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Former Member of John MacArthur’s Megachurch Says He Shamed Her for Leaving Her Abusive Husband Against Church Counsel

A former member of John MacArthur’s megachurch says she was publicly shamed by the pastor in 2002 for her decision to leave her abusive husband and defy church counsel, according to The Roys Report.

MacArthur, who leads Grace Community Church (GCC) in Sun Valley, California, told his congregation it was necessary for him to call out Eileen Gray, who had rejected church elders’ direction to reconcile with her husband, a former children’s music and Bible teacher at the church, because the church “bears responsibility before God to be the instrument of discipline.”

In 2005, David Gray was convicted of aggravated child molestation, corporal injury to a child, and child abuse and is currently serving 21 years to life in a California prison. He had been removed from his position at GCC in 2001 and was teaching music to elementary school-aged children at the L.A. Unified School District—a position he got at the recommendation of one of the GCC pastors, Eileen said—at the time of his arrest in 2004.

Eileen Gray said MacArthur publicly shamed her twice, in May and August 2002, in connection with her decision to leave her husband. Roys posted videos of both instances. She said she did not speak out before because she feared repercussions against her children, who are now adults. 

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According to documents and videos obtained by Roys, MacArthur said Eileen was a sinner because she had decided “to leave her husband, to grant no grace at all, to take the children, to go away, to forsake him” and needed to repent. He said the shaming, although “sad,” was necessary to maintain fidelity to God and His word.

MacArthur asked the church to pray for Eileen but to “treat her as an unbeliever—for all we know, she may be,” while also encouraging prayer for David, for “the sympathy and compassion and the lovingkindness of God to be his portion.”

At the time of the shaming, Eileen Gray had filed for legal separation from her husband, claiming repeated abuse and that he had made threats against herself and her children. She also obtained restraining orders restricting his visits with the children and his proximity to her—she was still living in the family ‘s home with the children. 

She said she had reported her husband’s abuse to elders and pastors at GCC but not yet to police at the time of the shaming and was not yet aware of the sexual abuse. 

Roys reported that GCC never reported the abuse to police despite being mandated to do so by California law. It was a report that Eileen filed with the Los Angeles Police Department in 2003 that led to David’s 2005 conviction. 

Eileen told The Roys Report she was subjected to spiritually abusive counseling and church discipline as elders tried to convince her to reconcile with her husband. 

Carey Hardy, a former GCC associate pastor, told her she needed to endure the abuse and model for her children how to “suffer for Jesus,” she said. 

Another pastor, Bill Shannon, told Eileen the protective order she had filed against her husband violated 1 Corinthians 7:10, which instructs women not to separate from their husbands. 

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

Eileen had recorded her counseling sessions with Hardy, with his permission, and shared the recordings with Alvin B. Barber, Jr., former pastor of Sunrise Bible Fellowship in Northern California. Barber said he had listened to the recordings and corroborated Eileen’s account. 

In 2004, Hardy and Shannon were arrested for failing to report abuse and intimidating a witness. Both cases were later dismissed. 

GCC also sent Eileen multiple letters, which she shared with Roys, threatening church discipline if she failed to comply with the elders’ advice. Church representatives repeatedly harassed her, including during visits to her home, per court documents.

She said, however, that MacArthur never directly spoke with her before, during, or after the shaming.

Eileen said that while she was undergoing church counseling, David repeatedly threatened to kill her and her children, stalked her in violation of his restraining order, and threatened suicide.

Eileen eventually moved 500 miles away after a Los Angeles court granted her a legal separation. GCC continued to rally behind her husband, she said. 

Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.