EXCLUSIVE: John MacArthur Shamed, Excommunicated Mother for Refusing to Take Back Child Abuser

By Julie Roys
John MacArthur Grace Community Church
John MacArthur publicly shaming Eileen Gray at Grace Community Church on Aug. 18, 2002, for not taking back her husband, David Gray, who had reportedly confessed to abusing his children. (Source: Exclusive video obtained by The Roys Report)

On August 18, 2002, prominent radio pastor and author, John MacArthur, took time during an evening service to address a grave matter at his 8,000-member Grace Community Church (GCC) in Sun Valley, California.

A woman at GCC was living in sin, MacArthur alleged. And though shaming her publicly was “sad,” MacArthur said it was necessary to maintain fidelity to God and His Word.

So, as men were distributing the elements for communion, MacArthur stated: “I want to mention a sad situation, a person who is unwilling to repent. And the church bears responsibility before God to be the instrument of discipline. . . . This is what the Lord wants. He wants discipline . . . to be put out of the church, to be publicly shamed, to be put away from fellowship. In this case it applies to Eileen Gray.”

According to MacArthur, Gray’s sin was that she had decided “to leave her husband, to grant no grace at all, to take the children, to go away, to forsake him.” This, MacArthur emphasized, meant rejecting “all the instruction and counsel of the elders, all instruction from the Word of God.”

MacArthur then encouraged the church to pray for Eileen and to “treat her as an unbeliever—for all we know, she may be.”

Give a gift of $25 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in A Dallas Cult” by Wendy Duncan. To donate, click here.

David Gray Grace Community Church
David Gray’s 1998 GCC photo

He also urged the church to pray for her husband, David Gray, who taught music and Bible to children at Grace Community Church (GCC) from 1994 to 2001. “Pray for David, for the sympathy and compassion and the lovingkindness of God to be his portion.”

MacArthur then invited the church to sing, “Amazing Grace.”

Today, David Gray is serving 21 years to life in a California prison for his 2005 convictions for aggravated child molestation, corporal injury to a child, and child abuse.

But at the time of Eileen’s shaming, Eileen had not yet reported her husband’s physical and mental abuse to police. (She was not yet aware of his sexual abuse.) 

Instead, she had reported the abuse to elders and pastors at GCC.

Eileen also had not left her husband. In August 2002, Eileen was still living with her children in the Grays’ home about 1.5 miles from the church.

Eileen had, however, filed legal separation and restraining orders against David due to his repeated abuse of her and her children, as well as his alleged stalking and threats to kill them and himself. At the time of the shaming, Eileen had obtained a court order requiring that David’s visits with the children be monitored and restricting him from coming within 100 yards of Eileen.

As Eileen explained in an exclusive interview with The Roys Report, she went to GCC elders, hoping they would protect her and her children and get David professional help.

Instead, she says the church subjected her to spiritually abusive counseling and used church discipline to try and coerce her to take David back into the family’s home.

John MacArthur shames Eileen Gray on August 18, 2002:


Eileen said Carey Hardy, a former GCC associate pastor and personal assistant to John MacArthur, told her she needed to model for her children how to “suffer for Jesus” by enduring David’s abuse.

The Roys Report repeatedly reached out to MacArthur and Hardy, who’s now senior pastor of Twin City Bible Church, for comment but they did not respond.

When Eileen refused to take David back, GCC sent her multiple letters over several months in 2001-2002, which she recently provided to The Roys Report. The letters threaten Eileen with church discipline if she fails to comply with the elders’ request to drop the protective order against David and take him back.

When the letters failed to change Eileen’s stance, John MacArthur publicly shamed Eileen twice—once in May 2002 and again in August 2002.

Eileen told The Roys Report that MacArthur never spoke with her before, during, or after the shamings.

In the months between her shamings, GCC members and staff repeatedly harassed and visited Eileen at home, urging her to obey the elders, according to Eileen and dozens of pages of court documents obtained by The Roys Report.

For all this time, Eileen has remained silent about her ordeal out of concern for her minor children. She added that she feared backlash from Christians in her community, who revere MacArthur and GCC.

But now, Eileen’s children are adults. And for the sake of vulnerable women and children at GCC—and at the many churches and institutions influenced by MacArthur—she’s speaking now.

David Gray Grace Community Church
David Gray with students at Grace Community Church in the early 2000s. (Source: online)

Despite being mandated by California law to report child abuse, GCC never reported David Gray’s abuse to authorities, according to Nancy Nelson, a retired Los Angeles Police Department Detective (LAPD) who investigated David Gray’s case. Nelson told The Roys Report that Eileen Gray reported David Gray’s abuse to LAPD in 2003, leading to David’s trial and conviction in 2005.

In 2004, two staff pastors at GCC were written up by LAPD for their alleged mishandling of David Gray’s abuse.  

Carey Hardy was charged with two misdemeanors—failing to report child abuse and intimidating a witness—Eileen Gray. The other pastor, Bill Shannon, who currently leads GCC’s biblical counseling ministry, was not charged but ordered to appear at a city attorney hearing.

Court records show Hardy’s case was “dismissed or not prosecuted” in February 2005.

The reason Hardy’s case was dismissed is not clear.

Al Mohler
Dr. Albert Mohler

However, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Seminary and current WORLD Magazine opinion editor, confirmed to The Roys Report that he wrote a paper for Hardy’s defense in 2004 at GCC’s request. The paper argued that Hardy should be exempt from reporting Gray’s abuse based on religious freedom—an argument Mohler said he would not make today.

“Daddy hurt me”

Eileen says David Gray emotionally and physically abused her and her children for years. But she didn’t realize the severity of his child abuse until May 10, 2001. That’s when Eileen woke up early in the morning to muffled cries and yelling, according to a transcript of Eileen’s testimony at David’s trial obtained by The Roys Report.

Eileen testified that she went to the living room of the family’s home, where she found David holding a belt and one of her children crying with disheveled hair. When confronted, David told Eileen that God had made him the authority and that his child “needs more pain,” Eileen testified.

Following the incident, this child walked with a limp, became very withdrawn, and began pulling hair out, according to Eileen’s testimony. Eileen added that when she asked her child what happened, her child simply said, “Daddy hurt me.”

But about a month later, this child told Eileen that David had repeatedly hit the child in the head with a toy and kicked the child, Eileen testified. Eileen added that the child said David had also put a sleeping bag over the child’s head. The battered child, and the Gray’s other children who witnessed the incident, claimed that their daddy was trying to kill them, Eileen testified.

The day after learning these details, Eileen found a lawyer and filed a legal separation and restraining order against David.

Eileen testified that she then met with GCC Pastor Bill Shannon and another GCC leader and told them about her husband’s abuse.

Bill Shannon Grace Community Church
Bill Shannon (Source: Grace Community Church)

Eileen told The Roys Report that in this first meeting, Shannon did not offer to help. Instead, he accused Eileen of sinning by going to the law against a brother, Eileen said. Shannon added that the protective order violated 1 Corinthians 7:10, which instructs women not to separate from their husbands, Eileen testified.

However, two days after that meeting, Shannon met privately with David, and then the church arranged for Eileen to stay with a church family until the protective order went into effect. Eileen testified in court that as a condition of receiving this help from GCC, the church required her and David to attend marriage counseling with Carey Hardy.

Hardy has an M.Div. from The Master’s Seminary but no professional counseling credentials.

During the first counseling session, which included Shannon and Hardy, David admitted he kicked one of the couple’s children and tried to suffocate the child, Eileen testified. She added that David said it all happened “so fast,” and he didn’t know it was wrong in the moment.

In subsequent counseling sessions, David presented Hardy with a handwritten, four-page list of “sins” against Eileen and his children, Eileen said. On one of these pages obtained by The Roys Report, David admits he used a “belt & rod way too harshly—brutally” on a child. He also says he “tied up” and “locked up” the child and was not always “adequately dressed” in the child’s presence.

Carey Hardy
Carey Hardy (Source: Twin City Bible Church)

According to Eileen, Hardy refused to take or read David’s list.

The Roys Report reached out to Shannon and Hardy, specifically asking about these events, but they did not respond.

However, in an official court declaration in 2002 concerning Eileen’s legal separation from David Gray, Hardy stated: “I am of the opinion that Eileen simply doesn’t like David . . . and is using what she alleges to have happened with the children as leverage to put David out of their lives.”

Hardy accused Eileen in the declaration of having “a tendency to exaggerate” and exercising “faulty logic and irrational thinking.”

In contrast, Hardy said David Gray was “fairly laid back” and that after several monitored visits between David and his children, “our church concluded that monitors were not necessary.”

Nevertheless, in the summer of 2001, GCC decided not to renew David’s teaching contract with the church.

David Gray Grace Community Church
David Gray conducts a children’s choir and orchestra at Grace Community Church in early 2000s.

Eileen stated in an official court reply to Hardy’s declaration that Hardy and Shannon met with her to announce their decision to end David’s employment.

At that meeting, Shannon suggested sending David to Los Angeles Unified School District, Eileen testified. She added that when she objected because David was a child abuser, Shannon replied that since a “child abuse index” hadn’t been filed, David could still get a job teaching. Eileen testified that Shannon also stated that L.A. Unified never calls the church for a reference.

David Gray was hired by L.A. Unified School District in September 2001 and taught music to elementary school-aged children there until his arrest in 2004, according to a LAPD press release.

“Suffer like Jesus”

In her testimony at David Gray’s trial, Eileen stated that she repeatedly asked GCC to provide professional counseling for her and David. She testified she was told by GCC leaders that professional counseling is “worldly” and wrong.

Hardy counseled Eileen to forgive David “even if he wasn’t repentant,” Eileen testified. “He would teach me over and over ‘the threefold promise of forgiveness’ . . .” she stated, “where you act as though it never happened, and you never bring it up again, and you never tell anyone about it.”

Grace Community Church
Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA

This threefold promise is explained in detail in a booklet on forgiveness by John MacArthur, which is sold by MacArthur’s broadcast ministry, Grace to You.

Eileen also testified that Hardy urged her to allow David back into the family’s home and to model for the children how to “suffer for Jesus” by enduring David’s abuse. Eileen stated that she was willing to endure the abuse herself but was not willing to allow her children to be abused, so she refused.

With permission from all parties involved, Eileen recorded her counseling sessions with Hardy. Eileen shared the recordings with the pastor who officiated her wedding to David, Alvin B. Barber, Jr.—former pastor of Sunrise Bible Fellowship in Northern California. (Barber passed away in 2008.)

In a written declaration to a California Superior Court, Barber corroborated Eileen’s account.

“I have listened to one of the counseling sessions on tape between Carey Hardy, David, and Eileen and found that Eileen was being told to just accept her husband as he was and submit to him, even in spite of his admitted abuse of her and their children,” Barber wrote. “Thankfully Eileen has chosen the legal protection of herself and her children over the obvious intimidation and questionable counsel of Carey Hardy and Grace Community Church.”

In November 2001, Eileen wrote GCC and requested that the church remove her from its membership.

GCC denied Eileen’s request.

Letters, harassment, and stalking

On November 27, 2001, Carey Hardy sent Eileen a letter on behalf of GCC’s elders.

The elders “don’t automatically remove someone from membership when we believe that we have a responsibility to help that individual resolve issues in his/her life,” the letter stated. “In this situation, we definitely do believe that we should maintain our role in helping you and David reconcile. For that reason we are leaving your membership status intact.”

The letter adds “there are no longer sufficient reasons for the two of you to stay apart” and urges Eileen to “forgive David, allow him to move back home, and once again follow his leadership as Scripture teaches.”

It also states, “It is now time to trust God to use your marriage to David to make you more like Christ. This is a more significant level of trust than simply trusting God to change your husband. . . . It’s a crossroads related to your own relationship with the Lord, a crossroads in your relationship to your husband, and a crossroads related to your role as a mother.”

A letter from GCC on March 13, 2002 threatens Eileen with church discipline if she doesn’t change course.

“Since you are refusing to forgive David and allow him to return home where he can put biblical change into action, we are left with nothing to conclude but that you want something else besides what Scripture teaches,” the letter states.

“. . . Though you are ignoring the shepherding role in your life that God requires from our church, we must still choose to follow the mandate of Matthew 18, verse 17, if you persist in preventing the restoration of your family.”

Matthew 18:17 says that if someone refuses to repent of his sin, the sin should be told to the church and the person treated like “a pagan or tax collector.”

The letter from GCC also states that it “has become obvious . . . that David is not a ‘mental case’” and “doesn’t need a ‘psychological evaluation.’ He is a sinner who can, by God’s grace, change and grow.”

During the time she was receiving these letters from GCC, Eileen said David repeatedly threatened to kill her and her children and to take his own life.

David also stalked Eileen at home on numerous occasions between July 2001 and May 2002 in violation of his restraining order, according to court declarations by Eileen’s neighbors, Carlos Tobar and Wilbur Rodriguez.

Eileen said she also received pressure by GCC members to obey GCC’s elders.

On April 25, 2002, Eileen said she received a surprise, late-night visit from a couple at GCC—George Bonsangue, who was a student at The Master’s Seminary, and his wife, Priscilla.

Priscilla & George Bonsangue
Priscilla & George Bonsangue in 2019 (Source: Facebook)

In an account for David Gray’s trial, Eileen wrote that Bonsangue and his wife entered her home at 10:15 p.m. and told her she was “in sin” because she had separated from her husband and had left the church without the elders’ permission. When Eileen told the couple about David’s abuse, Bonsangue and his wife reportedly offered to take Eileen’s children so Eileen could “obey the biblical mandates for marriage,” Eileen wrote.

She added that when she refused their offer, George Bonsangue became “angrier” and the couple left her home around midnight.

The Roys Report spoke with Priscilla and George Bonsangue, who’s currently pastoring Grace Baptist Church in Wilmington, California.

The couple confirmed they went to Eileen’s house late one night in April 2002.

“We just wanted to help (David and Eileen) reconcile,” Priscilla said. She added that she had babysat the Gray’s children and never saw anything that made her suspicious of David. “I wondered if . . . she imagined (the abuse) or was just making things up, or just mad at him.”

The Bonsangues said they don’t remember offering to take Eileen’s kids or mentioning anything about Eileen fulfilling “the biblical mandates for marriage.” Priscilla said it was just “an understood thing” that Priscilla was willing to babysit, if needed.

Five days after the Bonsangues’ 2002 visit, GCC sent another letter to Eileen.

“You have yet to provide any biblical justification for your anger towards your husband,” the letter stated, “and you still reject the counsel of the elders and others who are concerned for your well-being.”

“. . . If you desire to meet with us to express your willingness to repent, we stand ready to help. If we don’t hear from you in this regard, however, we must proceed with the Lord’s instructions and convey your sin to the church at the next communion service on Sunday May 19, 2002.”

On that date, John MacArthur reportedly shamed Eileen in front of his congregation for the first time.

The next morning, Eileen said a mother of one of David’s students at GCC came to her house upset because MacArthur had reportedly stated that “death may follow” Eileen’s shaming.

At the time, Eileen was being treated for cancer.

Eileen said the woman was “shocked” by MacArthur’s statements and didn’t agree with them.

Over the next three months, the pressure and harassment from GCC members and staff intensified, according to Eileen and a declaration by Eileen’s neighbor.

On May 21, 2002—two days after the shaming—David came to Eileen’s house with two men in a blue Honda, Wilbur Rodriguez wrote in his declaration.

According to Eileen, Carlos Tobar, who also witnessed the incident, recorded the Honda’s license plate number, which was registered to a car driven by Hardy’s personal assistant at GCC. Eileen said she called the assistant soon afterwards, and he admitted to watching her house with David.

The Roys Report tried to locate the assistant for comment but was unsuccessful.

About a week after the shaming, Eileen said a close friend—affectionately called “Aunt Donna” by her children—came to her home. The friend had been given a key to Eileen’s house, but reportedly returned the key and told Eileen she wouldn’t be back.

“She told me to obey the elders,” Eileen told The Roys Report. “It was heartbreaking. All of it’s heartbreaking. She was the last person I thought would say, ‘I don’t even care.’ . . . She didn’t say that but that was her demeanor.”

Eileen said many other GCC members delivered a similar message, either by letter or in person.

In a handwritten letter dated June 5, 2002, obtained by The Roys Report, the wife of a current professor at The Master’s Seminary wrote: “I know it must be very difficult to do what the elders at Grace Community Church ask you to do, and I pray that you will joyfully submit to their leadership . . . It is what the Bible asks of you, Eileen.”

The woman also urged Eileen to reunite with her husband and submit to him, stating, “Even if David is sinning or is not a believer, this is still your spiritual duty.”

On August 8, 2002, Eileen received another letter from GCC.

“(I)n spite of the failures on David’s part as a husband and a father, it has become increasingly apparent that the greatest reason for the turmoil in the lives of your children, in the life of your husband, and in your own life is your refusal to forgive David, to support him in his attempts to change his thinking and behavior, and to reconcile with him.”

The letter states, “(T)he elders have concluded that you have no genuine desire to see your family restored.” It adds that GCC would announce publicly at an upcoming service that Eileen was being been removed from fellowship.

The evening of August 18, 2002, MacArthur preached a sermon with dire warnings about the severity of God’s discipline. The sermon is still posted online.

“(S)ometimes the punishment can be so severe that the person dies,” MacArthur stated in the sermon. “In the Corinthian church, there were some people who were weak and some were sick and some were dead because their sins were manifest at the Lord’s Table, remember that?”

Then, before administering communion and shaming Eileen, MacArthur urged his listeners to confess their sins so they “won’t suffer the discipline.”

Excerpt of MacArthur’s Aug. 18, 2002, sermon before Eileen’s shaming:

Eileen, who attended the service, said she felt comforted by Jesus throughout the entire ordeal.

“He bore the shaming with me,” she said. “I felt I wasn’t alone. And I felt very triumphant because (MacArthur) lies. The whole thing was lies.”

A few weeks later, a Los Angeles court granted Eileen a legal separation from David Gray. With her husband’s consent, she moved 500 miles away from GCC to her hometown and a church that welcomed her into fellowship.

The next year, Eileen learned that David had not only physically, emotionally, and verbally abused her children, but had sexually abused them, as well. She then reported her husband’s abuse to LAPD.

Even then, GCC did not defend and support Eileen, but instead rallied behind her husband.

The Roys Report describes the rest of Eileen’s story in a follow-up article. Click here to read.

Correction: The original version of this article stated that Shannon and Hardy were arrested for failing to report child abuse and intimidating a witness. The LAPD report obtained by TRR says the two were “cleared by arrest,” which means they were either arrested, ordered to appear at a city hearing, or ordered to appear at a court hearing. Shannon was ordered to appear at a city hearing, but not charged. Hardy was charged and ordered to appear in court.

GCC Letters to Eileen Gray:

GCC Letters to Eileen Gray_Redacted

John MacArthur shames Eileen Gray on August 18, 2002 (with Spanish subtitles)



Keep in touch with Julie and get updates in your inbox!

Don’t worry we won’t spam you.

More to explore

268 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: John MacArthur Shamed, Excommunicated Mother for Refusing to Take Back Child Abuser”

  1. Marvin Valencia

    Why is the entire burden placed on the wife’s shoulder to hold the family together ? David was the one in sin ! What effort have John, the pastors, elders , hundreds of men in the church made to hold David to task, protect Eileen and the children ? It is after all a church family and community isn’t it ? They need to answer to God and men. JM was not ill advised, he was orchestrating this whole thing from behind the scene so he can claim plausible denial. Its his money, lifestyle, houses, royalties on the line, Eileen and the children were the least of his concern.

    I call on churches with pastors who subscribes to JM’s style, to hold their pastors to task. Fire them at once if they show any leanings towards such an unbiblical, reprehensible view of the wife’s role and stature in the family. If they even attend the shepherds conference, you would need to have your pastors answer serious questions.

    As a father, anyone who lays a hand on my daughter regardless of any reason or my grandchildren without just cause will answer to me.

    1. Pastors need to realign themselves in such cases. They are servants of the church, not its ‘leaders’, and where the law is broken we are in Romans 13:4 territory, not pastor land.

    2. Priscilla Frye

      Don’t you wonder how MacArthur would have handled the situation if Eileen was his daughter and those children were his grandchildren?

  2. Everything in this article is TRUE, I know I was there. In addition church members paid for David’s legal defense. Most still claim he is innocent. As an attorney who has represented those accused of these kind of crimes convictions are not easy to get. If he was convicted he is guilty.

  3. Suzanne Farmer

    I wonder how he’d feel if this happened to his daughter? He has NO clue! WHAT ABOUT THE BAD HUSBAND?!!

  4. Norman R Collins

    I am without a doubt a complementarian. However, if the information presented in this article as stated is true (not trying to argue the point) shows a terrible exaggeration of the Biblical teachings of submission. They apparently ignored and disregarded the scriptures about a man loving his wife even as his own flesh and loving his wife as Christ loves the church. Any of these people in GGC who, with knowledge of this man’s abuse, pushed this woman to invite this man back into her home, then they should be fired. If that group includes John MacArthur, He should step down as he has invalidated himself for ministry by putting this woman’s family in danger.

    1. This article inspired me to see what John MacArthur had to say about abusive husbands directly.

      I found several sites,



      I didn’t see any place that John stated that the police should be involved? Perhaps I didn’t read carefully enough?

      interestingly , a court case in Nebraska has just been concluded for a woman’s doctor handling an abusive husband. The jury agreed with her.


  5. All this time these religious leaders were telling her to submit herself and her children to her husband’s abuse so she could “suffer like Jesus”, but Jesus’s suffering came from the religious leaders of his day so I guess she was truly suffering like Jesus. She said Jesus was with her the whole time and I believe he was!

  6. Although this was 20 years ago, if GCC has not repented of its sin in this matter, it and its elder team are functioning outside the parameters of the gospel. If they have publicly repented and changed their ways of dealing with genuine abuse, then nothing more need be said.

  7. Susan Vonder Heide

    John MacArthur is far from young. One would think that he would be more concerned with how God will judge him when he departs from this earth.

  8. The “suffer like Jesus is almost as upsetting as the notion that He would want anyone, anyone at all, put or left at risk. They clearly did not believe her at all, but in a situation like that how can they be so sure and everything from his confessions to the 21 year to life sentence counts against him. Badly handed by the wrong people and showing dubious understanding of deeper principles, While Paul does question those who “dare” to go to law, there are times when we do need to do that and this is one of those whatever the church does. This was not really a spiritual issue of the kind the Church can dominate and we cannot ever be trying to imply that people can be abused for “Jesus’ sake” if only because He’d never want that in this kind of area. Doctrine and spiritual issues? Fine This stuff? Not for us to try to manage

      1. Moses Christopher

        At the minimum, second chance does matter. If every abuse were to be a criteria for divorce. Then we would all be guilty of a hardened heart.

        1. @Moses – from reading the article, it sounds like this was a situation that had been going on for quite some time.

          1. Moses Christopher

            The abuse yes seems to have been a repetition. The article does not address if the abuse persisted even after council of elders. It looks like that Eileen was not interested in church based advise. I wish the article elaborated on this.

          2. @Moses – I have worked and continue to work with women who have been abused. It is not on her to make the changes. The husband is responsible to demonstrate that he understands what he has been doing is great sin, need to repent, and change his behavior. Too many promises of life change only to go right back into the abusive pattern.

        2. Gordon Hackman

          I think it’s more complicated than saying everyone deserves a second chance. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all prescription for situations like this one. Each situation has to be discerned on it’s merits. In some cases, a second chance may not be the right course of action.

        3. Are you kidding me? We found out in the article that he had been forcefully molesting his own children and you want him to have a “second chance”. There are times where one can be reconciled. When children are in danger of being sexually assaulted is not one of those times. He needed to be removed from the home if for no other reason than the children were in danger.

          It is not biblical to put children’s lives in danger like this. I am sorry. What you are suggesting is demonic. I pray the spirits that hold your mind would release you.

        4. Moses, how many chances should someone have who is abusing his wife and children? He had plenty of chances to stop. And church based advice that says to put children in harm’s way is advice that should be ignored.

        5. Hugo Z. Hackenbush

          Moses, read the court papers. They are easily accessible. The aggravated sexual assault charges are explicitly detailed. You will never be the same. The children were abused in extreme ways. Not even an unbeliever would be cruel enough to force a woman and her children back into such torment, only a JMac follower would pull that off.

    1. What you actually meant to say is that the article doesn’t mention if the husband truly repented of his ways and has absolutely changed and became a man of honor. And after he can prove that he is a consistent man of honor, then the wife might give him the second chance which she is not obliged to do so. I’m not sure why you would ever advise someone to just “go for it”. Very irresponsible and shows your lack of discernment and care for the abused.

    2. As a non-believer, I understand the value of a two-parent home in raising kids. But I think one of the most obvious ways that religion (in this case, Christianity) does real world harm on a grand scale is in convincing/coercing women that they have to remain in an abusive marriage because “God says so.”

      The second there’s any kind of physical abuse, get out. No second chances. The second the kids are at risk, get out. Even ongoing verbal abuse – get out. If this life is all we have, there’s no reason to spend decades of it in fear, misery, sadness, etc. If there is a god, and if you think that he/it has demanded a woman remain in a broken marriage to act as some kind of “witness”, I would question that god’s worthiness of any kind of obedience or adoration.

      1. Jack, thanks for your helpful comments. Good to hear from a non-believer, and fully concur that coercing women to remain in dangerous households does not further the cause of Christianity.

        The treatment of Eileen Gray was, sadly, not uncommon during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Since then many churches have become better informed about the nature and frequency of domestic abuse, the need to involve law enforcement, and how to effectively counsel survivors. Much of the shock-and-awe expressed in the nearly 200 comments thus far is surprise that such terrible advice is still dispensed by influential and well educated pastors of large congregations. They should know better by now.

        My church reaches the same conclusion as yours, yet for different reasons. Get out because a loving God created you and values your life. Repair the marriage if possible, but don’t risk being injured. Better to be alive and divorced than murdered while married.

    3. I would like for you and others to PLEASE sign-up and go through each topic and their sections. YOU WILL NOT REGRET DOING IT.

      Both MEN and WOMEN are to go through the entire sites topics and the sections. So each WILL LEARN about what goes on with both.


      1. I don’t need to pay money to know that abusing women and children is wrong and not the fault of the victims. And that people who sexually abuse children can’t be fixed, but will continue.

        1. Elaine Mercer – that was meant for Moses and others, who believe that Eileen should continue allowing the abuse of her and her children and to forgive. Eileen has had so many supporters, except for a few. With the right kind of support and healing, she and her children WILL BECOME a BETTER and STRONGER PERSON. Forgiveness, comes after years of healing. That CANNOT BE RUSHED. Team Eileen and children!

    4. Courtney Bradley

      She offered reconciliation if he got professional help. He refused. A second chance in a physically abusive relationship without recovery is a second chance at getting killed in the next rampage. Experts agree, that the worse thing to do to a victim of DV is to do marriage or couples counseling until the offender has gone through treatment and recovery.

    5. You physically abuse children in the manner he did, and apparently admitted to in the cited note, you don’t get offered a second chance. Rather, you get offered a divorce and a place in jail.

  9. this breaks my heart, grace for the man who is now in prison and repentance for the poor mama whom Jesus himself carried through all of this. Did John MacArthur ever publicly apologize? do any of those elders actually go to The Holy Spirit, The Spirit Of Truth? Did anyone speak up for those poor children and their Mum?

    1. Elizabeth Moldovan, at least the police stood up for Eileen Gray and her children, in the way they took her report seriously and investigated it. The DA stood up for the children when they prosecuted David Gray. The jury stood up for the children when they examined the evidence and said he was guilty. And the judge stood up for the Gray children when he handed down the sentence of 20 years to life.

  10. The authorities, law, government are agents of justice duly ordained and instituted by God. They are not the enemy of the church. JM and his elders have a twisted view of authorities in telling victims not to report spouse abuse, physical endangerment, child abuse and even rape. The police is where you should or must report when crime has been committed or when one feels his/her life is in danger. They are there to help. It is not whether the church feels you are in danger or not but YOU ! For the courts to send David to 21 years in jail, it must determine that is was beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty, and the long prison time is to give him time to rehabilitate , deter him from doing further harm and punish him for what he did. NOW, if GCC didn’t and refuse to see that, this is not a church it is a cult. A group of people blindly following a blind man.

    1. A woman separating from her husband is not a 1 Corinthians 5 situation.

      Secondly, a 1 Corinthians 5 situation should not be handled as a brief, last- minute announcement by a lone pastor just as the Lord’s Supper is served.

      I believe that church rule by a team of co-equal elders would prevent this kind of behavior exhibited by the senior pastor of Grace Community Church, John MacArthur.

      One more practical reason for rejecting the senior-pastor/ lone-pastor church leadership models.

      1. Mark Gunderson

        GCC is led by a plurality of elders. Major decisions (which I assume this is) require a quorum of a majority of currently serving elders, and a unanimous vote must be reached

        “Section 16. Decisions of the Board of Elders
        Decisions shall be reached after prayerful consideration by unanimous vote in a spirit of
        humility, with each Elder regarding one another before himself.”

        You can look this up in their By-Laws. Many churches led by a plurality of elders are functionally dominated by one or two individuals, often the senior or teaching pastor. But this is true of many organizations.

        But John MacArthur as teacher-pastor has no explicit veto power or ability to issue fiats. And that’s troubling because that means the group reached this decision, and the group never reached a decision to publicly (to the church body at a minimum) rescind the excommunication and apologize to the victim.

        1. Really? There is no justification whatsoever, for not apologizing PUBLICLY the same way pastor John Macarthur SHAMED her.

        2. But how are open positions on the elder board filled? In many cases the Senior Pastor stacks such boards with people who are unquestionably loyal to him.

        3. @Mark Guderson
          “GCC is led by a plurality of elders.”
          Whatever Elders do at GCC, it is somehow distinct from their Leadership. The GCC website, under the About tab, has one webpage listing for “Leadership” and a different webpage listing “(current) Elders” with very little overlap. John MacArthur, however, is a constant at the top of both groups. Since no one else shares the same title of “Pastor/ Teacher” as John there, it is prudent to conclude that John MacArthur is without equal at GCC and functions as the de facto senior pastor.

          I believe that church pastored by a team of CO-EQUAL teaching elders would prevent this kind of behavior exhibited by the one and only pastor/teacher of Grace Community Church, John MacArthur.

          This situation is one more example on the list of moral failings of the peerless pastor/teacher church leadership model.

  11. Ole Johnny Mac should have put David Gray up in one of his houses and hired him to babysit his grandkids if he thought he was such a great man of God.

  12. How dreadful, absolutely awful. The mom is to be commended is the highest. Keep all the books and retreats and conventions out in the religious world today and replace w this hero of the faith( this mom and woman of faith), to show us how to stand in Christ when all those around us fail. As a side note.. i suppose this story wont be plagurized by any currently on the circuit. God bless this survivor, if her children manage to find faith, God bless them. From survivor to overcomer is a true testimony.

  13. Nowhere in scripture will you find that if your husband abuses you and beats up your children are you required to stay in the marriage or take him back. There is obvious grounds to believe that David the abusive husband is the unbeliever. Are we to believe that Christ lives in his heart because he claims to believe in the doctrines of grace, teaches music to children in church, is a bonafide member of GCC or because John says so ? God is the protector of the widow and orphan. David’s actions against his wife makes him an unbeliever. Just as God hates divorce, He hates sin ! and clearly David is the one living in sin. The Courts have found him guilty. That settles that. For JM, PJ and elders ….Woe unto those who calls right wrong and wrong right.

  14. One more demonstration of the weakness of the lone-pastor/senior-pastor church leadership model.

    Church rule by a team of co-equal elders would likely prevent this kind of behavior exhibited by the senior pastor of Grace Community Church, John MacArthur.

    Firstly, a true 1 Corinthians 5 situation should not be announced as a brief, last-minute declaration by a lone pastor just as the Lord’s Supper is served.

    Lastly, a woman separating from her husband is not a 1 Corinthians 5 situation. It is a 1 Corinthians 7:11 situation:

    “But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband.”

    1. I expressed this here in stoic, understated terms for the sake of civil internet discourse but my deepest sympathy goes out to Eileen and all others who have suffered similarly; and inexpressible disapproval for church leaders who deviate from the Apostles’ instruction and example in the New Testament.

    2. Mark Gunderson

      GCC is led by a plurality of elders. MacArthur is one of their many elders with no explicit extra measure of authority in these matters. He is not even the ‘senior’ or ‘head’ pastor, but the ‘teacher-pastor.’

      His defacto authority almost certainly exceeds his de jure authority, but unfortunately that’s the case in most elder-led churches.

      1. The GCC website, under the About tab, has one webpage listing for “(current) Elders” and a different webpage listing “Leadership,” with very little overlap. John MacArthur, however, appears at the top of both groups. Since no one shares the same title of “Pastor/ Teacher” as John there, it is prudent to conclude that John MacArthur is in a class by himself at GCC.

        Lone-pastor/senior-pastors surrounded by subordinates are less likely to receive guidance like what is offered now before the blunder is made and the damage is done.

        They have left the safe path, that church leadership that deviates from the instruction and example from the Apostles and elders in the New Testament, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

        The Apostles’ intruction is that:

        Churches are to be pastored by the group of older men (elders) of a church who meet the qualifications of bishop, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9. In the Greek-speaking world in which this was communicated, “elder” was universally understood as being a man at least 60 years old.

        They are to be assisted by deacons, the group of younger men who meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:8-12.

  15. If I wasn’t certain that John MacArthur and Al Mohler were wolves in sheep’s clothing before, now after reading this article, I am certain.

    1. I hear you 100% I heard JM speak once and something didn’t sit right with what he was saying. Now I know he is not a man of Biblical Principles.

  16. In a church, all believers are equally saints , redeemed by the same blood of Christ. A pastor is there to teach and model, the elders co-teach and model. No one is above the other. Only Christ is the head of the church. For pastors and elders to rule over the flock, that is not the Biblical model. They are there to serve the body of Christ….to minister so to speak.

  17. GCC is not led by a board of elders who exercised biblical discernment. It is led by JM. He tells them what he wants like in Elaine’s case, like in the student rape case. Julie, check out what JM did to Jim and Elizabeth George at GCC.

  18. The parole board for David gray denied him parole for 10 years since serving his sentence to this day. He has not obviously shown repentance nor change. They called him a sadistic predator who weaponized religion. Sounds like many members of the Macarthurite cult. When JM announced that Eileen was an unbeliever he left out the most important detail that she is leaving her husband because he was abusing her and children. So much for one who claims to want to be unashamed of the truth.

  19. Fara M Williams

    It sounds very much like the experience I had with the Mormon Church in the mid 1970’s in Rexburg, Idaho. I moved myself & children to Orem, Utah with ‘the help of my mother. My ex just got another family, 9 kids with a return missionary sweet Mormon girl & began his neglect of my children. Occasionally they stayed at Dad’s house & they were severely beaten. I turned him in to County child abuse. Nothing was done. My kids are now adults, and problems, they have many. I should have left sooner. I’ve saved every drop of money from my UT state retirement to help them & leave to them when I’m gone. But they need much more than money; they need the love of Jesus Christ. I continue my search for a Christian church as I have left Mormonism. I hope I don’t get involved with one like the one in this story.

  20. Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.Heb 13:7. You’ve seen the outcome of Phil Johnson’s life of arrogance and hubris in responding to issues and the elders who demonstrated cruelty, heartless handling of Eileen’s case and most of all John’s abuse of the pulpit declaring Eileen an unbeliever and disregarding the welfare of the children while defending abusive David as the Godly one. It doesn’t matter if they claim to love and hold dearly biblical truth, their actions or inactions resonates and will continue to reverberate through time. These are not men you would want to imitate.

  21. MacArthur’s little kingdom is simply a CULT packaged as well-dressed church. Part of his spiritual roots are tied to Bob Jones University, which is infamous for it’s demand of not questioning things.
    What is even more troubling about Wolf MacArthur’s actions ( and his equally reprehensible guard dog, Phil Johnson ) is that so many pastors attend his seminars. He will “reproduce” himself in these pastors unless these pastors truly repent and above all, keep their first love: JESUS.
    Bill Gothard has a legacy of sexually obsessed fathers and sons.
    What will Wolf MacArthur’s legacy be?
    ( Now will the Christian publishers sever ties with their cash cow, and help warn the Body of Christ about this imposter?)

  22. Stanley Greene

    Phil’s attack on Julie’s reporting is reprehensible, expected and instead of focusing on the subject as always he went personal.
    The simple fact is it was John who declared Eileen an unbeliever and shamed her twice in public discipline without ever meeting with her. For a true pastor with a true love for the flock, it should have been an excruciating task to declare a member of your flock of 19 years at that time an unbeliever. Jesus talks of going after one sheep to bring back to the fold (if this truly was a lost sheep) , that didn’t happen with John. Now, Phil is claiming the elders only acted upon what they knew at that time. But they already knew by that time there was abuse, by David’s own confession list. The word ABUSE most especially by a church staff should have triggered great concern of no less than the senior pastor:John. The question for Phil is whether the elders were incompetent or did they deceived John ? A plausible denial but laughable for John. When a crime is committed, it is not for the church to adjudicate and make people reconcile and forgive each other. The law was broken and church by-laws is not above the law. Desperate reply of Phil reveals John’s misuse of the pulpit, massive cover-up to protect John and maligning to this day of the innocent: Eileen.

  23. The Bible DOES allow divorce for abuse.

    Eileen most definitely had grounds to divorce David Gray. My heart goes out to her.

    MacArthur and GCC treated Eileen abominably.
    “Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you” (Psalm 5:10).

    Thank you Julie Roys for this excellent piece of journalism.

  24. Let’s set the record straight. The CBA used in a LAPD Follow-Up Report, Form 3.14 is merely an administrative classification and in the case of Mr. Shannon does not mean he was arrested. All L A City Attorney hearings are informal proceedings, similar to those initiated by neighborhood associations. There is a letter notification, but no service or attempt at service. Person complained about is not legally obligated to appear. There is no judge, just a mediator-type “hearing officer,” often a retired police officer. There is no actual “hearing” in the sense of testimony or exhibits or legal process. There is little need for an attorney, or use of one if the respondent brings one. There is no sworn testimony; no transcript. It is all informal. Attorneys cannot appear in lieu of the respondent. The aim is to bring the parties together and try to forge a consensus so that the complaint need not be pursued as a criminal case. The fact that the matter was set for this kind of process means that the filing attorney’s first take was that the complaint did not require/merit criminal prosecution. So stop suggesting he was arrested and charged.

    In the case of Mr. Hardy he was filed on and a court date set but the DA withdrew the case with the court’s permission because they did not have a felony prima facia case. So he was falsely arrested and his 4th amendment rights were violated. How come no CA hearing for Mr. Hardy?

    I think in your quest to become a premier Christian investigative reporting website, you have become a little too censorious. Just like a good detective you need to get your facts right before charging a person with a crime. Just a thought.

    1. What the article states about Shannon is completely accurate. I wrote he “was not charged but ordered to appear at a city attorney hearing.” City hearing is the official term. If you don’t like it, I’d take that up with the city of Los Angeles.

      As for Hardy, he had a dozen entries on his criminal case summary spanning eight months. And as I wrote in my follow-up article, the reason Hardy’s case was dropped is likely because the statute of limitations had run out. The alleged crime happened in 2001, but was reported by Eileen in 2003. Statute of limitations is one year.

      1. Melissa Schubert

        You’re the best, Julie! You are so thorough, honest and accurate that fancy jargon and bullying just falls flat. Thank you for all you do.

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people use their full name when commenting. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.

Comments are limited to 300 words.

Leave a Reply

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people register before they begin commenting. This means no anonymous comments will be allowed. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.
MOST popular articles

Don't miss the stories that matter!

Sign up to receive our Daily News Digest


Hi. We see this is the third article this month you’ve found worth reading. Great! Would you consider making a tax-deductible donation to help our journalists continue to report the truth and restore the church?

Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $30 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse” by Dr. Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys.