Gospel for Asia Class Action Suit Claims Process is Now Open

I just saw the following notice which is relevant to donors to Gospel for Asia. The claims process for the $37 million settlement in Murphy v. GFA is now open.

Pursuant to the proposed class action settlement with Gospel for Asia (and the individual defendants), the claims process is now open. Class members should have received individual notice by mail and/or email from the Settlement Administrator, Heffler Claims Group.

Filing a claim is simple – either:
1. Complete and return the Official Claim Form included with the Notice; or
2. File your claim online at www.gfaclassaction.us

Both ask you to agree or disagree with the list of donations (provided to the Settlement Administrator from GFA) on the website. To review the list, click on the “Donations List” tab on the website and insert your Class Member ID (found on your claim form). If you cannot find your Class Member ID, you may contact the Settlement Administrator using the appropriate prompts on the website.

Importantly, the claim deadline is July 11, 2019.

Should you have any questions, you may contact the Settlement Administrator at (844) 367-8894.

Funds may be recovered via this action and donated to another organization. If you need a reminder of the problems at GFA, please see this post (and this one) and re-read the report of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Remember that the ECFA removed GFA from membership in October 2015 due to multiple violations of financial standards. GFA promised to seek reinstatement. However, it is now 2019 and GFA still has not done so.

ECFA Removes Harvest Bible Chapel from Membership

After disclosing that Harvest Bible Chapel was under investigation, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability finally removed the megachurch from membership due to violations of four standards of financial integrity. Earlier today the following statement was posted on the ECFA website.

WINCHESTER, Va., April 17, 2019—The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) board voted today to update the membership status for Harvest Bible Chapel (Elgin, IL) from suspension to termination due to significant violations of four of ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™. Based on new information obtained by ECFA from the church while under suspension, ECFA determined that the church was not in compliance with Standards 2, 3, 4 and 6, which pertain to Governance, Financial Oversight, Use of Resources and Compliance with Laws, and Compensation-Setting and Related-Party Transactions.

“ECFA continues to champion integrity in God’s Kingdom,” said Dan Busby, ECFA president. We are committed to applying our standards rigorously and consistently.”

ECFA’s investigation of Harvest Bible Chapel began on November 28, 2018. After a thorough review of documents made available at that time as well as an on-site visit with church officials, ECFA reported on December 10, 2018 that the church was in good standing. This statement would not have been made if Harvest Bible Chapel had shared all crucial information with ECFA.

As part of the ongoing review of the church’s compliance with ECFA’s standards, on March 11, 2019, the church shared new information that indicated possible violations of ECFA standards. Based on this new information, ECFA’s board responded accordingly and suspended Harvest Bible Chapel’s membership on March 14, 2019 and launched a further investigation, that has remained ongoing.

On April 15, 2019, ECFA obtained pertinent information from the church, providing evidence that validated significant violations of Standards 2, 3, 4, and 6. The ECFA board determined that restoration to full membership was not a viable option under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, Julie Roys published an article detailing more damaging allegations regarding financial dealings at HBC and James MacDonald’s ministry Walk in the Word.

HBC now joins Gospel for Asia as an organization kicked out of the ECFA due to public revelations generated by bloggers and news reporting. The ECFA’s process missed all of the violations. However, after investigative reporting brought issues to light, the ECFA acted.

Jackie Robinson Day

April 15 marks the day in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball. The executive who signed him with the express purpose of combating racism was Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I share a hometown with Branch Rickey — Portsmouth, Ohio — and was always reminded of his legacy because I played high school baseball in Branch Rickey Park (pictured below).

To me, Branch Rickey’s role in this story is sweet irony. White supremacy was strong in my hometown. For most of my life there, African-Americans were segregated into neighborhoods surrounding a large public housing project. There was strong prejudice and discrimination, even among Christians. And yet, Branch Rickey left that small town to make history in the big city in a way that changed attitudes about race forever.

A 2011 CNN article on Rickey explains the role of faith in his decision (read the entire transcript here) but I will close with this paragraph:

When a well-known journalist of the era told the Dodgers general manager that he thought “all hell would break loose” the next day with Robinson due to take the field for the first time as a Brooklyn Dodger, Rickey disagreed. “My grandfather immediately responded to him, ‘I believe tomorrow all heaven will rejoice,’” the younger Rickey said.

The Source of Candace Owens’ Ahistorical Claims about Hitler and German Nationalism

I will say one thing about Candace Owens: She can stir up attention. On the day she testified before a Congressional panel on white nationalism, she trended on Twitter nearly all day. Much of this attention came via Congressman Ted Lieu’s act of playing a video of Owens opining that Hitler

…was a National Socialist, but if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay fine.

Lieu then accused Owens of “legitimizing Hitler” when he directed a question about Owens remarks to Eileen Hershenov, a representative of the Anti-Defamation League who also offered testimony to the panel.  While I don’t think Owens “legitimized Hitler” in all Hitler did, I do think she erred in her contention that Hitler wasn’t a nationalist and that he would have been “fine” if he had kept his policies and ambitions within Germany’s borders.

As Kevin Kruse and Matthew Boedy have convincingly demonstrated, Owens specifically and Turning Point USA generally are not accurate in their depictions of history. With influences including Dinesh D’Souza and David Barton, this is to be expected. However, there is another influence who should be called out.

Enter Yoram Hazony

Let me be clear that I don’t believe Candace Owens defended Hitler’s atrocities or legitimized the Holocaust. She specifically rejected that idea later on and it isn’t consistent with anything else she has said on the subject. At issue is her effort to suggest that a nationalist can’t have aspirations beyond national borders and that Hitler was not a nationalist. A ridiculous and dangerous extension of that claim is that Hitler’s policies and actions would have been fine if he kept them to Germany. I don’t want to see a Trump version of Hitler Youth, do you?

Cato Institute senior policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh helpfully points us to Owens’ intellectual influence — Yoram Hazony. It turns out that Owens doesn’t get Hazony right on every point. According to Nowrasteh, Hazony outlines a defense of nationalism which defines nationalism in such a way that Hitler was never a nationalist. Here is the heart of the argument:

According to Hazony, a nation is combination of “a number of tribes with a common language or religion, and a past history of acting as a body for the common defense and other large-scale enterprises” (18) and that “the world is governed best when nations are able to chart their own independent course, cultivating their own traditions and pursuing their own interests without interference” (3).

Hazony contrasts nation states with imperialist states that have universal ideals that he claims leads to conquest.  Thus, nation-states cannot seek to conquer other nation-states as that would make them imperialist states because they do not respect the independent course of other nations.  According to Hazony, a state cannot be a nation-state and imperialist (dominating or seeking to dominate other nations) at the same time due to his unique definition that conveniently excludes the “bad” nation-states.  In my reading of the literature on nationalism, historian Douglas Porch was more likely correct when he wrote: “Colonialism was not, as Lenin claimed, ‘the highest stage of capitalism.’ Rather it was the highest stage of nationalism.”

2. Hitler and the Nazis were not nationalists.

Following his definition of nationalism, Hazony repeatedly claims that the Nazis were not really nationalists.  I know of no other serious historian of the Third Reich or other thinkers on nationalism who would go so far as to say that Hitler or the core ideology of the National Socialist German Workers Party weren’t nationalists.  They were, of course, nationalists.  The first point of their political platform was: “We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the people’s right to self-determination.”  The evidence that the Nazis considered themselves nationalists, that others considered them nationalists, and that they fit into the scheme of nationalism is so massive that it would be silly to run through it all.

A problem for current nationalists is that Hitler was in fact a nationalist. That is why they have to engage in such ahistorical reasoning to turn him and the Nazis into something else.

Even with the historical revising, I don’t think it helps to use Hitler as a hypothetical since he actually existed and has a historical record. “If Hitler” doesn’t work because Hitler really did things in Germany. He said things nationalists say and did things that nationalists do. You might as well say, if Hitler wasn’t Hitler, then he might have been okay. That isn’t what she said and that counterfactual argument isn’t much help as a support for any position.

As it is, Owens’ own words have her arguing that Hitler was actually okay when he stayed in Germany. However, this is lunacy. A review of Nazi party activities in Germany to make Germany great quickly put the lie to that idea.

To any Turning Point USA students reading this. Please do not become what you critique. Many of you blast moderate and liberal academics. You think academics are strident and closed to conservative ideas. You think academics close off debate and silence conservatives. Thus far, this conservative professor has found Turning Point USA leaders to be unwilling to self-correct, closed to the facts, and stridently partisan on issues which are matters of fact and verification.

 

David Barton Goes Full Anti-Vax

Yesterday on Wallbuilders Live, David Barton doubled down on his claim that parts of aborted fetuses are in vaccines. He made that claim last week and after I wrote to refute it, he devoted a whole show to the topic today.

His guest for the program was anti-vax biologist Theresa Deisher. Deisher has a PhD in microbiology from Stanford and at one time was a mainstream scientist. Several years ago, she converted to anti-vax ideology and has focused on the theory that vaccines cause autism via the introduction of fetal DNA into a vaccinated child.

The most shocking false claim that the Barton’s (father and son) make on the program is that body parts are taken from live babies for use in vaccines in use today. This of course would be illegal. Despite what Barton and Deisher say, there is no legal process where children who are alive can be dismembered in this manner. Of course, anyone would be opposed to that.

Federal law (Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002) protects infants who survive abortion. Any baby who survives an abortion must be treated as a live person. I don’t know that this law is always followed but it is the law. Deisher nor Barton offered any proof that babies are being killed in this manner.

Dr. Deisher’s work has been thoroughly debunked.

She predicts that where MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is widely used, autism will spike. However, this has been debunked, most recently in a large population scale study by our old friend Morten Frisch and colleagues in Denmark. Here are selected aspects of their paper:

Participants: 657,461 children born in Denmark from 1999 through 31 December 2010, with follow-up from 1 year of age and through 31 August 2013.

Results: During 5,025,754 person-years of follow-up, 6517 children were diagnosed with autism (incidence rate, 129.7 per 100 000 person-years). Comparing MMR-vaccinated with MMR-unvaccinated children yielded a fully adjusted autism hazard ratio of 0.93 (95% CI, 0.85 to 1.02). Similarly, no increased risk for autism after MMR vaccination was consistently observed in subgroups of children defined according to sibling history of autism, autism risk factors (based on a disease risk score) or other childhood vaccinations, or during specified time periods after vaccination.

Barton has moved into dangerous territory here. He is trying to scare people away from vaccines with these false claims and as a result may be partly responsible for people deciding not to immunize their children. I would not want that on my conscience. Even the Catholic Church advises members that they may use vaccines due to the greater good of preventing sickness and death.

James MacDonald Used Nonprofit Funds for That Perfect Gift (Updated)

On the heels of Harvest Bible Chapel’s loss of membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, check this out.

Former HBC pastor James MacDonald gave Ed Stetzer a vintage 1971 Volkswagon Beetle. Then, Ed Stetzer found out the money for the gift came from MacDonald’s non-profit Walk in the Word. Stetzer did the honorable thing and reimbursed the ministry. Joe Thorn is a minister friend of Stetzer’s. You have to click on Stetzer’s note twice to read the whole story.

I seriously doubt any donor to Walk in the Word gave with the intent to buy Ed Stetzer a VW. Given the questions about finances at HBC and this story about WITW, donors should consider asking the Illinois Attorney General to investigate the use of funds and/or file a complaint with the IRS.

HBC and WITW appear to have moved an undetermined amount of money around without regard to donor intent. This kind of activity is what should bring in regulators and auditors for a thorough review. Donors beware.

UPDATE: Julie Roys has published additional information about the gift from MacDonald to Stetzer, complete with a photo of the VW in question. The value of the VW was calculated at $13K.

 

 

VW Image: Lothar Spurzem [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)]

Where Was Charles Evers After Martin Luther King, Jr Was Murdered?

At 6:01pm on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in Memphis, TN at the Lorraine Motel.

Recently, I posted a statement from the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation regarding the night of Martin Luther King Jr’s murder. Since 2007, John MacArthur has publicly stated that he traveled from Jackson, MS to Memphis, TN the night MLK was murdered. His stories strongly imply that his companions on that trip were civil rights icons John Perkins and Charles Evers, as well as other unnamed African-American people. Charles Evers has denied this and the Perkins Foundation’s representative told me that Evers’ statement is accurate. At the same time, the representative (John Perkins’ daughter Deborah) declined to make any statement about her father’s travels on that night.

Charles Evers has told at least three different stories about that night. He has said he was on his way to Natchez for a meeting and heard on a car phone that King was killed. He also said he heard it on the radio while in the car. He said on one occasion that he was with Bobby Kennedy in Gary, IN when he heard about the murder. However, he never said he was with John MacArthur in Jackson, MS when he heard the news. He told me when I interviewed him that he may have gone later to Memphis but not on the night of the murder.

In his various accounts, Evers said that he returned to Jackson after he heard the news and denies going to Memphis. This much can be confirmed. Some specifics might be lost to time but we can place Evers in Jackson after the murder according to newspaper accounts.  In this April 5, 1968 Greenwood (MS) Commonweatlth news article, it is clear that Evers is in Jackson helping to quell violence until late in the evening of April 4 (this article helps establish the time).

While he could have gone to Memphis in the small hours of April 5th, it appears that Evers remained in Jackson on the evening of April 4.

Evers on April 5th

According to a short piece in a St Louis daily, Evers was supposed to speak at a NAACP event in St. Louis on Friday night April 5th. However, he didn’t make it due to illness.

Evers on April 6th

While it isn’t certain that Evers was in Jackson, the location of this UPI article is listed as Jackson. The interview would have taken place on Saturday April 6.

Evers on April 7th – Martin Luther King, Jr’s Funeral

In this April 8, 1968 news article a photo was published of Evers with Mrs. King at the funeral which took place on April 7 in Atlanta.

None of these clippings conclusively disprove John MacArthur’s story. Taken together, they do provide evidence that Charles Evers was probably in Jackson from the time he heard about the death of King until he went to King’s funeral.

 

David Barton Triggers Protest in East Idaho

Founder of Wallbuilders and GOP operative David Barton is slated to speak at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Idaho Falls, ID on April 13. Some local officials aren’t very happy about it.

To protest Barton’s visit, Idaho Falls City Councilman John Radford and Bonneville County Democrats Committee Chairwoman Miranda Marquit have organized a community rally focusing on inclusion.  The group plans to meet on the same day at a nearby park.

The group’s Facebook page says:

Unfortunately, David Barton has been invited to share his brand of exclusion and “wall building” with our community. We’d like to host an event where we discuss the beauty and strength inclusion can bring to our community. we want to present An alternative to the David Barton approach, which focuses on exclusion and exceptionalism around race, religion, and sexuality.

On the Facebook page, a link to a NPR article on Barton’s distorted history can be found and the news article mentions Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies which was pulled from publication due to historical errors.

In today’s GOP, pretending to have an earned doctorate, being an anti-vaxxer, denying climate change and distorting history isn’t a big problem. However, it is good to see others make the public aware of these issues and challenge Barton’s claim to be an expert.

No, David Barton, Vaccines Don’t Contain Parts of Aborted Fetuses

David Barton (left); Eric Metaxas (right)

In addition to history, David Barton often tries his hand at distorting other subjects as well. On his Wallbuilders Live program (which is taped) yesterday, Barton said the following about vaccines:

This is a big fight that’s going on now with the vaccinations. There’s a whole bunch of people that do not like their kids participating in vaccinations for several reasons. One is that so many vaccinations now contain parts of aborted fetuses. So, just as a matter of conscience, “I don’t want that in my kid.”

That’s The Government Getting Involved

David:

And then there’s so many bad things happening from the newer vaccinations. We think we have to have a vaccination for everything now. If somebody gets sick, we’ve got to create a vaccination. And that’s just not accurate. That’s the government getting involved and it’s having bad consequences.

Apparently, Barton is a big fan of people getting sick and opposes medical progress. The only bad consequences come from people listening to nonsense like this and failing to immunize their children. Currently, measles cases are on the rise with more cases reported this year already than all of last year.

Pro-Life = Anti-Vax?

Associating the anti-vax propaganda with a pro-life position would be a ideological win for anti-vaxxers. That is why Barton’s distortion of the facts requires a response. If pro-life people think that actual fetal parts from abortions are in vaccines, some might refuse vaccinations on that basis.  What is the real situation?

In fact, vaccine methods were developed from cells derived from fetuses secured via therapeutic abortions before abortion was legal. The two cell lines in use today came from two subsequent abortions outside the U.S. Fetal cells allow the development of vaccine production indefinitely. As far as I can determine, the abortions were not conducted for the purpose of making vaccines, and no new abortions have taken place to create new vaccines. In other words, vaccines don’t encourage abortion, nor do vaccines use parts of a fetus in the vaccine (see this helpful summary for more information).

If vaccine use was a moral concern for a pro-life position, one would expect the Catholic Church to forbid vaccines. However, the conservative National Catholic Bioethics Center allows the use of vaccines developed from aborted fetuses.

Are there any vaccines for which there are no alternatives?

Unfortunately, at present there are no alternative vaccines available in the United States against rubella (German measles), varicella (chickenpox), and hepatitis A. All of these are grown in the cell lines WI-38 and/or MRC-5. (See note #7 of the statement of the Pontifical Academy for Life for a listing of vaccines and their source).

What do I do if there is no alternative to a vaccine produced from these cell lines?

One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.

The NCBC reasons that the risk to the life and health of one’s own children as well as other people’s children make vaccination the greater good. The NCBC also acknowledges that there are no parts of aborted fetuses in the vaccines.

What does it mean when we say that these products are made in “descendent cells”?

Descendent cells are the medium in which these vaccines are prepared. The cell lines under consideration were begun using cells taken from one or more fetuses aborted almost 40 years ago. Since that time the cell lines have grown independently. It is important to note that descendent cells are not the cells of the aborted child. They never, themselves, formed a part of the victim’s body.

How does one know when a particular vaccine has an association with abortion?

The cell lines WI-38, MRC-5 and Walvax-2 are derived from tissue from aborted fetuses. Any product grown in these cell lines, therefore, has a distant association with abortion. The cells in these lines have gone through multiple divisions before they are used in vaccine manufacture. After manufacture, the vaccines are removed from the cell lines and purified. One cannot accurately say that the vaccines contain any of the cells from the original abortion.

Leaving aside the reasons for the original abortions (they may have been to safeguard the health of the mother), any current cells from these cell lines were never a part of the aborted fetus. There are no parts of a fetus in a vaccine.

I don’t know if Barton’s words were ignorance or a deliberate attempt to distort the facts in order to discourage vaccinations. However, it would be a very dangerous development if anti-vax propaganda became aligned with a  standard pro-life position. He should retract what he said.

Hat tip to RWW for pointing this out. 

Interview with Steve Hassan on Dominionism

Several weeks ago, I did a Skype interview with Steve Hassan on dominionism for an upcoming book he is working on. Today, he brought it out as a blog post on his Freedom of Mind website.

Steve is an internationally known expert on mind control groups. He was formerly in the Unification Church. I use his BITE Model when teaching persuasion in social psychology. It was a pleasure being interviewed and spending some time with Steve.