Poll: 59% of White Evangelicals Will “Definitely” Vote for Trump in 2020

In a Washington Post/ABC News poll taken from April 22-25, 59% of white evangelicals say they will “definitely” vote for President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Another 23% say they will consider voting for him. Only 15% say they definitely will not vote for him.

Despite widespread coverage of the Mueller report, evangelical voters seem fixed on Trump. Perhaps white evangelicals don’t believe there is much to worry about. In the same poll, 57% of evangelicals said they don’t think Russian interference will be a threat to the 2020 election. Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) didn’t think the interference had an impact on the 2016 election. Compared to other groups, evangelicals led the way in skepticism about the influence of Russian meddling.

Evangelicals are with Trump on immigration as well. They are the leading group to say his immigration policies make them more likely to support him in the next election. Sixty-three percent believe Trump’s immigration policies are good compared to 16% who oppose them.  Among all voters the breakdown is 34% who support Trump due to his immigration policies versus 42% who oppose him for that reason.

I don’t think it goes too far to say that white evangelicals as a group see the world about like Donald Trump. This is a frightening and sobering thought.

The Charlottesville Rally Wasn’t about Robert E. Lee as a General

President Trump doubled down on his claim that very fine people were in Charlottesville to show support for the statue of Robert E. Lee. When asked about that comment, he said he answered that question “perfectly.” Then he discussed his view of why some of the people were there. Watch:

A review of Trump’s comments from the Charlottesville news conference shows that he condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists in one breath but in other comments he suggests that there was some other group of Lee statue supporting people who gathered with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists. In this theory, these “very fine people” were there only to support the statue which isn’t a bad thing in his mind. I maintain it is entirely right and proper to question the wisdom and character of anyone showing up to a rally convened by neo-Nazis and and white supremacists. If neo-Nazis show up in my town and rally against drunk driving, I am not going to carry a sign in that march even though I oppose drunk driving.

In my view, it is not noble to support the myth of Lee as a great statesman and General. However, I do know that some people do think that and do so sincerely. Their desire to uphold the Lost Cause blinds them to a complete picture of Lee. What makes me think Lee worship is a smokescreen is that the activities of the weekend were not about Lee. When the tiki torch marchers gathered around Lee’s statue, they didn’t sing tributes to Lee or chant “General Lee is my favorite General.” They chanted, “You will not replace us.” Watch:

The “us” in this chant referred to white people not members of the “Lee is my favorite General” club.

Those people weren’t there because of their love of military history. If they were there for Lee at all, it was because he represents white supremacy. What is very fine about that?

Giving cover to Trump’s distraction, people like Dinesh D’Souza and Matt Walsh want to make Charlottesville about Robert E. Lee as a General. It wasn’t.

 

Image: By Cville dog – Own work, Public Domain

Aaron New: Questions for Students and New Counselors to Ask AACC

As students approach graduation, they often consider the next phase of their work. Joining a professional association is one aspect of professionalization. I hope psychology students at grad and undergrad levels consider what Central Baptist College Prof. Aaron New has to say below.

The AACC has been promoting its upcoming World Conference this October.  One of the special events of the conference is the “Connect U & Young Professionals Panel” targeting college students and recent graduates.

As I noticed these promotions last week, it occurred to me that I wish I would have known about the AACC as a recent graduate what I know now.  I invested in the AACC for many years, and did so rather blindly for three reasons. One, the organization seemed to be the only (or main) show in town. Two, AACC conferences had all the big names in Christian counseling. Three, my professors encouraged me to be involved.  I didn’t ask any questions or pursue any other options.  But I regularly gave the AACC my money in membership dues and conference expenses to be part of the club.

If I had it to do over again, I would want answers to some questions before making the same commitment. What follows are some questions I encourage students and new professionals to ask AACC leaders and supporters. I will begin with those for which I already have some answers, then I will suggest others.  The AACC may not like addressing these questions, but it is not unreasonable to ask them to do so.

  1. Is the AACC a member-driven organization? How do members participate in the group?

The AACC is *not* a member-driven organization. It is a for-profit business owned and operated by Tim Clinton.  Members don’t vote on anything or participate in governance of the organization. Principally, they form a pool of consumers for AACC marketing efforts. There are no requirements or pre-requisites for membership other than a willingness to pay membership dues.  https://www.aacc.net/memberships/

In most professional associations, members serve on committees which serve the profession. Policies are suggested to the governing board made up of representatives elected by members. Those representative deliberate and vote on items suggested by members. Members have input into the rules, ethics and policies that govern the profession. Not so in the AACC. All decisions are made by Tim Clinton. He may use input from others but there is no requirement that he do so.

  1. Does the AACC have officers?  Who are they?  How are they determined?

The AACC does *not* have elected officers. Though Clinton promotes himself as the “President” of the AACC, this is a self-appointed title and the position is not voted on. Any other officers are staff hired by AACC and are not elected. The president and staff are not accountable to members.

  1. Does the AACC have a board of directors?  Who are they?  How are they determined?

The AACC does *not* have a typical elected board of directors – one that oversees the operation and direction of an organization.  Dr. Clinton is not accountable to a board and may run his business in any way he sees fit.

  1. If there is any other kind of board?

The AACC has advertised several different boards over the years.  For many years up to 2018, the AACC claimed to have 1) an Executive Board, 2) an Editorial Board, 3) a Business Advisory Board, and 4) a Clinical and Pastoral Advisory Board (see: http://old.aacc.net/about-us/leadership/).  In 2018, the AACC began to promote a different set of boards.  1) an Executive Advisory Board, and 2) a National Board of Reference (see: https://www.aacc.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/AACC_Board.pdf).

I will make two observations here.  First, I have been told by multiple sources that the AACC boards only serve in an “advisory” role. They give input when asked, which seems to be a rare occurrence. Second, the boards do not appear to be updated very often.  In 2017, I brought it to the attention of the AACC that William Backus was still listed among the members of the Clinical and Pastoral Advisory Board even though he passed away in 2005.  After repeated requests for a more current list of board members, I was told by a customer support representative, “I have asked 2 different people for lists of the board members, and all the lists I have received do include the gentleman you listed below. That is the most up-to-date list that we have.”

  1. How are ethical complaints against AACC members submitted and how are they handled?

The AACC does have a code of ethics.  But I am suspicious of how well they enforce this code.  Consider this correspondence from September 2018.  Readers will notice that it takes some time for the AACC to respond.  In the end, the AACC refuses to indicate who serves on the Law and Ethics Committee or how to submit a complaint to them directly (as I think is instructed by the code of ethics).  Instead, the AACC states that ethical complaints are to be funneled to the person in charge of public relations for the AACC. 

  1. How does the AACC decide when/where to be active in political debates and races?

The politicization of the AACC has been a concern of mine for some time now.  I began asking Dr. Clinton to avoid politicizing the AACC back in 2016.  I felt strongly enough about this issue, that I attempted to write AACC board members.  This letter became incorporated into an online petition that gathered 190 signatures, though I’m not sure it was very effective. 

  1. The AACC Foundation is the nonprofit arm of the AACC.  What does it do?  Where is the data/evidence of this work? Does the AACC profit from the AACC Foundation?

The publisher of this blog has looked into the relationship of AACC to the AACC Foundation in two articles (here and here). In summary, the AACC Foundation is a nonprofit means of getting income to the AACC. A miniscule amount goes to charitable purposes. 

  1. The AACC lists several colleges and universities as “partners” (https://www.aacc.net/schools/). What does this mean, exactly?  How does a college/university become a partner?  What advantages or benefits do these partners have for AACC members?
  1. Since the AACC isn’t a nonprofit like other professional associations, where do the profits from the AACC go? Why doesn’t the AACC disclose financial statements like other organizations do?
  1. Who serves on the Law and Ethics Committee of the AACC? How are members determined/appointed?
  1. How many AACC members have had their memberships revoked (or been otherwise sanctioned) for ethics violations?  For what reasons?
  1. What is AACC’s “Christian Care Network” and how does it differ from the new “Christian Care Connect” (that charges clinics/organizations $749/year and individuals $249/year)?
  1. To become a member of the CCC, is anything required beyond paying the annual fee? How is the integrity of this referral source maintained? What assurance does the public have regarding the legitimacy of these referrals?
  1. What is the relationship between the AACC and all of these organizations? Is there one or more parent companies involved?  What loyalties (formal or informal) do these organizations have to each other?
    1. Light University – https://www.lightuniversity.com/
    2. International Board of Christian Care – http://www.ibccglobal.com/
    3. Board of Christian Professional & Pastoral Counselors – http://www.thebcppc.com/
    4. Board of Christian Crisis & Trauma Response – http://www.thebcctr.com/
    5. Board of Christian Life Coaching – http://www.thebclc.com/
    6. International Christian Coaching Association – http://www.iccaonline.net/
    7. Ignite Men’s Ministry – https://www.ignitemen.net/
    8. Extraordinary Women – https://www.ewomen.net/
    9. Life, Love, and Family – http://www.lifeloveandfamily.org/
    10. James Dobson Family Talk – https://drjamesdobson.org/
  2. About these organizations: Do AACC membership dues (or any other AACC revenues) support any of the other organizations?  What staff are responsible for working at multiple organizations?  What resources do any of them share?  Are there any financial conflicts of interest for any of those parties?  Where these organizations are not entirely independent, is that information made available to members/users?
  1. I have raised concerns about Tim Clinton and ghost-writing and plagiarism. Has this been addressed by the AACC via their ethics committee?

For myself, I have concluded that the AACC is not a professional organization worth my affiliation. Elsewhere, I challenged my colleagues,

So here is my call to Christian Counselors. Leave the AACC behind. You don’t need their expensive conferences or memberships. You can do better than their borrowed and recycled materials. There are better, more authentic ways of navigating your professional affiliations.

I would likewise encourage college students and recent graduates.  As the AACC comes courting you, be wise.  Ask some hard questions before you settle on your professional affiliations.

Gospel for Asia Class Action Suit Claims Process is Now Open

I just saw the following notice which is relevant to donors to Gospel for Asia. The claims process for the $37 million settlement in Murphy v. GFA is now open.

Pursuant to the proposed class action settlement with Gospel for Asia (and the individual defendants), the claims process is now open. Class members should have received individual notice by mail and/or email from the Settlement Administrator, Heffler Claims Group.

Filing a claim is simple – either:
1. Complete and return the Official Claim Form included with the Notice; or
2. File your claim online at www.gfaclassaction.us

Both ask you to agree or disagree with the list of donations (provided to the Settlement Administrator from GFA) on the website. To review the list, click on the “Donations List” tab on the website and insert your Class Member ID (found on your claim form). If you cannot find your Class Member ID, you may contact the Settlement Administrator using the appropriate prompts on the website.

Importantly, the claim deadline is July 11, 2019.

Should you have any questions, you may contact the Settlement Administrator at (844) 367-8894.

Funds may be recovered via this action and donated to another organization. If you need a reminder of the problems at GFA, please see this post (and this one) and re-read the report of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Remember that the ECFA removed GFA from membership in October 2015 due to multiple violations of financial standards. GFA promised to seek reinstatement. However, it is now 2019 and GFA still has not done so.

ECFA Removes Harvest Bible Chapel from Membership

After disclosing that Harvest Bible Chapel was under investigation, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability finally removed the megachurch from membership due to violations of four standards of financial integrity. Earlier today the following statement was posted on the ECFA website.

WINCHESTER, Va., April 17, 2019—The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) board voted today to update the membership status for Harvest Bible Chapel (Elgin, IL) from suspension to termination due to significant violations of four of ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™. Based on new information obtained by ECFA from the church while under suspension, ECFA determined that the church was not in compliance with Standards 2, 3, 4 and 6, which pertain to Governance, Financial Oversight, Use of Resources and Compliance with Laws, and Compensation-Setting and Related-Party Transactions.

“ECFA continues to champion integrity in God’s Kingdom,” said Dan Busby, ECFA president. We are committed to applying our standards rigorously and consistently.”

ECFA’s investigation of Harvest Bible Chapel began on November 28, 2018. After a thorough review of documents made available at that time as well as an on-site visit with church officials, ECFA reported on December 10, 2018 that the church was in good standing. This statement would not have been made if Harvest Bible Chapel had shared all crucial information with ECFA.

As part of the ongoing review of the church’s compliance with ECFA’s standards, on March 11, 2019, the church shared new information that indicated possible violations of ECFA standards. Based on this new information, ECFA’s board responded accordingly and suspended Harvest Bible Chapel’s membership on March 14, 2019 and launched a further investigation, that has remained ongoing.

On April 15, 2019, ECFA obtained pertinent information from the church, providing evidence that validated significant violations of Standards 2, 3, 4, and 6. The ECFA board determined that restoration to full membership was not a viable option under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, Julie Roys published an article detailing more damaging allegations regarding financial dealings at HBC and James MacDonald’s ministry Walk in the Word.

HBC now joins Gospel for Asia as an organization kicked out of the ECFA due to public revelations generated by bloggers and news reporting. The ECFA’s process missed all of the violations. However, after investigative reporting brought issues to light, the ECFA acted.

Jackie Robinson Day

April 15 marks the day in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball. The executive who signed him with the express purpose of combating racism was Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I share a hometown with Branch Rickey — Portsmouth, Ohio — and was always reminded of his legacy because I played high school baseball in Branch Rickey Park (pictured below).

To me, Branch Rickey’s role in this story is sweet irony. White supremacy was strong in my hometown. For most of my life there, African-Americans were segregated into neighborhoods surrounding a large public housing project. There was strong prejudice and discrimination, even among Christians. And yet, Branch Rickey left that small town to make history in the big city in a way that changed attitudes about race forever.

A 2011 CNN article on Rickey explains the role of faith in his decision (read the entire transcript here) but I will close with this paragraph:

When a well-known journalist of the era told the Dodgers general manager that he thought “all hell would break loose” the next day with Robinson due to take the field for the first time as a Brooklyn Dodger, Rickey disagreed. “My grandfather immediately responded to him, ‘I believe tomorrow all heaven will rejoice,’” the younger Rickey said.

The Source of Candace Owens’ Ahistorical Claims about Hitler and German Nationalism

I will say one thing about Candace Owens: She can stir up attention. On the day she testified before a Congressional panel on white nationalism, she trended on Twitter nearly all day. Much of this attention came via Congressman Ted Lieu’s act of playing a video of Owens opining that Hitler

…was a National Socialist, but if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay fine.

Lieu then accused Owens of “legitimizing Hitler” when he directed a question about Owens remarks to Eileen Hershenov, a representative of the Anti-Defamation League who also offered testimony to the panel.  While I don’t think Owens “legitimized Hitler” in all Hitler did, I do think she erred in her contention that Hitler wasn’t a nationalist and that he would have been “fine” if he had kept his policies and ambitions within Germany’s borders.

As Kevin Kruse and Matthew Boedy have convincingly demonstrated, Owens specifically and Turning Point USA generally are not accurate in their depictions of history. With influences including Dinesh D’Souza and David Barton, this is to be expected. However, there is another influence who should be called out.

Enter Yoram Hazony

Let me be clear that I don’t believe Candace Owens defended Hitler’s atrocities or legitimized the Holocaust. She specifically rejected that idea later on and it isn’t consistent with anything else she has said on the subject. At issue is her effort to suggest that a nationalist can’t have aspirations beyond national borders and that Hitler was not a nationalist. A ridiculous and dangerous extension of that claim is that Hitler’s policies and actions would have been fine if he kept them to Germany. I don’t want to see a Trump version of Hitler Youth, do you?

Cato Institute senior policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh helpfully points us to Owens’ intellectual influence — Yoram Hazony. It turns out that Owens doesn’t get Hazony right on every point. According to Nowrasteh, Hazony outlines a defense of nationalism which defines nationalism in such a way that Hitler was never a nationalist. Here is the heart of the argument:

According to Hazony, a nation is combination of “a number of tribes with a common language or religion, and a past history of acting as a body for the common defense and other large-scale enterprises” (18) and that “the world is governed best when nations are able to chart their own independent course, cultivating their own traditions and pursuing their own interests without interference” (3).

Hazony contrasts nation states with imperialist states that have universal ideals that he claims leads to conquest.  Thus, nation-states cannot seek to conquer other nation-states as that would make them imperialist states because they do not respect the independent course of other nations.  According to Hazony, a state cannot be a nation-state and imperialist (dominating or seeking to dominate other nations) at the same time due to his unique definition that conveniently excludes the “bad” nation-states.  In my reading of the literature on nationalism, historian Douglas Porch was more likely correct when he wrote: “Colonialism was not, as Lenin claimed, ‘the highest stage of capitalism.’ Rather it was the highest stage of nationalism.”

2. Hitler and the Nazis were not nationalists.

Following his definition of nationalism, Hazony repeatedly claims that the Nazis were not really nationalists.  I know of no other serious historian of the Third Reich or other thinkers on nationalism who would go so far as to say that Hitler or the core ideology of the National Socialist German Workers Party weren’t nationalists.  They were, of course, nationalists.  The first point of their political platform was: “We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the people’s right to self-determination.”  The evidence that the Nazis considered themselves nationalists, that others considered them nationalists, and that they fit into the scheme of nationalism is so massive that it would be silly to run through it all.

A problem for current nationalists is that Hitler was in fact a nationalist. That is why they have to engage in such ahistorical reasoning to turn him and the Nazis into something else.

Even with the historical revising, I don’t think it helps to use Hitler as a hypothetical since he actually existed and has a historical record. “If Hitler” doesn’t work because Hitler really did things in Germany. He said things nationalists say and did things that nationalists do. You might as well say, if Hitler wasn’t Hitler, then he might have been okay. That isn’t what she said and that counterfactual argument isn’t much help as a support for any position.

As it is, Owens’ own words have her arguing that Hitler was actually okay when he stayed in Germany. However, this is lunacy. A review of Nazi party activities in Germany to make Germany great quickly put the lie to that idea.

To any Turning Point USA students reading this. Please do not become what you critique. Many of you blast moderate and liberal academics. You think academics are strident and closed to conservative ideas. You think academics close off debate and silence conservatives. Thus far, this conservative professor has found Turning Point USA leaders to be unwilling to self-correct, closed to the facts, and stridently partisan on issues which are matters of fact and verification.

 

David Barton Goes Full Anti-Vax

Yesterday on Wallbuilders Live, David Barton doubled down on his claim that parts of aborted fetuses are in vaccines. He made that claim last week and after I wrote to refute it, he devoted a whole show to the topic today.

His guest for the program was anti-vax biologist Theresa Deisher. Deisher has a PhD in microbiology from Stanford and at one time was a mainstream scientist. Several years ago, she converted to anti-vax ideology and has focused on the theory that vaccines cause autism via the introduction of fetal DNA into a vaccinated child.

The most shocking false claim that the Barton’s (father and son) make on the program is that body parts are taken from live babies for use in vaccines in use today. This of course would be illegal. Despite what Barton and Deisher say, there is no legal process where children who are alive can be dismembered in this manner. Of course, anyone would be opposed to that.

Federal law (Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002) protects infants who survive abortion. Any baby who survives an abortion must be treated as a live person. I don’t know that this law is always followed but it is the law. Deisher nor Barton offered any proof that babies are being killed in this manner.

Dr. Deisher’s work has been thoroughly debunked.

She predicts that where MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is widely used, autism will spike. However, this has been debunked, most recently in a large population scale study by our old friend Morten Frisch and colleagues in Denmark. Here are selected aspects of their paper:

Participants: 657,461 children born in Denmark from 1999 through 31 December 2010, with follow-up from 1 year of age and through 31 August 2013.

Results: During 5,025,754 person-years of follow-up, 6517 children were diagnosed with autism (incidence rate, 129.7 per 100 000 person-years). Comparing MMR-vaccinated with MMR-unvaccinated children yielded a fully adjusted autism hazard ratio of 0.93 (95% CI, 0.85 to 1.02). Similarly, no increased risk for autism after MMR vaccination was consistently observed in subgroups of children defined according to sibling history of autism, autism risk factors (based on a disease risk score) or other childhood vaccinations, or during specified time periods after vaccination.

Barton has moved into dangerous territory here. He is trying to scare people away from vaccines with these false claims and as a result may be partly responsible for people deciding not to immunize their children. I would not want that on my conscience. Even the Catholic Church advises members that they may use vaccines due to the greater good of preventing sickness and death.

James MacDonald Used Nonprofit Funds for That Perfect Gift (Updated)

On the heels of Harvest Bible Chapel’s loss of membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, check this out.

Former HBC pastor James MacDonald gave Ed Stetzer a vintage 1971 Volkswagon Beetle. Then, Ed Stetzer found out the money for the gift came from MacDonald’s non-profit Walk in the Word. Stetzer did the honorable thing and reimbursed the ministry. Joe Thorn is a minister friend of Stetzer’s. You have to click on Stetzer’s note twice to read the whole story.

I seriously doubt any donor to Walk in the Word gave with the intent to buy Ed Stetzer a VW. Given the questions about finances at HBC and this story about WITW, donors should consider asking the Illinois Attorney General to investigate the use of funds and/or file a complaint with the IRS.

HBC and WITW appear to have moved an undetermined amount of money around without regard to donor intent. This kind of activity is what should bring in regulators and auditors for a thorough review. Donors beware.

UPDATE: Julie Roys has published additional information about the gift from MacDonald to Stetzer, complete with a photo of the VW in question. The value of the VW was calculated at $13K.

 

 

VW Image: Lothar Spurzem [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)]

Where Was Charles Evers After Martin Luther King, Jr Was Murdered?

At 6:01pm on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in Memphis, TN at the Lorraine Motel.

Recently, I posted a statement from the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation regarding the night of Martin Luther King Jr’s murder. Since 2007, John MacArthur has publicly stated that he traveled from Jackson, MS to Memphis, TN the night MLK was murdered. His stories strongly imply that his companions on that trip were civil rights icons John Perkins and Charles Evers, as well as other unnamed African-American people. Charles Evers has denied this and the Perkins Foundation’s representative told me that Evers’ statement is accurate. At the same time, the representative (John Perkins’ daughter Deborah) declined to make any statement about her father’s travels on that night.

Charles Evers has told at least three different stories about that night. He has said he was on his way to Natchez for a meeting and heard on a car phone that King was killed. He also said he heard it on the radio while in the car. He said on one occasion that he was with Bobby Kennedy in Gary, IN when he heard about the murder. However, he never said he was with John MacArthur in Jackson, MS when he heard the news. He told me when I interviewed him that he may have gone later to Memphis but not on the night of the murder.

In his various accounts, Evers said that he returned to Jackson after he heard the news and denies going to Memphis. This much can be confirmed. Some specifics might be lost to time but we can place Evers in Jackson after the murder according to newspaper accounts.  In this April 5, 1968 Greenwood (MS) Commonweatlth news article, it is clear that Evers is in Jackson helping to quell violence until late in the evening of April 4 (this article helps establish the time).

While he could have gone to Memphis in the small hours of April 5th, it appears that Evers remained in Jackson on the evening of April 4.

Evers on April 5th

According to a short piece in a St Louis daily, Evers was supposed to speak at a NAACP event in St. Louis on Friday night April 5th. However, he didn’t make it due to illness.

Evers on April 6th

While it isn’t certain that Evers was in Jackson, the location of this UPI article is listed as Jackson. The interview would have taken place on Saturday April 6.

Evers on April 7th – Martin Luther King, Jr’s Funeral

In this April 8, 1968 news article a photo was published of Evers with Mrs. King at the funeral which took place on April 7 in Atlanta.

None of these clippings conclusively disprove John MacArthur’s story. Taken together, they do provide evidence that Charles Evers was probably in Jackson from the time he heard about the death of King until he went to King’s funeral.