Providing Evidence
John Dorhauer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Mar 13, 2007 at 10:39:21 AM EST
I really hate doing this, because it always lends credibility to those who don't deserve it.

And I want to be clear that, though this will come across as defending my honor, reputation, and good name - it is anything but: it is going to take folk much more credible than those at UCCtruths to sully any of them. I choose to do this because it demonstrates what we often present on this site: evidence of misleading information, documentation of perceptions that appear credible but are not, and examples of the kinds of attacks leveled against those who name the abuses taking place in our churches today.

This will be Part 1 of a series. There is simply too much to address in this short article.

After presenting our research to the Conference Ministers at their gathering in Orlando, FL in December, one of those Conference Ministers asked if I would come and do a presentation for the clergy in his Conference. I agreed.

Information about the event was sent to every pastor in the Conference. The event would be scheduled for March 8 (it took place last Thursday).

Before the event even took place, those who choose not to be called conspirators orchestrated what they do not like to have called an attack on both the event itself, and me personally. This orchestrated - I will call it an `effort' since the word `attack' offends their sensibilities - effort included an advance warning on; a letter from the Executive Director of the Biblical Witness fellowship to every church in the Conference without notice to the pastor asking them to protest the event,  (I will  say more about this letter next week, a letter in which the Director says I accuse him and others of `outside influence' - an accusation which he denies: don't you love the irony of that - the letter itself is evidence against his own assertion); and a scribe who would be at the event to take notes and to report on my presentation for both the Biblical Witness Fellowship and (you can read that report, and his insights about it on their website - and I will take some time next week to address my own concerns about that).

For now, I want to focus simply on the article posted prior to my presentation.

It records that:

Dorhauer doesn't like to be asked for facts or questioned at all about his conspiracy. His web site limits comments to only those that are supportive while people who ask questions are called "trolls" and asked to leave or are kicked off. For his upcoming seminar, he has limited those who can attend because it "is purposely designed for pastors and these authorized ministers only".

If any person were to read that, they would surely draw the desired conclusion that I am not to be trusted, that my information is fabricated and will not stand scrutiny, and that I in fact am the one conspiring covertly with others.


Let's do this one point at a time.

1.    I don't like to be asked for facts of questioned at all -

I have done this workshop, presentation, seminar many, many times. Never have I done it without saying up front "Stop me with any questions you might have." Never have I done it without leaving a significant block of time open for the taking of questions. That is essential. I know that the material and research I present leaves open a lot of questions that must be addressed if my credibility is to be intact. I even say at the outset that all I have is circumstantial evidence, around which I have built a theory. Every presentation of the material is an effort to test the theory and present the facts in evidence. I often leave a presentation having made the case to many; having come up short with others who want more information; and having offended some who find what I do unacceptable and detrimental to the life of the church. For this reason, I continue to do thorough and effective research testing my theory of the facts in evidence. But it cannot be said of me that I am unwilling to be asked for facts and questioned.

To illustrate this point, one of the men who had come representing one of the renewal groups in the UCC - and who therefore had an agenda that did not allow him to hear my presentation with anything but disdain - took issue with the case I had made about abusers and bullies in the church who shut down dialogue by their tactics of intimidation. He said he had never met anyone like that and challenged me on the point. I told a horrific story of being screamed at, cursed, and threatened with bodily harm while in the sanctuary of a church to which I had been invited by the leaders to answer questions about the UCC's position on marriage equality.

He also said he knew of no case where a `trained activist' had entered a church. I gave a very specific example of that. Neither of the examples I used as facts to illustrate my point were in any way isolated incidences. They, and many others stories similar to this, are illustrated in a book I have co-authored with my colleague here on staff of the Missouri Mid-South Conference (Steeplejacking , on sale at for 1/3 off cover - though not in print until June).

2. His web site limits comments to only those that are supportive while people who ask questions are called "trolls" and asked to leave or are kicked off

First, tain't my website. I don't make the rules, but I damn sure follow them. The website was intentionally not designed to be a no hold's barred interactive forum, but simply a place where those who were doing research could share the information. We needed to create for ourselves space in which our research could be documented without being taken over by those who would waste our time devolving into meaningless issues and attacks. Anyone is welcome to come in, and anyone is permitted to ask any questions they want. Some of most challenging questions come from my colleagues on the site who demand more evidence, more rigorous documentation of the facts, and who point out that the logic broke down somewhere. It has been an invaluable site. Even James Hutchins, who authors is welcome and can ask questions and challenge statements made - as long as he abides by the rules. Read any article on the site and you will discover that there is no prohibition to questions that challenge claims and assumptions made by the author. Trolls are those who come in with hidden agendas and use the site to argue their own political or theological point of view at the expense of the research being done.

3.    For his upcoming seminar, he has limited those who can attend because it "is purposely designed for pastors and these authorized ministers only".

Twern't I. I did the seminar, but didn't establish the ground rules. I didn't limit anything. The purposeful design created by the leaders of the Conference was indeed for pastors and authorized ministers only. There is nothing nefarious about this - it happens every day across this - and, I would daresay - any denomination. There are a number of good reasons for this, but the best is that clergy need places wherein they can speak with openness and candor to each other about dynamics in their churches without lay folk present. There are simply things that pastors cannot openly discuss with members of their church present. Clergy have these training sessions all the time. Many of them meet in clergy support groups weekly for just the very same reason. It is anticipated that I will return for a training event for lay and clergy sometime in the fall.

Again, this is not meant as an essay to defend my actions, but to demonstrate that those who are writing to discredit our work are not entirely honest. I don't like doing this sort of thing, because it often reduces itself to some sort of he said, she said thing that makes us all look petty. And to a certain extent we are.

But for those asking for evidence, including the one whose article I am referencing in this essay, this is what we look for. I guess I should at least thank him for providing it.

for a classy response to the league of the sneering and disingenuous.

You are quite right to note that you are neither responsible or to blame for the operation of this site.  The buck stops with Bruce Wilson and me.  And I want to offer a clarification in that regard:  People are welcome to participate if they agree with the purposes of the site and abide by the rules. There is a little check off box when one registers for the site that makes very clear that this is a condidtion of participation and that the prospective participant understands and agrees to this. From everything I have seen, James Hutchins does not agree with the purposes of this site, and so he can use his own forum as he has always done.

I might add, that while there may be things he has written prior to my becoming aware of ucctruths that would prove me wrong, from his most recent posts, he appears to be an enthusiasitc and unquestioning cheerleader for the IRD.

This site is a place for those who share a range of concerns about the religious right and seek to do something about it. That is a perfectly legitimate line to draw, and we will restrict posting to those who share our concerns and are able to stay on topic. Some sites are open forums where anything and everything is discussed. Other sites have narrower purposes. This is one of them.  

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Mar 13, 2007 at 11:54:25 AM EST

A lot of what I read on that site feels like posturing. James Hutchins knows the rules we live by here, and the reasons why it was set up that way. But he feels like he can get some mileage out of playing the persecuted victim or our conspiratorial attempts to silence him.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Tue Mar 13, 2007 at 11:30:35 PM EST
He has proved his character many times over. He makes baseless accusations and engages in shrill rhetoric and juvenile baiting tactics of all sorts.

He sets himself up as framing the question and demanding evidence to his satisfaction -- as if he were the arbiter of truth. His method is to minimize whatever information and analysis offered and say it proves nothing and calls it conspiracy theory.  We have all encountered this kind of person before and the method is familiar and disingenuous at best. I don't believe he is interested in the problem you and others have described. If he were, he wouldn't be such an enthusiastic, unquestioning cheerleader for the IRD.

This is, as you have discussed, a matter that others in the UCC take seriously. Obviously, if they didn't see a problem, they would not ask you to come to speak to clergy on how to address it.

And you are not alone in you analysis of the problem.

Last year, Pastordan, a UCC minister himself, wrote at his blog site Street Prophets an unsolicited and detailed perspective that corroborated the dynamic and the examples you offered based on his experience.

The bottom line is that John is doing a good job of detailing how these attacks take place. And it shouldn't be surprising, given the connection between the Biblical Witness types and secular Republican operatives, that there is an element of sleaze at work.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 12:27:47 AM EST

There will be lies, there will be anger, there will be false witness -- but John, you already know this -- we stand with you.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Tue Mar 13, 2007 at 10:48:33 PM EST
And thanks.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Tue Mar 13, 2007 at 11:31:52 PM EST

The tone of a certain segment of the conservative/religious movement seems to be getting more strident. Why?

Just this week Dobson and several others complained about candidates discussing issues like climate change and the wars rather than the important matters of abortion, abstinence and gay marriage. The world is on the brink of an unprecedented disaster and they worry what two guys are doing on their tax forms?

So what's up with these people. Why have they gotten so strident, intolerant and un-Christian? What are they afraid of? I'm going to guess that it is their loss of influence, which ultimately means fewer followers which in tern means reduced funds into their operations.

It is always best to follow the money.  
-- Policies not Politics
by rdf on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 10:30:09 AM EST

You're right.  It's fear.  What I think is too easily forgotten is the One who said "fear not" said it not only as words of comfort but as an imperative.

Part of the mission of the Church is to deliver the frightened from fear.  Call me a pietist, but I think our first battle is within our own hearts and our next is to deliver our enemy from his/her fear of us.

by Don Niederfrank on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 01:55:49 PM EST

They go hand in hand. A number of things are happening that makes the thermometer go up in these days. A slew of books has hit the market in recent days documenting the work of the radical right, and people are growing sick of their hypocritical methodologies. Mid-term elections last year were a signal to many on the right that the pendulum is swinging back away from the far right and towards the center. They are certainly feeling threatened, and angry. The anger is directed not only at those who oppose them, but those who once supported them but, having discovered more about them, have abandoned them. Its funny how the truth will do that.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 02:17:02 PM EST
I sometimes wonder if the thing to do is to mock these Chicken Littles in every way possible - not too hard considering that they leave a paper/video/audio trail. Eg, the sorts of predictions made about percent believers (young people are leaving the true church in droves, in a generation only 4% of the population will be Christian) or population (Japan has so many one child and no child couples that in 150 years, there won't be anyone living there). Such easy targets to demonstrate to anyone with a grain of common sense.

Yes, I know, I am missing the point. I too read the recent web-published book of R. Altemeyer, and authoritarian follower personalities of the sort that seem to predominate in conservative evangelical/ fundamentalist churchs just don't hear things that conflict with the words of The Pastor.

by NancyP on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 04:45:39 PM EST

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