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Mark Driscoll responds to ‘false and malicious’ allegations in lawsuit

Mark Driscoll was an influential but edgy pastor within conservative evangelical circles for several years. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church
Driscoll was an influential but edgy pastor within conservative evangelical circles for several years. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church

Mark Driscoll was an influential but edgy pastor within conservative evangelical circles for several years. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church

(RNS) Pastor Mark Driscoll said the allegations against him in a new lawsuit are “false and malicious.”

Four former members of the now-defunct Mars Hill Church in Seattle filed a 42-page civil racketeering lawsuit Monday (Feb. 29) against the church’s controversial ex-pastor, accusing him of “a continuing pattern of racketeering activity.”

The lawsuit was filed as part of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, intended to prosecute the Mafia and other criminal organizations.


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“Unfortunately, false and malicious allegations continue to be made against me,” Driscoll said in an email to RNS Thursday (March 3). “I’m certain that the most recent examples are without any merit.”

The suit by Brian Jacobsen, Connie Jacobsen, Ryan Kildea and Arica Kildea alleges Driscoll and former Mars Hill executive elder John Sutton Turner solicited donations for specific purposes, then used that money for other things.

Among the allegations: It contends that millions donated by church members to support missionaries overseas appear to have stayed in the U.S. It also claims the church paid $210,000 to a company called ResultSource Inc. to land Driscoll’s book, “Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together” on the best-seller lists of The New York Times and others.

Driscoll resigned from the church in October 2014 amid earlier allegations, including plagiarismabusive behavior and critical comments he made about feminism and homosexuality under a pseudonym on a church message board. The church’s 15 campuses closed that December.

He recently announced in a video online that he and his family have moved to Phoenix, where they are “healing up” and planning to launch a new church called The Trinity Church in early 2016.

“I remain focused and devoted to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, loving others, and praying for my enemies,” Driscoll said.

(Emily McFarlan Miller is an RNS correspondent)

About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

22 Comments

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  • I believe the church leaders – Driscoll and others – have been asked REPEATEDLY for well over a year for a detailed accounting of the millions of dollars that are MIA. With that and a couple of simple apologies, perhaps this lawsuit would be unnecessary?

  • Mark your words are meaningless until you repent and reconcile with Paul Petry, Bent Meyer and the many others you sinned against. They are waiting. No matter what you say, you are not a pastor and you are not qualified to be one.

  • Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll used a string of shell companies to move money around, much like drug dealers and tax evaders do that. The operated with a sense of pre-planned conspiracy to obfuscate where and how money was being made Up to $25 million dollars is unaccounted for. It was a scam, of immense scale, and I hope non-profit and church leaders will rise to a higher level of accountability because of this terrible scandal. I hope that every grain of truth is revealed and brought to the lignt.

  • Yeah, kinda like Rahab the harlot went to hell–that lying harlot… Glad she’s not mentioned in any Hall of Faith or anything… Whoowee.

  • Yet again we see a secular court case because the church didn’t own-up to it’s responsibilities and reign Driscoll in while all this was happening. Pastor worship blinded the people from putting a stop to his antics before they got this far. How many people pointed out the problems at Mars Hill in relation to Scriptural mandates and were ignored, attacked or belittled? Lots. And now, who’s name gets dragged through the the mud? The name of Christ and his people. Just look at the comments, the world sees what the blind driscollites refused to admit. Congrats AZ, you’re next!

  • And you fell for it, eh Van? In fact, youve been duped by a few churches along the way….

    Honestly, I hope driscoll files a counter suit for slander/libel. Thats they only way folks like you will stop you silliness.

    And remember, you and your ilk were the first to go to the courts.

  • Reading between the lines, it sounds like Driscoll’s main flaw was an uber-abrasive manner that made him some enemies. It probably means he had the counseling skills of Attila the Hun or a barking Doberman. He should probably have been a church planter rather than a church pastor. But as for the heavier allegations, time will tell whether they have merit.

  • Arica Kildea (formally Arica Devine) personally accepted money from Mars Hill via fundraisers (including my extended family who donated graciously until I discovered her lies) when a few years ago her child was tragically diagnosed with cancer. I %100 know she used some of this money for purchases such as Coach sunglasses and a Las Vegas trip with the excuses that she deserved and needed these things. Our friendship went south soon after this as I was not brave enough to ever confront her. Always left me with a sick feeling. Thankfully her child fully recovered but seeing this lawsuit all I can think is how hypocritical to bite the hand that provided her with thousands of dollars of support in a time of need and strife.

  • No, Driscoll did speak against those other things as well. It just happens to be the case that it is currently politically and culturally incorrect to speak against abortion and homosexual behavior. Generally speaking, however, not many people will care much if someone speaks against drunkenness, meanness, gossip, prostitution, gambling, slander, careless unkind speech, sleeping around, jealousness, stealing, and greed. Certainly no major news outlets will make a big deal out of it the way they do about “hot-button” issues like homosexuality and abortion.
    This is why you (mistakenly) think that Christians are focusing only on those two issues — because no one gets mad when a Christian talks about the other issues.

  • Why didn’t any of the former pastors who resigned or were fired in the last two years of Mars Hill sign on to the lawsuit? After all, they were all donors. Surely, they would have felt compelled to join the lawsuit if they believed it to be factual.

    Dunford?
    Kraft?
    Anyone?

    Wasn’t Rob was the main figure behind the suit? He suddenly went silent when it was disclosed that he had his own actual problems with misappropriation of funds meant for employee taxes.

    Is Mr. Jacobsen still looking for a job?

  • Hello SDVE –
    I would also like to know what first hand information you have about Arica Kildea (formerly Devine) and where you have an accounting of where all her money and resources had come from. Did she have family members who paid for a trip? Was she given gifts during the time her child was ill? Being the mother of a sick child, did she need a break? I would encourage you to reach out to her if you feel so convicted that you need to leave remarks about her character such as these. If she had lied as you say, don’t you need to confront her about such lies? Don’t you think your actions are now “not brave” but cowardly as you submit them with out your name? At least she put her name out there and was prepared for attacks like these.

  • Good point, SDVE. Let’s go find everyone who Mars Hill Church has ever given money to and retroactively criticize them if they didn’t use the money for what you personally feel they should’ve used the money for. And, if you would be so kind, go ahead and pull the contracts that we, at Mars Hill made recipients of our loving, generous gifts sign that obliged them to use the money the way that you personally prescribed.

    Do you have a similar disgruntlement about your brother’s use of $210,000+ of church tithes and offerings that were used to scam the NYT Best Seller List.

  • Obviously you did not attend Mars Hill, as Driscoll was/is an equal opportunity preacher when it comes to all sin. He rails just as passionately about drunkeness, gossip and the like as he does regarding homosexuality and abortion.

  • Good point. The pastors would know much more about the inner workings than the average attendee. Certainly anyone of those men would have gladly signed on the law suit had they believed money was being used wrongly.

    I also heard that several complaints were filed with the state attorney general’s office and when they looked in to the matter determined there was no smoke let alone any fire.

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