The Voice of the Martyrs Controversy

VOM website, fair use
VOM website, fair use

In April, a source sent a link to a website which is dedicated to concerns about Christian charity Voice of the Martyrs. Unfortunately, it went on the back burner until today. Although there are aspects of the story I won’t be able to assess, I do think it will be of interest to donors and some of my readers. First, I want to link to a website which raises concerns about a VOM affiliate in Nigeria. Then, I want to present VOM’s response and the counter response from VOM’s critics.
VOM’s primary critics attend Reformation Baptist Church in Youngsville, NC. Critics allege that VOM in the United States ignored a serious situation of abuse and corruption in the Nigeria VOM operation. Watch:
The church has launched a petition at to call attention to their concerns.
When I raised the issue with VOM in the U.S., I received a rapid response from Todd Nettleton, Chief of Media Relations and Message Integration with VOM. I received the response in mid-April, and don’t know of any more recent comments.

The Voice of the Martyrs Statement on Nigeria Abuse Accusations 
April 13, 2017 
It is heartbreaking for us to consider that someone may have used VOM-USA funds or projects as a means to victimize anyone—especially a child. However, the release of this video is not helpful in supporting our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters, bringing the alleged perpetrators of abuse to justice, or providing aid to potential victims of abuse. VOM has taken wise and appropriate action to see that any victims are helped and justice is served, and is committed to continue to do so as we become aware through the investigation process of further actions that will assist the authorities and the alleged victims.
While The Voice of the Christian Martyrs-Nigeria (VOCM) shares historical roots with The Voice of the Martyrs-USA (VOM), both tracing their lineage to Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, it is important to understand that VOM-USA and VOCM-Nigeria are separate and completely autonomous organizations. Each organization has its own leaders and separate boards of directors. VOM-USA has never controlled VOCM-Nigeria’s operations nor its hiring and management of staff.
After repeatedly raising a variety of concerns with VOCM-Nigeria and seeing an unsatisfactory response, VOM-USA ended all funding of VOCM-Nigeria projects in June 2016. Then, in October 2016, VOM-USA informed VOCM-Nigeria in a face-to-face meeting that all relationship between the organizations had been severed.
VOM-USA first learned of allegations of abuse against Isaac Newton-Wusu (the President/CEO of VOCM-Nigeria) in 2011. The allegations were made by a former VOCM-Nigeria staff member who had been fired by Isaac and VOCM-Nigeria’s board of directors for theft. Despite the questionable source of the allegations against Isaac, VOM-USA undertook a thorough investigation and found no evidence of their truth.
In the years following those initial allegations, VOM-USA staff who oversee ministry work to persecuted Christians in Nigeria grew increasingly concerned about overcrowding and quality of care at The Stephen Centre children’s home (operated by VOCM-Nigeria). In addition, VOM-USA had serious questions about the accountability and financial management of VOM-USA funds by VOCM-Nigeria staff members. These multiple concerns were expressed clearly and in writing to Isaac and the VOCM-Nigeria board of directors.
When VOM-USA received a video on Sept. 1, 2016, including interviews with former VOCM-Nigeria staff members claiming to have witnessed abuse by Isaac, VOM-USA had already cut all financial support to VOCM-Nigeria.
VOM-USA staff were surprised to see former VOCM-Nigeria staff members making allegations of abuse in the video when they had not raised those allegations with VOM-USA staff members who visited Nigeria or had involvement with The Stephen Centre or other VOCM projects.
VOM-USA submitted the video and all related information to the FBI for further investigation. VOM-USA will continue to cooperate fully with U.S. and Nigerian authorities in every way possible. It is our sincere hope that if criminal activities have occurred, the criminals will be brought to justice. The only way alleged perpetrators can be charged with a crime is for victims to file complaints with the Nigerian authorities, and VOM-USA has made a standing offer to pay all legal fees for any potential victim in Nigeria.
VOM-USA is contracting with an outside child safety ministry to evaluate the methodology of VOM’s work in Nigeria and advise our staff in best-practices to ensure that we are providing the best possible care to those we serve in Nigeria and the other 67 countries where VOM is currently serving persecuted Christians.
Since severing our relationship with VOCM-Nigeria, VOM-USA has continued to assist and support the families of martyrs and other persecuted Christians in northern Nigeria through staff and partners who meet our high standards of accountability, transparency and quality of care. We are providing more than $2 million in care this year to widows, orphans and other Christians in northern Nigeria who have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram and other Muslim extremists.

Nettleton’s response was rapid and to the point of my questions, but after it was released publicly on May 3, critics at Reformation Baptist released their response on the church Facebook page and reproduced here:
Continue reading “The Voice of the Martyrs Controversy”

Trump Contradicts Himself and VP Pence on FBI Director Comey Firing

Yesterday, VP Pence said Trump acted on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General to fire FBI Director James Comey. Watch:
First, Deputy AG Rosenstein didn’t directly recommend Comey’s firing and today, Trump says he had already planned to fire Comey without the recommendation, contradicting the White House statement and Pence.

The White House statement from yesterday:

May 9, 2017
Statement from the Press Secretary
Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“The FBI is one of the Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” said President Trump.
A search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately.
# # #

On May 3, Sean Spicer said Comey had Trump’s confidence.
We can only hope that the firing of Comey does not create a barrier to the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign and associates.

Texas Governor Tries to Mobilize Churches in Favor of LGBT Discrimination (UPDATED with Video of John Hagee)

On Friday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott contacted ten megachurch pastors about Texas HB 2899. Abbott told the pastors the bill was being held up by the Speaker of the House and asked the pastors to persuade their congregations to oppose it. Robert Morris, pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, called HB 2899 “the bathroom bill” and urged Christian church goers to voice their opposition to their representatives. Watch Morris urge his congregation to call their legislators.


Also I want to let you know something that um, I’m gonna ask you to do something. Governor Abbott called me yesterday, uh, he’s calling-he called ten churches, um, that are mega-churches here in the, in Texas, the state of Texas. Uh, and there’s a House Bill right now, that we need to let our representatives know about, and bring it to the floor for a vote. It’s being held up right now by the Speaker of the House, and I’m saying that, uh, the leader of the House, um, I’m saying that– that is, in the state of Texas, okay, this isn’t Washington, this is Austin. Uh, but, it is 2899, HB2899.
You can go to our website, and find out how to contact your representative. Uh, it is being referred to as the bathroom bill, but please understand, this is to protect our children. We need to stand up, and as adults, that’s why we say no, you don’t drive a car when you’re 11, you don’t get to drive a car until you’re 16. Adults need to make laws and rules for children who don’t know how to make those decisions at that time.
And we don’t want to be disrespectful to anyone, but this is so that boys do not go into girls’ locker rooms, and girls do not go into boys locker rooms. And the governor said, “Please, ask your people to call their state representative by Monday. And so you can go on our website, and it says, find your representative, or whatever it is, locate, somethin’ like that, somethin’ like that.
There it is, find your local state representative click here. You just find out who your representative is, and call and say, we support, uh, and you can read about the bill, too, you can read the bill, but we want you to at least bring it to a vote. At least get it out of the committee. And this one representative, um, y’know, is holding it up. And so we-we really do need to protect our children. And I want to ask you to, so I’m asking every member of Gateway church to do that, all right

John Hagee also made this appeal to his congregation, but according to a friend who watched 10 other Texas megachurch sermons (deserves a medal), Abbott’s appeal didn’t make it in those sermons. Hagee was very direct. Listen:


I have a very urgent announcement I want every person in this building to hear. And those of you who are watching on television, especially in the state of Texas. I received a personal call from the governor of Texas Friday night, asking for the help of the people of faith in protecting our children in the Texas public schools. The governor’s asking for people of faith to call the members of the House of Representatives to pass House Bill 2899. I want you to get a piece of paper, and write this down. Pass House Bill 2899. To insure the safety and security for our children in our public school bathrooms. I want you to call Joe Strauss, if you can’t write that, take a — take your cell phone out, I know you have it, take a photo of that [pointing to screen with contact information of House State Affairs Committee Chairs]
Call Joe Strauss, call Brian Cook, Helen Giddings, the co-chairs of the committee, that are not allowing this bill to be voted on. Many Texans assume that this is going to be accomplished, because we are a conservative state–but let me tell you very candidly, we are losing this effort right now, because your elected officials have not heard from people of faith.
They have certainly heard from the opponents, they need to hear from us. And if you really want to put feet to your faith, then I encourage you to start calling, and start calling today, uh, because it will go into a computer, call tomorrow, call every day until you feel like you’ve covered the waterfront, but I want you to call those three people, and then, uh, there, you can call your-your representative, if you know that person by name. It’s VERY VERY important. Uh, how many of you understand what I’m talking about here? Very good, thank you.

Even though Morris and Hagee framed the bill as an effort to protect children, the bill actually would prevent Texas counties and cities from enacting ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination in jobs, housing and other public services. Worse, the bill would render existing ordinances in place in cities like Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Austin “null and void.”
The bill is linked on the Gateway Church website and leads to this one page bill.
As you can see, the word bathroom isn’t in this bill. This bill is far more encompassing than a bill about who can use what public bathroom. Currently, Texas has no statewide protections against discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender identity. According to this bill, if a class of people is not now protected by state law, then a city or county will not be able to enact protections for that class. Some cities do protect LGBT people, but these ordinances would be declared “null and void” by this bill.
While churches have always been able to opine on issues in the culture, I think this situation demonstrates one problem with churches becoming an arm of a political party. Morris and Hagee misled their congregations into thinking that a call to the legislature will keep boys out of girls’ showers. However, this bill has a much broader application. Some of the LGBT relatives of Gateway Church and Cornerstone members could lose their jobs or housing if this bill passes since the existing protections in large Texas cities will be invalidated.

Reaction to Trump's Religious Liberty Executive Order

Earlier today Donald Trump signed an executive order with religious liberty as the subject matter. However, the order did next to nothing of substance. Everything Trump and his supporters want to change must be done legislatively or via rule making.
Reaction to the order has been much more interesting and in some cases substantial than the order itself. First, I start with comments from Rick Cohen, Director of Communications with the National Council of Nonprofits. After I saw a press release from the group earlier in the day, I asked Rick why the NCN was troubled by the order, which by itself, is of little consequence. In an email, he said:

The EO is only one part of the equation. It removes the bright line that all 501(c)(3) organizations have been able to rely on for sixty years: if you are tax-exempt, you can talk about the issues of the day, but you don’t get to endorse or oppose candidates. Now that bright line is fuzzy. Combine that with pending efforts in Congress to remove the Johnson Amendment altogether through pending standalone bills or incorporating repeal into a broader tax reform package and one of the hallmarks of the nonprofit, religious, and philanthropic sector is under grave threat.

The NCN has taken the position that nonprofits should not become partisan organizations. The position is stated on their website:

The National Council of Nonprofits has long held that the public’s overall trust in the sector would diminish and thus limit the effectiveness of the nonprofit community if individual 501(c)(3) organizations came to be regarded as Democratic charities or Republican charities instead of the nonpartisan problem solvers that they are.

Much reaction is inaccurate. For instance:

In fact, the anti-LGBT provisions were apparently removed.

Somebody needs a civics lesson.
David French has it about right.

Donald Trump Signs Executive Order on Religious Freedom (with Text)

Although it is much ado about nothing much, Donald Trump signed an executive order on religious freedom today. After reading through it, I am pretty sure Christian bakers, florists, and photographers are still going to have to serve gays. I don’t think this order changes anything. All of these directives specify that any actions be done within existing law. Any real changes must come via legislation.
You can read it here and below:
Office of the Press Secretary
May 4, 2017
– – – – – – –
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious liberty of persons and organizations in America, and to further compliance with the Constitution and with applicable statutes and Presidential Directives, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom. The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government. For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom. Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government. The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.
Sec. 2. Respecting Religious and Political Speech. All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury. As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty;
the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.
Sec. 3. Conscience Protections with Respect to PreventiveCare Mandate. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.
Sec. 4. Religious Liberty Guidance. In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.
Sec. 5. Severability. If any provision of this order, or the application of any provision to any individual or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and the application of its other provisions to any other individuals or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
May 4, 2017.
I can’t see that it changes anything since the Department of Treasury is required to act within existing law. Since the Johnson Amendment is law, Congress will need to change it. Trump just whipped up a bunch of excitement with little or nothing to show for it.

Perception Versus Reality at Gateway Church

Robert Morris and Ted Cruz Wilks BrosAs first reported here, Gateway Church is going through a large and significant downsizing of staff, expenses and programs.  This is happening after a year of lavish spending on political activities. Although there is no mass uprising yet as was seen at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, some members and remaining staff are beginning to question the stewardship of the existing leadership.
The following video was made by a Gateway Church member who would like to see less lavish spending on leadership and more on ministry. The video contrasts the words of lead pastor Robert Morris with information about Gateway’s revenues, attendance and activities. Watch (for iPhone users, a Youtube video and link are at the end of the post):

I am hearing from more and more Gateway members and staff who are increasingly concerned about the direction of the church. I think the political push of 2016 combined with no transparency on financial matters is fueling these concerns.
There is a deja vu all over again feeling about this. In my early days of writing about Mars Hill Church, I advised the leaders to become more transparent. As we know, they continued to spin and obfuscate and then lost members and money. Gateway has a much larger base and budget which insulates them against some of those losses. However, I doubt the church is too big to fail.
Also can watch here.

Staples Apologizes to Wallbuilder's Live Host Rick Green for Refusing Print Job

This is an interesting story.
The office supply company Staples today issued an apology to David Barton associate and Wallbuilders Live co-host Rick Green in response to the refusal by a Sandusky, OH Staples to print 500 copies of a Wallbuilders brochure.
In mid-April, Green asked the Sandusky Staples to print 500 brochures advertising Wallbuilders high school government course.  Then via email on April 18, a store representative said the job was being held up because the store had concerns that the brochure might violate “production guidelines” by being “obscene, pornographic or dangerous.” According to Green, the refusal related to the Christian nationalism aspect of the brochure. The email from Green’s website is below:
Staples Green Email
While I suspect the content might contain multiple errors, the brochure wasn’t obscene, pornographic or dangerous (at least in the way Staples defined that term above). Thus, I reached out to Staples to check out Green’s story and to ask if they stood by the Sandusky Staples. To me, the action seemed blatantly discriminatory and I doubted Staples would endorse what the local store did.

Staples’ Response

As it turns out, Staples does not stand behind the local store. Mark Cautela, Director of Corporate Communications, responded quickly with the following note.

After reviewing Mr. Green’s complaint, Staples agrees that the materials requested to be copied were not obscene, pornographic or offensive in any way.  Our associate made a mistake in sending an email labeling the materials this way and we sincerely apologize to Mr. Green for this experience at Staples. Unfortunately by the time we discovered our mistake, Mr. Green had understandably chosen not to continue with the order.
We regret his refund took longer than typical and appreciate Mr. Green bringing this matter to our attention.  Although we believe this was an isolated incident, we continually strive to improve our customer experience and will further evaluate our training and policies to prevent similar incidents in the future. At Staples, we respect all viewpoints and are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused Mr. Green and his business.

Green’s response to this religious discrimination was to congratulate Staples. On his website, Green wrote:

Bravo Staples!! Free enterprise, and also the First Amendment, requires that private businesses “have the right to refuse service” (Jonathon’s exact words) and I applaud your exercise of those freedoms and your support of your employees exercising those freedoms. I trust you also support the exact same rights and freedoms for the baker down the street, or photographer, or venue owner who would not want to bake a cake for my event, or take my picture at my constitution classes, or rent their facility to me for a Constitution Class. And then, of course, I’m sure you would protect the exact same rights for all of those private businesses to also not participate in something that violates their conscience, whether that be a Constitution Class or homosexual wedding.

Once upon a time, Christians would decry such discrimination. Now, in this case, Green is using it to say discrimination is fine if Christians get to discriminate against gays. What a switch on the Golden Rule. Instead of treating others the way I want to be treated, Green is saying treat me bad so I can treat you bad.
As it turns out, Staples doesn’t have a policy to discriminate based on viewpoint (exceptions given in the email – obscenity, danger and racism). According to Mr. Cautela, Staples has reached out to Green with the apology and clarification of policy. I am curious to see if Green updates his post to provide the rest of the story.

Mayor of La Mesa, CA Backs Out of Prayer Luncheon with David Barton as Keynote Speaker

David Barton
David Barton

Tomorrow in the San Diego, CA area, self-styled history writer David Barton is slated to address the East County (CA) Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon. Four local mayors were slated to attend but today I learned that the mayor of La Mesa, CA, Mark Arapostathis, has decided not to attend. Dr. Arapostathis did not give a reason. One other mayor also dropped out but has declined to comment as of now.
Controversy has swirled around the event since at least Monday when a local news source wrote critically about Barton’s appearance. The East County Magazine also reported today that the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote the mayors questioning the Constitutionality of the event and their involvement.
The event appears to be coordinated with the National Day of Prayer.

Video of Mark Driscoll Blaming Demise of Mars Hill Church on a Governance War; More Elders Respond

In early April, Mark Driscoll stunned many ex-Mars Hill Church leaders with his account on the Life Today TV program of how Mars Hill Church came to an end. Driscoll blamed the problems at Mars Hill Church on an “eight year governance war” and said it centered around disputes over power with his subordinate elders. Last week, one elder, Mike Wilkerson, went on the record on Matt Carter’s podcast to contradict Driscoll’s account. When Driscoll first made that claim, former elder Mark Dunford also denied Driscoll’s story.
Not long after the show aired, it was removed from Life Today‘s website.  Now, I can post a fair use clip of the show which contains Driscoll’s unique perspective. Watch:


Mark: At 22 we graduated; 25 we started a Bible study trying to reach primarily young 2 college-educated singles in what was at the time among the nation’s least churched cities. In the early years we were broke and we didn’t have kids and I was working a job and didn’t think it would amount to anything. Eventually, in God’s grace, God did some remarkable things through some wonderful people. We saw about 10,000 people baptized. We saw the church grow to 15,000 on a typical Sunday. We saw 15 locations in five states, just kind of superseded all expectations.
Randy: And this is the Pacific Northwest, this is not the Bible belt.
Mark: No. This is urban, single, young adults, all kinds of sexual issues, confusion, abuse, baggage and carry-ons — so lots of stuff going on. We had a governance war at the church that went eight years behind the scenes over who is in charge and how things play out. At the end we had 67 elders in 15 locations in five states, a large percentage of whom I had never met. They wanted to have independent local churches and we were one large church in many locations. So there was an eight-year battle that finally went public the last year and it was very painful for everyone involved, especially the wonderful, dear, generous, amazing people that served and gave and made it all happen.
So the governing board in authority over me invited us to continue and we prayed about it and talked about it as a family and felt like we heard from the Lord and I resigned. And left without — didn’t have an opportunity to say good-bye to the people so I want to let them know how much I love them and appreciate them and wish I would have had that opportunity. We took some time off just to heal up. I signed a non-disclosure agreement so you’re not going to talk about it, which was fair and reasonable and I agree with. And just decided to spend time as a family to heal up, to meet with wise counsel, to learn what we could learn and to see what the Lord had for the next season of our life.

Since the show, I have heard from a dozen former elders. None recall a war over power and control. Some gave me permission to use their comments anonymously.  One said:

Mark’s version is revisionist history.  There was no battle.  He was always in charge of the church.  He ruled it and steered it as he wished.  He mostly had “yes” men on board who did what he wanted. They only reason Mars Hill ended up with 67 elders at the end was that Mark lowered the standards for eldership so he could have more elders for more franchise locations. He pushed for more and more locations, and in this Life Today interview he is acting like it was the idea of the local elders.  No Mars Hill elder wanted to have an independent church in the sense of pulling a MH location away.  If an elder felt like being a lead pastor and preaching more, he would plant a church with Acts29. Since Mars Hill and Acts29 were closely related for most of the time, it was very fluid. A few did that, but it was very few.
Mark’s version is an example of him playing the heroic victim.  He’s not the victim of his elders.  They were his victim.  And when they finally recognized he did not meet the qualifications for an elder and the were going to remove him, Mark resigned like a coward and blamed his resignation on God.  Interestingly, Mark resigned the night before the elder report about his disqualification was going to be made public. I believe Mark resigned because it preserved his severance package.

Another told me:

I don’t ever remember hearing anything about any campuses wanting to break away. If they did, they would have been fired on the spot. I guarantee you that.

Another one said:

There was no “war”, Driscoll decided to rewrite the bi-laws and then fire a couple wise pastors asking legitimate questions.

Finally, a former elder concluded:

The common thread in all these events has to do with Mark’s character flaws, authoritarian leadership style, unresolved conflict and his biblical qualifications for being an elder being questioned, due to many specific and ongoing patterns, incidents, and behaviors. No discussions in elder meetings over those 8 years involved anything to do with church governance, as that was not even a consideration or topic of conversation.

For the record, I approached Rev. Driscoll via his ministry website for comment and to give him an opportunity to present his side of the story. He never responded.
Wenatchee the Hatchet has a major analysis of the Life Today appearance and takes down Driscoll’s narrative bit by bit. Start with part one and work your way through the details.

Donald Trump's Odd Attraction to Andrew Jackson

In an interview slated to air this afternoon on Sirius Radio, Donald Trump reportedly lauds Andrew Jackson and implies Jackson would have prevented the Civil War (link, link). What Trail of Tears?
Who knew history could be so complicated?
Apparently not Trump because, if the reports are accurate, he managed to imply the Civil War wasn’t about slavery and laud the architect of the Indian removal policy which led to mass deaths of native American during the Trail of Tears (see my summary of this horrific episode in American history).
Here is the audio:

Andrew Jackson is not an American hero in my book. He was an unapologetic slave owner and helped insure the deaths of thousands of native people.
Regarding the Civil War, there is no question that expansion of slavery was the cause. Five states declared reasons for secession and slavery was the defining reason. Read those declarations here.