McLean Bible was theologically flipped in the 2016 to 2017 time frame. During that time at least 132 pastors and staff were purged and many were replaced by a number of Neo-Calvinists. One of the questions I have is the following. Were departing staff forced to sign a non disclosure agreement (NDA) to silence them and legally threaten them? Today’s post looks at the NDA as well as its role in Mars Hill in Seattle. If NDAs were used at McLean Bible The Wondering Eagle is requesting one that I can study.
“Silence is argument carried out by other means.“
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
McLean Bible on a Sunday morning.
Today we are going to look at the possibility of non disclosure agreements (NDA) being used at McLean Bible. Hopefully this post will flush this issue out some more. But before we continue let’s look at what a NDA is.
What is a Non Disclosure Agreement?
Non disclosure agreements (NDA) are found at companies and government. They are often used to protect valuable ideas so that proprietary information or more will not be stolen. For example I knew of someone in the Midwest who left one company and signed a NDA that prevented them from working for a competitor or another similar company for two years. The concern was over protecting proprietary information. According to Forbes magazine the following situations are why a NDA should be used.
- Presenting an invention or business idea to a potential partner, investor, or distributor.
- Sharing financial, marketing, and other information with a prospective buyer of your business.
- Showing a new product or technology to a prospective buyer or licensee.
- Receiving services from a company or individual who may have access to some sensitive information in providing those services.
- Allowing employees access to confidential and proprietary information of your business during the course of their job.
An NDA can come in two ways, they can be mutual or one sided. In a one sided situation a person signs and they can’t speak or discuss what they know about a situation. If you want to learn the basics about what a NDA is and how it functions, you can read Forbes, “The Key Elements Of Non-Disclosure Agreements.” NDAs have been in the news quite a bit recently as people have learned that they have been used to silence sexual harassment and assault victims. For example from Bill O’ Reilly to Charlie Rose to Harvey Weinstein. The dark side of NDA’s has received a lot of attention these past two years.
Should a Church Function as a Business and Require Non Disclosure Agreements?
In the past few years NDAs have grown among churches with the best example being Mars Hill in Seattle. I will look at Mark Driscoll’s former outfit in the next section. There are a number of churches do not use NDA’s, especially the smaller ones. But it seems as if NDAs can be found in mega churches, or with churches with a celebrity pastor. I would like to know if denominations are rolling out NDAs in an attempt to prevent issues like child sex abuse, sexual harassment or financial misconduct from becoming known. In a World News Magazine article Dan Busby from the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability states that NDAs are becoming more common. Why? Because of how some evangelicals interpret gossip and slander. Plus there is a post about gossip and slander you can read in, ” What is Gossip? What is Slander? Addressing the Issue of Bitterness; Finally the Word Bitter will be Banned at The Wondering Eagle.” If you want to read more about these inside the evangelical church I would read, “Sign or face the consequences.”
A Look at Mars Hill Seattle Non Disclosure Agreements
In evangelicalism NDA’s became prominent when the Mars Hill scandal played out in Seattle. As Mark Driscoll’s church imploded amidst a scandal or abuse, massive staff turnover and more many people were baffled as to why the staff remained silent on the issues regarding Mark Driscoll. One of the people that helped break the silence about NDA’s at Mars Hill was Kyle Firstenberg who pastored Mars Hill in Orange County, California. In Mars Hill the NDA bound not just the pastor but also the spouse. If they violated the NDA the church could go after them legally. This had a chilling effect on many people. In some cases benefits were tied to the NDA which could be lost. Dave Kraft who was an elder at Mars Hill called the NDAs a “gag order.” They were used to silence people, even in cases of alleged illegalities. In the case of Mars Hill the NDAs were used to silence the staff from speaking about the abuse that occurred behind he scenes. Warren Throckmorton wrote about the situation at Mars Hill with NDAs in a post of March of 2014. You can read it in, “A Former Mars Hill Pastor Speaks Out and Why Others Are Afraid: The Mars Hill Church Non-Disclosure Agreement.” If people reading this post want to read the Mars Hill NDA you can do so right here MH-Separation-and-Release-Agreement-1.
If McLean Bible Required Non Disclosure Agreements I am Requesting One
Here is the question The Wondering Eagle would like to ask with this post. Did McLean Bible under the direction of Dale Sutherland or Mark Dever require pastors and staff to sign a new NDA? Is that why so many of the staff from McLean Bible are silent? They are fearful of legal action by McLean Bible going after them? Let me ask this question as well. We are talking about a church. We are not speaking of a company like IBM, Northrup Grumman, Oracle, Cisco Systems or Texas Instruments. Should a church be functioning in that way? Is McLean Bible a church or a corporation? Is it just a business? Is it doing this under the veil of deceit and by hiding itself and its behavior in the community it serves? What can be more disturbing than for a church to operate in that fashion in the Washington, D.C. area.?
The Wondering Eagle is requesting for someone to send me a NDA from McLean Bible. Its not hard you can block out your name and set up a dummy email account and send it. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. McLean Bible is rolling out membership covenants, I wrote about that in the last past about this church. You can read about that in, “Eric Saunders Recent Message on Biblical Membership to McLean Bible Arlington Must be Rejected. Today’s Wondering Eagle Explains Why.” There are a lot of angles and issues to chip away when it comes to this church here in the Washington, D.C. area, but today is one angle. As much as this blog is concerned about the people stuck in this situation I am equally concerned about the staff possibly being abused. After all didn’t Jesus say to put a lamp on a stand? And not hide it from the world? If McLean Bible is using NDAs to silence the staff is that in compliance with what Jesus taught?
The Wondering Eagle’s Concern About Former Staff
The Wondering Eagle is aware that some of the former staff have landed at other locations. For example Ken Sun is at Chinese Bible Church of Maryland and Jim Supp is over at Reston Bible Church. However, there are other issues that must be asked. I have heard that some pastors allegedly had difficulty collecting unemployment due to how Virginia state law is set up. Other pastors or staff who had hoped to ride out their career at McLean Bible allegedly found themselves unemployable due to their age. A number of Christian organizations spurned them and they are in a difficult spot. I have also heard that some former staff have experienced illness from being unemployed. Then you also cane have factors such as depression affecting them as well. My question is this will McLean Bible step up and do the right thing? Or in the end are the former staff disposable? Why treat older staff in such a manner? Does Dale Sutherland or Mark Dever realize that they will be old one day also? Remember Mark Dever has taught that communion should be denied to people in hospitals and nursing homes. Jonathan Leeman takes a different stance. I asked the question once, what will Mark Dever do when he is 85 and in a nursing home needing his diaper changed? Should communion be denied to him? You can read more in, “Analysis of Jonathan Leeman’s Recent Mailbags; Plus What is Mark Dever Going to do About Communion When he is in a Nursing Home One Day?” But this is an issue that is troubling to say the least. Its why I keep raising it.
Congregation Meeting on June 27, 2018
There is a congregation meeting at McLean Bible on June 27, 2018 at 7:30. Hopefully people can go there and ask these questions. Its my understanding that they plan to change several of the Elders at this congregation meeting. People need to remember that at the September 21, 2017 town hall meeting Elder Larry Cooper lied about McLean Bible joining the Southern Baptist Convention. I wrote about that in, “According to Christianity Today McLean Bible Joined the Southern Baptist Convention in 2016; If True Why did Elder Larry Cooper Lie Before the September 21, 2017 Town Hall Meeting?” So if Larry Cooper is one of the elders who leaves that will not be a loss. The sad part is this, does Larry Cooper realize that he has been used? What is also interesting is that its my understanding that McLean Bible is going around and emailing people asking them if they are members. Again I will be writing about McLean Bible in the near future, if any former members want to write a post about the issues going on there they are more than welcome. This blog pays attention to churches in the D.C. area. Take care guys and know that you are loved.