2 Samuel 16:9,11 - "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head...let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him."

Matthew 7:15 - “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11 - “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bizarre Ergun Caner Selfie-Video Pokes Finger in the Eye of SACS - Caner Predicts SACS Will "Come Around"

"Make no mistake, I believe the SACS thing will be resolved in our favor. I believe that SACS, for lack of a better term, will 'come around', because you can't look at the school and see anything but not only progress, but stability, control. We are in the BEST financial situation we could possibly be....this school is strong...we are accredited, we shall remain accredited....everything they asked for in those four areas of financial control, we not only did, we exceeded. If anybody would be worried, it would be me. And I promise you I'm not....we won't lose our accreditation, not for a moment." Ergun Caner in a selfie-video at Myrtle Beach.

Last night on the Brewton Parker website, Peter Lumpkins, the VP of Communication, posted a bizarre self-made video by Ergun Caner in which he makes grand statements about the accreditation status of Brewton Parker.

This video - if viewed by the Southern Association College Schools (SACS) board that has just voted to remove Brewton Parker's accreditation - must leave them scratching their heads and wondering what planet Ergun Caner lives on. This video cannot possibly help Brewton Parker's chances in their appeal to retain their accreditation as Caner leaves no room for the possibility that the latest SACS decision might show that Brewton-Parker College DOES have room for improvement.

And Caner makes all of these statements BEFORE he has even received the letter from SACS explaining their decision. This decision, by the way, will be publicly available on July 3rd. The audacity to make these statements even before he has the letter in hand is amazing.

This video is a sure sign of desperation, a Hail-Mary to comfort the troops while he is frolicking on the beach with young skulls of mush at Myrtle Beach. The selfie-video posted on the BP website is another example of "Amateur Hour" at Brewton Parker.

Besides, given Caner's penchant for exaggerations and fib-telling as a preacher, why would anyone believe what Ergun Caner says in this video?

"If anybody would be worried it would be me. and I promise you I'm not." Ergun Caner

Ergun's words remind me of the words of Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi information minister during the Iraqi war:

"No, I'm not scared, and neither should you be. We have them surrounded in their tanks." Baghdad Bob

Don't worry, Brewton Parker students and staff. Ergun Caner is in control.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dr. Drew on HLN Does Segment on Darrell Gilyard - Watchdog Compares Dr. Judy Ho's and Dr. Jerry Vines' Analysis on Gilyard

Last night on the HLN Network show "Dr. Drew on Call", Dr. Drew did a segment on his show entitled "Pedophile Preacher", focusing on Darrell Gilyard and his new preaching gig here in Jacksonville at Christ Tabernacle Baptist Church. As I first blogged about here, Darrell Gilyard has been preaching here in Jacksonville since last year, even though he is a registered sex offender, and has been involved in sex scandals at multiple churches since the 1980s, including allegations of rape. The panelists did mention a judge's recent ruling in Jacksonville that allows Gilyard to once again "minister" to children as long as an adult is in his presence while he "ministers".

Yes, unbelievably, Gilyard can now "minister" to children, so long as another adult is present. Keep in mind, most of Gilyard's sexual offenses since the 1980s have been under the guise of "counseling" sessions. He now is one step closer to abusing women and children again. I would not be surprised if he's already started again.

Here is my article from May where I asked "Where's the Outrage?" Why are pastors in this town not expressing outrage over Gilyard once again having access to children?

It is so refreshing to watch these panelists on a national TV program express outrage publicly, on TV about Gilyard.

Yet where in Jacksonville, are any - just give me ONE SINGLE PASTOR - who has dared to stand publicly and call out Gilyard - by name - and his new church for putting women and children in our city on the Westside at great risk? Where are they? Not even ONE?

They won't. I guess these Jacksonville pastors are cowards.

One of the panelists on Dr. Drew's show was psychologist Dr. Judy Ho, who said the following:
"This is the thing about pedophilia. The urges don't usually change. These people don't change their sexual orientation and attraction to children. What treatment is focused on is trying to reduce their actions on these urges and to try to protect our children. So putting these kids in front of him all day long is like him in a candy store. Even if he went to the best treatment available, the treatments do not work on the urges, they work on conditioning techniques, like getting him to be more adverse to actually acting on it because he has to think about the consequences."
How refreshing to hear a psychologist with a Ph.D. with degrees from Cal-Berkely and a professor at Pepperdine, commenting on national TV about Gilyard and how dangerous he is. Gilyard STILL has these urges. He didn't repent and have them removed. God hasn't healed Gilyard. He has the urges still. Dr. Ho didn't temper her remarks about Gilyard being a "man of God", or how talented a speaker he is, or as Vines says in his autobio:
"He obviously was such a gifted speaker. On an occasion I asked him if he ever considered he might be called to preach....Homer and I were so thrilled....His remarkable abilities quickly manifested themselves."
Isn't that wonderful? Jerry and Homer were so thrilled Darrell was called to preach. Darrell had remarkable abilities. He was "called" by God himself to preach. Too bad Jerry and Homer were so thrilled that they didn't bother to check Gilyard's phony-baloney story of growing up homeless under a bridge. They could have talked to his mom or other relatives. I guess he was just so darned GIFTED - he HAD to be a true man of God, right?

And I'm going to contrast Dr. Ho's summary of Darrell Gilyard above and the danger he presents, with Vines' last statement in his autobiography about Gilyard. Vines is trying to explain how a gifted speaker could have been such an awful person.
"The soul and spirit are so close together only the Word of God can distinguish between the two. (Heb 4;12). Talents emanating from a man's soulish nature can easily be mistaken for spiritual power. I leave the whole matter to the Lord. He will make it clear to us one day."
The more I've thought about the Vines' section on Gilyard over the past few weeks, the more I've seen that this statement really says it all. It explains Vines' and other pastors' actions that allowed Gilyard to move from church to church.

That is religious gobbledy-gook that has no basis in reality. What does it mean the "soul and spirit" are so close together that only the Word of God can distinguish them? Do what? Vines couldn't distinguish what Gilyard was? Vines and Patterson had eye witness reports - multiple upon multiple reports all the way back on the 1980s- that Gilyard was a sexual deviant who used his power as a "man of God" to have sex and possibly even rape women. Yet Vines still brought Gilyard in to Jacksonville as an evangelist and to even have access to his high school students. Then Gilyard attacked Tiffany during one of his evangelistic visits to Jacksonville.

And is that really true what Vines say, that "talents" can easily be mistaken for spiritual power? Is he that gullible? That is more nonsense! Maybe that is true for Jerry Vines, the so-called "prince of preachers" that he thinks someone with speaking talent in a pulpit has spiritual power. But those of us who have our feet on the ground and don't have our heads in the clouds know that wonderful flowery speakers in the pulpit can be the most manipulative people on earth.

And Vines' last statement on Gilyard in his book: "I leave the whole matter to the Lord. He will make it clear to us one day."

No Jerry, the matter is not left to the Lord. It is left now to men like you and other pastors to stand up and call out this dangerous man and do everything in your power to warn people. It is left up to the law enforcement to monitor this monster and to throw him back in jail if he steps out of line. The Lord has left it up to deacons and church leaders to keep this creep as far away from their church and their women and children as possible, not INVITE him in. The Lord was looking for someone in 1991 like yourself, Jerry, to stop Gilyard. You and Patterson could have done much more to stop him - or at least not let him have access to your own high schoolers.

And maybe the Lord was looking for someone to speak the truth about what happened to Tiffany in 1991 in his autobiography - not to publish falsehoods. I can guarantee you one thing, Jerry - the Lord didn't find you, but in Tiffany he DOES have someone who will speak the truth.

And we don't need the Lord to make it clear to us one day, Jerry. We already know: there are monsters like Gilyard who use their status as a "man of God" to prey and devour people.

And another thing very clear to us about Gilyard: there are men who will not have the courage to stand up and put a stop to it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tiffany Croft Has Started New Blog - B&H Publishing Agrees to Remove the False Portions from Vines' Autobiography Dealing with Gilyard

Over the weekend, Tiffany Croft has started a new blog entitled "What Hurts the Most", and has put up her first post with the same title. Also, as I describe below, Jerry Vines' publisher, B&H Publishing, has agreed to remove the false sentences from Vines' autobiography dealing with Darrell Gilyard.

As most WD readers know, Tiffany was attacked by the sexual predator/pastor Darrell Gilyard back in 1991 when Tiffany was a high school senior. She did report this to her pastor, Jerry Vines who for some strange reason, 23 years later, misrepresented this tragic event in Tiffany's life in his book "My Life and Ministry", as I blogged about here.  In 2007 and 2008 when new sexual abuse allegations against Gilyard surfaced, Tiffany started her previous blog "Let's Stop Darrell Gilyard Together", and she worked with the JSO and State Attorney's office, using her blog to encourage more Gilyard victims at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church to come forward and speak to the authorities.

Tiffany's first post in her new blog appears to be a change in direction from her previous blog, perhaps prompted by Vines' brazen attempt to mischaracterize Gilyard's attack on Tiffany as a "flirtation", and then to lie and say that "they were both single at the time" - both statements serving to shift blame onto Tiffany and to downplay the seriousness of the attack. I don't know Vines' motive for these lies - I did attempt to speak to him but have received no response. But when one considers that this attack on Tiffany occurred AFTER Vines and Patterson already had multiple reports of Gilyard's sexual improprieties at other churches in Texas, a self-serving motive appears obvious - that Gilyard's attack was something much less, like a "flirtation", reducing Vines' culpability in one of the teens of his church being harmed by a known sexual deviant.

Here are just a few excerpts from Tiffany's first post:
"The next thing you know, the perpetrator that has broken your trust, your hope, your spirit has mysteriously (and quietly) been "asked to leave". But wait, shouldn't this be dealt with? Shouldn't they face consequences? Shouldn't they have to receive charges, counseling, accountability for their actions? To which you are told, "Well, we must think of how this type of scandal may affect the overall impact of the church."....How does someone get to the place where they feel they are entitled to make the decision to ignore such terrible secrets under the guise of 'protecting the church?' "
Also, I am happy to report that Tiffany recently received a commitment from Jennifer Lyell, a trade publisher for B&H Publishing, that the two erroneous statements in Jerry Vines' autobiography will be removed in the next print, and will be removed this week from the e-book version. I am sure that Tiffany will have more to say about this in the coming days on her blog about how this transpired, and her discussions with the publisher and Jerry Vines - but at this point I'm glad to know that the publisher saw things as Tiffany did, even though Vines may have not. Kudos to Jennifer Lyell and B&H Publishing. They did the right thing.

I hope that both B&H and Jerry Vines will issue a press release apologizing for the misstatements in Vines' book. Perhaps Vines will give his explanation as to why he wrote what he wrote, and I hope that Vines at some point will rewrite this section of his book to be more transparent on the Gilyard matter so as to help other pastors not make his same mistakes. I know that is asking quite a bit, and I won't hold my breath waiting.

And I predict Vines will be a bit more expressive in his next printing on just how much he REALLY dislikes blogs, rather than just saying "I don't care for blogs too much."

In the meantime, stay tuned for more information at Tiffany's blog.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Johnny Hunt and Steven Furtick - They Explain What "Counting the Cost" to Follow Jesus Means in Today's Megachurch

The gospel preached in most mega churches today is NOT the same gospel message that many of us heard 20 or 30 years ago when we became Christians.

Today, the gospel message has transformed from a message of committment to Jesus, to now a committment to a 501(c)3 religious organization proven by a financial commitment of at least 10% of one's gross income.

And it is not just a transformation by the young hot shots like Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, and Stovall Weems. Even men like Johnny Hunt, in their quest to keep their megachurches afloat, have changed their message.

I want to offer two recent examples from two very prominent preachers: Johnny Hunt, and Steven Furtick. You can watch the video below.

In the Johnny Hunt clip above, Johnny goes on a rant to tell people that you shouldn't just talk about how you give God credit for your blessings, but you have to show it with cash:
"Jesus said 'You believe in God believe also in me'. What he was saying is just don't go around with this attitude [saying this mockingly]: 'First of all, before anything else I want to give God the credit for everything that has happened'. No, don't just give him credit, if you know him and you're famous, GIVE HIM CASH!! SUPPORT THE WORK OF THE KINGDOM! PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOU MOUTH IS!!!  That is unless there's another God that is more important!"
Johnny's first sentence used to be the gospel preached in churches. Believe in Jesus. Accept Jesus. Follow Jesus.

But that isn't good enough anymore. Now you have to give God cold, hard cash to show you really HAVE believed in Jesus - unless as Johnny says, you have a God that is more important. So you can accept Jesus, but don't think for a second you've really trusted Jesus unless you're also "putting your money where your mouth is". Ed Young said the same thing a few years ago in two of the Watchdog's most viewed videos (here and here) when Ed Young told his congregation "It's all about the money, you don't get it!!", and his infamous "Why are you even coming to church, if you're not bringing the tithe? I mean what are you expecting?"

Johnny says we have to give God cash: yet last time I checked, God and Johnny do accept cash, check, money order, credit card, or tangible and real assets donated to the organization. And God and Johnny do accept Visa, Master Card, American Express, and Discover. Glad to know God doesn't just take "cash" in the year 2014.

In the video above, Johnny is really ticked off.  He doesn't like people not giving their fair share to Johnny's church, when Johnny's church is doing "the work of the Kingdom". I see the same anger from Ronnie Floyd when I watched his 45-minute pack of lies earlier this year telling his church members they are cursed and not true Christians unless they give his church 10% of their income. Ronnie flat out told his non-tithing church members that they don't know the same God he knows if they don't tithe.

Next, Steven Furtick. This example is even more disturbing. Here Steven tells non-Christians listening to him that they need to pay attention to the tithe requirement, to see if they really want to become Christians:
"...God wants you to bring the first 10%. My expectation is that every follower of Christ - if you're not a Christian you can just sleep through this this sermon because this is for those of us who love Jesus and believe he died for us. So, you know what, don't sleep through it: just listen to what you don't have to do yet, and make sure before you become a follower of Christ that you really want in on this."
On one hand, I have to commend Steven for his honesty. He is being upfront with non-Christians that the gospel he is preaching includes a requirement to tithe 10%, and Steven recommends you count that cost before making the decision. Thanks for the honesty, Steven.

But how sad that now when a preacher says "count the cost" of following Jesus - this cost now includes the 10% fee to earn God's favor, and to avoid God's curses. The gospel has been turned from "good news" into "bad news", especially for the poorer church members who literally cannot afford 10% or even 1% - they are themselves in need of help from the church, but instead have the burden and guilt placed on them by their "pastors" that they must fork over 10% of even their social security or welfare income to the church as proof of their love for Jesus.

And these men profess to preach the bible as the holy, inspired, inerrant "Word of God" - when what they're preaching is found nowhere in the Bible, except in their contorted interpretation of selected bible verses.

There was a hymn penned in the early 20th century by A.J. Hodge entitled, "Have You Counted the Cost?".  The last verse of this hymn is:
While the door of His mercy is open to you
Ere the depth of His love you exhaust
Won't you come and be healed, won't you whisper, I yield
I have counted, I have counted the cost. 
The "cost" being preached today is now not just a life wasted or an eternity in hell - the cost preachers are speaking of today is forking over 10% of your gross income to buy God's favor and hold back his cursings.

So show your love for Jesus by giving your pastor 10% of your income.

I'll show my love for Jesus by giving such a pastor's church not even one red penny.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vines and Lifeway's B&H Publishing Group Have Some Explaining to Do on Vines' Gilyard Chapter

As I promised last week, this is the follow up post on Jerry Vines' newly released autobiography "My Life and Ministry", in particular the section in which Jerry Vines addresses the Darrell Gilyard saga.

Let me say up front that I DID try to reach out to Jerry Vines to get his side and get some of my questions answered. I do not have his phone number but I did send an email at the Contact page of his website, asking for him to call me about the Darrell Gilyard section of his book. I left my phone and email, but as of the date of this blog post, I have heard nothing from Jerry Vines.

Jerry Vines and his publisher, B&H Publishing Group - a division of the SBC's LifeWay Christian Resources - have some serious explaining to do on why Vines' book is not truthful on a pivotal aspect of Vines involvement in the Darrell Gilyard saga: the attempted attack by Gilyard on one of Vines' own teenage church members back in 1991.

Here is the excerpt from Vines' book (with my emphases) that I'm going to address:
"There were rumors [about Gilyard]. Accusations of moral improprieties began to surface. All of them were denied by Darrell. Dr. Patterson checked them out as best he could. There were inconsistencies and contradictions in the stories. Some were made by church members who had moral failings themselves. One accuser was a member of the KKK. As it turns out, all the rumors were true. A young person in our FBC, Jacksonville church met with me about a matter of impropriety as well. I didn't understand it to go beyond some flirtation. They were both single at the time. Perhaps I misunderstood."
That "young person" Vines refers to is Tiffany Thigpen Croft, a high school senior who Gilyard attacked in 1991 while Gilyard was the traveling evangelist for the high school choir and orchestra of Vines' church during the spring of 1991.

Did you get that? Darrell Gilyard was supposed to be the "man of God" to give spiritual teachings to Tiffany and her fellow high school students, but instead Gilyard used the privilege - after grooming Tiffany for a period of time prior to that - to attempt a sexual attack on Tiffany. Thankfully Tiffany escaped, and she was able to report the attack to her parents.

And Tiffany reported it to her pastor, Jerry Vines.

Now let's go back and look at the last sentence again:
"...A young person in our FBC Jacksonville church met with me about a matter of impropriety as well. I didn't understand it to go beyond some flirtation. They were both single at the time. Perhaps I misunderstood."
There is almost nothing in that sentence that is true. To characterize Gilyard's attack on Tiffany as a "flirtation" is an insult to Tiffany and her parents, and every other young woman who has been victimized by an abusive pastor - especially the multitudes that were victimized by Gilyard. When most people use the word "flirtation" or "flirt", it is in the context of a female "flirting" with a man - this seems as a direct attempt to imply that Tiffany's own actions invited or in some measure caused Gilyard's attack.

Vines says "Perhaps I misunderstood". How could he have misunderstood, past tense? Tiffany was brave enough to report the details of the attack to her parents and to Vines immediately after it occurred. And according to this 1991 Dallas Morning News article, Paige Patterson and presumably Vines, knew of multiple allegations of Gilyard's sexual improprieties with young women all the way back to 1987! Let that sink in!!  The obvious question Vines should have answered in his bio: why on earth was Gilyard given the opportunity to be around his high schoolers in 1991 when Vines and Patterson knew of allegations against Gilyard all the way in 1987? To say "perhaps I misunderstood" and that he thought Gilyard's attack on Tiffany was a "flirtation" defies common sense and is just not believable.

Also in the excerpt above, Vines claims "...they [Tiffany and Gilyard] were both single at the time.". A very clever way to characterize the situation to make it appear as though Tiffany and Gilyard were very close in age, or peers, or mutually consenting young adults.That could not be further from the truth. Of course Tiffany was single - as are 99.99% of HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS, Jerry!!! But Gilyard absolutely was NOT single at the time. He was married with at least one child. Why didn't Vines write something like, "...the young person was only a high school senior, and Darrell was a married 29-year old very influential pastor?"  Not that it matters if Gilyard was married - an attack on a teenager is an attack on a teenager - but why would Vines and his editor at B&H get this fact wrong in his book and leave out the important fact of Tiffany being a teenage high school student, and Gilyard a predatory preacher with prior allegations, preying on a very young woman who looked up to Gilyard? Are we to believe Vines and B&H Publishing were so careless that they didn't fact check this? And even more disturbing: why did Vines not call Tiffany or her parents BEFORE publishing? How about the courtesy of a phone call to Tiffany to let her know what's coming out, and to make sure Vines has his facts straight?  Where was the B&H editor? Or perhaps this was Vines' attempt to minimize the validity of Tiffany's claim and the seriousness of the incident now 23 years later?

Perhaps the explanation for Vines' misrepresentation of Tiffany's encounter with Gilyard in 1991 is so Vines can partially deflect the criticism he has taken since Gilyard's arrest in 2008, for choosing to go and preach at Gilyard's church twice after he retired in 2006. I and others have been very critical of Vines for not using his influence and raising the warning flag here in Jacksonville when Gilyard came to pastor Shiloh Baptist in 1993, and I have been critical of Vines' decision to preach at Gilyard's church knowing Gilyard had attacked one of his own teenage church members. I've often wondered if Vines' preaching at Gilyard's church in 2006-2007 affirmed Gilyard, giving him a renewed sense of power, and thus more opportunity to attack young people at Shiloh. But I guess that doesn't matter, because as Vines says "There were 35 professions of faith the first time..." he preached at Gilyard's church.

One of the questions I have: did Vines have a legal, or at least a moral duty to report this incident to the authorities? That is an answer I would have liked to ask Vines if he had called me. As Tiffany will explain in her own words very soon, Gilyard began the "grooming" process of Tiffany when she was 17. What obligation did Vines have as a minister to report this attack? Did Vines report this attack to Homer Lindsay? Did Homer Lindsay know of the prior allegations of Gilyards abuse? I think not.  Those who knew Homer would agree that Homer would never allow Gilyard within 10 miles of high schoolers with multiple allegations of sexual abuse. But maybe Vines will tell us himself.

So while Vines writes his book to make himself and Paige Patterson look like heroes who did everything in their power to stop Gilyard - the truth is the real hero in this ugly saga was Tiffany Croft. Paige Patterson was for SURE not a hero. As I said above, Patterson knew of multiple allegations of Gilyard's sexual improprieties in Dallas dating all the way back to 1987. It is safe to assume Vines knew of these as well - being a close friend of Patterson and the one who recommended Gilyard to attend Patterson's Criswell College - yet Vines now claims in 1991 he thought Gilyard's attack on Tiffany was a "flirtation".

No, the hero was Tiffany, not Jerry Vines or Paige Patterson. Let me explain why Tiffany was the hero.

What was not put in Vines' chapter on Gilyard is that "young person" - Tiffany Croft herself - played an important role in 2008 in putting Gilyard behind bars. Seventeen years after Gilyard's attack, when Gilyard was charged with sex crimes against minors at Shiloh Baptist Church, Tiffany started a blog "Let's Stop Darrell Gilyard Together", to encourage Gilyard's victims to come forward to testify and help put Gilyard in jail. Gilyard was a powerful man in Jacksonville. He was a member of the Mayor's anti-crime task force. Many of his church members were people of influence and were thought to be exerting pressure on victims' families to not follow through with talking to the police.  But Tiffany told her story to, and worked with the Jacksonville Sherriff's Office and the State Attorney's Office to gather information that could be used to help prosecute Gilyard. Gilyard was successfully prosecuted and spent several years in jail for having sex with minors in his church.

At the time Tiffany was writing her blog back in 2008, many people accused Tiffany of attacking God's man, of stirring up trouble and "dissension" with her blog. There were many very hateful comments directed to her on her blog by local church members meant to shame and intimidate her into silence. Then, imagine Tiffany's shock to find out that Detective Robert A. Hinson of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office - one of Vines' long-time church members - requested a subpoena from the State Attorney's office to force Google to give him information about Tiffany's blog, at the same time Hinson was "investigating" my blog to uncover my identity. Tiffany ignored all the pressure and criticism and did what she knew to be right, as I wrote about here.

So the part of the story where Tiffany used her blog to put Gilyard away didn't make it in Vines' book. But Vines did have something to say in his autobiography about blogs in general:
"I don't care for blogs too much. A lot of negative blogging brings an ugliness to the Christian community. I suppose it is like every other form of communication; you can use it for positive or negative purposes. I just see it abused so often, I guess."
Well, maybe so. But at least one blog - Tiffany's blog - was used for a positive purpose: helping send Darrell Gilyard to jail. Too bad blogs weren't around in the late 1980s when Gilyard started his abuses, as word would have reached Tiffany in 1991, and the parents of the minors Gilyard abused in 2007, and Gilyard's dastardly deeds could have been prevented. Blogs and free-flowing information via social media can do what cowardly "men of God" too often refuse to do: protect people from predatory pastors.

Did I just say that? You better believe I did.

And this blog is being used for a "positive purpose" today, Jerry: to set the record straight on Gilyard.

I'm assuming Vines, even more so now, still does not care for blogs too much.

And when Tiffany tells her entire story in her own words - which is coming soon - I imagine Vines will like blogs even less than he does now.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ronnie Floyd's Endorsement of Robert Morris' Teachings on Prosperity Gospel Should Disqualify Him From SBC Presidency

As the Southern Baptist Convention gets ready to convene their Annual Meeting in Baltimore this week, it is all but settled that megachurch pastor Ronnie Floyd will be overwhelmingly elected as the next SBC president.

But I want to know how does a pastor who has endorsed the phony-baloney, health and wealth prosperity teachings of Robert Morris' get considered to be the president of the Southern Baptist Convention? Floyd is a minister who agrees with Morris that people's checking accounts are supernaturally "cursed" if they don't fork over 10% of all their gross income to their church. He flat out told his church members that they don't know the same God he knows, if they aren't forking over 10% of their income. Watch this video to see what I'm talking about:

Do you see the arrogance and cockiness of this hotshot? He comes of as so full of pride. I can't believe those people sit there in his church and expose themselves to this nonsense.

I thought doctrine matters when choosing the head of the convention. Or maybe Floyd's doctrine on finances IS the doctrine of the Southern Baptist Convention? 

Earlier this year, I wrote two articles about Floyd's endorsement of Morris' teaching (here and here). In fact, Floyd told his congregation to go out and buy Robert Morris' book "The Blessed Life", calling it the "one of the greatest books on financial matters that I've ever read". I'll be generous and assume this was the FIRST books on financial matters that Floyd must have ever read.

Anyone that has read this blog over the past 3 years knows how wacky Morris' teachings are on finances and tithing. Morris says non-tithers are arrogant, thieves, and subject to demon possession. He says do not pay rent or electric bill until you first give 10% to your church. He says church members must tithe to avoid divorce, or losing their kids or jobs to the devourer. Go to those links. Watch the video evidence of his teaching. This is the man Ronnie is quoting to his church as the premier expert on biblical financial principles.

And now Floyd will be president of the SBC Convention.

You might say that I'm overstating this, that Floyd really is not in lock step with Morris on this false doctrine. I'm not overstating it. In fact, Floyd outright questions the salvation of church members who don't fork over 10% to his church, mocking his members:
"You gonna go 'clucking' around here talkin' about how you got saved and changed and goin' to heaven when you die and you won't even trust God financially? Lord help ya. That's not the same God I know." Ronnie Floyd, 2014.
Watch the video here yourself:

So this is the new SBC president.

Don't say you weren't warned.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Joshua Autry's Response to Tim Rogers

Below is Joshua Autry's response to Tim Rogers last blog post related to the Ergun Caner lawsuits. Joshua deals with Rogers' asinine assertions, like Rogers' claim that Autry's motion for legal fees is equivalent to "filing a lawsuit" against Ergun Caner.

Apparently Joshua tried to post this response at Rogers' website in the comment section, but it is still sitting awaiting moderation. So today Joshua posted his response in my comment thread, so I thought I'd go ahead and post them here as a new post to give them greater visibility. Joshua confirms what I wrote about here, that indeed whether the judge rules Caner must pay Autry's legal fees or not, the case is STILL a pro-bono case - despite what Tim Rogers thinks.

Joshua Autry is one of the heroes in this ugly Caner saga. As I learned firsthand back in 2010 to 2012 - and Jonathan Autry has learned - these "Holy Men of God" who decide to go after the little guy who dares to publicly criticize them, is they actually think God is on THEIR side. They can't see their tactics as abusive - because they think their efforts to aggressively pursue and punish a critic is to defend God and do God's will. They think God will give them victory, because, well, they are the "Man of God". Then they realize when it is all over and the dust settles, that God wasn't on their side and they ran into an unexpected buzz saw. Ergun Caner and his lawyer thought they would bully and intimidate Jonathan Autry into submission - and instead, they had their hat handed to them by one Joshua Autry.

Thank you, Joshua Autry, for doing God's work in defending your brother pro-bono from Ergun Caner's frivolous lawsuit. Religious bloggers and defenders of free speech everywhere owe you a debt of gratitude.

" Most of your criticisms of me and my brother are fully addressed in my brief filed with the motion for attorney fees, which involves an in-depth look at Ergun’s true motives (suppressing criticism and removing misstatements from the internet), Ergun’s unreasonable legal posturing, and the reasonableness of my time in the case. It is available here. Reading this would likely correct your incorrect views about my brother.
I write here to address them head-on. First, Jonathan is not suing Ergun Caner. I have filed this motion asking the Court to reimburse my current firm and former law firm for the time that the firms have allowed me, an associate, to work on his case. Almost all of the fees will go to the firm I used to work for to reimburse the firm for allowing me to work on the case instead of requiring me to work on other cases with clients who pay. I am gracious that both firms permitted me to work on the case, and I do believe that they should be rewarded for doing so.
Jonathan will not see a dime of an attorney fee award. Under the Copyright Act, generally speaking, the losing party has to pay the winner’s attorney fees. Although Jonathan had no choice, Ergun chose to file a frivolous lawsuit knowing this risk and continued to assert his nonsense legal positions for almost a year now knowing that he will pay attorney fees when he loses.
Second, my representation is still pro bono because I never charged my brother for my services, nor would I have if my brother lost. My filing of a fee petition against Dr. Caner does not affect this at all. If the court reduces my fees or awards no fees at all, my brother will not receive a bill for even a fraction of an hour. This is a common practice of many Christian legal organizations, including the Alliance Defending Freedom, of which I am a member and have worked with on numerous cases to protect the rights of Christians. If you think this is unethical, then you have a fundamental disagreement with every Christian legal organization that I know.
As far as the amount of time I put in the case, it was necessary due to the multitude of issues presented. Ergun initially filed in Texas (a state without jurisdiction) and refused to transfer to Virginia until after I had to get admitted in Texas by motion, file a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, and a motion to transfer—all of which had to be researched before written. All of this time was wasted due to Ergun’s unreasonableness.
I also had to address more issues than fair use (what the judge ruled on). For example, I addressed whether Ergun has any rights to videos produced by the military and released under the Freedom of Information Act, whether Ergun waived his rights to the videos, whether Ergun can seek attorney fees at all when he didn’t apply for a copyright until after the videos were removed from the internet, and whether Ergun can seek any relief without proving that Jonathan would ever repost the videos. Because Jonathan could not afford to hire a copyright attorney, he was stuck with me (a civil rights attorney). As a civil rights attorney, I had to research every single one of these issues for the first time.
Finally, Ergun has repeatedly shown and expressed through his counsel that he does not care about protecting his so-called “copyright” for the purpose of generating revenue. For example, the way copyright actions typically go is that a person or business sues to protect their ability to generate profit because, if someone makes the work freely available, it makes it harder to sell. So, if I post an entire season of 24 on YouTube, it would be harder for Fox to sell DVDs to people what they can see online. From the beginning, Ergun has not sought to sell the lectures in question; rather, he sought to remove the lectures from public view because they expose clear false statements. This would be like George Allen suing the person who posted the “macaca” video online without his permission. Not only does such litigation seek to stifle criticism, it seeks to remove works from public view, which is precisely the opposite of the purpose of the Copyright Act." 
Joshua Autry

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Jerry Vines Autobiography: An Exercise in Narcissism or Self Defense? A Little of Both

In the prologue of Jerry Vines' new autobiography "My Life and Ministry", Vines makes the following opening statement:
"To write one's autobiography is either an exercise in narcissism or done in self defense! Perhaps mine is a mixture of both. I guess I'm writing for my own benefit more than anything else."
After reading the book myself, I'm glad Vines admits this. As you'll see in my next post, when he wrote about Darrell Gilyard it surely was an exercise in self-defense, an attempt to deflect some of the criticism that has come his way over being the one who propelled Gilyard to prominence without doing any due diligence to check out his background before recommending him for an all expenses-paid trip to seminary in Texas.

Also, I have been very critical of Vines for going to speak at Gilyard's church after it became known that Gilyard not only showed himself to be a serial philanderer and possible rapist in multiple churches in Texas, but even after Vines had knowledge of Gilyard's own sexual advances toward one of his 17 year-old high school senior church members. Here is an example of Christa Brown's criticism of Vines and Patterson on the Gilyard matter.

I haven't always been critical of Vines in my writing. Vines was my pastor for about 18 years, and I have written fondly of Vines, for example here. I've even been criticized by a local metro writer for my praise of Vines in that article.

But whatever respect I had for Vines has almost completely waned after I read his section on Gilyard. He did not tell the complete truth, and it was a poor attempt to make himself and Paige Patterson out to be the hereos in the whole sordid Gilyard affair, when that is not so. In fact, Vines tells an awful fib about the 17 year-old high school senior at his church that I'll write about in my next blog post. Why would he do this? Was it just poor editing? No, Vines meticulously prepares his sermons and I'll assume his books, there is no reason he or his editor would not fact-check and get the story right, or go back to the speak to the then 17-year old before publishing the book. One must assume he wrote this because of his Prologue admission: self defense and narcissism, to help him gloss over the biggest stain of his ministry: pushing Darrell Gilyard to prominence back in the late 1980's.

Vines' book is completely silent on his role in the Ergun Caner affair, arguably the biggest scandal in the SBC in the past 10 years. Jerry Vines was one of the ministers who actively and purposefully catapulted Caner to instant stardom in 2001 just weeks after 9/11, giving Caner a platform to fool SBC'ers into thinking Caner was an ex-Jihadist trained in terrorism.

Why did Vines not attempt to explain away the Caner affair? Probably because he can't. It is too embarrassing for him and the others who helped Caner back in 2001 without bothering to look into his story, which would have been easy enough. Caner was a talented speaker with an incredible story that would bring people to hear him - so why bother questioning the basic elements of his story, right? Silence is probably the best tact to take in the Caner mess, lest Vines embarrass his friends who were involved as well.

But one of the legacies Vines' leaves behind that he can't spin himself out of: he will be the man who catapulted BOTH Darrell Gilyard and Ergun Caner to prominence in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Stay tuned for my next blog post analyzing Vines' section on Gilyard.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Celebration Church to Begin Holding Messianic Services - And The Watchdog is Skeptical

OK, I'll try not to be overly critical or cynical. I'll try my best. But the old Watchdog is not too good at NOT being cynical when it comes to mega churches and their marketing techniques.

At left is the Celebration Church website flyer for a new "Messianic Service" they are going to start holding the first Friday of each month.

The description of this service from their website is this:

"The service is Jewish in form in that we light shabbat candles, read from the Torah in Hebrew, close the service with the Aaronic Blessing in Hebrew and worship with songs that are Messianic in flair and lyric. Both Jews and Christians will feel at home during this service and encounter the God of Israel in a new way."

OK. I'm really trying to be generous here. I want to understand. So Celebration is a "church", and at this service led by a minister of the church, the church is going to hold a Jewish Messianic service centered on the Torah - the first five books of the Old Testament. And they will light candles. And speak in Hebrew.

I'll leave the analysis of whether this is a valid function of a church up to the experts. I just have lots of questions: is a Messianic service centered around Jesus Christ? Is the bible preached, or just the Torah? Is this a service geared toward converted Jews, or is the purpose of the service to attract Jews to the worship service so they can they be converted to Christianity? Or both?

Will Celebration preach tithing to the Jews? I'm sorry, it is my job to ask these uncomfortable questions. After all, I'm sure Stovall can preach tithing to the Messianic Jews, using Melchizedek and Abraham's tenth of his spoils - and borrowing a few verses from Malachi 3, so I'm just asking.

Will Celebration be holding Muslim services on the SECOND Friday of each month? How about a combined Mormon and Jehovah's Witness service on the THIRD Friday of each month? Ergun Caner could fly in once a month for the Muslim service, I'm sure.

This looks like to me a marketing ploy. A church is a church. A synagogue is a synagogue. I mean Celebration Church did admit that "it is all about the Benjamins", right?

Go ahead, tell me I'm way off base. And convince that I should not at all be skeptical that this is a marketing ploy instead of a real ministry that is part of the function of a Christian church.

Proof that Tim Rogers is Just Plain Off His Rocker

Tim Rogers - the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Indian Trails, NC - continues to make the absurd claim that Jon Autry's filing a motion for legal fees is itself a "lawsuit" against Ergun Caner. Earth to Tim: Jon Autry NEVER filed a lawsuit against Caner. Caner filed the lawsuit. Caner lost, and lost big. Both federal judges laughed Caner out of the courtroom.

Now it is time for Caner to pay the lawyer of the other party for his time spent defending his client from a lawsuit that the judge ruled should never been filed in the first place. But for fees to be paid, Joshua Autry has to file a motion within the existing lawsuit filed by Caner. The existing lawsuit that Caner started. Not a new one. Got it, Tim? The judge is now considering this motion, and will rule after Caner has a chance to respond, and Autry responds to their response.

Makes sense, doesn't it? Not in Tim's world, apparently.

Tim Rogers says the following at his blog:
"...Jonathan Autry has clearly filed a lawsuit against Dr. Caner. His, is the same lawsuit, that of a civil suit."
"Clearly filed a lawsuit". Uh, no, Jon Autry has never, ever filed a lawsuit against Caner.  My guess is Tim Rogers uncovered an Old Testament verse on which he is basing his expert analysis.

Gene Clyatt tried to respond to Rogers' nonsense by posting this to Rogers' blog comment section, but Rogers didn't let it through:
"The documents that I have seen asking for the court to award Autry’s legal expenses contain, in their header, the exact same docket number (6:14-cv-000046:14-cv-00004 (Caner v. Autry)) as Caner’s suit of Autry, which means that these motions are not a separate lawsuit, but motions filed in the same legal proceedings that were instigated by Caner. These documents are available online from the court —https://ia600607.us.archive.org/17/items/gov.uscourts.vawd.92537/gov.uscourts.vawd.92537.docket.html"
Then Rogers argues that for Autry's brother to expect his fees to be paid is "worse than the suit". At least in this statement, Rogers is admitting Caner's suit is bad, but that Autry's attempt to collect legal fees is worse! This doesn't even make logical sense. But Tim is a Man of God, and thus the logic of this world is not the logic of Tim Rogers.
"For people like JD Hall calling it absurd for Christians to sue Christians see nothing wrong with Autry filing a legal request of the court to recompense for funds he was not charged. His Brother [Jon's brother, Joshua] was on a “pro Bono” basis. Pro Bono means no charges so now to seek recompense is even worse than the suit. If it was no charge then one cannot now say there was charges. Certainly if there were filing fees that is one thing but to charge for hours to defend, that is something else because it was pro Bono."
Tim is wrong. "Pro bono" doesn't mean that there will be "no charges". He didn't bother to do some basic research here. It is perfectly acceptable action on the part of a lawyer who has taken on a pro-bono case to seek out reasonable attorney's fees when they prevail in a legal action. In fact, whether a case is pro-bono depends not on whether any fees are secured through motions by the prevailing party, but on the expectation of fees when the lawyer accepts the case. 
"According to the ABA, whether work qualifies as pro bono turns on the lawyer’s intent at the time of undertaking the project.  Because Rule 6.1 requires that service be provided without fee or expectation of fee, the intent of the lawyer to render free legal services is essential for the work performed to fall within the meaning of pro bono.   Therefore, the ABA has taken the position that an award of statutory lawyers’ fees in a case originally accepted as pro bono does not disqualify such services from qualifying as pro bono."  (Fraisinette and Cunningham of the PLI)
So if Joshua Autry does secure legal fees for his work on this case, his time spent will still be credited to him as "pro bono" because his intent was to take the case without an expectation of fees. The ABA does expect lawyers to extend 50 hours of pro-bono legal work each year, and I think Joshua's work on his brother's behalf will earn him payment for his services when the judge rules, and credit for pro bono service rendered. So thanks, Ergun, you helped Joshua hit a grand slam: payment for his time spent on your case paid by you, and credit for pro bono services in 2013 and 2014. Excellent!  Seminarians like Tim may disagree with this, but no one cares what seminarians think when it comes to matters of law.

As they like to say in Puerto Rico about those who are simple minded:  "Bendito". Poor Tim. His pea-brain can't fathom that Joshua Autry is due reimbursement for the time he spent defending his brother against a frivolous lawsuit (even though it was pro-bono - which anyone might expect a brother to do for his brother!), and the man who must pay it is the man who decided to bring the suit in the first place. This is how the legal system works, Tim. When potential plaintiffs see examples of judges granting legal fees to the defense, this deters future frivolous lawsuits from clogging up the courts. I know that is complicated, Tim. Read that a couple of times and it might sink in. Or talk to one of the lawyers in your church, they'll help you figure it out.

Caner should consider himself lucky that the judge can't throw punitive damages on top of the legal fees, for filing such a ridiculous lawsuit in the first place.