David Barton's PhD School Life Christian University Claims America's Founding Is Church History

Nearly three months ago, David Barton proudly proclaimed that he had an earned PhD. The very next day he removed the video claim from his websites and never explained why. We later learned that Barton’s earned degree came from Life Christian University, a diploma mill based in Lutz, FL. Barton’s degree was given based on his published works in history which Life Christian considered to be part of Church history.
Now, via another statement from Life Christian University, more details are available about Barton’s so-called earned degree.  According to LCU, “earned” PhD degrees are awarded based on published works.

This is our process for awarding earned degrees based on published works:
1. We accept a student’s earned degrees from other institutions based on their official transcripts.
2. We award credit for published works commensurate with the amount of writing required for a Master’s Thesis or a Doctoral Dissertation.
Please note that earned degrees based on published works are all issued only from our Main Campus in Tampa, FL, and say that clearly on the degree certificate.

And so it appears that LCU accepted Barton’s BA from Oral Roberts University and considered his self-published books as meeting the writing requirement. The requirements are minimal:

The Doctoral-level dissertation must be a minimum of 150 pages in length. It should not exceed 160 pages.
The Master’s level thesis must be a minimum of 50 pages in length. It should not exceed 55 pages.

With those skimpy guidelines, anybody who has self-published a book would be eligible for LCU’s highest honor. The credit LCU awards for an earned degree don’t include any academic work as a part of a program. In other words, the degree is not actually earned and, if it has any status at all, it would have to be considered an honorary degree (as Joyce Meyer recently relabeled her LCU PhD as required by law in MO).
The guidelines don’t address what happens when an author’s book is pulled from publication due to errors.
If LCU was in compliance with FL law, no degrees outside of religious degrees would be offered. However, in Barton’s case, LCU has made an exception.

As a University with religious exemption, we only offer degrees that fall under that exemption.
Church History is part of our curriculum. Dr. Wingate feels that the founding of America and our country’s involvement in the unfolding of God’s plan for the nations of the world is one of the top topics of Church History for the last 400 years!

If America had a state church, then one might make this case. However, Wingate’s stretching of the truth is obvious for all to see. Furthermore, Barton claims expertise in “historical and constitutional issues,” not church history. A review of Barton’s books doesn’t turn up themes which comprehensively deal with the history of the church in America.
LCU only offers one course in Church History:

TH-431 CHURCH HISTORY This course teaches the student the origin of the Christian Church, its birth, and its development from the Day of Pentecost through modern times.

Obviously, this course does not address America’s political history. It also should be obvious that LCU’s faculty isn’t qualified to assess Barton’s work as a matter of history, church or otherwise.
How long will Barton and LCU carry on this charade?

#GivingTuesday: Donor Illusions

Although dated, I have found this 2009 article on donor illusions to be helpful.  The article was published on the blog of the Give Well organization, a donor support group. Give Well publishes a recommended charity list each year. Here is 2016’s list.
The Give Well description of donor illusions focuses on international charities but illusions can be found in domestic charities as well (e.g., today’s post on coats for pledges at K-LOVE).

As a result, international charities tend to create “donor illusions” by implying that donations can be attributed more tangibly, reliably and specifically than they really are. Some charities are more purposefully misleading than others, and some have more prominent and clear disclosures than others, but we feel that all of the cases below end up misleading many donors.

The illusions illustrated in the post include loans to third world entrepreneurs, child sponsorship, and giving livestock to needy families.
Livestock Gifts
I have written about these in previous years as being a good example of a compelling illusion. Donors can easily sell the idea of giving an animal to a third world family to Sunday school classes or church groups. The marketing certainly creates that illusion. Check out World Vision’s 2016 catalog.
WorldVision 2016 goat
Here is what World Vision says about the gifts in the new Christmas catalog.
world vision fine print 2016
In other words, your donation will be used where “it is needed most.”
Church Illusions
Other illusions I have covered include Mars Hill Church’s promotion of Ethiopian pastors via Mars Hill Global. In fact, most of the money donated to Mars Hill Global went to expand the Mars Hill Church video locations in the United States.
Gospel for Asia for years told donors that 100% of donations went to “the field.” The illusion was created that poor church planters and Asian children were getting most of the donations. However, we have since learned that Gospel for Asia’s Texas leadership sent millions to Believers’ Church in India, also controlled by GFA founder K.P. Yohannan to build state of the art for profit schools and medical centers. While a small percentage of the money went to evangelism and helping the poor, much of it went to projects designed to make Believers’ church self-sustaining and a large portion went to India and then back to Texas to help build GFA’s state of the art headquarters.
Today, I wrote about K-LOVE’s claim that a $40/month donation to K-LOVE provides a warm winter coat to a needy child. The only reason that claim might technically be true is because K-LOVE and Operation Warm set up an artificial scheme to tie coat distributions to pledges. K-LOVE holds captive coats from Operation Warm and tells prospective donors we will give a coat if you pledge. What K-LOVE doesn’t tell donors is that the coat will be given to a child anyway, pledge or no pledge.
Do Donors Want Illusions?
Tim Ogden at the Philanthropy Action blog says they do:

David Roodman pointed me to a typical reaction post to the Kiva story. In summary, the authors lament the lack of direct connection to a specific person they can give to and wonder why they can’t just dispense with the intermediaries.
I think the post is quite revelatory about why so many charities create the illusion of direct connection. They do so because donors demand it.
The demand for direct connection is baffling to me since most donors absolutely refuse direct connection to the people in need that are closest to them. Consider: how often do you or your friends take advantage of the opportunity to give directly and establish a connection by giving $20 to the guy standing at the corner with the cardboard sign saying, “Will Work for Food”?
I’ll bet the answer is “never.“ And there’s a very good reason for that. You believe that to actually help that person you should give the money to a knowledgeable intermediary like a homeless shelter that will do the research to understand this person’s situation, and ensure the money you give is actually used in a responsible way.
So if you would only give to an intermediary in order to help someone on the street outside your home, why do you want to do away with intermediaries between you and a person on the other side of the world whose circumstances you don’t understand at all?
I just don’t get it.
In the end I guess the donor demand really is for an illusion. They don’t just want connection—what they want is the illusion of connection where they can feel directly connected but not actually have to be directly connected—with all the messiness that such connections would entail—to people in need.

This somewhat cynical explanation for the persistence of illusions doesn’t quite fit for me. As I have learned that charities are using subterfuge to raise money, my reaction has been anger. I want the nuance. I want to know what they are doing with the money.
Guilt Illusions
I am sad and angry that K-LOVE artificially creates guilt in their listeners. I know people who agonize over how much to give to K-LOVE “to keep them on the air.” When K-LOVE’s well-paid on-air personalities top off their appeals with the promise that the $40/month will trigger a coat for a needy kid, that tips the scale toward a pledge, even though the family income really can’t absorb that level of giving. It should keep K-LOVE executives up at night that their Christian brothers and sisters are denying their children and themselves basics so that they can get a quarter of a million per year (the CEO made nearly $600,000 in FY 2015).
On this #GivingTuesday, give to those you have investigated. Give locally. By all means, give a needy person a coat, but do it yourself, or through a local group who is locally accountable.

#GivingTuesday: Your $40/Month EZ Gift to K-LOVE/AIR1 Does Not Provide a Child with a Warm Winter Coat

For years, K-LOVE* has been telling people during the pledge drives that a qualifying pledge (this year $40/month via automatic bank withdrawal) will not only keep K-LOVE on the air but also provides a warm coat for a needy child.  The ad below gives the basic pitch:
Operation Warm 40 coat

The video promotion below makes it clear that K-LOVE claims that a $40/month gift is the reason why a child gets a warm coat.

In fact, there is reason to doubt the linkage promoted by K-LOVE. After looking into it, I think this promise is a kind of donor illusion.  For instance, buying a goat or other livestock for a family is mostly an illusion. Likewise, child sponsorships often do not benefit just one child. In this case, it doesn’t appear that there is a donor at Operation Warm waiting for a K-LOVE donor to give $40/month. The pitch creates an illusion that a K-LOVE donation prompts a coat to be given that otherwise wouldn’t be given. In fact, here’s what I think is happening:

1. K-LOVE listeners are told in many different ways that if they give $40 monthly to K-LOVE, a child will get a coat through an Operation Warm donor just because they called to give.

2. Although the information from K-LOVE and OW conflicts, I don’t believe that there are OW donors who base their gifts to OW on K-LOVE donors giving to K-LOVE. OW donors are asked by OW to give to pay for coats that will be given away even if K-LOVE doesn’t promote OW.

3. In exchange for publicity during the pledge drives, OW allows K-LOVE to take credit for a coat giveaway. K-LOVE attends an OW coat giveaway event and credits K-LOVE and its listeners for providing the coats, even though the donations to OW were not made on the basis of K-LOVE pledges.

In this way, K-LOVE and OW set up a dramatic illusion. Even though the two organizations agree before the pledge drive even starts how many coats they will give away (in exchange for the advertising), the K-LOVE on-air personalities pretend that the pledges matter. The coat for a needy child is held over the heads of donors. Will a needy child get a new coat? It’s all up to you, K-LOVE donor.

Some Former Employees Were Alarmed about the Illusion
Former employees I contacted confirmed that listeners are definitely under the impression that a $40 monthly gift to KLOVE/Air1 will cause an ‘anonymous donor’ to buy a coat for a child through Operation Warm.

They say many K-LOVE employees believe every new, qualifying K-LOVE/Air1 listener causes this ‘anonymous donor’ to buy another new coat. “For those of us behind the scenes, it was alarming to find out it wasn’t true,” one told me.

Straight Answers Are Hard to Get
Before I explain more, I want to say that K-LOVE and OW were initially responsive to requests. However, as I pressed for more information, I stopped receiving replies from both K-LOVE and OW. Specifically, I asked directly if coats would go to needy children even if K-LOVE wasn’t involved. This question was never directly answered.

Initially I asked OW three questions:

1. How many coats are given to children because of KLOVE new donors? In other words, how many coats go to children that wouldn’t be given to children if KLOVE donors didn’t donate?
2. Is there an Operation Warm donor that waits to see how many KLOVE donors give $40/month and then that donor funds coats corresponding to the number of new KLOVE donors?
3. If nobody donated $40/month to KLOVE, would Operation Warm give out the same number of coats to children per year?

Here is what Brock with OW told me in reply.

KLOVE and Operation Warm are partnering to celebrate and honor KLOVE listeners who support KLOVE’s mission through their Fall Pledge Drive. For every KLOVE listener who makes an EZ Pledge of $40 per month to enable KLOVE to continue its operations, a child will receive a new winter coat in honor of that listener. All of the EZ Pledge donations will be kept by KLOVE to support its operations and mission. Funding for the Operation Warm coats that are given to children will be made by Operation Warm’s donors.

The donations to Operation Warm were not made in honor of KLOVE listeners, but we provided the coats in honor of them, thanks to the funding by our donors.

Please note the final sentence. The donations were not made because (“in honor of”) K-LOVE listener pledges. However, in exchange for lots of advertising during K-LOVE’s pledge drive, OW gives a coat to a child to commemorate the donation. Does this mean that OW is holding on to coats waiting on K-LOVE donors to pledge? I don’t believe so, but if it does then I think donors should rethink giving to OW.

I also wrote K-LOVE with similar questions and received a reply from attorney Stacie Ford, General Counsel at K-LOVE:

Addressing your questions, our partnership with Operation Warm provides significant value to them and to us.  Our contract with OW makes clear that OW is providing the coats, and the consideration is the value of the promotion they receive from K-LOVE and Air1.  We are unambiguous regarding this agreement, and repeatedly inform listeners on-air and on our website that “100% of your gift stays with K-LOVE/Air1. When you give, a generous donor comes along side of your donation and supplies a winter coat to a child through Operation Warm.”

Specifically, OW secures donors with intention to allocate coats for the Pledge Drive.  Donors provide resources to OW based on the impact OW’s participation with K-LOVE and Air1 will have on OW’s mission.  In turn, K-LOVE and Air1’s inclusion of OW during the Pledge Drive increases the visibility and promotion of the non-profit. Notwithstanding, if any of the coats allocated for K-LOVE and AIR1 would have been donated to those in need regardless of the Pledge Drive, the Pledge Drive provided huge promotional value to OW that arguably multiplied the number of donors and donations they otherwise would have received.

In a follow up email, I asked Ms. Ford about Brock’s statement that money wasn’t given to OW because of K-LOVE donors. However, she did not answer.

OW and K-LOVE appear to be at odds over OW’s donations. Ms. Ford told me “When you give, a generous donor comes along side of your donation and supplies a winter coat to a child through Operation Warm.” However, Brock at OW told me “The donations to Operation Warm were not made in honor of KLOVE listeners…” One explanation makes it seem that a donor at OW is waiting for a K-LOVE pledge to make the donation of a coat. The other implies that donors simply give to OW independent of the pledge drive. Based on OW’s input and that of former K-LOVE employees, I don’t think there is direct linkage between K-LOVE pledges and an OW donation.

I received one more response from OW. This response is enlightening because it shows that K-LOVE and OW agree before the pledge drive how many coats OW is willing to part with in exchange for the advertising given by K-LOVE. OW’s Brock wrote:

Throughout their promotions, KLOVE clearly states that the EZ Pledge donations stay with KLOVE. Also, Operation Warm pays no fee to KLOVE; rather, KLOVE provides Operation Warm with very valuable promotional support which results in more support for OW and therefore more children receiving new winter coats.

Prior to our campaign with KLOVE, we mutually agreed on the number of coats that would be provided in coordination with the pledge drive, up to a certain number of coats.  If KLOVE met that number, that same number of coats would be provided to children through Operation Warm this season. KLOVE’s promotional support has allowed us to spread our mission and receive support we would not have received without them. We’re happy to report that KLOVE met their pledge numbers and 27,000 children throughout the country will receive a new coat that did not have one before!

I asked both Stacie and Brock what happens to those coats if K-LOVE’s donors don’t come through with the number of pledges agreed to by the two organizations. Neither organization answered. I believe those coats would go to children in the name of some other media partner or no media partner at all (OW gave away over 300,000 coats last year). In other words, if OW donors give money for coats, a child will get a coat, pledge drive or not. If that is not true, then something is wrong at OW.

So What’s Happening?
Putting all of these statements together, it appears to me that OW gets donations from their donors to give away coats. K-LOVE offers advertising to OW in exchange for the right to say that existing OW coats are being given in honor of K-LOVE donors. OW and K-LOVE agree in advance how many coats K-LOVE gets to leverage to listeners. At the end of the pledge drive, K-LOVE tells OW how many qualifying pledges were made and then OW allows K-LOVE to do a publicity giveaway event with coats which would have been given to children anyway.

I sent the paragraph above to K-LOVE and OW and asked them to correct any factual errors. I did not get a response from either organization.

If it is true that OW would withhold coats provided with OW donor dollars because K-LOVE donors didn’t make a qualifying pledge, then I think donors should question why OW would do that. According to Brock at OW, donors didn’t give money in honor of K-LOVE pledges and so the coats purchased/created with those donations should not be held back.

Does K-LOVE Need Your Money?
Remember, K-LOVE’s CEO made nearly $600,000/year in FY 2015, with eight executives earning over $200k.  Some of the on-air personalities make well over $100k.  In FY 2015, K-LOVE/Air1 took in over $150 million and had a surplus of $64 million. Think about that the next time a single mother working two jobs calls K-LOVE to offer her sacrificial donation.

Even if one rationalizes the pitch, please understand that a donation to OW instead of K-LOVE will actually provide coats to children that won’t happen otherwise. I am disappointed by this deception and call on donors to reconsider rewarding it with their funds. This Christmas there are real needs in our communities which can be directly met. Join me in giving to food pantries or some other local charity (or even Operation Warm which seems to be a pretty good group other than colluding with this donor illusion) which will get resources to needy children.

*Air 1 also uses the same promotion. Air 1 is a sister network also owned by Educational Media Foundation. Many of those stations play less praise and worship and more Christian rock than K-LOVE. When I say K-LOVE, I mean both networks.

#GivingTuesday: Gospel for Asia's Rubber Plantation in Jeopardy

It appears Gospel for Asia has experienced another setback. The local government wants to build an airport on part of the rubber plantation — Cheruvally Estate — owned by GFA.

“There are many environmental issues at Laha. Based on a study , Cheruvalli estate was found suitable. I had talked to Archbishop KP Yohannan who owns the Cheruvalli estate two months ago and he had expressed his willingness to give land for the airport. I wrote to Vijayan and he acted quickly ,” he said, adding that NRKs were ready to invest if the airport follows a PPP model. Around Rs 3,000 crore will be required to build the airport.
The estate, which was being held by Gospel for Asia, was part of 5,200 acres that was taken over by the special officer along with the land held by Travancore Rubber and Tea Company Ltd and Riya Resorts and Properties Pvt Ltd. Cheruvalli estate is one among the estates that were sold by Harrisons Malayalam Ltd in 2005. The special officer – who was appointed for resuming government land from HML – had inspected the estate on January 15, 2015 and found that the sale deed of the Cheruvalli estate, measuring 2,263 acres, did not contain any survey number included in original document 16001923 held by HML.
Gospel for Asia had approached the high court claiming that the special office had no powers to issue the notice. After their plea was turned down by the single bench that asked the group to first make their claims before the special officer, the group then appealed against it in the division bench.

Last month, KSEB had written to the special officer seeking permission to erect a 110kV line through the property for im proving the power facility to Sabarimala which subsequently was placed before the high court.The court, in its order, gave permission to KSEB to erect the power line through the estate, without providing any compensation to Gospel for Asia.

GFA paid millions of donor money not given for the purchase of a rubber plantation to buy Cheruvally Estate. Now, that investment is being taken by the government with the claim being that GFA was not a legal buyer in the first place.
In October 2015, GFA was evicted from membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability due to multiple violations of financial standards. GFA founder and director K.P. Yohannan has spent much of his time in India since then due to concerns about investigations by various federal agencies.
Today is #GivingTuesday which provides a focus on giving to non-profits. With Christmas and end of the year tax giving, charities bring in a substantial portion of their funds during December.
#GivingTuesday – My advice is to find local charities making a difference and give there.
#GivingTuesday – Advice for making larger donations.

Note to Mark Driscoll: Racism Doesn't Evolve from Evolution

See updates at the end…
Although he doesn’t believe in Malthusian eugenics now, Mark Driscoll told his The Trinity Church audience on Sunday that he once did. Watch:


Some would say, Pastor Mark, I disagree with you. Let me speak to you very personally. You’re wrong. You’re wrong. Now I know you’re not supposed to say it like that, but if you don’t say it like that, people are confused, so let me make it clear.
I started in a home, my parents were um, Irish Catholic, okay? So we were the O’Driscolls from County Cork, southern Ireland, and Catholics are pro-life. I somehow grew up, and I started studying in high school, and I was a debater, and a thinker, and a bit of a hack philosopher. And I came to actually take not only a pro-choice position, but a pro-abortion position. Forced population controls.
So when Gracie and I met, she came from a pastor’s home, she was strongly pro-life, and I was strongly pro-abortion. And we would have these debates. And we were friends in high school. And she was right, and I won the debates, because I’m a terrible person to debate. My mom said it was like raising a small attorney. That’s what it was like. So I can debate, I can think on my feet, I can articulate a position, and I can win a debate, even when I’m wrong. And so I would win these debates with Grace, and she would get very frustrated, because she was right and I was wrong.
And I came to believe in the position, for a while, end of high school, early college, called Malthusian eugenics. Now if you’ve done your homework, I’ve done mine, too. I probably know your arguments and I could probably argue your arguments. And it comes out of this evolutionary belief that certain people and races are more evolved and fit than others. And that other races are less fit and less evolved, and as a result, we should terminate the life of those who are less fit, so the race can excel.
This Malthusian eugenics position was held by Nazi Germany. This Malthusian eugenics position was held by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. She was a disciple of Malthus. I read all of their literature, I did my homework, I actually won a high school debate, and a college debate, on this position. I was so good at it, in college, in a large philosophy class, I won the debate, and my professor, who was an African Marxist, asked to mentor me as a student leader for abortion rights.
I did believe for a season, in a full evolutionary ideology, that certain people are more advanced and more valuable than others. We should keep those who are valuable, we should get rid of those who are not valuable, and like all arrogant people, I assumed that I was one of the more valuable evolved ones.
This is why Planned Parenthood puts its clinics historically in poorer neighborhoods to serve certain races, to eliminate certain people from having children and entering the world. You may not have known that, but you can trace the history. Just do your homework. Look at Malthusian eugenics, and look at the history of Margaret Sanger.

I asked a former insider at Mars Hill Church if Driscoll ever mentioned these views. The source had never heard about the debate victories but had heard in general terms about an interest in Malthus. Although he did mention the debates in this Mars Hill Church article, it is a little hard to place when his African Marxist professor wanted to recruit him based on the history he described in Real Marriage.
In any case, I post this because I want to address a misconception about those who accept the scientific foundations of human evolution. Driscoll implies that those who accept an evolutionary account of origins also believe in eugenics.  This, of course, is not true. I accept the evidence for evolution but I certainly don’t believe in eugenics. I work with numerous colleagues here at Grove City College who accept evolution and none of them believe in eugenics.
Holding to an evolutionary account does not require an individual to believe “certain people are more advanced and more valuable than others.” Also, believing God created in six days does not prevent such a belief. I grew up in small town Southern Ohio where many young Earth creationists believed whites were superior to all others.
UPDATE: Wenatchee the Hatchet wonders if Driscoll fully abandoned his Malthusian beliefs. I had forgotten about Driscoll’s quaint “shoot the dogs” strategy of handling underperforming church leaders and strategies. Furthermore, Driscoll’s teachings about demonically inspired “family lines” may reveal left over influence from those Malthusian days. Time will tell if Driscoll continues his Mars Hill mentality at the new church.
UPDATE: I updated the title since some concern was expressed by readers that I focused unnecessarily on Driscoll’s past views. As WtH points out in his post, those views may have infiltrated his current views, but even so, I think the new title (thanks to Ragan Ewing) better captures the reason I posted.