Mancow Airs Shocking Comments By James MacDonald: My Response

By Julie Roys

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.”

MacDonald also makes vulgar references to Harold Smith and Ed Stetzer, CT contributing editor and the executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. He also allegedly insults CT, calling it a “. . . pipe-organ protecting, musty, mild smell of urine, blue hair Methodist loving, mainline dying, women preacher championing, emerging church adoring, almost good with all gays, and closet Palestine promoting Christianity” magazine.

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.”

Secondly, CT says MacDonald’s reaction demonstrates that “it’s common for people on both sides of a dispute to believe that CT is against them.” Galli adds, “It’s pretty clear by his slanders that MacDonald thinks we have it out for him. That’s ironic because his accusers . . . believe we’ve taken his side.”

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.

As for CT’s coverage, I’m going to withhold comment until Mancow publishes the full audio. Mancow also says he has nearly 100 more hours of audio by MacDonald.

In the meantime, here’s the link to Mancow’s show and below are the times when the offending comments were aired.

Mancow’s Show on WLS/AM 890

1:08:25 – Talk about putting child porn on Harold Smith’s computer

1:09:03 – Reference to “frickin’ Julie Roys riding around on a tricycle . . .”

1:09:20 – Reference to Mark Galli and I having an affair, and vulgar reference to Ed Stetzer

1:19:12 – Vulgar reference to Harold Smith

1:20:25 – Fabricated story about me approaching houses of people who were victims in a DCFS investigation.

1:21:45 – Calling Mark Galli a vulgar name

1:29:30 – Insulting CT

UPDATE: Below is the entire hot mic recording, which has been posted on YouTube.

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119 thoughts on “Mancow Airs Shocking Comments By James MacDonald: My Response”

  1. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. – 2 Timothy 3:12-13

    1. Sad, truly sad.
      James McDonald has been removed from his position.
      Please pray for all of the people and families involved, and Harvest

      1. As a member of HBC, this whole situation breaks my heart. James has been let go, and I believe that was a must after all that he has done. Please realize that as a church this is incredible hard to hear and go through. This is our church family and it is grieving. Now that he has been fired, please be in prayer for him, his family, the church family, and it’s elders.

          1. Yip, that part somehow is strangely ommited for the most part while all want to pray and have so much compassion for the great pretender who talked on stage about grace while devising malevolent schemes against others while off the stage.

          2. Of course them too. My heart is in a good place. My prayer has been that James is on his knees broken because of this and that Christ will restore him and Harvest. My prayer is that he and the ones he has hurt can find reconciliation and those hurt can come to a place of peace. That his family can get through this as this will deeply effect each and every one of them. Those hurt in this are not “forgotten”. And this “pretender” as you have called him is name calling – take the plank from your own eye. We all have fallen. I, in no way, support what James has done. I will, however, continue to pray for him and all involved in this heartache.

          3. We are all sinners but not all of us deceive thousands while misusing their money and trust. A difference that most intentionally omit and it is a big difference nevertheless… MacDonald is an actor, a persona, a phony and the reason you are unable to recognize is that it is too shocking for you.

        1. This has been a long time coming and actually took way too long. James’ behavior has been out of hand for 20 years or more. The fact that it took this long is a testimony to the control and manipulative power James held over the church. Yes! Absolutely, this is a devastating event for a church to go through. However, it has been made worse because Harvest and the governing board looked the other way year after year after decade. James is not the only one who should be brought forward.

  2. You are kind to not print word for word what Macdonald said. You have a great amount of integrity and self control more than I could possibly ever display! God Bless you and thank you for all your hard work!!

  3. One thing people are missing here is that while these recordings only became public today, this is the character of the man the elders have been affirming and supporting for decades. MacDonald’s behavior is shocking to anyone outside his orbit, but the elders have witnessed this day after day or ages and still affirm him. Even through last weekend, they have remained silent.

    The only reason he can remain in the ministry is if the elders and XLT follow him. If he’s their lord. There can be no justification for any support remaining. If they still have taken no action by this weekend there should not be a soul in any of those worship centers.

    I pray that the MacDonalds’ exposure will finally free the congregations to rebuild from the destruction they have wrought and that God will begin a new work bringing these wounded churches near to himself and that something mighty and beautiful will come.


    Assuming it is James McDonald on the tape, and, like Julie Roys, I am 99.5% sure it is him, and knowing that he does not make idle threats, a long, lengthy and viscous retaliatory history has proven that, the question begs: Where is he going to get this CHILD PORN??

    Is it on his computers? His family’s? The elders? The church computers? The school computers?

    Based upon the above statements, I believe this CHILD PORN exists, it is in his possession or accessible to him, and the FBI needs to act NOW.

    1. To be fair, he doesn’t say he has any of that illicit material. He’s just thinking up the best idea he can for destroying someone who’s been critical of him.

      And that’s a long-standing pattern with MacDonald, from the whispering campaigns against people in and out of the church who were critical of him, to the suspicious campaigns against Julie, the pastor in Orlando, and others, to the lawsuits intended purely to intimidate people into silence about the MacDonald and his embattled empire.

      He seems to think nothing of destroying someone’s life with lies purely because they said something negative about him.

  5. I am repulsed by the words of James MacDonald that Mancow Muller played on his show this morning—from his mention of planting child porn on the CT Editor’s computer to his bitter lies about Julie Roys. The call-in story about James’ & Luke’s theft from a pro shop in Scotland should shock any moral person.

    James MacDonald is disqualified from ministry. He must resign or be removed from Harvest Bible Chapel IMMEDIATELY. Per 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, he is not above reproach. He has no self-control. He is undisciplined, quarrelsome, arrogant, quick-tempered, greedy, a lover of money, a lover of evil, and unholy. A tsunami of evidence & accounts—disclosed & undisclosed—supports these assertions. James would be fired on the spot, without severance, from any other job based on those audio snippets alone–nevermind the decades of unconfessed, minimized sins against God, his church, and hundreds of individuals.

    In December, HBC Elders signed a pledge of “unconditional support” to James MacDonald. Sadly, but predictably, these disqualified men have failed to take ANY action that remotely resembles righteousness. Reportedly, they are meeting tonight. Even if they fire James by morning, those 30+ men and XLT (including any who recently stepped down) must follow their disgraced senior pastor out the door.

    Let the FULL truth about the finances, past and present, come out. If HBC refuses to open the books, we can only conclude that they are NOT a church, but a crooked business run by unbelievers. As a former HBC member, I would gladly join Mancow Muller & others in class-action lawsuit in the name of exposing once & for all what has been hidden in darkness. Laws have been broken; the question is how many and which ones.

    Brothers & sisters of HBC—you have been warned repeatedly & publicly over the past 5 months (and longer) about the madman & minions who are masquerading as a Megachurch Pastor & Elders. Your leaders are not protecting you or your money. At minimum, they have neglected their fiduciary responsibilities. None of them understand how to run a God-honoring church. James’ way, the Harvest way, is all they know. There’s no need to ask God what you should do. He is making it abundantly clear.

    Stop giving your money, minds, and time to this corrupt corporate cult. Enough is enough.

  6. a Berean sister in the Lord

    so sorry Julie… know that you are doing the right thing… stay strong in the Lord and in His mighty power…

    ever since I started challenging leaders about taboo topics like abuse of power, narcissism and porn in the church, the responses from w/in have been unbelievable!

    you might expect this sort of thing from unbelievers, but not pastors/leaders of a church… this type of behavior is sick! God is exposing the deeds of darkness, starting with His Church… an ugly process, but healthy in the long run…

  7. Not that it was in question before, but can we finally agree JM is equivocally NOT “above reproach?”
    The elders who have done nothing while witnessing his evil actions and foul words through the years have enabled a monster and all of them must go!

  8. If anyone had any doubt whatsoever that Harvest is a CRIMINAL organization, I hope today corrects that misconception.

    What an animal MacDonald is. What lying deceiving enabling low-life’s the fake “elders” are.

    What a cesspool.

  9. I am so sorry this has happened to you. James and the HBC crew are showing their character and its ugly. It is a good thing to shine light in dark places. Thank you for you work.

  10. Planting child porn on someone’s electronic device is illegal. That is so repulsive. So disgusting to even think such a thought!!!

  11. om 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
    Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
    Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
    Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools.

    This whole fiasco puts a stain on the whole church and drives people away from hearing the gospel and for that he will be judged.

  12. The CHILD PORN revelation actually speaks worse about the Harvest fake-elders. These scumbags, who generally aren’t confirmed psychopaths like James MacDonald, have encouraged him, and licked his boots, and enriched him, and covered up for him —- for THIRTY YEARS.

    How do these spineless so-called men live with themselves???

  13. Julie, when I heard the clip that mentioned the “affair with Julie Roys” I assumed (charitably) that he might have meant something other than an illicit relationship – since “affair” potentially has a range of meanings. Does the broader context you’ve heard disambiguate that?

  14. Julie Thanks again for your hard work and courage to tell the unbiased truth about what is and has been going on at Harvest Bible chapel over the years… I attended Harvest for 10 years, and lead
    a small Discipleship group there….about 2 years ago I began to question things I heard and witnessed there, at first The pastors I talked with were nice and listened to my concerns , Pastor Gilman said he had many of the same concerns but did absolutely nothing,when I persisted he asked me to meet with Elder chairman Steve Huston and another pastor, when I met with them I opened up my Bible shared my list of concerns and pointed out in The Bible where I believed James McDonald and the Elders were out of line…I wanted to be wrong, I was hoping Mr. Huston would show me where I was mistaken….but he never even opened The Bible, He made excuses and brushed off my concerns that’s when I realized This isn’t Just Jmac it’s the Elders and most of the Pastors….so even if Jmac leaves I don’t believe The culture will Change THE WHOLE ORGANIZATION is corrupt.

  15. We’ve known him for 30 years. Nothing surprises me except the fact that people are now finally willing to see his actual character and not his pastoral caricature.

  16. Mark Galli’s response in CT today was seriously a joke. He says, “CT hasn’t taken a “side” on the Harvest issue”…..
    Oh, you don’t sides when a pastor, whom you’ve helped propel, is found saying that he will plant kiddie porn on someone’s computer???? You don’t take sides, uh??
    What an absolute embarrassment he is.

    1. Tim:

      I’m going to respectfully disagree with you.

      CT hasn’t taken a side, but I don’t doubt individuals at CT have very strong opinions and reactions.
      Hurt, anger, nausea, disgust…

      The ending of this saga hasn’t been written, CT hasn’t ‘yet’ taken a side.
      That has an implication.
      Make no mistake, they’ve taken a stand. Don’t see much of a difference.

      That having been said, the piece by Mark Galli has a lot more punch than a first read indicates.

      1. He writes as Editor in Chief, not just Mark Galli. That puts the full weight of the CT organization behind his words.

      2. The headline uses Harvest Mess.

      It is Galli’s responsibility to speak for CT and to stand up for his people.

      3. He uses strong words (for a CT editorial) like mess, controversy, swirls, intensity, derogatory, slander, denigrate, threaten, clearly serious problems, morally questionable, troubling track record.

      4. He makes the case for how CT is going to respond.
      “So we’re not going blast back at MacDonald or to demand a public apology.”
      We DEMAND he…and lists 3 demands by CT that focus on James MacDonald’s victims.

      Galli points out 4 news articles have been posted, one response has been posted by MacDonald.
      Galli takes ownership of that.

      5. He acknowledges that social media, talk radio and by extension media (which includes CT) can’t do the work – that has to come from an independent investigation.(Which CT might be happy to report)

      6. Galli then makes it clear that CT accepts criticism in a completely opposite way MacDonald and Harvest do. As a matter of fact there was an error in the initial posting, and it was corrected shortly after it was publicly pointed out.
      Game, set. match.

      CT sueing MacDonald, or playing a narcissists game by writing in hurt and outrage might make readers feel better, but that isn’t where their power lies.

  17. Praying that God helps Pastor James, changes his heart & he has a saul to Paul change. I pray that he will be have a testimony & the world will see that God can change anyone & he does not give up on people.

    As for you Ms Julie, remember that King David still protected the reputation of King Saul even after all the wrong king Saul has done? You are no hero to me, helped bring negative things to light, to edify who? How is God being glorified in all this? How have you added to the body of Christ? Pastor James will answer to God, and so will you.

    Remember what happened to the person who reported & took credit for the demise of King Saul? Nobody wins when the body of Christ fights themselves. Gossip is what you do and you will answer to God. There is no edification here. Lets see how you will feel about this 10 years from now.

    Use your platform to draw people to Christ, not to discourage people with all the negativity. Shalom!

    PS: I don’t attend Harvest Bible Chapel

    1. Bella you couldn’t be More wrong, what do you know about the situation you dont even attend. Harvest. If it was up to you , things would continue on as they have. Members of harvest being abused, cheated, lied to. Finances out of control, James doing whatever he wants, no accountability, no putting himself under Elder authority. James suing Julie and Ted to silence and intimidate them. Sounds very Godly huh? The congregation being fed sermons whose main purpose was to sway their opinions not promote Gods Word. His last sermon series about Jeremiah as an example. The hidden salaries and finances, the out of control spending, The firing of the Naples Pastor the shaming of Elders who disagree, I could go on and on. But that’s ok you blame Julie for helping to bring all this to light. If up to you. It would all continue unnoticed.

    2. Hi Bella, do you believe that we should obey the Bible? 1 Tim 5 says that a pastor like James MacDonald SHOULD be rebuked in PUBLIC. Please read it.

    3. Please read Matthew, esp. Matthew 23. Jesus stood up and exposed the sins of the religious leaders, and did not mince words. Is it wrong then for people like Julie, TED and others to do likewise? I think what they have done is both right and biblical.

  18. Unreal it took this long to remove James MacDonald as senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel. Simply pathetic. If the next letter from the elders doesn’t inform the congregation of the soon and swift resignation of EVERYONE on the XLT and elder board, not a single HBC member ought to stick around to trust these incompetent oafs to overseer their church. I stand by what I’ve repeatedly said for years and years. These men are spineless and have proven over and over again they are not fit to lead any church, in matters of doctrine, direction, and discipline.

  19. @Bella – 1 Timothy 5:19-22 New International Version (NIV)
    19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

    So (v 20) the apostle Paul writes to Timothy that those elders who continue sinning are to be reproved before everyone so that others would learn and not make the same errors. I’m grieved about the whole situation — many people hurt, but it is time for transparency. You reap what you sow.

  20. formerharvestmember

    God strives with us for a long time, far more than any of us deserve. His patience with Israel in the Old Testament is proof enough of that. But there’s a point of no return before the consequences are unavoidable, and MacDonald pole-vaulted over it.

    I’ve been hearing that some of the head pastors of each HBC location would take over their churches, including Pastor Mo at Niles. I can’t speak to the others, but Pastor Mo unfortunately did not run a very tight operation there. The Niles pastoral staff was extremely weak and ineffectual. Furthermore, he, like all the other pastors, knew full well what kind of man MacDonald is, but stuck around for the $$. That is not an admirable trait in a purported man of God.

    My prediction: HBC collapses under the weight of its own debt.

    1. Actually Pastor Mo has wanted to leave a couple of occasions over these sins, but staying thinking MacDonald would change. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got fed up and was the mole. Lest he forget, Niles was never intended to be part of HBC, but like Naples, they were suckered in. As someone who can vouch for Pastor Mo, Niles will be in capable hands if they were run independently.

    2. Best solution is to do what Mar’s Hill churches did in Seattle. …“the best future for each of our existing local churches is for them to become autonomous, self-governed entities.” .

  21. I don’t see how HBC financially survives this mess. I predict that HBC as we know it will close in 6 months or less. I am a member of HBC Elgin.

    1. I agree. Attendance & tithes will drop drastically. The church is over $40,000,000 in debt. The mortgages/loans will default. The banks will confiscate any assets.

  22. Spot on Mr. Medow.

    FormerHarvestMember, campus “pastors” were chosen most especially for their MacDonald boot-licking and rah-rah! capabilities and nothing more.

    The James-MacDonald-is-God things I saw Greg Bradshaw do and say over the years are beyond cringeworthy. And yet MacDonald wold snub and berate him most every chance he got.

    So bizarre. So dysfunctional. So sad.

    And yet, so Harvest.

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