A history lesson on the White House Plumbers which came about on the order of Richard Nixon. The Plumbers were designed to help plug leaks in the federal government after the Pentagon papers were published in the New York Times. In another abuse of power John Bryson’s church hired a Public Relations firm with the tasked goal to find and investigate the situation of Rick Trotter at Fellowship Memphis. This blogger has the following question…is John Bryson creating his own version of the White House Plumbers in order to plug leaks about what he and Bryan Loritts knew about Rick Trotter’s alleged criminal activity?
“Do whatever has to be done to stop these leaks and prevent further unauthorized disclosures; I don’t want to be told why it can’t be done…I don’t want excuses; I want results. I want it done, whatever the cost.”
Richard Nixon to Chuck Colson
“Every organization is vulnerable to a crisis. From accidents or rogue bloggers, to product recalls or community relation challenges, crises can occur in many forms. Quick, well-thought out action, is necessary to protect your reputation and your bottom line. Delaying or fumbling your initial response can create long-term damage, and a failure to respond can be even worse.”
From the Caissa Public Strategy Web Page
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Being Proud of Rick Trotter
The file cabinet that the Plumbers broke into as displayed in the Smithsonian of American History.
Can we see John Bryson do a Nixon impersonation?
On June 17, 1967 Secretary of Defense Robert McNamera created the Vietnam Study Task Force. This task force which was formed with out the consent of Lyndon Johnson or Secretary of State Dean Rusk was designed to write “an encyclopedia history of the Vietnam War.” 36 analysts with many of them being military officers, academics and civilian federal employees who used the existing files in the office of the Secretary of Defense, then did so. In this study there apparently was no interviews conducted with the military, the White House, or other federal agencies. From what I have read this study was even kept secret from National Security Advisor Walt Rostow. The study was finished was finished and given to McNamara’s successor Clark Clifford. The study apparently was 47 volumes, and had historical analysis of both Vietnam and the conflict. In the report it was written about how the United States enlarged the Vietnam War with bombings in Cambodia and Laos, plus there was coastal raids on North Vietnam and Marine Corp attacks. This was all kept from the public. Daniel Ellsberg who was an analyst at the RAND Corporation gradually became opposed to the Vietnam conflict. He decided to leak the copy to the press and took one of RAND’s copies and photocopied it. Afterward he then turned over the photocopies to the New York Times. The Times began to publish the classified documents in an article “Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces Three Decades of Growing US Involvement” on Sunday June 13, 1971. The media dubbed these releases as “The Pentagon Papers.” It quickly became a legal matter and eventually went before the United States Supreme Court in “The New York Times vs. The United States.” The Supreme Court decided on June 30, 1971 in a 6 to 3 ruling that the government failed to meet the burden of proof required for the prior restraint of injunction.
The Creation of The White House Plumbers
Nixon was livid about the New York Times publishing the Pentagon Papers. He was determined to stop any and all leaks of sensitive information from the federal government. Nixon’s anger would eventually lead to his downfall. Richard Nixon then told aide Chuck Colson the following. “Do whatever has to be done to stop these leaks and prevent further unauthorized disclosures; I don’t want to be told why it can’t be done…I don’t want excuses; I want results. I want it done, whatever the cost.” Chuck Colson and John Erlichmann then created the White House Plumbers on July 24, 1971. It was tasked with stopping the leaking of classified information to the news media. Its members also performed illegal activities in working for the Committee to Re-elect the President. The first act the Plumbers undertook was the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist Lewis Fielding. The Plumbers were looking for any and all information that the Nixon White House could use to smear and destroy the reputation of Ellsberg. The Plumbers broke into that file cabinet above which is featured at the start of this post and rests in the Smithsonian of American History. The Plumbers actually were quite inept and later claimed that they could not find Ellsberg’s file. The following morning Lewis Fiedling found Ellsberg’s file on the ground and noticed that it had been gone through but they didn’t know what they were looking at. The Plumbers allegedly did other illegal activities and also looked into Ted Kennedy’s accident at Chappaquiddick and the Kenendy’s administration involvement in the assassination of South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. The goal of the organization was to dig up dirt, silence the opposition and abuse its authority. History does not look kindly on the Plumbers today and its activity was what helped topple the presidency of Richard Nixon. But why am I writing about the Plumbers here? I give you this background to help you understand what was put into play by Fellowship Memphis.
Evangelical Church Scandals and Watergate
I go back to this era of United States history because I find no other time period which bears as much resemblance like the Watergate era. The Watergate scandal and the abuse of power that ensued eerily reminds this trained historian of the current power scandals in the modern evangelical church. For example in the latest child sex abuse scandal that came from the former flagship church of Sovereign Grace Ministries it begged the question what did C.J. Mahaney know? You can read about that in “Howard Baker’s Infamous Question During Watergate as Applied at Larry Caffery and Covenant Life Church: What did C.J. Mahaney Know…and When did he Know it?” Then in another post I also wrote about C.J. Mahaney and Watergate and reminded the evangelical Christian church what can be learned from what Deep Throat told Bob Woodward in the movie All The Presidents Men. The key to understanding why people like Mark Dever, Al Mohler, D.A. Carson and more support C.J. Mahaney rests with the large amounts of money Mahaney has given. Significant funding is on the record and as a result in other cases it is well within reason to ask if he has given money to others since his behavior has been proven. You can read about that in this post called “When it Comes to C. J. Mahaney; What the Evangelical Christian Church can Learn from Deep Throat and Watergate.”
In the case of Fellowship Memphis you also have the abuse of authority by John Bryson. Bryan Loritts is gone from that church but he also bears a lot of responsibility as well. In the case of Fellowship Memphis the hiring of a PR firm to supposedly “investigate” the situation creates a number of questions that deserve asking. I find it disturbing that in the evangelical Christian church we are seeing scandals that mirror abuses of power in the secular world. Is that because the church has adopted too many techniques of the world then of the faith? Does the church have misplaced faith in the end? These are all questions that I believe should be asked today.
Why is a Church Hiring a PR Firm? Is the Bible not Good Enough for John Bryson? Plus Is Caissa John Bryson’s Version of the Plumbers?
Fellowship Memphis recently hired a PR firm called Caissa Public Strategy. Caissa is the patron goddess of chess players. She was created in 1763 by English poet and philologist Sir William Jones. In the poem Caissa repels Mars who is the god of war. In return Mars seeks the aid of the god of sport, who then creates chess as a gift for Mars to win Caissa’s favor. Caissa Public Strategy also has a write up of their name which you can read right here. Caissa is led by Brian J. Stephens and I am hearing from my sources that the investigator is Jessica Muntz. Jessica is a graduate of Mississippi State University, and you can see her background in LinkedIn right here. While Caissa is referred to as a public relations firm in this Christian Post article it says that Fellowship Memphis hired a PI firm. The reality is that it can be both. In this interview you can hear Brian J Stephens talk about how Caissa works. They help clients win and do what it takes to win and allegedly teach organizations and companies that crisis can also be an opportunity. In the interview he speaks about how clients usually contact him in a crisis and plus he also addresses the “fight or flight” way of doing things. Caissa has offices both in Memphis and Washington, D.C.
I find it rich with irony that a “Gospel Centered” church which is all about the Gospel first turns not to what scripture teaches but instead to a PR firm. I must have missed that teaching in my knowledge of the New Testament. After all in 1 John 1:9 it says, “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” You also have other scripture such as James 5:16 which says the following. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” I could go on but the point of the matter is that we are called to confess and deal with our mistakes. For a church to go and hire a PR firm signals a couple of things for me. First is that this place is very cult like or cultish. Second is that its very much and indicator that it still is committed to maintaining the alleged cover up. I wonder if the reason why Caissa is hired is because of their knowledge of the news media and if that is a response to the articles about Fellowship Memphis in the Commercial Appeal. Instead of reaching out to a PR firm can I suggest that John Bryson read about how Vienna Presbyterian Church in the Washington, D.C. area handled an abuse situation which was published in the Washington Post?
Now here is the other question I have. I know of one person in Memphis who is deeply afraid and scared. She is one of the alleged victims. I find it profoundly sick and disturbing that an organization would do something to rattle and quiet the alleged victims who are already in deep pain and trauma. That is part of the reason why I am asking if Caissa is going to be John Bryson’s or JB’s version of the “Plumbers.” Please understand as I mean no disrespect to Jessica Muntz at what I am about to say next. But I honestly wonder if she realizes what she is doing? Jessica if I estimate correctly is in the 24-26 age time frame. She is the same age as the average member of Fellowship Memphis which is 25 incidentally. Does Jessica understand the trauma that some of these females have gone through? Does she understand that there are women who are terrified to use the restroom because of what Rick Trotter allegedly has done. How would Jessica feel if she is a mother and she had a teenager who was allegedly caught on video in some of her most private moments? I am not trying to be disrespectful to her at all, these are questions that I am trying to raise.
Also here is another key take away when I studied the Cassie website. It says “rouge” bloggers…now how is “rogue” defined? After all consider this column by David Waters in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Is David being “rogue?” Definitions are everything and I would like to know what is a “rogue” blogger. Authoritarian religious organizations have a long history of calling online blogs and forum boards as “gossip”,”slander” or to discourage people from reading them. This is something that should honestly be asked. For example…is rogue anyone who doesn’t concur or agree 100% with JB. Its troubling that a church would go this route but this raises additional concerns about the health of Fellowship Memphis. The other question I have is the following, has Richard Rieves Downtown Church put forward money to support Caissa? I captured the joint statement made by both churches and noticed that Downtown took down their joint statement from their website.
Advice for those in Memphis Affected by the Situation
If you live in the Memphis area and you are contacted by Caissa this is my advice to you. First of all remember that this firm is not neutral. They are not there to get the truth out. They have been compromised in this one way. Money has exchanged hands and this firm is dedicated to defending the client, which in this case is John Bryson and Fellowship Memphis. It should be stated that you have your rights and you do not have to cooperate with them if you are approached. Their goal in the end is to plug leaks and to do damage control for Fellowship Memphis. When it comes to allegations of criminal activity there is one organization you should go to first and that is the Memphis Police. Its my understanding that the Memphis Police are investigating the situation with Rick Trotter. They have three years of recordings to go through and they have a lot of victims to identify. But remember if you are approached you are free to walk away and not cooperate. You have done nothing wrong, this behavior is more indicative of what you would see in the dark underworld of the mafia. But with Acts 29 you are dealing with a spiritual version of Amway. So one has to expect these kinds of tactics from these kinds of organizations. One needs to keep this in that frame of mind. I also would suggest that you not get angry at Jessica Muntz as she is just doing her job. Be polite, cordial and treat her with respect but remember you do not have to talk with her and anyone from Caissa. If you have knowledge of an alleged crime I again would implore you to go to the Memphis Police. They exist for that purpose and are trained to handle these kinds of issues. If any of you guys have any experiences with Caissa you are free to post them here on this blog. As you can see I don’t censor people and let everyone post. As always I want to say that I love you guys and remember the people who were victimized. Reflect on the teenagers, the single mothers, the PTA mother and more who allegedly had her privacy violated by Rick Trotter. They are who the Christian community should rally around and support them. When I got that first email on August 14, I was sick by what I read. I have learned things that I didn’t know existed. Keep those individuals front and center and support them. That is my plea to you and the city, pastors, and community of Memphis. Don’t turn your back on these people who were wronged and victimized. Don’t victimize them a second time. Instead support them, and let’s get the truth out into the open about the allegations involving John Bryson and Bryan Loritts. Again guys remember you are loved!