Generally studying the faith information is like studying the police blotter.
• “New York Shuts Down Embattled Olivet University Campus,” Christianity In the present day studies.
That is the sort of story you want a bulletin board, thumb tacks, and plenty of pink string to observe. It includes allegations of cash laundering — a criminal offense that includes difficult-to-follow labyrinthine layers intentionally designed to confuse anybody exterior of the scheme. And it includes a convoluted establishment — a one-time Bible school now expanded right into a multi-campus “college” that additionally features a real-estate growth firm and a handful of different companies.
Then there’s the identify: “Olivet.” That’s additionally the identify of two wholly unrelated faculties, neither of which has lately paid a $125 million nice after pleading responsible to fraud fees. Olivet can also be the identify of a church — a completely associated and entangled entity led by a person named David Jang who has, amongst different issues, proclaimed himself to be the messiah. (Once more, to be clear, neither Olivet Faculty in Michigan nor Olivet Nazarene in Illinois has, in any method, ever prompt that David Jang is the messiah. And, not like Grove Metropolis Faculty, neither of these faculties has ever prompt that Tucker Carlson is the messiah both.)
Each Olivet the idiosyncratic church and Olivet the Bible-college-turned-“college” are additionally twisted up with a number of individuals now or lately concerned with Zombie Newsweek, the platform desecrating the corpse of the now defunct and once-respectable newsweekly. Zombie Newsweek often nonetheless does precise journalism, however it’s offered together with a hodge-podge of one thing very a lot Not That, together with a number of outrageous click-bait nonsense, propaganda, and stuff that’s most likely Olivet-influenced in a method that doesn’t simply map onto a left-right political spectrum. It has spastic flashes of credibility, however now usually sits nearer to the Epoch Instances finish than to the Christian Science Monitor finish of the credibility-spectrum of publications produced by minority non secular teams.
So I’m unsure what to make of this report from ZN’s Naveed Jamali, “New York Shuts Down Olivet University Amid Federal Money-Laundering Probe.” Jamali’s reporting appears largely to parallel the details specified by that CT article, and he works laborious to be candid and clear concerning the hyperlinks between Olivet church/college and his bosses at ZN. I’m unsure he succeeds in clarifying that as a result of, once more, this appears to be a narrative that defies clarification. However Belz and Jamali and federal prosecutors all appear to agree on one factor: It seems to be shady as all get out.
• I wrote the bit above earlier than studying this RNS report: “Newsweek sues former owners, controversial pastor David Jang, seeking millions.” Now I’m gonna want a greater bulletin board and much more thumb tacks and thread:
IBT purchased Newsweek in 2013, after a failed reboot led the corporate to finish print publication. The sale was controversial on the time attributable to IBT’s ties to Jang, who based Olivet College, a small Christian faculty in San Francisco, throughout the early 2000s. A local of Korea, Jang as soon as labored for a seminary run by the Unification Church, in response to Christianity In the present day. He and his followers additionally based the Christian Put up, amongst different media properties.
The grievance that alleges IBT, owned by Etienne Uzac and Johnathan Davis, is a part of a community of organizations and companies related to a non secular group, generally known as “the Neighborhood,” that’s overseen by Jang.
These varied companies all have shut relationships. Tracy Davis, a dean and former president of Olivet College, is married to Johnathan Davis, CEO of IBT Media, and a co-owner of Newsweek. William Anderson, the previous writer of The Christian Put up, served on the board of Olivet.
Then the novel priest come to get us launched
And we’re all out right here overlaying Newsweek …
(So far as I do know, none of these entities is linked to whoever it’s who now owns Patheos.)
• Right here’s one other piece from Christianity In the present day: “Lawsuit Alleges Billionaire’s Christian Foundation Engaged in Self-Dealing.” And now I’m considering Tim Dalrymple may need to rent a full-time white-collar crime reporter simply to let poor Emily Belz get again to the sort of faith reporting that doesn’t require a spreadsheet and a group of forensic accountants.
Joe Shazar at Dealbreaker is extra accustomed to working the monetary shenanigans beat, and right here’s his piece on the (alleged) crimes of this gazillionaire speculator: “At Least Bill Hwang Saved Some Souls.” Subhed: “As a result of that’s about all his former staff have left in absence of their deferred comp.”
The brand new go well with towards Hwang contains accusations of self-dealing by his supposedly separate charitable basis “Grace and Mercy,” which the billionaire allegedly used as a wet day fund to guard private property he was in any other case vulnerable to shedding by high-stakes hypothesis and/or lawsuits and felony prosecution. That basis gave away about 5% of its property as precise charity — largely to white evangelical ministries. That, and Hwang’s private evangelical religion, are the rationale this story is newsworthy for CT.
It’s additionally why this story factors to different tales, and even to One Actually Large Story, that Christianity In the present day must cowl someplace down the road. “Grace and Mercy” was a Large Donor for the Christian ministries on the receiving finish of its trickle-down charity, however that appears to have been a figleaf for what it was (allegedly) doing with most of its cash and energy, which was used (allegedly) in service of some somewhat anti-charitable functions. Would possibly the identical factor be true of different Large Donors on whom the establishments of white evangelicalism have come to rely? (Pretend sneeze: DeVos.) Would possibly or not it’s true of most of them? Or possibly even of all of them?
• Corey McNellis can also be headed to court docket, however he’s not accused of any monetary crime. No, this white evangelical former assistant principal goes to court docket as a result of he’s a clueless asshole: “Fired after opposing ‘Laramie Project,’ school staffer sues.”
A former assistant principal at a Colorado highschool has sued the district, claiming he was fired as a result of he voiced his “Christian perception” in opposing the staging of “The Laramie Challenge.”
Corey McNellis misplaced his job at Ponderosa Excessive College in Parker after he despatched emails in October 2020 concerning the deliberate manufacturing of the play, which offers with the 1998 homicide of Matthew Shepard, a homosexual man who was overwhelmed and tortured in Laramie, Wyo.
In a federal lawsuit filed Friday, McNellis, who was additionally athletic director on the faculty, claims Douglas County College District fired him due to his “Christian perception and since he expressed his views, that are protected by the First Modification.”
McNellis spoke towards the manufacturing as a result of he was fearful about “how the Christian faith comes throughout within the play,” stated his legal professional Spencer Kontnik.
“The Laramie Challenge” was created by a group of writers and actors who traveled to Wyoming to interview native residents concerning the homicide. The play is an “examination of the rapid reactions of Matt Shepard’s group to the homicide and to the underlying bigotry and hatred that enabled it,” in response to the Tectonic Theater Challenge.
Probably the most defensible rationalization right here can be that McNellis has by no means seen or learn the play. That will clarify his otherwise-absurd competition that it may probably be seen as presenting a single, uniform portrayal of “the Christian faith.”
Think about, for instance, the scene through which the despicable Christian minister Fred Phelps and the handful of his family who make up his “Westboro Baptist Church” present as much as heckle exterior of Matthew Shepard’s funeral. That funeral was held in a Christian church and was presided over by a Christian minister. It was attended by tons of of individuals, most of whom have been additionally Christians. So what then, does that scene present us about “the Christian faith”?
McNellis’ sputtered objections may imply that he’s upset that Phelps and his crew have been included in any respect — despite the fact that that is verbatim theater, and the hatemongering Christians must be in that scene as a result of they have been actually there. But when we observe his logic — this play makes “the Christian faith” look unhealthy as a result of it makes Fred Phelps look unhealthy — then we notice that Phelps is the one McNellis most intently identifies with right here. And that might imply that his protestations concerning the play supposedly impugning “the Christian faith” are primarily based on his objection to the myriad Christians the play presents who’re not hatemongering, litigious assholes.
McNellis is suing the college district, claiming he was fired as a result of non secular persecution of white Christians. (Maybe he was, in truth, the solely white Christian working for that faculty district and that no different white Christians may be discovered employed there. However I somewhat doubt that’s the case.) This appears doubtful as a result of, as Robyn Pennacchia writes at Wonkette: “It appears extremely unlikely that he was fired merely for expressing his Christian beliefs, on condition that so far as anybody is aware of, it isn’t really towards the Christian faith for Christians to be instantly quoted in a play, or wherever else.”
However on condition that we now have an Something Goes Supreme Court docket majority who now declare that the Institution Clause violates the Free Train Clause for white Christians, McNellis’ doubtful argument may win the day. The college district won’t simply be compelled to rehire him however to place him in command of future theater productions in order that, subsequent 12 months, Ponderosa Excessive’s fall manufacturing will probably be a Halloween Hell Home.
This play at all times makes me cry, not simply due to the horrible unhappiness of the tragedy at its heart, however due to the gorgeous phrases and exquisite ideas it accommodates, and the belief that these aren’t the rigorously scripted work of artists and playwrights, however merely the unrehearsed, off-the-cuff expressions of on a regular basis individuals caught on tape.”There are extra issues to admire in us than to despise.”
• The title for this put up comes from Rhymin’ Simon:
This video has some bizarre moments (John Madden?), and I can’t determine why the switch-hitting Mickey Mantle opts to go lefty-on-lefty towards Simon, however the stuff right here with the children on the playground is simply terrific.
Paul Simon has at all times been stubbornly obtuse about what “the Mama noticed” that was “towards the regulation.” Nevertheless it was towards the regulation when he wrote that tune again in 1971. And the unelected, unaccountable judicial coup of the Robber’s Court docket is decided to make it towards the regulation once more.
Oh, and likewise too, since we talked about him above, please take a second to do not forget that Fred Phelps is now completely and fully lifeless. Like, actually actually lifeless. As lifeless as Haman. We have a duty to celebrate that.