Christine Caine Appears to Be Harvesting What Joel Osteen Planted

Recently Christian motivational author Christine Caine settled a lawsuit with Christian author Carey Scott over material taken from Scott’s book and used in Caine’s book Unashamed. Caine has remained silent in the face of multiple requests for an explanation or apology regarding the plagiarism of Scott’s book. After I wrote about the situation and asked for a comment, she recently blocked me on Twitter.

Now it appears that Caine has harvested from another author. Earlier this evening I saw a tweet mentioning Caine with a quote that looked familiar to me. Here is the tweet:

This quote was claimed by Caine in 2015 on Twitter.

Caine also used this quote on her Facebook page in 2016.

This year, Caine’s publisher Zondervan produced a book of devotionals where they credited Caine for the quote in a chapter titled, “Buried or Planted?”

Osteen Was Planting in 2009

In 2009, Joel Osteen preached this quote in seed form.

 It’s easy to feel like we’ve been buried, but what’s interesting is the only difference between being buried and being planted is the expectancy of what’s going to happen next.

When you put a seed in the ground you don’t say, “I’m burying this seed,” you say, “I am planting this seed,” because you know it’s coming back.

We all face difficulties but you have the seed of almighty God on the inside. He breathed His life into you. When you go through disappointments, you’re in tough times… you might feel like you’d been buried, but the fact is, you’ve simply been planted.

Then in a 2011, he pruned the verbiage in his book, It’s Your Time.

When you go through disappointments and you’re in tough times, you may feel like you’ve been buried, but the fact is, you’ve simply been planted. That means you’re coming back!

Coincidence?

Now that Caine has blocked me and apparently isn’t going to respond to requests, I doubt I will find out from her if this is an amazing coincidence. The quotes are quite similar and it doesn’t seem right for Caine to get credit for reframing being buried as being planted. Perhaps Osteen got it from someone else, but it looks like he harvested that quote before Caine.

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Image: Warren Throckmorton

Does Plagiarism Matter to Christians?

Judging by reaction to recent plagiarism cases, I don’t think plagiarism matters much to most Christians.

Of late, professor Aaron New has brought forward multiple clear examples of plagiarism involving Tim Clinton and the American Association of Christian Counseling. I have published most of them on this blog. The response has been interest from the Christian Post but other than that, a resounding yawn. The AACC’s response has been to blame interns and employees and buy software to find plagiarism before they publish it. Tim Clinton’s other organization, James Dobson’s Family Talk has removed articles with plagiarized material but without comment or apology.

Two days ago, Publisher’s Weekly first reported a settlement between Christine Caine and Carey Scott in a plagiarism case. Caine took some of Scott’s work and used it in a recent book. While Caine’s publisher settled with Scott, Caine has remained silent, without comment or apology. She hasn’t explained how Scott’s material ended up verbatim in her book and promotional material (see my post where I demonstrate Caine’s copying). Outside of a few familiar voices on social media, there is little pressure on Caine to explain herself or take responsibility for her actions. Her publisher has not responded to multiple requests for comment. Silence is the strategy.

Yesterday, World magazine’s Mindy Belz examined the tepid apology offered by author Anne Voskamp for plagiarism on Twitter. The apology for one instance of plagiarism (now deleted) was buried in a blog post in such way that it could easily be missed. She hasn’t had much else to say about it. But why should she, very few people seem to care.

And let’s not forget Mark Driscoll who was responsible for citation errors in several books. In 2013, Janet Mefferd first accused Driscoll of borrowing concepts from Peter Jones without appropriate citation. From there, I discovered additional problems in several of his books. Although Driscoll didn’t acknowledge wrongdoing, one of Driscoll’s publishers quietly corrected most of the problems over the course of a year. Today, Driscoll is back with a new book from Charisma publishing.

What is the Solution?

For her article, Belz spoke with publishing industry insiders. She reported that one answer was better plagiarism detection software. My answer is to hold authors to a high standard. They should do their own work. Fewer books would be published but given the repetitive nature of many books published by Christian publishers, that would be a good thing.

I suspect that part of the reason plagiarism is a mild sin among Christian writers and publishers is that enforcing the rules would require Christian authors to write their own material. Thus, ghostwriters and researchers would be out of work. Pretend experts and Christian celebrities would have to develop actual skills and find something novel and interesting to say without the help of paid experts and researchers.

As illustrated by the above situations, publishers aren’t regularly accountable to the public, nor do they require authors to be accountable. Scott had to go to court to get justice. She couldn’t count on Caine and her Christian publisher to do the right thing. Now that the situation is public, Caine isn’t talking. Although I don’t know what is in mind, her silence gives the appearance that she hopes her popularity will get her through this rough patch.

What has surprised me is that lack of response from Christians on social media to these cases. Only a very few members of the American Association of Christian Counselors have called for AACC leaders to be accountable. Very few evangelicals have directly appealed to Clinton, Caine, or Voskamp to take responsibility for their actions. Given the social media reaction, I suspect Christian publishers are content to ride out the few emails and calls they are getting in advance of the next book release. If many Christian consumers cared, they would go to the social media accounts of these authors and ask for answers.

As the Caine case demonstrates, plagiarism is actionable. However, in Christian circles it doesn’t appear to matter as much as it does elsewhere. Plagiarism leads to job loss or sanctions in the news room (e.g., here, here, here) and academia (e.g., here, here). When I contacted the Colson Center about Tim Clinton’s near verbatim use of a Chuck Colson op-ed in one of his articles, their response was to say nothing and let it go.

In academia, we will continue to enforce high standards of plagiarism. However, it is jarring to realize that our students will enter a world where plagiarism matters less when they work in media organizations which promote Christianity than in places which do not identify as Christian.

 

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Without Apology, Zondervan Settles Plagiarism Case Involving Christine Caine

According to Publisher’s Weekly yesterday, publisher HarperCollins Christian/Zondervan and author Christine Caine settled a plagiarism lawsuit with author Carey Scott. Scott accused Caine of copying sections of Scott’s book Untangled: Let God Loosen the Knots of Insecurity in Your Life to include in Caine’s book Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny.

Scott commented for the PW article, Caine did not.

While Scott alleged several instances of copying, I can show one. Consider the last paragraph of page 55 from Scott’s book beginning with “And the enemy”*

Then listen to Christine Caine’s narration from a segment of “Joni Table Talk” where she promotes her book Unashamed.

While this is a small portion, the words and flow of the sentences are copied from Scott’s book. This section was apparently quite important to Caine in that she chose it to promote the essence of the book. Because of the complaint, Caine agreed to change the text of the promotional video (you can view that on You Tube). In the complaint, Scott alleges that Caine acknowledged that she had read Scott’s book.

Sometime in July 2016, following HCCP’s and Zondervan’s review process, Ms. Caine contacted Ms. Scott directly. Ms. Caine affirmatively acknowledged that she had access to and read Ms. Scott’s work. (page 7)

Scott further alleged in the complaint that Caine’s book is “substantially similar” to hers. In a court filing prior to the settlement, Zondervan and Caine contested Scott’s claim that Caine’s book was substantially similar to Scott’s book.

Messages left with Zondervan and Christine Caine were not returned. Carey Scott had no comment.

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* This was Exhibit A in Scott’s complaint against Zondervan and Caine. The first two sentences in Scott’s books are reversed in Caine’s narration.