"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ed Young in Meltdown Mode, Part 1: Ed Blasts Bloggers and Calvinists, Ridicules "Only" 26 Baptisms, Declares He Could "Empty Out" Dallas Ft. Worth Churches

Ed Young, the mega church "man of God", proved many of his critics right this past Sunday when he had a meltdown on stage. Here are a few quotes from this supposed "Man of God" - is this how a "Man of God" speaks publicly?

"One of the 'fair haired boys' of this movement [reformed theology], I will not call his name, baptized 26 people last year [Ed drops his microphone in disgust]. Oh he's deep....I cannot put my head on the pillow at night knowing that our church baptized 26 people."

"I know how to do church to empty out these churches in Dallas/Ft. Worth. I know how to do it!!...We could wipe out these churches."

"Blogs: 'basement living, opinion giving'. Twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings sitting in their underwear, still living in their parents' house, talking negative crap about people reaching others."

-----------------------------------------
 Ed Young is a scary dude.

His latest sermon series on "Cool Aid", shows that he is serving up his own version of Kool Aid to his faithful followers, and unfortunately they seem to be lapping it up.

Every so often we get glimpses into the souls of mega church pastors. Sometimes we get to see right down into their hearts and learn what they are really all about. Maybe they go off script, or their emotions get the best of them and they let loose with what they really feel.

Sometimes we get to see that these people who are touted as the "Men of God" are actually not that. Just men - men with huge egos, eyes on your wallet, and interested primarily in market share. You know, like a typical CEO who wants to market his products and services.

This past Sunday at Fellowship Church was one such moment.

It was the Ed Young Meltdown of 2012. It was Watchdog's "Crybaby Pastors Part 4, 5, 6 and 7" all rolled into one. Ed's rant is mostly being criticized by those of the reformed theology, but this sermon tells us so much more than just Ed's views of Calvinism. Ed Young let us see him for the petty preacher he is, a marketer focused on nickels and noses, a professional religious profiteer who can't stand losing market share amongst the younger crowd to those whose theology is a bit different than his.

Ed has been the rock star amongst the 20 and 30-something crowd for several decades, and apparently he is in meltdown mode because some younger guys are on the scene who are stealing his market share. These guys - we'll say "David Platt" and "Matt Chandler" to name just two - are of reformed theology, they do have stellar reputations amongst their peers, they are not showmen, camels haven't pooped while they preach, they do not fly around in private jets, and they do live modest lifestyles. And they don't dye their hair.

But there is too much to be learned from Ed's meltdown to put into one blog post. So we'll start with this one, and the video below, and more will follow.

Meanwhile, Ed, take a chill pill, dye your hair blonde for next Sunday's sermon, and get busy "wiping out" all of those Dallas/Ft. Worth churches. We dare you!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Watchdog Nears the End of His Mega-Blogger Sabbatical!

Readers, the Watchdog has taken a much needed mega-blogger sabbatical, and is about ready to return with more analysis and commentary. Much like mega-church pastors need sabbaticals every now and then, so much more do us mega-blog bloggers need to rest and relax and recharge our batteries!  I've spent some time hanging out with Perry Noble on the beach, visiting my good friend Ed Young (Junior), and even had time to drop in and check out Steven Furtick!

I've had time to observe the SBC Annual Convention, and will have much to say on the Calvinism issue from a layman's perspective. I've got a few Ergun Caner updates to report that you will find very interesting, and probably the latest news:  Ed Young absolutely let loose on "Calvinists" this past Sunday and blamed them for just about every problem in modern Christianity. Ed completely embarrassed himself theologically and intellectually - but that is not a surprise. Don't forget, Ed is still an SBC-affiliated church, so he embarrassed his convention as well. So I'll be sharing some of this with you.

Hope all of you are having a great summer. We've had the wettest summer in my 29 years here in Florida that I can recall. Tropical storm Debby has just left, and we're finally going to be able to dry out. But our state needs this rain, even though it has caused some flooding and damage, ecologically speaking all of this rain is a very good thing after a decade of drought.

My next post is set for Thursday afternoon, and I'll resume my regular blogging schedule.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Prayer Walking" is Secret Crime-Fighting Technique in Jacksonville?

Another confirmation for non-Christians that modern evangelicals have gone off the deep end: my local paper, the Florida Times Union is reporting today that local Christians - along with our Sheriff  - have declared that people doing something called "prayer walking" has actually contributed to a sharp decline in our crime rate here in Jacksonville.

Is this actual news? Or is the Times Union doing an early April Fool's post? Or maybe Sergius Martin-George is writing satire pieces for my local paper?

Some of you may wonder what "prayer walking" is. It is just that: walking around a geographical area and praying. I'm told missionaries do this before they start evangelizing. In fact, the Southern Baptists provide training in how to "prayer walk". Books have been written. Downloadable prayer walking resources are available.

Now, in Jacksonville, prayer walking is reducing crime. From the Times Union article, here is how they do it:
"On Wednesday, Owen, John Twomey and Dwayne Kirby walked up the 500 block of East 59th Street praying over homes. They stopped in front of each one, bowed their heads and took turns saying prayers. “Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for today, thank you for your love,” Kirby said in front of one home. 'We pray for house 528, pray that souls will come in, we pray for your protection over this house. We love you.' "
Yes, house 528, we pray for your protection. Unless of course inside the house are non-tithers, a Christian blogger, or militant homosexuals. In that case, God is going to get them.

This raises just a few questions:

Is walking around praying really fighting crime?

 If there is even a hint of truth that prayer walking is helping reduce crime, why not hire more "pray walkers" instead of cops?

Will prayer walking help end world hunger and global warming?

Can we lower gas prices by prayer walking around gas stations?

Should you and I pray walk around our houses so that our T-111 siding will not rot and decay, or that our fridge will last longer?

Should we tell our boss that one of our initiatives to increasing profitability of the company is the employees need to prayer walk around the company headquarters' building?

If this is working, then our city should hire the Southern Baptists to train everyone on how to "prayer walk" so we can fight crime more effectively in Jacksonville.

 Like I said, I'm all for prayer, and if citizens want to organize and prayer walk, that is great. Getting out and walking around - praying or not praying - very well might lower crime, especially if one is praying while carrying a 0.38 caliber gun with a concealed weapon permit.

But when the newspaper reports prayer walking crime fighting measures as news, and the Sheriff begins to insinuate that this is a legitimate crime fighting measure, well, I get a little embarrassed for my city.
"On Wednesday, Sheriff John Rutherford stood in Panama Park and praised the effort, a faith-based initiative that he said is one of a handful of community partnerships with the Sheriff’s Office that helps combat crime.

'I can tell you crime is down in double digits in this neighborhood after this initiative,' Rutherford said."
There is nothing biblical about this, nothing in scripture says that praying for houses is going to lower crime in a neighborhood.

The same logic can be used in building a cement lighthouse downtown: it sure decreased the rate of shipwrecks on our city streets to near zero.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Creflo Defiant - Wags His Finger, "I Should Have Never Been Arrested" - This is the Template We See Every Single Time

"She was not choked, she was not punched, there were not any scratches on her neck...I should have never been arrested. Ever. And when the facts of this come out, you will be appalled."  Creflo Dollar defending himself in his pulpit on June 10, 2012. See video report on ABC News.
-------------------------------
Mega church pastors ALWAYS get a standing ovation the Sunday after they make headline news for their misdeeds.

Even if in defending themselves they make their daughters out to be liars.

Creflo Dollar's performance was no different today, the first Sunday in the pulpit since his arrest Friday.  His performance and the response of his fans was absolutely textbook.  Mega church pastors and mega church members everywhere should take note, as they can learn much from Creflo Dollar and the peeps at his church.

Here is the mega church scandal template that plays out every single time the pastor gets his fanny in a sling:

- Pastor gets caught with his proverbial pants down (or as in Bob Gray's and Eddie Long's case, not-so-proverbial pants), and makes the front page news;

- Pastor stands in the pulpit the following Sunday, walks the perfect balance between being defiant on one hand, yet humble on the other (this is not an easy task, something probably taught in seminary);

- Pastor sheds a crocodile tear or two;

- Pastor will at some point wag his finger at the camera (perfected by Bill Clinton); 

- Pastor proclaims his innocence of the accusations, and if possible, tosses an accusation of lying at the accusers, or better yet how he is a victim of the news media coverage;

- Pastor declares that his troubles are an attack of Satan, and proof that he is doing God's will;

- Pastor quotes the bible;

- The crowd shows their love and adoration and support by giving a standing ovation, many with their hands clapping and fists pumping above their heads, praising Jesus.

This same scene replays over, and over, and over again. Doesn't matter if it is a pastor caught harboring a pedophile or is caught trespassing by jumping an "itty bitty fence", or a pastor who is accused of grooming teenage boys for sex, or a pastor who is accused of molesting boys and girls in his office or a pastor who slanders a church member in the newspaper. It can even be a seminary president caught lying for a decade - when he gets back in the pulpit in front of his adoring fans, its all hoots and hollers and ovations. Could be a preacher caught on tape videotaping women in his office. Doesn't matter if it is a prosperity preacher, a Southern Baptist pastor, or a long-time holy man of God at a fundamental Baptist independent church.

The template is repeated every time: protect the church and the pastor first and foremost, and victims and accusers all be damned - even the pastor's own daughters who one must conclude are liars if we are to believe Creflo Dollar's statement of innocence today. In fact the victims and accusers all are tools of Satan to keep the pastor from his mission of raising money for his church, er, I mean, from preaching the gospel.

This template was accurately parodied in the 2011 movie "Salvation Boulevard" starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. The movie was an absolute flop at the box office, but those who have attended a mega church and have had their eyes opened will see much truth displayed in this humorous parody of a mega church and mega church pastor caught in scandal. Kinnear plays the role of an unsuspecting sheep at a mega church who tries to speak the truth about the mega pastor, but the pastor and church - even his own family members - turn on him and think he is an absolute nut case for daring to speak ill of the good pastor.

Here is the trailer of "Salvation Bouldevard" that gives you a good overview of what we see - protect the pastor, attack the accuser, defend the anointed servant of God at all cost, for the glory of God:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Creflo Dollar Has "Wreck" - Gets Arrested for Choking His Daughter in Fight

Creflo Dollar was arrested today for allegedly choking his 15-year old daughter during an argument in his Atlanta home.

If Eddie Long's sexual relationships with male teenagers at his church was just a "wreck" - as Creflo Dollar himself said almost one year ago - I guess we can characterize Creflo's little scuffle here as just a "fender bender".

Remember, mega church attenders, the men you watch on Sunday mornings on the stage in mega churches are mostly performers. They are talented orators, superb story tellers, and they have a gift of being able to give a speech without interruption or having to answer any rebuttals. They probably are not who you think they are off the stage, behind the scenes, and they are definitely not the "holy men of God" who have some sort of "special anointing".

Megachurch pastors who wear shiny suits, beautiful cufflinks and strut around the stage while the TV cameras are on:  they are sinners like you and me, no one special, no special "anointing", no special calling on their lives even. They are men who have chosen professional ministry as a vocation, and have risen to the top of their profession based on their skills, a little luck, and because they have friends in high places. They and their wives like the high life they have achieved, and they want you to think they deserve it.

And they have built it all on the premise that you, the commoner, owe 10% of your income to their 501(c)3 ministry.

Don't be fooled.  Creflo Dollar had people fooled, and he will continue to try to fool them.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Christian Video Blogger Files Suit Against YouTube, Gets Account Restored

"I give thanks to God and of course to my friends people who have prayed for me, supported the channel...I say it is a victory for free speech...hopefully the action that I've taken [suing YouTube to restore his account] along with the support of others will help to make YouTube a better place...goes to show that when you believe in something and consider things prayerfully and stand by what you believe in and act on that you can be successful to a certain degree." Kevin Oliver on successful restoration of his YouTube account after a year long battle.
-----------------------

I am very happy to report today that Kevin Oliver of Atlanta, Georgia, a Christian video blogger who blogs under the name of "Not Your Typical Negro" (NYTN), has successfully sued YouTube to have his YouTube account restored. As of this morning, Kevin's account is back up and all videos operational!

Kevin briefly tells his story in this video, the first one posted on his YouTube account in nearly a year since his account was deactivated. But here is Kevin's story:

Kevin started his video blog back in October 2007, about the time yours truly started this blog, and his blog like so many other Christian blogs was born out of his experience at a church of what we'll just call ministerial "betrayal". Kevin produces YouTube videos analyzing abusive pastors and false teachings in churches. He has produced at least two hard-hitting videos concerning issues raised on this blog and my First Amendment lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville and what Kevin calls "church mafia tactics". Kevin also contributes to the Internet radio show Church Folk Revolution.

But last June, Kevin produced and posted a rather famous video of Creflo Dollar - in the middle of the Eddie Long scandal - telling Eddie Long's church members to go back to their church because Eddie Long has "insurance". And in the video, Dollar compared Long's sins of sexual relationships with multiple male church members as simply "a wreck" and that Long is still "anointed". The video went viral, but in a few days, Kevin's account was disabled by YouTube with a standard post saying Kevin's account was suspended for "scams, spam, and deceptive
content". Below is Kevin's Creflo Dollar video:


After attempting to contact YouTube through the "regular" channels and getting nowhere - even after visiting the YouTube corporate headquarters, Kevin filed a lawsuit in Santa Clary County in early May. Kevin's suit included four basic causes of action including defamation and breach of contract. Kevin did the research himself on how to file the suit, and with the help of some friends he filed it on his own.

In just a few days he was contacted by a lawyer representing YouTube to negotiate a settlement, and eventually favorable terms were reached and his account was restored. He eventually received an explanation as to why his account was taken down for over a year, and it really made no sense, and apparently it had to do with "metadata" and "tags" Kevin put into the description section of his video posts. That seems odd, and it is even stranger considering it was the viral Creflo Dollar video that was the last one, and that it took over a year for his account to be restored.

But "Not Your Typical Negro" is back online, and kudos for Kevin sticking with this and successfully using the legal system to stand for his First Amendment rights. I'm sure that all the pastors who are featured on his videos won't be happy about his account being restored, but I look forward to more of Kevin's excellent videos.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Greater Love Hath No Pastor Than When He Removeth His Sheep From His Slandereth Lawsuit - Some Thoughts on the Julie Anne Smith Case

"You do not become a 'dissident' just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society." Vaclav Havel, Czech Dissident
--------------------------------------
Things are getting stranger by the day in the story of the Oregon pastor who has sued some of his former church members for their online criticism of he and his church.

In this article I want to highlight just a few of the twists and turns - for the entire story and literally a day-by-day chronicle of events, visit Julie Anne Smith's blog.

First, let me say this about Julie Anne and her blog: I really do commend Julie Anne for continuing to use her blog as a means to highlight the actions of her former pastor in real time. I also chose this route in 2008 when the letter of my 16 sins and trespass papers for me and my wife (her sin of "associating" with me, a sinful, slandering blogger) were delivered to our doorstep on the eve of Thanksgiving. As we have seen in several high-profile cases of church intimidation and spiritual abuse, religious men tend to overlook the possibility that what they think will be a quiet, behind-the-scenes method to intimidate dissenters into silence, might actually turn into a humiliating public record of their own actions.

In my opinion, what Chuck thought would be a nifty way to get Julie Anne to cower in fear over her blog by slapping her and other church members with a slander lawsuit, knowing Julie Anne probably didn't have the resources to wage a legal battle with a pastor and church, causing her to shut her blog down - it all has now blown up in Chuck's face. His actions are now international news as people are dumbfounded to hear of a pastor suing his former church members. Julie Anne has an extremely competent lawyer, and has the support of thousands and is raising money for her defense. Multiple thousands of readers per day are reading what is happening. Of course if somehow Chuck prevails in striking down Julie Anne's anti-SLAPP motion, I fully expect Chuck to move for a gag order.

Blogs today are a reality that pastors need to deal with. Blogs like Julie Anne's are the place where pastor misconduct, spiritual abuse, and false doctrines are met head-on by the analysis, critique, and criticism of Christian lay people who care about their church and care about the blight these pastors' actions have become in modern Christianity. Religious men will always accuse their critics of "slander and gossip". Even the highest most holy-men of God in the SBC accused Wade Burleson of slander and gossip when he used a blog to give voice to his objections over harmful policies implemented by the International Mission Board. It doesn't matter if done anonymously or with your name attached to the criticism. We've seen enough over the past 5 years or so since blogs have become a popular vehicle for critique and dissent to know that ANY dissent expressed in ways not approved by the holy men of God, made in a public venue, will get the stamp of "gossip and slander".

So keep on speaking, Julie Anne.

OK, back to the point of this post.

Here are some comments on two recent developments in Julie Anne's case:
 
Modification of the "Press Release"
The Beaverton Grace Bible Church apparently doesn't like their May 16th "press release" so much any more. As I blogged here, Chuck O'Neal and the BGBC leadership issued their press release as the "other side to the story" that wasn't being reported in the press, or on Julie Anne Smith's blog.

But apparently their "other side" has another side to the other side. You see, in the past week or so, Chuck and BGBC has significantly modified the press release on their website.

And no explanation for the edits was given. No statement of retraction

Here is what they changed...below is the first portion of the 2nd paragraph of the May 16th press release in which Chuck and BGBC tells the world what the "facts" will reveal:
"The facts will show that this is not a free speech case. Just after the release of the before mentioned staff member, in Dec. of 2008, a member of this group called the police and the DHS to deliver a false report accusing Pastor O’Neal of physically abusing his own children and allowing pornography to be distributed to adolescents in the church. He, his family, and the church were subsequently investigated by the authorities and the case was dismissed as unfounded. His only response to these vicious charges was to state his own denial. As the campaign has escalated the postings on the internet have falsely accused Pastor O’Neal of being a “wolf,” a “liar,” a” narcissist” and one who “knew about a sex offender in the church who had access to the nursery and the children on a weekly basis and did not have any safeguards in place.”.....
See the red letters? Those have been deleted by Chuck and BGBC in the current version of the press release hyperlinked on their website.

Chuck and BGBC owe the world an explanation for the significant modification to their press release. Chuck and the holy men of God at BGBC released it to the world when the story was very hot, and they accused Julie Anne and the other defendants of committing the crime of purposely delivering a false report of child abuse to a state child protection agency and to the civil authorities.

Why did Chuck take it down? Chuck - why?

Interestingly, there is a new statement from Chuck on his website stating he is an American Patriot claiming his right to defend himself from:

"....World Wide Web Internet assaults consisting of false criminal accusations and character assassination of the worst kind."

He claims his lawsuit is to defend himself against "false criminal accusations". Seems he might have made a false criminal accusation on his website against his former church members.

No Greater Love Hath the Pastor....
...than when he removeth the sheep from his lawsuit. As Julie Anne reported on her blog Wednesday, Chuck has amended his lawsuit and removed the defendant whom he accused of slander when she stated online Chuck was a "wolf" and who recommended online that people don't visit the church because it is a "hellhole".

Finally, a good move by Chuck and BGBC. But why did Chuck sue this person to begin with? This, in my humble opinion, strengthens Julie Anne's anti-SLAPP case. That might help convince a judge that the motives here were not to defend himself against defamatory remarks online (no way calling someone a "wolf" or a church a "hellhole" is legally defamatory), but to intimidate former church members into silence through a lawsuit. That is exactly why there are anti-SLAPP options available to defendants such as Julie Anne.