Website for Gospel for Asia Class Action Lawsuit Now Active

Donors who contributed to Gospel for Asia between January 1, 2009 and September 10, 2018 are considered members of a class in a pending lawsuit against GFA. Now there is a website which provides background and instructions for member of the class. From the site: GFACLASSACTION.US

There is a pending legal matter in a class action lawsuit against Gospel for Asia, Inc., Gospel for Asia-International, K.P. Yohannan, Gisela Punnose, Daniel Punnose, David Carroll, and Pat Emerick (“GFA”), who are the Defendants. The class action lawsuit involves whether GFA misdirected funds designated for specific charitable projects the donors selected.

The lawsuit is still pending. A judge has not made a ruling in this matter. There are no benefits currently available to Class members and there is no guarantee there will be benefits available to Class Members.  This notice is to inform you of your rights.

You are included in the Class if you live in the United States and donated money to GFA between January 1, 2009 and September 10, 2018.

Those who want to be excluded from the suit must write to the class administrator directly. Otherwise, donors in the class will be represented in the suit by the Stanley Law Group, Basset Law Firm, and Tom Mills. No charge will be assigned for their representation. Exclusion from the suit allows a donor to sue separately from this suit but there will be no benefit to an excluded party if the suit is successful.

Current donors should consider the information contained on this website.

Harvest Bible Chapel Treats Believers as Non-Believers; ECFA to Review Finances

Image: James MacDonald, pastor Harvest Bible Chapel

Recently, Harvest Bible Chapel sued bloggers  and a journalist who reported about the church. Since then various questions have been raised about why a church would sue fellow believers. In a statement dated yesterday but apparently uploaded today, the church addressed the lawsuit and their problem with journalist Julie Roys.

Q. “Why did we proceed with the lawsuit now, given that the attack bloggers had not published since December 2017?”

A. As of June 2017, the attack bloggers had not published since January of 2014 due to a period of relative peace in our church. Then, as we were concluding a difficult process of separation from leading HBF and all the churches we had planted, the attack bloggers began to publish in earnest doing great damage through outright falsehoods. This, after more than four years of silence and with significant detrimental impact upon treasured relationships in our own church and among our church plants. So after sixteen months of reflection and consultation among Christian leaders outside our church family, we decided to move past self-examination and the many changes we had made and take action to protect our church family. We agreed that the bloggers refusal to come under Matthew 18’s
prescription for conflict resolution among believers, freed us to “treat them as a non-believer” (Matthew 18:17) and seek the legal protection afforded us in the civil authorities “ordained by God for the punishment of wrongdoers” (Romans 13:1-6).

In the statement, HBC’s leaders makes it clear how they feel about journalist Julie Roys.

The issue with Julie Roys is her lack of objectivity and how she came to focus on Harvest Bible Chapel, a church she has never participated in. Our awareness of her attempts to stir up gossip, sow discord, inflame old animosities, and confront sensitive matters with specific church families in order to discredit the church led us to include her in the lawsuit.

In some circles, what HBC describes might be called reporting and fact finding but I guess we will have to wait for Roys’ article in WORLD to find out.

 

Image: By Esther 5000 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48825134

More Turnover at Harvest Bible Chapel?

Image: James MacDonald

UPDATE: As I reported yesterday, Chief Operating Officer of Harvest Bible Chapel Scott Milholland has resigned. His resignation letter was posted earlier today on the HBC website.

Illinois multisite megachurch Harvest Bible Chapel and pastor James MacDonald have been in the public eye over a defamation lawsuit filed against bloggers and their wives (see also this article from RNS for which I was interviewed). The suit also targets journalist Julie Roys who is about to publish an article in World on HBC. The legal action appeared to be designed to frighten the bloggers and intimidate World magazine into pulling the plug on the article.

The past year has been tumultuous for the church with turnover in various aspects of the gigantic religious business. In June 2017, MacDonald stepped down from the church planting arm of Harvest Bible Chapel (now called Vertical Church). Then at the end of 2017, three more executive resignations were announced.

Most recently, according to multiple sources, Scott Milholland has resigned. Milholland was the Senior Executive Pastor at HBC. Calls to the communications staff of the church were not returned.

 

Image: By Esther 5000 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48825134

White Evangelicals Stand with Trump

Are evangelicals moving away from Trump?

Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins wrote yesterday that any suggestion evangelicals are deserting Trump is wrong. He cited research from the Pew Foundation as a support.

Contrary to media reports, Perkins said white evangelicals, young and old, are sticking with Trump and also sticking with their evangelical identification. He took his information directly from a Christian Post article which reported on a speech given by Pew Foundation’s  Alan Cooperman. One fact that Perkins didn’t report is that evangelical voters are becoming more accepting of gays and same-sex marriage, even as they are becoming more pro-life and supportive of the Republican party. This is a trend I have written about previously.

Regarding Trump, white evangelicals gave him a 71% approval rating. For Perkins, this is a source of happiness; for me, it is a discouraging fact. According to Cooperman, those who attend church frequently are more likely than infrequent attenders to support him.

Something that Perkins doesn’t mention that concerns me is the wide gap between white and black evangelicals. Just 11% of black millennial Protestants identify as Republican whereas 77% of white millennial evangelicals do. While I don’t know what this means, the difference is stunning. On the big political issues of the day, religious similarity isn’t a unifying force. It is a big problem for me that the leader of a group purporting to research the Christian family doesn’t report this as a problem for the church.

This difference jumps out at me more than anything else in this report about Cooperman’s presentation. In general, blacks and whites see many issues differently in the culture. White evangelicals want to believe that the gospel unifies. Those opposed to social justice initiatives claim the gospel is enough to unify. However, in practice, that doesn’t seem to be working out. Instead of crowing about political victories, I think white evangelical leaders should be grieving and listening to our minority brothers and sisters.

 

Did Your Tax Dollars Pay for This David Barton Conference?

Look at this tweet.

Periodically, David Barton and his Wallbuilders organization bring together state and federal legislators for briefings and pep talks about how to promote the Christian nationalist legislative agenda. This is of course is how grassroots politics works and he has every right to do it. He can tell them aliens founded the nation if he wants to.

Although I have never heard him say anything about aliens, he does teach things which are troubling. For instance, he teaches that American judges should rule according to God’s law.  You hear echos of this in Trump’s recent appointment to the post of Acting Attorney General. When running for Senate, then candidate Mathew Whitaker said he believed judges needed to have a biblical view of justice (no, a Constitutional view is the standard). Did he take a class with Barton? I don’t know. But I do know that Barton’s teachings have influenced Christian nationalism for decades. Despite a disgraced book pulled by his Christian publisher, a fake PhD claim, and multiple debunkings, he continues to have tremendous influence among those who are now in positions of great power.

Although I don’t know what he said to the legislators about immigration and the states, he has talked about this before on his Wallbuilders Live show (which is taped). This claim is a doozy because he has to butcher Thomas Jefferson’s words to make both healthcare and immigration state functions. I have an entire post on this which you can read here.

Did your legislator attend this meeting? If so, did your tax dollars pay for it? Might be worth checking into.

 

 

 

Over Two Years Ago, David Barton Claimed to Have an Earned Doctorate

David Barton with Eric Metaxas

I am slipping. I missed the second year anniversary of David Barton announcing to the world he had an earned doctorate and the second year anniversary of the day he removed any evidence from the Internet that he ever claimed he had an earned doctorate.

On September 7 2016, I viewed a video (posted on both his Facebook and You Tube accounts) of Barton claiming he had an earned doctorate he chose not to talk about. Then after I figured out that the degree was from a school that meets the federal definition of a diploma mill and published those findings the next day, he removed the video from his accounts.

The following comes from a post marking the one year anniversary of the announcement.

In the video, Barton chastises progressives for questioning his claim to have an earned doctorate. He said he has an earned doctorate but that he has chosen not to talk about it. However, the next day Barton chose to take the video off of both websites and chose not to talk about the reasons why.
Barton’s haughty claim to have an earned doctorate gave way to silence after it was revealed that the degree came from Life Christian University, a

Life Christian University diploma reflection
Life Christian University diploma reflection

diploma mill. According to the president of Life Christian University, Douglas Wingate, Barton didn’t attend the school but was given credit for his historical writings. Even though one cannot meaningfully call a degree earned when you don’t take any classes, that is exactly what LCU does with famous preachers and religious leaders.

The state of Missouri advised fellow LCU degree recipient Joyce Meyer that her claim of an earned PhD from the school was against state law. Meyer’s lawyer responded that Meyer had already decided that describing the LCU PhD as earned was false. Meyer now describes her LCU degree as honorary. Although that description is legal in Missouri, LCU is not accredited by a Department of Education recognized accrediting body and the status as a university is unusual since the school is registered with the IRS as a church.

Barton called his degree earned but sarcastically dismissed the honest reporting of what he called progressives. Barton has never explained or apologized for his demeaning and misleading statements. Yet, he still claims to be “America’s premier historian.” Would “America’s premier historian” try to pass off what can only be called an honorary degree as an earned one?

As of now, America’s premier historian has chosen not to talk about it.

And over two years later, he’s still not talking.

Keeping Focus on the Family Honest on Reparative Therapy

In a recent CBS News report on reparative therapy (sexual orientation change efforts), Focus on the Family’s Jeff Johnston was quoted in support of the practice and a link to FOTF’s website was a part of the story. I have a long history with Focus on this issue. There are some misleading statements on this page which I outline below.

Focus says:

Focus on the Family does not and has never offered sexual-orientation change therapy, also referred to as “reparative therapy.” We have licensed counselors on staff who take one-time phone calls and refer to other therapists, upon request. We also support an individual’s right to counseling for unwanted homosexuality — and the rights of counselors to offer such help.

Although technically true, Focus did recommend reparative therapy via their Love Won Out traveling ex-gay workshops from the late 1990s into the late 2000s. Reparative therapy popularizer Joe Nicolosi was the featured speaker on the origins and treatment of homosexuality. Exodus, Focus on the Family and NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) were the trinity of sexual orientation change efforts in the United States. Even if Focus didn’t have counselors on site who offered counseling, they promoted reparative therapy to the world in a very aggressive manner.

Focus really confuses matters in their definition of “sexual orientation change efforts.”

“Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” (SOCE) is a broad term that deals with any kind of help from a licensed mental-health professional for those with unwanted homosexuality. This is counseling, or talk therapy, to assist someone with unwanted homosexuality —whether it’s behavior, attractions or identity — to live according to their faith and values.

Focus tries to soften the meaning of the word “change.” SOCE is a broad term but it doesn’t refer to “any kind of help from a licensed mental-health professional for those with unwanted homosexuality.” Change means change. SOCE is about trying to help people change their orientation. Opponents of SOCE oppose the efforts of counselors to change orientation.

Focus confuses the issue by saying SOCE includes counseling efforts to help clients “live according to their faith and values.” That would only be SOCE if living according to one’s faith meant changing sexual orientation. However, sexual identity therapy (which is what Mark Yarhouse and I developed) helps people without focusing on orientation change as a goal. Our perspective is that clients can be assisted within their religious framework without any SOCE.

Sexual identity therapy is not SOCE. SIT is a kind of help for people who are conflicted about their sexual orientation but it isn’t SOCE. SIT does help people seek harmony within themselves without using SOCE. Focus’ description of SOCE is too broad and misleading. Focus appears to want to make this issue about religious freedom when in fact, it is about what is helpful with clients.

Focus then speculates about what isn’t allowed by a ban on SOCE.

If this therapy is banned, think about the impact this would have on minors:

A teen boy who is hooked on gay pornography — and wants to stop — could not get help from a licensed professional counselor.

A young girl who was sexually abused, and was questioning her identity, could only get help to identify as lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

A boy who wants to develop his sense of masculinity and identity could not get help to affirm his masculine identity from a state-licensed counselor.

A girl who’s involved in a same-sex relationship, but whose faith says that’s not best for her, could not get help to stop the relationship from a licensed counselor.

As worded above, SOCE is not required to address any of these situations. Laws prohibiting SOCE for minors allow for identity exploration and the treatment of sexual abuse. The laws do not forbid clients from acting in line with their religious beliefs as long as the counselor does not implement techniques designed to change a client’s sexual orientation. For instance, if a same-sex attracted teen is in a same-sex relationship but believes it is wrong, she can seek help to take steps to end it and cope with the results.

Could John Kasich Lead a Successful Third Party Challenge?

Since John Kasich dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, he has been at odds with his party over direction and support for Donald Trump.  Now he is signaling a move to a possible third party run for president in 2020.

According to the Dayton Daily News, Kasich told Whoopi Goldberg on The Political View program that he believes he could win a primary in New Hampshire but not do well in Southern states where Trump is strong.

Despite being quite religious himself, Kasich never really caught on with evangelical voters during the Republican primaries. He was widely viewed as a moderate, a perception which might now help him in a deeply divided nation. At least that’s one way to look at it.

I like Kasich and supported him in the primaries. I would support him as an independent but I don’t know if there are enough voters who would be willing to take the risk on a third party. Even though I think he is a good mix of principle and pragmatism, he was not able to inspire widespread support in 2016. It remains to be seen if the conditions are right for him now.

Image: From Johnkasich.com

 

Peace Starts With Me Today; New York City Mayor de Blasio Slated to Attend; Conference Credits Hak Ja Moon for Korean Unification

Today is the big Unification Church evangelistic rally featuring Christian singers Hezekiah Walker, Yolanda Adams, and Israel Houghton. Bishop Noel Jones is supposed to speak as a warm-up for the Daughter of God herself, Hak Jan Han Moon, True Mother and co-savior of the world.

Also speaking today, according to this press release, is Mayor Bill de Blasio.

You can watch the event here.

I suspect the author of Reckless Love never thought it would be sung at a Unification Church evangelistic service.

Family Federation minister Demian Dunkley said 200 churches and houses of worship are represented at the event which is a big “family reunion.”

Bishop Noel Jones said he has studied the Moons’ teaching and has used them with students in his church. This appears to be a pretty clear admission that he has left orthodoxy. The syncretism is strong in his message.

Moon’s message was as promised. She claimed to be the only begotten daughter of God. Then, after some fractured history, she claimed that True Parents are the new opportunity to be born again and the way to receive the blessing and become the children of God.

 

Open Forum: Post Midterm Election Analysis

The big news from last night is a divided Congress with the Democrats taking the House by a wide margin and the Republicans widening their margin in the Senate.

It appears the suburban areas of the country rejected Trump and the rural areas moved a little closer to him.

Trump has already challenged Democrats by suggesting that he controls the Senate.

I don’t think that is going to persuade Democrats not to exercise oversight, do you?

What are your reactions? What are the important races and stories in your opinion?

Discuss in the comments section.