the SBC, Paul Pressler, was facing his own charges of covering up inappropriate sexual conduct (with Patterson’s help), and of molesting or soliciting sex from men and boys dating back to the 1970s.[32]

Over the next several months, it became clear that the problem of abuse within evangelicalism was not just one of a few high-profile leaders. In December 2018, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram uncovered at least 412 allegations of sexual misconduct linked to 187 Independent Fundamental Baptist churches and affiliated institutions, stretching across forty states and Canada. Victims suggest the number is far greater but suppressed by a culture of silence. At least forty-five alleged abusers continued in ministry positions even after accusations came to light, transferred from one church to another to evade accountability. Within this network, “men of God” ruled by fear. To question the pastor was to question God. Victims were accused of being “promiscuous,” were ostracized, and were at times made to apologize in front of their congregations.[33]

The institutional culture of Independent Fundamental Baptists represented the more authoritarian tendencies of conservative evangelicalism, but it existed as part of a larger evangelical culture that celebrated patriarchal authority—a culture that dictated the values and directed the actions of “good people” in ways that could displace compassion and justice with blind obedience to authority. For a community that believed in the existence of sin, conservative evangelicals were curiously nonchalant about the dangers of unchecked power when that power was placed in the hands of a patriarch.

Two months later, the Houston Chronicle published an investigation revealing extensive patterns of abuse within the SBC. For decades, victims had attempted to hold perpetrators accountable, but to little avail. Predators remained in positions of power, even after their actions had been exposed. Churches failed to notify law enforcement, or to warn other churches of allegations. Since 1998, around 380 perpetrators within the SBC had left a trail of more than 700 victims. In the wake of these revelations, a number of SBC leaders denied collective culpability, drawing attention to the autonomy afforded local churches within the SBC. Yet the SBC had a record of promptly “removing from fellowship” churches that hired female pastors, even as they appeared unable to discipline those that hired known sex offenders. Many victims had been urged to forgive their abusers, and it was victims, rather than predators, who frequently ended up shunned by their churches. As one SBC victim testified, the crisis of abuse in the church was “an epidemic powered by a culture of our own making.[34]

It was precisely this pattern that led Rachael Denhollander to label the church “one of the worst places to go for help” for victims of abuse. Widely celebrated for bringing USA Gymnastics doctor and serial abuser Larry Nassar to justice, Denhollander stunned the evangelical world in 2018 when she contended that, had her abuser been an evangelical pastor, she knows she would have been “actively vilified and lied about by every single evangelical leader out there.” Denhollander, who identifies as “a very conservative evangelical,” made this allegation after she and her husband had raised questions about their own church’s role in rehabilitating C. J. Mahaney and his Sovereign Grace network. In response to their concerns, their home church had informed them that it was no longer the right place for them. [35]

In her powerful victim statement at the Nassar trial, Denhollander had castigated Nassar for asking for forgiveness without repentance. She said the same was true of churches. God was a God of forgiveness, but also a God of justice, and churches’ tendency to cover up abuse and quickly “forgive” perpetrators, often for the sake of the church’s witness, was misguided. “The gospel of Jesus Christ does not need your protection,” she insisted. Jesus only requires obedience—obedience manifested in the pursuit of justice, in standing up for the victimized and the oppressed, in telling “the truth about the evil of sexual assault and the evil of covering it up.”[36]

Evangelical leaders were growing increasingly alarmed by the “avalanche of sexual misconduct” allegations that showed no sign of letting up. In the spring of 2018, Al Mohler felt as though bombs were dropping, left and right, and only God knew how many would fall and where they would land. The media spotlight had brought “the terrible swift sword of public humiliation,” and Mohler admitted that he had been unprepared for the deluge; he hadn’t seen it coming. Perhaps he should have. Just two years earlier he’d made light of allegations against his good friend, C. J. Mahaney.[37]

In his bewilderment, Mohler found himself asking if theology might be to blame. Was complementarianism “just camouflage for abusive males and permission for the abuse and mistreatment of women?” Quickly answering his own question, he declared that, no, the same Bible that expressed God’s concern for victims also revealed “the complementarian pattern of male leadership in the home and the church.” Mohler was not about to abandon patriarchy. For his part, Russell Moore thought it prudent to point out that God was revealing that there was “no ideological safe harbor,” as it was clear that abuse occurred in egalitarian strongholds and outside the church. It wasn’t just a complementarian problem.[38]

John Piper also decided that evangelicalism’s #MeToo movement was a good time to defend patriarchy. In a Desiring God podcast recorded in March 2018, he blamed egalitarianism for leaving women vulnerable. Complementarianism charged men “to care for and protect and honor women,” but Christian and non-Christian egalitarians had stripped women of that protection. He remained convinced that “manly valor” would restrain male vice. Yet Piper himself had a less-than-stellar record when it came to dealing with abuse. In 2009, when asked whether a woman should submit to abuse, he hedged. It depended on “what kind of abuse.” Was a woman’s life in danger, or was this merely “verbal unkindness”? If her husband was asking her to engage in “group sex or something really weird, bizarre, harmful,” then she might very gently refuse to submit, but if the abuse was just hurting her and not requiring her to sin, then she should endure “verbal abuse for a season”—and “perhaps being smacked one night.” Only then should she seek help . . . from the church. [39]

When it came to evangelical masculinity, the ideological extreme bore a remarkable resemblance to the mainstream. In the end, Doug Wilson, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, James Dobson, Doug Phillips, and John Eldredge all preached a mutually reinforcing vision of Christian masculinity—of patriarchy and submission, sex and power. It was a vision that promised protection for women but left women without defense, one that worshiped power and turned a blind eye to justice, and one that transformed the Jesus of the Gospels into an image of their own making. Though rooted in different traditions and couched in different styles, their messages blended together to become the dominant chord in the cacophony of evangelical popular culture. And they had been right all along. The militant Christian masculinity they practiced and preached did indelibly shape both family and nation.



[1] Gregory A. Smith, “Among white evangelicals, regular churchgoers are the most supportive of Trump,” Pew Research Center, April 26, 2017.

[2] Michael Paulsen, “A Brash Style That Filled Pews, Until Followers Had Their Fill,” New York Times, August 22, 2014; Warren Cole Smith, “Unreal sales for Driscoll’s Real Marriage,” World, March 5, 2014.

[3] Doug Wilson, “Ten Notes on the Driscoll Dogpile,” Blog & Mablog, August 25, 2014,; Douglas Wilson, “Ask Doug: What Are Your Thoughts on the Mark Driscoll Situation,” Canon Wired, October 20, 2014,; John Piper, “Do You Regret Partnering with Mark Driscoll?” Desiring God, November 13, 2014,; “Reflections on Mark Driscoll and the Church,” John Piper interviewed by Norm Funk, July 31, 2015, YouTube,, accessed August 8, 2018; Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Mark Driscoll charged with abusive behavior by 21 former Mars Hill pastors,” Washington Post, August 22, 2014.

[4] T. F. Charlton, “A Church Group, A Lawsuit, and a Culture of Abuse,” Religion Dispatches, March 6, 2013.

[5] Kate Shellnutt, “Darrin Patrick Removed from Acts 29 Megachurch for ‘Historical Pattern of Sin,’” Christianity Today, April 13, 2016; Eric Kelderman, “Accreditor Cites Leadership Problems in Keeping Master’s U. on Probation,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 8, 2019; Samuel Smith, “John MacArthur’s Master’s University Put on Probation by Accrediting Agency,” Christian Post, August 22, 2018; Julie Roys, “Hard times at Harvest,” World Magazine, December 13, 2018; Emily McFarlan Miller, “James MacDonald fired as Harvest Bible Chapel pastor,” Religion News Service, February 13, 2019.

[6] Meghan Keneally, “List of Trump’s accusers and their allegations of sexual misconduct,” ABC News, June 25, 2019.

[7] Katie Frost, “Dr. James Dobson Endorses Judge Roy Moore,” Judge Roy Moore U.S. Senate,; Michelle Boorstein, “Alabama state official defends Roy Moore, citing Joseph and Mary; ‘They became parents of Jesus,’” Washington Post, November 10, 2017; Russell Moore, Twitter post, November 13, 2017, 2:16 p.m.,; Carlos Ballesteros, “Alabama Evangelicals More Likely to Support Roy Moore After Sexual Assault Allegations, Poll Shows,” Newsweek, November 12, 2017; “Exit poll results: How different groups voted in Alabama,” Washington Post, December 13, 2018; Amy Yurkanin, “Roy Moore had ties to groups that didn’t believe in gender equality,”, December 9, 2017, updated March 6, 2018.

[8] Edward-Isaac Dovere, “Tony Perkins: Trump gets ‘a Mulligan’ on Life, Stormy Daniels,” Politico, January 23, 2018.

[9] “NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist Poll National Tables September 22nd through September 24th, 2018,” NPR, September 22–24, 2018,

[10] Kathryn Joyce, “By Grace Alone: The Next Christian Sex-Abuse Scandal,” Kathryn Joyce (blog), May 5, 2014,, accessed August 12, 2019.

[11] “Evangelical Leader quits, denies male escort’s allegations,” CNN, November 2, 2006.

[12] “Evangelical leader quits”; David Goldstein, “Who’s to blame for Pastor Haggard’s fall from grace? His fat, lazy wife,” Huffington Post, November 4, 2006, updated May 25, 2011.

[13] Randy Turner, “Judge to Kanakuk’s Joe White: Stay away from sex abuse victim,” Turner Report, October 4, 2011,; Andrew W. Griffin, “Sandusky-like camp director arrested in Missouri—what did Kanakuk’s ‘godlike’ Joe White know?” Red Dirt Report, August 27, 2012,, “Christian men’s conference decried for featuring speakers accused of rape, sex abuse cover-up,” Fox News, February 18, 2017, updated July 5, 2017,

[14] Tiffany Stanley, “The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch,” Washingtonian, February 14, 2016.

[15] C. J. Mahaney, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 16, 87, 98, 123; Charlton, “A Church Group.”

[16] Bob Allen, “Mahaney gets support from John Piper,” Baptist News Global, February 18, 2103; Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Evangelical leaders stand by pastor accused of abuse cover-up,” Washington Post, May 24, 2013; Julie Anne Smith, “Mohler, Dever, and Duncan break their silence and release statement in support of C.J. Mahaney,” Spiritual Sounding Board, May 23, 2013,, accessed July 1, 2019; Benjamin Sledge, “Together for the Go$pel,” Medium, January 28, 2019,; Don Carson and Justin Taylor, “Why We Have Been Silent about the SGM Lawsuit,” The Gospel Coalition, May 24, 2013, [AUTHOR: IS THE HIGHLIGHTED PART OF THE URL NEEDED? I FOUND THE ARTICLE ON THE URL ADDRESS ENDING IN “46b”] [You’re right!; also in note below, I added (Amy Smith) because she is the blogger behind Watchkeep; not sure if this is necessary but it seemed appropriate; please remove if not]

[17] Watchkeep (Amy Smith), “Albert Mohler and CJ Mahaney,” [sound recording] 2016,, accessed August 13, 2018; Bob Allen, “Al Mohler says he was wrong about C.J. Mahaney,” Baptist News Global, February 18, 2019.

[18] Sledge, “Together for the Go$pel.”

[19] Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “New charges allege religious leader, who has ties to the Duggars, sexually abused women,” Washington Post, January 6, 2016; Bill Gothard, “Wisdom Booklet 36,” 1839, quoted in Sara Jones, “An ATI Education, Final Chapter: Guilty Silence,” Recovering Grace, January 4, 2016,, accessed August 7, 2018; “Statement from Recovering Grace regarding the lawsuit against Bill Gothard and IBLP,” Recovering Grace, March 28, 2018,, accessed August 7, 2018. See also Libby Anne, “Bill Gothard Explains Road Safety (aka How Not to Get Raped),” Patheos, August 17, 2015, accessed September 6, 2019,

[20] Lourdes Torres-Manteufel v. Douglas Phillips et al., April 15, 2014,, 1–15.

[21] Jamie Dean, “What Went Wrong? An In-depth Report on the Vision Forum Scandal,” World News Service, March 25, 2014; Douglas Wilson, “Vice, Victims, and Vision Forum,” Blog & Mablog, Friday, April 18, 2014,, accessed August 12, 2019.

[22] Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, 48, 54, 85; Wilson, Fidelity, 62; Doug Wilson, “Mark Driscoll and the Problems of Citation,” Blog & Mablog, December 9, 2013, accessed June 22, 2017,

[23] Wilson, “Vice, Victims, and Vision Forum”; Wilson, Fidelity, 85; “Douglas Wilson to Judge Stegner: “I have been asked to provide a letter on behalf of Steven Sitler, which I am happy to do,” Steven Sitler, August 19, 2005,; Rod Dreher, “Scandal in Moscow,” The American Conservative, September 29, 2015,; Doug Wilson, “An Open Letter from Christ Church on Steven Sitler,” Blog & Mablog, September 5, 2015, accessed June 1, 2017,; Doug Wilson, “The High Mountain Air of Public Calumny,” Blog & Mablog, September 7, 2015, accessed June 1, 2017,

[24] F. L. Stollar, “The Jamin C. Wight Story: The Other Child Molester in Doug Wilson’s Closet,” Homeschoolers Anonymous, September 8, 2015, Wilson offers his own version of events with regard to Sitler and Wight in Rod Dreher, “Doug Wilson’s ‘Reluctant Response,’” American Conservative, October 1, 2015.

[25] Abby Ohlheiser, “Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters and a babysitter, parents tell Fox news,” Washington Post, June 4, 2015.

[26] Richard Pérez-Peña, “Bob Jones University Blamed Victims of Sexual Assaults, Not Abusers, Report Says,” New York Times, December 11, 2014; Kiera Feldman, “Sexual Assault at God’s Harvard,” New Republic, February 17, 2014.

[27] Smith, “Let Us Prey”; Sarah Smith, “Hundreds of sex abuse allegations found in fundamental Baptist churches across U.S.,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, December 9, 2018.

[28] Smith, “Hundreds of sex abuse allegations”; Smith, “Let Us Prey.”

[29] Smith, “Let Us Prey.”

[30] “I Was Assaulted. He Was Applauded,” New York Times, March 9, 2018.

[31] Laurie Goodstein, “He’s a Superstar Pastor,” New York Times, August 5, 2018.

[32] Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “How women led to the dramatic rise and fall of Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson,” Washington Post, June 10, 2014; Bobby Ross Jr., Sarah Pulliam Bailey, and Michelle Boorstein, “Prominent Southern Baptist leader removed as seminary president following controversial remarks about abused women,” Washington Post, May 23, 2018; Robert Downen, “More men accuse former Texas judge, Baptist leader of sexual misconduct,” Houston Chronicle, April 13, 2018; Robert Downen, “The women are hurting,” Houston Chronicle, August 22, 2019.

[33] Smith, “Hundreds of Sex Abuse Allegations.”

[34] Robert Downen, Lise Olsen, and John Tedesco, “Abuse of Faith,” Houston Chronicle, February 10, 2019; Kate Shellnutt, “Report: How Southern Baptists Failed to Care About Abuse,” Christianity Today, June 10, 2019; Michael Gryboski, “Southern Baptist Convention Sever Ties With Kentucky Churches Over Female Pastors,” Christian Post, December 17, 2015.

[35] Rachael Denhollander and Morgan Lee, “My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness,” Christianity Today, January 31, 2018.

[36] Denhollander and Lee, “My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral.”

[37] Al Mohler, “The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Christianity Today, May 23, 2018.

[38] Mohler, “The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention”; Russell Moore, “Will Complementarianism Survive After the #MeToo Movement?” Russell Moore, August 3, 2018,, accessed August 15, 2018.

[39] John Piper, “Sex-Abuse Allegations and the Egalitarian Myth,” Desiring God, March 16, 2018,; John Piper, “Does a woman submit to abuse?” Ask Pastor John, September 1, 2009, YouTube,

[40] Nathan A. Finn, “Complementarian Caricature,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Fall 2010, 48–49.