Books by megachurch Pastor Mark Driscoll have been pulled from 180 Christian stores. LifeWay stores have temporarily suspended sales of his books, including "A Call to Resurgence" and "Real Marriage."
"LifeWay Stores and LifeWay.com are not selling Mark Driscoll's books while we assess the situation regarding his ministry," the company said in a statement.
Driscoll founded Seattle's Mars Hill Church in 1996; it has grown to a reported 13,000 attendees and 15 locations. It is known for its charismatic pastor, big-screen sermons, festive atmosphere and loud music.
Recently, both pastor and church have been plagued by public criticisms. In early August, families that had left the church and are critical of Driscoll picketed a Mars Hill Church in Washington.
Last week, the church network Acts 29 dismissed Mars Hill Church and Driscoll from its group. Driscoll was a co-founder of Acts 29, which has helped create 500 churches around the world.
The Seattle Times reports Acts 29's decision to dismiss Driscoll came "after a string of allegations that he regularly bullied or shunned churchgoers and spent church funds inappropriately." This summer, according to the Seattle Times, "Mars Hill told church members that it had confirmed that some money given to help start churches overseas had instead gone for Mars Hill expenses."
A LifeWay representative told Publishers Weekly that Acts 29's dismissal of Driscoll precipitated their removing his books from their stores.
In a public statement on its website, Acts 29 writes, "It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network."
One complaint against Driscoll is that church funds were used to boost sales of his book "Real Marriage," which reached the New York Times bestseller list in 2012. The church reportedly paid a marketing company more than $200,000 to boost the book's sales. Driscoll has admitted that the company was paid, but that he thought it was simply to expand sales, not game the bestseller list.
His 2013 book "A Call to Resurgence" was the subject of another controversy, this time about plagiarism. Some observers say he lifted passages inappropriately; others say he sufficiently cited the original sources.
Other allegations are less literary. The Seattle Times reports that Driscoll has been accused of "bullying and a practice of shunning members who raise questions or disagree." News has recently come out that in 2000, Driscoll created a false identity to post misogynistic and homophobic rants online, including one describing Christian men as "Promise Keeping homoerotic worship loving mama's boy sensitive emasculated neutered exact male replica evangellyfish." One former church member told the paper, "It is not OK for [Driscoll] to be arrogant, abusive or prideful."
Yet Driscoll still has supporters. At the Religious News Service, one writes, '"When Christians have grown so bitter toward someone that we can't even accept their apologies, something has gone seriously wrong."