Former Christianity Today Editor Mark Galli Accused of Sexual Harassment

Por Bob Smietana
Mark Galli Christianity Today
Mark Galli at his home in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. (RNS photo by Yonat Shimron)

The former editor of Christianity Today (CT) who made national headlines for criticizing Donald Trump’s failed character has been accused of sexual harassment.

new report from CT published today claims the Carol Stream, Illinois-based ministry failed to hold former editor-in-chief Mark Galli and former CT advertising director Olatokunbo Olawoye accountable for sexual harassment for more than a decade.

That harassment included “demeaning, inappropriate, and offensive behavior,” according to the report from CT’s news editor Daniel Silliman, which was edited by senior news editor Kate Shellnutt and published without review from the ministry’s executive leadership.

Silliman reported finding a dozen firsthand accounts of harassment.

“Women at CT were touched at work in ways that made them uncomfortable,” according to the CT news story. “They heard men with authority over their careers make comments about the sexual desirability of their bodies. And in at least two cases, they heard department heads hint at openness to an affair.”

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Eight women alleged that Galli touched them inappropriately, including one former employee who said Galli caressed her bare shoulder during an event in the early 2000s, while another said Galli’s hand got “stuck under her bra” when he rubbed her back.

According to the report, Galli was reprimanded in 2019 after three women in three days reported to human resources that he’d inappropriately touched them — allegedly hugging a woman from behind, grabbing another woman by the shoulders and shaking her and putting a hand on another woman’s butt.

However, the article said, 2019 was not the first time Galli had been reported to HR for inappropriate behavior toward female colleagues — it was just the first time a record was kept. According to the report, more than half a dozen employees reported harassment from Galli or Olawoye between the mid-2000s and 2019. But none of those reports resulted in a formal write-up, warning or reprimand.

Reporting a case of harassment could also lead to backlash, according to the Christianity Today report.

Dan Darling, an evangelical author and director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the magazine’s account showed how badly Christian institutions have handled issues of sexual harassment.

“A lot of our institutions did not have good policies,” he said.

The report was sad, he said, but also a step forward for Christian groups. He hopes that other ministries will learn from Christianity Today’s example and adopt better policies.

“We need these protections in place,” he said. 

Galli told CT’s news editors that he likely “crossed lines” during his three decades at the magazine but said he never had “any romantic or sexual interest in anyone at Christianity Today.”

In a phone interview, Galli said he was deeply troubled by the allegations in the story, which he denied. Several of the incidents in the story were taken out of context, he said, or were simply false.

“My initial reaction is that I am shocked at how many of the statements made in the article were simply not true,” he said.

Galli also said he was “deeply troubled” if he did anything that offended or intimidated other people and would be open to meeting with people he had offended and apologizing. 

In 2019, not long before he retired, Galli called for then-President Trump to be removed from office, saying Trump’s character flaws made him unfit for his office. The editorial caused a national uproar among evangelical Christians.

The year before, Galli also published a commentary by now-disgraced pastor, James MacDonald, entitled, “Por qué demandar es a veces la elección bíblica.” The article published less than two weeks after MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel had sued the authors of a blog critical of MacDonald, their wives, and Julie Roys, who was about to publish an exposé on MacDonald. (The lawsuit was eventually dropped, but questions about Galli’s apparent alignment with evangelical celebrities during his tenure remain.)

Galli left CT, which was founded by the famed evangelist Billy Graham, in early 2020 and has since converted to Catholicism.

In an editorial, also published Tuesday, Tim Dalrymple, the current president and CEO of Christianity Today, dijo he first became aware in 2019 that a CT senior editorial leader — whom he did not name — had “treated his female reports unprofessionally, engaging in unwanted touch despite repeated communications that such behavior was wrong, unwelcome, and needed to stop.”

Tim Dalrymple Christianity Today
Christianity Today President Tim Dalrymple participates in a webinar called “Evangelicals & COVID-19 Vaccine” on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Source: Video screen grab)

Dalrymple, who had only been at CT for three months at the time, said he found out from HR that the editorial leader’s conduct had been addressed verbally but no written warnings were in place about past conduct.

That leader was then disciplined and warned they would be suspended or fired if any additional harassment occurred. According to Dalrymple, “no further allegations of unwanted touch or other inappropriate conduct arose” between then and the former leader’s retirement in 2020.

However, in 2021, two current employees came forward with additional details about alleged harassment by this senior editorial leader.

“They described highly inappropriate comments and unwanted touch that left them feeling disrespected, objectified, and unsafe,” Dalrymple wrote. “Our immediate response was to grieve with them, thank them for their courage, and commit to a process that rigorously examines what we got wrong as a ministry and what we must do differently going forward.”

As a result, Christianity Today hired Soluciones de poste indicador, which has become a go-to consultant for evangelical groups facing allegations of sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse, to assess its response to issues of harassment and misconduct.

That report, made public Tuesday, found allegations of harassment against two employees at Christianity Today, neither of whom were named in the report. The report also found that CT’s culture and work environment can feel “inhospitable to women at times.”

“While many believe that this aspect of CT’s culture has improved under its current leadership, others believe that women are still discounted and treated as ‘less than’ in the CT workplace,” according to the Guidepost report.

The Guidepost report also found that women employees at the ministry felt CT failed to hold employees accused of harassment accountable.

“These female employees felt that CT had not held Former Employee 1 accountable for his actions and that the organization’s policies and procedures were insufficient to address and prevent future incidents of harassment and abuse,” according to Guidepost.

Dalrymple told RNS in a statement that CT’s leadership supported the reporting done by Silliman. 

“We invited the report because we wanted to know the truth of the matter,” he said. “We cannot be truth-tellers if we refuse to tell the truth about ourselves. I appreciate Daniel’s report and stand behind it fully.

The Christianity Today article also detailed allegations of repeated harassment by Olawoye, who was fired Christianity Today after being arrested in a 2017 sting operation. He later pleaded guilty to traveling to meet a minor for sex and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Bob SmietanaBob Smietana es reportero nacional de Religion News Service.

Julie Roys también contribuyó a este informe.

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33 pensamientos sobre “Former Christianity Today Editor Mark Galli Accused of Sexual Harassment”

  1. cristal l brooks

    All I can say is Wow. How surprising given how he wrote about President Trump. Unless it’s your wife, there is no reason to rub or caress a female colleague. I’m truly shocked by the comments made to these women too. The work culture was no different from the stuff you hear about in secular workplaces. I’m glad they are addressing it.

  2. Hmmm. I was immediately reminded how Jimmy Swaggart was going to expose Jim Bakker, then Marvin Gorman swept in and exposed Swaggart. Dark secrets all around. These were all powerful men and Galli had much influence. Everyone keep exposing…Ravi was just another in a continuing string. James McDonald, Bill Hybels, Jerry Falwell Jr. We need to know who these people are and shut them down.

    1. KEITH Eldon JOHNSTON

      Ravi was a degenerate pig, as was Jerry Falwell, Jr. also — even if Mr. Galli did what he is accused of, it is not the same…

  3. lisa tripulaciones

    Lack of training in corporate culture and policies aren’t a valid reason for this catastrophic failure; the failure is due to lack of applying scripture. Scripture is clear and applies to all Christians in all settings:

    1 Corinthians 5: 9-12

    9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
    11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
    12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
    13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

  4. Roberto Simpson

    Re: “ The Christianity Today article also detailed allegations of repeated harassment by Olawoye, who was fired Christianity Today after being arrested in a 2017 sting operation. He later pleaded guilty to traveling to meet a minor for sex and was sentenced to three years in prison.”

    I think this needs further reporting! I realize it was 5 years ago, but people need this context.

    1. Regarding Olawoye, it almost seems too easy and much too late to expose his behavior now since he is sitting in jail for a serious crime against a minor.

  5. cynthia wright

    [Mr. Galli] said he never had “any romantic or sexual interest in anyone at Christianity Today.”

    Then why was he fondling and groping them? Simply to exercise domination and enjoy the thrill of having the power to make others uncomfortable and get away with it?

    I wonder what former CT advertising director Olatokunbo Olawoye has to say for himself. He was pretty much left out of the story after being named.

  6. David Jankowski

    Why am I not surprised? Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall. 1Cor. 10:12. All of us, men and women, must remind ourselves of this regularly

  7. KEITH Eldon JOHNSTON

    I am assuming that all of the evangelical leaders who have been guilty of sexual harassment in one form or another (BTW I do not think that Sen. Al Franken was guilty of sexual harassment — that was just a stunt to get him out of the running for President) were married to women who were in full compliance with 1 Corinthians 7:5, i.e. “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Apparently, “I have a headache” may not be a biblical response to the sexual needs of one’s husband…

    1. You’re trolling, right? You can’t seriously think that real person at fault in the case of a guy being a creep is his wife, right?

      1. cynthia wright

        “Poe’s Law” holds that no attempt at sarcasm on the interwebs can really succeed, because there is always *someone* who has already made the point totally dead seriously.

    2. elizabeth maderas

      I hope this is sarcasm, and just in case anyone else is reading this article who might blame themselves for a spouse abusing someone else or straying – the Bible holds the abuser/adulterer accountable for their own lack of self-control and failure to live up to God’s standards. Period. It is never the spouse’s fault, even if the spouse is sinning in another way. Don’t hold yourself or others accountable for someone else’s sin.

    3. Ah, you are busy excusing sin and blaming spouses. Good for you. Meanwhile, the gospel of Jesus Christ, that should be demonstrated so clearly that people are drawn to it and His love, falls by the wayside.

    4. Andrés Tomás

      KEITH Eldon J,

      “BTW I do not think that Sen. Al Franken was guilty of sexual harassment…”

      How do you define the picture of him appearing to grab a sleeping woman’s breasts?

  8. After 40 plus years of a CT subscription, Mark Galli’s articles on Trump and James McDonald were the the final straw.
    Very disappointed in the one Christian magazine which challenged my thinking and strengthened my faith.

  9. The real damage here is to the credibility, authenticity, and purity of our faith. When “Godly” people act shamefully ( and there’s been no shortage!) it sullies the name of God to weak or young believers and unbelievers alike. The American (western) church is in decline and is rapidly growing in the majority world ( non western cultures and continents). They are traditionally more conservative when it comes to social and sexual mores… maybe that’s why the women cover up in public? Just sayin…
    Our Christian leaders are weakening our witness and causing doubt in the transformative power of God in our hearts. Tragic and shameful!

    1. Bonnie L, thanks for the link. Galli’s response seems to bolster the findings of Guidepost Solutions — the organization did not have processes for effectively dealing with allegations. CT’s culture failed both Galli and other employees.

      He strikes me as genuinely sorry for offending others while also more angry about a perceived lack of opportunity to meet with former co-workers than the distress that those persons experienced. And somewhat clueless as to why his behaviors were inappropriate. The only way that I can reconcile Galli’s denials of certain events reported by multiple subordinates is to assume that he cannot remember them because those interactions were, at the time, not bothersome to him and therefore easily forgotten.

      1. I think there may be a generational issue here too. When I was younger girls would walk arm and arm or hold hands frequently. Hugging in the workplace was common. I worked night shift and we thought nothing of giving each other back rubs. The climate is so different now and sometimes I wonder if some folks closer to retirement don’t get it. Not trying to be ageist as I am close to retirement myself! Just an observation.

    2. Rhonda C Merrick

      Having watched the shenanigans of Religion News Service “reporters” for the last several months on an issue I know a little something about, I have to say that I would believe every word of what Mark Galli says well before the insinuations of either the RNS or the CT articles.

      Furthermore, one of the quotations in the CT article, after informing that he rubbed a woman’s back while hugging her, was: “he basically felt me up.” That phrase would normally conjure up a very different mental picture. There’s definitely something incomplete there.

  10. Kristin Du Mez, author of the best selling book tweeted this today:

    In 2018 I was asked (by a female ed) to write a piece on sexual abuse in evangelicalism for CT. I was happy to do so, submitted this one & assumed all was well. Only to find out it had been “killed at publication gate.” Galli was EIC.

  11. Pablo Lundquist

    Oh no. Guidepost Solutions again. Will someone, please, anyone, read every word of the interview with the Guidepost Solutions CEO at https://www.fa-mag.com/news/delicate-matters-17173.html?issue=224 and explain to me how any Christian could have anything to do with this organization? They serve the ultra-wealthy and help them mitigate the consequences of wickedness. Here’s a quote: “When we meet with these clients, they’re already in crisis mode and they just want their problem to go away…We’re very good at making the problems go away with the least amount of repercussions for the client.” By hiring Guidepost Solutions, Christian organizations prove themselves to be corrupt and insincere.

  12. I gave up on Mark when the day after he retired from CT he came out for gay marriage. He would not come out (no pun intended) for gay marriage while at CT because he would have lost his job.

    1. Steve Swan, Yellowknife, Canada

      I believe you’re confusing Mark Galli with David Neff. Neff was another former editor. Came out for same-sex marriage after his retirement

  13. Like what’s the problem……?

    All I have been hearing from evangelicals for the last 5 years that people may not like Trump’s character but they love his policies…

    I will apply the same rationale….

    People may not have liked Galli’s sexual harassment behavior and character, but he had great ideas and vision for the magazine… hence nothing was done for many years…..

    Thank You evangelicals.

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