Prominent megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has denied allegations of racketeering filed against him on Feb. 29. Driscoll called the charges “false and malicious.”
The charges were filed by four former members of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle against Driscoll, holding that he engaged in “a continuing pattern of racketeering activity,” reports Religion News Services. The case treated Driscoll’s church similarly to an organized crime syndicate, using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to press charges.
The former members of Driscoll’s church allege church officials solicited donations and irresponsibly used the money for unspecified purposes.
The megachurch reportedly received millions of dollars for missionaries abroad that reportedly are still in the United States. The plaintiffs also contend the church spent $210,000 to put a book authored by Driscoll on The New York Times' best-seller list.
The now-defunct megachurch reportedly received $30 million annually, reports The Daily Beast.
The current charges against Driscoll are only the most recent controversies to hit Driscoll’s church. Mars Hill Church was closed in 2014 after a range of allegations against church leaders, including bullying of church members, homophobia, misogyny and missing donor funds.
Brian Fahling, an attorney representing the ex-church members suing Driscoll, wrote in an email, “Driscoll and Turner engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity so deeply embedded, pervasive and continuous, that it was effectively institutionalized as a business practice, thereby corrupting the very mission plaintiffs and other donors believed they were supporting.”
Driscoll promptly denied the allegations, claiming the suit is a baseless attempt to slander him.
“Unfortunately, false and malicious allegations continue to be made against me. I’m certain that the most recent examples are without any merit,” Driscoll wrote in an email to Religious News Service.
Driscoll reportedly resigned from the church in 2014, after which the church’s 15 satellite campuses were closed.
“I remain focused and devoted to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, loving others and praying,” Driscoll said in a statement.