“The outrage culture of today, whether broadcast across the airwaves or clicked about on social media, can make us feel better for a moment, but it cannot yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”
In the five years since we launched The Wartburg Watch, we have seen the internet explode with information. Websites, blogs, and social media have taken the world by storm, and there’s no turning back.
It appears that some, particularly authoritarian Christian leaders, are struggling with this ‘brave new world’. A case in point is financial guru Dave Ramsey, who has built an empire by doling out financial advice. Years ago when I was operating ‘mom’s taxi service’, I often listened to Dave providing financial advice to his callers as I drove my daughters home from school. I greatly appreciated his mantra that everyone should ‘get out of debt’.
Ramsey, a Christian whose Financial Peace University and other resources have been used by churches and other Christian groups, made headlines this week in an unflattering way. According to some who have left Lampo Group (Dave’s business), “Dave Ramsey was a bully.”
The Daily Beast just published an article that highlights what appear to be poor management skills on the part of Ramsey. It is entitled Spies, Cash, and Fear: Inside Christian Money Guru Dave Ramsey's Social Media Witch Hunt. The article begins with this:
Dave Ramsey makes millions telling you how to keep your financial house in order, but lately his employees claim he’s been having a bit of trouble with his own.
According to interviews with nearly two dozen current and former employees of his Nashville-based Lampo Group, Ramsey has engaged in what they describe as an increasingly paranoid campaign to identify and silence several critics—mostly former employees—who have appeared on Facebook and Twitter. Bizarre episodes allegedly involving online spying, gag orders, random firings, and offers of large cash bounties for information have created a climate of fear inside the Lampo headquarters, intensifying a discomfort many employees have felt the past several years with Ramsey’s management.
According to Matthew Paul Turner (who broke the news) Ramsey's Nashville-based organization employs more than 400 people. The Dave Ramsey Show attracts an audience of around eight million listeners. Not only that, around 400 publications feature his "Dave Says" column, and over two million families have been involved in his Financial Peace University. These successful marketing ventures have generated an estimated net worth of $55 million.
How does Dave do it? Well, one of his 'rules' is described in The Daily Beast article. Turner explains:
Perhaps his No. 1 leadership mantra is that every business should implement a “no-gossip policy.” While nobody likes gossip, Dave Ramsey hates it with biblical passion. (Gossip is strongly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments.) Ramsey says there’s : “Positives can go up anywhere, negatives go up.” On his EntreLeadership podcast, after calling gossip “one of the most evil spirits that Satan ever let loose on this planet,” Ramsey said, “once I will warn you and then I will fire you! I have a zero-tolerance-plus-one policy for gossip. I will teach you once and then I will fire your butt.”
But perhaps most telling is the kind of gossip that Ramsey says is the worst. “The gossip about the person who’s freakin’ paying you!” As the president of The Lampo Group, the only thing Dave Ramsey hates more than gossip is seemingly when the gossip is about Dave Ramsey.
Here is Dave Ramsey (as you have never heard him on the radio) talking about 'gossip' and using some inflammatory language. One can only imagine what he says to his employees behind closed doors…
According to The Daily Beast article, around 100 former employees of The Lampo Group established a secret Facebook group that was password protected. Here is how the Facebook account operated, according to Turner:
The secret group, Former Lampo Folks, was started in 2012 by K.C. Jones as a way to reconnect with former coworkers, but had grown into a forum for airing complaints about the work environment at Lampo. From basic managerial processes to the “no-gossip policy” to how they were treated upon leaving, Jones, who left Lampo after four years in 2011, said that “the group became a safe place for people to express themselves freely, which is something we didn’t get to do very often while working at Lampo.”
Earlier this spring it was discovered that someone shared the Facebook password with Ramsey who had been secretly reading the commentary between members of this private group.
Twitter accounts were also established by several people which featured parodies regarding Dave Ramsey and his organization. The article contains details about these Twitter accounts, along with screen shots. Then on May 12, 2014, the battle between Ramsey and these former employees came to a head. Turner explains:
According to three current employees, Ramsey chose a handful of the Facebook group’s members, former employees and plastered their pictures, their family members’ pictures, and screenshots of their private conversations on a large screen for all of his 400-plus employees to see. Amid his rant, Ramsey even mentioned that he had contacted the local police department and the FBI.
And even more startling to us was the bombshell that Ramsey once pulled a gun out of a gift bag to teach his employees a lesson about gossip. How ironic that a Christian man who teaches about 'financial peace' conducts himself in such a shocking manner.
There are more revelations in the article, so please take the time to read the entire piece.
Hmmmmmm…sounds familiar. Thing is, Dave Ramsey is a man of the pre-internet age. He learned his "skills" of control and intimidation In a time before twitter, facebook or email. (pulling a loaded gun in a business meeting?). Unfortunately for him this isn't 1978, or even 1984.
This is 2014.
The INTERNET exists.
What Dave doesn't understand is the Streisand Effect.
He doesn't understand that he literally can not put the genie back in the bottle.
The more he fights it the more it spreads.
How ironic that they day before The Daily Beast article was published, Russell Moore's post Too Scared to Cry: Social Media Outrage and the Gospel appeared on the Desiring God website. Moore begins by describing a father's Facebook remark regarding his son which was not appropriate. He then explains that we must learn to lament instead of showing 'pathetic rage'. This excerpt from Moore's post is what really caught my attention:
Outrage Off Mission
If mere outrage were a sign of godliness, then the devil would be the godliest soul in the cosmos. He, after all, rages and roars, “because he knows his time is short” (Revelation 12:12). Contrast that with the Lord Jesus who does not “quarrel or cry aloud” (Matthew 12:19).
Why is this so? It’s because the devil has no mission, apart from killing and destroying and accusing and slandering. And it’s because the devil is on the losing side of history.
Life in Christ doesn’t mean we ever shrug off injustice or unrighteousness. But it does mean that we fight these things in a different way. It is easy, after all, simply to denounce, and to congratulate ourselves on the fact that we’re all appropriately offended at all the right things. We can make our voices heard, loudly, on whatever media platform we can find.
The Apostle Peter easily could wield the sword to fight those arresting Jesus, almost as easily as we can post a comment online. But Peter didn’t see how deep the darkness was. It couldn’t be solved by the storm and fury of a kingdom that comes from this world. It could only come from the atoning sacrifice of a kingdom that is not from this world.
Under the subheading Social Media on Mission, Moore explains that anger is sometimes right but that God is slow to anger. Then he shares James 1:20: “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God”. Moore concludes his short post with this:
“The outrage culture of today, whether broadcast across the airwaves or clicked about on social media, can make us feel better for a moment, but it cannot yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. That may fit well with the spirit of our age, but it doesn’t come from the Spirit of our God."
Dave Ramsey and Russell Moore, as well as other Christian leaders, have been the lone voices for quite some time. They have well-established platforms from which to preach their edicts.
Suddenly, advances in technology have leveled the playing field by giving the little guy or gal a means to be heard. No longer can the leaders say and do whatever they want while telling the rest of us to forever hold our peace.
Obviously, we must be careful in how we express our concerns in a public forum, and we strive to do that here at TWW. As evidenced in yesterday's post – Welcome to the TWW Cantina – we try to remind our commenters to be careful in how they express their views.
Having said that, there are some serious matters occurring in Christendom that MUST BE DISCUSSED. We can no longer ignore the elephant in the room, like some leaders and followers seem to be doing. Dee and I are grateful that we have this forum to share our concerns, and we strive to express ourselves in a godly manner. Yes, we do get upset about issues such as child sex abuse, clergy misconduct, idol worship, and a range of other hot topics (like the Dave Ramsey debacle), and we will continue to address them in TWW fashion. We will not be coerced into silence by the growing chorus of Christian leaders who appear to be telling us to refrain from blogging and using social media.
Reality check: websites, blogs, and social media are how some of these Calvinistas leaders established their ministries in the first place. Now it's our turn…
Lydia's Corner: Ezekiel 44:1-45:12 1 Peter 1:1-12 Psalm 119:17-32 Proverbs 28:8-10