Former Liberty University Faculty Member Describes Workplace as “Shifty, Dishonorable, Unprincipled, and Hypocritical”

Liberty University is in the news a lot lately but not for great reasons. Yesterday, I called attention to a tweet from LU president Jerry Falwell, Jr.  which disparaged fellow Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore. Moore had lamented the treatment of migrant children at the U.S. southern border. Falwell, Jr. is taking much heat over his behavior unbecoming a college president.

Today, I became aware of a scathing Facebook post from a former faculty member at Liberty. Brian Melton was an instructional mentor at LU from 2014-2018. He worked a full load but was not considered full-time for the purpose of benefits. However, he had sufficient interaction to form an opinion. Since he didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement, he is now speaking out.

If you are considering LU as a faculty, staff, or student, you should read Melton’s posting. Here are his concluding thoughts:

My own personal narrative aside, I knew of many other people treated worse than I was–a whole list of persons I liked and respected. If the last few years had taught me anything, it was that while there are still many excellent people to be found there, Liberty University as a whole was as shifty, dishonorable, unprincipled, and hypocritical a work environment as could be offered. I could not trust my family to them, and I increasingly found it hard to have my reputation associated with an organization that had proved itself so often without honor. (Yes, I’m old fashioned that way.)

Melton’s posting supports what I have been saying about fears of speaking out at LU.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. Slams Russell Moore on Treatment of Refugees

I can’t remember anything quite like this. Political loyalties have reduced self-styled Christian leaders to public wars. Witness Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s tweet today to Russell Moore.

The arrogance here is obvious. His reaction isn’t relevant to Moore’s comment. Moore didn’t even mention Trump but Moore’s concern about the treatment of migrant children implied enough disapproval to throw Falwell into a frenzied attack.

Falwell is the president of a Christian university. I cannot imagine the president of my college doing anything like this. I can’t imagine the president of any reputable college or university comporting himself/herself in this way.

Moore said what many are feeling. I suspect there are numerous Trump voters who want to see children take care of. Moore did nothing wrong and a lot right.

I feel very sad tonight for Liberty staff and faculty, at least those who would like to speak out but can’t because their jobs are on the line.  Students, parents, and alums probably have the most leverage. Apparently the board is MIA or in complete accord with Mr. Falwell.

In any case, this is a new low and I don’t think there is a bottom.

 

What if the Children at the Border Belonged to You?

What if the children held in the facilities described in the ABC News report below belonged to you? Would you express your outrage? What would you do?

From the report on the ABC News website:

After assessing 39 children under the age of 18, she described conditions for unaccompanied minors at the McAllen facility as including “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.”

All the children who were seen showed evidence of trauma, Lucio Sevier reported, and the teens spoke of having no access to hand washing during their entire time in custody. She compared it to being “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.”

At the same time, the Trump administration argues that basic necessities aren’t basic at all.

As for the conditions at detention facilities, lawyers for the Trump administration last week argued that providing basic necessities, like soap, was not a requirement of the Flores agreement. Three judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals repeatedly asked if the lawyers if they were arguing that “safe and sanitary” did not include the ability to sleep soundly or use soap.

To Trump supporters: What if these kids belonged to you?

I realize this blog post won’t do much, but I ask my readers to tweet it and spread this on social media. I ask you, if you blog or write, to write stories about it. Ask friends with larger accounts to keep writing and complaining. Call your representatives and senators. Apparently, marches are planned. Go, if you can.

Court Evangelicals: Hear No Evil, See No Evil

We live in a time when the organized religion of the party in power is silent. Many religious right court evangelicals are sloppy drunk on power. They don’t speak for the poor and powerless and weak. They are arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned. How this administration can be lauded as pro-life, I cannot understand. I get the anti-abortion policies, but I don’t see how subjecting born, living children to these conditions simply for being refugees (for any reason) is pro-life.

For readers who might protest that all of this is the fault of Congress, I want to remind you that Congress for two years was in the control of the GOP. No, there is no excuse. Trump and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell could have a deal tomorrow. Trump could today direct his agencies to treat children humanely. He obviously does what he wants on everything else. If he wanted children to be treated well, things would change.

If your son or daughter was in one of these places, what would you want someone to do? What did Jesus teach us? What we want others to do to us, do to others also. Surely this applies to our children. Would I want this kind of treatment done to my children? American Christians spend millions to send missionaries to these nations to help people. Now they are here. They are starving and sick and crying right in our borders. It seems like the least we can do is to treat them humanely as we would want done to our own.

To contact your Representative and Senators, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You can give the operator your zip code and you will be routed to the appropriate office. The offices log the calls to assess sentiment so any expression that you want to see children taken care of humanely will help. If you know your Representative, you can also find the Twitter account, and send emails.

See also this New Yorker account.

Was Mark Driscoll Disqualified or Not?

This post is some inside baseball for those who remember the end of Mars Hill Church. If you know nothing of that story, you might want to do some catching up.

So here is a little background for the post. Mars Hill Church was co-founded by Mark Driscoll. Driscoll was a lightning rod for controversy and attracted a large social media following and many detractors. Near the end of 2013, he did a radio interview with Janet Mefferd during which she credibly accused him of plagiarism. Driscoll was dismissive of Mefferd and it started a war which I entered. I thought Mefferd might be wrong but soon agreed with her and found citation errors of various sorts in more of Driscoll’s books. All of that led to various disclosures to me by Mars Hill insiders of problems heaped to the Seattle sky. Eventually, the church planting network co-founded by Driscoll — Acts 29 Network — removed Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership. Finally, Driscoll resigned while being investigated by his elders, and then the church closed, splintering into several smaller churches.

At the end when Driscoll resigned,  a committee of then current elders were investigating formal charges filed by around 20 former elders. After conducting many interviews, the elders wanted to place Driscoll into a plan of restoration but he resigned. When he resigned, the governing board of Mars Hill (a super board including some non-member leaders) said Driscoll was not disqualified from ministry but did not release a report from the investigating team. In fact, the report of that team was one of the most carefully guarded secrets I have ever seen. There were more leaks about the Mueller report. I tried to get that report as did others, but no one would even discuss what was in it. Given how leaky Mars Hill Church had become, it was a surprise that the report didn’t slip out.

Well, yesterday someone who said he read the report (pretty good chance he’s right), disclosed at least one key fact. Here is what former Mars Hill Church Communications Director Justin Dean said in a tweet.

Mark Driscoll has given several narratives about the end of his time at Mars Hill. He rarely mentions the name of the church but has mentioned his previous “two decades of ministry.” Blogger Wenatchee the Hatchet has a detailed look at six different narratives of how the end went down.

At the time, the governing board said he was qualified but gave no explanation about their assessment in light of what Acts 29 had said. Also, after Driscoll abruptly resigned, the elders investigation committee read a statement which said Driscoll resigned instead of entering a restoration plan he had previously agreed to follow.

Now Dean tells me that the church leadership was going to let Driscoll keep preaching but step away from management. He would no longer run the show and make decisions. At that point, he resigned. He said God told him a trap had been set and that he was released to leave. He said God told him and his wife this. Odd that God didn’t tell any of the elders or other leaders about this.

Since Driscoll didn’t go through his restoration plan, I have no idea what that signifies for his ministry after Mars Hill. He planted a church in Phoenix and rarely mentions Mars Hill.

Wenatchee the Hatchet put together 8000+ words on this last night so if you want the long version, you can go check that out. Let me give you the digest from WtH:

If in Driscoll’s understanding of church governance and ecclesiology leadership is from the throne down and not the pew up, and if Justin Dean’s account is accurate that the Mars Hill Church governing board offered Mark Driscoll a restoration plan in which he would stop being in a managerial role and would preach, then the most plausible explanation for why Mark Driscoll resigned that takes all of his accounts as factual, face-value accounts is this: he decided that a church as a corporate entity in which he was not seated on the throne (as president and CEO) was not a church in which he would be a member.

WtH provides the receipts but Justin Dean opened the door to consider this. Remember, Driscoll once told his communications staff that he was the brand. If the brand doesn’t control the brand, then is the brand really the brand?

Image: James MacDonald (left) Mark Driscoll (right)

The Gospel Coalition Posts Helpful Vaccine Article

The Gospel Coalition often posts theoretical or theological articles. However, yesterday Joe Carter posted a helpful and practical piece on vaccines. In case readers need a Christian resource for their Christian anti-vax friends, I post a link to it and a few related comments.

The current resurgence of cases has been driven by a rise in religious exemptions. Anti-vax activists are increasingly vocal and have taken on pro-life arguments to bolster their cause. Prominent conservative evangelicals such as David Barton and “activist mommy” Elizabeth Johnson have spoken against vaccines.

Carter has spoken out before on medical issues. He wrote a scathing response to David Barton and Kenneth Copeland when they advocated treating PTSD with Bible verses. Given the fact that many Christians are using religious arguments to support their anti-vax position, I am glad to see this piece published by The Gospel Coalition.

I want to emphasize this part of Carter’s final paragraph.

If we choose not to vaccinate our children then we must accept that there will be some public institutions in which they cannot participate.

Especially in a public health crisis, I don’t believe parental rights are absolute. The state has a responsibility to protect all of us and in this case that might mean keeping unvaccinated children out of the general population, including schools.

Believers Eastern Church and K.P. Yohannan Use Indian Law to Attack Critic

While using a defamation lawsuit to attack critics didn’t work well for Harvest Bible Chapel, it may have a different result in India for K.P. Yohannan and Believers Eastern Church.

According to this The Hindu article, The Believers Eastern Church is behind a charge of defamation which led to the arrest of a longtime critic of the church and Yohannan.  Anush Solomon Joy, aka Solomon Samaritan was arrested and then posted bail after being accused of defamation and attempted blackmail. Over the years, Anush has contacted me as well as GFA former employees with various concerns about GFA. He has published a rather fantastical booklet alleging satellite and microwave attacks.

My impression has always been that the gentleman isn’t making serious or credible attacks  and that he shouldn’t be considered a threat to Yohannan. That the church is taking on someone who has no following and isn’t taken seriously is surprising and disturbing.  Microwaves aside, perhaps Mr. Anush has stumbled on to something and should be given a second look.

Happy Juneteenth 2019

Note: This is a reprint from last year with current amendments.

Happy day to celebrate the end of slavery in the U.S.  Juneteenth is a holiday in 40 states.

Here is a tweet from Jamar Tisby which links to an article which makes a case for Juneteenth as a national holiday. Whether Juneteenth should be the day or another day should be designated, there should be such a holiday to commemorate the end of slavery.

Photo: Public domain: Source: The Portal to Texas History Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. Date: June 19, 1900. Author: Mrs. Charles Stephenson

A Teachable Moment: Dinesh D’Souza Refuses to Take Back False Claim about Republicans Owning Slaves in 1860 (UPDATED)

(UPDATE – 6/11/19) – See below the post for an update.

For Dinesh D’Souza watchers, this headline is as shocking as proclaiming that water is wet. I post this incident because it is a clear and convincing demonstration that D’Souza shows zero interest in academic integrity.  Let me lay out the basics. First, D’Souza claimed in a speech that no Republican owned slaves in 1860. Here is the speech:

He said one Republican who owned a slave in 1860 would require him to take back his claim.

Historians on Twitter, led by Princeton’s Kevin Kruse, quickly rose to the occasion and found ten. Follow the thread below for the receipts.

To go directly to the thread with the breakdown of the ten found thus far, click here.

In essence, the method of finding Republican slave owners involves an examination of those who attended the Republican convention as delegates and then comparing that list with registries of slave owners.

For his part, D’Souza said the instances offered by the historians are “invalid” and he repeated his claim this morning.

I looked for counter evidence in D’Souza’s threads and nothing shows up. D’Souza said no Republican owned slaves in 1860, but in fact at least ten Republicans are on record as being slave owners during that year. It doesn’t change the fact that the Republican party generally opposed the expansion of slavery but it does prove that D’Souza’s specific claim is false. His handling of the matter also shows that he cannot be trusted in a dispute like this (as if there was any doubt).

This incident is a case study in cognitive dissonance for D’Souza followers. Will they believe their senses or go along with their loyalty to D’Souza? There is a solid research base in social psychology which suggests his followers will find some way to ease the dissonance and stick with D’Souza. Most will never know about it because they won’t read any of the historians’ posts. Some will simply assume the historians can’t be right because they are “libs.” Those who do engage with the material will have the most trouble. They will hang on D’Souza’s denials and assertions. A few may file this away as a “rare” mistake on D’Souza’s part so they can hold on to other things about him they like. A very few may actually reconsider his integrity.

Where this challenges to D’Souza eventually may have some benefit is to cause venues like Christian colleges and other organizations who might consider having him in to speak to reconsider. I use instances like this one in my classes as illustrations for concepts like ingroup bias, confirmation bias, belief perseverance, and cognitive dissonance. This one will go to the top of the class.

UPDATE – D’Souza admitted he was wrong on his claim with a sorry, not sorry tweet.

If you click the tweet and read through the thread, you will see the “sorry, not sorry” attitude of the response. He still hasn’t taken down the original tweet. D’Souza insists on promoting a false picture of historiography surrounding party realignment. He tells his followers that historians obscure the role of Democrats in the defense of slavery. They don’t obscure anything. He isn’t a great revealer of hidden truths. What D’Souza obscures is the fact that the parties realigned and that there were Republican racists all along the way. He also insists that the parties now are of the same character as they were 150 years ago.

His admission is striking and had to happen because he was caught red handed. His reputation should be in some jeopardy now for anyone who objectively evaluates his rhetoric. Prior to his admission, his claims were absolute. He said many people had already spent much time trying to debunk his claim. In fact, it took a few historians about 30 minutes to counter it. This was a devastating rebuke. D’Souza’s confident claims should never again be taken at face value by anyone. It isn’t that scholars don’t make factual mistakes, of course they do. However, true scholars aren’t as absolutistic and arrogant as D’Souza. He went out on a limb above a canyon, and it was cut off.

American Greatness Quietly Withdraws Bayonet

The name calling has gotten hot and heavy in the recent Ahmari v. French dust up but I haven’t seen any calls for anyone’s death. For that, you need to go to the inappropriately titled Center for American Greatness. In a recent column about Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexico, associate editor Pedro Gonzalez took exception to Cato Institute’s David Bier’s views of Trump’s proposals. In response to Trump’s threat to impose tariffs if Mexico did not reduce the number of asylum seekers getting to the U.S. through Mexico, Bier tweeted:

In response, Gonzalez wrote:

Not only do we have troops at the border now, but on the same day Bier called on Mexico to open the floodgates from Central America, a U.S. Marine fired his weapon while on duty along the southern border. The Marine reported he had been attacked inside his vehicle by three people. Around the same time, a mob of angry Hondurans attacked the U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa. Technically, this was an act of war. Bier doesn’t seem to mind.

In a perfect world, as opposed to this clownish vale of tears, Bier’s remarks would put him at the business end of a bayonet—and to say so is not more incitant than calling on a foreign power to facilitate Invasion U.S.A.

Nevertheless, Bier’s reaction is what we have come to expect from the libertarian-right.

According to Gonzalez, David Bier should die for expressing his views on Trump’s immigration policy. Sohrab Ahmari wrote that civility and decency are secondary values. In practice, this means civility and decency don’t matter. Winning is primary. Re-ordering for that Highest Good is primary. In Gonzalez’s perfect world (re-ordered?), Bier’s First Amendment expression would put him at great risk. Apparently dissent and disagreement isn’t a characteristic of American greatness at American Greatness.

But that glorious day is not now. Apparently, someone got to Gonzalez and let him know that the re-ordering is not complete. He removed the suggestion that Bier’s immigration views made him worthy of death. The link above is the Google cache (preserved here). There was no explanation for the removal. Was it because a funding source complained? Or did some secondary value bubble up somewhere but without courage to say so?

AACC Sponsor Promotes Bible Soaking for Mental Illness

The American Association of Christian Counselors bills itself as a professional association, but it is more like an online infomercial for various educational, health, and mental health products. The creators of the products pay a premium to get before the AACC audience as sponsors and endorsers of the organization. Owner Tim Clinton reaps the benefits.

A new participant in this marketplace is Christian Healthcare Ministries. As I have pointed out previously, CHM is an odd partner for AACC since CHM as a rival to health insurance doesn’t reimburse participants for costs of counseling or psychotherapy. AACC owner Tim Clinton advocates his members buy healthcare coverage which doesn’t cover the services they provide professionally. Why would a licensed counselor who values professional mental health treatment purchase health coverage which doesn’t cover professional mental health treatment?

The mission of CHM and mental health advocacy is actually more at odds than I have previously reported. Not only does CHM not cover mental health treatment, the group significantly minimizes the need for treatment and the reality of psychological disorder.

In an article on the CHM website, CHM board member and OB/GYN Carol Peters-Tanksley encourages CHM members to avoid negative people and soak in the Bible to prevent mental health challenges. After noting that the prevalence of mental health problems is significance, she offers her answers:

When facing challenges like fear, bitterness, poor self-image, lust, money troubles, grief, worry, marriage conflict or any other issue, delving into what the Bible has to say about a specific struggle will change you. Soak in God’s word. Spend time reading and contemplating it. Let the power of Scripture penetrate your soul, wash out the junk and fill you to overflowing with God’s truth and grace.

If your mind needs transformation, pay attention to the media, the people and the Scripture you take in. You’ll experience a different kind of GI-GO: God in, God out.

That’s it. CHM is getting access to 50,000 (at least that’s what Tim Clinton says) Christian counselors to sell programs without mental health treatment as a benefit. Couldn’t CHM at least suggest members go see a counselor?

However, a search of the website for counselor turns up no such recommendation. A search for depression yields a couple of articles on stopping SSRIs. The fact is that CHM isn’t friendly to Christians in mental health or mental health treatment generally speaking. Thanks to AACC, as CHM’s subscriber/members increase, the potential clients of AACC licensed mental health professionals decrease. Why is AACC recommending this to members? Whose interests are being considered first via the promotion of CHM?