Vice President Mike Pence to Speak at Grove City College Commencement (VIDEO)

GCC LOgoTonight at the Baccalaureate ceremony, the signs of V.P. Mike Pence’s arrival were all around. Security will be tight tomorrow.
Reaction here has been on the positive side but some students and faculty have registered their displeasure with the regular politically oriented (GOP) Commencement speakers at GCC. Others are upset that anyone from the Trump administration was invited.
Today, a current student had an opinion piece expressing objections to the Pence invitation published by the New York Times.
My understanding is that demonstrations may happen but I doubt they will be large. I plan to post a report tomorrow afternoon.
Pittsburgh media filed this report at 11pm.

 

Gateway Church Courts Top Level Business Leaders via Exclusive Program

As the church is cutting staffs and salaries, Gateway Church leaders are offering an exclusive program for chief-level executives. Gateway Business Leaders describes itself as

The Gateway Business Leaders Program is a comprehensive program designed to help you accomplish God’s calling and destiny on your life. We have identified numerous topics that we believe will help you achieve Biblical success in your business, personal and spiritual life. We have organized the GBL Program by levels based on background and experience of the members. Our goal is to provide the best resources and relationships to each business leader in our events, training, groups, and mentoring pillars.

However, this interesting program isn’t for everyone. In fact, it is quite exclusive.

Our heart is to serve every businessperson at Gateway. However, at the present time, to best steward our resources, we have designed programs for business owners, presidents, vice presidents, CEO’s, and other C-level executives. Our program is not currently intended for non-profit leaders, first-time start-up entrepreneurs, direct sales agents, network marketers, manufacturing sales representatives, and realtors working for franchise real estate organizations. If you are an eligible candidate, we invite you to apply.

The website provides more details about who can become a member of the GBL program:

Business Owners: A business owner is defined as someone who owns a majority interest in the business they lead.
Corporate Leaders: Corporate Leaders are defined as Presidents, C-Level Executives of private and public corporations that have more than 100 employees, and Vice Presidents that oversee at least 50 employees.
Our program is not intended at this time for non-profit leaders, first-time start-up entrepreneurs, direct sales agents, network marketers, manufacturing sales representatives, and realtors working for franchise real estate organizations.

Show Me Yours but I Won’t Show You Mine

As a part of the process, applicants must disclose their salary. Why would a ministry need to know a member’s salary? This is an especially fair question since the leaders of Gateway are secretive about the salaries of senior pastors.
Gateway Business Leaders Income
Given the recent news out of Gateway, I am not sure I would want to join. “Come learn how we cut staff by one-third and cut pay by as much as 20%” isn’t an attractive slogan.
Note: Gateway executives could not join Gateway’s program. Since Gateway pastors are leaders in a non-profit organization, they would not be eligible to join the group they are leading. In essence, GBL seems like an exclusive club for Christian high rollers, one which is financed by rank and file donors.

Fake Doctorate Watch: Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin on the Jim Bakker Show

On Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin was on the Jim Bakker Show. For reasons I cannot understand, Boykin claimed to have a PhD. Apparently, he was talking about the one he purchased from Phoenix University of Theology, a diploma mill (Not affiliated with University of Phoenix). Watch:

Speaking about the critics of President Trump, Jim Bakker said they engage in sex, and drugs, “but forget rock and roll.” He then called Boykin “doctor.”

Jim Bakker: Forgive me, doctor
Lori Bakker: But that’s another thing, yeah. But its…now you’re a doctor, you’re a general…
Boykin: Actually, I am.
Lori Bakker: You are a doctor?
Boykin: I do have a PhD
Lori Bakker: Oh my goodness! I love it! This is great, we just found out more about you.

Family Research Council where Boykin is Executive Vice President didn’t respond to a request for information about Boykin’s claim. His academic bio at Hampton-Sydney College doesn’t list a PhD so I assume he is referring to his “PhD” from Phoenix University of Theology.  Read more about the diploma mill here and here.
I think Lt. Gen. is a pretty cool title, but apparently Boykin thinks fraudulent academic credentials give him an advantage. I realize there are bigger fish to fry but claiming fake degrees strikes me as a symptom of the credibility problem that ails modern evangelicalism.

Spoonman – Chris Cornell, RIP

Chris CornellI was sad to hear about the untimely death of Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell apparently by suicide. His talent was undeniable and many of the songs he crafted came from a special creative place. I believe Spoonman is in the top ten rock songs of all time.
 
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0_zzCLLRvE[/youtube]
I pray his family can find peace.

Instead of Spending $375 on a Mercury One/Wallbuilders Intership, Buy These Books

Yesterday, Right Wing Watch reported that Glenn Beck and David Barton are planning to offer internships this summer to pre-college students via Mercury One. In addition to travel, food and lodging, Mercury One will charge $375 for the experience. Since David Barton is involved, one simply should not trust that the history will be accurate. Why Glenn Beck continues to hitch his wagon to Wallbuilders still puzzles me.
Here is an alternative. Instead of spending money on travel and expenses and even a penny on tuition, consider buying the following books for yourself or your children in order to get an accurate view of American history. This list costs far less than $375 and will leave you plenty of funds to buy coffee, ice cream floats, or whatever you prefer to drink while reading good books.
Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Revised Edition: A Historical Introduction by John Fea
American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea by John Wilsey
The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, and Revolution by Gregg Frazer
Faith and the Presidency From George Washington to George W. Bush by Gary Scott Smith
God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution by Thomas Kidd
One Nation Under God: Christian Faith and Political Action in America by Mark Noll
The Search for Christian America edited by Mark Noll, George Marsden and Nathan Hatch
One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin Kruse
The Jefferson Bible, Smithsonian Edition: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, Smithsonian Edition, by Thomas Jefferson
First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Freedom by Randall Balmer, Lee Groberg, and Mark Mabry
And of course, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President by Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter
This Gospel Coalition piece by Justin Taylor adds a few more good books (see especially the books by Finn and Green).
I am sure I am overlooking many other good books. I hope commenters and authors alike will send me suggestions and additions via email and in the comments section. The above is just a start and will reward your $375 with a much better foundation than the Mercury One internship.

Does Article II of the Constitution Come from Deuteronomy 17:15?

Self-styled historian David Barton says it does. In a DVD (also on YouTube) called Constitutional Christian, Barton repeats a familiar claim that the Constitution is full of Bible verses (hat tip RWW). Watch:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuQOw83GqUs[/youtube]
Barton specifically mentions Deuteronomy 17:15 which reads (NASV):

you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.

The relevant clause of Article II of the Constitution reads:

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

First, it is important to see critical differences between Deuteronomy and this clause of Article II. The major difference is that God chose the king of Israel while the Constitution sets eligibility requirements for an elected official who is not a king. Another important difference is that Article II contains an exception to the citizenship requirement. Foreign born people who were citizens at the time the Constitution was adopted were eligible. Thus, a foreigner could be eligible, at least until that generation died off.
Barton’s essential claim is that the framers included the citizenship requirement because it is in the Bible. However, Barton offers no evidence that the framers of the Constitution consulted the Bible or even referred to the Bible in establishing this clause. Happily, we have a reasonably detailed record of the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention. The delegates discussed citizenship requirements in depth but didn’t appeal to the Bible. Barton’s claim fails on two counts: Article II is not Deuteronomy 17:15 and the framers didn’t refer to the Bible when crafting eligibility requirements for federal office.

What did the delegates to the Constitutional Convention talk about?

In July and August of 1787*, the delegates debated the citizenship requirements for legislators and president. Some of the framers (e.g., Madison, Franklin) wanted to allow foreigners to hold office, while others (e.g. Morris, Pinckney) wanted tighter restrictions. Several votes were taken on the number of years foreign born people must live in the U.S. before being eligible to serve in the House, Senate and as president. The framers were not unified and certainly did not rally around a set of biblical principles.
An excerpt will illustrate the debate:

Article 5, Sect. 3, was then taken up.
Mr. Gouverneur Morris moved to insert fourteen instead of four years citizenship, as a qualification for Senators; urging the danger of admitting strangers into our public councils.
Mr. Pinckney seconded him.
Mr. Ellsworth was opposed to the motion, as discouraging meritorious aliens from emigrating to this country.
Mr. Pinckney. As the Senate is to have the power of making treaties and managing our foreign affairs, there is peculiar danger and impropriety in opening its door to those who have foreign attachments. He quoted the jealousy of the Athenians on this subject, who made it death for any stranger to intrude his voice into their legislative proceedings.
Col. Mason highly approved of the policy of the motion. Were it not that many, not natives of this country, had acquired great credit during the Revolution, he should be for restraining the eligibility into the Senate, to natives.
Mr. Madison was not averse to some restrictions on this subject, but could never agree to the proposed amendment. He thought any restriction, however, in the Constitution unnecessary and improper ; —unnecessary, because the National Legislature is to have the right of regulating naturalization, and can by virtue thereof fix different periods of residence, as conditions of enjoying different privileges of citizenship ;—improper, because it will give a tincture of illiberality to the Constitution ; because it will put out of the power of the national Legislature, even by special acts of naturalization, to confer the full rank of citizens on meritorious strangers ; and because it will discourage the most desirable class of people from emigrating to the United States. Should the proposed Constitution have the intended effect of giving stability and reputation to our Governments, great numbers of respectable Europeans, men who loved liberty, and wished to partake its blessings, will be ready to transfer their fortunes hither. All such would feel the mortification of being marked with suspicious incapacitations, though they should not covet the public honors. He was not apprehensive that any dangerous number of strangers would be appointed by the State Legislatures, if they were left at liberty to do so ; nor that foreign powers would make use of strangers, as instruments for their purposes. Their bribes would be expended on men whose circumstances would rather stifle than excite jealousy and watchfulness in the public.
Mr. Butler was decidedly opposed to the admission of foreigners without a long residence in the country. They bring with them, not only attachments to other countries, but ideas of government so distinct from ours, that in every point of view they are dangerous. He acknowledged that if he himself had been called into public life within a short time after his coming to America, his foreign habits, opinions, and attachments, would have rendered him an improper agent in public affairs. He mentioned the great strictness observed in Great Britain on this subject.
Doctor Franklin was not against a reasonable time, but should be very sorry to see any thing like illiberality inserted in the Constitution. The people in Europe are friendly to this country. Even in the country with which we have been lately at war, we have now, and had during the war, a great many friends, not only among the people at large, but in both Houses of Parliament. In every other country in Europe, all the people are our friends. We found in the course of the Revolution, that many strangers served us faithfully, and that many natives took part against their country. When foreigners after looking about for some other country in which they can obtain more happiness, give a preference to ours, it is a proof of attachment which ought to excite our confidence and affection.

Concerning the office of Senator, the delegates argued over how long a foreign born citizen had to be a citizen in order to be eligible.  Rather than the Bible, Morris appealed to fear and national loyalty while his colleague Pinckney appealed to Greek political law. Only citizens could vote in Athens and Pinckney cited their law as support. South Carolina delegate Pierce Butler also cited the example of Great Britain as support for lengthy citizenship requirements.  Later in the debate, Morris made a strong appeal to nationalism, saying

As to those philosophical gentlemen, those citizens of the world, as they called themselves, he owned, he did not wish to see any of them in our public councils. He would not trust them. The men who can shake off their attachments to their own country, can never love any other. These attachments are the wholesome prejudices which uphold all governments. (p. 489)

Mason and Ellsworth countered that many good people had served the nation during the Revolution and should be allowed to continue to serve. Madison and Franklin viewed citizenship requirements for foreign born citizens as illiberal and too restrictive. Not one delegate cited Israel, Deuteronomy, or the Bible as a source or support for their position. Eventually, Morris’ argument won out and the delegates settled on a nine year citizenship requirement to be eligible to be a Senator.
The next day, the delegates again took up the debate, this time over citizenship requirements for the House of Representatives. Again, the debate centered on merits of being open and liberal versus the perception of danger from foreign meddling. Eventually, as with the requirements for president, a compromise was suggested which allowed citizens at the time the Constitution was adopted to serve without having to meet the lengthy citizenship qualification.
The requirement that the president be a “natural born citizen” or a citizen at the time of the adoption of the Constitution was passed on September 7 without debate as recorded by James Madison. The delegates also decided that the chief executive must have been a citizen for at least 14 years. Again, Madison recorded no debate over the matter. For sure, there was no recorded reference to the Bible, Deuteronomy, or Israel.
For Barton’s argument to have any weight, he would need to produce evidence. I am open to any primary source evidence he might bring. However, what I have seen so far provides evidence against his claim. The Constitution doesn’t quote the Bible verbatim no matter how much he wishes it did.
 
*July 26 (page 434), August 8 (p. 472), August 9 (p. 482), August 10 (p. 497), and August 13 (p. 506)

Gateway Church Cuts Pay Between 15-20%

Robert Morris and Ted Cruz Wilks BrosI reported in mid-April that the fourth largest church in America — Gateway Church — planned to layoff one-third of the church staff amid extravagant spending for political purposes.  Now I have learned that, Gateway informed staff yesterday that their pay would be reduced by as much as 20%.
A source had informed me that expenses were slated to be cut but did not expressly mention salaries. Now, another source tells me that the staff were informed yesterday that pay was being cut. There is no way to confirm at this point if those cuts extend to the senior pastors and founder Robert Morris.
Gateway spent lavishly on political events during and after the presidential campaign, culminating in co-sponsorship of an inaugural ball for Donald Trump. At the same time, the church started to charge for pizza during Wednesday night youth group meetings.
Since Gateway doesn’t publish audited financial statements, it isn’t clear how much senior leaders make in salary. In any case, cutting staff by one-third and cutting pay by 20% doesn’t match Morris’ optimism about growth at Gateway.

Southern Baptist Leaders Contradict David Barton's Claim about Confederate Symbols

(UPDATED to include Russell Moore’s comments…)
The religious right’s favorite self-styled historian David Barton has come out in favor of leaving Confederate statues in public view, blaming “the left” for the push to remove them. According to an article in World Net Daily, Barton sees “the left” at work:

David Barton, a historian and author of “The Jefferson Lies,” said the crusade against Confederate monuments is simply an attempt by the left to erase history. He said even monuments that some might think are offensive can be used for a good purpose.

Barton then says the next target for the leftists are monuments to abortion foes and opponents of slavery.

Soon we’ll have to take down Susan B. Anthony statues because even though she fought for women’s suffrage, she was openly pro-life; and, in today’s women’s movement, no one can be a true woman unless she supports Planned Parenthood and abortion. And of course Harriet Tubman statues will be taken down, for even though she was a leading conductor on the Underground Railroad bringing slaves to freedom, she was also a huge advocate for the right to keep and bear arms. For modern civil rights advocates, guns are anathema, and no true civil rights advocate can be for guns!
We no longer look at heroes as people or as complex individuals; rather we now judge them solely by one issue, whatever that issue happens to be at the time. We are creating a culture where we believe we have a right not to be offended or even have our misconceptions challenged; and we’re willing to use coercion to keep ‘me’ from being offended, even if that offends ‘you.’ What offends us now is so routinely redefined that probably no statue now will survive more than a generation before it becomes offensive to someone who will demand its removal.

Here Barton reduces monuments to slavery as a mere “offense” as if a tribute to slavery was simply offensive to the fragile sensibilities of left leaning people. I certainly don’t consider Jefferson Davis to be a “hero,” complex or otherwise. Barton’s minimization of slavery as a mere offense is in itself offensive and insensitive and demonstrates the need to remove these tributes to slavery from their place of honor.

Opposition to the Monuments Comes from the Right and Left

Barton’s narrative about the source of opposition to the monuments is contradicted by a prominent New Orleans pastor Fred Luter, Jr. Rev. Luter is pastor of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Luter is one of over 100 New Orleans area pastors who signed a letter supporting the removal of the statues.
Via Twitter, I asked Luter if he considered himself on “the left” or the right and he replied that he is “a part of the Right.” Also on the list of pastors supporting the removal of the statues is Rev. David Crosby, the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church. Crosby was nominated for the Southern Baptist Convention presidency last year. Being in leadership in today’s Southern Baptist Convention does not strike me as an activity of those who populate “the left.”
President of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore told me he agrees with his New Orleans brethren:

I agree with Drs. Luter and Crosby. I’ve always said that we should not whitewash history in either direction, by denying that it happened or by commending what is not commendable. This was the position I took in regard to the flying of the Confederate flag and is applicable here too.

Finally, Barton again claims that Virginia state law made it “difficult, if not impossible” for Thomas Jefferson and George Washington to free their slaves. This is a bogus claim. The 1782 law on manumission not only made it possible, but enabled many slave owners in Virginia to free their slaves. Washington did so at this death but Jefferson declined to free his slaves and even sent slave catchers to hunt down those who ran away from Monticello.
To sum up, some pastors on the list of New Orleans pastors who support the removal of the Confederate statues may be left leaning or centrists politically. However, as I have shown, at least some come from the political right. Clearly, Barton is wrong about the sources of opposition to the public display of symbols which celebrate the Confederacy. People across a wide spectrum favor removal of the statues to be placed in museums or other place where people can learn from history. As with so many issues, Barton spins a narrative he likes first without regard to all the facts.
The irony here is that it is Barton who is at work altering truth, whether it be about Virginia slave laws, or the source of opposition to Confederate symbols.

This is What a Court Evangelical Sounds Like

Messiah College’s chair of the history department John Fea coined the phrase “court evangelical” to describe evangelical leaders who defend Donald Trump no matter what he does. Even Republican Senators have expressed confusion and negative reactions to the firing of James Comey, but not the court evangelicals. Watch:


Robert Jeffress is most certainly a court evangelical. Actually, the Comey controversy is real and for more reasons than Trump fired the head of the agency investigating him. Trump sent his surrogates out with a cover story and then changed it the next day. Somewhere in there is a lie and it doesn’t seem very evangelical to lie; except that for the court evangelicals, lying is just one of those political things that strongmen do.
According to Fea (I agree with him), court evangelicals “have put their faith in a political strongman who promises to alleviate their fears and protect them from the forces of secularization.” Fea’s list includes:

Jerry Falwell Jr.
Paula White
James Dobson
Mark Burns
Ralph Reed
Robert Jeffress
Eric Metaxas
Franklin Graham

Gospel Coalition: David Barton is Doing it Wrong

Writing for the Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor gets right to the point: David Barton does history wrong. And Taylor recommends my book (with Michael Coulter) Getting Jefferson Right.
That right there is a great post.
The reason for the post is to point readers toward well researched and written sources on America’s founding. For the most part, I think Taylor put together a great list of resources on the religious dimensions of the founding era.
I do take issue with two sentences Taylor wrote:

In fairness to Barton, he has gotten better in recent years in not circulating as many bogus quotes, labeling some of them as “unconfirmed.” However, the source mining and the problematic historiography, where the evidence is forced to fit the predetermined thesis, continue.

In fairness to Taylor, it is hard to keep up with Barton’s shenanigans. However, Barton hasn’t gotten better. For instance, there is the Jefferson quote Barton essentially made up using Jefferson’s words but with a rearranged meaning. Then, there is the Lincoln quote which Barton claimed for Lincoln but did not come from honest Abe. In a WND article, Barton goes for two questionable quotes which can’t be found in original source material. These problems all occurred in 2017.
One more thing Taylor could have mentioned is Barton’s fraudulent doctorate degree. Back in late 2016, Barton blasted progressives for saying he didn’t have an earned degree. Then, when it was discovered that Barton’s earned degree came from a diploma mill, Barton went quiet. Not only does Barton do history wrong, he does academia wrong as well.
I hope Taylor’s post gets distributed widely.