MacArthur Church Elder: We’re Keeping ‘Exculpatory’ Evidence ‘Confidential’

By Sarah Einselen
Phil Johnson John MacArthur

As more outlets report that John MacArthur excommunicated a wife for not taking back her child-abusing husband, an elder at Grace Community Church (GCC) is claiming that evidence exonerating MacArthur exists. But the elder—Grace to You Executive Director Phil Johnson—claimed he could not share the evidence due to “confidentiality” concerns.

In an email obtained by The Roys Report, Johnson suggests that news reports and court records were missing “exculpatory facts” related to “things that were said in the privacy of confidential pastoral counseling.”

“Counselors promise confidentiality,” he wrote. “Having made that promise, the elders of Grace Church intend to honor it, even if it is to their own hurt (Psalm 15:4).”

But GCC leaders have previously disclosed details learned in counseling sessions in 2001 with Eileen and David Gray. The Grays were in counseling because David Gray was abusing the couple’s children—a crime for which David Gray was later convicted. 

MacArthur discussed the Grays’ case during a public excommunication of Eileen Gray in front of GCC’s 8,000-member congregation on August 18, 2002, TRR previously reported.

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Details from the counseling sessions were also described in a court declaration supporting David Gray.

Some called Johnson’s response an attempt to gaslight critics. They also expressed outrage that the response showed no concern for Eileen Gray or her abused children.

Neither MacArthur nor GCC has officially responded to The Roys Report’s exposé published three weeks ago, detailing the shaming and ex-communication of Eileen Gray. Johnson’s email, which was also sent to a YouTuber and someone else who posted it on Facebook, was dubbed an “unofficial” response. 

TRR also published a follow-up story over a week ago showing that MacArthur and GCC continued to shun Eileen and promote her husband after David Gray was convicted of child molestation and abuse.

Since then, other outlets, including RELEVANT and Christian Headlines, have also covered the scandal.

TRR reported in the initial exposé that David Gray confessed in the first counseling session that he kicked and tried to suffocate one of the children. TRR also reported that David Gray later gave Carey Hardy, then a GCC associate pastor, a written confession of child abuse.

GCC never reported the abuse to authorities, TRR previously noted.

“The elders of GCC are not likely to issue a public statement on the David Gray case,” Johnson stated in the email obtained by TRR

Johnson added in the email that “It is also the elders’ position that noisy, angry, sideline critics who have already judged the matter do not need to be answered. . . .” 

He also called those who shared the reporting “gossip-mongers” and claimed they weren’t interested in the truth.

response evidence grace GCC
Grace Community Church – Response Statement (Graphic: ‘Conversations That Matter’ Podcast / Jon Harris)

Johnson did not reply when TRR emailed a request for comment for this story.

But Johnson told supporters in the email that those “who personally know and trust the leadership at Grace Community Church do stand with John MacArthur and the elders.”

Johnson’s statement rang hollow for one theologian.

“This read to me like ‘we’ll never admit wrong. We’ll protect our fiefdom and disregard actual concerns for abuse’,” Lisa Spencer wrote on Twitter.

MacArthur has not preached at GCC since TRR’s initial exposé was published. He pulled out of the Ligonier Conference less than a week before he was to speak, reportedly due to family health issues.

E-mail from GCC Elder Phil Johnson – March 24, 2022


Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.



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29 thoughts on “MacArthur Church Elder: We’re Keeping ‘Exculpatory’ Evidence ‘Confidential’”

  1. Exculpatory evidence is any evidence that may prove a defendant’s ( David Gray ) innocence. Did the elders at GCC give this alleged exculpatory evidence to David Gray’s defense attorney so he could present it to the jurors? If not why not?

    1. John would like to send missionaries to the prison, and David’s 21 years conviction is the perfect opportunity to bring the word there.

      1. This is why so many Christians are leaving the apostate institutions of religion, with their professional paid clergy that are tyrants over Gods elect, who extort money from them with the lie of New Testament tithing, etc.
        The next reformation is when believers go back to the biblical model of Christ elect meeting in homes serving out of live and not for profit.

  2. Wow ! they are making it up as they go. Now, they are also heroes and martyrs for standing by their promise of confidentiality even to their own hurt…even if its aggravated wife and child abuse.

    Even Matt Chandler apologized for their church’s disciplining of a lady by mistake. Since GCC is God’s Chosen Congregation they are not into admission and apologizing.

    If John, Phil and followers will have their way, the police and detectives, jury and court will all rot in hell for sending an innocent man like David to jail for 21 years to life.

    Let’s pray that the word will truly touch and penetrate the hearts of JM, Phil, that they may humble themselves, repent, and speak the truth about this case for once.

    1. James, humble themselves, repent, and speak the truth, from the governess of GCC? Don’t hold your breath! Not once in all the time that I have monitored any known activity at GCC, the Masters college, and specifically his royal Imperial highness, John MacArthur have I ever detected even the smallest spec of humility or the admission of wrongdoing. An old saying says, you certainly cannot squeeze blood out of stone, or something like that.

  3. Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight)

    “This evidence we have proves us right, but no one is allowed to see it because it’s private, and if you don’t believe us you’re a gossip-monger.”

    1. Congrats! Story presented to social media for judgment and conviction! Good job. BTW does Twitter give trading stamps? I guess retweets count.
      Spiritual issues debated? Guidance given? Discipleship in process?

  4. David has served 17 years to date and just had met the parole board which decided that they will not consider hearing the case for another 10 years. They also called David a sadistic abuser who weaponized religion. Wouldn’t John and elders want to save David from another day in jail if they are holding on to exculpatory evidence that can free him ? I wonder who is the sadist here ?

    If you don’t agree with John or Phil nor question their narrative then you have prejudged the case and are not genuinely interested in the truth. Yet, they clearly decided to withhold evidence that can clear David’s name. sick.

  5. The OT and NT carry’s no weight anymore on church members criminal activity. It’s the 21st century. The hubris of these disgusting people know no bounds. We now have something that didn’t exist back then. It’s called law enforcement. Why anybody attends some of these churches is beyond my understanding.

    1. Agreed. When churches and leadership at a church act and respond this way it tells you to get away. If you support GCC and the associated businesses in any way, leave, take your time and money and put it into something else. Stop supporting these ministries.

  6. What we are all witnessing here in vivid color is a fortress mentality on steroids! As mentioned above, Phil Johnson’s latest excuse is specious. If what he is saying is true, then they allowed a good man to go to prison when, relative to what they had in their possession, would have exonerated him. We are supposed to believe that Phil and the Elders at GCC are so noble minded that they will allow a good man to go to prison unjustifiably. That makes no sense.

    Elder abuse is bad enough, but attempting to cover up Elder abuse takes things to a whole new level of corruption.

    Combine what is happening here with JM being forced to resign from TMU and TMS in order to maintain their accreditation–where there was no ensuing repentance–and one has to wonder what is next in terms of God disciplining these leaders.

    They are violating the clear instruction of 1 Peter 5

  7. “Ok, so we know that Gray confessed to kicking his kids, and trying to suffocate one of them. He told us in writing that he beat his daughter harshly on her head and feet with a rod and belt, with his knee on her back. He confessed to dropping his kids, dragging them, locking them in the closet. And acknowledged to spending too much time naked with his daughter.

    “But we have evidence that proves he is innocent. We just can’t tell anybody.”

    Really? That’s their defense?

    What “exculpatory evidence” could the church possibly have that would justify abusing your children this way?

    All we really know is that when the GCC elders testified on behalf of Gray in court and under oath, this “exculpatory evidence” was unable to sway even one juror.

    1. Do they mean the exculpatory evidence would clear David? Or them? I’m not completely clear on that.

  8. I’m not a lawyer, but absent some very specific conditions, withholding exculpatory evidence is a violation of procedures for “discovery” in a lawsuit and can lead to specific penalties for the defendants and their lawyers. Never mind it’s pretty dumb if you’re the defendant!

  9. It is important that this story gain momentum in the wider press. Chandler apologized because his despicable actions were written about all over the world.It was a PR nightmare and he was forced to respond. I hope the same will happen here.

  10. Kathleen S. LaRoche

    Could you and would you get and publish the court document with the specific charges that David Gray was found guilty of? That would seem to be another important piece of evidence to be made public if possible.

    1. The online court documents include graphic descriptions of the abuse against the children. Out of concern for Eileen’s children, I am not posting the link or describing the abuse in all its horrific detail.

    2. Sheryl Collins

      I have searched high and low for online court documents showing the alleged “graphic descriptions of the abuse” and am coming up empty. I believe it is vitally important to be able to see this evidence just as much as it is to see this alleged “exculpatory evidence” from GCC. You can’t have it both ways.

      1. Gordon Hackman

        There was a link to at least some of the court documents on Christine Pack’s Facebook page. You may have to scroll down her feed a ways to find it. I was able to read the documents using it, and the claims made concerning David Gray’s abuse were pretty awful.

  11. As I’ve written before, don’t expect an apology. Expect more of the same kind of attacks on the messengers and a circle the wagons mentality. And expect those things to ramp up more as the pressure and publicity increases.

    In the real world, their statements clearly lack credibility, but inside the MacArthur group they will be viewed by most as righteous attacks on outsiders who are attacking God’s kingdom.

    That is my continuing prediction, based on some of my own experiences with this crowd. I hope I’m wrong. It’s never too late to apologize and repent for damage done.

    1. GCC’s response to Eileen Gray and her children can be summarized as DARVO. (deny, attack, reverse victim and offender)

  12. When you read Carey Hardy’s court declaration….you realize the gross lack of understanding of victims, the biased nature of his declaration towards Eileen, and the lack of any significant and serious condemnation of David’s actions.

  13. Could this Phil Johnson be embarrassing himself any more?! So let’s see, “There was nothing wrong with humiliating a child abuser’s wife in front of a GCC congregation of thousands but we can’t furnish an explanation for our church’s behavior because that’s confidential!!!! So ludicrous.

  14. MacArthur didn’t seem to have any concerns about confidentiality when he made his statements about Eileen Gray in front of the entire congregation. Sounds to me like they are circling the wagons to try to fight off any calls to resign from their jobs.

  15. IMO, Johnson’s motivation is not “the truth” about this issue – it is IDOLATRY. Idolatry of Wolf MacArthur. Idols have no place in the Church, and it is only a matter of time before Wolf MacArthur is toppled from his pedestal .
    The devil always overplays his hand. Wolf MacArthur will fall like Zacharias, Swaggert, Bakker and others. GODSPEED TO THAT!!!

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