Rubio, Cruz, and Fiorina Lead Poll of Evangelical Insiders

On the heels of a strong debate performance, Carly Fiorina has surged in a monthly poll of evangelical insiders published at World.
Marco Rubio recorded a strong showing and is by far the candidate most participants believe can beat the Democratic nominee.
I am interested in the issues which motivate these participants. For most participants, the top two are religious liberty and abortion. Relatively speaking, presidents have little to do with moving policy on these issues. While I would like someone who agrees with me on these matters, I prefer a president who is experienced and skilled in dealing with defense, foreign policy, and economic policy.
Other observations of interest:

  • Trump continues to do badly with this group. He has the highest negative ratings among Republicans.  The survey participant quoted, Kay James, said Trump’s numbers are due to his policy positions being insufficiently biblical. One would have to have policy positions to be able to evaluate them, and mostly what I hear from Trump is that he wants to build a wall. I also think many evangelicals are turned off by Trump’s demeanor.
  • Obamacare is way down the list of reasons to choose a president. There goes one of Ted Cruz’s wedge issues with this group.

At about this time in 2007, Rudy Guiliani was supposed to run against Hillary Clinton. We have a long way to go.

K.P. Yohannan Told Gospel for Asia Staff He Didn’t Allow Ring Kissing, Video Appears to Contradict His Story

In May of this year, I posted a video of a Believers’ Church ordination service which appeared to show ministers kissing the ring of Gospel for Asia Founder and CEO K.P. Yohannan. Yohannan has denied allowing anyone to kiss his ring during rituals of the Believers’ Church. The following video makes it clear that those being ordained are doing something in the vicinity of Yohannan’s hand. If they aren’t kissing his ring, I think any observer could be excused for believing they are.

In an over two hour staff mega-meeting held on May 14, 2015, Yohannan again denied that ring kissing has any place in the church. This meeting took place before the video became available but the audio where K.P. offers a full-throated denial of the practice has not been made available before.
Here is the audio followed by the transcript.

(Listen on the website hosted by former staff of GFA)


David Carroll: There is one question that I think is on many of your minds and has been I think batted around a bit among us and that is, it’s asked a lot of ways but I’ll just ask it from this question plainly: Has ring kissing ever been a part of the Believers’ Church clergy ordination ceremony? Or I’ll just add: or any, is ring kissing is it required anywhere or is it still part of any of those things? Has it ever happened and if it has, if it used to be something that we did in some ceremony, are we still doing that? Kissing the ring?

K.P. Yohannan: What’s wrong with you? (Laughter) I kill you! (more laughter) Danny, I asked you, what is the meaning of kissing the ring? I thought about finding out what it actually means and obviously there’s submission to you or whatever. Now, if somebody said, ‘I saw somebody kissing the ring of our bishop or my ring, I would not tell that person, you are a liar. But if somebody asks me in your conscience and knowledge, you had taught or asked or has anybody kissed your ring, I would say as God almighty is my witness, it never happened, I never allowed it.

As a matter of fact, the most common, when this rumor started spreading, some Calvary Chapel pastors supposed to go to India and met some disgruntled person who left our ministry and started telling, you know, they’re teaching about kissing the ring. I remember that story came to me and immediately I contacted the field and said, ‘please, you know, we don’t want to be seen as belonging to some other church teaching, please don’t do it, if there is any like that.’ They said, ‘no, we never teach or practice that.’ But then I started wondering why somebody think this. So my thinking is you know the most common thing in China, India, all these countries when you see elders, especially spiritual leaders, what they do basically is they touch the feet, you can see that. And then I basically walk away from that. It has nothing to do with Christianity. It’s just culture. But then what the answer is, no, we don’t practice that, we don’t teach that, we teach against it so that we don’t get labeled by some other denomination but even today when you go to the mission field (unclear), what happens is when you meet the Metropolitan or the bishops and what they do is basically and they start doing this, they take the hand and do like that, and it’s not typically everywhere be like that, in most places, the actually touch the feet and express their honor, their respect.

When people are ordained, this the standard thing and by the way, let me say this to you. I fortunately, unfortunately, I like or not, I’m two human beings. I’m brother K.P., hi, K.P., yo, dude, all that here, people call me by all kinds of strange names. But you know when I bought the flight and land overseas, many have seen me a million times, I don’t look like this, I have a cassock, and I’m the Metropolitan of the church and the spiritual father of 2.7 million baptized believers right now. And when you ordain people you whether I like it or not I just submit to the church; that is, there’s a chair, the Bishop’s Chair, that I sit on. If it’s not me then it’s Bishop  _______ or Bishop ____________ and then people are ordained they come and they kneel to get the blessing, and they’re anointed by oil and make the sign of the Cross, and I tell them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit now you are ordained minister of the church and that is done, that always be done. There’s not going to be any change in that; all cultures do that, I don’t know how it is done here, but they don’t fall prostrate before anyone or anything like that.

There is an odd near admission at the beginning (“I wouldn’t tell that person, you are a liar”), but then he clearly denies it and provides a narrative that makes the idea seem very far from the church. Given his description of the ordination at the end, I wonder why he didn’t explain what the newly minted minister was doing with Yohannan’s hand. In any case, no explanation has been given for the video.

It is hard for me to imagine how staff at GFA can watch the video in light of this denial. Clearly, some explanation is needed for this.

With David Barton as Principal Officer, Non-Profit Mercury One Gave $100k to Barton's Wallbuilders

Sometime in 2013, Mercury One, a non-profit founded by Glenn Beck but run by principal officer David Barton, gave $100,000 to Barton’s Wallbuilders, also a non-profit run by Barton. Such gifts appear to be questionable under IRS guidelines addressing gifts which benefit insiders.
Barton founded and is head of Wallbuilders, and was recently tapped to run the Keep the Promise group of Super PACs with over $38 million to spend supporting Ted Cruz.
On Mercury One’s 2013 990 form, Barton is listed in box F as the principal officer:
The IRS describes the principal officer (page 9):

For purposes of this item, “principal officer” means an officer of the organization who, regardless of title, has ultimate responsibility for implementing the decisions of the organization’s governing body, or for supervising the management, administration, or operation of the organization.

Thus, if Mercury One filed the 990 properly, Barton has ultimate responsibility for operating the non-profit. Without examining anything else, that is a noteworthy finding.
Barton is also listed as officer along with only two other board members, Glenn Beck’s wife and his longtime attorney and researcher, Joseph Kerry.
Certainly by the standards of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, this is an unacceptable composition for a board. None of these people are independent and it seems improper for Kerry to assume three positions. As principal officer, Barton only needs one other person to vote with him to do anything.
Later, the 990 reports that Wallbuilders received $100, 000. This gift accounts for about 7.5% of the income Wallbuilders received in gifts and grants in 2013.
According to the IRS, non-profits are for the public interest and not private interest.

Private Benefit and Inurement
A public charity is prohibited from allowing more than an insubstantial accrual of private benefit to individuals or organizations. This restriction is to ensure that a tax-exempt organization serves a public interest, not a private one. If a private benefit is more than incidental, it could jeopardize the organization’s tax-exempt status.
No part of an organization’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of an insider. An insider is a person who has a personal or private interest in the activities of the organization such as an officer, director, or a key employee. This means that an organization is prohibited from allowing its income or assets to accrue to insiders. An example of prohibited inurement would include payment of unreasonable compensation to an insider. Any amount of inurement may be grounds for loss of tax-exempt status.
If a public charity provides an economic benefit to any person who is in a position to exercise substantial influence over its affairs (that exceeds the value of any goods or services provided in consideration), the organization has engaged in an excess benefit transaction. A public charity that engages in such a transaction must report it to the IRS. Excise taxes are imposed on any person who engages in an excess benefit transaction with a public charity, and on any organization manager who knowingly approves such a transaction. (See Reporting Excess Benefit Transactions on page 12).

Only the IRS can make a final determination but this transaction looks like it is worth exploring. Barton certainly is an insider at Mercury One and, via Wallbuilders, he benefited from the gift. The $100,000 is almost as much as Barton reported as compensation in 2013.

Anti-Defamation League Condemns Ben Carson's Statements About a Muslim Running for President

This morning the Jewish Anti-Defamation League issued a condemnation of Donald Trumps inaction and Ben Carson’s actions. Sunday on Meet the Press, Carson said he could not accept a Muslim president. This morning, his spokesman Armstrong Williams categorized Muslims as believing in killing Jews and gays. The ADL posted:

ADL Troubled by Comments of GOP Hopefuls, Including Ben Carson, Suggesting a Muslim Should Not Be President

New York, NY, September 21, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply troubled by recent remarks by presidential candidates suggesting that being a Muslim is incompatible with serving as president of the United States. The League called on all presidential candidates to avoid stereotyping American Muslims during the campaign.

Speaking on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday, Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson stated that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”  This troubling remark came on the heels of Donald Trump failing to stand up to an anti-Muslim bigot at a campaign rally.

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

Donald Trump’s failure to stand up to an anti-Muslim bigot at a campaign rally who questioned whether President Obama was a Muslim, as well as the various troubling comments by the candidates about a Muslim’s fitness to serve as president, are deeply troubling. Dr. Ben Carson’s statement that a Muslim American should not serve as president is deeply offensive, un-American and contrary to the Constitution. There is no religious litmus test for candidates seeking political office, and that includes the highest office in the land.

The U.S. Constitution makes clear that any American citizen can run for president provided that he or she is a natural born citizen, age 35 or older, and resided for at least 14 years within the U.S. Indeed, Article VI of the Constitution states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Dr. Carson’s statement directly contradicts the Constitution and the values embodied in it. In America, personal characteristics — whether race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion – should have no bearing on person’s ability to serve. Rather, fitness to serve should be based on the individual’s merit: intellect, ethics, experience and achievements.

As the campaign season advances, we urge all presidential candidates to avoid innuendo and stereotyping of all sorts, including against people based on their faith, particularly American Muslims and, instead, to confront all forms of prejudice and bigotry. Remarks suggesting that all Muslims follow extremist interpretations of Islam have no basis in fact and fuel bigotry.  Whether directed against Jews, Muslims or others, such baseless comments breed hate and have no place in a presidential campaign or in public discourse.

As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, ADL takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

Ben Carson's Business Manager on a Muslim in the White House: "Not an issue of religion, it is an issue of one's belief system."

According to Politico, Ben Carson’s business manager Armstrong Williams told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota this morning that Carson’s rejection of the possibility of a Muslim president was “not an issue of religion, it is an issue of one’s belief system, of how they will govern.” 
Someone needs to tell Carson that religions and beliefs systems have a lot in common. Whatever one calls one’s belief system, the Constitution forbids a religious test. Carson is making this unnecessarily difficult.
Carson said there are tenets of Islam which sanction the killing of gays and Jews. Does he not realize what Leviticus says? Is he unaware that some Christian movements have advocated hatred toward Jews?
Carson and his handlers are stereotyping Muslims and displaying group-serving bias regarding Christianity.  One knows the diversity of a social group to which one belongs much better than to an out group. Carson has lumped all Muslims into his stereotyped view of Islam while ignoring similar elements within his own religion.