On the heels of a strong debate performance, Carly Fiorina has surged in a monthly poll of evangelical insiders published at World.
Marco Rubio recorded a strong showing and is by far the candidate most participants believe can beat the Democratic nominee.
I am interested in the issues which motivate these participants. For most participants, the top two are religious liberty and abortion. Relatively speaking, presidents have little to do with moving policy on these issues. While I would like someone who agrees with me on these matters, I prefer a president who is experienced and skilled in dealing with defense, foreign policy, and economic policy.
Other observations of interest:
Trump continues to do badly with this group. He has the highest negative ratings among Republicans. The survey participant quoted, Kay James, said Trump’s numbers are due to his policy positions being insufficiently biblical. One would have to have policy positions to be able to evaluate them, and mostly what I hear from Trump is that he wants to build a wall. I also think many evangelicals are turned off by Trump’s demeanor.
In May of this year, I posted a video of a Believers’ Church ordination service which appeared to show ministers kissing the ring of Gospel for Asia Founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan. Yohannan has denied allowing anyone to kiss his ring during rituals of the Believers’ Church. The following video makes it clear that those being ordained are doing something in the vicinity of Yohannan’s hand. If they aren’t kissing his ring, I think any observer could be excused for believing they are.
In an over two hour staff mega-meeting held on May 14, 2015, Yohannan again denied that ring kissing has any place in the church. This meeting took place before the video became available but the audio where K.P. offers a full-throated denial of the practice has not been made available before.
Here is the audio followed by the transcript.
David Carroll: There is one question that I think is on many of your minds and has been I think batted around a bit among us and that is, it’s asked a lot of ways but I’ll just ask it from this question plainly: Has ring kissing ever been a part of the Believers’ Church clergy ordination ceremony? Or I’ll just add: or any, is ring kissing is it required anywhere or is it still part of any of those things? Has it ever happened and if it has, if it used to be something that we did in some ceremony, are we still doing that? Kissing the ring?
K.P. Yohannan: What’s wrong with you? (Laughter) I kill you! (more laughter) Danny, I asked you, what is the meaning of kissing the ring? I thought about finding out what it actually means and obviously there’s submission to you or whatever. Now, if somebody said, ‘I saw somebody kissing the ring of our bishop or my ring, I would not tell that person, you are a liar. But if somebody asks me in your conscience and knowledge, you had taught or asked or has anybody kissed your ring, I would say as God almighty is my witness, it never happened, I never allowed it.
As a matter of fact, the most common, when this rumor started spreading, some Calvary Chapel pastors supposed to go to India and met some disgruntled person who left our ministry and started telling, you know, they’re teaching about kissing the ring. I remember that story came to me and immediately I contacted the field and said, ‘please, you know, we don’t want to be seen as belonging to some other church teaching, please don’t do it, if there is any like that.’ They said, ‘no, we never teach or practice that.’ But then I started wondering why somebody think this. So my thinking is you know the most common thing in China, India, all these countries when you see elders, especially spiritual leaders, what they do basically is they touch the feet, you can see that. And then I basically walk away from that. It has nothing to do with Christianity. It’s just culture. But then what the answer is, no, we don’t practice that, we don’t teach that, we teach against it so that we don’t get labeled by some other denomination but even today when you go to the mission field (unclear), what happens is when you meet the Metropolitan or the bishops and what they do is basically and they start doing this, they take the hand and do like that, and it’s not typically everywhere be like that, in most places, the actually touch the feet and express their honor, their respect.
When people are ordained, this the standard thing and by the way, let me say this to you. I fortunately, unfortunately, I like or not, I’m two human beings. I’m brother K.P., hi, K.P., yo, dude, all that here, people call me by all kinds of strange names. But you know when I bought the flight and land overseas, many have seen me a million times, I don’t look like this, I have a cassock, and I’m the Metropolitan of the church and the spiritual father of 2.7 million baptized believers right now. And when you ordain people you whether I like it or not I just submit to the church; that is, there’s a chair, the Bishop’s Chair, that I sit on. If it’s not me then it’s Bishop _______ or Bishop ____________ and then people are ordained they come and they kneel to get the blessing, and they’re anointed by oil and make the sign of the Cross, and I tell them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit now you are ordained minister of the church and that is done, that always be done. There’s not going to be any change in that; all cultures do that, I don’t know how it is done here, but they don’t fall prostrate before anyone or anything like that.
There is an odd near admission at the beginning (“I wouldn’t tell that person, you are a liar”), but then he clearly denies it and provides a narrative that makes the idea seem very far from the church. Given his description of the ordination at the end, I wonder why he didn’t explain what the newly minted minister was doing with Yohannan’s hand. In any case, no explanation has been given for the video.
It is hard for me to imagine how staff at GFA can watch the video in light of this denial. Clearly, some explanation is needed for this.
Sometime in 2013, Mercury One, a non-profit founded by Glenn Beck but run by principal officer David Barton, gave $100,000 to Barton’s Wallbuilders, also a non-profit run by Barton. Such gifts appear to be questionable under IRS guidelines addressing gifts which benefit insiders.
Barton founded and is head of Wallbuilders, and was recently tapped to run the Keep the Promise group of Super PACs with over $38 million to spend supporting Ted Cruz.
On Mercury One’s 2013 990 form, Barton is listed in box F as the principal officer:
For purposes of this item, “principal officer” means an officer of the organization who, regardless of title, has ultimate responsibility for implementing the decisions of the organization’s governing body, or for supervising the management, administration, or operation of the organization.
Thus, if Mercury One filed the 990 properly, Barton has ultimate responsibility for operating the non-profit. Without examining anything else, that is a noteworthy finding.
Barton is also listed as officer along with only two other board members, Glenn Beck’s wife and his longtime attorney and researcher, Joseph Kerry.
Certainly by the standards of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, this is an unacceptable composition for a board. None of these people are independent and it seems improper for Kerry to assume three positions. As principal officer, Barton only needs one other person to vote with him to do anything.
Later, the 990 reports that Wallbuilders received $100, 000. This gift accounts for about 7.5% of the income Wallbuilders received in gifts and grants in 2013.
Private Benefit and Inurement
A public charity is prohibited from allowing more than an insubstantial accrual of private benefit to individuals or organizations. This restriction is to ensure that a tax-exempt organization serves a public interest, not a private one. If a private benefit is more than incidental, it could jeopardize the organization’s tax-exempt status.
No part of an organization’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of an insider. An insider is a person who has a personal or private interest in the activities of the organization such as an officer, director, or a key employee. This means that an organization is prohibited from allowing its income or assets to accrue to insiders. An example of prohibited inurement would include payment of unreasonable compensation to an insider. Any amount of inurement may be grounds for loss of tax-exempt status.
If a public charity provides an economic benefit to any person who is in a position to exercise substantial influence over its affairs (that exceeds the value of any goods or services provided in consideration), the organization has engaged in an excess benefit transaction. A public charity that engages in such a transaction must report it to the IRS. Excise taxes are imposed on any person who engages in an excess benefit transaction with a public charity, and on any organization manager who knowingly approves such a transaction. (See Reporting Excess Benefit Transactions on page 12).
Only the IRS can make a final determination but this transaction looks like it is worth exploring. Barton certainly is an insider at Mercury One and, via Wallbuilders, he benefited from the gift. The $100,000 is almost as much as Barton reported as compensation in 2013.
ADL Troubled by Comments of GOP Hopefuls, Including Ben Carson, Suggesting a Muslim Should Not Be President
New York, NY, September 21, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply troubled by recent remarks by presidential candidates suggesting that being a Muslim is incompatible with serving as president of the United States. The League called on all presidential candidates to avoid stereotyping American Muslims during the campaign.
Speaking on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday, Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson stated that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” This troubling remark came on the heels of Donald Trump failing to stand up to an anti-Muslim bigot at a campaign rally.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Donald Trump’s failure to stand up to an anti-Muslim bigot at a campaign rally who questioned whether President Obama was a Muslim, as well as the various troubling comments by the candidates about a Muslim’s fitness to serve as president, are deeply troubling. Dr. Ben Carson’s statement that a Muslim American should not serve as president is deeply offensive, un-American and contrary to the Constitution. There is no religious litmus test for candidates seeking political office, and that includes the highest office in the land.
The U.S. Constitution makes clear that any American citizen can run for president provided that he or she is a natural born citizen, age 35 or older, and resided for at least 14 years within the U.S. Indeed, Article VI of the Constitution states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Dr. Carson’s statement directly contradicts the Constitution and the values embodied in it. In America, personal characteristics — whether race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion – should have no bearing on person’s ability to serve. Rather, fitness to serve should be based on the individual’s merit: intellect, ethics, experience and achievements.
As the campaign season advances, we urge all presidential candidates to avoid innuendo and stereotyping of all sorts, including against people based on their faith, particularly American Muslims and, instead, to confront all forms of prejudice and bigotry. Remarks suggesting that all Muslims follow extremist interpretations of Islam have no basis in fact and fuel bigotry. Whether directed against Jews, Muslims or others, such baseless comments breed hate and have no place in a presidential campaign or in public discourse.
As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, ADL takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
According to Politico, Ben Carson’s business manager Armstrong Williams told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota this morning that Carson’s rejection of the possibility of a Muslim president was “not an issue of religion, it is an issue of one’s belief system, of how they will govern.”
Someone needs to tell Carson that religions and beliefs systems have a lot in common. Whatever one calls one’s belief system, the Constitution forbids a religious test. Carson is making this unnecessarily difficult.
Carson said there are tenets of Islam which sanction the killing of gays and Jews. Does he not realize what Leviticus says? Is he unaware that some Christian movements have advocated hatred toward Jews?
Carson and his handlers are stereotyping Muslims and displaying group-serving bias regarding Christianity. One knows the diversity of a social group to which one belongs much better than to an out group. Carson has lumped all Muslims into his stereotyped view of Islam while ignoring similar elements within his own religion.
So Ben Carson said he wouldn’t support a Muslim for President and Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution. Watch:
Then he said he might vote for a Muslim for Congress.
This was such an easy question that I am surprised Carson botched it up. Even if you personally would not vote for a Muslim, the Constitution prohibits a religious test so it doesn’t matter what Ben Carson’s opinion is. All I can figure is he wanted to bounce with anti-Muslim sentiment.
The issue of a Muslim (Mahometan) president came up during the North Carolina Debates over ratification of the Constitution in 1788 (to read it all keep clicking the next image). The defenders of the Constitution indicated that religious liberty would not prevent a Muslim from running. Being elected however, is another matter, and according to one delegate would require a major change in public sentiment.
Speaker James Iredell, appointed to the Supreme Court by George Washington in 1790, answered worries that a pagan or Mahometan might gain office:
But it is objected that the people of America may, perhaps, choose representatives who have no religion at all, and that pagans and Mahometans may be admitted into offices. But how is it possible to exclude any set of men, without taking away that principle of religious freedom which we ourselves so warmly contend for? This is the foundation on which persecution has been raised in every part of the world. The people in power were always right, and every body else wrong. If you admit the least difference, the door to persecution is opened. Nor would it answer the purpose, for the worst part of the excluded sects would comply with the test, and the best men only be kept out of our counsels. But it is never to be supposed that the people of America will trust their dearest rights to persons who have no religion at all, or a religion materially different from their own. It would be happy for mankind if religion was permitted to take its own course, and maintain itself by the excellence of its own doctrines. The divine Author of our religion never wished for its support by worldly authority. Has he not said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it? It made much greater progress for itself, than when supported by the greatest authority upon earth.
He added later:
It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans, pagans, &c., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President, or other high office, but in one of two cases. First, if the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves. Another case is, if any persons of such descriptions should, notwithstanding their religion, acquire the confidence and esteem of the people of America by their good conduct and practice of virtue, they may be chosen. I leave it to gentlemen’s candor to judge what probability there is of the people’s choosing men of different sentiments from themselves.
Iredell saw that the Constitution does not require Christianity to be the national religion. A president of a non-majority religion might be elected if voters become less Christian or because an individual of a minority religion displays trustworthy character.
In any case, Iredell made it clear that Christianity ought not depend on the support of Constitution or any other worldly authority.
Carson’s later came out and said he didn’t oppose a Muslim running for office if the candidate rejected Sharia law.
The next question to ask Carson is if the Constitution is flawed since it forbids a religious test.
Doing some reputation managing of their own, Reputation Management Consults and/or Gospel for Asia requested that my post on their partnership be removed by Patheos due to a claim that I violated their copyright by using images from reports given to GFA. The request came in such a manner that it is not clear exactly who issued the take down notice, but I believe it was RMC. I have posted many GFA images without problem so I suspect RMC was behind it.
Patheos took the post down while I reviewed the complaint, along with Patheos management. We agreed that the images were fair use but have decided not to press the matter at this time. Instead, readers can review the post reposted below. It is important to note that the facts were not contested. Apparently, the images provided more information than these groups wanted out.
(original 8/31/15 post)
In June 2014, a group of former Gospel for Asia staff members sent a letter to GFA’s board alleging a pattern of unbiblical practices involving top leaders, including founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan. Over time, more staff left GFA and joined the GFA Diaspora group (over 100 now).
As the Diaspora group grew, GFA leaders developed several responses. One strategy was an attempt to disseminate positive information about GFA throughout social media. Another was to hire a company to manipulate Google search results by creating many redundant websites with positive information about GFA. To do this, GFA hired Reputation Management Consultants to create the websites. According to an internal document (see below) the fee set aside for this effort was $70,000 (go to the last line item).
According to former staff, the “Reputation mgmt” line item of $70k was required to pay Reputation Management Consultants for seven months. RMC describes itself as follows:
RMC has innovated new strategies and techniques that repair existing damages, clear your reputation, and safeguards against new attacks, all while doubling as an effective online PR campaign.
Links to the February and March reports to GFA from RMC are here and at the end of the article. It appears that RMC created a bunch of websites with positive stories about GFA to influence the results of Google searches.
The goal of the campaign was to “push down” negative information so that it appears “after position 30 in major search engines.”
In addition to an “aggressive linking campaign,” RMC created 18 new websites to promote GFA.
Most of these links go to websites with very little activity beginning in November or December of 2014 and ending in April of this year.
It is possible that the campaign ended early with less than $70 being spent. According to the reports below, RMC planned to take the campaign into April.
As an aside, if anyone reading this wants to give me $70k to create websites and buy domains, I am ready to go. I suspect anyone who has opened accounts or run a blog is amazed that so much money was paid for free social media accounts and sparsely populating a few blogs.
Given the austerity encouraged by GFA’s CEO K.P. Yohannan, it is surprising to see him use donor money to push down negative articles about himself. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised; GFA and Believers’ Church in India are suing Google and Facebook in India over what they claim is false information disseminated on those sites.
If pushing down negatives is what GFA is about, then they need to rehire RMC. This article about K.P. Yohannan’s ring is in the top ten on Google.
In his book Touching Godliness, K.P. Yohannan wrote:
Those in authority should never fight for themselves. We need to simply leave it to the Lord to defend us. He will do a much better job in His time and His way than we ever could. In fact, when a leader fights to establish his authority, he actually loses his ability to lead. (p. 189).
In his speeches to churches, David Barton asserts that there are Bible verses throughout the Constitution. On past occasions, he has said that the Constitution quotes the Bibleverbatim. In his recent appearance before Crossroads Church in Oklahoma City, OK, Barton said people today don’t recognize these verses in the Constitution because they are ignorant about the Bible. He begins his discussion of the Bible and the Constitution at about 12 minutes into the following sermon:
It’s significant that if you know the Bible and if you read the Constitution, you see Bible verses throughout the Constitution. You see Bible verse after Bible verse that is noted in the Constitution. Now today, we have a lot of people who say, no, no, the Constitution is a secular arena, the Constitution is a secular document. When somebody tells me the Constitution’s a godless document, that simply tells me, they wouldn’t know a Bible verse if they saw one; if it bit them on the ankle they wouldn’t know what a Bible verse was. See what happened is the Constitution is filled with Bible verses, Bible references, Bible phrases, and Bible terminology cause back then, they didn’t see any reason to tell you it came out of the Bible because back then everybody knew that. They didn’t put it, but we’re so biblically illiterate today, we don’t recognize that.
Timothy Dwight must have been biblically illiterate. Dwight was a prominent Congregationalist minister and the president of Yale from 1795 to 1817. On July 23, 1812, Dwight preached a sermon before his students and faculty where he lamented the low spiritual status of the day. The occasion was a public fast called by the Connecticut governor in opposition to the War of 1812. Saying the nation had three reasons to fear the future, Dwight had strong words to say about the Constitution.
The second of these reasons is, the sinful character of our nation. Notwithstanding the prevalence of Religion, which I have described, the irreligion, and the wickedness, of our land are such, as to furnish a most painful and melancholy prospect to a serious mind. We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgment of God ; without any recognition of his mercies to us, as a people, of his government, or even of his existence. The Convention, by which it was formed, never asked, even once, his direction, or his blessing upon their labours. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without God. I wish I could say, that a disposition to render him the reverence, due to his great Name, and the gratitude, demanded by his innumerable mercies, had been more public, visible, uniform, and fervent.
Dwight was adverse to heresy and was considered to be a champion of orthodoxy. He defended the Apostolic writings as inspired when the Unitarians and others rejected them. Dwight did not see Bible verse after Bible verse in the Constitution. Should we say he was biblically illiterate?
See below for the verses Barton claims to quoted in the Constitution:
Recently, I posted audio of Gospel for Asia founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan promising staff that GFA would not take out a loan in order to build the new Wills Point, TX headquarters and living compound. Eventually, Believers’ Church in India (K.P. Yohannan was managing trustee at the time and he is also the Metropolitan Bishop and spiritual leader of the church) gave GFA in the U.S. $19.8 million toward the project. The church had to borrow money to make this donation. Furthermore, I asserted that an $11.5 million loan was taken in 2014 with the money used for the project.
Today, I post evidence for the 2014 loan. Below are images from the 46 page Deed of Trust.
GFA borrowed $11.5 million.
GFA May Have Kept Some Information Back
The agreement was based on the use of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and pledges that all material statements are correct. This pledge may be in conflict with the audited financial statement for 2013 which failed to disclose that GFA made related party transactions to Believers’ Church, Love India Ministry and Last Hour Ministry.
Furthermore, the bank (City Bank) was not informed that $19.8 million toward the building project came from a loan taken in India by a related party (Believers’ Church). Speaking as a non-accountant, this seems to be a significant and material omission. City Bank did not know that an entity related to GFA had taken a loan in order to provide GFA with funds. If City Bank took the audit at face value, they would have considered that $19.8 million to be a gift with no relationship to GFA anywhere in the world. City Bank might have reconsidered if they knew that an affiliate of GFA (and recipient of millions in U.S. donations) had to take a loan in order to keep the construction project going. The Bland Garvey 12/31/13 audit was completed in June 2014 and the Deed of Trust signed in July 2014. It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine City Bank, an FDIC-regulated institution, making a $11.5 million loan in July 2014 without relying on the Bland Garvey audit report on the 12/31/13 GFA financial statements. That audit report included the misinformation on the source and nature of the $19.8 million previously raised and spent on the project.
On the 13th, Robert Morris told his 10:45 am audience that he is cutting back on his preaching at Gateway to the 4 pm service. In August, he told the 12:30 pm Sunday crowd the same thing. Watch:
You’re not seeing me as much as you used to, live that is. But I wanted to actually explain that to you. And so I’ve told the technological guys to not send this service to the other campuses, to go ahead and play the 4 o’clock service from yesterday at the other campuses right now. I’m doing something a little differently, and I’ve found that if someone just explains it to you then you can say, oh, OK, we get that. For a long time as the church began to grow — I started the church when I was 38 — and we grew and had three services and then four services and then five and then we had six services a weekend. Three on Saturday night and three on Sunday morning. Thomas would lead worship for all those services. It just got very difficult to preach the same message with the same burden and the same intensity, six times a weekend. Ya know? And so we began video messages. And then that led us actually to begin our first extension campus which was North Richland Hills. Which is completely video messages. And as we’ve gone along, then we started to say we even we had the uh opened this campus here at Southlake, we said, ya know, Pastor Robert will never preach,this came out of the eldership, no, he’ll preach no more than three times a weekend. And so even though we had five here I would preach the 4 o’clock and then rotate to the rest of the services. Uh, but that ‘no more than three’ actually in my mind was at least three. And again, I started the church when I was 38. I am now fifty (fake cough) years old (laughter) hu-huh, fifty-four and um,I don’t have the strength I used to have. I don’t have the energy I used to have.
And then, I’m doing other things, like right now I have a, a book deadline. I preached last week , during the week for vid- on video for them to show to the largest church in America uh, which is Pastor Craig Groeschel Life Church. They have about 72,000 in attendance each week. Ya know I’ll speak in a while, I mean I’ve got lots of things on my plate you, you understand that. And I know that God’s called me to not just be the pastor of Gateway Church, but to somehow affect and change the world. And uh, ya know, this past Thursday was uh a conference call with Dr. Tony Evans and Dr. Ronnie Floyd who’s the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. And we’re talking about bringing pastors together, I think I’ve told you this, to bring pastors together next July to have a solemn assembly where we meet in Cowboy Stadium. We’re asking 75,000 pastors to come together to pray for our nation. And uh obviously our nation needs prayer (applause). So, so there is uh a national and international call on my life as well, and I know that.
But the other thing I realized is, is it sometimesI’ll come at 4 o’clock and I’ll preach and I feel like God puts his hand on it. And it’s got the anointing of the Holy Spirit on it. I’ll come back then to another service such as maybe let’s say 10:45 and preach and I think to myself that wasn’t near as good as yesterday. I just wasn’t uh as clear uh, I, I didn’t have as much of a burden as I did yesterday. I kind of left my burden. I couldn’t get it back. And so I wanted you to know if you don’t see me live as much as you used to it’s not because I love you less. I want you to know that. It’s because I love you more. And I really wish you’d hear the guy who spoke yesterday at 4 o’clock because he did a much better job, than I did, ya know, today. So ya understand what I’m saying? So I’ll be, you will not see me as much, even at the Southlake Campus as far as live, but you will hear the word. And we’ve seen this. Ya know we have five campuses, 24 services a weekend and we’ve seen these extension campuses grow and some of them I’ve never spoken there live. But we’ve noticed that God’s Word is not limited by whether the person is live there or not. God’s Word can come through technology just as strongly. So I just wanted to explain that to you. So if you want to, if it’s important to you to see me live, uh then come to the 4 o’clock service. Or Walmart. I’m at Walmart a lot (laughter) uh those are my okay so. One of those you’ll see me alright.
I reported on the “solemn assembly” previously.
This post is a follow up on the earlier post where he announced the same news to the 12:30 pm service. It seems odd to me that he waited a month to tell that audience essentially the same thing.
One wonders what happens to his burden when he is preaching at the other churches (e.g., at Bayside Church in FL on Sunday). No wonder he doesn’t have the energy for his church since he has so much on his plate.
Having said all of that, I know it is not my business how elders of Gateway Church want to spend the tithes of the members who are compelled to give.