The church's youth minister, Asa Walker, announced Thursday night via Twitter that the youth camp next month for grades 6-12 will feature none other than Ergun Caner as the "Camp Pastor", fresh off his two failed lawsuits he used in an attempt to wipe the Internet clean of the Marine video tapes in which Caner lied to our Marines about his background as a trained Jihadist.
From Westside's website:
Ah yes, the "Ergun the Warrior" pose. Notice the use of the Gothic letter "O" in "Thrones". See the "Youth Camp is Coming" tagline, played off of the "Winter is Coming" tagline of the "Game of Thrones" TV series as shown below:
"Youth Camp is a week-long retreat for students grades 6-12. We'll travel to Mount Vernon, Georgia where we will stay on the beautiful campus of Brewton-Parker Baptist College. You'll hear from Dr. Ergun Caner, one of America's most sought-after youth speakers, as he joins us as our campus pastor"
Really? Caner is one of America's "most sought-after youth speakers"? I would challenge that assertion. Will Asa Walker, Pastor Gary Crawford, and Rev. Phil Young let the parents know of Caner's propensity to fib in the pulpit about his past as a trained Jihadist, using 9/11 as the launching point for his hoax? Will parents be told about Caner's repeated use of racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes in the pulpit? What about Caner's pathetic performance in front of the Marines that was the subject of his two failed lawsuits (here and here) against the Christian pastor and layman who dared post the video of his worst lies? If the parents of Westside knew this about Caner, would they STILL want to send their kids off for a week to be preached to by Ergun Caner?
This is particularly sad to me, to see Westside Baptist do this. We have friends at that church. We have gone there to see their excellent Christmas drama in recent years. This is the church where my wife and I met while in college at the University of Florida, and we were married by the pastor, Gary Crawford. People at that church probably have no clue about Ergun Caner's past. They are very fine people and they trust their church leadership to make right decisions on something as important as who will speak to their youth at camp. The leadership at Westside Baptist Church is betraying the trust of their people.
I did attempt to contact youth minister Asa Walker and administrative pastor Phil Young via phone and email on Friday. Phil Young did email me back and tell me he was on vacation and would call me in June, but did say this in his email:
"I am well aware of both sides of the Ergun Caner story and we are confident in the Lord's leadership in our decision to have him at our Youth Camp. Thanks for your concern." Phil Young, Senior Associate Pastor, Westside Baptist Gainesville
I don't doubt that Phil is aware of the Ergun Caner controversy. But the important question I want to ask Phil is this: are the parents of the WBC youth aware of the Ergun Caner controversy? And what "both sides" of the Ergun Caner story is Phil referring to? Maybe the both sides are the two federal judges that ruled against Ergun Caner in his attempt to suppress the release of his Marine training video? I find it repugnant that Phil says they he is "confident in the Lord's leadership" in exposing their youth to Ergun Caner for a week at youth camp.
Phil, was it also "the Lord" who led Westside to use the "Game of Thrones" TV series as the theme of your youth camp?
Parents and members at Westside Baptist, I hope you contact your church leadership and express your disgust over their plans for the youth summer camp. Let Phil Young know - let Pastor Gary Crawford know - that you are not confident that it was "the Lord" that led the church in this direction. And maybe Phil will take time out of his summer vacation to let you know what was the reason for Caner and the "Game of Thrones" theme choice for camp.
I am confident, Westside members and lay leaders, "in the Lord's leadership" in your decision to avoid sending your kids to the Westside Baptist Church youth camp this summer. And I'm confident that you can provide the leadership for your church that is so lacking in the paid, professional ministers that should be the ones making the right choices.