Recently, the owner of the American Association of Christian Counselors Tim Clinton sent an announcement clarifying his relationship with James Dobson and Family Talk Radio.
Clinton has recently been embroiled in a plagiarism controversy. Although he denies taking the work of others, through his spokesman and brother-in-law Jimmy Queen, he has acknowledged not writing the material attributed to him where the plagiarism has been found. Thus far, his defense has been to blame others when plagiarism has been found in a book or article. Despite some of those articles being on James Dobson’s website, that organization has not commented on the matter.
(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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Wayne Grudem caused quite a stir with his endorsement of Donald Trump last week. Matthew Boedy responded on this blog yesterday with a brief analysis of Grudem’s rhetoric. Others have come out in favor of Grudem’s reasoning and still others have expressed sharp disappointment.
Last night, a Twitter user asked what Grudem thought of Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Curious, I looked for something on the subject and found this Baptist Press article from 1998 which included reaction to the Clinton scandal. Grudem was mentioned as a signer of a statement from 150 Christian scholars on the subject:
More than 150 scholars — many whose schools are not identified with conservative Christianity — affirmed a statement declining to take a position on impeachment or resignation but expressing concern the religion community is in danger of providing “authentication for a politically motivated and incomplete repentance that seeks to avert serious consequences for wrongful acts.” The signers included Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago, Wayne Grudem of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Robert Gundry of Westmont College, Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University, Eugene Merrill of Dallas Theological Seminary, Max Stackhouse of Princeton Theological Seminary and Timothy Weber of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. Signers from schools affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention or state Baptist conventions were A.J. Conyers and Barry Harvey, both of Baylor University; Mike Garrett of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; David Gushee of Union University; and Mark Seifrid of Southern Seminary.
The statement is fascinating. Acknowledging that I am biased, I nonetheless believe I see a shift from then to now in the willingness to tolerate character problems for political expediency. Read it and see what you think.
Declaration concerning religion, ethics, and the crisis in the Clinton presidency
The following declaration can be found at moral-crisis.org, November 16, 1998
To be released on 13 November 1998
As scholars interested in religion and public life, we protest the manipulation of religion and the debasing of moral language in the discussion about presidential responsibility. We believe that serious misunderstandings of repentance and forgiveness are being exploited for political advantage. The resulting moral confusion is a threat to the integrity of American religion and to the foundations of a civil society. In the conviction that politics and morality cannot be separated, we consider the current crisis to be a critical moment in the life of our country and, therefore, offer the following points for consideration:
1. Many of us worry about the political misuse of religion and religious symbols even as we endorse the public mission of our churches, synagogues, and mosques. In particular we are concerned about the distortion that can come by association with presidential power in events like the Presidential Prayer Breakfast on September 11. We fear the religious community is in danger of being called upon to provide authentication for a politically motivated and incomplete repentance that seeks to avert serious consequences for wrongful acts. While we affirm that pastoral counseling sessions are an appropriate, confidential arena to address these issues, we fear that announcing such meetings to convince the public of the President’s sincerity compromises the integrity of religion.
2. We challenge the widespread assumption that forgiveness relieves a person of further responsibility and serious consequences. We are convinced that forgiveness is a relational term that does not function easily within the sphere of constitutional accountability. A wronged party chooses forgiveness instead of revenge and antagonism, but this does not relieve the wrong-doer of consequences. When the President continues to deny any liability for the sins he has confessed, this suggests that the public display of repentance was intended to avoid political disfavor.
3. We are aware that certain moral qualities are central to the survival of our political system, among which are truthfulness, integrity, respect for the law, respect for the dignity of others, adherence to the constitutional process, and a willingness to avoid the abuse of power. We reject the premise that violations of these ethical standards should be excused so long as a leader remains loyal to a particular political agenda and the nation is blessed by a strong economy. Elected leaders are accountable to the Constitution and to the people who elected them. By his own admission the President has departed from ethical standards by abusing his presidential office, by his ill use of women, and by his knowing manipulation of truth for indefensible ends. We are particularly troubled about the debasing of the language of public discourse with the aim of avoiding responsibility for one’s actions.
4. We are concerned about the impact of this crisis on our children and on our students. Some of them feel betrayed by a President in whom they set their hopes while others are troubled by his misuse of others, by which many in the administration, the political system, and the media were implicated in patterns of deceit and abuse. Neither our students nor we demand perfection. Many of us believe that extreme dangers sometimes require a political leader to engage in morally problematic actions. But we maintain that in general there is a reasonable threshold of behavior beneath which our public leaders should not fall, because the moral character of a people is more important than the tenure of a particular politician or the protection of a particular political agenda. Political and religious history indicate that violations and misunderstandings of such moral issues may have grave consequences. The widespread desire to “get this behind us” does not take seriously enough the nature of transgressions and their social effects.
5. We urge the society as a whole to take account of the ethical commitments necessary for a civil society and to seek the integrity of both public and private morality. While partisan conflicts have usually dominated past debates over public morality, we now confront a much deeper crisis, whether the moral basis of the constitutional system itself will be lost. In the present impeachment discussions, we call for national courage in deliberation that avoids ideological division and engages the process as a constitutional and ethical imperative. We ask Congress to discharge its current duty in a manner mindful of its solemn constitutional and political responsibilities. Only in this way can the process serve the good of the nation as a whole and avoid further sensationalism.
6. While some of us think that a presidential resignation or impeachment would be appropriate and others envision less drastic consequences, we are all convinced that extended discussion about constitutional, ethical, and religious issues will be required to clarify the situation and to enable a wise decision to be made. We hope to provide an arena in which such discussion can occur in an atmosphere of scholarly integrity and civility without partisan bias.
Grudem said Trump is a good candidate with flaws. He said one could support a flawed candidate if one believed it would do the most good. The 1998 statement said:
We are aware that certain moral qualities are central to the survival of our political system, among which are truthfulness, integrity, respect for the law, respect for the dignity of others, adherence to the constitutional process, and a willingness to avoid the abuse of power. We reject the premise that violations of these ethical standards should be excused so long as a leader remains loyal to a particular political agenda and the nation is blessed by a strong economy. Elected leaders are accountable to the Constitution and to the people who elected them. By his own admission the President has departed from ethical standards by abusing his presidential office, by his ill use of women, and by his knowing manipulation of truth for indefensible ends. We are particularly troubled about the debasing of the language of public discourse with the aim of avoiding responsibility for one’s actions.
To my eye, a vote for Trump contradicts every paragraph in this statement. The religious leaders in 1998 questioned Clinton’s repentance. Trump says he doesn’t ask for forgiveness. In 1998, the leaders feared authenticating a political leader, now they rush to do it. In 1998, the leaders affirmed certain virtues (truthfulness, integrity, respect for the law, respect for the dignity of others, adherence to the constitutional process, and a willingness to avoid the abuse of power). Now, pro-Trump Christian leaders excuse the absence of them or make a pragmatic bet that they aren’t important enough to stand for. This assertion from 1998 applies today:
But we maintain that in general there is a reasonable threshold of behavior beneath which our public leaders should not fall, because the moral character of a people is more important than the tenure of a particular politician or the protection of a particular political agenda. Political and religious history indicate that violations and misunderstandings of such moral issues may have grave consequences. (emphasis mine)
People like James Dobson, Eric Metaxas and now Wayne Grudem are telling us that it is our duty to throw this reasoning aside and lower or abandon the threshold.
I still believe there is a “reasonable threshold of behavior beneath which our public leaders should not fall.” And I believe that the “moral character of a people is more important than the tenure of a particular politician.” In this case, I believe these principles are more important than getting Donald Trump elected or furthering whatever aspect of a political agenda of importance to those who support him.
UPDATE: A question has come to me about Wayne Grudem’s status as a signer of the above Declaration. The Declaration was the subject of a 1999 book edited by Gabriel Fackre and titled Judgment Day at the White House. On page 5, about mid-way down the page is Grudem’s name on a list of signers of the Declaration (See also this image). Thanks to Declaration signer Barry Harvey for the image.
I have talked about Kirbyjohn Caldwell here before. He endorsed Obama and then it was learned he has an ex-gay ministry in his church. He promptly threw them under the bus. He is now launching a website called, Jamesdobsondoesntspeakforme.com to rebut yesterday’s statements from Dr. Dobson.
Obama supporters may believe Dobson is taking on Obama to help McCain but that is the confusing part of this for me. Dobson has said he will not vote for McCain. So a pox on both your houses?
Problem, one house will win and there will be consequences.
One thing is for sure, Obama’s Evangelical supporters are not coy about their support.
What goes around comes around. Quite awhile ago, there was a report floating around that James Dobson would endorse Mike Huckabee. That was flatly denied. Apparently, the second time will be the real thing according to the Associated Press.
Now, this puts a dent in my McCain – Huckabee ’08 prediction. Would Dr. Dobson endorse Huck without a promise not to be a VP on the McCain ticket?
UPDATE: Gary Schneeberger at FOTF just confirmed the report and I saw a couple of minutes ago that Citizenlink, FOTF’s public policy alert, confirmed the endorsement as well.
My question for the Huckabee camp will be what does this mean for his future as a Veep possibility? Any Huckabee supporters hearing anything about that?
According to the American Spectator, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson is set to endorse Mike Huckabee for president. The Spectator article says it will happen in Iowa and is sure to help offset Sen. McCain’s endorsement from Sen. Brownback as well as the Giuliani endorsement from Pat Robertson. Expect to see more endorsements from social conservatives as this unfolds.