The Silent Clean Up Continues

(In the photo above, Tim Clinton is above Donald Trump’s head, to the right of V.P. Pence, Image: Johnnie Moore’s Twitter feed)

As Professor Aaron New documents today on Twitter, AACC owner and Trump evangelical advisor Tim Clinton continues to quietly clean up his citation problems. Good thing too because failure to attribute your work properly is a big problem in professional circles. Look at what the American Counseling Association code of ethics (2014) says:

G.5.b. Plagiarism
Counselors do not plagiarize; that is, they do not present another person’s work as their own.

G.5.c. Acknowledging Previous Work
In publications and presentations, counselors acknowledge and give recognition to previous work on the topic by others or self.

Let’s see what Dr. New brings us today.

If you look at the right side of the tweet, you will see Dan Allender’s name added recently. This has happened since my articles on Clinton’s citation inadequacies have appeared. According to New’s count, 28 articles were on Clinton’s website (owned by AACC which is owned by Clinton) without the true author listed.

Good for Clinton that he is getting those authors names up there. I just wonder how he is going to address the other issues, such as the one I wrote about yesterday. The print article can’t be withdrawn and corrected quietly.

Prof. New asks a good question: Are any AACC members concerned about this? Mainly I have heard from people who don’t feel they can’t speak up because they fear repercussions. It remains to be seen how seriously Christian counselors take the matters raised over the past week.

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Once Upon a Time, Tim Clinton Borrowed from The WSJ and Chuck Colson

(In the photo above, Tim Clinton is above Donald Trump’s head, to the right of V.P. Pence, Image: Johnnie Moore’s Twitter feed)

Good sources, but you have to cite them.

Again, Professor Aaron New brought a potential citation problem to my attention and sure enough, it doesn’t look good. In the fourth issue of volume 12* of AACC’s flagship publication Christian Counseling Today, Tim Clinton’s byline rests on an article titled, “Judicial Tyranny and the Loss of Self-Government.” However, much of the article seems to be lifted verbatim from op-eds by Pete DuPont and Chuck Colson.

A fair use copy is reproduced here. The first page is clean as far as I can tell. However, when he begins to write about filibusters and the Democrats on page two, Chuck Colson and Pete DuPont enter in.  Here is the second page of Clinton’s article. You may have to click it to enlarge it. The material outlined in red is from Chuck Colson’s article, and the material outlined in black is from Pete DuPont’s op-ed.

Clinton’s Judicial Tyranny and the Loss of Self-Government

Check a side-by-side comparison of Clinton’s “Judicial Tyranny and the Loss of Self-Government” and the articles by Colson and DuPont.

Here is the link to Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint piece. The content from Colson’s piece included in Clinton’s column is reproduced below. Clinton rearranged some of it but there is much that is simply copied.

 The President “is to nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint . . . judges of the Supreme Court.”

Publius, of course, was the pen name used by three of our nation’s founders when they wrote the eighty-five newspaper essays now known as the Federalist Papers. Among the authors was Alexander Hamilton, who wrote essay number 76, from which I just quoted. These fading words on a yellowed document reveal that what a handful of U.S. senators are doing today is a constitutional travesty.

These fading words on a yellowed document reveal that what a handful of U.S. senators are doing today is a constitutional travesty.

Democratic senators have for months been filibustering judges chosen by President Bush to serve on the federal courts. If the full Senate were allowed to vote on these fine judges, they would easily be confirmed. But a hostile minority is using the filibuster tactic to prevent such a vote — purely for ideological reasons.

In so doing, they are behaving as if the Senate is supposed to have equal say with the president in deciding who sits on the court. That is nonsense.

The Constitution could not be clearer. The nomination is made by the president alone. The Senate is to give its advice and consent — not demand ideological purity. Alexander Hamilton explained the intent in his essay number 76. “It is not likely,” he wrote, “that [the Senate’s] sanction would often be refused where there were not special and strong reasons for the refusal.”

The advice and consent clause, Hamilton continued, was intended to provide a check upon a president who would, say, appoint his brother, or engage in favoritism, or reward family connections or personal benefactors — nothing more.

And yet, today a Senate minority is using the filibuster to prevent a vote on highly qualified judges, like Bill Pryor or Miguel Estrada, an able Hispanic lawyer who was nominated and had to be withdrawn, and Janice Brown, an African- American judge from California. And the grounds for opposition is not what the constitutional framers intended; it’s ideological. They just do not like what these judges believe.

This filibuster should offend us for another reason. America’s founders, informed by their Christian understanding of the Fall, provided for a system of checks and balances so that no one branch of government would have power over the other. But today a minority in the Congress is holding hostage judges named to the court. This is a fundamental assault on an independent judiciary and, thus, a violation of the balance of powers.

Below is the material taken from the DuPont op-ed.

Sen. Barbara Boxer is a longtime opponent of judicial nomination filibusters. Or she was. Suddenly the light has dawned, and she realizes how wrong she was to oppose them: “I thought I knew everything. I didn’t get it. . . . I am here to say I was totally wrong.”

Other Democratic senators have had similar changes in belief: Joe Biden and Robert Byrd, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, Joe Lieberman, Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer and their erstwhile colleagues Lloyd Bentsen, and Tom Daschle have all vigorously opposed the use of the filibuster against judicial nominations. Mr. Schumer was for voting judicial nominations “up or down” without delay. Mr. Leahy flatly opposed a filibuster against Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination: “The president and the nominee and all Americans deserve an up-or-down vote.” Mr. Harkin believed “the filibuster rules are unconstitutional,” Mr. Daschle declared that “democracy means majority rule, not minority gridlock,” and Mr. Kennedy that “senators who believe in fairness will not let the minority of the Senate deny [the nominee] his vote by the entire Senate.”

But that was then, when Democrats controlled the Senate. Now, they are a frustrated minority and it is different. Mr. Leahy has voted against cloture to end filibusters 21 out of 26 times; Mr. Kennedy, 18 out of 23. Now all these Senators practice and defend the use of filibusters against judicial nominees.

This fundamental change in deeply held liberal beliefs has made a difference. Sen. Orrin Hatch notes that in the 108th Congress (2003-04) the Senate “voted on motions to end debate on judicial nominations 20 times. Each vote failed.” Of the 51 judicial nominees President Bush has put forward for the circuit courts of appeals, 35 have been confirmed, 10 have been “debated” without conclusion–filibustered–and six were threatened with a filibuster so no action has been taken on their nomination. Mr. Bush nominated Justice Priscilla Owen of the Texas Supreme Court for the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals almost four years ago. She has the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association but has been filibustered four times by a Senate minority that once devoutly believed filibustering was morally wrong and clearly unconstitutional.

Some of the above was omitted by Clinton (e.g., the sentence about Orrin Hatch), but most of this ended up without attribution in Clinton’s column.

In his response to Inside Higher Ed, Clinton said through his spokesman that he wasn’t directly involved in all of his online writing. In this article, it seems hard to make that case since the first page was personalized (“I don’t often write about political matters…”) and the end of the article was personalized. It would be great to hear directly from Dr. Clinton but he has yet to reply to my contact.

This isn’t the first instance like this. To see all articles in this series, click here.

UPDATE (8/16/18): To the Christian Post, Clinton blames an employee for this. I would like to be a reporter asking some follow up questions. For instance, the first page contained personal illustrations which Clinton clearly wrote. Did he not read the rest of the article and wonder where did all of that other information come from?  Also, 60% of the article came from Pete DuPont and Chuck Colson. If an employee really contributed 60% of the content for the article, then why didn’t the employee get first billing on the authorship?

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* The dating of Christian Counseling Today is confusing because the footer on the pages say the magazine was published in 2004. However, this can’t be true because in the editor’s introduction to that same issue Archibald Hart said that he wrote his column the morning Terri Schiavo died. Schiavo died March 31, 2005. Also, Clinton referred to quotes from Barbara Boxer which she did not say until March of 2005. Thus, the magazine couldn’t have been published in 2004 or even until sometime after April 2005. Furthermore, Clinton referred to legislative actions in Congress which happened in 2005, not 2004.

As additional evidence that the issue was published later in 2005, I was able to secure a photo of a copy of this issue of CCT received by the Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville TX with a date of receipt: September 1, 2005. Somewhere around 2010, it appears that the AACC corrected this confusing dating and changed the date to match the calendar year of publication so that issues 1 and 2 were published in the last half of one year and issues 3 and 4 were published in the first half of the next year. In any case, when one considers the other statements in the magazine and Clinton’s article, it is clear that he wrote after Colson and DuPont, not before.

AACC President Tim Clinton Blames Employees, Grad Students, Etc. for Missing Citations

(In the photo above, Tim Clinton is above Donald Trump’s head, to the right of V.P. Pence, Image: Johnnie Moore’s Twitter feed)

This morning to Inside Higher Ed, American Association of Christian Counselors owner and Trump advisor Tim Clinton blamed former employers, grad students, research assistants, and third-party partners for the missing citations in his online publications.

Significantly, Clinton also told Inside Higher Ed through spokesman Jimmy Queen that some of his published works “have involved more of his direct involvement than others since he has often been assisted by graduate students or research associates.” To me, that sounds like he acknowledged that he didn’t write everything with his byline. If that is true, then why didn’t the grad students and research assistants get co-authorship as the AACC Code of Ethics requires?

Consider Jimmy Queen’s defense in light of the AACC Code of Ethics:

1-880: Writing and Publication Ethics in Christian Counseling
Christian counselors maintain honesty and integrity in all writing and publication ventures, giving full credit to whom credit is due. Christian counselors recognize the work of
others on all projects, avoid plagiarism of another’s work, share credit by joint authorship or acknowledgement with others who have directly and substantially contributed to the work
published, and honor all copyright and other laws applicable to the work.

Deja Vu All Over Again?*

This defense reminds me of how people close to Mars Hill Church described Mark Driscoll’s “content management system.” His stated intent was not to plagiarize but rather to pump out as much content as possible. For some of the online work, Driscoll functioned as a manager of content or as a kind of editor. He put his name on things others wrote which he approved but didn’t always double check (e.g., his book on I Peter).

To read all articles on this topic, click here.

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*Attributed to Yogi Berra – I thought I’d better footnote that.

James Dobson and Family Talk: Who Really Wrote These Articles?

(In the photo above, Tim Clinton is above Donald Trump’s head, to the right of V.P. Pence, Image: Johnnie Moore’s Twitter feed)

On Thursday, I brought to you news about the website maneuvers of American Association of Christian Counselors president and owner Tim Clinton after psychology professor Aaron New called out unsourced material in one of his online devotionals. Dr. Clinton has been removing articles identified in my post and in one case an article has been removed from the website of his new organization James Dobson’s Family Talk Radio. This morning, I submit Family Talk’s web team may have some more work to do.

Coping with Crisis

Currently, an article titled “Coping with Crisis” is hosted on Tim Clinton’s Family Talk blog page. However, if Clinton’s Bible for Hope can be believed (can we doubt anything with Bible in the title?), H. Norman Wright wrote that article. Clinton’s personal website also lists this article on his page without attribution to Wright.

UPDATE: After I wrote this, “Coping with Crisis” was removed from Family Talk’s website. It is available to view via the Wayback Machine.

Strive to Excel

Another article which may need scrubbing is “Strive to Excel.” Clinton has already removed it from his Medium, AACC, and personal pages. This article borrows material verbatim and without citation from a 1999 St. Petersburg Times article. Furthermore, this piece is taken from Clinton’s book with Max Davis, Ignite Your Faith without giving credit to Davis.  Go to the end of this post for a comparison of Clinton’s article with the 1999 newspaper article by Bruce Lowitt.

UPDATE: After I wrote this, “Strive to Excel” was removed from Family Talk’s website, It is available to view via the Wayback Machine.

Scrubbing in Progress

I see some scrubbing is underway. Clinton’s article citing Wikipedia without citation on respect has been scrubbed. The archived copy is here with the Wikipedia material in the first paragraph.

Family Talk Radio is aware of the situation because yesterday I asked them about another article which Family Talk attributed to Clinton which was actually written by Joshua Straub. That article was removed and I am waiting for some clarification about why. Since they are now scrubbing articles with uncited material, I can only assume that they know why they are doing it.

Celebrate Freedom

UPDATE: The articles I referred to above have now been scrubbed. Oddly enough, Clinton’s “Celebrate Freedom” post remains on the site even though he included inaccurate historical information from a source he didn’t cite.

UPDATE (8/13/18) – Ok, now “Celebrate Freedom” has been removed from Family Talk’s website. It is available to view here. It has also been removed from Clinton’s other websites.

Perhaps, Family Talk should just give me a call for the other posts which should be removed. I will have another one for you soon. Stay tuned…

A New Day A New You

UPDATE (8/13/18) – This piece has been posted at AACC‘s and Family Talk’s websites. It was also posted without an author back on 12/31/2010 on the AACC website. It has been scrubbed from the AACC website with that date but can be found via the Wayback Machine. Perhaps someone other than Clinton wrote it originally. In any case, it has material in it which appears to be lifted from a 1/4/10 Miami Herald piece by Jack Hardy titled, “New Year’s Resolutions Can Be Useful, Even When They Fail.”* Compare:

Clinton – It’s the “keeping them” part that gets us. In fact, 40 to 45 percent of people do make a New Year’s Resolution, and while it is true that 97% of resolutions are never fulfilled, 75% do make it past the first week, and 46% make it past the six month mark.

Miami Herald, Jack Hardy – Oscar Wilde wrote: “A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.” It’s true; statistics confirm that almost 97 percent of New Year’s resolutions are never fulfilled.   Even so, some 40 to 45 percent do use New Year’s Day to make resolutions and set goals.

While many may eventually ditch their resolutions, statistics show that setting goals is valuable. Research shows that 75 percent do make it past the first week; 46 percent make it past the six-month mark.

Not only is the phrasing and information identical, Clinton presents the information as the president of the AACC, an expert in mental health. However, he doesn’t cite his source. While any writer should take care with research, it is more necessary for mental health professionals to do so with social science data.

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Here is a pdf of Clinton’s article, “Press On.” (In Google’s cache for awhile)

Here is the archived copy of the original St. Petersburg Times article by Bruce Lowitt.

The articles use very similar words and phrases. Here are some examples.

Lowitt: At the start of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., the U.S. team was, like its gold-medal predecessor, little more than an afterthought — even in the mind of its coach.

Clinton: At the start of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., the U.S. hockey team was little more than an afterthought.

Lowitt: The Soviets were seeded No. 1, and deservedly so. They had won five gold medals and one bronze in the previous six Olympics. The seventh-seeded U.S. team could cling to one piece of history.

Clinton: The Soviets were seeded №1, and deservedly so. They had won five gold medals and one bronze in the previous six Olympics.

The U.S. team was seeded seventh.

Lowitt: The Soviets unleashed 30 shots in the first two periods to the United States’ 10. Only one dramatic save after another by former Boston University goaltender Jim Craig kept the United States close.

Clinton: The Soviets unleashed 30 shots in the first two periods to the United States’ 10. One dramatic save after another by goaltender Jim Craig kept the U.S. team close.

Lowitt: The explosion of cheers was deafening, and most of the 10,000 fans squeezed into the 8,500-seat arena began a chant of “USA! USA!” that never abated in the final 10 minutes.

Clinton: The explosion of cheers was deafening, and most of the 10,000 fans began a chant of “USA! USA!” that did not end for the final 10 minutes.

Lowitt: Later, Brooks pulled from his pocket a yellow card with a scrawled message. He said it contained the pregame message he read to his team:

“You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here.”

Clinton: After the game, coach Herb Brooks pulled a yellow card from his pocket with the scrawled message on it that he had read to his team just before the game:

“You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here.”

The quotes from the players in Clinton’s article were the same as in the Lowitt article although shortened. Read both pieces and decide for yourself.

*Hardy’s article isn’t available on the web. I was able to obtain it via the Miami Herald archives. A reprint of it is available via this chiropractic website.

Tim Clinton’s Bad History and Questionable Publishing (UPDATED)

(In the photo above, Tim Clinton is above Donald Trump’s head, to the right of V.P. Pence, Image: Johnnie Moore’s Twitter feed)

UPDATE (8/10/18) – Since I posted this information, Dr. Clinton or someone acting for him has deleted most of the articles referred to below. Archived copies of those articles exist and I have added links to them below.  The post has been edited to reflect those changes. Via Twitter, I asked Clinton for comment without reply as yet. While it is appropriate to remove content, it would be right to comment and take responsibility as well.

Sources continue to send other instances of Clinton’s web articles where information from other authors is used without citation. I plan to add them to this post as I find them. Check the end of the post and this link for additions. Family Talk Radio is also removing posts with borrowed material.

(Original post)

Oh my, you can find bad history in the strangest places.

Knowing my interest in historical claims, a colleague pointed out this historical faux pas in an article by Tim Clinton (also at James Dobson’s website), president and owner of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Dr. Clinton is also an advisor to President Trump.  Making this article of double interest is the lack of citation of the historical problem which is a problem according to the doctor’s own ethics code (1-880).

The article is a brief tribute to the founders of America and includes this paragraph:

In all, 5 of the 56 were captured and tortured by the British. 29 had their homes, businesses and property destroyed and eventually went bankrupt. Several lived off charity and died penniless. 9 were killed in the Revolution. 2 lost sons.

This information is lifted without citation from various sources (e.g., here). Much of it is inaccurate and exaggerated as documented by these pieces at Snopes and the Daily Signal. Dr. Clinton, which 9 were killed in the Revolution (implying they died in war)?

As of 8/13/18, Celebrate Freedom has been removed.

Press On!

This isn’t the first time for Dr. Clinton. Just yesterday, Dr. Clinton was called out by psychology professor Aaron New on Twitter about a piece posted on Medium.com. Here is that Twitter exchange.

In question was an August 7 article posted by Clinton on Medium about the 1980 USA Hockey team. After Dr. New pointed out the similarities between Clinton’s article and a 1999 article about the team’s win over the Soviet Union, Clinton deleted the tweet and the article from Medium and AACC.

Here is a pdf of Clinton’s article, “Press On.” (In Google’s cache for awhile)

Here is the archived copy of the original St. Petersburg Times article by Bruce Lowitt.

The articles use very similar words and phrases. Here are some examples.

Lowitt: At the start of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., the U.S. team was, like its gold-medal predecessor, little more than an afterthought — even in the mind of its coach.

Clinton: At the start of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., the U.S. hockey team was little more than an afterthought.

Lowitt: The Soviets were seeded No. 1, and deservedly so. They had won five gold medals and one bronze in the previous six Olympics. The seventh-seeded U.S. team could cling to one piece of history.

Clinton: The Soviets were seeded №1, and deservedly so. They had won five gold medals and one bronze in the previous six Olympics.

The U.S. team was seeded seventh.

Lowitt: The Soviets unleashed 30 shots in the first two periods to the United States’ 10. Only one dramatic save after another by former Boston University goaltender Jim Craig kept the United States close.

Clinton: The Soviets unleashed 30 shots in the first two periods to the United States’ 10. One dramatic save after another by goaltender Jim Craig kept the U.S. team close.

Lowitt: The explosion of cheers was deafening, and most of the 10,000 fans squeezed into the 8,500-seat arena began a chant of “USA! USA!” that never abated in the final 10 minutes.

Clinton: The explosion of cheers was deafening, and most of the 10,000 fans began a chant of “USA! USA!” that did not end for the final 10 minutes.

Lowitt: Later, Brooks pulled from his pocket a yellow card with a scrawled message. He said it contained the pregame message he read to his team:

“You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here.”

Clinton: After the game, coach Herb Brooks pulled a yellow card from his pocket with the scrawled message on it that he had read to his team just before the game:

“You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here.”

The quotes from the players in Clinton’s article were the same as in the Lowitt article although shortened. Read both pieces and decide for yourself.

This article is also in his book with Max Davis titled, Ignite Your Faith, and under another title at James Dobson’s Family Talk website.

THERE’S MORE

Dr. Clinton should also check in on this article titled “Do” since it has material taken from this article on a history website without citation.

Update (later the same day): Now this article titled, “Do” has been removed from the AACC website without comment. The article is still archived here

UPDATE: Clinton has removed all articles and apparently removed his account from Medium.com. An archived version of the page can be viewed but in real time, it is gone as of today.

UPDATE: See the comments section for three more examples provided by Dr. New. Here’s one from this article on the AACC website called “How About Some Respect.” The Wikipedia entry is an early version which was in turn adapted and used on LastFM.

(8/10/18) “How About Some Respect” has now been removed from the AACC website. However, it is available at the Internet Archive.

(8/10/18) Clinton also removed an article from both the AACC and Medium websites titled “Bounce Back.” Professor New referred to this piece in the blog comments section. This article is also available at the Internet Archive.

(8/10/18) Professor New alerted me that many of the articles on Clinton’s personal website have been written by other people. On his website, articles from a book titled the Soul Care Bible (edited by Clinton, Ed Hindson, & George Ohlschlager) appear with his name and photo but without attribution to the author. For instance, this article on forgiveness was written by Ev Worthington in the Soul Care Bible. On Clinton’s website  , it appears he wrote it:

There is no mention of Ev Worthington on the page. However, here is Worthington’s entry on forgiveness in the Soul Care Bible.  Clinton also has reproduced articles on adultery, honor, crisis, hope, parenting, suicide, divorce, addiction, legalism, and adolescent development on his page. None of these articles on Clinton’s website list the actual author.

UPDATE (8/10/18): His devotional section has now been removed from his personal website. Also, I have noted in several of the devotionals the use of material from Bible study books without citation. For instance, in this article on compassion, Clinton uses a quote without a citation and then uses material verbatim without quotes or citation. From the AACC article:

“Splagchnizomai” the Greek word for compassion literally means “to be moved as to one’s bowels” (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity).

This appears to come from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and can be viewed on the web:

σπλαγχνίζομαι; 1 aorist ἐσπλαγχνίσθην (cf. Buttmann, 52 (45)); (σπλάγχνον, which see); properly, to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence, to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity).

According to the code of conduct of Clinton’s former academic employer Liberty University (any writer or academic knows this), any direct quote should be cited and placed within quotes. In a devotional piece such as the one on the AACC website (although it is supposed to be a professional organization), a footnote could be used to give proper attribution. Although this might seem like a small instance, it is completely unnecessary. There is no reason why the use of the exact words from Thayer’s reference work can’t be cited as it should be.

Off and on through the afternoon of 8/10 timclinton.com has been down. There have been shifts in content through the day as well. However, no response has yet come to my inquiry.

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Image: Johnnie Moore’s Twitter feed

AACC Defends Choice of Trump Lawyer Jay Sekulow as Plenary Speaker

The American Association of Christian Counselors continues to indirectly respond to charges that the organization owned by Tim Clinton has become politicized. One focus of criticism has been AACC’s choice to feature one of President Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow (see the AACC petition here). Yesterday, the AACC amended a promotional email by changing Jay Sekulow’s bio to include a statement about why he is speaking at a conference of counselors.
Sekulow AACC bio 2
Compare this to the prior bio:
Jay Sekulow AACC
As a lawyer, Sekulow can speak to these legal issues. However, I don’t believe he could make a good case that his organization is on the cutting edge of mental health and counseling issues. Most of the important cases relating to what religious counselors can and can’t do have been litigated by Alliance Defending Freedom. A search of Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice doesn’t show any cases or news items involving counselors over the past two years, and that was a pro-life “sidewalk counselor” case. The ACLJ has focused on politics, opposition to abortion, and immigration.
“Getting involved in public policy discussions” is not the primary objection in the Change.org petition to remove politics from the AACC. The issue relates to one-sided partisan politics and the perception that the AACC has been silent in the face of statements and actions from the president which make the work of counselors more difficult. Sekulow isn’t known right now as an expert on the intersection of religious liberty and mental health. He is known as a defender of Trump’s actions and statements.
If Tim Clinton wanted to address these concerns, he could diversify the ideological offerings at the Conference. For instance, host a forum on healthcare and invite speakers of all ideologies to address counselors. Have single-payer advocates, Obama care advocates, and radical free market advocates address the paying customers. AACC right now is incredibly one-sided and heavily weighted with ideological mates of owner Tim Clinton.
See all articles regarding the American Association of Christian Counselors here: AACC

To Christian Today, Tim Clinton and AACC Deny Being Politicized

BBB AACC
In today’s edition of Christian Today, owner of the American Association of Christian Counselors Tim Clinton and advisory board member Ron Hawkins both deny the AACC has become politicized. Although they do not mention Trump, neither express regret for past support for Trump.
About politics, Clinton told CT, “[W]e do care about, speak to and advocate for certain policies that effect our members’ ability to integrate their faith with their respective, professional disciplines.” Specifically mentioned by Clinton include issues relating to “religious liberty, ethical standards and certain regulatory considerations as it relates to training, practice, accreditation, and licensure as Christian practitioners.” He added that he was interested in “…government policies and programs effecting suicide prevention, the opioid crisis, support for military families, trauma recovery, managed care, mental health benefits, client rights and self determination in mental and relational healthcare and more.”
On behalf of AACC, Hawkins said the executive board expects AACC leadership to engage national leaders in order to benefit members. However, like Clinton, Hawkins did not specify what policies were being advocated via the obvious access to the Oval Office Clinton now enjoys.
After these statements, we still don’t know what Clinton supports when it comes to mental health care in health insurance reform. Clinton didn’t address one of the key concerns expressed in Dr. New’s letter and some signers of the Change.org petition – that of Donald Trump’s rhetoric involving women and those with disabilities.
I assumed AACC spokespeople would eventually deny the observations of the current and former members, but I had hoped they might be a little more specific regarding what the organization supports. Now, we know the leaders are “interested” but we don’t know what that means in practice.
For more on AACC, see this post.

Better Business Bureau: The American Association of Christian Counselors Gets a D-

BBB AACC
Recently, the president and owner of the American Association of Christian Counselors Tim Clinton has come under some scrutiny from former and current AACC members due to his support for President Donald Trump. In response to the petition at Change.org, some former and current members have written to me with complaints about other aspects of the organization. One common complaint relates to poor customer service and lack of responsiveness from the organization. Looking into this a little, I found that the AACC is rated “D-” by the Better Business Bureau.
The basis for the BBB’s rating is a high volume of complaints, poor reviews, and the length of time for AACC to respond to the complaints. BBB has received 105 complaints about the AACC over the past three years. Many of the complaints have to do with unacceptably slow refunds (e.g., two years!) for a cancelled conference.
The author of the petition regarding AACC and president Tim Clinton’s move into partisan politics — Dr. Aaron New — has had almost no response to his inquiries. I have not received even a no comment to questions about AACC’s position on healthcare reform.

The AACC is a Business

To me, it is a little surprising that the AACC is unresponsive. The corporation is in the business of selling counseling services and training materials. A business that relies on satisfied customers should work hard to satisfy them. Perhaps, AACC’s leaders are unresponsive because they have a near monopoly in their field. The only other group in that space is the Christian Association for Psychological Studies which is much smaller and not as glitzy.
Unlike other mental health professional groups (e.g., APA, ACA, NASW), AACC is a for-profit business owned by Tim Clinton. According to a 2003 SEC filing, Tim Clinton is the sole shareholder of the AACC. The BBB website lists the following officers (information supplied by the AACC):

  • Mr. Tim Clinton, President
  • Mr. Ben Allison
  • Ms. Sharon Naylor, Accounting Manager
  • Mr. Jimmy D Queen, COO
  • Mr. Eric Scalise, CEO
  • Mr. Alexander Smith, CFO
  • Mr. C. L. Stewart, Bookkeeper
There is also a nonprofit AACC Foundation which, according to the AACC website:

IS OUR NON-PROFIT WORLDWIDE RESOURCE that exists to encourage the development of Christian counseling worldwide through funding of various programs that are not priorities in a for-profit, business model, but are nonetheless crucial to the comprehensive development of a Christian counseling ministry.

According to the latest IRS 990 form available on Guidestar, the board of AACC Foundation consisted of Jimmy Queen and Ron Hawkins. Queen is the COO of the for-profit AACC and Hawkins is on the AACC “Executive Board.” In light of “arms length” guidelines, it seems questionable to have the same board members on the for-profit and nonprofit boards. According to the 2015 990, AACC Foundation paid the for-profit AACC, Inc. over $500,000 for employee leasing, printing and other services. If you donate to the AACC Foundation, you can get a tax deduction but it is a safe bet that much of your donation will go toward buying materials and services produced by the for-profit AACC.
On the AACC website, what is called the Executive Board has no decision making power and only advises if asked. The website gives the appearance of a professional trade association with various divisions and advisory boards but in fact, AACC is a for-profit business. The members don’t vote for officers to set policy for the practice and professionalization of Christian counseling. Tim Clinton is and will always be president.

AACC: Is This the Best Way to Organize a Trade Association?

The lack of responsiveness and transparency at AACC may lead some Christian mental health professionals to question more than the political movements there. It is a fair to ask if a for-profit model is the best way for Christian mental health professionals to organize their professional interests. Let me close with one possible conflict of interests which I hope to discuss more in a future post.
In the view of many working mental health professionals, mental health care is a necessity in any insurance plan. There are beneficial medical cost offsets when mental health concerns are properly treated. Also, it is both counter to scientific evidence and inhumane to discriminate against coverage of mental disorders in insurance plans. Furthermore, to oppose mental health parity is counter to the business interests of mental health providers who rely on third party payments for their income. However, if AACC is committed to supporting Trump’s or the GOP’s minimalist approach to health benefits because the owner is a Trump supporter, then is AACC working in the best interests of members or the owner? Members can’t vote and the leaders don’t answer legitimate questions about AACC policy and advocacy. This would not be tolerated in a member-driven nonprofit trade association. At some point, I wonder if members will ask if they should continue to labor within the current paradigm.
To sign the petition calling for removal of politics from the AACC, go to Change.org.

Current and Former Members of Christian Counseling Group Upset by Owner's Political Moves

4f900e54 (1)_optTim Clinton is the owner and president of the American Association of Christian Counselors. There is a non-profit side to the enterprise but the AACC is a for profit business. Clinton has become a key supporter of Donald Trump and like many evangelical leaders has remained silent in the face of Trump’s more outrageous episodes.
One former member, Aaron New, a psychology and counseling professor at a Christian college and former AACC member was upset to hear nothing from Clinton about Donald Trump’s descriptions of his actions on the infamous Access Hollywood audio. After trying to get a response from Clinton at the time, New sought answers from the board of directors. After hearing nothing from them, he decided to allow me to publish the letter.  Together we are launching a petition at Change.org for those who also want to express their concerns.
Although this may seem like an anti-Trump effort, it is not inherently so. The petition is for Trump supporters and those who might have opposed him. The aim is political neutrality in AACC and AACC events. We advocate for speakers who are involved in counseling, not known as partisans or campaigners for specific political positions in the culture wars.

AACC Doesn’t Want to Talk About This

Throckmorton: Why did you decide to write the executive board?
New: I had already attempted to contact Dr. Clinton via Twitter with the concerns expressed in the letter. I have no email address for him. He did not reply so I thought I might get some information from the board. However, I am still having a hard time understanding who is on the board. For instance, the list for the advisory board includes the name of a man who died in 2005. Customer service told me after several inquiries that the list is the most current they have. I have not heard from any leaders of AACC.
Throckmorton: So is that why you decided to publish it as an open letter?
New: Yes, as we have discussed, AACC has not been very responsive to me as a member. I think the concerns of the letter are valid and should be addressed by a group supposedly dedicated to advancing Christian counseling.
Throckmorton: What do you hope to accomplish?
New: I still think there could be value in the AACC but it needs to be more responsive to member concerns and stay out of partisan politics. Jay Sekulow is a plenary speaker at this year’s world conference. I don’t understand his place at the conference at all. He is now one of President Trump’s attorneys and in the thick of the political and legal defense of the president. I would like to see AACC become a professional home for counselors of all political persuasions. Although I am definitely a conservative, I don’t think Christian leaders should provide silent approval for actions which in the end make our work more difficult. Until something changes, I don’t think I can rejoin the AACC. I’ll have to look elsewhere for an organization to invest in.

Below is New’s letter along with co-signers

I am writing as a previous member of AACC and as one who teaches about and is passionate about Christian Counseling.  I have attended many regional and world conferences, enjoying the fellowship and education/training they provided.  I appreciated their publications and advocacy for Christian Counselors around the world.  For a very long time, the AACC was my professional home.  
But I allowed my membership expire due to concerns about its recent direction and mission.  I miss being a part of the AACC and I am still weighing the benefits of calling it my home.  As I do so, I wonder if you would be willing to address some of my concerns.
In May of 2016, Dr. Clinton joined the Evangelical Executive Advisory Board for then presidential candidate Donald Trump.  In every instance I found, Dr. Clinton was not just mentioned by name, but also as the President of the AACC.  This certainly seemed to me to be a politicization of the AACC.  I expressed my concern about this at the time and have been watching Dr. Clinton’s involvement (among others) rather carefully since then.
Dr. Clinton has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump through his candidacy and presidency.  As far as I can tell, he has never offered any public criticism of Trump’s character, behavior, or policies.  He has, however, gone out of his way to publicly confirm and praise him.  Just one example (but of particular concern) was Dr. Clinton’s silence during the controversy that surrounded Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood video.  As the leader of the flagship Christian Counseling organization, it seemed unconscionable to me that Dr. Clinton refused to condemn such harmful words and behaviors – the very kinds of words and behaviors that we work against in our offices and with our clients every day. 
 I believe that the members of the AACC deserve better leadership and guidance than this. At a minimum (and in my clinical opinion), Trump exhibits the character and behaviors of a person who, if in our offices, would be challenged not celebrated.  But much beyond that (and still in my clinical opinion), Trump’s character and behaviors are the kind that cause wounds and trauma to the very people that end up needing the care of Christian Counselors.  It seems hypocritical to celebrate Trumpish character and behavior because of political power or expediency and simultaneously try to care for the people who are harmed by them.  Even if Dr. Clinton feels justified in maintaining his support of Trump, the very least he could do is address these concerns for members of the AACC. The president of the AACC should be willing and able to offer guidance to Christian Counselors for how to think about these issues, but as of today has been unwilling or unable to publicly do so.
 In my estimation, Dr. Clinton’s support of Donald Trump and the politicization of the AACC has only grown with time.  Most recently, the AACC announced the addition of several keynote speakers to the 2017 World Conference. Among them were Jack Graham and Jay Sekulow. While Jack Graham is another member of the Evangelical Executive Advisory Board and a vocal supporter of Trump, I am not terribly surprised by his addition.  But asking Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal attorney and public advocate, to speak at the World Conference is, well, simply unbelievable. 
I miss the AACC, but if I am ever to return I would like to know more about the Board of Directors (both as individuals and as a body). 
Do you personally support this kind of politicization of the AACC?
Is Dr. Clinton’s support of Donald Trump reflective of you and/or the Board of Directors as a whole?
Has the Board of Directors approved of the current politicization of the AACC?
Is there a policy about the AACC being a political body?  And if so, is that policy available for review?
What, if anything, would you say to others like me who are gravely concerned about the current politicization of the AACC?
 Thank you for your leadership of the AACC.  And thank you for taking the time to listen and respond. 
 Aaron A. New, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Counseling

After New wrote the letter, he showed it a few colleagues who requested inclusion. They asked that this sentence be attached to the letter:

The following is a list of cosigners who have similar concerns about AACC direction and are reconsidering their membership.

They are:

Dr. Andrew Graham, LMHC, NCC, BCPCC, current member
Jon Priest, LPE-I, Christian Perspective Counseling, potential member
Jodi Tipton, graduate student, current member
David R. Wells, LPC-S, Wells Counseling Services, PLLC, College Station, TX, member since 1997

Broader Concerns about Member Services

I am a former member of the AACC advisory board. I was removed without notice several years ago. It really didn’t matter since we did no advising anyway. One of the issues beyond the politics is that the members are pretty far removed from the ownership. In this regard, AACC isn’t really a professional association as much as it is a business. Professional associations have elections for officers and bring members into the decision making. In AACC, it seems to me that members are principally consumers of the AACC products sold at conventions and on the website.
AACC current, former, or potentional members who would like to sign on to this letter can leave your name in the comments and sign the petition here.

The American Association of Christian Counselors Conference Features Court Evangelicals

Trump court evangelical picThe American Association of Christian Counselors hosts a regular conference in September which is often as much glitz as professional development. Contemporary Christian music artists sing (Mercy Me this year) and big name speakers speak (e.g., Eric Metaxas). There are also professional workshops and training sessions and materials to buy galore. Full disclosure, I have presented workshops at these conferences and once upon a time was on the AACC advisory board even though we rarely advised anyone about anything.
This year’s conference looks almost like a meeting of President Trump’s court evangelicals and religious defense team. Eric Metaxas is a keynoter and the leaders just added Jack Graham and Jay Sekulow. AACC owner Tim Clinton is right in the middle of the court in the image to the right.

See below for the Trump court evangelicals just added:

 
Jack Graham AACC
Jay Sekulow AACC
I got this information from an AACC member who is tired of how politically focused AACC has become. Although I don’t think a mass exodus is coming, I am hearing rumblings that at least some counselors have dropped membership and others are considering it.
I hope there will be a session on healthcare reform and the persistent demand of Republicans to drop basic benefits like mental health coverage which many of the AACC members rely on for their livelihood and their clients need to get treatment. I also hope there is a session on narcissism and that it is well attended.
Perhaps, Trump’s new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci can give a session on clean communication and dealing with the press. Court evangelicals would just eat that up.