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?

See this post for a longer response to Clinton’s “blame the ghostwriter” defense. In essence, the AACC code of ethics discourages Christian counselors from using ghostwriters or failing to give proper attribution to those who write articles with well known authors.

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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.

This Popular Quote — A Private Faith That Does Not Act — Is about William Wilberforce Not by Him

When I first read it, it occurred to me that there was something not quite right about the tweet below:


Eric Metaxas, who wrote a biography about Wilberforce, retweeted the quote without comment so surely it was said by Wilberforce, right?
I view most quotes now with suspicion (see this quote misattributed to Bonhoeffer) and this one looked fishy. Indeed, it isn’t by Wilberforce but about him.
I posted the quote on Twitter and asked for assistance tracking it down. It didn’t take long for Matthew Dickson to post a link to an Introduction written by Chuck Colson to a 1996 reprinting of Wilberforce’s A Practical View of Christianity. On Twitter at least the switch of attribution from Colson to Wilberforce took place sometime between 2011 and 2012.
Here is the quote from Colson’s Introduction:
Colson quote about WW
So Colson wrote it about Wilberforce. Even though it is frequently attributed to Wilberforce, it isn’t his quote.
As I have explored these fake or misattributed quotes, I have found that a major problem to accuracy is a site called “AZ Quotes.” This site is often referred to by misguided quoters. Along with Eric Metaxas, AZ quotes seems to show up frequently as a source for the misattributed quote about silence in the face of evil. Although I have reported both quotes as being wrongly attributed, the quotes remain. Perhaps, the site needs to hear from more readers.

Finding the Seven Mountain Teaching in Unexpected Places

Since publication in 2007, I have referred many people to the book, unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons.  In their book, Kinnaman and Lyons report that the church is known more for what it is against than what it is for. They also document the extreme anti-gay sentiment which dominates evangelicalism. Among young people outside the church, nine out of ten viewed Christians as anti-gay.

Part of my retreat from the culture war relates to the realization that evangelicals have earned this perception. Evangelicals have not stopped with disagreement, but actively opposed equal treatment of gays. And they have not stopped with political opposition. Evangelical thought leaders blame gays for every societal evil and do so with a venom that is often shocking. When I read unChristian, it seemed that the research reported there validated my worries that Christians were largely on the wrong track.

Until recently, I had referred people to the book without knowing much about the organization which produced it. UnChristian author Gabe Lyons runs a group called Q. On the Qideas website, Lyons describes Q as:

Q Ideas

Q was birthed out of Gabe Lyons’ vision to see Christians, especially leaders, recover a vision for their historic responsibility to renew and restore cultures. Inspired by Chuck Colson’s statement, “Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals,” Gabe set out to reintroduce Christians to what had seemed missing in recent decades from an American expression of Christian faithfulness; valuing both personal and cultural renewal, not one over the other. Re-educating Christians to this orthodox and unifying concept has become central to the vision of Q.

I was surprised by two items in this description. One, Chuck Colson, a respected evangelical figure, has done a lot to earn Christians the anti-gay reputation that Lyons seems to lament in their book. For instance, today’s column from Colson complains about the President’s recent push to promote decriminalization (more about that in a coming post).

The second element which surprised me was the embrace of the cultural mandate – the belief that Christians are called to create a Christian society. A modern version of this view is that Christians are called to dominate the seven areas of culture and thereby create a Christian society. In an article, titled Influencing Culture, Lyons lays out the program:

HOW NOW SHALL WE INFLUENCE?

The idea of culture shaping is widely debated. Most people, and until recently myself included, implicitly believe that cultures are changed from the bottom-up and that to “change our culture, we need more and more individuals possessing the right values and therefore making better choices.” The problem is that it is only part of the solution. In a widely distributed briefing that was presented to The Trinity Forum called To Change the World, James Davison Hunter asserts, “It is this view of culture that also leads some faith communities to evangelism as their primary means of changing the world. If people’s hearts and minds are converted, they will have the right values, they will make the right choices, and the culture will change in turn.” 

Hunter goes on to say, “…the renewal of our hearts and minds is not only important, it is essential, indeed a precondition for a truly just and humane society. But by itself, it will not accomplish the objectives and ideals we hope for.” This could explain why Christianity as it is practiced by many well meaning, admirable Christians in the past decades has failed to have significant traction.

Cultures are shaped when networks of leaders, representing the different social institutions of a culture, work together towards a common goal: “Again and again we see that the impetus, energy and direction for changing the world were found where cultural, economic and often political resources overlapped; where networks of elites, who generated these various resources, come together in common purpose.”

Saving souls is not enough. “Networks of elites” must come together with the “common purpose” of creating a Christian culture. Then he describes the seven mountains teaching with the slightly different phrase “seven channels of cultural influence.”

The Seven Channels of Cultural Influence

What are the different social institutions of our culture that Hunter is referring to? They are the social institutions that govern any society, including business, government, media, church, arts & entertainment, education and the social sector. Their combined output of ideas, films, books, theology, websites, restaurants, investments, social work, laws, medical breakthroughs and technology drive an entire nation.

The ideas and values they perpetuate sustain the moral fiber and social conscience of the culture. The people who lead these influential institutions have the opportunity to shape the ideas, thoughts and preferences of millions of others. If Hunter is right, it doesn’t take all that many people or time to witness dramatic shifts in the convictions and aspirations of a culture.

And one of the most unique channels of cultural influence is the church. Few other institutions convene participants from so many areas of society. When Christians embrace the common goals of both redeeming cultures and individual souls, the possibilities for positive cultural influence dramatically increase.

Lyons then uses what he calls “the homosexual movement” as an example of how one may use the seven mountains teaching to change the culture. He points to an article in the Regent University Law School Journal by Paul Rondeau (a past president of the board of the Parents and Friends of Ex-gays) which claims the current acceptance of gays as people stem from a small group of gays gathered in 1988 in Warrenton, VA. According to this narrative, the ability of that small group to steer the seven channels of influence is what has triggered the social change.

Lyons wants to do the same thing via the Church.

THE CHURCH’S OPPORTUNITY TO INFLUENCE CULTURE

I believe that the church is the hope of the world and is positioned like no other channel of influence to shape culture. Its people are called to be in the world. As John Stott puts it, “we find ourselves citizens of two kingdoms, the one earthly and the one heavenly. And each citizenship lays upon us duties which we are not at liberty to evade.” Although the work of culture creation may take place outside the physical walls of a church building, the local church creates a natural space where social networks of leaders, within all seven channels of culture, can work together towards a common goal. Nowhere else does this potential for synergy exist. Unlike other channels, the church is a living organism where God’s spirit constantly moves and seeks to express Himself through a willing Body.

Sadly, by focusing on just the “spiritual” and the afterlife, the Christian church has strayed away from its potential influence in the here and now, positioning itself instead as just another subculture. Many Christians currently hold unique and influential positions throughout the seven channels of culture, but have never been supported by fellow believers.

There is nothing particularly new in this. This is an expression of a familiar controversy about the role of the church in society. Lyons says it is sad that the church has focused on the spiritual. I think the church does not focus enough on it. Especially as the 2012 election looms, it is clear to me that many in the religious right want to use the church a a tool of political organizing for the GOP.

Lyons and Kinnaman rightly complain that the church today is known more for being anti-gay than for anything else. However, in my view, the approach suggested by Lyons is part of the problem. If the church is seeking to express Christian views of spiritual life to individuals then the personal characteristics of that individual don’t matter much. However, when cultural change is your aim, then those who would be hurt by your vision of culture become your enemies.

For instance, Chuck Colson inspires Lyons to redeem cultures. Colson’s vision of a redeemed culture does not include defense of people oppressed because of their sexual orientation.  Colson is using his position as a cultural leader to oppose the decriminalization of homosexuality around the world. If Colson is doing it well, as Lyons implies, then the anti-gay attitudes Lyons documents are inevitable.

I think the Founders got it right. Religion in general can be beneficial when it supports the rights of all and freedom of conscience. However, when one religion seeks to dominate, then others who believe differently will rise up to seek protection for their beliefs.

Do parents cause homosexuality? A reply to Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson has a special place in the evangelical world, being a convert to Christianity after being in the Nixon administration during the Watergate scandal. He went to prison for his activities and became a champion of prison reform. He has donated much to charities and humanitarian efforts that many don’t know about. So I was sad to see his recent column at Crosswalk.com where he promotes Joseph and Linda Nicolosi’s book on “preventing” homosexuality. He seems to say a series is coming. I hope not.
In any case, I put up a response to his column at Crosswalk just a bit ago. I hope you will read them both and chime in.
UPDATE: Colson just posted a more troubling article at Crosswalk.