Two top executives of evangelical magazine Christianity Today committed “unchecked” sexual harassment of colleagues over the course of a dozen years, the publication said Tuesday.
Mark Galli, who was editor-in-chief of the magazine for seven years before his retirement in January 2020, was accused of multiple incidents of ”demeaning, inappropriate and offensive behavior,” in an online article by CT News Editor Daniel Silliman posted Tuesday.
In December 2019, Mr. Galli — a veteran of several editorial positions in his three decades at the Christian publisher — penned a widely noticed editorial condemning then-President Trump as unworthy of office.
“Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election — that is a matter of prudential judgment,” Mr. Galli’s 2019 editorial stated. “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”
The editor cited a “stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence” on the part of Mr. Trump that would “crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel.”
Speaking to the magazine he used to run as editor, Mr. Galli confessed his own failures.
“Of course, I crossed lines,” the article quotes Mr. Galli as saying. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me that, working there for 30 years, I probably crossed boundaries. Yeah, that happened. Just to be clear, I never had any romantic or sexual interest in anyone at Christianity Today.”
Olatokunbo Olawoye, former advertising director at the publication, was accused of imposing himself on female employees. The CT article alleged Olawoye — who in 2017 pleaded guilty to traveling to meet a minor for sex and served three years in prison — “did not respect personal boundaries” when it came to female employees at the firm.
Olawoye, the article alleged, “frequently invited himself into women’s offices, shut the door, and engaged them in long, personal conversations.” Another manager at the Carol Stream, Illinois, publisher reported Olawoye’s “inordinate” engagement with a female college student interning at the firm, alleging the advertising director asked the young woman “inappropriate questions,” including whether she would want to have dinner at his house.
The alleged incidents of harassment by Olawoye ended with his arrest in the sex-with-minors sting in 2017. At the time, Mr. Galli reportedly told editorial employees to “suspend” judgment about Olawoye until a conviction was recorded.
Eight women alleged that Mr. Galli “touched them inappropriately,” but the magazine reported no action was taken until three successive reports of inappropriate touching by Mr. Galli during three days in August 2019.
Mr. Silliman’s article reported that Timothy Dalrymple, recently installed as Christianity Today’s chief executive officer, issued a “formal warning” to Mr. Galli, who “signed a statement acknowledging” the notice.
Mr. Galli announced his retirement in October 2019, two months after the alleged incidents. But in September 2021, at a gathering of CT employees at which Mr. Galli, now a retiree, was also present, he allegedly groped a current female employee — “He effectively felt me up,” the woman, whose name was not revealed, told Mr. Silliman — and eyed her in a way the woman said was “unapologetically sexual.”
That led the magazine — founded as a voice of evangelical conviction by the late Billy Graham — to hire Guidepost Solutions, a consulting firm, to investigate Christianity Today’s culture. Mr. Dalrymple wrote in a separate editorial the move came at the suggestion of victim’s advocate and attorney Rachael Denhollander, and was supported by the publisher’s board of directors.
“We must hold ourselves to the highest standards, too,” Mr. Dalrymple wrote. “When we fall short of those standards, we must demonstrate transparency, accountability, and confession.”
Responding to an inquiry, Mr. Dalrymple told The Washington Times via email, “We invited Daniel Silliman and his editor, Kate Shellnutt, to look into this and publish a robust report if they believed it was warranted. They did, and we stand squarely behind the report.”
He added, “Shouldn’t a Christian journalistic organization be committed to telling the truth? Shouldn’t we be committed to transparency, repentance and accountability? We owe it first of all to the women impacted within our ministry, but we also owe it to women everyone who are impacted by sexual harassment to confess when we get it wrong and commit to get it right going forward.”
• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at email@example.com.
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