Ex-Mars Hill Group Plans Demonstration at the Church on August 3

Calling it a “We Are Not Anonymous Protest,” a group of ex-Mars Hill members plans to assemble outside of Mars Hill Church next Sunday. Created by Rob Smith, the event is intended to respond to Mark Driscoll’s claim that many ex-Mars Hill members have been complaining anonymously. Recently, a Facebook group dedicated to countering Driscoll’s claim has grown to over 400 members.
The group has launched a crowdfunding page at GoFundMe.com with the following description:

This campaign is to be able to purchase placards, moving billboards and other expenses related to a peaceful protest on Sunday, August 3rd.  Any monies left over will go to Bent Meyer and Paul Petry as a beginning token of affection to them and the first fruits of restitution for the ordeal that they were put through in 2007.

Given the statements of Mark Driscoll that he wants reconciliation, it is astounding that Mars Hill leaders have not reached out to Petry and Meyer.

Michael Peroutka: "I Wish I Was in Dixie" is the National Anthem

At the 2012 League of the South conference, Michael Peroutka encouraged the League members to use his Institute on the Constitution course as a foundation for building their membership and preparing the way for secession (or some other form of destruction of the United States regime). At the end of the speech, he sang a song about the “American view.” Then, after asking the audience to stand for the national anthem, he led them in “I Wish I Was in Dixie.”
Watch:
[youtube]http://youtu.be/EU-yheBdOTI[/youtube]
Here is the entire video.
[youtube]http://youtu.be/mPhRtS0WdcU[/youtube]
 

What Does Michael Peroutka Really Believe About Secession?

According to the Baltimore Sun, GOP nominee for the Anne Arundel County Council Michael Peroutka told Steve Schuh, a GOP candidate running for Anne Arundel County executive, that he does not believe in Southern secession from the union. However, in a 2012 speech (starting at 26 minutes) to the white separatist group, League of the South, Peroutka spoke favorably about secession:

I don’t disagree with Dr. Hill [League of the South president] at all that this regime is beyond reform, and I think that’s an obvious fact, and I agree with him. However, I agree that when you secede, or however the destruction of the rubble of this regime takes place and how it plays out, you’re going to need to take a biblical world view, and apply it to civil law and government. That’s what you’re still going to need to do. We’re going to have to have this foundational information in the hearts and minds of the people or else liberty won’t survive the secession either. You see what I’m saying? I’m saying that because I don’t want people from League of the South that for one minute that I am about reforming the current regime, and that studying the Constitution is about reforming the current regime. (emphasis added)

Watch:
[youtube]http://youtu.be/vc99QKjjq80[/youtube]
In 2013, Peroutka joined the board of the League and pledged the resources of his family and the Institute on the Constitution to the League’s efforts.
Watch:
[youtube]http://youtu.be/vze4fPPkgxY[/youtube]
One of the prime objectives of the League is secession. It is difficult to understand why one would join, speak to and help run an organization if one did not support the prime objectives of the organization. In 2012, he was quite candid in his agreement with the president of the organization that the United States is beyond reform and that a “biblical world view” was necessary for secession.

One Day, Two Views of Mars Hill Church

Yesterday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and World magazine posted articles about Mars Hill Church. To me, the articles do not seem to be about the same church.

The Seattle PI piece addressed the newest development among former Mars Hill Church members and leaders: the Facebook group which alerts the public that many ex-Mars Hill members are not and have not been anonymous in their complaints about the church. Mark Driscoll claimed in a speech to the church just over a week ago that leaders at the church could not reconcile with ex-members because they were anonymous. The Facebook group now has over 260 member and features many very visible ex-members and their stories.

The World article painted a much nicer picture of the church, failing to include voices of ex-members or evidence to counter the favorable comments of Mars Hill Public Relation deacon, Justin Dean, or the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability which apparently is not going to require adherence to the organization’s guidelines. Surprising to me was the lack of challenge from World to this explanation of Mars Hill Global from the church:

However, it is difficult to determine where the money went, though it is now clear some of the money went not to international efforts but to domestic church plants, including some in the Seattle area. When WORLD asked via email for an itemized accounting of those funds, Dean wrote, “Since donations given by the Mars Hill Global family were never intended to be designated solely for international efforts, we don’t provide an itemized accounting of those funds.”

“Some of the money”? The church has already admitted that the preponderance of donations when to domestic church plants. Justin Dean’s statement is a dodge of World’s question which went unchallenged. There is plenty of evidence that Mars Hill created a Global Fund in 2012. Members and pastors of the church alike were under the impression those donations were being solicited for international missions. In spite of all the evidence that after 2012 the Global Fund was pitched as a ministry of Mars Hill Church to support international missions (not a group of non-members), Mars Hill spun the situation with no challenge from World. There was no mention of the fact that Mars Hill has issued two takedown orders to You Tube to keep video evidence about Mars Hill Global out of the public view.

At last, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability speaks. However, even this group ignores the clear evidence. Worse yet, apparently ECFA will not require the church to reveal how much they spent on international missions and how much was spent on domestic efforts.

Finally, I have no problem with the interviews of current pastors at Mars Hill, but to then give ex-pastor Dave Kraft only a brief blurb at the end was not nearly enough to report on the level of distress and conflict there is currently among former members (Mars Hill in exile). Usually World is more balanced and demonstrates a better ability to investigate the crux of a matter. I hope World will revisit this issue and report on the extraordinary distress that is taking place daily among those who want to see reform at the Seattle megachurch.

Maryland Republicans Distance Themselves from Michael Peroutka

I assumed it would eventually happen. Maryland Republicans (with a few sad exceptions) are distancing themselves from Michael Peroutka in his bid to become a county council member in Anne Arundel County (MD).
Yesterday, GOP candidate for Anne Arundel County executive Steve Schuh called on Peroutka to quit the League of the South. According to the Capital Gazette, the MD GOP executive director, Joe Cluster, asked Peroutka to resign from the League. Reportedly, Peroutka did not say what he would do.
Peroutka repeatedly has pledged his support for the League of the South. He recently thanked League president Michael Hill for his support and asked for financial contributions from the League.  Hill called Peroutka a “Southern nationalist candidate.”
Maryland’s Republican candidate for governor, Larry Hogan, also distanced himself from Peroutka by saying the Republican party does not stand for the principles embodied by the League of the South.  The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that Peroutka denied being a racist and said he did not believe in secession. Peroutka should be asked why he continues to belong to a group and accepted a board member position with a group that believes in white separatism and secession as cardinal points of belief.
In my opinion, the Republicans should go a step further and refuse to support Peroutka even if he says he quits the League. While it may mean losing one seat, they will lose no matter who wins in District 5 because there is no actual Republican running.
See also this article from Jonathan Hutson on the Huffington Post.

New Group to Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church: We Are Not Anonymous

In his video address to Mars Hill Church, lead pastor Mark Driscoll to the congregation that the leaders of Mars Hill were having some difficulty knowing how to response to the latest crisis because many of those raising concerns about the church were doing so anonymously.  Driscoll said:

As well, one of the things that has been… complex is the fact that a lot of the people that we are dealing with in this season remain anonymous. And so we don’t know how to reconcile, or how to work things out with, with people because we’re not entirely sure who they are, and so that has, that has made things a little more complex and difficult as well.

I suspect there are some Mars Hill critics who remain anonymous to Mars Hill’s leaders. On the other hand, there are numerous people who have left Mars Hill and who are leaving Mars Hill who have made their concern known by name. I interviewed one such person in a prior post and now a new group on Facebook has been formed to address Driscoll’s claims. Titled, Dear Pastor Mark & Mars Hill: We Are Not Anonymous, the community group page now has nearly 100 likes after being formed late yesterday.
UPDATE: The group has become an open group on Facebook and can be viewed here.
 

David Swartz on Responding to the Claims of Christian Nationalists

Yesterday, Asbury College history prof David Swartz briefly opined on the Christian nationalist appropriation of the Bible as foundation for their view of American history. Swartz extends an article by Seth Perry in a recent Religion and Culture Web Forum.
Swartz discusses the reaction against linking the Bible with Christian nationalism and notes that evangelicals have blurred distinctions at least since the 1970s. He writes:

Piling on have been evangelical historians represented at hundreds of state universities and Christian liberal arts colleges. In the 1970s and 1980s they were led by a scholarly triumvirate made up of Robert Linder (Kansas State), Richard Pierard (Indiana State), and Robert Clouse (Indiana State). In the 1980s Mark Noll and George Marsden conducted a sometimes-combative dispute with Francis Schaeffer over the notion of Christian America. And more recently, Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College and John Fea of Messiah College have taken on David Barton and enlisted dozens of colleagues in opposition to his flood of books, speeches, and videos. Largely due to their activism, publisher Thomas Nelson in 2012 pulled Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies.

Well, that is appreciated.
Swartz ends by saying, “a formidable evangelical brain trust stands united in support of the kind of nuance and context practiced by the broader historical guild.”
He is correct that a consensus has developed among Christian scholars to support good history and oppose simplistic Christian nationalist accounts of the nation’s founding (my paraphrase). More importantly, many are speaking to Christian organizations, albeit with mixed success.
For instance in 2013, the Family Research Council removed a error filled video of David Barton talking at the Capitol after numerous historians complained and requested action.  However, this year, the FRC had Barton back to repeat the Capitol Tour.  FRC’s fall back to pragmatism was disappointing and demonstrates the great gulf between Christian parachurch organizations and Christian scholars.

Michael Peroutka: To Determine Whether or Not a Law is Valid, One Must Consult the Bible

Michael Peroutla wants the Bible to be the law of the United States. It is the Christian reconstructionists dream. Here he presents in a nutshell (see what I did there) the crux of his argument that the law of the land must square with the Bible or else it can be ignored.

Before we can say whether a law is now or not we have to consult God’s Word? That’s precisely what I’m saying. That’s exactly what I’m saying. That’s exactly what our founders said, that’s exactly our organic law of the United States. That’s the law. This is, it’s contained in the Declaration of Independence. When Jefferson said, the laws of nature and nature’s God, he was quoting Blackstone. Blackstone said if what man made law is what he called “ad-missible” law, is not harmonious with the divine law then it’s not law at all. That’s a standard, a fixed standard that we don’t acknowledge today and we need to.

As far as I can determine, Jefferson did not credit Blackstone with being the source of his phrase “nature and nature’s God.” Jefferson spoke to the matter of sources in a letter to Richard Lee dated May 8, 1825.

This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before, but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, not yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All it’s authority rests on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, & c.

Jefferson also told Lee that he “turned to neither book nor pamphlet while writing” the Declaration. Jefferson did not agree with Blackstone on the origin of British common law being in Christianity and even though Jefferson read Blackstone (all lawyers did at the time), this does not mean he took this phrase from him or meant to send a coded message that the Bible was to be the law of the land. It is inconceivable that Jefferson would have had Peroutka’s misunderstanding in mind. Jefferson did not have much good to say about the Old Testament and cut up the gospels to only include the moral teachings of Jesus.
In any case, the Constitution declares itself to be the law of the land and doesn’t make the Bible the final authority. Peroutka should rename his institute to Institute to Promote the Bible as Civil Law.

Letter From Mars Hill Church to Those Who Donated to Mars Hill Global

A Mars Hill Global donor forwarded this letter to me. In the wake of ongoing questions about how funds donated to Mars Hill Global since 2012 were spent, the church leaders issued this letter to 6,000 donors.

This is slightly a reworded statement from the Mars Hill Global FAQ page on the Mars Hill website.

In fact, the Global Fund was a giving option until at least May of this year. As I demonstrated by means of videos that Mars Hill wants to hide, the leaders of Mars Hill did not simply consider Mars Hill Global to be non-member, online givers. Sutton Turner said in a video you can watch here that Global is a part of Mars Hill Church. At 30 seconds into this video, Sutton Turner said:

Mars Hill Global is the arm of Mars Hill Church that makes disciples and plant churches all over the world.

Later in the same video, Turner clearly addressed current members when he said:

So whether you’re a member of one of our Mars Hill Church locations in the United States or you’re one of 100,000 podcasters every single week, we encourage you to pray about giving above and beyond your tithe to Mars Hill Global.

In fact, the person who received this letter is not a podcaster, but rather was a member at the time the donations were given. The receiver of the letter serves as a contradiction to the content of the letter.

It was not the terminology alone that was confusing. The messages from Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and the Mars Hill website referring to Mars Hill Global as the way the church supported missions were especially confusing.  They clearly called Global the arm of the church which supported missionaries; now they want to call Mars Hill Global the donations given by people who are not members.