Ex-Liberty University Prof and a Former SBC Pastor Charged with Child Sex Crimes and Why the ECFA Seal of Approval May Not Mean Much

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” – C. S. Lewis

———-

Stephen James Kilpatrick, a Liberty Professor at the time, solicited a minor for sex and got arrested.

In June 2018, Stephen Kilpatrick was arrested and held in jail without bond. The Richmond Times Dispatch on 10/31/18 posted  Ex-LU professor charged with child sex crimes granted bond.

At Tuesday’s appeal hearing, Bedford County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacey Gardner said Kilpatrick responded to a Craigslist ad posted by an investigator with the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) posing as a 13-year-old girl. Gardner said Kilpatrick responded to the ad with a sexually explicit email and continued conversations over the course of seven months through email and text message.

Gardner said the conversations were often sexually explicit and Kilpatrick was told the person he was communicating with was a 13-year-old girl in the eighth grade named “Jenny.” Kilpatrick promised sexual acts to “Jenny,” drove to where he thought she lived and told her he’d thought about her sexually while in his office, according to Gardner.

In July 2018, The Christian Post published 63-Y-O Liberty U. Professor Arrested for Sexual Exploitation of Child Younger Than 15. Liberty University suspended the professor and his family claims that he was subsequently fired.

Liberty University told The Christian Post in an email on Sunday that Stephen Kilpatrick, 63, an associate professor of mathematics, “has been suspended pending the outcome of this matter.

Julie Anne Smith posted  Stephen Kilpatrick: While Teaching at Liberty University and Bible to Small Children, He Also Solicited Sex with a Minor. 

She pointed out red flags. His fellow churchgoers were shocked! They haven’t been reading the news.

(JAS) Here is the part that raised additional red flags for me:

“The couple has been active in different churches they’ve attended and Sandra Kilpatrick said     her husband would host small group meetings of church members at their home and help teach small children Bible study.”

(JAS) They’ve been active in different churches?  How many churches? They help teach small children Bible studies? Do these churches and parents of these children know about his recent arrest? And then there’s this:

Kilpatrick’s friends and fellow churchgoers said Tuesday they’d be his support system if he was granted bond. When asked by Pack if his charges surprised them, they all said they were shocked.

This was a good comments from one of her readers.

I have no updates on the grand jury, etc. I wonder if there is going to be a plea deal. It will be worth following up to see if church members or friends have written letter defending him if and when that day comes.


William Oswald, a former pastor at Dunn’s Chapel, South Congaree, SC and a volunteer pastor of Bethesda Baptist (SBC) in Whitmire SC arrested on charges of sex abuse.

He was denied bail and is in jail at this time. ABC 14 News Ex-pastor accused of sexually assaulting 2 minors ‘hundreds of times’

According to the incident report, the charges stem from when Oswald was a pastor living in South Congaree at Dunn’s Chapel from 1996 until 2001.

The report said the sexual assaults involved two women who were minors at the time and the victims told police they were assaulted “hundreds of times.”

According the Greenfield News:

Oswald is jailed on six counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, according to Lexington County jail records, one of which involves a child under the age of 11 and three of which involve a child between the ages of 11 and 14.

According to a source who alerted me to the story, the details are gruesome and there may be more victims coming forward. I’ll keep you posted.


Does ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) Really Stand for Anything?

Until 2009, I always that the ECFA Seal of Approval meant something beyond a standard of accounting that is seen in most organization. In 10/2009, all of that changed. I wrote YOU CAN TRUST THE ECFA SEAL OF APPROVAL…(Please forgive the formatting.)

I had discovered that Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse was being paid $1.2 million/year. I began to wonder if ECFA had any standards when it came to pastoral salaries. It doesn’t. Knowing this, it has been easy for me to see why the salaries for mega pastors and para-church megas have skyrocketed. ECFA is fine with it all so long as the board approves it.

I called the ECFA this afternoon to inquire about the press coverage regarding Franklin Graham’s salaries from two of their member organizations.  It seems they have been getting quite a few calls about Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.  They followed up with a statement which was e-mailed to Dee.  In case you would like to know the ECFA’s position on the matter, here is their official statement:

Here is the response I received.

Dee,

Thanks for your call.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse are both members in good standing with ECFA.

Here is our statement on the topic of Mr. Graham’s compensation:
Form 990 reporting requirements relating to deferred compensation placed in certain types of retirement plans result in data which, at best, is very challenging to communicate and understand.  Nearly half of Mr. Graham’s 2008 compensation as reported on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) Form 990 had been previously reported on the 2005, 2006, and 2007 Form 990.  This unusual reporting requirement resulted in the BGEA reporting three prior years? retirement contributions a second time in 2008.  Therefore, there was no substantial increase in Mr. Graham’s compensation in 2008.  To adequately understand the nuances of these Form 990 reporting requirements requires significant analyses of the information.

ECFA standards are based on the principles of good governance, accountability, integrity and transparency, and do not place dollar limits on the compensation of its members’ leaders. 

In ECFA’s view, the boards of Samaritan’s Purse and the BGEA have exercised diligence in their compensation-setting procedures through the use of independent compensation committees and comparability analyses.  Their compensation-setting procedures are in compliance with ECFA standards.
Blessings!

Dan Busby
President
ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability)
~ A Higher Standard ~ A Higher Purpose ~
800-323-9473
www.ECFA.org

Shortly after that, I read that Graham had reduced his salary due to the uproar. But, in 2018 Newsweek published BILLY GRAHAM NET WORTH: EVANGELIST WAS ONE OF THE RICHEST PASTORS IN AMERICA. It is important to understand at this time, Graham’s family was managing the money due to Graham’s advanced age. It is my opinion, and I could be mistaken, that Graham, who lived in the same house all of his life, had not increased his standard of living. I was not surprised to see that Franklin Graham’s salary had increased, once again.

While Graham’s income hasn’t received widespread media scrutiny, there has been recent attention on his son’s $880,000 pay, split between two nonprofit agencies. Franklin Graham pocketed a $622,000 salary as head of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency, along with about $258,000 for acting as CEO of the BGEA, according to a 2015 Washington Post article. The BGEA reported about $120 million in total revenue for 2016.

At this point, ECFA lost me and I no longer had much interest in the organization. For example, Mark Driscoll’s church had ECFA’s seal of approval. In 2014, Rob Smith posted The ECFA has purged their web-site of Mark Driscoll, but still certifies the integrity of Mars Hill Church.

Mark Driscoll has been purged from the ECFA website. There is not a single reference to him. Nothing.

Until recently Driscoll was highly featured in their advertising. An attempt to go to theWayBack Machine to see when the change occurred was blocked. It appears that the ECFA uses robot.txt to block its history to the public.

So some time recently, Mark Driscoll was purged in a similar way to the way that Mars Hill Church would purge any reference about or sermons and writings of departing (and sometimes shunned) pastors such as Lief Moi and Mike Gunn, both co-founders of Mars Hill Church.

But despite the decision to purge Mark Driscoll from its website and advertising, and despite the reality that former Mars Hill board member Paul Tripp has called Mars Hill Church “the most abusive and coercive church” he has ever worked with, and despite the numerous financial scandals, the ECFA continues to certify Mars Hill Church’s adherence to transparency, integrity, and accountability.

It got worse. In 2016 ECFA Named as Co-Conspirator in Lawsuit Against Mark Driscoll, Ex Mars Hill Chief Elder

The couples charge that they trusted Mars Hill to be good stewards of their donations because of the ECFA’s endorsement of the church.

“As a result of ECFA’s ringing endorsement and declaration that MHC met the highest standards of financial ethics, faithfulness, and accountability, the Jacobsens, Kildeas, and thousands of other donors continued to be deceived, making donations to MHC they would never have made if ECFA had disclosed RICO defendants’ wrongdoing, rather than making a ‘a powerful statement’ that MHC ‘acts responsibly and honors its commitment to accountability,'” charges the complaint.

The ECFA it alleges, despite Mars Hill Church’s “habitual pattern of racketeering activity,” kept rubber stamping the church with its trusted seal until the church was run to the ground in 2014.

“At all times relevant hereto, from September 2012 forward, ECFA accredited MHC in spite of RICO defendants’ ongoing and habitual pattern of racketeering activity involving RSI, the Global Fund, Campus Fund, and the Jesus Festival,” the complaint charges.

“ECFA’s accreditation of churches is, at best, a rubber stamp. In view of RICO defendants’ fraudulent conduct detailed herein, it is inconceivable that ECFA would have accredited MHC and held it out to the public as meeting ‘the highest standards of financial ethics, faithfulness, and accountability,'” it adds.

The complaint alleges, however, that that is exactly what the ECFA did.

Depending on how you feel about Franklin Graham’s earnings from these two charities, you may want to do your own due diligence regarding the non-profits to which you contribute. Are they meeting YOUR standards of integrity and accountability?  Sadly, I believe I had learned that there are times when one should question the ECFA Seal of Approval. And that is precisely what Julie Roys did.

On March 16, 2019, Roys posted ECFA Finally Suspends Harvest Bible Chapel’s Accreditation.

Also last week, I confronted the ECFA for continuing to accredit Harvest despite my repeated appeals over several months to ECFA to investigate financial impropriety at the church.

On Friday, the ECFA released a statement announcing that Harvest may no longer represent that it is an ECFA member or display ECFA’s membership seal. The ECFA also said that because of new information, it has “concerns” that the church may be “in serious violation” of four of ECFA’s Seven Standards.

It’s stunning to me that it has taken this long for the ECFA to act.

Statement From ECFA President Dan Busby
Regarding Harvest Bible Chapel Accreditation Status
“Based on information received March 11, ECFA’s board of directors has suspended Harvest Bible Chapel’s membership effective March 14, 2019.

“On November 28, 2018, ECFA opened a formal investigation of Harvest Bible Chapel to review their compliance of ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. During a site visit to the church in December, we thoroughly examined the information made available to us and believed the church was in compliance with our standards.

“Given the emergence of new information, we have concerns the church may be in serious violation of ECFA Standards 2, 3, 4, and 6. During the indefinite suspension, the church may not represent that they are an ECFA member or display ECFA’s membership seal. The investigation has been and will remain ongoing during the suspension as we work to determine whether Harvest Bible Chapel should be terminated, advised of the steps necessary to come into full compliance or whether they are in fact in compliance with our standards and should, therefore, be restored to full membership.”

You can look at these” 7 standards” at this link. There’s lots of wiggle room, in my opinion.

And in the *you can’t make this stuff up department, two days later, Roys  posted President of Evangelical Financial Accountability Group Fined for Unlicensed Use of CPA Title. Apparently the Virginia Board of Accountancy was none too happy with Busby. According to Roys:

According to the complaint submitted to the VBOA, Busby allowed his CPA license from the state of Kansas to lapse in 2000, two years after moving to Virginia. Then from 2000-2015, Busby was not licensed as a CPA, though he repeatedly claimed he was. In December 2016, Busby obtained a CPA license from the Virginia board, which remains active.

According to the VBOA complaint, Busby falsely represented himself as a CPA on multiple books published by Zondervan between 2000-2015.

….Given that the ECFA and Busby’s platform rely on trust and integrity, one would expect Busby to be above reproach. Yet according to the Virginia Board of Accountancy (VBOA), Busby was fined $9,000 in 2016 for the unlicensed use of the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) title on at least 38 publications, his personal website, the ECFA’s website, and the Church Law & Tax website.

…Brian Taylor, a former CPA who now works for a small consulting company in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, sent me the VBOA complaint, which he said he researched and submitted four years ago. Taylor noted that Busby had worked as a CPA for 31 years before coming to the ECFA, and said his misrepresentation was intentional and inexcusable.

“With Busby, it was a 15-year pattern of intentional fraudulent inducement to sell books and enrich his pocketbook and his reputation,” Taylor said. “This was no accident. . . . He knew he didn’t take any CPE classes for 15 years. You can’t do it for 31 years and then suddenly forget. CPAs are reminded annually.”

Roys’ post is enlightening. Over the past few months, she reported what she considered to be HBC violations directly to ECFA with no response. Sadly, Busby has not responded to her request for an interview.

Where do I stand? 10 years later, it’s still the same old, same old ECFA whose *seal of approval* is still suspect in my book.


Comments

Ex-Liberty University Prof and a Former SBC Pastor Charged with Child Sex Crimes and Why the ECFA Seal of Approval May Not Mean Much — 120 Comments

  1. ECFA approval can be one criterion for transparency, but it shouldn’t be the final word. I assume it deals only with financial accountability, not necessarily with children’s safety. That will require more research and looking for red flags.

    Most small churches won’t have ECFA approval, but that shouldn’t disqualify them. Also, non-church organizations or Catholic organizations won’t have ECFA ratings, so there should be other criteria too. Don’t use ECFA as a crutch, or a shield to hide behind after something goes wrong.

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  2. It is important to understand at this time, Graham’s family was managing the money due to Graham’s advanced age. It is my opinion, and I could be mistaken, that Graham, who lived in the same house all of his life, had not increased his standard of living. I was not surprised to see that Franklin Graham’s salary had increased, once again.

    I’m not surprised either — Caregivers/Heirs ripping off/cleaning out the invalid old man is an old, old shtick.
    After all, DAD’S GOT *MY* MONEY! I’M ENTITLED! I’M ENTITLED!”
    (Kinda the reverse of that bumper sticker “We’re Spending Our Children’s Inheritance”.)

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  3. You can look at these” 7 standards” at this link. There’s lots of wiggle room, in my opinion.

    FEATURE, NOT BUG.
    Gotta write the Letter of the Law with Loopholes, ya know.

    “It’s never so important to maintain the appearance of the Law as when you’re breaking it.”
    — Boss Tweed, Gangs of New York (movie)

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  4. It’s becoming more and more clear that EFCA is a Whitewash organization, just like Peacemakers.

    The Golden Rule: He Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules.
    (With or without Long Pious Prayers.)

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  5. Franklin Graham always comes across as smug and self-righteous, yet he’s no different than all the other greedy, hypocritical, money grubbing ‘preachers.’ Way to be above reproach, Franklin. Isn’t it ironic that the guy pictured on a $100 bill is also named Franklin. Money seems to be synonymous with the name Franklin.

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  6. __

    “Another ‘Larger Than Life Crackerjack Hero’ ™ Not Meeting Expectations, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    The illustrious Franklin Graham has now become the new TWW ‘target practice dummy’ ™ of choice?
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mtCASbwnEK8

    huh?

    “Living off the derision until nothing else remains…”

    ;~)

    – –
    Intermission:
    Gabriela Gunčíková – “We Don’t Need Another Hero” (a Tina Turner cover)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hTcxH4_8XbI

    -=-

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  7. “But, in 2018 Newsweek published BILLY GRAHAM NET WORTH: EVANGELIST WAS ONE OF THE RICHEST PASTORS IN AMERICA.

    It is important to understand at this time, Graham’s family was managing the money due to Graham’s advanced age. It is my opinion, and I could be mistaken, that Graham, who lived in the same house all of his life, had not increased his standard of living. I was not surprised to see that Franklin Graham’s salary had increased, once again.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    any investigative reporter need a story?

    is there any indication billy graham ever lived anything but a modest lifestyle?

    did he ever make comments in the past about income, salary, salary caps, modest living?

    was the wealth that the BGEA accrued always passed on to Billy Graham in the form of growing assets and salary? or was it historically rolled back into the organization and given away?

    at what point was wealth shifted into the Graham name and personal account(s)?

    boy, this stinks.

    i consider franklin graham astoundingly irresponsible. i guess he never saw spiderman. “with great power comes great responsiblity.” amazing he couldn’t figure it out on his own.

    **people with influence, take heed the example you set for others.**

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  8. Ron H:
    Franklin Graham always comes across as smug and self-righteous, yet he’s no different than all the other greedy, hypocritical, money grubbing ‘preachers.’

    I saw him speak numerous times while I was a student at Liberty. He definitely seemed smug, and sort of slicked back like a salesman not quite on the honest side. He doesn’t have the gentle and humble demeanor of his father.

    Of course, people at Liberty loved him. They were all about Christian celebrities. Usually the first question asked when you met someone was not “Where are you from?”, but “Who are you related to?” Not kidding at all.

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  9. Boy, you can’t make this stuff up. I think all of the examples of evangelical dishonesty and wrongdoing covered here come back, to a large extent, to the irresponsibility of the evangelical audience, which does not demand anything deeper than appearances. They are the ones who make these such lucrative endeavors.

    During a site visit to the church in December, we thoroughly examined the information made available to us and believed the church was in compliance with our standards.

    I was expecting him to say ‘examined the books‘ but he didn’t. He “examined the information made available to us.” I wonder what was ‘made available’ to him, exactly? And I wonder how many people, reading that statement, picture a cpa seriously auditing reams of financial records?

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  10. Lowlandseer,

    That was stomach turning and not just in terms of Driscoll’s baloney. He’s a brother? Really? Does the word brother have any meaning? How can one even seriously critique all that self-serving rot he wrote, as if there was any merit there. I must be missing something? SMH

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  11. SiteSeer,

    I agree. And he writes toward the end, ” After all he is a brother and a gifted man. He is back in ministry in Scottsdale Arizona and I hope is being blessed and being a blessing in his new church.”

    Seriously? Not only is his premise wrong, but his opinion of Driscoll is wrong. Has the author learned nothing? SMHWY

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  12. ishy: Usually the first question asked when you met someone was not “Where are you from?”, but “Who are you related to?” Not kidding at all.

    I think you’ve mentioned this before. It’s so odd to me. Glad I went elsewhere! It’s nice to disconnect from your past and live just as yourself with new people.

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  13. SiteSeer,

    Yes, I was a bit surprised at some of what was written and I’ve disagreed with David Robertson in the past over his rather rosey view of the new Calvinists, particularly Matt Chandler. In response to a comment I made on his blog a long time ago (2015) I got the following blast as did anyone else who disagreed with him.

    I kind of dreaded this type of response. Matt Chandler is an excellent example of how the gospel should be preached – I can’t comment on his lifestyle because I don’t know it – do you? If not why do you feel in a position to judge? As for the ‘scandal’ – yes I was aware of it. But I find it astonishing that you cite it here – in a massive church (and smaller churches) there are bound to be people who are sex abusers – and the church will not always handle that well. The great thing about the Village Church is that they recognised that they had not handled it well and apologised. Name me one church that has handled everything well. As for ES Williams book – yes I have heard of it and read several reviews -Im afraid I won’t be spending the £30 on a book which just seems to want to attack and tar everyone with the same brush. I’m afraid I have had more than enough of this kind of depressing legalism and self-righteousness pride…(and before you jump in – yes I admit I can all too easily be the same)…..”

    Sorry for the digression.

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  14. OK, let me get this straight … ECFA encourages church leaders to act honorably in financial management and fiscal reporting … and if they say they are doing so, they get a seal of approval? If church leaders are in the business of deceiving their own congregations, they would have no problem lying to an outside organization. Such leaders may get ECFA accreditation to prop up their masquerades, but they operate without God’s seal of approval on their ministries.

    “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.” (Ps 36:1)

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  15. Max: ECFA encourages church leaders to act honorably in financial management and fiscal reporting … and if they say they are doing so, they get a seal of approval? I

    I have been frustrated about this for years.

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  16. Lowlandseer: The great thing about the Village Church is that they recognised that they had not handled it well and apologised.

    Amy Smith and I were the ones who brought this story to light. Thee is far more to this story than I can say since I agreed keep it confidential by the person who mattered most. However, I can say that there is more to the story. What I can say is that Matt Chandler said that heads would roll. They didn’t.

    Given what I know, I would NEVER sign any document in this church. And now Chandler is using his medical history to claim that neurosurgeons are saying people should eat clean meat to prevent brain tumors and other forms of cancer. That is baloney. However, you can buy his *clean meat* from his clean meat herd business.

    As the mother of a child with a malignant brain tumor who also survived, without eating clean meat, I resent that he would use his illness to play games prey on people’s emotions. https://relevantmagazine.com/current/um-did-you-guys-know-matt-chandler-has-a-steak-company/

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  17. SiteSeer: I was expecting him to say ‘examined the books‘ but he didn’t. He “examined the information made available to us.” I wonder what was ‘made available’ to him, exactly? And I wonder how many people, reading that statement, picture a cpa seriously auditing reams of financial records?

    20 years ago, I would have. I get so frustrated by this nonsense.

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  18. Ted: I assume it deals only with financial accountability, not necessarily with children’s safety.

    I never thought it dealt with child safety. But now I’m not so sure they deal with financial accountability…

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  19. dee,

    To me, ECFA is just like all the other “spin” BS in our culture. Do not speak clear truth, but “spin” things to make people think something… For example, ECFA, on a high level, looks like they are requiring a high level of financial accountability… but then, if you look closely, (which they hope you don’t) you find out it is all voluntary.. because hey, No Christain” group woul lie, would they?? And, if I question it, I am justbeing non-trusting of my “spiritual leaders”, of cynical, disrutive, etc, etc…

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  20. dee,

    “And now Chandler is using his medical history to claim that neurosurgeons are saying people should eat clean meat to prevent brain tumors and other forms of cancer. That is baloney. However, you can buy his *clean meat* from his clean meat herd business.

    As the mother of a child with a malignant brain tumor who also survived, without eating clean meat, I resent that he would use his illness to play games prey on people’s emotions.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    i guess Matt Chandler never saw Spiderman, either.

    what is it with professional christians, clueless to “with great power comes great responsibility”?

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  21. So it apparently works like this with bad-boy preachers/ministries in regard to ECFA’s “Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship”:

    1. ECFA: “Do you operate in accordance with biblical truths and practices?”
    Bad-Boy: “Yessiree!”

    2. ECFA: “Are you governed by a responsible board?”
    Bad-Boy: “Certainly!”

    3. ECFA: “Is the financial statement you submitted to us complete and accurate?”
    Bad-Boy: “Exactly!”

    4. ECFA: “Are your resources used in a responsible manner and in conformity with applicable laws and regulations, such conformity taking into account biblical mandates?”
    Bad-Boy: “Absolutely!”

    5. ECFA: “Is the financial statement you provided us current?”
    Bad-Boy: “Oh yeah!”

    6. ECFA: “Have you set the compensation for your top leader with the utmost integrity?
    Bad-Boy: “Surely!”

    7. ECFA: “Do you assure us that all financial information you have given us has no material omissions or exaggerations, and are not intended to create a false impression or misunderstanding?”
    Bad-Boy: “Well, why would we do that?!!”

    ECFA: “OK, you are accredited for another year.”
    Bad-Boy: “Thank you. Our check is in the mail.”

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  22. dee: Chandler is using his medical history to claim that neurosurgeons are saying people should eat clean meat to prevent brain tumors and other forms of cancer. That is baloney. However, you can buy his *clean meat* from his clean meat herd business.

    Hurry! Hurry! Order your 32oz Cowboy Ribeye now for only $65.95! Mega-baloney from mega-pastor. Makes me want to go eat some broccoli.

    https://www.texascraftsteaks.com/

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  23. dee,

    I do cancer reserach, and “clean meet” claim is definitely BS… in fact, just published a paper on glioblastoma ( nasty brain cancer)
    and I do not work for “big pharma” like so many of the conspiracy theory people like to claim….

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  24. elastigirl: i guess Matt Chandler never saw Spiderman, either.

    I’ll bet he never saw Wonderwoman either.
    And even if he did, the morals and ethos taught would be completely lost on him because she’s (wonderwoman) not ‘one of his girls’.

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  25. Max: ECFA: “OK, you are accredited for another year.”
    Bad-Boy: “Thank you. Our check is in the mail.”

    It’s called “Coin-Operated Certification”.
    Or “Vending Machine Certification”.
    Or “Pay to Play”.

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  26. elastigirl: “And now Chandler is using his medical history to claim that neurosurgeons are saying people should eat clean meat to prevent brain tumors and other forms of cancer. That is baloney. However, you can buy his *clean meat* from his clean meat herd business.

    Just like Laetrile.

    Or (around 100 years ago) Reverend Welch’s unfermented pasteurized grape juice for a certified “Dry” Communion.

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  27. Jeffrey Chalmers: and I do not work for “big pharma” like so many of the conspiracy theory people like to claim….

    The Vast Medical Establishment Conspiracy is an almost-certain Mark of Quackery.

    Like Deep Throat Driscoll’s Godly Alternative Medicine type,
    “If it ducks like a Quack…”

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  28. Max: Hurry! Hurry! Order your 32oz Cowboy Ribeye now for only $65.95! Mega-baloney from mega-pastor. Makes me want to go eat some broccoli.

    Holy chit!
    That much for a Ribeye?
    I’ll stick with Tilapia (responsibly and sustainably farmed).

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  29. RE: The SBC problem with abuse

    I don’t know if anyone else has had this experience, but whenever I have tried to educate people about the evangelical problems with this issue I have been met with blank stares and general disbelief. My standard line when someone starts in on the RCC is to mention that this is a problem that crosses denominational lines and is certainly not just a Catholic issue.

    Even if I do manage to make some progress with these folks, it is short lived. In fact, the old Bible church still has a person up front and in a key position who not only is a convicted s*x offender but leads worship. This same person recently lost his job because he was looking at nasty pictures. SMH.

    That any church of any flavor has this going on is indeed heartbreaking. I wish there was a better way to publicize and inform people that this is going on right under their noses. I appreciate what is done here and on other blogs to expose it, but wish I had something to hand people when this subject comes up, like a tract or something, to alert them to the problem, give links to websites and organizations who need help fighting against it, and maybe even a checklist of what to look for in your own church and what to do if you suspect abuse is going on.

    Does anything like this exist?

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  30. Hello all,

    Off topic, but I thought I’d give you all a status report on how I’m doing. Back in December, I came on here really depressed and anxious. Dee ended up spending over an hour with me on the phone, for which I am thankful.

    So, as to my thyroid, the endocrinologist at first thought I might have an autoimmune attack on my thyroid underway (not Grave’s or Hashi’s but a form of thyroiditis where the attack lasts up to 12 months before it goes away on its own). She changed her mind when my blood work came back in normal range again. (I had had a high free T4 but normal TSH back in September through November, before the T4 went back down by itself.) While my free T4 is still a bit on the high side (but still in normal range), she thinks my thyroid is fine. That’s probably good news because that sort of thyroiditis is not treatable and has to be ridden out until it goes away on its own. I ended up seeing my podiatrist out of desperation, because my GP had dismissed any notion that I could be approaching perimenopause. Once I gave her a timeline of my symptoms going all the way back to mid-2017, she agreed I should see an OBGYN. I got in the with the nurse practitioner there. She was very helpful and did not dismiss my symptoms like my GP had (who had wanted me to just take Prozac). TMI for the fellas (you have been warned): It’s taken all these months, but I’ve seen a pattern of hot flashes during my periods or right before, as well as weakness and muscle soreness in my legs around the same time. That pretty much told me this is all hormonal.

    My OBGYN’s nurse practitioner thinks I’m having a sort of pre-perimenopause drop/fluxuation in hormones. Apparently, it’s common for women in their 30s. She even told me she started getting scary moody at age 37, and that birth control helped her.
    While my blood work showed normal ranges for everything, she’s treating me based on symptoms. So far, the birth control is helping a few things, but I’m still really, really depressed and weepy. The hot flashes are gone so far, and I only get anxiety on some evenings rather than all the time, so there’s some improvement. I just started a pack with the next highest does of estradiol. My hopes aren’t that high that it will work, though. Since starting birth control, my legs are now weak every day rather than one week out of the month. I follow up with the nurse practitioner next week. Maybe I’ll be talking creams and stuff next. I dunno. Please pray that we can figure something out that works for me. I especially need some solid sleep, which I haven’t had in six months. No, not even the melatonin gummies work for me.
    Ugh.

    I did see a cardiologist for the heart palpitations. Long story short, my heart is okay! He had been dropping heart surgery because my echocardiogram showed that my congenital heart defect (a hole I’ve had all my life) had gotten bigger. But the transesophogal echocardiogram I had done in the hosptial showed it was really small after all. Whew! So, the palpitations are not due to heart trouble. That’s good news!

    Per Dee’s recommendation, I started seeing a therapist for trauma. It took me some time to find one that sounded like she knew what she was doing. I got a referral from someone at church who was very much helped by her. I’m only three sessions in, though. She’s terribly expensive ($100/hr, with a referral discount), so I hope this works. So far, it’s mostly me talking. She doesn’t want to start cognitive behavioral therapy with me until she’s done some other stuff. She also doesn’t believe in homework, which is weird. But OK. I kind of don’t want to spend money just talking and talking. I can do that at home with my mom for free, so if we don’t start going anywhere useful in a few more sessions, I’ll be moving on. But I think she wants to get me to a forgiveness stage first with some other therapy stuff. I do have a tendency to stew, so there you have it. And now I’ve been stewing on some very traumatic stuff I read for church history: Namely, that the church generally used to teach that some wife beating was okay to keep order in the home. I really wish I had never read a church history book, let alone researched that stuff. Most people seem able to shrug that information off like it’s no big deal, but I just…can’t. So, that’s what I’m working on doing right now. Trying not to make a big deal of what a bunch of dead people said and did.

    Anyway, I’d like to thank Dee for spending over an hour on the phone with me. And thank you all of you for your support and kind replies back in December. Please pray for me. I’m still so weepy and depressed. I feel like nothing is helping me anymore and I don’t know how to dig out of this hole. I feel so tired and sleep deprived now. I’m not sure if I can cope much longer without something changing for the better. I keep looking at my 11-year-old dog and wondering if I’ll get better in time to really enjoy whatever time I have left with him before he passes. I’d really like to enjoy my time with him and not be constantly sad and scared.

    I will be making my 6-month checkup appointment for my thyroid to have it ultrasounded again. (I still have a multinodular goiter, even though its benign.) My thyroid still has a lot of nerve pain ever since the biopsy. It’s been 5 months since I had that biopsy. Given the goiter is so small, I don’t know what it should hurt still. Something to talk about with the GP’s nurse practitioner (I gave up on my GP because she just doesn’t listen, and the endocrinologist is just too in and out, hurry hurry.)

    I’ll you all another status report in a couple more months.

    Thanks for listening and being there.

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  31. Muff Potter,

    “I’ll bet he never saw Wonderwoman either.
    And even if he did, the morals and ethos taught would be completely lost on him because she’s (wonderwoman) not ‘one of his girls’.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    no, i’m sure he couldn’t abide Wonderwoman. her inner and outer strength and controlled fearsomeness would be too much — it would puncture his male headship and send it and whizzing around the room in a final fart.

    too bad. “Hera, help me” as she plunges fist first through a rock mountain is the greatest image for any human being. (Hera, being the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Deborah, Mary, and Junia.)

    his loss.

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  32. dee: And now Chandler is using his medical history to claim that neurosurgeons are saying people should eat clean meat to prevent brain tumors and other forms of cancer. That is baloney. However, you can buy his *clean meat* from his clean meat herd business.

    I got a bit of a chuckle from this. How many ways are there to harvest $ from believers? Let me count the ways …

    My own sense is that as a matter of sustainability, we may need in future to eat “lower down the food chain”; less meat and more vegetables/grains. Do New Calvinists recognize issues like the finiteness of the material resources of our planet? I think that such concerns would have been regarded as unmanly in Driscoll’s churches.

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  33. Noevangelical,

    I asked my therapist (LPC) today why people, both inside and outside of Christianity would circle the wagons so tightly around someone. Why, even with overwhelming evidence, not even doubt the person charged/convicted. She was unable to give me an answer. She’s also Catholic, so she has a solid understanding where I was coming from.

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  34. Sarah: Liberty University doesn’t have tenure

    This intrigued me, so I did some research. Jerry Falwell Jr.’s comment: “‘When you don’t have tenure, you’ve got people coming to work for you who know that nothing’s guaranteed.’ he said. ‘It actually attracts people who are more risk takers to Liberty. And that’s what we want. We want risk takers. It’s one of the reasons we’ve been so successful'” (Inside Higher Education, 1 Nov 2017).

    Sure. A place establishes a policy to dismiss employees more easily, and then then claims it did that to attract risk takers. That’s totally how employment works. /sarc

    Despite this claim, Liberty does offer tenure on the law faculty to meet an American Bar Association accreditation requirement.

    And at the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Liberty’s website includes “Preparing faculty for promotion and tenure” on its list of OME faculty opportunities.

    Strange, isn’t it? The place makes a claim of superiority, but has exceptions and loopholes that make it look like other universities.

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  35. Brian: why people, both inside and outside of Christianity would circle the wagons so tightly around someone. Why, even with overwhelming evidence, not even doubt the person charged/convicted

    Blind allegiance is not based on reason or evidence … such folks are so loyal that they get to the point where they have no desire to understand why they are loyal! We’ve seen it time and again when cults of personality are exposed … a very strange human behavior … and alarming to think that a man posing as a pastor could have that sort of control over his congregation.

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  36. dee,

    Why do Christians get sucked into the crazy “anti-cancer, anti-vaccination, eat-this and live forever” scams? Mick Jagger, vegan, health-nut to undergo aortic valve replacement tomorrow. Druggy, party-man, drug-user Kieth Richards doing just fine!!! LOL

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  37. ishy: I think that’s since Jr. came. He is a lawyer…

    You’re probably right. I think it would be hard for lawyers to find jobs after attending a law school that does not meet ABA accreditation requirements. This might also explain the tenure reference for osteopathic faculty.

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  38. Gaga: Why do Christians get sucked into the crazy “anti-cancer, anti-vaccination, eat-this and live forever” scams?

    The chance to feel pure, enlightened, self righteous, and guaranteed of a good future by making yourself do things you don’t want to do because some bouncy person told you to and threatened doom if you did not, while spending a lot of money sounds like some people’s health crazes and some people’s Christianity.

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  39. dee,

    Serious question. Why would someone sign a document to be a member of a congregation? I was a member of an IBF church and now a member of an independent Bible based church. I never had to sign anything. My instinct would be to stop attending any church that made me sign a document.

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  40. Brian: Why would someone sign a document to be a member of a congregation

    Wartburgers have discouraged signing church membership agreements for years. Many have had miserable experiences with them. Church is voluntary … the Church of the Living God is a free church … no need to get bound contractually with institutions of mere men. The only covenant a believer needs to enter into is the one written in red. Church contracts only benefit church leaders; most are written in a way to control the pew and are tough to break without being disciplined in some manner (shunning, excommunication).

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  41. Clockwork Angel: praying for you! I too suffered through about every conceivable way of feeling rotten during peri, including I swear someone should have maybe unscrewed my brains and pressure washed them. Depression, anger, heavy legs, and worst insomnia ever. Tried the hormones for years but they turned out to be making it worse. I’m not a doc and do not play one on tv, but what got me through finally was 4 things: b12 since I was on Prilosec, vitamin d to help with sleep (take it at breakfast), the cholesterol lowering dose of psyllium husk pills since they seemed to absorb any estrogen surge, thyroid levelling and blood sugar levelling for me, and melatonin for sleep. But I had a paradoxical reaction to melatonin. Too much depresses me for days. I buy the lowest dose and then cut it with a pill slicer. Don’t take it except for travel now, but usually used 1/8 to 1/4 max of a 1mg pill. Tried those 3mg pills and they made me a super insomniac for days, along with super depressed.

    Helped me the most to have a nurse tell me to keep a meticulous record for 3 months of what I ate, drank, did, the weather, period cycle, everything. Pretty soon some things began to show up. Some made me feel worse, some better. That gave us a way to begin levelling things out. Also took up walking as exercise, especially when tired. And heart palps, oy vey, let me look at a decongestant or any form of steroid like an itchy cream or nasal spray and you would think I need an emt and cardiologist lol. Hang in there, there is very real hope you will feel better!!

    And goofy question, but have you been tested for ms? Good to rule it out since peri symptoms can mimic it at times. It is highly unlikely, and just getting that “no sign of ms” can make you feel pretty dang good to cross off something serious. My doc did routinely rule it out on everyone with tired, heavy, achy legs as a complaint. Also ruled out lupus. Once I got my estrogen levelled with the fiber pills the leg thing pretty much disappeared.

    Praying for ya!

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  42. Brian,

    As a practical matter, churches that impose a written contact as a condition of membership generally will not admit non-members to communion and will not allow them to serve in any leadership capacity. If one likes the group and wants to more closely integrate into it (and wanting that would imply that one had high confidence that the leaders would never misuse the large power differential that they have once one sets one’s signature to the contract), one might be willing to execute a membership contract.

    It looks highly risky to me. Even if one has absolute confidence that the present leadership is honorable and fair-minded, one has no guarantee that their future successors will not be sociopaths (and, given the significant proportion of the population that has sociopathic traits, around 4%, and the propensity of this personality type to seek power over others, it’s a fair bet that one or more of one’s church leaders will at some point be a person with this kind of personality).

    In such a circumstance, if I liked the group, I would serve in permissible non-member volunteer capacities and, at communion, “feed on Christ by faith” without resentment at my exclusion from the Table. I would reckon that it was they more than me who were transgressing by not “recognizing the body” in this exclusion.

    My guess is that at some point I would be asked to leave; not a good example of compliance.

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  43. dee: As the mother of a child with a malignant brain tumor who also survived, without eating clean meat, I resent that he would use his illness to play games prey on people’s emotions.

    And does he push his beef at his church as well? Very convenient market if so . . .

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  44. Clockwork Angel,

    Sorry to hear you’ve not been feeling well. Menopause can be very difficult. The hormone patch (estrogen/progestin if you have a uterus, estrogen if you don’t) helps immensely with a lower chance of side effects than taking hormones systemically. Lowered levels of estrogen can cause insomnia, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and all sorts of other things. It’s worth finding an OB/GYN who specializes in menopause, they are much more knowledgable as to how to treat it; the best treatments, latest research. Good luck and hang in there, this too shall pass.

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  45. Lowlandseer: In response to a comment I made on his blog a long time ago (2015) I got the following blast as did anyone else who disagreed with him.

    Wow, he hit you with pretty much everything out of the playbook!

    I just don’t get it. I don’t know what anyone sees in Driscoll or any of these other mega pastors.

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  46. Gaga: Why do Christians get sucked into the crazy “anti-cancer, anti-vaccination, eat-this and live forever” scams?

    I remember some of the embarrassing fads that went through my churches as far as health scams and MLM… A lot of Christians are very superstitious and credulous in general. Since I’ve been out of church it’s more noticeable to me. So then I start wondering what is the intersection of superstition and faith?

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  47. elastigirl: no, i’m sure he couldn’t abide Wonderwoman. her inner and outer strength and controlled fearsomeness would be too much — it would puncture his male headship and send it and whizzing around the room in a final fart.

    These guys (Chandler, Piper,…the list is long) really are just farts in the wind.

    But the sad reality is that they hold so many in their thrall, all sanctioned of course by what they say the Bible ‘teaches’.

    To them, gender roles and attributes are dictated solely on plumbing received at birth and there can Be No Crossover Whatsoever of talents, abilities, and gifting.

    Not only does this retard human growth and maturity in both secular and religious venues, it’s also just plain STOOPID.

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  48. Clockwork Angel,

    I am sorry to hear how hard the struggle has been despite you taking action in many ways. When our bodies get out of whack, it can be scary, wearying, confusing, painful and exhausting.Been there, remember it.

    I don’t know enough to have a conclusion but I caution you not to be rushed into forgiveness by any therapist. I think that is so much easier to address when trauma has been treated well with EMDR or other effective protocols for processing trauma.

    If you are “forced to forgive” early on, it can interfere with the ability to acknowledge the reality of the harm and the emotions that are appropriate in the trauma-rage, powerlessness, guilt, shame, fear, terror, etc. In other words, a tidy “forgiveness session” can short circuit the healing process. It takes processing to even fully understand and acknowledge the reality of the wounds.

    I say this having been in both the client and the therapist chair. I hope you get some answers and find some true healing with someone skilled in trauma therapy. I admire your persistence even when it feels to daunting. You are heard and seen here!

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  49. Gaga,

    “Why do Christians get sucked into the crazy “anti-cancer, anti-vaccination, eat-this and live forever” scams?”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i have some thoughts on that. Which are generalizations and a touch of hyperbole — but a lifetime in church and i have seen up close and personal the throbbing core of truth here:

    as i see it, unless a christian resists through their own objective scrutiny, they succumb to a belief system that looks down on everyone and everything that is not christian and is outside christian church culture.

    the adopted mindset is one of grave distrust, giving no benefit of the doubt but presuming the worst of those on the outside, and with a superiority complex for being on the exclusive inside.

    actually, the mindset holds that their exclusive members-only christian club is not near exclusive enough. for at some point there will be a ‘falling away’, separating out the true exclusively exclusive club called ‘the faithful remnant’ from all the silly fake & phony christians.

    christians can only hope they are part of this ultimate in-group.

    you can already see them projecting themselves into this elite higher level by separating themselves away from their peers with self-designations like “-A Gospel Church” added on to the church name (apparently all other churches in the area are clueless about the gospel).

    And things like Gospel-Marriage, Gospel-Parenting, Gospel-Eating… don’t participate in these things? “ooohhh,…(sound of sucking air through one’s teeth, a disapproving slow shake of the head)…. you must not be one of us.”

    not only are they to keep themselves untainted from ‘the world’ (everyone but them), but untainted from their lesser christian peers, as well.

    as such, they are ever-ready to adopt products, vendors, systems, and methods that are separated from everything else. things that only the elite would opt for. that are as far outside ‘the world system’ as possible.

    A diet, a medical regimen, a financial plan, an income-earner for the exclusive members-only group siphoned off from the outside evil worldly world?

    there will be many christian customers signing up for it.

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  50. elastigirl: the adopted mindset is one of grave distrust, giving no benefit of the doubt but presuming the worst of those on the outside, and with a superiority complex for being on the exclusive inside.

    Agree with all you wrote. In addition, at my old church there were the shiny-faced rapturous smiles: Oh, he’s a Christian plumber, she’s a Christian baby sitter, it’s a Christian supermarket! All will be perfect, and the prices fair!

    I would see that secret fish symbol on a business card and think, How bold of this man to reveal his faith on pain of death! And forget that I wasn’t living in the Roman Empire.

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  51. Bridget,

    I bet he would say that he isn’t doing it but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a subtle push. And can’t you see the people sucking up to him. “Oh Pastor Chandler, we buy all our beef from you.” This is a very bad idea besides being medically stupid.

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  52. Brian,
    The membership contract which they call by a cutesy name “covenant” to make it sound terribly serious and biblical, has become the *thing to do* by the Gospel Coalition crowd. They do sermons and write books on it. So, unsuspecting people sign the dang things and before you know it are one the wrong end of discipline for asking too many questions and being divisive.

    So, people who want to join a church feel they have to do this. I propose that if you really want to join a control freak church, just attend and don’t sign it. The pastors like to pretend that it isn’t a legal contract but it is. Now, you can get out of it, no matter what they say.You have to send a certified letter stating you are dropping your membership.and also let them know if they try to go after you, you will sue their stupid hineys off.

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  53. dee: The membership contract which they call by a cutesy name “covenant” to make it sound terribly serious and biblical, has become the *thing to do* by the Gospel Coalition crowd.

    I have yet to have someone share a compelling Biblical argument for such covenants with me. If someone would like to do that, I would be happy to listen. If I “covenant” with Christ to live out my faith as He leads me, I’ve never seen the value of a written document to keep me in the boundaries of what a particular church outlines as my rights and duties as a church member. I’m a citizen of the Kingdom – no contract required – not a citizen of an institutional church … the two are not always the same as we continue to find out. Entering into an agreement with a counterfeit church may keep you from experiencing the genuine in your Christian walk. Christ has set you free … stay that way!

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  54. dee,

    Yep. Especially when it’s all wrapped up on his beef site “about us” page with this:

    Ecc 2:24- Nothing is better for man than to eat and drink and enjoy his work. I have also seen that this is from the hand of God.

    It has God’s approval. Voila!

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  55. Friend: Agree with all you wrote. In addition, at my old church there were the shiny-faced rapturous smiles: Oh, he’s a Christian plumber, she’s a Christian baby sitter, it’s a Christian supermarket! All will be perfect, and the prices fair!

    “You’ll be keeping all your money
    In the kingdom now,
    And you’ll only drink milk
    From a Christian cow;
    Don’t you go casting your bread
    To keep the heathen well-fed!
    Line Christian pockets instead!
    Aavoid temptation!
    Guilty by Association!”
    — Steve Taylor

    And the word spread quick outside the bubble that Christian(TM) meant overcharging for shoddy work with high-pressure witnessing thrown in.

    I even read (possibly on this blog’s comment threads) of one Christian(TM) contractor who when he screwed up, blamed it all on SATAN sneaking in and doing the damage.

    And one of the contributors over at Internet Monk used to work for a radio station; the word there was “Cash Up Front for Christian(TM) Advertisers, NO EXCEPTIONS”. From bitter experience they had found that they were more likely to get stiffed by a Christian(TM) than by a crackhead.

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  56. elastigirl: And things like Gospel-Marriage, Gospel-Parenting, Gospel-Eating… don’t participate in these things? “ooohhh,…(sound of sucking air through one’s teeth, a disapproving slow shake of the head)…. you must not be one of us.”

    Don’t forget Salem Kirban’s Godly Diet:
    Nothing but whole-grain bread, bread, bread. Nothing else.
    Collecting and measuring and weighing your stools to see if it was working.
    And you could tell it was working by The Holy Spirit shining out of your eyes.

    I am NOT making that up.
    My writing partner described it to me from when his father fell for it.

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  57. Robert M: Does it mean anything at all?

    It means that it’s just good old fashioned American salesmanship.
    Selling you stuff and more stuff you (generic you) don’t need is a multi-billion-dollar-per-year bizz in this great Nation of ours.

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  58. SiteSeer: I remember some of the embarrassing fads that went through my churches as far as health scams and MLM… A lot of Christians are very superstitious and credulous in general.

    As I understand it, during the first and second centuries AD/CE, one of the Romans’ beefs against this “Christian” cult was they WEREN’T superstitious enough to be a REAL religion.

    Looks like today’s churches have fixed that.

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  59. dee: As the mother of a child with a malignant brain tumor who also survived, without eating clean meat, I resent that he would use his illness to play games prey on people’s emotions.

    Sounds like “Clean/Christian Meat” is just the Christianese version of that universal cancer cure, Organic Kale and Vitamin Supplements.

    And since Our Secular Humanist Enemies go Vegan, REAL CHRISTIANS EAT MEAT! RAWR!
    (Possibly also a tie-in with the Complementarian Christian Manly-Manosphere. DOUBLE RAWR!)

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  60. dee,

    bridget: “And does he push his beef at his church as well? Very convenient market if so.”

    dee: “I bet he would say that he isn’t doing it but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a subtle push. And can’t you see the people sucking up to him. “Oh Pastor Chandler, we buy all our beef from you.” This is a very bad idea besides being medically stupid.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    the moment his promotional ad was published was an overt push of his money-making side business on all his church members, attenders, and evangeliworld. pre-meditated, planned, and on purpose. puh puh PUH! (…too much aliteration!)

    he knows darn well that he has a huge following who try to emulate him and adjust their lives based on what he says.

    it goes far beyond a fan club of a rock star or a ‘hollywood starlet’, whose fans simply love to hear news about their idol and hope to meet him/her in person.

    matt chandler, like king of the evangeli-swamis john piper & all the other celebrity nincompoops, knows darn well that his fan club believes he speaks for God. simply because that is what he has told them, whether directly or indirectly.

    actually, he never even needed to mention it — the powerbrokers of his professional christian industry have already built that into the brand. it’s a given. how convenient.

    like the Nike swoosh = it’s what powers Michael Jordan to do wonders on the basketball court. but since the concept of God is involved, exponentially so on a cosmic-steroid scale for Matt Chandler.

    whereas this power over people is a hobby to john piper as he sits back and glibly pushes out tweets and then observes their impact as they hit and course through his fandom,…

    it’s a business opportunity to Matt Chandler. an instant customer base.

    Matt Chandler, John Piper, and all the duplicitous christian celebrity dweebs use people in their sway for their own amusement, their own ego, their own enrichment, for their own advantage.

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  61. Samuel Conner: My own sense is that as a matter of sustainability, we may need in future to eat “lower down the food chain”; less meat and more vegetables/grains.

    As I said above:
    HEATHENS are Vegan.
    REAL CHRISTIANS EAT MEAT! RAWR!

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  62. elastigirl: he knows darn well that he has a huge following who try to emulate him and adjust their lives based on what he says.

    Reminds me of Ayn Rand and cigarettes, though she never had that huge an actual following.

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  63. dee,

    I’ve never personally known a church that had a sign-on-the-dotted-line covenant, but I’ve never known one that didn’t have a covenant (occasionally updated, but in place for 100+ years) that members assented to and sometimes read together aloud as an affirmation of faith and community. Any difference there?

    Do some churches have no membership? In churches I have known, attending for more than a few months without joining pretty much never happened. Joining gave you a vote and allowed you to hold office.

    And yes, I saw vague statements in the covenant become the basis of ridiculous discipline and excommunication in a church that was veering Neo-Calvinist.

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  64. Headless Unicorn Guy: And since Our Secular Humanist Enemies go Vegan, REAL CHRISTIANS EAT MEAT! RAWR!
    (Possibly also a tie-in with the Complementarian Christian Manly-Manosphere. DOUBLE RAWR!)

    Ever since learning how much more beef production contributes to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than almost any other food, I feel guilty even thinking of beef! (and rarely eat it) As someone mentioned above, eating lower on the food chain is much more likely to be sustainable in the long run…

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  65. Max,

    (Reference Matthew 7:15-29) It’s like signing an employment contract with a person, since a nonprofit corporation has legal standing as a person. The person who signs it is beholden to the officers of the corporation.

    In relation to my other question, when strong evidence is presented against a corporate officer, i.e., pastor or deacon, for being a child molester, they blindly ignore the evidence/conviction.

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  66. ION: Sport

    BIG game at St Mary’s tonight; if we drop points to Southampton, the title race is over.

    Also, today was the first day of the County Championship, and it was a good one for Joe Clarke of Nottinghamshire, who made an unbeaten 109 as he helped Notts to 324-5 against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge: the first century of the domestic cricket season. The bat also dominated at the Ageas Bowl as Hampshire reached 303-4 against Essex, with Sam Northeast unbeaten on 94 at the close. By contrast, 15 wickets fell at Hove on the first day as Leicestershire closed on 131-5 in reply to Sussex’s 173 all out. Tom Taylor took 6-47 which, as far as I can see, is the first five-fer of the season.

    IHTIH

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  67. besred: I’ve never personally known a church that had a sign-on-the-dotted-line covenant, but I’ve never known one that didn’t have a covenant (occasionally updated, but in place for 100+ years) that members assented to and sometimes read together aloud as an affirmation of faith and community. Any difference there?
    Do some churches have no membership? In churches I have known, attending for more than a few months without joining pretty much never happened. Joining gave you a vote and allowed you to hold office.

    Bad news if you verbally assented either one on one or within a group who stood and read it aloud. That is the same thing as signing on the dotted line. We’ve written extensively on this subject. Some churches like CHBC have people read it each time they have communion of some such thing. They’re making sure they’ve got you so they can apply church discipline, often unjustly.

    You can get out of it but the process for doing so is the same as if you had signed on the dotted line.You will have to write them via a certified letter to say you are revoking your agreement. However, you have to get ready to resign from the church. Look on the right side of this home page, find permanent pages and read church discipline, membership covenants and how to resign from a church

    This is one of the only blogs out there which has written extensively on the subject. You have a right to leave a church and you can sue them if they publicly discipline or humiliate you after your resignation if you handle your resignation carefully.

    Now let me challenge you on the voting thing. Have you ever been in a church in which your vote actually mattered? Don’t the church leaders make sure it is a done deal before you vote? I would say that your vote doesn’t matter about 99% of the. time.

    What can’t you do if you don’t join the church? In most instances, it involves a vote. They will happily take your donations and many churches allow you to attend all church functions (minus voting and discipline sessions.) A few will not let you take communion but that is easily remedied by visiting another church on communion Sunday or whatever that allows people to take communion.

    Even if they won’t let you volunteer in the nursery, you’ll live. Find a good parachurch group like a Rescue Mission and volunteer there. Maybe even give more of your money there.

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  68. dee: Go to the local nondenominational church down the street and do communion there.

    I know a fellow – a longtime Southern Baptist – who was kicked out of an SBC New Calvinist church for walking next door to attend worship service at an Assembly of God church. A longtime member of that SBC church, he wasn’t too pleased about the takeover of the traditional church by the new reformers (the usual stealth and deception) and while he was trying to sort everything out, he opted to go next door to worship with friends at the AOG church. The young reformed pastor wasn’t pleased with this, met with him and the elders, and “excommunicated” him when he refused to attend only their church. I wonder if this happens elsewhere?

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  69. dee: Find a good parachurch group like a Rescue Mission and volunteer there.

    IMO, parachurch organizations are doing a better job at doing the work of the ministry than the institutional church. They are better at recognizing individual giftings, equipping the saints, and providing an avenue for them to meet and serve the needs of a community. There are exceptions of course, and you have to be careful working with just any parachurch group (there are bad-boys with them, too), but this generally holds true.

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  70. Max: IMO, parachurch organizations are doing a better job at doing the work of the ministry than the institutional church.

    Most present-day parachurches are relatively young and so are less far along the famous (Eric Hoffer) trajectory from “movement” to “corporation” to “racket.” A reasonable metric (in my opinion, for any lawyers reading this) of the transition from “corporation” to “racket” is the salary of the senior managers. If this is not public because the organization has incorporated as a church and is not obligated to file Form 990, that suggests that the numbers would shock the conscience. If the data is public and the senior managers are well into 6 figures, it may beg the question of “for whose benefit are the corporation’s cash flows being managed?”

    That said, there are many good non-profits in the world. And in any community that is larger than “small”, there may be numerous local nonprofits doing work that is objectively pleasing to the Creator, who delights in justice and mercy. These may be worthy of the assistance of believers who are looking for worthwhile ways to serve God and neighbor.

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  71. dee: Now let me challenge you on the voting thing. Have you ever been in a church in which your vote actually mattered? Don’t the church leaders make sure it is a done deal before you vote? I would say that your vote doesn’t matter about 99% of the. time.

    I have seen consequential church votes where the outcome was in doubt and the members’ preferences affected the future of the group. Unfortunately, it was a small dying (and now deceased) congregation.

    I’m no parliamentarian, but it seems to me that one of the functions of voting in voluntary associations that self-govern by this means is to establish (or perhaps document) group consensus. And I think it’s generally a bad idea to bring measures up for a vote when they are likely to fail; the effort may antagonize the majority and discourage the minority. None of this looks nefarious to me.

    I suspect that voting could matter a lot in smaller groups. In larger groups where the voting agenda is set by people who are remote from the voting members (as I reckon megas typically are), then it may well simply be a formality (but required by the by-laws), though the formality could still serve the social function of establishing (and enforcing?) group consensus. In my experience of a wannabe mega-, a risky expansion plan (that ultimately turned out poorly) was flogged to the congregation for months before a vote was taken. The vote was necessary per the corporate by-laws, but the outcome was not in doubt because the leadership had controlled the debate on the subject through the teaching agenda. After the plan was approved, the demonstrated consensus became something of a tool to pressure the group to fund the plan, since they had voted for it.

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  72. dee: Have you ever been in a church in which your vote actually mattered? Don’t the church leaders make sure it is a done deal before you vote?
    What can’t you do if you don’t join the church?

    I grew up in a small church and denomination that was extremely democratic and did not really have a church leadership, so there was a lot of discussion and an individual’s votes/participation very much mattered. Church discipline was not remotely a thing. When I moved and went elsewhere as an adult, expecting the same, I was shocked, of course, because it was just as you say, that leadership generally orchestrated done deals, votes were nonsense, and anyone who spoke up could count on being added to the blacklist.

    So, in the first church, there was never anyone who wasn’t a member past the age of about 12, and everybody held about 3 positions which would have required membership, had there been anyone who wasn’t a member, lol. It was very egalitarian in every way and the democratic participation was one of the best things about my childhood. In the second church, yeah, it was again as you say, that you wouldn’t miss much by not joining other than being subject to discipline and sitting through very boring, useless meetings. But you’d never be one of the cool kids, getting prayed for and all.

    Leaving the church didn’t happen to speak of in my youth, and if someone moved away, another church in the denomination would automatically accept the transfer of their membership without further ado. In the second church, it was just as you describe. When I told them I resigned my membership, the leadership, months later, wrote to tell me they had voted to accept my resignation, as if it wasn’t a unilateral, very much done decision without them. (!) Since then we are shunned…except by the people they have kicked out.

    I wouldn’t join now and have learned a lot about the dangers from this blog over several years. I haven’t seen churches first hand where you could really survive long as part of the community without joining, though.

    In a funny twist, after I was grown and gone, the first church eventually got a new, young pastor who was much more tied into modern American church trends and slowly but dramatically shifted things toward authoritarian and corrupt. Someone new wanted to attend indefinitely without joining. I think people felt a wee bit affronted but respected his pointing out that church membership is not in the Bible. Then one day, the attender mentioned he had decided to join in order to have a vote because he was interested in voting out the pastor. Next week, he was met at the door and barred by the pastor and a deacon. When many protested the right of the pastor and deacon to do any such thing, they were told that members would be protected from losing their membership except by congregational vote, but a non-member had no rights of due process. (Things went downhill from there, of course.)

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  73. besred: if someone moved away, another church in the denomination would automatically accept the transfer of their membership without further ado

    In traditional Southern Baptist churches, that is still pretty much the practice. You can simply move your membership from one SBC church to another or the congregation will accept your statement of faith as a believer and, thus, accept you as a member of their church. That practice is changing, however, as New Calvinist belief and practice sweeps through the SBC.

    besred: young pastor who was much more tied into modern American church trends and slowly but dramatically shifted things toward authoritarian and corrupt

    Most likely a New Calvinist … these young whippersnappers are all about control of the pulpit through manipulation, intimidation, and domination. Which, of course, are not fruit of the Holy Spirit.

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  74. Max: Not in New Calvinist churches.There is no congregational say in church governance; they are elder-ruled.

    With Twenty-something Elders who 60 years ago would have been equally starry-eyed for Communism instead of Calvinism.

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  75. Julie Chalmers: As someone mentioned above, eating lower on the food chain is much more likely to be sustainable in the long run…

    Only to Godless Secular Humanists(TM).
    Sustainability and Creation Care are meaningless when “It’s All Gonna Burn (any minute now) is Infallible Dogma.

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  76. dee: Solution to problem: Go to the local nondenominational church down the street and do communion there.

    Why just non-denominational? Plenty of denominations offer open Communion. And they don’t make you sign anything.

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  77. Headless Unicorn Guy: Sustainability and Creation Care are meaningless when “It’s All Gonna Burn (any minute now) is Infallible Dogma.

    NT Wright addresses this in his book Surprised by Hope. He makes a very good case that it is not all gonna burn. But of course, NT Wright is a heretic because he is Anglican… (sarcasm)

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  78. dee: Some churches like CHBC have people read it each time they have communion of some such thing.

    They’ve made the covenant(TM) a sacrament. Tying it to communion fits the meaning of profane: treat (something sacred) with irreverence or disrespect.

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  79. dee: Bad news if you verbally assented either one on one or within a group who stood and read it aloud. That is the same thing as signing on the dotted line. We’ve written extensively on this subject. Some churches like CHBC have people read it each time they have communion of some such thing. They’re making sure they’ve got you so they can apply church discipline, often unjustly.

    Holy cow… at first I thought this was about reading the Nicene Creed. Guess not!

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  80. Ken F (aka Tweed): Winsomely, of course…

    If there’s anything “charming” about the New Calvinist rebels, it springs from a spirit that’s not holy. And the sad thing is, they are convinced that they are right to use such tactics since they have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the “gospel” that the rest of the church has lost. They are passionate, but it is a misplaced passion.

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  81. dee,

    “Solution to problem: Go to the local nondenominational church down the street and do communion there. (If a 9 Marx leader is reading this, he is seizing at this moment. They really are not in charge. You are and don’t let them play you.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    or do it at home, something sincere between you and God.

    “You cannot do that, it is a sacrament!”

    “…and a sacrament is …what, now? the word’s not even in the trumped up ESV bible. is this all about relationship as opposed to religion or not? does God abide in me and i in God, or not? do you even believe what you keep telling everyone?”

    (sorry, just having one of those dream conversations with imaginary joechristian, in which i *put him in his place*)

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  82. elastigirl: is this all about relationship as opposed to religion or not? does God abide in me and i in God, or not?

    Worthy questions for each believer to ponder as the institutional church tips the balance further to the religion side. Jesus came to redeem and work through individuals, not institutions. The essence of Christianity is about relationship not religion.

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