World Magazine Examines John Kasich's Chances for a GOP Convention Upset

I appreciate World for taking a serious look at John Kasich’s chances for a GOP convention upset.
In one article earlier this week, political scholar Henry Olsen told Marvin Olasky there is a pathway for Gov. Kasich to the nomination.
In a second article by J.C. Derrick, the possibility of a Kasich-Cruz partnership is examined. While I really want to see Trumped stopped, I can’t see Kasich or Cruz going for it. Kasich is dead set against deporting 12 million illegal immigrants and Cruz wants to do that and never let them back in — women and children and all. Kasich understands the humanitarian disaster that would be. Cruz seems oblivious to these concerns.
Cruz polls poorly against Hillary Clinton while Kasich beats her handily. Adding Cruz to Kasich may take away that edge. Kasich has been saying lately that the GOP has had 10 contested conventions and in seven of them the candidate with the most votes going in didn’t get the nomination.  Kasich hopes for lightening to strike again this year.

World Evangelical Survey: Rubio Increases Lead Over Cruz

Today, World magazine reports that Marco Rubio’s lead over Ted Cruz increased in their survey of evangelical leaders.
Nearly half of the respondents chose Rubio as their first choice.
The other new development was some new support for Donald Trump (5%).
As the mainstream media focuses on the feud between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, this sampling of evangelicals seems somewhat split between Rubio and Cruz, with support perhaps moving toward Rubio.
While I know a few of the participants, I can only guess that World’s group is light on Teavangelicals (Tea Party oriented Christians). That group appears to be split between Trump and Cruz.
Another way to sort out the muddle is the Christian nation concept. In a Yahoo News article last week, Jon Ward suggested that Cruz supporters are much more likely to say America is a Christian nation than are Rubio supporters.
Another observation about the divide between Cruz and Rubio is that Cruz supporters really seem to think Rubio is a moderate or worse. The lone comment thus far at the World article illustrates:

NYorker

Really?!  This is discouraging, depressing to see that some 82 “influential evangelicals” are so unconservative as to choose Rubio.  They need to look at some facts.  If Rubio is the Republican’s choice, there won’t be much difference between him and the democrat candidate, and not much point in voting.  Cruz is obviously the most conservative candidate and these “influential candidates” should be supporting him!
It is beyond belief that anyone could think Rubio and Clinton espouse similar positions on much of anything. Such is the crazy season leading up to the election.

What Gospel for Asia/Believers' Church Spends on Bridge of Hope: An Update

David Carroll, Gospel for Asia’s COO, told World magazine that Gospel for Asia’s field partner in Asia (i.e., Believers’ Church) requires $33 million to take care of 78,000 children via the Bridge of Hope program. Here’s the quote:

Carroll offered statistics, including that GFA’s field partners in India and elsewhere in southern Asia support some 14,000 national missionaries at a cost of approximately $30 million a year. He added that the ministry provides for 78,000 children through GFA’s “Bridge of Hope” program, which requires another $33 million a year…

After that article came out, I compared David Carroll’s statement to conflicting statements by K.P. Yohannan and Believers’ Church’s own budgets for Bridge of Hope centers. The costs stated by Yohannan to sources in India were about a third or less than Carroll’s numbers.
As an update, I want to provide another authoritative sources which contradicts Carroll’s statement to World.  During the week of January 4-11, 2015, Believers’ Church conducted their General Assembly in India. As a means of commemorating the event, the church published a collection of letters from government officials and a report of how the various BC ministries were doing. One page dealt with the Bridge of Hope program and proclaimed that the program spent “approximately Rs 70 crore” on 72,000 children. See below:

Bridge of Hope BC program
Fair use of photo from Believers’ Church 2015 Annual General Assembly program.

 
See the sentence in the yellow oval above (click on the picture to enlarge it). In January 2015, Believers’ Church said it spent Rs 70 crore (about $11 million USD) to fund a program serving 72,000 children. This works out to nearly $13/month/child. This is dramatically less than David Carroll told World. It is also much less than the $35/month/child GFA tells American donors is needed for sponsorship.
The ECFA report made it clear that GFA had not honored the pledge to send 100% of donor support to the field. In India, Believers’ Church owns over 100 schools and several state of the art hospitals. Is that where the extra donations ($22/month/child) have gone?
 

Who Do Evangelical Leaders Prefer for President in 2016: Good News for Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina

This just in today from World  magazine:

WASHINGTON—Good news for Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and Carly Fiorina. Mixed news for Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. Bad news for Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson. And if anyone thought Donald Trump or Chris Christie were picking up support from evangelical leaders, pop that bubble.

Those are the findings from a survey of nearly 100 evangelical leaders and insiders. Numerous 2016 GOP candidates have identified evangelicals as a key part of their road to the White House, so WORLD, the leading evangelical news magazine, recently asked 103 evangelical leaders and insiders to see whom they prefer. Ninety-four responded.

Most respondents said they wouldn’t vote for Trump. On the heels of Thomas Kidd’s WaPo op-ed yesterday, the survey confirmed that Mike Huckabee isn’t setting any fires among evangelicals.

Religious liberty is right now the big issue for these participants. Go on over and read the rest at World.

A Year Ago World Magazine Broke the Mark Driscoll New York Times Best-Seller List Story; Will Hillsong Host His Comeback?

Seems like yesterday that ResultSource and Mars Hill Church’s book selling scheme came into the public consciousness. However, it was a year ago today that Warren Smith’s article was posted. The next day, I posted the contract signed by Mars Hill Church executive pastor Sutton Turner and ResultSource CEO Kevin Small that spelled out the arrangements which if followed would lead to a spot on the New York Times best-seller list.
While it took several months for Mars Hill Church to unravel, that March 5, 2014 revelation seemed to alert even friends that something might be seriously wrong at the megachurch. The disclosure ignited an ongoing conversation about the ethics of buying a spot on best-seller lists. Later, it became known that Les and Leslie Parrott, and David Jeremiah also used similar schemes to elevate their books to the best seller lists. However, they have not experienced the same level of criticism and attention as has Driscoll.
In the aftermath of the Mars Hill debacle, at least one publisher (Crossway) took a vocal stand against deception in book marketing, but it is not clear that the revelations about buying a NYT’s best seller has led to significant changes. Christian media (with two exceptions) have not been aggressive in reporting on Christian authors who have manipulated the best seller lists. The largest Christian publishers (HarperCollins Christian and Tyndale House) and have refused to answer questions on the subject.
Since he resigned in October 2014, Driscoll has kept a relatively low profile. He may return to the limelight in June and July as a speaker for the Hillsong conferences in Sydney and Europe. Hillsong still has Driscoll listed as “the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and one of the most popular preachers in the world today.” I recently wrote and tweeted Hillsong to ask about the description and speaking engagement. No answer as yet. 

New York Times on Christian News, World, and This Blog

Mark Oppenheimer in the New York Times writes about World Magazine’s news reporting on Mark Driscoll. I appreciate Oppenheimer’s mention of this blog as well. Of course, there are other outlets which provided coverage of the Mars Hill story (e.g., Wenatchee the Hatchet, Religion News Service, CT, CP, etc.). With some help, I am working on a timeline which should bring together the events and important stories of the past year.
The article was online last night and is in today’s print edition.
The World folks present a compelling rationale, to me at least, for Christians in journalism and for me as a blogger. I like writing about a variety of topics and in this case the subject matter has had broad public interest.
 

One Day, Two Views of Mars Hill Church

Yesterday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and World Magazine posted articles about Mars Hill Church. To me, the articles do not seem to be about the same church.
The Seattle PI piece addressed the newest development among former Mars Hill Church members and leaders: the Facebook group which alerts the public that many ex-Mars Hill members are not and have not been anonymous in their complaints about the church. Mark Driscoll claimed in a speech to the church just over a week ago that leaders at the church could reconcile with ex-members because they were anonymous. The Facebook group now has over 260 member and features many very visible ex-members and their stories.
The World article painted a much nicer picture of the church, failing to include voices of ex-members or evidence to counter the favorable comments of Mars Hill Public Relation deacon, Justin Dean, or the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability which apparently is not going to require adherence to the organization’s guidelines. Surprising to me was the lack of challenge from World to this explanation of Mars Hill Global from the church:

However, it is difficult to determine where the money went, though it is now clear some of the money went not to international efforts but to domestic church plants, including some in the Seattle area. When WORLD asked via email for an itemized accounting of those funds, Dean wrote, “Since donations given by the Mars Hill Global family were never intended to be designated solely for international efforts, we don’t provide an itemized accounting of those funds.”

“Some of the money”? The church has already admitted that the preponderance of donations when to domestic church plants. Justin Dean’s statement is a dodge of World’s question which went unchallenged. There is plenty of evidence that Mars Hill created a Global Fund in 2012. Members and pastors of the church alike were under the impression those donations were being solicited for international missions. In spite of all the evidence that after 2012 the Global Fund was pitched as a ministry of Mars Hill Church to support international missions (not a group of non-members), Mars Hill spun the situation with no challenge from World. There was no mention of the fact that Mars Hill has issued two takedown orders to You Tube to keep video evidence about Mars Hill Global out of the public view.
Finally, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability speaks. However, even this group ignores the clear evidence. Worse yet, apparently ECFA will not require the church to reveal how much they spent on international missions and how much was spent on domestic efforts.
Finally, I have no problem with the interviews of current pastors at Mars Hill, but to then give ex-pastor Dave Kraft only a brief blurb at the end was not nearly enough to report on the level of distress and conflict there is currently among former members (Mars Hill in exile). Usually World is more balanced and demonstrates a better ability to investigate the crux of a matter. I hope World will revisit this issue and report on the extraordinary distress that is taking place daily among those who want to see reform at the Seattle megachurch.
 

World Publishes Our Response to David Barton

World continues the focus on the Barton Controversy with our rebuttal to Barton’s response to our book.
We focus on Barton’s contention that we make mountains out of molehills in our critique. In fact, the details matter as we demonstrate.
We also make it clear that Barton isn’t living by his own standards. He takes historians to task for using secondary sources, but he does the same thing. His sources are often unknown as with the Louis L’Amour story presented on Glenn Beck’s Show as an historical fact.
In this article, we also launch a feature on the Getting Jefferson Right website called Ask a Professor. Have a question about American history facts? Our panel of historians will attempt to help out.

Response to World's Coverage of the David Barton Controversy

I am getting good feedback on the excerpt of Getting Jefferson Right at World Magazine. There are many questions that are floating around among evangelicals about this matter and for good reason. Michael Coulter and I are now working on a response to Mr. Barton’s rebuttal to GJR. For now, I posted a comment at World on both articles. Here it is:
 
“I want to thank World for hosting this exchange of views. Michael Coulter and I have read Mr. Barton’s rebuttal and plan a response to it which World has agreed to publish. Mr. Barton’s response sounds convincing, especially when one has not read our book, but there are numerous concerns which we will address. For instance, it is unfortunate that Mr. Barton does not address completely his or our position on Jefferson and slavery. In The Jefferson Lies (pg. 92), Mr. Barton omitted the section of the 1782 law on manumission which allowed owners to emancipate their slaves while the owners were alive. He simply omitted it from his presentation of the 1782 law leaving the impression that owners could only free their slaves via a will at death. We have asked Mr. Barton why he chose to omit that section with no reply.
Regarding our position in Getting Jefferson Right, we do not claim that Jefferson could have freed his many slaves at any time during his life. We identify a 24 year window (1782-1806) when Virginia law was relaxed and allowed for emancipation of slaves by owners. We acknowledge that freeing slaves was more difficult (although still possible) after 1806. Please note that Jefferson did not make his statement about the laws not allowing emancipation until 1814. Furthermore, Mr. Barton, in this current World article, acknowledges that security bonding was required only for “certain emancipated slaves” (page 3). This is an important clarification, but it is not news to us; we document these requirements in our book.  Adult slaves under age 45 and older than 18 (women) or 21 (men) could be freed with a deed of manumission without financial guarantee from the master. Jefferson owned many such human beings.
In our book, we do not say that Jefferson could have freed all of his slaves, but we document that he could have done more to put into practice the words, “all men are created equal” than he did.
There are other instances of the kind I have described and we will address them in our response.”