What Original Source Did David Barton Use for His Louis L'Amour Story?

Remember this?
Barton said he got his story about elementary school kids threatening an intruder in a one-room Old West school from a novel by Louis L’Amour. L’Amour was an Americana fiction writer who in 1986 provided Barton with some historical material he used in 2013.
I thought of Barton’s use of that third hand source yesterday when his son Tim told Gateway Church representative Kerry Wood that Wallbuilders only uses original sources for their materials. Barton said professors just have ideas, not sources. Back in 2013, Barton told Glenn Beck that in the 1850s, elementary school kids took guns to school and once saved a teacher from a would be attacker. Since the kiddies had their guns at school, they deterred the attacker from shooting their teacher.
Barton’s source for this story turned out to be a Louis L’Amour fictional novel Bendigo Shafter. Barton later admitted this but said it was fine because L’Amour said the story was true. Barton transcribed an audiotaped 1986 interview with L’Amour as follows:

There’s a case I [L’Amour] use in one of my stories; I use it in the story called Bendigo Shafter. All the kids coming to school used to hang their guns up in the cloakroom because they were miles from home sometimes, and it was dangerous to ride out without a gun. And this is taken from an actually true incident. I use it in my story and tell the story, but it really happened. Now a man came to kill the teacher. It was a man. And he came with a gun, and all the kids liked the teacher, so they came out and ranged around him with their guns. That stopped it. But kids twelve and thirteen used to carry guns to school regularly.

In 1986, L’Amour said the story was true but he didn’t point to any original source as Barton’s son insists is necessary. Without knowledge of the source of the story, Barton changed the details around (e.g., elementary kids instead of those aged 12-13 years) and presented it to Beck and the world as a historical fact.
First, watch Tim Barton tell his guests that the Bartons always use the original sources and then listen to Barton’s yarn to Glenn Beck about the gun-totin’ kiddies.

Maybe it did happen, maybe it didn’t. However, when Barton is telling the story, it is apparently fine to go third hand. When Barton is selling the story, the pitch includes all of those original documents.
This original source pitch is silly. Does Barton have the original copy of the Bible? The Constitution? We all have access to the primary sources for our governing documents. He may have some original documents, but if they are historically significant, they are archived for review by scholars. Good scholars use primary documents. Barton’s assertions here are fact free.
Barton is no stranger to second and third hand sourcing. For instance, his claim about Thomas Jefferson giving his edited version of the Gospels to Indian missionaries is third hand; there is no original source for that one.
See the following links for stories where Barton does not rely on primary/original sources.
David Barton Praises Primary Sources and Then Cites a Third Hand Jefferson Quote
Debunking One of David Barton’s Oldest Stories: Thomas Jefferson and the DC Schools
David Barton Claims Historians Don’t Use Original Sources and That is Why They Attack His Work (James O’Kelly story)
David Barton Uses Jefferson Quote He Says is Unconfirmed (see also this post on the Webster quote)
 

David Barton Is Coming After the Christian Professors

Apparently, Wallbuilders and Gateway Church/The Kings University are cooking up a business deal. Today, on his twitter account, Tim Barton broadcast from the Wallbuilders’ library along with some folks from Gateway Church in Southlake, TX. The broadcast was mainly for the benefit of some Gateway staff. It wasn’t clear to me what kind of deal they were planning but it involved using Barton’s DVDs and books.
Listening to the Barton father and son team in sales mode was interesting. If you buy what they are selling, you would think that no historian gets it right. Truth comes only from Wallbuilders. Barton had some special words for Messiah College history chair John Fea. Listen:

I think Barton is referring to John’s article here for Religion News Service. Since the state constitutions are easily retrieved, I can’t wait to see how Barton will spin this.
I can’t tell if The King’s University is set to make Barton’s materials available to students or Gateway is going to market them. In any case, it was clear throughout the sale’s pitch that Barton was badmouthing actual historians to set himself apart (and of course in a certain way, that’s true).
Now Gateway and/or The King’s University people should find out from actual historians what the truth is. I challenge them to contact me or Fea or Thomas Kidd in their neck of the woods at Baylor to ask why Barton attacks Christian professors so often.

Matthew 20 and the Minimum Wage: Conservative Theological Responses to David Barton

Last Thursday, David Barton and the gang on Wallbuilders Live talked about the Bible and economics. During the segment, Barton claimed that Right Wing Watch bloggers criticized his views because they have not read their Bibles. He also mentioned me by name as a Christian professor who also criticized his biblical views. RWW has the audio and transcript. I am going to include the whole segment on Mt. 20 (from 5:00 to about 10:00 on the original), including where Tim Barton implies Ben Carson is wrong in his interpretation of Mt. 20.

Transcript:

David Barton: Right Wing Watch listens to every program we do and they make fun of me because Barton says the Bible addresses the minimum wage. It is highly unlikely that they even know what’s in the Bible. But they’re making fun, oh the Bible doesn’t deal with…yes, the Bible does deal with that. And the concept of a free market means free from government regulation. A minimum wage is the government telling you what minimum wage you have to pay to someone. So let me take you to Matthew 20 for just a moment and look how the Bible is specific even on something like freedom of wages, the viability of employer-employee contracts.

From 41 seconds to 2:11, Barton tells the story of Matthew 20:1-16. At 2:12, Tim Barton interrupts and asks:

Tim Barton: But wait a minute, isn’t that why it’s socialism, because they all got the same thing?
David Barton: They all got the same thing!
Tim Barton: They all were paid the same no matter how long you worked. Everybody makes the same.
David Barton: And some of them put in more hours than others but they all got the same. But this one guy says but wo, wo, wo, wo, wo, wait, but I’ve been here longer. He says now wait a minute, didn’t you tell me at the beginning, you were willing to work for me all day long for that silver coin?
Tim Barton: So you agreed to that!
David Barton: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I did agree to that and then in Matthew 20:15, Jesus says, ‘Is not my money to do with as I please? I’m the employer. Don’t I get to decide what I’m going to pay everyone in this thing?'” No, no, no, the government has a minimum wage. No it didn’t. Jesus says, ‘My money is mine to do with as I please and, by the way, you made a contract with them.’ And then he tells the guy, ‘If you didn’t like the contract, you can go down the road to another vineyard and see if they’ll pay you two silver coins for what you did, but you agreed to work for me for that.'”
So what you have here is Jesus says, ‘The government doesn’t tell me how much to spend, I get to choose my own wages and, two, if you choose to work for me for that, you have an agreement, we have a contract; and three is if you’ve got greater skill, you can sell it to somebody else for a higher price, you can go down the road.’ That’s all free market stuff, there’s no government regulation of wages; and by the way, Right Wing Watch, that is the minimum wage. Government doesn’t tell you want to pay an employee, you make a contract with that individual for whatever they agree on and what you agree on, and if the don’t like that, they can use the free market to go somewhere else and try to get more. All of that is in Matthew 20. That is a great story of socialism versus free market.
Tim Barton: This is not just news for Right Wing Watch, but that too many Christians don’t what this is either. (crosstalk)
David Barton: Oh yeah, because Warren Throckmorton, Christian professor also makes fun of me for saying that. He’s a Christian professor.
Tim Barton: You go down the list.  Even people that would support us. You have people even like Ben Carson that says well, socialism that he seems to think based on this that everybody should get it. There’s Christians across the board that has a very different idea of what this says if they even know what this says, probably at Right Wing Watch they probably don’t know what this says much less understand the interpretation.

Barton teaches that Matthew 20 teaches economic policy about the minimum wage, employer contracts, and employer control of wages. Since the vineyard owner paid everyone what he wanted to pay, Barton reasons that the government can’t tell private business owners how much to pay their employees.
I can’t find a prior post where I disagree with Barton on Matthew 20 (although I certainly do). I have taken issue with his interpretation of various Bible passages but I don’t recall writing about the minimum wage. In any case, I do think he is wrong as do some people who I am pretty sure have read the Bible more than me.
I asked several Bible teachers about Matthew 20. I asked what the parable teaches and if it teaches that governments may not institute a minimum wage. Here are their replies:

Joe Carter, Senior Editor for the Acton Institute.
Our task as interpreters of parables is to find how the relevant meaning of the story applies in our own context. And while Jesus frequently referred to money and economics in his parables, never is the point of any parable to teach us about monetary or economic policy.
The illustrations used in parables are not meant to be normative, though I do believe they can be instructive. For example, since Jesus would not use a positive example that was based on injustice or evil, we can assume that there is nothing inherently wrong with negotiating with people to pay different wages — even for the same type of labor. However, that does not mean that we must take this illustration as a normative basis for personal ethics, much less as a direct claim about government policy.
Also, the statement in verse 14 — “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?” — has to be read in a broader context. As the Bible makes clear, we don’t have an absolute right to do what we want with our own money (c.f., Mark 12:17), so it can’t mean that the landowner can do anything he wants. What about the broader context? We don’t know what the economic context even is — probably because it was unimportant to Jesus’ point. We don’t know, for instance, if in this parable the denarius was the government required “minimum wage” for a day’s labor.
There are many prudential reasons for opposing the minimum wage. I oppose it myself because I believe there is evidence that it harms, more than helps, many economically vulnerable groups (low-skilled workers, young African American males, non-native English speakers, etc.). But while my motivation for opposing the minimum wage (i.e., a concern for helping the poor) is based on the Bible, there is nothing in Scripture that directly supports my policy preference, much less forbids a government from instituting a minimum wage.
Adam Dolhanyk, Cornerstone Ministries:
I’ve never read a commentary or heard a sermon that taught anything other than a direct analogy to the kingdom of Heaven; as you said, both regarding Jews & Gentiles as well as people who come to faith early in life vs late in life.
Kevin Labby, Pastor, Willow Creek Presbyterian Church, Winter Springs, FL
There is great temptation to read into the parables things never intended by Jesus. The meaning or, in some cases, meanings of parables are made apparent by examining things like the historical context, prologue (cf. Lk. 18:1; 9), epilogue (cf. Mt. 13:36-43; Mk. 14:13-20), a direct interpretation by Jesus (cf. Mt. 13:18-23; 36-43) and a natural reading of the surrounding biblical context. Regarding this, Dodd adds:

The task of the interpreter of the parables is to find out, if he can, the setting of the parable in the situation contemplated by the Gospels, and hence the application which would suggest itself to one who stood in that situation.*

It’s pretty clear to me that Matthew 19:30 and 20:16 serve as bookends of sorts for this parable. Through the parable, Jesus clearly and simply intends to illustrate the principle that “the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”
Finally in my opinion, this parable has nothing to do with clarifying specific or even general principles of economic justice. That seems entirely forced, and might in fact prove too much. If Jesus intended to communicate principles of economic justice by this parable, one might note that the owner uses his liberty to lavish his wealth on the undeserving, not keep it from them.
* C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom (N. Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961), p. 14.
Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:
The account in Matthew 20 is a parable, in which Jesus is teaching the kingdom of God and how it is entered. It has no more to do with setting economic policies for nations than Matt. 18:33-34 has in setting up debtors’ prisons.
Justin Taylor, Executive V.P., Crossway Books
Evangelical New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg, of Denver Seminary, has authored what has become a standard book on the parables, arguing that many of Jesus’s parables have three main points (one per main character). In his analysis of this parable, he shows that the three groups of characters in this parable all deal with the unifying theme of “the status of individuals before God at the final judgment.” The three main points are as follows, according to Blomberg:

  1. From the earlier groups of workers, one learns that none of God’s people will be treated unfairly (cf. v. 4—”whatever is right I will give you”); that is, no one will be shortchanged.
  2. From the last group of workers comes the principle that many seemingly less deserving people will be treated generously, due to the sovereign free choice of God.
  3. From the unifying role of the master stems the precious truth that all true disciples are equal in God’s eyes. [my emphasis]

What Barton seems to miss is that Jesus is using a fictional story to paint a picture of God’s rule and reign (“the kingdom of heaven is like…”). The result is a portrait of the way God acts with his people. It has virtually nothing to do, one way or another, with whether it is wise, moral, or legal for a secular government to establish a threshold for employers remunerating workers. I happen to think such laws often have the ironic and unintended consequence of hurting the poor they purport to help (contra Prov. 14:31). But it is anachronistic eisegesis to think one can get a good argument about minimum wage from Matthew 20:1–16. If we think that Jesus is doling out economics lessons here, why couldn’t we make the case instead that he was a socialist, paying everyone the same wage no matter how long they work?

Taylor’s final question highlights a critical pitfall of looking at Bible stories written for one purpose (to illustrate what the Kingdom of Heaven is like) to teach public policy lessons in the present. One may find several contradictory lessons depending on what part of the story you examine. On that point, Ryan Kearns, pastor at Redemption Church in Seattle, WA sent along a link to an 2009 article by A.B. Caneday, Professor of New Testament Studies & Biblical Theology at Northwestern College (MN) on the parable. Caneday wrote:

By telling the vineyard parable Jesus offers no commentary upon human contractual work relationships of his day, whether they are just or unjust.24 (page 37)
Efforts to domesticate these unexpected features derive from hearing without adequate discernment. Jesus’ purpose is not socio-political. He is not overturning human employment practices by imposing a new ethic to govern hiring contracts so that all workers should receive the same pay for unequal duration of labor. Jesus’ parable is an earthly story that figuratively portrays things heavenly, not earthly. (page 38)

By the way, Right Wing Watch apparently has read the passage. Kyle Mantyla’s take on the passage sounds remarkably like our conservative Christian Bible teachers above.
The problem here isn’t just that Barton eisegetes the passage (reads into it), it is that he ridicules those who see it differently than him by accusing them of biblical ignorance. For Barton, people who disagree with his novel biblical interpretations are ignorant liberal enemies of God. I think it will be hard to reconcile his attitude with the information presented by the scholars who have commented on this post.
 
I want to thank the Bible teachers and pastors quoted in the post who responded to my request for assistance. 

The Editor of The New Atlantis Responds to My Critique of the Mayer and McHugh Article

On August 25, Adam Keiper, editor of The New Atlantis emailed to give me his reaction to my initial critique of the new article by Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh on sexual orientation and gender. Please review that post before you read his remarks.
I appreciate Keiper’s professionalism in his remarks. I also appreciated a cordial phone call we had on Thursday. Keiper gave permission for me to publish his remarks. They are reproduced in full from the email. I plan to add my reactions over the next day or two within this post. I wanted to post his thoughts while the issue is current. My reactions to the part of the article on sexual orientation (I have yet to really examine the section on gender identity) are interspersed below.

In what follows, I would like to offer a few responses to some of the points you raise. I invite you to post this e-mail as an addendum to your piece on Patheos. I must note at the outset that I am not here writing on behalf of the authors of the report, nor as a scientist or physician (as I am neither), but rather as an interested reader of your piece and as the editor of The New Atlantis who worked closely with the authors on the report over the course of several months.
You begin by pointing out that “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences” is not a study. You are correct. It is, as you rightly remark, a scientific review of the literature.
You are also correct in noting that The New Atlantis is not a peer-reviewed scientific publication. It is, rather, editorially reviewed — like many other journals and magazines intended for a wide public audience (such as Democracy Journal, National Affairs, The American Interest, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, etc.). When we publish essays and articles on technical subjects, our fact-checking process is especially rigorous, and in such cases we often ask experts to help our editorial team in its work. In the case of “Sexuality and Gender,” both our editorial team and the authors consulted with a range of experts in different fields. Peer review can be a very important part of the scientific publishing process. Our aim, however, was not to publish an original research study but rather to translate into accessible prose the scientific findings that were already published in peer-reviewed publications.
You next say:

Even calling the paper a new study isn’t accurate, there are no new studies in the paper. A bunch of old ones are missing as well.

I disagree with your characterization; there are some recent studies and papers that are mentioned in the report, including a handful that were published in 2015 and 2016. All told, I believe the report is quite up-to-date. I also would not say that old papers are “missing” per se; that seems to imply cherry-picking, which is an unsupported charge. Of course the authors of the report could not have discussed every paper in the vast scientific literature, but they selected the papers that they discussed on the grounds of their quality and scientific significance — emphasizing literature reviews and meta-analyses, pointing out when other significant papers contradict or criticize the literature reviews and meta-analyses, and then discussing more recent papers and studies that fill in gaps or further advance knowledge. Some older papers in the literature were deemed to be neither sufficiently important nor sufficiently rigorous to warrant discussion.

While The New Atlantis article was thorough, I still don’t think Mayer and McHugh captured everything necessary to make the claims they make. More on that below.

We are gratified to learn that Professor Bailey agrees with some (even if not all) of the report’s major findings; namely, that the social stress model does not alone account for all of the mental health difficulties experienced by LGBT people, that the empirical evidence does not support the idea that gender identity is innate and fixed, and that all of these issues should be studied more openly and rigorously by scientists. (Professor Bailey also mentions that “Sexuality and Gender” does not discuss his review of the literature on sexual orientation. Professor Bailey’s paper is very recent, and so our authors were unable to include a discussion of it before “Sexuality and Gender” went to press.)

Bailey’s paper was published online on April 25, 2016. Given the quality of Bailey et al’s work, I think the paper should have been included in their review or they should have waited to publish until they were able to include it.

Moving on to some of the topics that you suggest ought to have been included in the report but were not:

Mayer and McHugh’s paper is missing any serious discussion of epigenetics.

It is true that, other than a passing reference, this report does not discuss epigenetics. There is a good reason for that: the literature on epigenetics and sexual orientation remains inconclusive with regard to the question of whether homosexuality is innate and fixed. It is in the nature of epigenetic markers that they are (for the most part) acquired rather than inherited, and so, without a well-supported theory about why (for instance) gay men have distinctive patterns of DNA methylation, the fact that they have such markers does little to explain the origins of homosexual attractions, behaviors, or identity. (For what it’s worth, the Bailey paper only dedicates a single short paragraph to epigenetics [on page 77], and that paragraph basically says that the evidence doesn’t amount to much.)

This is exactly why the recent work on epigenetics should have been included in both papers. One would not need to go into it much in order to say that the line of research is intriguing and may yield answers after more studies are done. Mayer and McHugh’s paper needed to do this because they made a very definite claim: “The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings — the idea that people are “born that way” — is not supported by scientific evidence.”
Since epigenetic research may indeed be relevant to that claim, I believe it was an oversight not to discuss the where that research program could lead. Keiper’s statement, ” without a well-supported theory about why (for instance) gay men have distinctive patterns of DNA methylation, the fact that they have such markers does little to explain the origins of homosexual attractions, behaviors, or identity.” I agree that such a theory doesn’t exist. However, I am not making strong claims against innateness. Given the state of research at present, I don’t think making such a strong claim is warranted. More on this point at the end of the post.

You go on to claim that

[Mayer and McHugh] overlook the new genetic linkage paper involving gay brothers

I believe you are incorrect. “Sexuality and Gender” does mention the 2015 genetic linkage paper involving gay brothers (Sanders, et al., including Bailey). If this is not the paper to which you are referring, please let me know.

You are correct. I am sorry for that oversight and have corrected that error in my original post.
Having said that, I believe Bailey et al’s discussion is more thorough. They note the need for very large samples in genome studies and tell us that findings approaching significance were found in the large 23andMe study (see Bailey on page 77 and Mayer and McHugh on page 32). While 23,000 sounds like a large sample, there were only a few over 1,000 exclusively gay males in the study. We learn that from Bailey et al, not Mayer and McHugh. In other words, the methods we have available at present may not be sensitive enough to find the very fine biological differences which may move one individual toward same sex attraction and another toward opposite attraction unless very large numbers of people are involved.

You also note that the report ignores “work on ‘gay rams.’” It is true that “Sexuality and Gender” does not discuss homosexuality in non-human animals. While there is evidence of apparently exclusive homosexuality among domestic rams, this is not very convincing evidence that homosexuality is innate and fixed in human beings. And as Bailey and his colleagues note in their review (pages 68–69), although homosexual behaviors are frequently observed among wild animals, exclusive homosexuality has never been documented for animals in the wild. (It is worth acknowledging that documenting exclusive homosexuality among wild animals would be a difficult task, and so it is possible that there are exclusively homosexual animals that have not been discovered — but this only shows the need for more research on these questions.)

The gay ram research is important because of the parallels with research in humans. One would not posit weak fathers or child abuse to explain rams who prefer other rams. Apparently, something in the biology of the rams is involved. We are not rams but there are similar brain structures involved, some of which show up in studies of human brains.

You claim that

[t]he TNA authors minimize the neural differences between gays and straights, calling them ‘minor differences in brain structures.’ How do these authors know what differences are minor and which are not? In fact, the differences in symmetry and brain activity are quite provocative and have not been accounted for by any environmental theory.

The neurological differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals represent some interesting correlations, but they cannot be used to accurately predict whether a person is heterosexual or homosexual. (Moreover, as anyone familiar with the fMRI literature can tell you, it is very easy to find brain differences in brain-scan studies; e.g. this study found that when people were aware that they were drinking Pepsi or Coke, this “brand knowledge for one of the drinks had a dramatic influence … on the measured brain responses.”) I don’t see much distance between the ending of your last sentence quoted above and what the report says, as in the executive summary: “… [S]uch neurobiological findings do not demonstrate whether these differences are innate or are the result of environmental and psychological factors.”

Continue reading “The Editor of The New Atlantis Responds to My Critique of the Mayer and McHugh Article”

RICO Suit Dismissed Without Prejudice; Sutton Turner Reveals Mars Hill Church Global Fund Figures

The RICO lawsuit against Mars Hill Church was dismissed without prejudice.  The plaintiffs have not lost their rights to sue again. From the order (read it here):

The court finds that Plaintiffs have not acted in bad faith, recklessly, or with an improper purpose. Accordingly, in light of the court’s duty to carefully exercise its inherent powers, the court declines to impose the drastic sanctions Defendants seek. See Hearns, 530 F.3d at 1132 (noting drastic nature of sanction of dismissal with prejudice); Chambers, 501 U.S. at 44 (noting courts must exercise inherent powers with restraint). Mr. Turner’s allegations about Plaintiffs’ behavior in filing this case, apparently adopted by Mr. Driscoll (see Driscoll Mot. at 3), are conclusory at best and do not demonstrate that Plaintiffs have acted improperly. Merely filing a complaint alleging RICO violations for Defendants’ part in the alleged misuse of Plaintiffs’ donations to MHC does not constitute bad-faith conduct, even if the allegations case Defendants in an unfavorable light. (See Turner Mot. at 9-10.) In addition, Plaintiffs’ complaint is not frivolous on its face (see generally Compl.), and there is no evidence other than Defendants’ conclusory allegations that Plaintiffs filed this suit merely to harass and disparage Defendants (cf. Turner Mot. at 4 (arguing that Plaintiffs’ failure to serve “can lead to only one conclusion. . . . The Plaintiffs and their counsel sought to harass, disparage, and defame Mr. Turner through the public act of filing a lawsuit”)). Furthermore, Plaintiffs refute this allegation, stating that they “never had a desire for retribution nor to harass [Mr.] Turner or [Mr.] Driscoll.” (Resp. at 6.) Plaintiffs also did not act in bad faith by publicizing the case to garner support for their cause. Finally, Plaintiffs’ failure to raise the necessary funds to fully litigate their suit before filing it, Plaintiffs’ counsel’s failure to respond to Mr. Turner’s offer to accept service, and Plaintiffs’ failure to dismiss their claims of their own accord after the 90-day window for service had passed are not so far outside the bounds of acceptable litigation conduct that Plaintiffs should be sanctioned. Simply put, Plaintiffs have done nothing to “defile the very temple of justice.” Haeger, 813 F.3d at 1244 (internal quotations and alterations omitted) (quoting Chambers, 501 U.S. at 46). Plaintiffs have not committed any acts that indicate bad faith, recklessness, or an improper purpose.

For these reasons, the judge dismissed the suit without prejudice:

Based on the foregoing analysis, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants’ motions to dismiss (Dkt. ## 4, 7). The court DISMISSES Plaintiffs’ claims without prejudice.
Dated this 25th day of August, 2016.
JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge

According to Brian Jacobsen, the plaintiffs would consider moving forward again if funds were available.
Even after he left Mars Hill Church, Sutton Turner was told by Mars Hill lawyers that he shouldn’t reveal how much Mars Hill spent from their Global Fund on missions. Now he has done so.

Mars Hill Global

Mars Hill Global began in 2009 to raise money from the global audience (those who listened via podcast) to help fund the mission of Mars Hill Church: “Making Disciples and Planting Churches.” Until late 2011, Mars Hill had not significantly funded international church planting but was heavily invested in US church planting. From 2009 to 2012, Mars Hill spent $8.6M in U.S. church planting and $170k outside of the U.S.
When I joined Mars Hill in 2011, I built relationships with the Kale Hewyott Church in Ethiopia to train church planters there. My passion for Ethiopia (which existed before I arrived at Mars Hill) began to dominate the message of Mars Hill Global. In hindsight, I see how many believed that the only reason Mars Hill Global existed was to fund Ethiopian church planting.
When people started to question the distribution of funds given to Mars Hill Global, the church brought in ECFA and independent auditors, Clark Nuber. Both groups gave Mars Hill a clear opinion that the church had done nothing wrong. In spite of these findings, we felt led to send 3765 emails and 6000 letters to 100% of donors to Mars Hill Global from 2011 to 2014 to clarify their gift intent. Less than 40 families responded; Mars Hill Church sent an additional $40,000 to Ethiopia because donors requested their donations to Mars Hill Global be for Ethiopian church planting.
A full and total timeline from 2009 to 2014 with videos, blogs and other information is stored here.
From 2012 to 2014, Mars Hill Church spent $13.7M in church planting in the US and sent $545k to Ethiopia and India. During its existence, Mars Hill Church invested over $23M in church planting in the US and around the world. This amount is over and above the general and administrative costs of Mars Hill Church’s central operations and staffing. (47% of the funds given to Mars Hill Global from 2012-2014 were large donations from a small number of donors who specifically asked prior to giving for their donations to be counted in Global.  Many of these donors did not attend one specific Mars Hill location and wanted their donations supporting all Mars Hill operations including U.S. and international church planting.)
Many have asked for these numbers. There was I time when I was restricted from providing these numbers. Now, everyone has the Mars Hill Global information that I had when I resigned in September 2014 (Eph. 5:13).

I knew it wasn’t much in comparison to what was spent on the US locations, and as it turns out, it wasn’t. This still doesn’t tell us how much came earmarked for international missions and how much was spent on international missions. And by earmarked for missions, I mean how much was given to the Global Fund from 2012-2014?
The rest of the post provides additional information on executive compensation, the governing board and Result Source.
 

Better for America Nominates Evan McMullin in AR; Ceases National Recruitment Efforts

I had hopes Better for America would be able to recruit a candidate to mount a serious conservative third party challenge. It didn’t happen. This came on August 23. I have since learned that BFA had ballot access in AR, NM and that Evan McMullin will appear on the AR ballot thanks to being nominated by BFA. McMullin is now on the ballot in AR, CO, IA, ID, LA, MN and UT.

To Our Dear Supporters and Volunteers,
This movement was for you, and created by the many ways you came alongside us in the fight to demand more from our presidential candidates in 2016.
Better For America was launched against the backdrop of deeply divisive campaigns of the two most unpopular presidential candidates in modern history, and the widespread dissatisfaction of the American electorate. The mission of BFA was to keep the electoral window open through the summer, and allow a leader to emerge to restore honor, integrity, and unifying and principled leadership.
To advance that objective, BFA conducted extensive conversations with dozens of current or former senators, governors, congressmen, Cabinet members, and military leaders, as well as establishing a foundation for ballot access across the country.
While polling continues to show that the electorate is dissatisfied with both candidates, and believes the country to be on the wrong track, the opportunity for BFA to influence this election cycle has diminished over the summer months, and BFA has therefore ended its candidate recruitment and ballot access efforts.
BFA continues to believe in the potential for leaders to emerge and address the ongoing political crisis, and will continue to pursue constitutional litigation to pave a path to ballot access. Further, in states in which Better For America has established ballot access, it will follow its nomination process.
Better For America was launched with two convictions. First, that our country needs and deserves better than the current leadership alternatives, and second, that it is always valuable to promote integrity, honor, and principles, no matter what the social and political headwinds, or the costs incurred. We believed that if we promoted these ideas in public and private discourse, we could help catalyze a meaningful movement of financial and political leaders responding to the current crisis. While we are disappointed that we didn’t see the leadership response we anticipated, we are encouraged by the many Americans who supported us in our efforts. These great Americans will remain committed to restoring integrity, honor and principled leadership to our country, and Better For America remains committed to supporting them in these efforts.
With many thanks for your contributions and dedication to the United States, John Kingston, III
Founder and Chair, Better For America
http://www.betterforamerica.com/

The Popular Bonhoeffer Quote That Isn’t in Bonhoeffer’s Works

Bonhoeffer picDietrich Bonhoeffer is a modern day hero among evangelical Christians. Killed by the Nazis in 1945 for resisting the regime, Bonhoeffer’s fame among evangelicals increased after the publication of Eric Metaxas’ acclaimed biography of the Lutheran pastor. For many Christians who feel compelled to take a stand on principle, Bonhoeffer has become an inspiration and guiding light. On that point, perhaps the most repeated and celebrated quote attributed to Bonhoeffer is

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

These are bold words and together they have helped strengthen the conclusion of many persuasive appeals. Though they are powerful, they are not from Bonhoeffer. According to my research and the Bonhoeffer scholars I consulted, these sentences can’t be found in any of his writings or speeches.

This may come as a shock to countless (really, I stopped counting) Twitter and Facebook users who have posted a picture of Bonhoeffer with that quote attributed to him. The quote is on many lists of essential Bonhoeffer quotes (e.g., see Relevant Magazine’s list). Many politicians and authors have used it to make their many points.

I became interested in the quote while researching this May 22, 2016 tweet from Eric Metaxas:

As Bonhoeffer said “Not to cast a vote for the two majors IS to cast a vote for one of them.” – Ethics, pp. 265-6

Although it wasn’t obvious to me at first, this was a joke based on “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Metaxas posted this in response to a Twitter user who described people who plan not to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

At the time, his Twitter followers didn’t get the joke. Here are some of their tweets in response: “sounds like Bonhoeffer made a boo boo,” “Mr Bonhoeffer was right about many things but still a mere mortal!” and “Sorry, but I think the great Bonhoeffer whiffed on this one.” I couldn’t find anyone who questioned the authenticity of the modified quote.

My entrance into the thread was in late July when a Twitter user asked Metaxas for the quote’s source. One purchased Bonhoeffer’s book on ethics to look up the quote but couldn’t find it. After several days on July 31, Metaxas tweeted

This has gotten out of hand. The ORIGINAL Bonhoeffer fake quote was intended as an OBVIOUS joke. It obviously failed. (emphasis in the original)

Like his Twitter followers, I also looked for the source of the “original fake quote.” In doing so, I learned something more interesting; the popular quote on which Metaxas’ joke was based (“Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”) had been incorrectly attributed to Bonhoeffer.

Questioning the Quote

As far as I can tell, the authenticity of the quote was first questioned in 2013 by Doris Bergen in a book edited by Clifford Green and Guy Carter titled Interpreting Bonhoeffer:

Many lists of “Bonhoeffer quotes” include a sharper indictment: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” See also Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), back flap. However, this formulation has not been found in Bonhoeffer’s works.

In a 2015 issue of the Australasian Journal of Bonhoeffer studies, Erich von Dietze also cast doubt on the quote.

While commonly attributed to Bonhoeffer, the origin of this quote remains uncertain. The quote has been referenced to Metaxas, E. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – A Righteous Gentile vs the Third Reich. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010).  However, I have not been able to find it in this work.

The online resource Wikiquotes considers the quote to be “misattributed” to Bonhoeffer and names an obscure organization newsletter as the possible source.

First attributed to Bonhoeffer in Explorations 12:1 (1998), p. 3, as referenced by James Cone (2004) Theology’s Great Sin: Silence in the Face of White Supremacy, Black Theology, 2:2, 139-152, footnote 1.

Explorations was the newsletter of the now defunct American Interfaith Institute, founded by the late Irvin Borowsky. Borowsky also founded the Liberty Museum in Philadelphia. I located the newsletter via the online World Catalog and received a copy of the newsletter courtesy of the document delivery service at Grove City College.

On page three of the newsletter is an article by Borowsky which promoted the opening of the Heroes exhibit at the Liberty Museum in 1998. One of the featured heroes is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The description on the exhibit is as follows:

He was a Lutheran pastor who left Germany in 1933 at age 27 to protest the Nazi regime’s introduction of anti-Jewish legislation. He could have stayed permanently in England, or later the U.S., but repeatedly returned home to oppose Hitler from within. Helping Jews to escape to Switzerland during the war, he also organized church-based resistance. Arrested in 1943, he was hung for treason in 1945 just days before the end of the Third Reich. According to Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (emphasis in the original)

I have been in contact with Borowsky’s daughter Gwen who now manages the museum. Now that she knows the quote isn’t accurate, the exhibit will be changed when that gallery is remodeled (photo of current exhibit). She has no knowledge of the source of the quote since the researcher responsible for it has died. I cannot find it anywhere before 1998.
After 1998, a few citations appear in various data bases but the most prominent is the one by Union Theological Seminary professor James Cone in his article “Theology’s Great Sin: Silence in the Face of White Supremacy” published in the journal Black Theology in 2004. Cone attributed the saying to Bonhoeffer and cited the Explorations newsletter as his source.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

metaxas st edition silence quoteBy far, the greatest number of references to the quote have come after the publication of Eric Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer in 2010. On the back flap of the book, the quote is attributed to Bonhoeffer. In his student guide and study guide for the Bonhoeffer book, Metaxas attributed the quote to Bonhoeffer. It also appears in his 2014 book Miracles. He has tweeted the quote attributed to Bonhoeffer in 2012 and 2013. Several other Christian books cite Metaxas as the source of the quote.

I contacted Metaxas via his website and Twitter in early August to ask for his source. He did not respond.

Since Metaxas’ book was published, the quote has shown up in the Congressional Record seven times, all attributed to Bonhoeffer. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) used it three times on international religious freedom, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) included it twice on religious freedom, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) used it once on defunding planned parenthood, and one of the most interesting uses of the quote was by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) in his apology for a future Iranian nuclear attack. Johnson told the House:

In 2015, I spoke in opposition to the deal that led to the 2030 Iranian nuclear attack because I well remember the words of the theologian Bonhoeffer who eventually died in a Nazi torture chamber. In confronting the murderous madmen of his time, he declared that “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

It has been used in hundreds of sermons and speeches opposing abortion and in support of religious liberty. A Google search returns over 38,000 instances of the quote. In April, Christian leaders opposed to Donald Trump used it to justify their opposition to his candidacy. Recently, Janet Porter used it to promote a vote for Trump.

However, the Bonhoeffer experts I consulted agree that the saying is not in his works. One of them, Barry Harvey, a professor of theology at Baylor University and member of the content team for the International Bonhoeffer Society told me via email: “Not only do I know of no place that Bonhoeffer says this, it doesn’t sound like him at all.”

Perhaps the foremost expert on Bonhoeffer’s writings is Victoria Barnett. Barnett is director of the Programs on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is also the general editor of the English translation series of Bonhoeffer’s complete works. Because of her work bringing together Bonhoeffer’s writings, she is able to comprehensively search his known works. When I asked her if the quote came from Bonhoeffer, she told me:

I’ve gotten a few inquiries on the source of that one, but it doesn’t appear anywhere in Bonhoeffer’s writings.

Barnett said she looked for the quote in early translations of Bonhoeffer’s work but cautioned that someday new evidence might turn up. For now, she said,

I am virtually certain that the quote doesn’t exist.

There can be little doubt that the quote’s popularity has risen with the success of Eric Metaxas’s Bonhoeffer biography. If Metaxas continues to usemetaxas back flap it in his speeches and his current website promoting the book, it may continue to be used inaccurately for some time to come.

The appeal of this quote is understandable. The powerful arrangement of words elevates the importance of the cause and bringing Bonhoeffer to one’s side only strengthens the sense that the cause is just. However, since the quote isn’t his, using it is a false witness.

In checking out this quote, I have learned to appreciate Bonhoeffer so much more than when he was just a figurehead on social media. There is value in fact checking. I didn’t find Bonhoeffer behind the quote, but what I found by reading his actual words is much more valuable.

Note: I will add to this post if I find other information regarding the source of the quote pre-1998.

UPDATE: On 11/11/16, I published an update to this post.  In it, I provide an image of a 1971 book with “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” used together.

What's Wrong with a Protest Vote?

James Dobson, who is this year supporting Donald Trump, voted for Howard Phillips instead of the GOP nominee Bob Dole in 1996. This year various Christian leaders want all Christians to fall in line behind Donald Trump. Janet Porter is the latest far right crusader who exhorts Christians to vote for Trump.
Theology professor Wayne Grudem told us voting for Trump is a moral choice. In 1998, Grudem raised a standard for elective office that he has now repudiated. This year Dobson isn’t protesting but it was okay in 1996.
Why isn’t it an acceptable choice for evangelicals to protest vote in 2016?
Of course, it is acceptable, even honorable to vote one’s conscience. Between now and election day, Christians will be pressured to fall in line with the GOP. We should vote our convictions. My conviction is not to vote for someone who is unfit. In my mind, that conviction eliminates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Oddly enough, I am on the same team as Glenn Beck in this matter. I wonder if he minds having a “liberal bastard” on his team.
I am still exploring options but have no plans to vote for either of two majors.
In my mind, the two party system hasn’t served the people well. I think it is time to invest in alternative parties and even if I vote GOP in the future, I will not discourage anyone from expressing their freedom of conscience in a third party way.
 

The New Atlantis Study on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity That's Not a Study

UPDATE: In a post out on 8/27/16, Adam Keiper, editor at The New Atlantis magazine responds to this post with a rebuttal to my points below. I urge you to go read it. I in turn respond to him. I also make a correction in my original post below based on his communication to me.
————————————————- (original post below)
Over the past year, hot discussions of sexual orientation have been pushed aside by controversies over gender identity and bathrooms. A new article from The New Atlantis shows that both topics have plenty of life. Yesterday, social media was buzzing about a new “study” of sexual orientation and gender identity by Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh. Actually, the article was not a study but a review and summary of empirical studies. As far as I can tell, it is being touted most by conservative leaning and anti-gay organizations.
The New Atlantis describes itself as a “Journal of Technology and Society.” However, the article did not receive peer review and it shows. Lawrence Mayer, the first author, is not well known in sexuality research circles but the second author is. Paul McHugh is retired from Johns Hopkins and was responsible for discontinuing the sex reassignment program there. He also was an advisor to the Repressed Memory Foundation in the 1990s.
Quickly, the National Organization for Marriage touted the paper as “Groundbreaking New Research.” Even calling the paper a new study isn’t accurate, there are no new studies in the paper. A bunch of old ones are missing as well.
In this post, I want to include some initial reactions and then some notes from Michael Bailey, professor at Northwestern, who was cited several times in TNA paper. I am going to focus on their points about sexual orientation and leave the gender identity points for a future post.
Here is their summary of research regarding sexual orientation:

● The understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings — the idea that people are “born that way” — is not supported by scientific evidence.
● While there is evidence that biological factors such as genes and hormones are associated with sexual behaviors and attractions, there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation. While minor differences in the brain structures and brain activity between homosexual and heterosexual individuals have been identified by researchers, such neurobiological findings do not demonstrate whether these differences are innate or are the result of environmental and psychological factors.
● Longitudinal studies of adolescents suggest that sexual orientation may be quite fluid over the life course for some people, with one study estimating that as many as 80% of male adolescents who report same-sex attractions no longer do so as adults (although the extent to which this figure reflects actual changes in same-sex attractions and not just artifacts of the survey process has been contested by some researchers).
● Compared to heterosexuals, non-heterosexuals are about two to three times as likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse.
● Compared to the general population, non-heterosexual subpopulations are at an elevated risk for a variety of adverse health and mental health outcomes.
● Members of the non-heterosexual population are estimated to have about 1.5 times higher risk of experiencing anxiety disorders than members of the heterosexual population, as well as roughly double the risk of depression, 1.5 times the risk of substance abuse, and nearly 2.5 times the risk of suicide.
● Members of the transgender population are also at higher risk of a variety of mental health problems compared to members of the non-transgender population. Especially alarmingly, the rate of lifetime suicide attempts across all ages of transgender individuals is estimated at 41%, compared to under 5% in the overall U.S. population.
● There is evidence, albeit limited, that social stressors such as discrimination and stigma contribute to the elevated risk of poor mental health outcomes for non-heterosexual and transgender populations. More high-quality longitudinal studies are necessary for the “social stress model” to be a useful tool for understanding public health concerns.

First, here is Michael Bailey’s quick reaction:

1. Their review of sexual orientation is not up to date (A major omission is that it neglects to cite our recent magnum opus on this topic: http://psi.sagepub.com/content/17/2/45.full.pdf+htmlf). The idea that sexual orientation is fluid has some plausibility for women, but not for men.
2. I agree with the authors that discrimination alone is unlikely to completely explain differences between heterosexual and homosexual people in mental health profiles, although it may contribute.
3. They are right on that the idea of innate, fixed gender identity is not consistent with empirical evidence. I differ from them, however, in believing that sex reassignment is still the best option for some individuals.
4. Most importantly, I agree that all of these issues should be openly discussed and researched. There is little government support for open-minded investigation for these controversial issues. That is unfortunate and exactly backwards. Support should be directed to resolve the most contentious issues.

As I reviewed the sexual orientations sections, I agree with Bailey. I especially agree that readers should read this major review of research on sexual orientation published earlier this year. Mayer and McHugh’s paper is missing any serious discussion of epigenetics, they overlook the new genetic linkage paper involving gay brothers, (they do address it, see the follow up post) as well as work on “gay rams.” The TNA authors minimize the neural differences between gays and straights, calling them “minor differences in brain structures.” How do these authors know what differences are minor and which are not? In fact, the differences in symmetry and brain activity are quite provocative and have not been accounted for by any environmental theory. Of course, we need more research with larger sample sizes but Mayer and McHugh just shrug these studies off as inconsequential.
Regarding sexual abuse, the authors review several studies which demonstrate higher rates of sexual abuse among GLB people as opposed to heterosexuals. For the most part, they report the relevant details but they failed to catch the mistakes in the Tomeo study and report it incorrectly (see this post for the problems with using Tomeo). Even though some who are touting the study miss this, the authors provide caution for those wanting to see homosexuality as the result of sexual abuse:

In short, while this study suggests that sexual abuse may sometimes be a causal contributor to having a non-heterosexual orientation, more research is needed to elucidate the biological or psychological mechanisms. Without such research, the idea that sexual abuse may be a causal factor in sexual orientation remains speculative.

They say “sometimes.” I would say infrequently or rarely and would add that we really don’t know. What we do know is that most people who are GLB were not abused. The TNA paper affirms that observation.
On the “born that way” claim, I find it contradictory that the authors express uncertainty about the causes of orientation but then say with great certainty that the “born that way” theory isn’t supported by scientific evidence. This line is apparently meant to hook the social conservatives which indeed it has. I mentioned the misleading “Groundbreaking New Research” headline from NOM, and then I just saw Liberty Counsel’s email which leads: “Scientific Research Debunks LGBT Propaganda.”
For readers wanting a more thorough review of the literature, please see the paper from Bailey and colleagues linked here.