UPDATE: The elders of Harvest Bible Chapel have removed James MacDonald as a pastor and an elder “for engaging in conduct that the Elders believe is contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church.” Read full statement here.
I never thought I would hear an evangelical, mega-church pastor talk about planting child pornography on the computer of an executive at a Christian publication. But today, Chicago radio personality Mancow Muller played shocking clips of someone sounding exactly like Harvest Bible Chapel Pastor James MacDonald discussing putting child porn on the computer of Christianity Today CEO Harold Smith.
Mancow told me he didn’t definitively identify MacDonald to protect himself from potential litigation. Yet MacDonald’s trademark voice, though somewhat distorted, was unmistakable. I’ve also now heard the complete 50 minutes of audio that Mancow referenced, and heard the clips in context, and they are credible. I’ve also reached out to MacDonald for comment, and he did not respond with either a confirmation or denial.
Mancow said he plans to air the entire 50-minute conversation on an upcoming podcast. I will save some of my comments about the recording until then.
But the clips Mancow played today are breathtaking. On them, the man who’s presumably MacDonald jokes about me having an affair with Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today (CT). That’s not funny. It’s disgusting. Galli and I have never had anything but a professional relationship, and it’s repulsive that anyone—a pastor, no less—would make a joke about that.
“Mancow told me that MacDonald had told him similar things—that I was a crazy woman attacking kids and had to be stopped. This is why Mancow said he urged MacDonald to sue me–a decision Mancow now regrets.”
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However, especially disconcerting to me is an excerpt where MacDonald alleges that I and “another person who used to attend (Harvest)” approached the houses of people who were victims in a DCFS investigation and shouted at them about a cover-up at Harvest. He alleges that I’m “off the rails” and predicts that in 30 days, I’m going to be “riding a tricycle with a midget on (my) shoulders.”
Mancow told me that MacDonald had told him similar things—that I was a crazy woman attacking kids and had to be stopped. This is why Mancow said he urged MacDonald to sue me–a decision Mancow now regrets.
This allegation by MacDonald is complete fabrication.
The only thing I can fathom that MacDonald could be referencing is a time in October when a Chicago Tribune reporter and I talked to the father of an alleged victim of Paxton Singer, the former Harvest youth pastor charged with sexual exploitation of a child.
I was working jointly with Tribune Reporter Matt Walberg to report the Singer story for the newspaper. At one point, the two of us had a brief and respectful conversation with the father of an alleged victim where we invited him to comment if he’d like. He declined. We gave him my phone number in case he changed his mind. And that was it. (Walberg said he and his family attended Harvest for several months about a decade ago, so I guess that’s where the reference to attending Harvest originated.)
I never actually wrote that story for the Tribune because in the middle of our investigation, Harvest sued me, which caused the Tribune to drop me from the story. However, Walberg—a 20-year veteran reporter who recently took a buyout from the Tribune—gave me the following statement regarding our time reporting together:
“I worked with Julie Roys in October on the story about the allegations against former Harvest Bible Chapel youth pastor Paxton Singer. In fact, I was working the story with her when she learned that she had been sued by Harvest Bible Chapel.
“The subsequent story on Singer’s arrest did not contain any indication that we did or did not speak to the victims or their families. It has been my long-standing practice not to comment beyond what has been published, so I can’t confirm whether I spoke with the victims or their families.
“However, I can say that I spent days working with Roys, conducted multiple joint interviews with multiple subjects, both in person and on the phone, and found her ethics, demeanor, and professionalism to be beyond reproach.”
Mark Galli today responded to MacDonald’s comments by confronting MacDonald for succumbing “to the temptation to slander me (Galli), threaten our CEO, and denigrate others.” CT says this is “unfortunate,” but “part of the life of journalism.”
“While I agree with Galli that journalism invites a certain amount of abuse, MacDonald’s behavior seriously crosses a line. It’s reprehensible and should be roundly denounced by evangelical leaders.”
While I agree with Galli that journalism invites a certain amount of abuse, MacDonald’s behavior seriously crosses a line. It’s reprehensible and should be roundly denounced by evangelical leaders.
UPDATE: Below is the entire hot mic recording, which has been posted on YouTube.
122 thoughts on “Mancow Airs Shocking Comments By James MacDonald: My Response”
I am very stunned by all of this, just finding out today. Unlike a lot of commenters here I am nowhere near Chicago, so there was never any question of going to his church. I have watched McDonald for a number of years on TBN and found his preaching very compelling. He came across like a very spiritually deep man, and his wife and son seemed wonderful. I was impressed with how he spoke of having his internet browsing set up so that his browsing history was automatically transmitted to others who could hold him accountable, so he seemed like a conscientious person concerned deeply with avoiding scandal.
I have spent a lot of time researching this today, and it is evident that the testimony by believers of him having longstanding profound character failings is quite abundant and weighty.
Every couple of months or so some big megachurch pastor resigns or is dismissed in scandal. Most of the time I’ve never even heard of them till I read about the scandal, so it doesn’t affect me. This hurts.
I have been missing his TV show this week and did not know why he was no longer in his longtime time slot.
I don’t like this whole megachurch model of ministry. I don’t like this business of megachurches planting “campuses” where instead of having their own preaching pastor, they have a video of the big shot piped in on Sunday morning. I don’t like independent churches, which is all the rage now. Oh, millenials don’t like denominations, so we have to kiss them goodbye. (Oh, millenials this, millenials that–**so tiresome**). McDonald was independent till a few years ago, when he joined the unstructured Southern Baptist Convention. I feel like these newer trends in ministry lend themselves to the flourishing of corrupt egomaniacs and to the sick philosophy of ministerial supremacism, where laypeople are supposed to be yes men under the glorious anointed pastor’s feet. I belong to a dying church where the pastor got rid of the church board and is so distrustful of laypeople he doesn’t even want an adult Sunday School program because the teacher might say something he doesn’t agree with. He’s actually a nice guy who has been good to me, but his mentor put poisonous ideas in his head, and the church has lost its core of spiritually mature members. Say a prayer please for God to lead me to a good new church.
Hi Brian, prayers for you and your family, that the Lord will lead you to a good new church where you will feel lifted up, encouraged and renewed. Like you, I was very disappointed to hear about this situation, and I also feel that the evil one is doing whatever he can to destroy Christ’s church – and he is focusing his attacks directly on the churches that are bucking the trend and are thriving, unlike most churches across America, and the world, which are slowly dying. I guess Pastor James is human after all, but at the end of the day, I didn’t see anything in these allegations that was so outrageous as to justify tearing down a lifetime of ministry. I agree the megachurch model of ministry is not ideal – but the problem is that it is very difficult to reach the world in the same way through independent small churches where often the teaching is not what it needs to be in order to really reach people. I”m not sure what the solution is really. I struggle with it, as an expat living in Europe where we have no real church or community, to remain connected with other believers, even if it’s only watching them on my computer screen while listening to someone like Pastor James. May God use this to bring more people to Him and to bring redemption and renewal to his people. Amen.
What a beautiful comment! God answered my prayers in the words you left here!
Thank you so much! and blessings to you!
If James McDonald said these things then obviously there is a serious problem. However if Mancow recorded private conversations with him that we’re supposed to be private conversations without him knowing it, Mancow is a total disloyal jerk. There are other ways to handle such things. I pray that James McDonald will be restored and that whatever has caused this problem in his life will be greeted by the mercy of God. I also prayed that if Mancow recorded these things without his knowledge in a private conversation, he would also repent of that treachery
Brian, I read your post and I could not agree with you more especially with the part about him sending his internet viewing to all who could help him be accountable. I actually did live in Chicago for a while and thought about, but never actually attending Harvest. My family and I attended another church that remains to be upstanding from what I understand. I listened to his radio program on Moody Radio almost daily while we lived there, on my way in to work.
Praying for you Brother! It sounds like you under a lot pressure at your church. DON’T EVER LOSE YOUR FAITH though Jesus is ALWAYS the answer! I’m not sure where you live but if you’re in the Las Vegas area, I can give you a great suggestion. My family and I absolutely LOVE our church Central Christian Church (actually in Henderson, NV). Our pastor Jud Wilhite, is not only a great preacher but fantastic pastor as well! Even if you’re not in the area, our services are broadcast on YouTube. You should try it!
God bless you my Brother on Christ!
what’s really repulsive and disgusting is that a man (like pastor macdonald) or woman can be victimized in such a manner while having a private conversation. really, have you not said ANY insensitive or inappropriate comment about anyone in your life, whilst having a private conversation? this is nothing but a personalized attack of revenge on your part ms. roys. and whatever vendetta mr. mancow may have against macdonald. tbh, NO ONE has a right to examine pastor macdonald’s heart except for god himself. YOU have no right to judge. if you counter with some rhetoric about a pastor has to be ‘beyond reproach’, then so be it. may god judge ALL of us, as we as christians are required to meet the same criteria.
You gotta be kidding me. You’re seriously going to sit behind a computer and deny the fact that a pastor is human and should be held accountable. Why don’t you go yell at your so called pastor and hold him accountable?!
It’s time that leaders are held accountable. McDonald is responsible for his actions and should deal with them with God, yes. But not on the pulpit.
“Inappropriate comment”….like planting child porn on someone’s computer? … Nope, I’ve never said that and would hope, neither have most people.
Agree! Instead of calling his nemesis “jerks” he said some pretty twisted things for a person who supposed to be a shepherd for the Lord. It is grounds for firing.
One does not need to judge someones heart but can see what’s in it by their behavior.
Surely God knows the heart and ultimate judgment rests with God. But human beings are called to use discernment. Indeed scripture says to test the spirits. It does not say to conveniently assume, if one likes a pastor, that those who raise concerns are motivated by “revenge” or “vendetta”.
I will never believe that such a good pastor would just open his eyes one morning and decided to throw it all away just for the fun of it He has so much to loose is not even funny but only the Lord knows what He has planned for him in the future and it maybe even better. Remember Job
My respects and prayers are with you and your family Mr James MacDonald
Martha Williges from Grapevine Tx
I prayed for Jimmy mac to make a come back.We need a pastor like him to lead the bikers and rockers closer to God.
JMac should not lavishly spend church money. We should be like Andrew Wommack and Kenneth Copeland.
I also read he used church money to buy his friends Harleys and such. We’ve all said bad things about people but when comes to being a leader and a boss, you can’t dip your hands in the cookie jar. He definitely should’ve been fired for that. He’s in the Honesty business and needs to be held responsible for stealing from Harvest.
I am shocked at his behavior and how he disgraced the name of Christ. In Texas a person like him would be taken out in the field and shot.
You can know somebody for 100 years and still be completely blind to the evil they do. What is ‘fishy’ is that you don’t like evidence. I know 2 people, personally, who were a part of James’ HBC and they were very circumspect but honest that he was an abuser. Have you ever been abused? Abusers NEVER show the ‘world’ what they are and the victim is ALWAYS the one who is accused of lying. I am sick, as a recovered victim of abuse and narcissistic personalities, to read the comments on this article. Including yours. YOU and those like you are why my abuser got custody of my daughter and then abused her, molested her, and now my beautiful daughter is a mess, won’t get help, and is getting a sex change even though she married a man! And she’s only 23 years old.
Abusers are also manipulative, they are liars, they are cheats, the are charismatic personalities, and they are controllers to a degree that you obviously have never experienced, or you have and are still blind to it.
I have spent a lot of time reading the comments on this article and you are all blind, worshipping a man instead of Jesus. Every comment I read is a re-traumatization of my own suffering and loss due to abusers because that is exactly what was said about them, all of the time!!!!! I was the ‘crazy’ one, I was the “liar”, I was the “sicko who needed help”. And barely a one of these comments uses the bible verses they quote to defend this evil man. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU. You don’t know your bible well enough to be discerning – if you don’t even understand your bible, how can you truly know Jesus??? I hope you and the rest of your ilk re-examine your supposed faith and determine who you worship. It looks to me like you all worship a different Jesus and read a different gospel. I hope you will take my warning to heart for your eternal soul depends on it.
Amen Jennifer! I just posted a response to Greg because he did exactly what you said. I am a survivor of abuse (from childhood and onward) and every time I read comments like Greg and far too many others here, I am back, being traumatized all over again. I lost the custody battle for my daughter to her abusive father, who went on to abuse and molest her once the hammer dropped, in court. Thank you for your discerning post. God bless you sister.
This is so sad. I’ve listened to the entire conversation and James for being a human, we are all sinners you know!? , well, he is a saint in my eyes, definitely a child of God. He is beyond patient with everyone he speaks to he keeps his mouth shut and lets them go on and on and on and on and on it sounds like someone’s recording him behind his back and egging him on because there’s laughs and laughs but he’s not laughing whatsoever James is genuinely upset by this has been dealing with them abusing his name and lying about him and his church for 6 years at least and the greatest sin he’s committed is saying this woman is sick and maybe riding around on a tricycle with the midget on her shoulders. And then calling someone a prick. Honestly really really honestly all of you Christians out there think about it if that’s the worst you’ve ever said how would you feel about yourself?! Pretty darn good I would bet. Especially after slander and abuse for years. This is beyond shame. James McDonald is spot-on with his teachings which to me means the Holy Spirit has revealed these things to him. Is he perfect now is he held to a higher standard because of who he is yes, that being said I don’t think any of this is any reason for him not to be teaching the word of God. Knowing the type of man he is I’m sure he has already repented for the things he’s said. God bless you James MacDonald I hope we hear more from you really soon!
Rebecca, you are blind to the kind of man JMac is. I saw glimpses of it during my 7 years at Harvest, talked to people who have first hand knowledge of who he truly is. Wake up JMac is a bad person, he is evil.
You and the others need to take your eyes off men and instead spend your time putting your eyes on Jesus.
It’s truly sickening how many Christians spend their time focusing on sinful men instead of on Jesus.
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