Warren Throckmorton is kicked off Patheos, which is having a lot of issues and is choosing to embrace censorship. This looks at the situation and asks the following question. Was Throckmorton kicked off because of what he wrote about Gospel for Asia and Mark Driscoll? Or is it due to his criticism of the culture wars and the ties Patheos has to organizations like American Center for Law and Justice?
“One of the strange things about violent and authoritarian regimes is they don’t like the glare of negative publicity.”
“I would like everything to be closed, put to prison, make order once, twice, three, and introduce the best rule of Jarosław Kaczyński, then I would be calm, that it is good.”
Joanna Lichocka of the Polish Law and Justice Party on closing critical press on the Polish government and putting journalists in prison.
“Let me clarify this very definitely. This is not an authoritarian organization.”
L. Ron Hubbard would make a great spokesman for Patheos!
But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!
Psalm 103:17-18 NLT
D-Day June 6, 1944 Normandy, France. Let us not remember that freedom is not free. It comes with blood being shed.
FDR gives his Four Freedoms speech in January 6, 1941.
We live in an era where authoritarianism is growing and freedom of speech is being threatened. Last week there were several examples that I noticed which grabbed my attention. Here in Washington, D.C. an Associated Press reporter was physically barred from covering an event at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Security physically shoved the person outside and said they could not cover the event. Then on Twitter Anne Applebaum wrote about the newest developments in Poland. Anne Applebaum is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who writes about Central and Eastern Europe and communism. In Poland the deputy of the Law and Justice Party, Joanna Lichocka had indicted that they want to shut down all foreign and domestic newspaper critical of the Polish government. The only media that the Law and Justice Party wants is that which is in step with Jarosław Kaczyński who leads the party. Journalists would be put in prison. This is what they would like to do as they continue to dismantle democracy in Poland. And this comes after the largest and last free newspaper, the Magyar Nemzet, was forced to close in April by the Hungarian government. In Europe the populists are really the new communists. And then there was what happened to Warren Throckmorton over at Patheos. Warrren suddenly had his blog shut down and was abruptly kicked off with no explanation. Patheos would do well in Poland or Hungary these days….
Much of the above was on my mind when I spent time with my Dad in the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was there that I was reminded that freedom is not free and comes with a cost. I learned about Edgar Mowrer who covered the rise of Adolf Hitler for the Chicago Daily News. The German government told Mowrer that they could not guarantee his safety, and he agreed to leave the county. In Berlin when he was boarding the train a Nazi official asked him if he is coming back. And he said he would with about two million of his countrymen. Then I also refreshed myself in the Four Freedoms speech that Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave in the State of the Union in January of 1941. Roosevelt who was trying to move the country away from isolationism stated that there should be four basic freedoms. Freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship God as a person desires, freedom from want and freedom from fear. We need to embrace those Four Freedoms today especially in the dark times of today.
My Personal Thoughts on Warren Throckmorton
I have a deep amount of respect for Warren Throckmorton. In the past I have written an open letter to him to express my gratitude for his hard work. You can read that in, “An Open Letter to Warren Throckmorton.” Warren is deeply appreciated for the following reasons. He brings intellectualism to the table and uses it at his blog. His quest for truth and information and asking difficult questions of those in positions of authority is healthy. Next, Warren looks at a wide range of topics from Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll to David Barton to evangelicals and Donald Trump. His blog is proof that you can write about evangelicalism, homosexuality, politics and culture. There are some that say you can’t discuss evangelicals and politics. Warren proves that they are incorrect. Watching Throckmorton write and take on these issues has been neat to witness from a distance. The reality is that we need more people like him on the internet. If you were to ask me which blogger or writer has influenced me the most, I would have to say its Warren Throckmorton. His agenda is in the open, he’s tenacious, and he’s intellectual. In an era where there is a lot of fear driving the culture wars it was refreshing to see Warren Throckmorton write about the issue of homosexuality in Uganda when evangelical Christians exported the culture wars there. At stake was the proposal within the government of Uganda to place gays under the death penalty. Warren going after the issue also earned the respect and recognition of the LGBTQ Box Turtle Bulletin. So in addition to all that I wrote his courage to do the right thing when many evangelicals cannot is also to be commended.
What Happened at Patheos
On May 21, 2018 Patheos abruptly and without warning closed Warren Throckmorton’s blog. He was suddenly kicked off Patheos leaving the well known professor confused and baffled for what had happened. Patheos stated in an email to Warren that he no longer fit their “strategic objectives.” That information came from Patheos Jeremy McGee. Warren was able to save all his posts due to the hard work of J.D. Smith. When this happened many people responded with confusion, concern or were deeply troubled. That list includes a number of people from Hemant Mehta to John Fea. Warren Throckmorton published another blog at the website which you can find here. You can read Warren’s original post about the situation in, “The Blog at Patheos is “410 Gone”.That was followed by Warren’s second post called, “Dear Patheos: Which Topic Was the Last Straw?” As Warren tried to figure out what happened Patheos’ Director of Content Phil Fox Rose to state to some bloggers that Warren knew what the expectations are several months ago. That was not true and Phil was being disingenuous. Warren writes about that in, “Dear Patheos: What Expectations Did You Have?” Then other Patheos bloggers started to speak out about the situation. You can read that post in, “On Being Booted Off Patheos: Patheos Bloggers Speak Out.” Here is what other bloggers have said about this situation.
- John Fea’s “Warren Throckmorton is Out at Patheos.”
- John Fea’s “Warren Throckmorton Says More About His Ousting at Patheos.”
- John Fea’s “It is Still Not Clear Why Patheos Dropped Warren Throckmorton.“
- Fred Clark, “If it’s good enough for Andre Braugher, it’s good enough for me.”
- Morgan Guytan, “Why Did Patheos Evangelical Push Out A Whistleblower Blog?“
Atheists Support Warren: The Friendly Atheist and Captain Cassidy Respond
This is a really troubling development, and I hope Patheos sheds more light on it soon. Your reporting has always been excellent and I’m sad to lose you as a colleague.
Captain Cassidy who writes “Roll to Disbelieve” also chimed in and commented about the situation.
Is this Due to Warren Writing About Mark Driscoll and Gospel for Asia?
Warren Throckmorton wrote extensively about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. He broke a lot of ground when it came to Driscoll and plagiarism. He also documented the work about non-disclosure agreements and revealed the effect it had on former staff. He wrote articles for The Daily Beast and other publications about Mark Driscoll. It was at Warren’s blog that he broke the story of spiritual abuse and financial problems inside K.P Yohannan’s Gospel for Asia. Among former Gospel for Asia employees Warren’s blog meant quite a bit as it helped draw attention to the situation. From the United States over to the government of India and Indian press Warren broke new ground in writing about this corrupt organization.
Because of Warren’s work its natural to deduce that he was kicked off of Patheos especially as Mark Driscoll and K.P Yohannon are blogging there. However, we have to ask how much power does Mark Driscoll have today? The Trinity Church is not Mars Hill. Driscoll is not promoted by The Gospel Coalition or the likes of John Piper as he once was. Mark Driscoll in many ways is a shell of what he used to be. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of him being in ministry is sickening. So while its natural to conclude that Warren was kicked due to Mark Driscoll I can understand the thinking but I think Driscoll lacks the power to influence Patheos in such a way. Of the two I think Gospel for Asia has more power and influence. Gospel for Asia is a beast after all I still see their ads on social media and know people who think highly of the organization. If any organization had the finances and means to do it I would state that it would be Gospel for Asia. That said, would Gospel for Asia go through all that effort? You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Would they be that dedicated to silencing Warren or attempting to? This is plausible but I think when you look at it Warren was silenced for bigger and broader reasons. But in order to lay out my case let me give you some background as to what happened with Patheos and the powers that be as well as new management.
Or is this Due to New Management at Patheos and its Links to the American Center for Law and Justice?
Patheos was founded in 2008 by Leo and Cathie Brunnick. From what I have learned the site was originally designed as a peer review. It launched in May of 2009. The main sections at Patheos are as follows:
- General Christian
- New Visions
- Nonreligious (includes atheist)
- Progressive Christianity
Things changed in September of 2016. BN Media LLC acquired Beliefnet in 2010 from Fox. BN Media LLC was also behind Affinity4 and Cross Bridge. Affinity4 is an American for-profit company that raises funds for nonprofit organizations through its marketing program. Affinity4 is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia and has a relationship with such evangelical organizations as Feed the Children, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, NRA, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, American Family Association, and the American Center for Law and Justice. In 2016 there was strong concerns by a few Pagan bloggers about what that change will mean. Will there be censorship by Patheos? Many were cautiously optimistic. Meanwhile Patheos claimed that they would remain independent and that the only changes would be in technology.
On January 30, 2017 the situation at Patheos became more complicated and there existed deep concerns. A new contract suddenly showed up in people’s email boxes. The new contract wasn’t a renewal instead it was a change to the prior contract. The new contract gave writers only 48 hours notice leaving many not to consult with lawyers. The contract allowed Patheos to be able to edit or delete any content at will and prohibit profanity. And as a part of the contract any writer at Patheos could not criticize companies that were related to Patheos. That includes organizations like Focus on the Family, American Family Association of the American Center for Law and Justice. Donald Trump’s attorney who you see on Fox often because of the Russia investigation is Jay Seuklow. Jay sits on the board of Affinity4 and allegedly has influence in the organization. In 2017 John Halstead who writes under the Pagen channel of Patheis wrote a critical post about the situation. The post is called, “Read This Before Patheos Deletes it.” The post John wrote picked apart the contract, and raised issues with it. The national presidential election recently happened and when John wrote about who Patheos had a relationship with, evangelical organizations deeply engaged with the culture war, and that he was not going to sign the contract. In one hour Patheos locked John out of his account. He couldn’t get access to over 1,000 posts that he wrote on Patheos. Meanwhile another Pagen writer Pat Mosely wrote the following post on his own blog outside of Patheos. Pat’s post is called, “What the Fuck Just Happened at Patheos.” For writing that post Pat was permanently kicked off Patheos. As a result a number of Pagan bloggers fled Patheos because of how it was behaving. What influenced and bothered a number of Pagen writers as Patheos is the relationship the organization had with fringe evangelical organizations deeply involved in the culture wars.
I would never want to write a blog at Patheos. You lose the freedom to say what you want. Plus according to the new contract I would not be able to write posts like the following down below.
- “An Overview of Focus on the Family and Questions The Wondering Eagle Would Like to Answer in Time” is an overview of Focus on the Family. In the process I look at issues and raise a number of questions. One of them is in asking if Focus on the Family is receiving money from the Russian government or any fronts for Russian intelligence. A number of evangelical Christian ministries have gotten in bed with Russia, just look at Franklin Graham.
- “Franklin Graham’s Affection for Vladimir Putin, Plus is Franklin Graham a Modern Day Charles Lindbergh with His Love for Authoritarian Leaders?” This post looks at the ties Franklin Graham has with Russia and asking if his ministries have been penetrated by the Russian government. If so, then I would propose that would be a FBI counter-intelligence issue especially if Russia is trying to sway opinion over in the United States.
- “Robert Jeffress Believes that God has Given Donald Trump Authority to Wage War on the Korean Peninsula.” In this I criticize Robert Jeffries and his relationship with Donald Trump. Especially when Jeffries claimed that God gave Donald Trump the authority to assassinate Kim Kong Un in North Korea.
- “When Evangelical Christians Export their Culture Wars Abroad: Kim Davis and Liberty Counsel Fighting Gay Marriage in Romania.” While Liberty Council has no ties to Affinity4 American Center for Law and Justice does as I wrote above. That evangelical organization is dangerous as they defended efforts to criminalize homosexuality in Uganda. At one point they were talking about executing gays which is beyond disturbing. So that post about evangelicals exporting the culture wars to Romania deals with a similar topic.
- “Did Tony Perkins from The Family Research Council Cover Up an Alleged Sexual Assault? Is that What Evangelical Family Values is About?” Tony Perkins Family Research Council was founded originally by James Dobson. It engages in the culture wars. In that post I ask if Tony Perkins covered up a sexual crime.
I wrote about those issues because they need to be addressed. Had I been at Patheos a number of those posts would have gotten me in trouble. But the ties between Patheos and ultimately the American Center for Law and Justice is a major issue. That is what I think happened. And that issue I believe trumps (pun intended) Mark Driscoll and Gospel for Asia,
Why the Evangelical Christian Culture Wars Must be Written about and Analyzed
As I stated above while I can understand how some people can attribute the recent chain of events at Patheos to Mark Driscoll or Gospel for Asia, I think the issue is deeper. I am not a conspiracy theorist and honestly I can’t stand conspiracy theories. Warren made himself a target based upon what he writes about. The changing of the contract remains an issue for a lot of Patheos writers. The fact of the matter is that I believe Warren stepped on toes on issues near and dear to evangelical Christian culture warriors. And this is why his blog was closed. The Chrstian Nationalist camp is very authorterian. Plus Warren approaches the culture wars very differently and in conflict with many evangelicals. For example Warren looks at gays differently and has rejected reparation therapy. That takes a lot of courage and humility to make such a change. Many evangelicals feel threatened by gays. Just look at how they react to same sex marriage. How many evangelical Christians even know the difference between spiritual and secular marriage? Why are they threatened if two gay atheists get married in Denver, Washington, D.C. or Chicago? Not only that but think of the behavior that took place when American Center for Law and Justice chose to get involved in Uganda politics. If the link to American Center for Law and Justice is true, then I believe this could be it. Was Donald Trump’s Attorney Jay Seuklow involved? Its highly unlikely. However this side of Christianity is more about Christian nationalism than faith. They are authoritarian and all about the culture wars. They believe that faith means an “us” vs. “them” mentality. How does this crowd define “religious freedom?” Well “religious freedom” is about advancing American evangelical Christian causes. They don’t believe that a Muslim or a Buddhist has a right to worship. They don’t believe that atheists and secular humanists deserve rights. Nope, “religious freedom” for this crowd is about “Christian nationalism” and expansion. Evangelicals in this crowd have their imaginary persecution, while they go after others. Instead of praying quietly at your desk in a way that God will hear you they believe that you should be open, loud and coerce others against their will. And like many evangelical Christians this crowd is ignorant of their Bible and hardly knows it. If they did know scripture I don’t think they could be in this crowd. Had this crowd not be so dangerous I would view them as a joke.
I think this is a major problem in other Christian discernment blogs. They seem to think the only issue is Neo-Calvinism. Far from it, this issue emerged in the 2016 time-frame and its a major issue today in the evangelical Christian camp outside Neo-Calvinism. This side of the Christian evangelical faith has married politics and faith. Faith isn’t about Jesus Christ in this camp. Its about obtaining a Supreme Court seat or holding onto the Congress for political reasons. Christian nationalism is what this camp is about. Quite simply they are frauds and they pose a threat to many segments of society. They threaten our way of life, the Christian church, the Gospel, atheists, secular humanists, our government and more. This tribe needs to be dismantled and shown the door. Christian blogs who say they are writing about Christian issues but who miss the culture wars, Liberty Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice, Focus on the Family and more have failed as blogs. That is what this boils down to. The Wondering Eagle finds Warren Throckmorton refreshing and hopes he will continue to write about the issues that he has seized in the past. Its quite clear that Patheos does not know about the Barbara Streisand effect. Well in time they will. My advice for Patheos is to watch the Four Freedoms speech by FDR. They could learn about history and the freedoms that humanity is entitled to. That’s it for the day guys know that I love you.