I found this article fascinating. As someone who has worked extensively with the CBA marketplace and church marketing – the hypocritical stances on all kinds of decisions is nothing new. At the end – I propose MY checklist of how to deal with these issues.
Three months ago, my career was going precisely to plan. I had just published my first book and had begun receiving invitations to speak at major conferences and large churches. My platform was growing. My radio show was doing well. And I was publishing regularly in Christian periodicals. Life was good until…
I blew the whistle on the Moody Bible Institute.
Since then, I’ve been fired from my job as a national radio host. I’ve had speaking engagements cancelled. My use of a studio at the offices of a Christian magazine has been revoked. I’ve received vicious hate mail. I’ve lost friends. And I’ve missed several golden opportunities to promote my book at a time crucial to its success.
It’s been brutal, both professionally and personally. But I knew this would happen.
I’m not naïve. I’ve been in Christian media and ministry far too long to think I could take on a giant like Moody and not suffer consequences.
So why did I do it? Why did I take such a risk?
As is the case with many consequential decisions, it’s complicated, and would probably take a book to explain fully. But I’ve tried to document the main reasons here because I believe they’re not just important to me, but to anyone who wishes to be faithful to the call of Christ. Plus, they help show how the events at Moody impact the broader mission of the church, and why her success is so important.
Obeying God vs. Man
The main reason I blew the whistle on Moody is simple: I felt God prompt me to do so, and I knew I must obey God rather than men.
“The main reason I blew the whistle on Moody is simple: I felt God prompt me to do so, and I knew I must obey God rather than men.’”
For several years, I knew things were not right at Moody. It weighed on me, and a few times, I expressed my concerns to management in vain. But during those years, I didn’t sense God wanted me publish, so I was content to wait.
But this fall, when I discovered that the issues were far more severe and widespread than I had imagined – and that many faculty were in distress, and a group of alumni had launched a website to address the problems – I sensed it was time to act.
Yet I admit, I was scared.
I didn’t want to lose my job or my platform – or jeopardize the success of my book. I believed passionately in what I was doing and had invested untold hours and personal resources to pursue what I truly considered a calling. Yet I had a growing conviction that if I shrunk from speaking the truth at this crucial hour, my voice would become worthless.
Several years earlier, I had felt similarly compelled to publish an article about a radical communist who was actually headlining a major evangelical conference. However, a media-savvy consultant strongly warned me against it.
“Julie, when you have 50-thousand Twitter followers, you can say whatever you want,” he told me, “but not now. You need to ingratiate yourself to these evangelical heavy-hitters, not confront them.”
Yet since then, I have noticed that by the time a Christian leader gets 50-thousand Twitter followers, he’s often made so many compromises that he’s lost the ability to speak prophetically. Without meaning to, he has sold his soul – one quenched prompting of the Spirit at a time.
“(B)y the time a Christian leader gets 50-thousand Twitter followers, he’s often made so many compromises that he’s lost the ability to speak prophetically. Without meaning to, he has sold his soul – one quenched prompting of the Spirit at a time.”
I’ve seen this happen to others, and I didn’t want it to happen to me. And this realization made it increasingly hard for me to remain silent. Plus, I realized that fear of man is never a good reason to shrink from doing what one believes is right.
Still, some might argue that publicly confronting another believer or Christian institution is never right – that doing so is somehow un-Christian. Sometimes I wish I could believe that. It certainly would have made my life easier the past few months. But that’s not what I see in Scripture.
Jesus confronted the religious leaders of His day publicly – and regularly. And He wasn’t particularly nice about it, referring to them as “whitewashed tombs” and “brood of vipers.”
Similarly, in Matthew 18, Jesus instructed believers to tell the entire church about someone’s sin if that person persisted in unrepentance after first being confronted one-on-one, and again with witnesses. This was the pattern I chose to follow when I finally addressed issues with Moody. Yet as the founder of an online Christian ministry recently noted, Matthew 18 applies to a sin between two individual Christians. It’s not a directive for confronting errant public leaders and institutions.
I couldn’t find a biblical argument to excuse myself from speaking out against the wrongdoing I discovered at Moody. Yet it was hard to go public. And I vividly remember staring at my first blog post and trying to muster the courage to hit publish. That’s when the following tweet popped up on my phone:
You can be a coward and still speak on a multitude of controversial issues, as long as said issues have a base where you desire to reside. Courage is speaking on that one issue that your base will not when doing so may ostracize you from them and leave you alone in the cold.
— Kyle J. Howard (@KyleJamesHoward) January 4, 2018
My jaw dropped when I read that tweet. I don’t know Kyle, but what he wrote spoke powerfully to me. And I knew what God was asking me to do.
The Evangelical “Machine”
Another factor that drove me to blow the whistle on Moody was something veteran producer and talk show host Ingrid Shlueter called the “evangelical industrial complex” or “celebrity machine.”
Shlueter encountered this “machine” while working as an assistant producer for Radio Host Janet Mefferd. In 2013, Mefferd discovered that celebrity pastor Mark Driscoll had plagiarized, and confronted him about it on her show. Everything Mefferd said was spot-on, yet she received virulent backlash – not just from Driscoll, but from his publisher, fans, and other heavy-hitters loyal to Driscoll. The opposition became so intense that Mefferd eventually removed evidence of Driscoll’s plagiarism from her website and apologized.
Yet Shlueter, who resigned her job in protest, hinted that Mefferd had been strong-armed. “All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes,” Shlueter wrote. “You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.”
When I published, I didn’t just take on Moody. I took on the machine. This is why I suffered much more than a cancelled show and the loss of a paycheck. In the machine, friends protect friends whether they’re deserving of it or not – and whistleblowers get crushed.
“When I published, I didn’t just take on Moody. I took on the machine . . . In the machine, friends protect friends whether they’re deserving of it or not – and whistleblowers get crushed.”
I first witnessed how the machine works in 2010. I had produced an exposé about the promotion of leftist-inspired social justice at my alma mater, Wheaton College. The piece revealed that Wheaton’s education department was teaching its students to be “agents of change” for “social justice” based on the ideology of far-left radicals like Bill Ayers, who bombed the Pentagon, and Paulo Freire, a Brazilian Marxist.
I felt an obligation to inform Wheaton parents and alumni and asked to air my piece on Moody Radio. But Moody leadership killed it – not because my piece wasn’t important or true. In fact, Board Chair Randy Fairfax (who was just a trustee at the time) sent me an email thanking me for “the determination and integrity” in my reporting, and for “seeking to honor . . . the alumni, parents and students of Wheaton.”
Yet Moody killed the piece because Wheaton was our friend.
My piece eventually aired on Sandy Rios’ former show on WYLL, and led to significant changes within the education department at Wheaton. But Sandy took a lot of heat for what she did. And had it not been for her grit and courage, the piece might not have ever broadcast.
I witnessed the machine in action over and over during my time at Moody. Management killed commentaries and show topics, and even scolded me once when I published an important article elsewhere that negatively impacted a ministry partner.
I came to realize that the machine, though “Christian,” was synonymous with the world, and I could not serve it and serve God.
I also realized that if I shrunk from publishing because of the machine, it would win. And maybe the machine wins anyway. But if there’s one thing the #MeToo movement has shown, it’s that sometimes the vulnerable, armed with truth, can prevail. I knew I had to try.
What’s at Stake
Read the rest at: Why I Blew the Whistle on Moody | Julie Roys
b(no on authority) – am I willing to face the consequences for going up against or counter to an area I have no natural authority?
4. Ask the “Lord shall I go up against this troop?” GET CONFIRMATION and then make I ask “will you give them into my hands,” as David did.
5. When I’ve formed my response – is it out of judgement or love? Do I have a proper understanding of love as stated in 1 Cor 13?
6. Am I being led by the spirit?