After defiantly standing his ground against critics for months, Pastor Mark Driscoll of the Mars Hill Church, a megachurch in Seattle, announced today that he would be going on leave for six weeks.
Pastor Driscoll has been accused of multiple instances of plagiarism, reportedly bullied church staff and members, told people on Twitter they were going to hell and questioned whether or not President Obama is a Christian.
Under Pastor Driscoll's leadership, Mars Hill Church hired an outside company to buy copies of his books to get him on nationwide bestseller lists and conducted bizarre "demon trials" of depressed people.
According to psychologist and blogger Warren Throckmorton, Pastor Driscoll told the Mars Hill Church in Bellevue, Wash., today that he was taking a leave for six weeks (possibly more) while charges filed by 21 former Mars Hill Church pastors are investigated (video below).
The charges filed by the 21 ex-pastors came after Pastor Driscoll mocked his "anonymous" critics.
Quoting from an audio recording of Pastor Driscoll's speech obtained by Warren Throckmorton, The New York Times reports that Pastor Driscoll apologized "for the times I have been angry, short or insensitive" and "anything I have done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”
However, Pastor Driscoll's apologies were laced with a bitter defense. He lamented social media, which he claimed had been used to "criticize, attack or slander" him.
“The same media channels that can be used to carry a sermon to virtually anyone around the globe can also be used by anyone around the globe to criticize, attack or slander,” stated Pastor Driscoll. “However, another part of it is simply my fault, and I will own it, confess it, and move on from it as God continues to redeem me.”
Pastor Driscoll plans to use his six week leave “for processing, healing and growth” and to meet with unidentified “mature Christians." During this time, Pastor Driscoll announced he would not be doing any public speaking or publicly respond to criticism. He said that his next book would be delayed.
However, several of his scheduled speeches were previously canceled by third parties, his books were dropped by the Christian chain LifeWay bookstores and he was booted out of the Christian organization Acts 29 Network, which he helped co-found.