Gospel for Asia Refuses to Disclose Audited Financial Statements

For years, Gospel for Asia touted membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and claimed to adhere to the highest standards of financial integrity. In October 2015, the ECFA revoked the membership of GFA due to numerous violations of accountability and financial standards.
One of those standards is the public disclosure of a yearly audited financial statement. Recently, former GFA employee Travis Helm asked GFA for a copy of the 2014 and 2015 audit financial statements. He had (along with others) requested a copy of the 2014 statement but was refused. GFA’s representative told him that their lawyers advised them not to release the statement. More recently, Helm told me that a representative of GFA informed him that GFA would not release these documents. Here is the response from GFA:

I’m sorry but I won’t be able to send you those. Because of the lawsuit we’re quite restricted on what information we can give out.

This doesn’t seem right to me. I can’t imagine that GFA would be allowed to keep the audits from the court. I can’t see how public disclosure from a non-profit would influence the court case — unless there is something incriminating in the audits. If GFA can’t disclose what people are giving and how they spent those funds, perhaps the organization should suspend operations until the case is over.
In any case, as a potential donor to any organization, I would not donate unless I could see this information.

David Barton Again Says His Christian Critics Were Recruited to Attack Him

David Barton recently gave a speech to the Arkansas Tea Party Alliance. At the end of his presentation, a person in the crowd asked him about the background of his book The Jefferson Lies. Specifically, the questioner wanted to know why it was pulled from publication. Barton then launched into his false victim narrative. Watch:

Initially, he referred to Right Wing Watch who he said is funded by George Soros. After lamenting his Wikipedia page, he implied that someone (perhaps Soros inspired people? He once said that “secular guys” recruited us) got Christian professors to attack his book on Jefferson. He then said that Thomas Nelson got scared by the controversy and pulled his book because they were bought out by Rupert Murdoch and didn’t want any controversy. He defended himself saying that he had boxes of documentation for his claims and that his new book has a chapter debunking his Christian critics.  Now we have gone silent (lulz).
Here we go again.
1. I have never been recruited by anyone to write a critique of David Barton’s work. I do it because I want to and it is immensely satisfying to know the truth. George Soros does not fund my work.
2. There are scores of Christian professors around the country who have weighed in on Barton’s history, not just six.
3. Thomas Nelson said plainly that they lost confidence in the book’s facts. Thomas Nelson did their own review of the claims made by Barton’s critics and determined his books was historically unsound. This was reported widely (not just on MSNBC). The claim about Murdoch has no support. Barton has never offered any proof that Murdoch had anything to do with his book being pulled. Furthermore, HarperCollins Christian (what Thomas Nelson was folded into) has published other controversial books since Barton’s was pulled.
4. Barton’s new book does have a chapter addressing some of our claims. However, he also changed several claims in the new book in keeping with our critiques without giving us any credit. I don’t agree that he satisfactorily addressed our claims and we certainly haven’t gone silent.
It never ceases to amaze me how Barton can stand before Christian people and say the things he does.
I challenge Barton to provide proof that Thomas Nelson pulled his book because they didn’t want controversy.
I challenge him to offer proof that I have been recruited by secular guys, George Soros or anybody to attack his work.
I challenge any of the crowd at the meeting to check Barton’s statement with the Christian professors Barton denigrated. You can get the rest of the story about Jefferson by reading Getting Jefferson Right.

End Times Preacher Says Speaker Paul Ryan is a David Barton Fan

If that is true, then perhaps the end times are upon us.
Right Wing Watch today summarized an article from Charisma News by Dan Cummins in which Cummins asserts that Speaker Paul Ryan is a fan of David Barton. Cummins believes the end times are coming and America is under judgment.

It upsets me when I hear all the doom-and-gloom “prophetic words” about how Congress is nothing but a bunch of crooks. Most of these spiritual giant slayers have never stepped a foot into the Capitol or visited their congressman. They have no clue of what God is doing in their government or that God has big future plans for it. Their opinions are shaped more from media spin and propaganda than a biblical worldview of God’s end-times agenda for governance.
Do I believe America is in a period of judgement? (sic) Yes! Most definitely. God has given us over to our selfish desires. Yet the biblical pattern for national revival is almost always preceded by a time of judgment. “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
Psalm 72:16 and Micah 4:1-3, clearly state that in “the last days” God will take a remnant of believers (wheat) and plant them in the tops of world governments (tops of the mountains) and build “the house of the Lord,” beginning in the top levels of the world’s governments. The resulting consequences of God’s moving in world governments would then shake the earth with revival. “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the house of the Lord.”
I can confirm that this is beginning to happen in Washington, D.C., London, Ukraine, Poland, Moscow and several nations in Africa.

I’d sure like to know how it is happening in all those other countries. However, Cummins lets us in on the secret in Washington, DC.

Did you know there are more “passionate followers of Jesus Christ” (I prefer this to the overused sometime meaningless term, “Christian”) in the 114th Congress than at any time since President Calvin Coolidge? There are. We are working with close to 200 sincere followers of the Lord in the House and Senate.
Did you know, on occasions, as many as 90 pastors will be praying together in the Capitol Rotunda while the House of Representatives is debating controversial freedom of religion amendments on the House floor? Did you know that, on most Wednesday evenings, prayer for America is happening in the Rotunda? It is!
Have you heard? Beginning on Sunday, Sept. 4, three Christian worship services will begin in the Ways and Means Room in the Capitol building for all federal employees and Capitol Police. It’s been 150 years since regular Sunday church services were held in the U.S. Capitol. This is big news!
How did this all begin to happen? America has been praying, that’s how! And God is right now in the process of answering those prayers by raising up godly men and women in Congress, the most important branch of government.
Let me share our personal first-hand experiences of being a small part of what God is doing in Congress. I know there are other great ministries on the Hill reaching out to Congress in very influential ways, and we thank God for their work. But I can only share with you about what JoAnn and I are doing.
Though we may never agree totally with everyone’s politics, let me tell you why I’m thankful that Paul Ryan is speaker of the House and that he won his primary race. Speaker Ryan, a Roman Catholic, is a passionate disciple and follower of Jesus Christ. He is surrounding himself with godly spiritual pastors.
He said, “The only hope for America is a spiritual awakening. … We must have spiritual solutions to our problems, or we’re in for troubled times as a nation” (spoken to JoAnn and me alone in a private, 30-minute conversation). He asked that I help him invite pastors to the Capitol for spiritual advice. So far, we have had more than 200 pastors visit the Capitol, and we plan for many more for this fall.
Ryan makes meeting pastors a top priority in his busy schedule. JoAnn and I have an open working relationship with his staff. They told us that in six weeks’ time, they had to turn down more than 500 invitations to various important events (I saw the print out sheets), “but he’s doing the pastors briefings because he’s passionate about it,” a top staffer told us.
Speaker Ryan is an avid fan of historian David Barton. “I listen to him all the time, even in my car while driving,” he said. Because of Barton’s teachings, Speaker Ryan is very knowledgeable of the 1954 Johnson Amendment (putting political speech restrictions on pastors from their pulpits) and its devastating effects on our culture.
He understands “first causative principle”—that the 1954 Johnson Amendment eventually was responsible for prayer and Bible reading being taken out of schools in 1963, the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 and redefining of marriage in 2016—all because pastors were silenced from speaking out politically. That’s why Speaker Ryan wants the Johnson Amendment repealed legislatively. He knows pastors being set free to preach again to the nation regarding these moral and political issues is a must to turn the nation around.

For Cummins, revival means Christianity in the government.
I will defer to any actual historian who wants to weigh in, but I am very skeptical of the link between the Johnson Amendment and the Supreme Court decisions on prayer and Bible reading, and so on. For one thing, pastors aren’t silenced from speaking out politically. How ironic that this guy thinks he is being silenced when he is writing an article for Charisma News in which he says church services are being held in government buildings. Loud silence.
No surprise when Barton is involved, but there is a lot of misinformation about the Johnson Amendment. Even in their churches, pastors can say whatever they want but they can’t use church money or resources to campaign. Woe unto any church that takes tithes and offerings and uses them to support a candidate for political office, whether GOP or Dem.
Historians, especially Christian historians, your country needs you to step up and loudly rebuke this error. The Speaker needs to hear from you.

Finally Disclosed, David Barton's List of Recommended Colleges

In 2013 when David Barton first launched his war on Christian colleges, he declared that he worked with and approved about a dozen Christian colleges. At the time, he didn’t make a list of them. Messiah College history professor John Fea also speculated about the list but we couldn’t come up with a dozen.
Now we don’t have to guess. Earlier this month, Barton listed them (a dozen!) on a new FAQ page and here they are:

What colleges or universities does WallBuilders recommend?
There are many good institutions of higher learning whose educational approach is not only academically excellent but is also consistent with traditional conservative moral, religious, and constitutional values. The listings below include some of these schools. (Recommendations do not necessarily mean that WallBuilders agrees with everything taught at these schools, nor with every professor who teaches there.) This list is definitely not exhaustive, but it does include many schools with whom we have actively cooperated.

I am surprised that Oklahoma Wesleyan University is not there. In 2013, president Everett Piper was proud to be considered one of the 12. I am not sure that the history faculty at all of those schools will take kindly to being on the list. Four of the schools (Charis, Ecclesia, Patrick Henry, Pensacola) are not regionally accredited.
So as we get set to go back to school, if you want to study history at a school approved by David Barton, here are your options.

CA Bill Will Require Disclosure of Title IX Exemptions by Religious Colleges

Religious colleges can request an exemption from Title IX which forbids sex discrimination in colleges accepting federal funds or students who pay tuition with federal grants. Exemptions often relate to policies concerning sexual orientation or gender identity. A recent legislative effort in California (SB 1146) would have required exempt religious colleges which accept students with CA student aid to conform to most conditions of the state’s anti-discrimination statute. The bill also gave students who believe they have been discriminated against a right to sue a college on that basis. In response, religious colleges and other groups (e.g., the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission) opposed the bill because their representatives believed they would have to alter critical elements of their program in violation of their religious views.
Last week, the author of the bill, Rep. Lara (D-Bell Gardens) promised to remove the language allowing lawsuits and requiring conformity to CA’s anti-discrimination statute. Now the bill requires little more than disclosure of the exemption and any actions taken against students allowed by the exemption.  Late yesterday, the new language was posted on Assembly’s website:

SECTION 1. Section 66290.1 is added to the Education Code, to read:
66290.1. (a) Each postsecondary educational institution in this state that claims an exemption pursuant to Section 901(a)(3) of the federal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681(a)(3)) or Section 66271 shall disclose to current and prospective students, faculty members, and employees the basis for claiming the exemption and the scope of the allowable activities provided by the exemption.
(b) The disclosure required in subdivision (a) shall be made in all of the following ways:
(1) The disclosure shall be displayed in a prominent location of the campus or school site. “Prominent location” means that location, or those locations, in the main administrative building or other area where notices regarding the institution’s rules, regulations, procedures, and standards of conduct are posted.
(2) The disclosure shall be included in written materials sent to prospective students seeking admission to the institution.
(3) The disclosure shall be provided as part of orientation programs conducted for new students at the beginning of each quarter, semester, or summer session, as applicable.
(4) The disclosure shall be provided to each faculty member, member of the administrative staff, and member of the support staff at the beginning of the first quarter or semester of each school year. The disclosure shall be provided to each new employee upon his or her hire.
(5) The disclosure shall be included in any publication of the institution that sets forth the comprehensive rules, regulations, procedures, and standards of conduct for the institution.
SEC. 2. Section 66290.2 is added to the Education Code, to read:
66290.2. (a) Each postsecondary educational institution in this state that claims an exemption pursuant to Section 901(a)(3) of the federal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681(a)(3)) or Section 66271 shall submit to the Student Aid Commission copies of all materials submitted to, and received from, a state or federal agency concerning the granting of the exemption.
(b) The Student Aid Commission shall collect the information received pursuant to subdivision (a) and post and maintain a list on the commission’s Internet Web site of the institutions that have claimed the exemption with their respective bases for claiming the exemption.
SEC. 3. Section 66290.3 is added to the Education Code, to read:
66290.3. Each postsecondary educational institution in this state that claims an exemption pursuant to Section 901(a)(3) of the federal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681(a)(3)) or Section 66271 shall submit a quarterly report to the Student Aid Commission that includes both of the following:
(a) A detailed explanation of the reason for each student suspension or expulsion that occurred during the preceding quarter, including on explanation of the policy the student violated and whether that policy is authorized under the exemption.
(b) Whether the student was a Cal Grant recipient.
SEC. 4. The provisions of this act are severable. If any provision of this act or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

I post this in order to promote awareness that the perceived threat to religious liberty has been addressed for now. I think everyone should be aware of these exemptions. Some students have gone to religious schools unaware that they could be expelled for coming out as gay. Students should know in advance what they are getting into. The last section will keep track of how many students are expelled.

Mark Driscoll: Worship God with Your Wallet to Put Content on My Website

Yesterday, Mark Driscoll continued his Jonah sermon series at The Trinity Church in Scottsdale AZ. The series is interesting and has provides some additional tidbits of information for those interested in the implosion of Mars Hill Church. I will get to that in future posts. For now, I want to point out a new innovation for The Trinity Church, or at least it seems different than how Mars Hill did it.
Yesterday, Driscoll exhorted his new flock to “worship God with our wallet, we’ll give unto the Lord so that the message of Jesus goes forth.” Watch:

Now what is interesting is how that Jesus message is going forth. When you go to The Trinity Church’s website to watch the message, and click the “Watch” tab, one is taken to MarkDriscoll.org. And of course if you want to give anything, you can give to Mark Driscoll Ministries, a separate non-profit. As it is right now, The Trinity Church website is a feeder for Mark Driscoll’s personal ministry. Watch:

At Mars Hill Church, Driscoll crafted a policy which gave him the rights to all of his sermons with the church allowed to stream them. At the new church, all of the sermon content will be available through Markdriscoll.org.

Each Sunday that I am in the pulpit, we will live-stream the sermon portion of the service at markdriscoll.org. Our services start at 9 AM and 10:45 AM, and the sermon starts roughly fifteen minutes into the sermon.

He adds that sermons will be posted to his personal ministry website starting in November (link to sign up).  He says that many, but not all, sermons will be given away.
Time will tell how much Driscoll will monetize his sermons and work as pastor of The Trinity Church. For now, the church appears to be providing a suitable platform for his personal rebranding.

The American Independent Party of George Wallace Fame Nominates Trump/Pence for President

Of course, this means almost nothing in the great scheme of things but it does illustrate to whom Trump appeals.

The AIP supported segregationist George Wallace in 1968 and former League of the South board member Michael Peroutka in 2004. The League gave their support to Peroutka as well. In fairness, it is also true that the party supported Alan Keyes in 2008.
According to Robinson, the AIP will be on the ballot along with Republican.

One can read the Christian Reconstructionist sounding platform of the AIP at their website.

Donald Trump Replicates and Extends Russia's Views of the U.S., Obama and ISIS (SARCASTIC UPDATE)

UPDATE (8/12/16) Now Trump is saying he was being sarcastic in his labeling of Obama and Clinton as the “co-founders” of ISIS.

I get it now. All that talk of building a wall, deporting 11 million people, saying Merry Christmas and naming conservative Supreme Court justices, all sarcasm.
Read his remarks to Hugh Hewitt below. Hewitt tried to help Trump out, but Trump insisted he meant it. More sarcasm I suppose.
Donald Trump today doubled down on his contention that President Obama founded ISIS. Watch this CNN report.
Talk show host Hugh Hewitt tried to get Trump to make the more nuanced argument that U.S. policies (which Trump largely agreed with at the time) help set conditions favorable for ISIS to develop. Trump disagreed.

HH: I’ve got two more questions. Last night, you said the President was the founder of ISIS. I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.
DT: No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.
HH: But he’s not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them.
DT: I don’t care. He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that that was the founding of ISIS, okay?
HH: Well, that, you know, I have a saying, Donald Trump, the pneumonic device I use is Every Liberal Really Seems So, So Sad. E is for Egypt, L is for Libya, S is for Syria, R is for Russia reset. They screwed everything up. You don’t get any argument from me. But by using the term founder, they’re hitting with you on this again. Mistake?
DT: No, it’s no mistake. Everyone’s liking it. I think they’re liking it. I give him the most valuable player award. And I give it to him, and I give it to, I gave the co-founder to Hillary. I don’t know if you heard that.
HH: I did. I did. I played it.
DT: I gave her the co-founder.
HH: I know what you’re arguing…
DT: You’re not, and let me ask you, do you not like that?
HH: I don’t. I think I would say they created, they lost the peace. They created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn’t create ISIS. That’s what I would say.
DT: Well, I disagree.
HH: All right, that’s okay.
DT: I mean, with his bad policies, that’s why ISIS came about.
HH: That’s…
DT: If he would have done things properly, you wouldn’t have had ISIS.
HH: That’s true.
DT: Therefore, he was the founder of ISIS.

In November 2015, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev told Sputnik News:

The strengthening of the Islamic State became possible partially due to irresponsible policies of the United States. Instead of concentrating joint efforts on fighting terrorism, the United States and its allies decided to fight against the lawfully elected president of Syria Bashar Assad.

Trump is going farther and insisting that Obama is the founder of ISIS. While it is obvious that he is being provocative, I suspect that his conspiracy theory minded followers will take him literally. Just another reason Trump is unfit to be president.
While there is a consensus that U.S. policies going back to the Iraq War had a role to play, calling Obama and Clinton the co-founders is silly. Words have no meaning if somehow Trump’s followers go along with his word games. Just saying, as Hewitt does, that Trump means something else, is insulting to the public and potentially dangerous in practice. What if our allies and enemies don’t get the joke? I suspect many of Trump’s Obama/Clinton hating fans don’t get it either.

The Gospel Coalition Removes “When God Sends Your White Daughter a Black Husband”

Responding to a backlash against the controversial article “When God Sends Your White Daughter a Black Husband”, the Gospel Coalition removed the article at the author’s request. TGC also posted an audio discussion about the article involving three African-American writers (TGC editor, Jason Cook, Isaac Adams, and Jamar Tisby). Listen to the discussion at TGC’s website.  About the situation, TGC posted:

In this recorded conversation, Jason Cook (editor at The Gospel Coalition), Jemar Tisby (president of Reformed African American Network), and Isaac Adams (editor at The Front Porch) respond to the article “When God Sends Your White Daughter a Black Husband” and the ensuing backlash, as well as broader issues including handling discussions about race and the dignity of black life.

The article has been removed from TGC’s website at the request of the author, who regrets hurting many readers. An article intended to celebrate God’s work in this family’s life also became an occasion for hurt and pain. Understandable frustration and constructive concern was not the only response. Sadly, white supremacists have threatened the author and her family.
We invite you to listen to the conversation to understand TGC’s editorial process, what we could have done better, what we can learn going forward, and more.

The article (archived here) had generated hundreds of comments on the TGC website in addition to a tweetstorm of discussion both supporting and criticizing the article. In particular, the format of the article’s title indicated to some critics that a black husband was less than optimal. However, in this discussion, the participants talk about what can be learned from the situation.
The discussants took a firm stance on the language of the article and lamented the problems in evangelical circles. One said:

This is an issue where our discipleship has a gaping hole.

I recommend you listen to the conversation.
From my point of view, I appreciate TGC’s recognition that the article was hurtful to many. I think it illustrated just how far the church needs to go in order to address subtle as well as overt racism.

David Barton: If You Don't Vote for Trump You Will Have to Answer to God

Barton Metaxas picSince the Bible doesn’t reveal who we are to vote for, I am not worried about it. I think people who vote for Trump are wrong but I am not ready to speak for God on the subject. My conscience is clear.
But never fear, David Barton knows what God thinks and he is dealing the fire and brimstone.
Right Wing Watch has the audio.
A questioner asks Barton how to explain to her anti-Trump friends that we can’t have the perfect candidate. She says people are getting stuck on little things.  I don’t have time to do a transcript of the whole mess but I linked to RWW which has the audio. Essentially, Barton’s advice boils down to God wants you to vote for Trump and you better do it or else.

I will account to God and I have to vote because He put that ballot in my hand and I’m going to have to account to Him for what I did with it. And I can’t use the false standard of I have to have somebody perfect because there is nobody perfect except for Jesus and, by the way, when He was on earth, they didn’t think He was perfect; we only think He’s perfect now. Back then, they called him a winebibber and a glutton; he had all sorts of campaign ads run against him. So nobody is going to fit the criteria, so let’s get God’s mind on this thing instead of finding excuses.

As I pointed out in a recent post and Jonathan Merritt wrote today at The Atlantic, all these Trumpvangelicals need to apologize to Bill Clinton.  At one point, he asked forgiveness and many evangelicals just banged on about how much character matters. Now, Trump gets forgiveness he doesn’t even ask for.