Donald Trump Pledges to Pardon Dinesh D’Souza

In today’s Corruption Watch News, I bring you this:

Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions. Now Trump will pardon him.

Reaction has been swift and severe, as it should be.

Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub thinks the pardon might be a signal to Trump’s former associates now under indictment.

Law professor Joyce Alene agrees:

At the time, D’Souza admitted he committed the crime, saying

I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids. I deeply regret my conduct.

He asked two other people to make contributions to the U.S. Senate campaign of Wendy Long which he promised to reimburse. He admitted he reimbursed those individuals.

D’Souza identifies as an evangelical and he is fiercely pro-Trump. Although he has been losing his luster as an evangelical intellectual since 2010, he is admired in pro-Trump circles.

Recently, he has become known for his incendiary remarks and fractured history. D’Souza has sparred with historian Kevin Kruse over political history (Kruse for the win). He supported Roy Moore for Senate and generally comes across as a bomb thrower.

Pro-Putin

D’Souza is also pro-Putin. He once tweeted his admiration of the Russian strongman.

D’Souza didn’t like my post about it so he did what any Trump supporter would do, he made fun of me and doubled down.

Great Victory?

Even though D’Souza admitted breaking campaign finance laws, he is celebrating as if he was the victim of a false accusation.

For some reason, Christians are celebrating this pardon. I understand we are all guilty of various things and in Christ, we are pardoned but our rejoicing isn’t to be gloating over others. The prosecutors did their jobs and the precious rule of law that Republicans go on about has been set aside. I agree with the first tweeter above, this appears to be an abuse of power and if Karma is indeed a bitch, there may be a day of reckoning in November.

Trump Really Thought it Through

There are no words to describe the lunacy of how Trump decided to pardon D’Souza.

Paige Patterson Fired (Updated)

Update: June 1: SWBTS released an update which details more of Paige Patterson’s disgusting actions toward a female student and SWBTS’s resolve that their actions were correct in removing him from his position.

……………….

Tonight Paige Patterson was fired by the board of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The statement from the board is below:

During the May 30, 2018, Executive Committee meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) Board of Trustees, new information confirmed this morning was presented regarding the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Paige Patterson’s presidency at another institution and resulting issues connected with statements to the Board of Trustees that are inconsistent with SWBTS’s biblically informed core values.

Deeming the information demanded immediate action and could not be deferred to a regular meeting of the Board, based on the details presented, the Executive Committee unanimously resolved to terminate Dr. Paige Patterson, effective immediately, removing all the benefits, rights and privileges provided by the May 22-23 board meeting, including the title of President Emeritus, the invitation to reside at the Baptist Heritage Center as theologian-in-residence and ongoing compensation.

Under the leadership of Interim President Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, SWBTS remains committed to its calling to assist the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by biblically educating God-called men and women for ministries that fulfill the Great Commission and glorify God.

Further, the Seminary stands against all forms of abuse and grieves for individuals wounded by abuse. Today, Dr. Bingham made it clear that SWBTS denounces all abusive behavior, any behavior that enables abuse, any failure to protect the abused and any failure to safeguard those who are vulnerable to abuse. Additionally, Dr. Bingham called for the SWBTS community to join the Body of Christ in praying for healing for all individuals affected by abuse.

FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dr. Charles Patrick, Vice President for Communications, (817) 923-1921, ext. 3025, cpatrick@swbts.edu

Patterson had been in hot water over his recommendations to women to go back into abusive relationships. His alleged advice to a woman who had suffered sexual assault is at the center of this action as indicated in the statement above.

Patterson may still deliver the keynote address at the Southern Baptist Convention conference in June. It would take a motion from the floor to prevent it. Will the convention vote him out?

 

On Being Booted Off Patheos: Patheos Bloggers Speak Out

Patheos blogger Fred Clark (aka Slacktivist Fred) says I may have been “Throcked.” He offers this term to describe being fired to appease far-right donors and to warn others not to anger those donors.

Whatever the reason or reasons, some Patheos bloggers have bravely taken to their Patheos blogs to criticize the move to dismiss me from the platform.  This post serves as a summary of those posts.

Slacktivist

If it’s good enough for Andre Braugher, it’s good enough for me

Some excerpts:

Warren Throckmorton’s fine blog is no longer here on Patheos. He got booted off, with no coherent explanation. That was rude — rudely disrespectful toward someone whose long presence here has enormously enriched every conception of Patheos as a community or a conversation.

And it was a radical departure of the entire premise and ethos of Patheos as a platform for writers and bloggers from every imaginable religious perspective. It’s a violation of explicit and implicit promises made to everyone whose blog is hosted at this site. Not cool.

Two big points. One, Patheos didn’t treat me right. Two, what was good about Patheos is now in question.

In a previous post, Clark wondered why Patheos simply didn’t offer to move the blog to the Progressive Channel:

Patheos’ evangelical channel has changed its shape and tone quite a bit over the years since it first started with the strange duo of me and Scot McKnight. I fully understood when they booted me over to the “progressive Christian” channel — an awkward, we-need-to-call-this-somethingcategory that has since become a widely used term. But I can’t imagine a defensible notion of the “strategic objectives” for that channel that wouldn’t have room for Warren Throckmorton’s terrific blog.

Maybe the ever-shifting, perpetually negotiated boundaries of “evangelical” have reached a point where Doc Throck no longer fits into the now-Driscoll-friendly shape of that channel here at Patheos. OK, fine, then move him over to another channel. That was the whole idea of Patheos in the first place — there’s a channel for everyperspective, right? Not doing that just … smells bad.

Also too: It’s never a good sign when people start talking about “strategic objectives.”

Mercy Not Sacrifice: The Blog of Morgan Guyton

Early out of the gate was Morgan Guyton with this question:

Why Did Patheos Evangelical Push Out A Whistleblower Blog?

Some excerpts:

I’ve just been informed that the Patheos Evangelical channel has closed down the blog of evangelical whistleblower Warren Throckmorton, who was most renowned for his exposes on the plagiarism and abusive leadership of Mark Driscoll at the former Mars Hill Bible Church. Recently, Patheos Evangelical started hosting a blog for Mark Driscoll. It’s very hard not to see these events as interrelated.

They may be related. Driscoll is coming out with a new book and it could help him to get rid of all those Patheos links to his past difficulties with publishing and citations. However, I am not convinced. The material remains active on the web and my articles on The Daily Beast are more visible than the blog posts.

Guyton concludes:

There is nothing Christian about maneuvering in the shadows. Patheos Evangelical owes an explanation to all the bloggers in the Patheos community because these kinds of actions impact all of our credibility.

Preventing Grace with Anne Kennedy

One evangelical blogger mentioned the event without much comment. Anne Kennedy wrote:

Was curious and sad to see that Warren Throckmorton is no longer blogging at Patheos. You can read what he says here. He has moved all his content to a new cyber home if you want to bookmark his page.

UPDATE:

Anne added a post on May 30 with a more specific lament:

I do not pretend to be able to understand why Dr. Throckmorton does not meet “strategic purposes.” I didn’t know we had any. I was under the impression that we were all wandering around the internet every day, talking about faith, theology, politics, movies, books, food, culture, news, and whatever else happened by. Dr. Throckmorton is brilliant on the breaking news part. I have often been, I am sorry to say, jealous of his ability to dig out the news. Would that jealousy had compelled me to work harder. It is a great loss that he is no longer here. I don’t know how to make sense of it.

Other mentions

One occasional Anxious Bench writer had a lot to say although it was on his own blog. John Fea did three posts on the incident (here, here, and here).

I do know that many bloggers are discussing the issues involved (e.g., here) and are quite concerned about their futures at Patheos. They should be. I had no warning and was under the impression that my work was valued.

If you have written about this and don’t see your post here, please let me know.

Unfundamentalists

Former Patheos blogger Dan Wilkinson wrote a nice piece examining who owns Patheos. After examining those individuals, Wilkinson ends by writing:

Though Patheos continues to remain silent on the issue, it’s not hard to imagine why Dr. Throckmorton’s evangelical watchdog blog failed to meet the “expectations” of Patheos’ conservative Christian owners. Perhaps the only thing that’s surprising is that they let his blog last as long as it did.

 

 

Dear Patheos: What Expectations Did You Have?

In January 2017, evangelical bloggers at Patheos received an email from Patheos Evangelical Channel manager Barton Gingerich about changes coming to the site. BN Media had just purchased Patheos and planned to make changes to the writer’s agreement.

One change was the level of participation expected from bloggers. Tier 1 bloggers would be expected to write three times a week; tier 2 bloggers only had to post twice. Tier 1 bloggers would be paid slightly more.  In my email, Gingerich added this personal note to me:

Warren, due to your incredible frequency and important posts, you are a Tier 1 blogger.

In January 2017, my posts were “important.” By mid-2018, they didn’t fit the “strategic objectives” of the organization and my blog was completely removed from the site with only a day’s warning. In my view, my style or content had not changed during that time period. Since Patheos has not informed me, I don’t know what they think changed.

I feel this is important for me to say since Patheos Director of Content Phil Fox Rose sent an email to some bloggers yesterday implying that I knew their expectations “many months ago.” This email was sent to me by several Patheos bloggers:

As some of you know, Patheos decided to end its partnership with Warren Throckmorton. This was done after long and thoughtful consideration. The decision was not made based on a triggering event or post, and Mr. Throckmorton was advised of our expectations many months ago. This is not reflective of some change in policy. It was a specific case. This decision should not give any blogger reason to think their status is in question. We’re sorry the lack of details allows for speculation, but our commitment remains as always to be the place where conversation about faith is happening in the most robust and dynamic way. Nothing will change that. If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out to Ben, and I’m happy to talk too.

What were the expectations and how did I fail to meet them? Since I was not aware of any expectation relating to my blog (beyond the same agreement all other bloggers sign), I don’t know what Mr. Rose is talking about.

I suspect that current bloggers would like to know what the “expectations” are.

This isn’t a good way to treat people. I don’t need every detail about why they now don’t like my “important posts,” but I would like a rational explanation of the key factors that went into their business decision.

Dear Patheos: Which Topic Was the Last Straw?

I appreciate the support I am getting from readers today via email and social media. Twitter support has been especially strong with numerous readers asking Patheos.com why my blog was live one day and gone the next.

Thus far, no additional specific information has come to light. According to the information I received Monday from Patheos COO Jeremy McGee, my blog did not fit Patheos “strategic objectives.” Assuming that the diverse blogs remaining do fit the strategy, I am puzzled about what those objectives are.

Being a curious sort, I got to wondering what clues I might find by looking at my recent posts. Over the past two weeks, I posted the following articles at Patheos.

So which of those posts might have crossed a line?

Could It Be the NRA Post?

At present, I have no way to know for sure but I wonder about the influence of the NRA post. I have learned that the Chairman of BN Media (owner of Patheos) is Joe Gregory. Gregory is the chairman of the National Rifle Association Ring of Freedom donor recognition program. He and his wife are charter members of the Golden Ring of Freedom which means they have donated over $1 million to the NRA.

During the most recent NRA conference, Trump supporters Diamond and Silk claimed that the NRA “helped our ancestors to protect themselves from the Democratic party.” I countered that no evidence can be found to support that claim and called on the NRA to produce evidence or retract the claim.

Other Possibilities

Much of the interest on social media has focused on the fact that Mark Driscoll and Gospel for Asia CEO K.P. Yohannan are blogging at Patheos now while I am not. Apparently, the strategic objectives of Patheos include those fellows.

Ponder that.

 

The Blog at Patheos is “410 Gone”

I hope to have more to say about it soon but for now, I can report that I am blogging here now at wthrockmorton.com.  Patheos leadership informed me yesterday that my blog no longer fit their “strategic objectives.” Since I don’t know what those are, I can’t say how I didn’t fit them.

In any case, thanks to friend J.D. Smith, the blog was quickly migrated with the content to this ad free site. The downside is that I have been unable as yet to find out from Patheos how to get my comments moved along with the posts.

What a strange turn of events. Patheos was at the center of the Mars Hill Church and Gospel for Asia stories and now they host Mark Driscoll and K.P. Yohannan. All of the those Patheos links about Mars Hill and GFA are now erased. The content is here and archived elsewhere but admittedly, it will be harder to find.

 

Is Colorblind Theology Blind?

When we look at people, should we see color? One white pastor has called for a colorblind approach while promoting a video from a white nationalist website. Understandably, his advocacy for colorblind theology has been questioned.
Philadelphia pastor Eric Mason recently issued this call on Twitter:

From here, it gets really complicated.

His call was a reply to a conversation between the national co-director of Cru Inner City John Sather and James White, a pastor and prominent Christian apologist in the reformed tradition. Given the sprawling nature of Twitter conversations, I will not try to provide a blow by blow account, but what I can gather is that White and several who disagree with him have been sparring for several weeks over racial reconciliation in the church.
White defends what has been labeled “colorblind theology.” I can’t tell (and he hasn’t answered my efforts to contact him) if he coined the term or if one of his opponents did. By that, I think he means that we are all members of the human race. There is no need for whites to reconcile with African-Americans or any minority because Christ accomplished reconciliation on the cross. Any offense of my white ancestors against the ancestors of my black brothers and sisters are covered by the cross so there is nothing for me to do about it in the present. In response to various tweets and podcasts on this topic, pastor Mika Edmonson offered a rebuttal on Twitter which eventually led to Mason’s call for a council. Here is one of Edmonson’s tweets:

The Colorblind Plot Darkens

Like many Twitter controversies, some of the conflict is due to the compressed nature of the messages. Communicating in snippets with meandering threads makes it difficult to follow a line of thought from beginning to end. Nuance is possible but more difficult than a panel discussion or a series of articles.
However, what makes me question Mr. White’s sincerity is his promotion of a white nationalist YouTube account: EuropeanUnity565. It doesn’t take much digging to learn that this channel is a repository for white pride and neo-nazi music and protest videos. Here is a tweet where White takes YouTube to task for limiting a EiropeanUnity565 video on “cultural Marxism.”


He uses two tweets (here’s the other one) to criticize YouTube for declaring this content offensive. Should these tweets tell me a lot about Mr. White?
I asked White if he knew what EuropeanUnity565 stood for (no answer). Others did the same thing with no response. For instance:


Given his attention to Twitter, it is hard to imagine that he didn’t see these messages.
Colorblindness is one thing, but being blind to white nationalism is another. Could this be a signal that colorblind theology just makes you blind?

Civil Rights and White Privilege

In any case, colorblind theology, if I understand it correctly, may be problematic even if there are no deeper, darker attitudes.


I don’t know all of the practical implications of colorblind theology. Because he seems to minimize social categories of race, I asked White if he favored the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (no answer). I welcome any adherent of colorblind theology to engage me on this point. I wonder if those who consider racial categories to be psychological rather than theologically essential believe American law should allow discrimination.
In one of the podcasts I listened to, White referred to white privilege in a sarcastic manner. I don’t know for sure what he thinks about it, but I am sure it is a fact. My minority brothers and sisters have suffered in ways I will never experience in this country. If being colorblind leads to a denial of reality, then count me out. Indeed, any theology that leads one to be blind to white nationalism is one that is blind to more than color.

How to Waste $1000: The American History Version

Sarah Pulliam Bailey has a profile of Stephen McDowell in today’s WaPo. McDowell runs the Providence Foundation, a Christian nationalist group with David Barton on its board.
Bailey attended one of McDowell’s “Christian history” tours and reported her observations. Although she doesn’t give a full account, what she describes sounds like David Barton’s discredited spiritual heritage Capitol tour.
McDowell follows the Christian nationalist approach of eliminating moral tension from history. For instance, Pocahontas wasn’t a captive, she was a convert. Bailey reports that McDowell pointed to the painting of the baptism of Pocahontas and told them “her baptism is a reflection of why the colonies were established.” In this version of history, Pocahontas willingly accepted Christ and freely married John Rolfe. In fact, the conversion of Pocahontas occurred while she was in English captivity; perhaps the Stockholm Syndrome should be called the Pocahontas Syndrome.

Some Facts Wrong

John Fea is quoted in this piece saying McDowell gets “some facts wrong.” His point is that the bigger picture is the distortion of the past for present-day political purposes. While I agree, I also think it is unconscionable how many facts these people get wrong for the money they charge. According to Bailey, McDowell charged the school group $999/person for this experience.
The financial and time investment make these experiences especially hard to undo. The participants now think they have had the hidden truth revealed to them. The Christian guide they trust pulls back the curtain and shows them the real facts. Now when someone corrects the errors, these students and their parents are prepared to discount the actual facts. There is strong motivation in most people to make that investment of time, money, and trust worth it. To find out that much of the information is wrong or biased is very hard to accept.
If you are reading this and thinking about doing one of these tours, please contact me or John Fea. There are some really excellent ways to address this subject matter.

Missing from Paige Patterson's Apology: I Was Wrong

In the midst of a two petitions from Southern Baptists calling for his resignation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson posted a new statement of apology late yesterday. In it, he asks forgiveness for his “failure to be as thoughtful and careful in my extemporaneous expression as I should have been.”
The full statement is below. What I don’t see in the statement is a clear admission that he was wrong to advise women in abusive relationships to go home to an abusive husband. Here is yesterday’s statement:

Pastoral ministry that occurred 54 years ago, repeated as an illustration in sermons on more than one occasion, as well as another sermon illustration used to try to explain a Hebrew word (Heb. banah “build or construct,” Gen. 2:22) have obviously been hurtful to women in several possible ways. I wish to apologize to every woman who has been wounded by anything I have said that was inappropriate or that lacked clarity. We live in a world of hurt and sorrow, and the last thing that I need to do is add to anyone’s heartache. Please forgive the failure to be as thoughtful and careful in my extemporaneous expression as I should have been.
I would also like to reiterate the simple truth that I utterly reject any form of abuse in demeaning or threatening talk, in physical blows, or in forced sexual acts. There is no excuse for anyone to use intemperate language or to attempt to injure another person. The Spirit of Christ is one of comfort, kindness, encouragement, truth, and grace; and that is what I desire my voice always to be.
To all people I offer my apology, but especially to women, to the family of Southern Baptists, my friends and the churches. I sincerely pray that somehow this apology will show my heart and may strengthen you in the love and graciousness of Christ.
Paige Patterson, President
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas

Here is the “illustration” he used in 2000 that has been the focus of the recent uproar (this is the full quote from his answer to a questioner – listen to the audio here):

It depends on the level of abuse to some degree.  I have never in my ministry counseled that anybody seek a divorce, and I do think that’s always wrong counsel.  There have been, however, an occasion or two when the level of the abuse was serious enough, dangerous enough, immoral enough that I have counseled temporary separation and the seeking of help.  I would urge you to understand that that should happen only in the most serious of cases. I would cite examples of it but the examples that I have had in my ministry are so awful that I will not cite them in public. That’s enough to say however, that there’s a severe physical and/or moral danger that’s involved before you come to that. More often, when you face abuse, it is of a less serious variety but all abuse is serious.
There are two or three things that I say to women who are in those kinds of situations. First of all, I say to them that you must not forget the power of prayer. Just as one of your little children comes to you with a broken heart and crawls up into your arms and looks into your face and with tears running down his cheeks asks you to intervene in a situation. If you have anything in you of a loving parent’s heart at all that’ll bring you to your attention and you’re off and running. And now if you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much more shall your Father in heaven do good if you ask of Him. Do not forget the power of consecrated concentrated prayer.  Get on your face and ask him to intervene and He is a good and a dear heavenly Father at some point He will intervene. I give one brief example of it.
I had a woman who was in a church that I served, and she was being subject to some abuse, and I told her, I said, “All right, what I want you to do is, every evening I want you to get down by your bed just as he goes to sleep, get down by the bed, and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene, not out loud, quietly,” but I said, “You just pray there.” And I said, “Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this.” And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.” And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”
And what she didn’t know when we sat down in church that morning was that her husband had come in and was standing at the back, first time he ever came. And when I gave the invitation that morning, he was the first one down to the front. And his heart was broken, he said, “My wife’s praying for me, and I can’t believe what I did to her.” And he said, “Do you think God can forgive somebody like me?” And he’s a great husband today. And it all came about because she sought God on a regular basis. And remember, when nobody else can help, God can.
And in the meantime, you have to do what you can at home to be submissive in every way that you can and to elevate him. Obviously, if he’s doing that kind of thing he’s got some very deep spiritual problems in his life and you have to pray that God brings into the intersection of his life those people and those events that need to come into his life to arrest him and bring him to his knees.

Patterson is facing criticism because he advised this woman to go back into an abusive situation. This is clearly bad advice but he has not admitted it was wrong. His apology is vague and focuses on how he expressed himself not on his bad advice. He also deflects his objectification of a young girl in a sermon rather than saying he was wrong for his statements.
I have no evidence that Paige Patterson is a danger to any person. At all times, his bad advice has been the focus of his critics. If those who have criticized him are looking for a statement that he now believes his advice on abuse has been wrong, this apology is not it.
 

No, the NRA Didn't Help Protect Former Slaves from the Democrats

During the just completed 2018 convention, the National Rifle Association helped spread some false history using Trump supporters Diamond & Silk. Watch:


This claim about the NRA has been debunked several times. The NRA was founded by two Union military veterans to help improve marksmanship. There isn’t any evidence that the NRA assisted post-Civil War freed slaves against the KKK or Democrats or any white aggression. Supporters of the NRA offer this claim without any historical evidence.
At the time, the Democrat party was the party of Jim Crow. However, the NRA claim appears to be made up out of thin air. To fact check the claim, I reviewed the founding documents of the NRA, the biographies of the founders, and historical descriptions of the organization, especially in the South. According to the NRA’s founding document, the aims of the association related to rifle practice:

AIMS OF THE ASSOCIATION
The main aim of the Association is the encouragement of rifle practice throughout this State and the United States.
They also desire to promote the establishment of ranges throughout the State, and the issue of ammunition, target, and other appurtenances required for their use with offering of prizes both by the State, and by individuals, to the best marksmen. They also seek to build up local of a similar character to their own, which while under official supervision to ensure then proper, yet will be so popular in their character as to secure success.

Over the years, I have asked those who say the NRA was founded to help protect former slaves (e.g., David Barton) for supporting evidence. I have yet to seen anything remotely relevant to the claim.
This is the first time I have seen the claim from the NRA and they should provide evidence or retract it immediately.