On This Page:
- Social Media and Events January 2015
- Focus Section: WX15 Why Christian? Announcements and Responses from Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans
- Focus Section: TruthAboutTony (Storify) and WhyTony (Scribd)
- Social Media and Events February 2015
- Social Media and Events March 2015
- Social Media and Events April – May – June 2015
- Focus Section: Debacle at Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Blog When She Promotes Tony Jones
- Social Media and Events July – August – September 2015
- Social Media and Events October – November – December 2015
NOTES: This page is definitely a work in progress. I have dozens of additional links to process to blog and Facebook posts, Storify collections, Tweets, etc. I will continue adding items and analysis notes as time allows.
Periodically there will be a major post or comment that begins a significant series of interactions. In these cases, I created a “Focus Section” to highlight them. They are set off by a centered series of small asterisks and a medium-sized centered subhead in red type. Also, item dates are in red.
* * * * * * *
Social Media and Events January 2015
* * * * * * *
January 4, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, controlling people HATE being told they’re controlling (nakedpastor).
January 10, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, infographic on the cycle of abuse against women and how to break it (nakedpastor).
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
START FOCUS SECTION ON:
WX15 Why Christian? Announcements and Responses from Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans – January 2015
Co-Curators for the event:
- Nadia Bolz-Weber
- Rachel Held Evans
This was originally slated to be a JoPa Event produced by:
- Tony Jones
- Doug Pagitt
January 12, 2015. Facebook page for WX15 / WhyChristianEvent is started. [Later link: Why Christian?]
January 12, 2015. Announcement of forthcoming WX15/Why Christian? event, September 18-20, 2015. This venue, which features 11 women presenters, is planned to be coordinated by The JoPa Group and co-curated by Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber. The home page states:
“Why, in the wake of centuries of corruption, hypocrisy, crusades, televangelists, and puppet ministries do we continue to follow Jesus? Join us for three days of courageous storytelling to answer just this question.”
The announcement set off a firestorm of protests and challenges. Both curators and many speakers frequently address issues of violence and abuse, especially toward women, yet the event is being facilitated through The JoPa Group, and there are long-standing allegations of both violence and abuse still unresolved and hanging over Tony Jones in his treatment of his ex-wife, Julie McMahon.
Here is how a series of select tweets played out:
January 12, 2015, reply to Nadia Bolz-Weber’s tweet by Rachel Held Evans: @ItsVillegasTime @Sarcasticluther Oh wow! So excited. See you then!
January 14, 2015, reply to Nadia Bolz-Weber’s tweet by Babes in Soyland: @Sarcasticluther @rachelheldevans Can it not be sponsored by a group of abusers and silencers, though? Doesn’t seem to fit the vibe. #WX15
This was followed by surprisingly intense push-back on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs against Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans, starting just two days after their initial announcement. The primary issue seemed to be the integrity disconnect between a conference about Christianity with the first sentence of the description being, “Why, in the wake of centuries of corruption, hypocrisy, crusades, televangelists, and puppet ministries do we continue to follow Jesus?” – while it was being produced by alleged “abusers and silencers.” Many very shrill exchanges happened, with intense language in both directions, mostly involving Rachel Held Evans. After about the first two days, it seems Nadia Bolz-Weber basically went silent.
After the curators and JoPa and other supporters of WX15 faced social media volleys for a number of days, The JoPa Group reportedly offered to end their association with the event, and responsibility for production was taken over by Bolz-Weber and Evans. The content was moved over to one set up by Why Christian, and the original JoPa website was deleted. This transfer happened before the Christianity 21 – Phoenix event, which started January 22.
January 14, 2015. Rachel Held Evans posts, Post-Evangelicals and Why We Can’t Just Get Over It. Especially see the comment by Danica Newton, and the replies to it by Rachel Held Evans. She reportedly edited and/or removed and/or replaced some of her replies, so if you are interested in tracking the complicated history of that process, you can find screencap versions archived in some of the Storify and Tumblr accounts, such as this one on #IBelieveJulie: The Evolution of Rachel Held Evans’ Response. That is important to do, since this post is one that seems to have caused immense (if not the most) contention about the WX15 conference and the involvement of Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber – given the involvement of The JoPa Group and still unresolved allegations against Tony Jones of physical abuse and gaslighting/scapegoating of his former wife, Julie McMahon.
January 15, 2015. Stuff Christian Culture Likes posts on Facebook, Serious Questions are being asked of Rachel Held Evans.
January 18, 2015. #nodigitalpitchforks. (Starts with Tweet from Merry Faith on January 18, 2015). A link on this Tweet leads to an Imgur site entitled WX15 shaninigans, which contains screencaptures of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s January 16, 2015, responses on Facebook to abuse allegations against Tony Jones. (She later deleted these posts and comments.) The Imgur site also contains screencaptures of interchanges between Matthew Paul Turner and Justin Hanvey.
January 19, 2015. #WX15: Courageous Storytelling about Corrupt Emergent Leadership.
January 20, 2015. The following Emergent Nightmares Tumblr item, Do you know if RHE has responded to anything about #WhyTony, tracks three versions of comments by Rachel Held Evans.
Do you know if RHE has responded to anything about #WhyTony? All I can find is a brief comment on her blog (on the “Post-Evangelical” post) which was very unsatisfying. Normally I love her and I don’t understand why she’s not supporting Julie.
I love RHE too, she was one of my first regular Christian bloggers. She commented more broadly on that post but then deleted it. Here are the three versions I have after various degrees of her moderation, in chronological order:
(the last of which is the latest, because she closed comments after that).
As for why, it’s messy and I don’t know exactly why, but here are my thoughts based on her reactions above and on Twitter:
It is much easier for people to talk courageously about corruption and hypocrisy in others’ churches. It is much harder in our own.
Rachel is used to dishing it out as an activist. It must have been a shock to have her carefully prepared social media campaign on #WX15, turn into courageous activist conversations about Christian corruption and hypocrisy in the Emergent movement.
From what Rachel posted, it’s pretty clear Tony Jones showed some documentation or made claims painting Julie as an insane criminal.
Money and book deals and reputations talk. David Hayward (nakedpastor) has been facing incredible pressure to take down Julie’s comments on his blog.
But I am confused how Rachel can say “always believe abuse victims” for SGM and Driscoll, but then say, “I don’t believe Julie, she should use the courts”. This may be because Rachel doesn’t believe Julie’s story is about abuse, but simply believes it is an acrimonious divorce causing issues for her friend Tony Jones. But Julie’s concerns are about abuse, gaslighting, public shaming, cover-ups, and the complicity of many Emergent leaders.
Finally, the thing I don’t think I will ever understand:
Rachel Held Evans has never spoken with Julie McMahon.
Yet she doesn’t believe her story, which she has never heard.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When this response to smallwanderer218 states, “From what Rachel posted, it’s pretty clear Tony Jones showed some documentation or made claims painting Julie as an insane criminal,” some eventual comment from Rachel Held Evans says she did not speak directly to either Tony Jones or to Julie McMahon. So, the question arise from various observers as to where Ms. Evans got evidence/documentation for making her decisions about the situation, since it presumably did not come from first-hand sources.
January 21, 2015 (date approximate). The following Transition Statement appears on the new Why Christian site, explaining the stepping back of The JoPa Group from producing the event.
WHY CHRISTIAN? CONFERENCE
Q. Who is Producing the Event?
Nadia, Rachel, and their Team.
When Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans announced their plan to partner with the The JoPa Group to create a conference featuring women of faith telling stories about what gives them hope for Christianity, the response was overwhelming. Hundreds of registrations for “Why Christian?” came pouring in, and along with them, a growing sense of excitement among men and women alike at the prospect of doing something truly new.
The buzz also generated some unforeseen speculation because of social media claims regarding the first marriage of a member of The JoPa Group. In order to protect and keep the focus on the event’s participants and its thirteen speakers, JoPa offered to help transfer production of “Why Christian?” to Nadia and Rachel and their team.
Q. I already have tickets does this change affect me?
No. If you have already purchased a ticket for “Why Christian?” this change will not affect you. The event is still scheduled for September 18-20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and your ticket is secure. Check the Web site between now and the fall for updates regarding venue, schedule, and other details.
January 24, 2015. Stuff Christian Culture Likes posts on Facebook:
If you didn’t know by now, I’ve been posting a lot lately about how Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans are putting on an all-women conference with JoPa. JoPa is run by Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt, and Tony has recently come under accusations of committing domestic violence, and Doug Pagitt and others in Emergent Village have been accused of covering up the information and making the accuser out to be mentally unstable. (There is a lot of documentation of the allegations and the rebuttals of them if you scroll further down my wall.)
I am not saying whether any of these allegations are true, but the fact that the allegations are being swept aside and a purpotedly [sic] feminist conference is being held under the JoPa umbrella as if the allegations are not serious at all is exactly why abuse like this in the church is allowed to go on. Under the supposition that the leaders of the conference don’t understand just how widespread abuse in the church is, and how often it’s covered up, I would like for survivors of abuse who were not believed to share their stories here. If you’d rather remain anonymous please PM me and I’ll post it for you.
END FOCUS SECTION ON: WX15 Why Christian? Announcements and Responses from Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans – January 2015
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
Approximately mid- to late-January 2015. Updated: #IBelieveJulie: Julie McMahon on Tony Jones: Abuse, Threats, and Cover-Ups.
January 14, 2015. Stuff Christian Culture Likes posts on Storify, Sonoran Theological dismisses abuse allegations.
January 16, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, spiritual abuse and can theology hurt people? (nakedpastor).
January 18, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, the obscene practice of sucking up to authority (nakedpastor).
January 18, 2015. Curious Hippo posts, When rejecting abusive institutions opens the door for abuse.
January 19, 2015. Emily C. Heath posts, I don’t think I want to be a “Progressive Christian” anymore.
January 19, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Abuse and the Privileges of Power (nakedpastor).
January 19, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, What Tony Jones Should Learn From Stanley Hauerwas About Marriage (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #1 with 1,010 comments. This was the first post in a series that eventually appeared on The Wartburg Watch (TWW). This blog, with posts by Dee Parson and Deb Martin, focuses on survivors of spiritual abuse and research on various individuals, ministries, churches, and Christian systems that cause serious damage to their followers. According to their FAQ page:
We look at all of the trends within evangelical Christianity, along with other stories and trends that impact the faith. We have become quite interested in church conflict, spiritual abuse, and hyper-authoritarian polity. We are equal opportunity offenders and do not emphasize one denomination over another.
This represented the first time TWW had ventured far into the world of Emergent or Progressive theologies and movements. It really seemed to hit a nerve for TWW readers and this post was their first ever since starting in 2007 to reach 1,000 comments. [CORRECTION: TWW started in 2009, not 2007.] Because of the exceptionally large total number of comments on the series of TWW posts about Emergent, Tony Jones, Julie McMahon, the article number plus number of comments as of March 1, 2015, are included in TWW posts notations.
January 19, 2015. R.L. Stollar posts on Overturning Tables, What It Means to Take Abuse Seriously.
January 20, 2015. Christian Pundit posts, Christian Personality Uses Lame, Unbiblical Excuse to Rationalize His Adultery – He Calls His Mistress His Spiritual Wife.
January 20, 2015. Julie receives an emailed apology from Hugh Hollowell. She posts it in a comment on Brother Maynard’s article, Tony Jones and the New Emergent Manifesto, Part II.
(I hope you will pardon the preamble – I am from Mississippi, where we take 10 minutes to say “Hi”.)
You don’t know me – no real reason you should. I run a small ministry in Raleigh, NC that provides pastoral care to people who are homeless. Part of my job is to raise awareness about my work in order to raise money. so, I travel and speak some.
Some of the events I have spoken at have been “Emergenty” – I spoke at the first Transform, for example, and a couple of the Outlaw Preacher events and was heavily involved in the launching of the Wild Goose Festival. Conversely, I have also spoken at pretty hardcore right-wing evangelical events. Again, trying to raise awareness, so I will talk to anybody.
I have shared a stage with your ex and I have spoken at an event he organized. He and I have been at several of the same events, and have had a few email exchanges. I know Doug the same way.
I consider Mike Morrell and Steve Knight friends of mine, and Brian McLaren and Holly Roach are strong acquaintances. I know this is longwinded, but wanted to give you some context.
I heard, more than once, that you were “batshit crazy”, from multiple folks. Other people asked me about you, and, despite having never met you, I told them I had heard you were “batshit crazy”. Without knowing you, I dismissed you, and for that, I am sorry.
In fact, I am just sorry. I should not have spread stories about you, I should not have passed along rumors, I should not have gossiped. I apologize to you, and regret my small part in perpetuating the “Julie is a nutjob” narrative.
Not sure what else to say, other than I am sorry, and I wish for you and your family every good thing. If I can be of any help to you, ever, please do not hesitate to ask.
Grace and Peace,
Hugh L. Hollowell
January 20, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, believe the abused when they talk about their experiences (nakedpastor).
January 20, 2015. Stuff Christian Culture Likes posts a clear and reasoned analysis of power dynamics and apparent duplicity that would help explain why the actions of Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber have triggered survivors of spiritual abuse. It is presented here in full, as it capsulizes core issues in not only the situation with Tony Jones, but other situations in broader American culture where advocates for victims seem to also be enabling victimizers. This perceived disconnect can have profound emotional and spiritual impact on survivors, which is why some are choosing to bring it into the light of public scrutiny to determine if the perception is actually reality.
I want to write about the Tony Jones/Rachel Held Evans/Nadia Bolz-Weber situation from the perspective that everyone involved believes that they are doing the right thing.
I think it’s likely that Rachel and Nadia really don’t see how their affiliation with Tony is affecting people who have a history of being abused by people in church leadership.
They don’t understand why this is driving a wedge between the survivors and the conference leaders.
Many of us have seen Rachel and Nadia as feminist leaders in the Christian community who are advocates for abuse survivors. They are very dear to us because of their advocacy. So it has surprised many of us that they are affiliating with Tony Jones on an all-women conference purportedly for advancement of women in Christianity
Assuming they were unaware of the situation, we brought up Tony’s ex-wife’s story of domestic violence and allegations of a ministry-facilitated cover-up of abuse.
Nadia and Rachel appear bewildered by people’s impassioned response to this. They are reacting to an attack and understandably, their response is to go into defense mode.
However, what many of us hear them saying is that we are being unreasonable to suggest that they suspend interaction with Tony until everything has been brought out into the open.
They feel attacked, and we feel betrayed.
Nadia and Rachel have both said that they feel we should not judge the situation until we know all the facts, and on this premise they are going to go ahead and work with Tony while giving him the benefit of the doubt.
But in giving the powerful person (who happens to be their friend) the benefit of the doubt, it is denied to the person who alleges abuse.
Benefit-of-the-doubt seems impartial, but when it’s one-sided, there’s nothing impartial about it.
Both sides need to be treated equally until a mutually-agreed-upon authority can come to a resolution. This means equal suspicion/grace must be applied to both sides.
Right now, those in leadership are giving it to Tony. And survivors are giving it to Julie.
And since I and many others who feel betrayed are survivors of physical and sexual violence at the hands of church leaders, this is triggering the daylights out of us. We had hoped that leaders would listen to us and take our allegations seriously. But the pattern for us has been that the friends of our church leader abusers turn a blind eye to our abuse because:
—It would be too messy to bring it all out into the light.
—It would endanger their position in the church.
—It would cost them money.
—A court case would become giant news and forever stain their ministry.
Or they just can’t believe that their friend could act that way.
So all of our souls paid the price, we absorbed the mess, our psyches are stained, we were cast aside in the name of Jesus, who came to call out abusive religious leaders. We paid a terrible price.
This is why this situation is monumental. We are seeing our former situations of abuse being recreated in a progressive Christian haven— one that was born in many ways out of these very abusive situations. We feel sucker-punched again. The small abuse victims within us are saying that we knew it was too good when we thought we found a group who practiced what they preach.
And to be told that they are going forward with the really great conference about following Jesus, and to be told that if we have been survivors of abuse to call a domestic violence hotline (which is like saying “if you’ve survived racism, call the police”), feels like a papercut to the heart. It feels as if we are truly garbage. Because you can’t take almost all abuse allegations seriously. You can’t do 90% and call it a day. You do it all the time, or you don’t do it at all.
So what do we do? Nadia and Rachel believe that they are right, that they are victims of lies, and their friend Tony is a victim. We believe that we are right, that we are the victims of lies, and that our friend Julie is a victim. Nadia and Rachel, I believe, are not acting out of evil intent. And neither are we.
Our only hope is that we listen to each other.
If Jesus came to help the least of these, I hope that those in leadership can create a category to entertain the possibility of just how rampant domestic violence is and how much it happens in the church and how often it is covered up.
This does not mean that Tony is guilty — that is for the courts or an independent ecclesiastical authority to decide. But allegations need to be taken as seriously as people in power’s claims of innocence.
I work with domestic violence victims and we are so used to not being believed and worn down that many have given up and rolled over to just take it some more. Many also abandon the God who claims to protect them.
So it’s interesting the conference is called “Why Christian” because that’s exactly what survivors are wondering.
Why Christian, when we are not believed even there?
Nadia and Rachel say on their site that this conference is about “the Gospel of Jesus and how it continues to disrupt, disorient, and bring life to a troubled world.”
Those of us who have experienced abuse, victim-blaming, and cover-ups by the church need to see the Gospel of Jesus bring life to this troubled situation. However hard it might be for Tony and friends of Tony, reconciliation is crucial. We’ve seen too many cover-ups, been the brunt of too many pastoral abuses, to let this one slide.
But let’s not assume that Nadia and Rachel and anyone who associates with Tony in the future is malicious. Let’s remind them that as advocates for the oppressed and the silenced, they should be constantly encouraging reconciliation, not just for Tony and Julie, but for all of us watching. Leaders are held to a higher standard, not because they are supposed to be better people, but because their power and privilege can be so easily wielded corruptly, no matter how innocent their motives.
But we need to remember that Rachel and Nadia are doing good work. They just might not be aware how important it is to take Julie’s and all allegations seriously. Even if the accuser is “bat-shit crazy”. Or even if they are lying. Lack of reconciliation here is not just hurting Julie, not just her kids, and not just Tony. It’s hurting the church. And it should. This kind of thing is exactly what Jesus was about.
What are your thoughts?
January 21, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, leaders and the inordinate adoration they may require (nakedpastor).
January 21, 2015. How To Dump Your Wife and Keep Your “Ministry,” by Michael Newnham (Phoenix Preacher).
January 21, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, Christianity21 and Why Christian? – Emerging Church Conferences hosted by the JoPa Group (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #2 with 380 comments.
January 22-24, 2015. JoPa Event – Christianity21 Phoenix. The JoPa Group’s Christianity 21 / 2015 event was held in Phoenix, AZ. Tony Jones was originally scheduled as one of the speakers, but as it turned out he stayed in Minnesota.
According to his video greeting to the conference, he stayed home because he said one of his children (their older son) needed him there. The video was removed from YouTube within a day or so of being posted. As it turned out, at that time he had failed to return his son home after his scheduled visitation was over, and so was in violation of the parenting agreement he and Julie McMahon had in place. This would later become a significant, drawn out (still unresolved as of mid-March 2015), and complicated issue, with litigation actions by Tony Jones forthcoming apparently in an attempt to flip custody.
January 22, 2015. Libby Anne posts on Love, Joy, Feminism, On Responding to Abuse Allegations.
January 22, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, Go Fund Me Account Set Up For Julie McMahon (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #3 with 23 comments. (To find out the current total donated, see the GoFundMe link.) This gives Wartburg Watch readers and others a concrete way to show supportiveness for Julie McMahon – which is not always easy for a virtual community to figure out how to do, when people want to do more than to read blogs, comment, and pray.
January 24, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, what a woman hears when she shares her experience of harassment, abuse or assault (nakedpastor).
January 26, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Emergent and wolves in sheep’s clothing (nakedpastor).
January 26, 2015. Diagnosing the Emergent Movement site goes live.
My main purposes in creating this site are:
1. To provide historical and contemporary resources for due diligence in diagnosing Emergent as a social movement whose initiators were originally part of what was then variously called the GenX, emerging, or postmodern ministry movement. This gives an overall context in which to evaluate not only the Emergent Village and Emergent phenomenon, but related streams (such as New Calvinism/Resurgence, Post-Evangelical, Progressive, and Missional that were likewise embedded in that emerging ministry movement which surfaced in the mid-1990s.
2. To provide a paradigm framework to consider layers of elements that make up the systems of what I am calling the Emergent Movement and Emergent Industrial Complex. These layers include historical, personal (key people and conflicts involved, whether they are public figures or not), organizational (as the Emergent Village website is not available on the WayBack Machine’s internet archive), institutional (organizational partnerships and collaborative efforts), and media.
3. To offer my perspectives and correctives related to big-picture technical questions about the emerging ministry movement, now that it has been about 20 years since it surfaced. For instance, Why did Emergent and Resurgent paradigms seem to end up polar opposites of each other, and yet the Emergent Movement and Mars Hill entities seem to have imploded at the same time? What underlying paradigm factors – epistemology (information processing styles), axiology (concrete values), theology (abstract beliefs), organizational strategies and infrastructures, cultural system, and forms of collaboration – precipitated the sifting out of six different streams from the lake of emerging ministry? Do/can spiritual abuse and sick organizational systems occur in each of those streams? Which streams are most susceptible to particular types of ministry agenda hijacking and why?
I hope you find something useful here, and that the site stimulates research and reflection about the Emergent Movement, what we can learn from its perspectives and its problems, and practical ways we can all move toward more holistic and healthy trajectories of Kingdom transformation.
January 26, 2015. David Hayward posts, Emergent and wolves in sheep’s clothing. An important discussion of the relationship between Emergent and Progressive movements came up in the comments. Check out these comments for some of that important interchange:
Curtis – January 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm
wanderer – January 26, 2015 at 3:02 pm
John J. Shaffer – January 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm
Ian Johnstone – January 27, 2015 at 9:03 am
Curtis – January 27, 2015 at 9:23 am
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
START FOCUS SECTION ON:
TruthAboutTony (Storify) and WhyTony (Scribd) – Posted January 27-31, 2015
January 27-31, 2015. Beginning January 27, 2015, and over approximately the next four days, a total of 47 notes, tweets, and statements in support of Tony Jones are posted on a Storify site called TruthAboutTony. Later, two shorter notes were removed, leaving a total of 45. Of these 45 notes, 14 also linked to longer statements that were posted on a Scribd site called WhyTony. One of these was a 12-page Statement by Tony Jones.
A significant number of those posting notes have long-standing connections with Tony Jones, The JoPa Group, Emergent Village, and/or the Emergent/Progressive Movement. There has been some intensive social media push-back about these sites, especially from members of spiritual abuse survivor communities.
All of the notes and statements on both sites were removed on February 21, 2015, and were replaced by this notice:
We have come to understand that Julie [McMahon] filed a court motion at Hennepin County Family Court on Monday, January 26th. Since then, there have been two subsequent conferences between the court and Tony and Julie’s attorneys on Feb 3 and Feb 11. At the Feb 11 conference, Tony and Julie were urged by the court to remove all their posts and comments related to their marital issues and children. They were also urged to have their supporters and proxies remove posts and comments related to these topics as well.
Tony chose to honor the court’s request by removing his document that same day. At his request and to comply with the request of the court, the statements posted to storify and Scribd are being taken down as well.
WhyTony (Scribd Site) Contributors:
NOTES: PDFs and screencaptures of the various statements were archived by others before these sites in support of Tony Jones were dismantled. The links below go to those documents do they can be retrieved for research and critique purposes on this situation involving Tony Jones as a public figure. (Also, many of those who posted statements may likewise be considered public figures as published authors/bloggers, public speakers, and/or associated with other public endeavors.)
The posting dates in parentheses are approximated from screencapture electronic time stamps. The number at the end of each line indicates the order in which the statements were posted, #1 being Sarah Cunningham and #14 being Doug Pagitt. (Order taken from screencapture of entire page.)
- Troy Bronsink (January 30, 1 page) #13
- Randy Buist (January 27, 1 page) #8
- Philip Clayton (letter dated January 25; posted January 27, 2 pages) #3
- Sarah Cunningham (January 27, 5 pages) #1
- Rabbi Dr. Joseph A. Edelheit (January 27, 1 page) #5
- Kathy Helmers (letter dated January 26; posted January 27, 1 page) #4
- Tony Jones (January 27, 12 pages) #7
- Brian McLaren (January 28, 3 pages) #12
- Doug Pagitt (January 31, 1 page) #14
- Courtney Perry (January 28, 1 page) #10
- Peter Rollins (January 28, 2 pages) #9
- Rachel Swan (January 28, 1 page) #11
- Phyllis Tickle (January 27, 1 page) #2
- John Vest (January 27, 1 page) #6
While the Scribd and Storify sites can be seen as attempts merely to support a friend, they also sparked controversy, including over whether this was an attempt by those mostly in positions of power to silence Julie McMahon from telling her story and others from sharing their research and expressing their opinions. The later Note About the Removal of These Posts likewise brought up more controversy, as it appeals to a vague/unsourced “court request” as urging silence – which seems would be directly contrary to civil rights to freedom of speech.
Some of the more immediate blog posts from January 2015 dealing with these controversies are listed below.
January 27, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, Breaking: Transition Statement for Why Christian? 2015 (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #4 with 695 comments. This post began with a breaking news report about The JoPa Group transferring production of the event over to the co-curators, Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans. Then, links to the Statement of Tony Jones were posted, and the thread became more about analysis and questions of that document – some comments addressing the Statement as a whole, others dealing with themes or with specific allegations, background information, documentation, etc.
January 27, 2015. Julie Anne Smith/Spiritual Sounding Board posts on Facebook about Tony Jones’ statement, and one commenter brings up such issues as not taking evidence from “unbiased” sources (as if it is even possible for any source to be unbiased), issues of false claims about abuse, etc.
January 28, 2015. R.L. Stollar posts, A Response to Tony Jones’ Statement (Overturning Tables). Stollar deals with the historical context of the Statement, key figures involved and their responses to the unfolding situation, and the power/social media/celebrityship platform of various individuals. He then shares what he considers to be two of the most important observations, and then cites examples and conclusions about each:
1. Jones’s statement is chockfull of half-truths and outright falsehoods. Quote: “What I simply want to communicate is that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jones’s statement is not the entire story. It is, rather, half of the story as presented by someone officially diagnosed as narcissistic. That particular lens is blatantly at play in filtering these tragic events. Jones’s statement, when put in the context of the actual records, demonstrates his willingness to bend the truth and ignore the real damage he has inflicted on people, whether that damage was intentional or not.”
2. Jones’s statement is a prime example of the dynamics of abuse. Quote: “Jones is using his platform and power in relation to someone with far fewer resources in order to (1) control the narrative and (2) play the victim. These are two classic signs of an abusive relationship.”
January 30, 2015. R.L. Stollar posts on Overturning Tables, A Response to Brian McLaren’s Statement. Although Brian McLaren’s Statement does not directly name Julie McMahon, it seems impossible to consider that “this woman” he identifies generically could be anyone else. So, I will use her name. He characterizes Julie McMahon as suicidal, and goes on to say he has attempted reconciliation and been declined. Ryan Stollar’s post in response talks in some detail about suicidal ideation, and other concerns related to the Emergent situation.
END FOCUS SECTION ON: TruthAboutTony (Storify) and WhyTony (Scribd) – Posted January 27-31, 2015
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
January 27, 2015. Wenatchee The Hatchet posts, Brad Sargent summarizes events between Tony Jones and Julie McMahon, some considerations of Rachel Held Evans reactions to Driscoll vs Jones.
January 28, 2015. Morgan Guyton posts, Tony Jones and the twitter court of justice.
January 30, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, Brian McLaren to Take Legal Action Against *This Woman* (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #5 with 738 comments. This post excerpts a portion of Brian McLaren’s statement in support of Tony Jones that reads as if he intends to sue Julie McMahon. (Emphasis added by Dee Parsons.)
…children are involved, and when the character of religious leaders are involved, allegations should be handled with the greatest possible diligence and care. But allegations should not be considered facts until they are verified in light of all available evidence through responsible processes. That’s why law enforcement, the courts, and other responsible professionals should be consulted to distinguish factual from false allegations. This woman’s disputes with her ex-husband have been under the jurisdiction of the courts and related authorities for years, and I understand that those proceedings are matters of public record. Her accusations against me and others, however, have not yet been adjudicated by proper authorities. For this reason, since she has refused repeated requests for mediation and professional third-party review, I am pursuing legal action so my testimony, email archives, and other evidence can be evaluated fairly in an appropriate setting. People who know me will know that I would not take this step unless I felt it necessary and right to do so
It is my hope that the years of repeated harassment, false accusations, threats, and defamation of character many of us have experienced can soon come to an end. I also hope those who are supporting the woman in question will continue to do so, but without spreading false allegations on her behalf. I hope that deep and lasting healing for all those involved can soon begin.
January 30, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, your wounds are yours and yours alone (nakedpastor).
January 31, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, sharing your experiences in the face of threats (nakedpastor).
January 31, 2015. Brad posts on Chasing the Sunrise, Why Tony Jones Can Kiss My Ass.
January 31, 2015. Emily C. Heath posts, Reclaiming Progressive Christianity, Starting with Remembering Our Values. She follows this opening section with an overview of a number of values she has learned from the progressive church: transparent, accountable, prophetic, repentant, humble, witness-oriented, bold, non-idolatrous, hopeful, and community focused.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post that two weeks later is still getting a lot of traffic. The title of the piece is “I Don’t Think I Want to Be a Progressive Christian Anymore“, and it is an accurate depiction of how I was feeling at the time. After a little time, though, I’m realizing I was wrong: I do still want to be a progressive Christian.
But here’s the challenge; in the very recent past the term “progressive Christian” has come to be conflated with “emergent Christian” and “post-evangelical Christian”. And I’m not saying that you can’t be one of those things and also be a progressive Christian. This is a big tent movement, and you can. But I am saying that it’s not right to co-opt a term that has been used for several generations to define a theological movement for your own benefit. And it’s especially not right to do it when you are not familiar with, or not willing to honor, the values that progressive Christianity has been trying to model for the larger church for years.
January 31, 2015. #NotMyProgressiveSanctuary presents a Storify compilation, Teach-In on Progressive Christianity and Church and how we can do better in responding to abuse allegations. “Teach In hosts were Jason Dye, Rod Thomas, Sarah Moon, Shaney Irene and Riot Stollar.” This is a very informative and relevant series dealing with layers of interconnecting elements involved in abuse (and especially domestic violence). Questions addressed, with tweets from multiple people included, were:
- Question 1: How Do We In Progressive Christianity Support Abuse Survivors?
- Question 2: What Are Some Ways Survivors Aren’t Supported?
- Question 2A: What Are Some Ways Abusers Are Let Off The Hook?
- Question 3: What Is Gaslighting?
- Question 4: Does Trusting Survivors Mean We Automatically Believe Them In Everything?
- Question 5: If Someone Doesn’t Go To Police/Courts Does That Mean Abuse Wasn’t Serious Or Alleged Abuse Survivor Is Lying?
- Question 6: What Role Does Sexism Play In The Context of Abuse?
- Question 7: What Are Different Forms of Abuse?
- Question 7B: What Are Some Ways That Abuse Manifests Itself In Ways We Don’t Expect?
- Question 8: What Is The Relationship Between Mental Illness and Abuse? How Should We Frame That Conversation?
- Question 9: How Well Do We Really Know An Alleged Abuser? How Long Can They Keep Up The Facade of the “Nice Guy”?
- Question 10: What Role Can Progressive Churches and Leaders Play In The Context of Abuse? Where Does Grace Come In?
* * * * * * *
Social Media and Events February 2015
* * * * * * *
February 2015 (early to mid-February – date approximate, but likely around the February 10 deadline for applications to the Christian Spirituality cohort at Fuller Seminary, to be led by Tony Jones). The Bellicose Brothers Christian Commentary posts, Bellicose Brothers Video – Episode 001 Fuller Seminary and Two Kinds of Premarital Sex vimeo.com. Note: Rated MATURE (NSFW).
February 1, 2015. Tony Jones and his Spiritual Wife – A Timeline.
February 1, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, Brad Sargent: One Possible Solution to the Tony Jones/Julie McMahon Situation (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #6 with 255 comments. The Wartburg Watch posts a proposed solution to ask Boz Tchividjian and G.R.A.C.E. to investigate and/or mediate. That did not work out as hoped, but it did seem to get some things moving toward potential mediation between Brian McLaren and Julie McMahon. This is the February 5th TwitLonger link to GRACE Response to Suggestion it Act as a Third Party Mediator.
February 2, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Actually, it’s cool for leaders to be tyrants! (nakedpastor).
February 2, 2015. Jeff Nelson posts, A Farewell to Celebrity Christianity (Coffeehouse Contemplative). This post overviews the current state of the situation with allegations and documentation and support statements, and places it within the larger context of self-promoting celebrity Christianity. His own statements of personal repentance are worth a lot of reflection:
For me personally, this situation is the final nail in the coffin of celebrity Christianity. Regardless of where the truth really lies in this particular instance, this at least illustrates how insulated even those to whom we look up in the church can become from criticism. Gaining and keeping an audience, maintaining a platform, protecting The Brand becomes more important than humility or authentic connection with others. One becomes the embodiment of everything to which the original movement stated they opposed.
And so, after all of this, I repent.
I repent from placing my fellow Christians and pastoral colleagues on pedestals. From now on, I’ll give appreciation where it is warranted, but attempt to maintain a healthy recognition that they are as susceptible to human limitations and temptation as anyone else.
I repent from ever aspiring to be a famous Christian in my own right. I will maintain certain goals mainly related to writing, but for the sake of building up the church rather than myself.
I repent from the times past, present, and future when I’ve used or might be tempted to use even my relatively modest amount of power to suppress criticism. I will strive to be more honest about my own limitations and failings, and remember that none of this is about me.
I pray that I stick to these. I pray that our Christian heroes do, too.
He also includes an insightful aside about why this is being played out in social media instead of elsewhere:
As an aside, note what isn’t possible in this situation: an overseeing ecclesiastical body of some kind to say, “We will review this fairly and impartially. Don’t post stuff on the internet, don’t release ‘statements’ or curate Tumblr feeds. Just attend our meetings at the appointed times and we will hear your case. We will do all of this confidentially and with respect and discretion. In the meantime, you should be placed on leave.” Due to the nature of this movement, with its rejection of denominational systems and lack of accountability, we have what we have instead as one potential outcome.
February 3, 2015. Emergent Conversations: The Abuse Allegation.
February 3, 2015. Emergent Parody posts video #1, How to handle reports of abuse…high school style.
February 3, 2015. Jeff Breakfast posts on Facebook, Statement by Jeff Breakfast in Support of Tony Jones.
February 3, 2015. Libby Anne posts on Love, Joy, Feminism, There Are No Good People, Only Good Actions.
February 3, 2015, Libby Anne posts on Love, Joy, Feminism, Bill Gothard Was Brought Down by a Blog: Thoughts on the “Proper” Channels for Making Abuse Allegations.
February 3, 2015. Libby Anne posts on Love, Joy, Feminism, Why We Need to Talk about Narcissism: Tony Jones Edition.
February 4, 2015. Kevin Miller posts, When you reduce your position to a hashtag, it’s all over.
February 4, 2015. Emergent Parody posts video #2, The “Spiritual” Trick. Tony and Doug have bro time, and learn a neat new trick!
February 4, 2015. Stuff Christian Culture Likes posts on Facebook, Thoughts on the proper channels for making abuse allegations. This links to a February 3, 2015, blog post by Love, Joy, Feminism on Bill Gothard Was Brought Down by a Blog: Thoughts on the “Proper” Channels for Making Abuse Allegations.
February 4, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Why do our leaders want us to be silent? (nakedpastor).
February 5, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Tony Jones and there are two marriages (nakedpastor).
February 5, 2015. Julie McMahon withdraws from social media and goes silent as a way to deal with a forthcoming court date in March. Her “radio silence” is noted in the update banner at The Wartburg Watch. This banner changes periodically, but according to this comment on a post at NakedPastor, this banner notice was apparently still posted as of February 23. In a February 16 comment by Dee Parsons of The Wartburg Watch:
dee on Mon Feb 16, 2015 at 05:30 PM said:
Announcement to our readers:
Julie will no longer be able to comment on our blog as well as others. Everything she says is being scrutinized and reported to lawyers if you get my drift.
Please pray for her. This makes me very sad.
This period of social media silence has continued through this posting (March 22, 2015), and may have been related to court proceedings that were scheduled around mid-March. It became one source of controversy and speculation, especially when it was implied by statements of February 21 that explained removal of all postings there on the WhyTony and TruthAboutTony sites, that some court had “ordered/requested” statements be taken down and people involved stop talking about it – which would certainly seem to constitute a violation of rights to free speech.
February 5, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, Update on Julie McMahon/Tony Jones (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #7 with 317 comments. This post updates the possibility of other alternatives suggested by Boz Tchividjian of G.R.A.C.E., as his organization will not be able to serve as mediator.
February 8, 2015. (Date approximate.) Rachel Held Evan’s website goes “under redevelopment.” Because of rancorous interactions on some previous posts dealing with Tony Jones/Emergent, there are people watching specifically to see if comments on those particular posts have disappeared. Apparently all is still intact when the website relaunches.
February 8, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, An Update on Julie McMahon and My Discussion With Brian McLaren: Trying Times (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #8 with 132 comments. This time the update was not as hopeful. Apparently there were misunderstandings in Dee Parsons’ communications with Brian McLaren, which are explained in the post. Also, apparently Tony Jones has filed litigation, and other discouraging events have happened.
February 8, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, telling your story: an invitation to intimidation (nakedpastor).
February 8, 2015. Emergent Parody posts video #3, The St(udents) A(gainst) M(ean) P(eople) Club.
February 10, 2015. This is originally slated as the final date for applications to a Fuller Theological Seminary Doctor of Ministry cohort in Christian Spirituality. This three-year program was to be led by Tony Jones as the Adjunct Professor, beginning in June 2015 and featuring co-teachers Phyllis Tickle in year #1, Brian McLaren tentatively in year #2, and Lauren Winner in year #3. However, the cohort was noted as postponed, an action that apparently happened sometime approximately during the first week of February 2015. (See the webpage for the Christian Spirituality cohort, which notes the postponement in the body of the page, plus the title was dropped to the bottom of the list of cohorts on the left-hand navigation bar and noted as postponed.) No explanation was given for this action.
February 10, 2015. Becky Garrison tweets about her article, Questioning the Clergy Compensation of Mark Driscoll and Tony Jones, regarding their clergy housing allowances. Since Mark Driscoll and his New Calvinism, and Tony Jones and Emergent, came from the same original movement in the mid-1990s, it has been natural to compare and contrast them as both have received substantive push-back in recent years.
February 10, 2015. Bill Kinnon posts, Narcissistic and/or Psychopathic Church Leadership.
February 11, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, Brian McLaren Responds, Julie’s In, and Mediation Will Be Moving Forward! (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #9 with 1,362 comments. The update news is more encouraging this time, and there is a lengthy quote from Brian McLaren with an introduction from Dee Parsons. Here is a select comment by Marsha from that thread:
Marsha on Sat Feb 14, 2015 at 11:08 PM said:
I have strong opinions about a lot of things. When there is a public issue I do a lot of background research before I comment publicly. Maybe no one else cares if I get it right but I care. However, seldom has an issue made me feel as agitated as this one and I have been trying to think why, as Dee asked. Like everyone else here I care deeply about the victims of emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse and as a Christian I hate when the church is spiritually abusive to these victims. It is a horrible betrayal.
I think what particularly resonates with me on top of that is that I also feel very strongly that we each own the truth of our lives. We learn and grow from both the good and bad things that happen to us and how we deal with them. No one else has the right to rewrite our story.
Yet that is what has happened here. A narrative was shared throughout this particular Christian community that Julie was bat shit crazy and that the marriage had been over for a long time and that therefore it was perfectly fine for Tony to divorce her and remarry. False stories were told about her to make her the villain and anything she had to say was dismissed because she was a ‘discredited’ person.
I don’t personally know Tony or Julie or anyone associated with them but I know this. Tony has no right to rewrite history and make himself the saint and Julie the villain. He has no right to lie about her sanity. He wanted her once, he had three children with her. He envisioned a certain kind of life with her. At some point everything changed; he saw new possibilities as his work created interest. He wanted to travel and speak and write. Julie wanted him to spend more time at home with her and the children. (I know without doubt that I could not possibly do a good job of taking care of three children under five with a husband on the road and I give Julie much credit). There was conflict; of course there would be. Tony wanted a different kind of life.
He needs to own his life. Just say the truth; don’t pretend that your wife was crazy and awful and you just had to divorce your wife and that Courtney had nothing to do with it. You made a choice. “See what you made me do” is what a child says.
Tony needs to honor the good years and honor Julie as the mother of his children. He needs to tell the truth, stop the legal harassment, and stop acting as if Julie’s finally getting a voice is a narcissistic injury to him. The other celebrities who enabled their friend and colleague in trying to diminish who Julie is need to repent and apologize. Then move on and act in the best interests of the children.
I hope the overwhelmingly positive response here and other places will be of some comfort to Julie. We hear you. I am proud of you that after all you have been through, you are still standing strong. Your life is so much more than what has been written on the Internet!
February 11, 2015. R.L. Stollar posts, The Evidence Against Tony Jones (Overturning Tables). This post documents 16 facts, based on Julie McMahon’s perspective, that contradict statements made by Tony Jones. According to Stollar, these facts are drawn from eight documents, from which he posts excerpts. (Note: Some of the excerpts are redacted to remove names of Jones’ and McMahon’s children, or other identity information.) Here is the list of documents, in the order Stollar posts them:
- Fairview Health Services’s Pertinent Information Report of Julie McMahon Jones’s Assault Complaint from September 4, 2008;
- Hospital Report on Julie McMahon’s Injuries from September 11, 2008;
- Fairview Health Services’s Medical Report by Bradley Robert Williams of Julie McMahon’s Injuries from September 17, 2008;
- Hospital Follow-Up Report on Julie McMahon’s Injuries from October 22, 2008;
- Email from Tony Jones to Julie McMahon from December 27, 2008;
- Denise Wilder’s Psychological Evaluation Report of Julie McMahon Jones from February 2, 2009;
- Denise Wilder’s Psychological Evaluation Report of Anthony Jones from February 3, 2009;
- Hennepin County Family Court Services’s Custody and Parenting Time Evaluation from May 28, 2009.
February 12, 2015. Emergent Parody posts video #4, There’s Something About Mary Fuller. Tony asks his girlfriend, Mary Fuller, to the Valentine’s Day dance.
February 12, 2015. Michael Newnham (Phoenix Preacher) posts, Loose Ends.
February 12, 2015. Sandhya Jha posts, The wrong time to stay loyal – what the Tony Jones scandal says about us.
February 12, 2015. Libby Anne posts on Love, Joy, Feminism, The Tony Jones Affair: Releasing the Documents.
February 12, 2015. Tony Jones Statement Comparison. Document preview: Comparison of R.L.Stollar’s “The Evidence Against Tony Jones” and Tony Jones’ prepared statement “Statement by Tony Jones Regarding Allegations of Abuse”. I make no conclusions here; draw your own.
February 13, 2015. Bi Any Means posts, When “Nice” Christians Become Abusive Ones.
February 13, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Tony Jones’ Story and Julie’s: are victims still guilty until proven innocent? (nakedpastor).
February 13, 2015. Shaney Lee does a guest post, Tony Jones and Why the Documents Shouldn’t Have Been Needed, at R.L. Stollar’s blog (Overturning Tables). The article makes four points:
- Our default should be to believe the victims.
- Abusive patterns are easy to recognize.
- Most victims don’t have concrete evidence. [Julie happens to be one who does.]
- Asking for evidence is about you, not about the victim.
Approximately mid-February 2015. Updt 3: #IBelieveJulie: The Evolution of Rachel Held Evans’ Response.
February 15, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Where do people go when the whistle blows? (nakedpastor).
February 15, 2015. Brother Maynard posts, Tony Jones & the New Emergent Manifesto, Part I (Subversive Influence). Lays out the historical context on Tony Jones/Emergent from 2008 and 2009, summarizes the Naked Pastor thread of 2014, and then brings the issues and allegations into the present – including the push-back on Rachel Held Evans about her supposed “diligent investigation,” the posting of support statements for Tony Jones on the Scribd WhyTony site and Storify TruthAboutTony site, and subsequent push-back on the linguistic gymnastics and loose use of “documentation” by Jones and his supporters.
February 16, 2015. Brother Maynard posts, Tony Jones & the New Emergent Manifesto, Part II (Subversive Influence). Focuses on dynamics of the alleged gaslighting of Julie McMahon by Tony Jones, his acknowledged clinical diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Axis II, not Axis I as he mis-reported in his January 27, 2015, Statement) and what that means, and his alleged recruitment/use of proxies to spread information and misinformation. Brother Maynard also issued a challenge:
This is therefore a call to those leaders in and around Emergent Village in 2008-2010, and who have currently issued letters or made statements of support for Tony Jones, whether formally or informally. It is similarly a call to those on the fringes of Emergent™ who heard and repeated the Julie-is-crazy meme based on what you had been told at the time. Please rescind your support for these actions against Julie and for covering it up in whatever large or small way you participated.
February 16, 2015. Kathy Escobar posts, a thing or two about narcissism (+ church).
February 16, 2015. Art illustration by Alan Molineax posted on Facebook, The continuation of abuse.
February 17, 2015. This is the official release date for Doug Pagitt’s book, Flipped: The Provocative Truth That Changes Everything We Know About God (Convergence Books).
February 18, 2015. Brother Maynard posts, Narcissists in the Pulpit (Subversive Influence). Gives extensive description of characteristics of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and related problems of power dynamics, spiritual abuse, and treatment possibilities. He also looks at options for preventing those with NPD from involvement in leadership roles due to their lack of empathy, and tendencies to lie and manipulate. Brother Maynard suggests that “people diagnosed with these conditions are unfit for christian ministry, ever” (emphasis his).
February 18, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, Update: Wondering Eagle; Prayer for Julie McMahon (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #10 with 47 comments. More news on litigation by Tony Jones of Julie McMahon, and other updates.
February 19, 2015. Jeff Breakfast posts on Facebook, “Silence Watch 2015” poster, featuring Rev. Breakfast with seven Emergent/Progressive celebrities: Doug Pagitt, Rachel Held Evans, Peter Rollins, Sarah Cunningham, Phyllis Tickle, Brian McLaren, and Nadia Bolz-Weber.
February 19, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, 11 reasons why we allow abusive leaders to continue (nakedpastor).
February 22, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Tony Jones’ and company’s continued attempts to silence people and control the narrative (nakedpastor).
February 23, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, It’s not abusive to call a bully a bully! (nakedpastor).
February 23, 2015. Brother Maynard posts, Tony Jones & Narrative Control (Subversive Influence). Explores the Scribd WhyTony statements, a post by John Vest where he concludes he wishes he hadn’t written his statement and wants it removed, the removal of all the WhyTony statements, and an detailed analysis of its replacement with a note that gives a pseudo-legal explanation of why they were taken down. Brother Maynard also raises the issue of Tony Jones’ apparent breach of the parenting agreement with Julie McMahon by his failure/refusal to return their oldest child after Tony’s visitation period had ended. Brother Maynard posts archived copies of all the WhyTony statements, and explores how these statements and events have been used in narcissistic ways in attempts to control the narrative of the ongoing disputes.
February 23, 2015. Maria-Jose Soerens posts on Missio Alliance, A #TrulyHuman Perspective: Keeping the “Human” in Victim AND Perpetrator
February 24, 2015. Brother Maynard posts, Tony Jones & the New Emergent Manifesto, Part III (Subversive Influence). Traces the history of emerging/Emergent, and some of the historical problems and push-back, including contentions about who “founded” “the emerging church” and who “killed” it.
February 24, 2015. Brother Maynard posts, Sometimes I Doodle on 3×5 Cards: #WhenTony (Subversive Influence). An attempt to visualize how much evidence it will take before those supporting Tony Jones revoke their support.
February 26, 2015. Dee Parsons posts, A Sad Update on Julie McMahon’s Situation (The Wartburg Watch). Emergent Article #11 with 205 comments. An update about continuing litigation and custody issues.
February 27, 2015. Dr. Christy Sim posts ViewPoint article, Domestic Violence Allegations in the Faith-Based Community: How Shall We Respond? See also her 2014 resource article, How to Help a Victim of Domestic Violence.
February 28, 2015. Brother Maynard posts, Tony Jones & the New Emergent Manifesto, Part IV (Subversive Influence). Critiques the apparent naiveté of power dynamics shown by Rachel Held Evans, who suggested initially she had done a “diligent investigation” into the issues between Tony Jones and Julie McMahon, but later backtracked from that stance and noted she had not spoken with either party. She also suggested that victims work out their issues through the court system. Brother Maynard offers other resources for working through issues, and how to support those who voice their claims of victimization. He again challenges commenders of Tony Jones to rescind their support and apologize for harm done to Julie McMahon.
* * * * * * *
Social Media and Events March 2015
* * * * * * *
March 1, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, 7 reasons why it’s so scary to challenge Christian leaders (nakedpastor).
March 2, 2015. Brother Maynard posts, Tony Jones & the Multiple Marriage Proposal (Subversive Influence). Critiques the weak theological methodology behind Tony Jones’ “two marriages” view, and its resulting faulty conclusions. He also overviews some of the history of its impact of how this came into play in 2009-2010 with social media and how this affected the Emergent movement. He explores the question of “what to do with the theological work of someone who has fallen morally. There are really three possibilities: (1) ignore the moral failing and evaluate the theology on its own scholarly merit; (2) discount any of theology in the area of the moral failing but accept the rest; or (3) throw it all away.” This issue is becoming more prominent in light of multiple instances coming to light in recent years of Christian leaders whose moral failings were kept in the dark – often until numerous previously-silenced victims came forward to tell their stories years after the fact.
March 4, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, this seems to be the popular strategy for surviving accusations of abuse (nakedpastor).
March 6, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, the number one reason why the church doesn’t care for its own victims (nakedpastor).
March 9, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Bullies and Blindness: an analysis of the interview between Justin Blaney and Justin Dean (nakedpastor).
March 12, 2015. R.L. Stollar posts, Recentering the Shame Conversation (Overturning Tables). This post is related to #CTshame Twitter hashtag conversation starting on March 12, catalyzed by Christianity Today.
March 12, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Tony Jones and Julie McMahon: secrecy and silence (nakedpastor).
March 13, 2015. Emergent Parody posts video #5, Tony Jones’ connection to the Emergent leadership. Two [factual] corrections – The Convergence: Gathering By the Sea should read, Convergence Network. Daniels Literary Group isn’t a publisher – they represent authors to help them get published.
March 13, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, tips on how to silence a dog (or a person) (nakedpastor).
March 13, 2015. Brother Maynard posts, Shameful Ignorance: Tony Jones & Christianity Today #CTshame (Subversive Influence). Overviews the recent Christianity Today hashtagged “Twitter chat” of #CTshame, explores differences between critiquing versus shaming, and considers how silencing is a tool of “narrative control” to overpower the stories of those who’ve been victimized.
March 15, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, why abusers police how the abused file complaints (nakedpastor).
March 16-20, 2015. The Convergence Network is holding a summit called A Gathering by the Sea, at Marco Island in Florida, to “engage in vital conversation about what is emerging and converging among innovative, forward-leaning, generous-hearted Christians.” Hosts are Brian and Grace McLaren.
March 18, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, spiritual abuse spreads with our disbelief in it. (nakedpastor). Quote: “I used to think that when I cartooned or wrote about spiritual abuse that I was touching a nerve. Now I think it is the nerve. The problem at the core of our communities is not theology, it is power.”
March 24, 2015. This is the scheduled release date for Tony Jones’ latest book, Did God Kill Jesus? Searching for Love in History’s Most Famous Execution. According to this excerpt posted on Tony’s blog, the dedication reads: “To Courtney, who saved me.”
March 29, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, 10 observations from my personal experiences with narcissists (nakedpastor).
* * * * * * *
Social Media and Events
April – May – June 2015
* * * * * * *
START FOCUS SECTION ON:
Debacle at Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Blog When She Supports Tony Jones – April 2015
Analysis Notes: Nadia Bolz-Weber’s blog post has 18 comments – basically all of them “negative” and questioning her judgment and/or ethics in supporting Tony Jones – at the time of my adding this item to this page on Social Media 2015. In terms of analysis of how this has been playing out, it is important to note that Nadia Bolz-Weber has been relatively silent since the major eruption the 2nd and 3rds weeks of January over the Why Christian? event then being produced by The JoPa Group. Her strategy of disengagement seems not to have been all that helpful. Understandably, the endorsement quote she gave for Tony Jones’ book that is posted on the book’s Amazon page had already been in the works, so this posts on her Facebook page and blog are the follow-through on that. So quite intriguing that she’s not escaping the push-back now despite months of silence.
Meanwhile, Rachel Held Evans – the other co-curator (and now co-producer with Nadia Bolz-Weber) of the Why Christian? event – has taken a different route. She has posted regularly on her social media accounts. A number of those posts have drawn similar questions and challenges about her supposed advocacy for victims while not withdrawing support for Tony Jones. And from reports by those who posted challenge comments, various of those have been deleted.
This is still unfolding, but it appears that neither strategy – engagement/deletion or disengagement – has avoided the controversy. The push-back has at some point been labeled by both co-curators as abusive/shaming, “digital pitchforks,” or the like. While it is understandable that Emergent/Progressive insiders might interpret such challenges over what others see as apparent ethical inconsistencies as “digital rage” or something along that line, outsiders could just as easily interpret these comments as shining a spotlight on “commender” activity that supports someone against whom there are not only allegations of abuse and duplicity, but substantial cases of evidence.
April 2, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, silence doesn’t make abuse go away (nakedpastor).
April 7, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, the cross or the crown: Gary Webb and the silencing of your story (nakedpastor).
April 8, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Is this about Tony Jones vs Julie McMahon or about the abuse of power? (nakedpastor).
April 9, 2015. Sincere Apologies, by Matthew Bolz-Weber (Sarcastic Lutheran). An explanation and apology by Nadia Bolz-Weber’s husband for deleting the comments on her post about Tony Jones’ book. The 902 comments from Do you have questions about the cross? were preserved in this Disqus archive and Matthew eventually closed all comments on the original post.
Should this archive ever be deleted, a plain-text copy of the first 889 comments is on this Emergent Nightmare site. For a downloadable PDF copy of the first 889 comments, see this Scribd site.
April 10, 2015. Parody post on Facebook: My Wife Would Like You to Know She Doesn’t Hear a Word You’re Saying, by Rev. Jeff Breakfast (Jeff Breakfast).
April 10, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Does our need for heroes hurt us? (nakedpastor). Includes some discussion of the abuses of theological pacifist John Howard Yoder and official apologies made by his denomination decades later for Yoder’s sexual assaults on women. A connection between Yoder and Tony Jones has come up in a post by Sarah Moon.
END FOCUS SECTION ON:
Debacle at Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Blog When She Supports Tony Jones – April 2015
* * * * * * *
April 8, 2015. As of this date at least, Tony Jones’ eBook of “There are Two Marriages” had disappeared from the sales pages of Amazon. Leading up to his March 24 release of Did God Kill Jesus?, and in the weeks immediately following, there were social media comments alluding to the eBook. Although the eBook version is not available at this time (April 28, 2015), a prior version of the content is available via the Two Marriages category on Tony Jones’ Theoblogy.
April 12, 2015. Comment by Levi Boldt on a public SCCL Facebook post about, Imagine if talking heads who endorse truth-telling didn’t delete all the comments in which survivors beg for their advocacy? (Stuff Christian Culture Likes). He discloses he is on the book launch team for Rachel Held Evans new book, Searching for Sunday, but is conflicted because of her dismissiveness of allegations about abuse of Julie McMahon by Tony Jones. He posts on this public Facebook page the message he sent to Rachel Held Evans concerning this.
April 12, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, 10 silent rules and expectations that finally get you in the end! (nakedpastor).
April 14, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, a list of how abused people feel and why abusers count on it (nakedpastor).
April 14, 2015. This is the scheduled release date for Rachel Held Evans’ new book, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church (Thomas Nelson).
April 14, 2015. Convergence-Emergence: Same Shit, Different Decade, by Caris Adele (Caris Adele: Creating and Curating Content to Disrupt the Status Quo).
April 15, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Christian publishing and the perils of peer reviews (nakedpastor).
April 19, 2015. Elizabeth Esther posted the following statement on her April 17 public Facebook post, in response to questions about secondary support for Tony Jones through direct support for Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber.
Elizabeth Esther’s Blog Friends Hi, friends. Sorry for my delayed response, I’ve been dealing with a migraine for the past two days.
Several years ago, I was pretty outspoken about Tony Jones. He scares me. I don’t trust him. My feelings have not changed. I stand with Julie and pray for justice.
I have not been involved online in this particular incident with Tony Jones because: 1. I was/am under an intense book writing deadline and 2. I was dealing with some health issues of my own —not to mention raising five kids! Truthfully, writing and publishing my first book took a toll on my health and I have needed to scale back my online presence. As you know, I haven’t even been blogging regularly.
However, just because I haven’t spoken online about this particular situation doesn’t mean I don’t care about victims of abuse. Nor does it mean I’ve been silent offline. It simply means that I did not have the emotional or physical energy to keep up with everything and engage this particular issue publicly.
I have needed to spend my energy on my recovery, my children and my second book.
Yes, I was surprised and dismayed when Rachel & Nadia partnered with Tony Jones. And I was also relieved and grateful when R&N discontinued their partnership with him.
As always, I remain supportive of those who have suffered abuse and believe their voices should be heard. I believe those in positions of religious authority should be held accountable for their actions. And I am thankful for those who carry on the work when some of us (me! me!) are tired and worn out!
April 21, 2015. “A Cross Hanging From Her Neck,” by Tony Jones (tonyj.net).
April 21, 2015. Tony Jones’ Cross is a Symbol of Abuse (Or, How To Abuse Women Like A Pacifist), by Sarah Moon (Sarah Over the Moon). Comparisons of the theology and alleged abusive behaviors of Tony Jones to those of John Howard Yoder who, despite preaching a pacifist theology turns out to have been sexually assaulting and harassing women. However, his denomination did nothing to stop him for decades, despite multiple complaints filed. This is Ms. Moon’s response to Tony Jones’ post of April 21, “A Cross Hanging From Her Neck.”
April 24, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Julie McMahon, Tony Jones, and Submergent: My Update (nakedpastor).
April 24, 2015. Twitter humor post on Tony Jones’ new book release, by David Elliott (davidredefined).
April 27, 2015. David Hayward posts cartoon and article, Julie McMahon: this is my story, this is my song (nakedpastor).
Analysis Notes: In April and early May of 2015, it seemed two main tactics were being used in attempts to maintain shows of support for Tony Jones/Emergent and keep control over the narrative:
- Promote him and his new book released in April, Did God Kill Jesus?; and ignore, block, hide, and/or delete social media comments that questioned either his qualifications as a Christian leader.
- Talk about narcissism in general, and suggest it is not a moral condition (and thus imply the effects are also non-moral) – and thus minimize the manageable but incurable clinically diagnosed condition, shame those who have concerns about the impact of a Narcissist’s behaviors, and dissociate the clinical diagnosis from Tony Jones despite his public acknowledgement of having this diagnosis.
May 1, 2015. (May 1 was the post date, although the article is dated May 5, 2015. The time stamp on early comments confirm an actual post date of May 1.) Thank God I’m not like them: On Shaming People’s Defenses as a Defense, by Peter Rollins (Peter Rollins). A general philosophical and psychoanalytic look at narcissism, without getting into a clinical diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder or its negative effects when unmanaged.
Scott Morizot on Tuesday May 5, 2015 at 5:04 am
I honestly expected better from RHE [Rachel Held Evans] and NBW [Nadia Bolz-Weber], especially the former. If nothing else, I would expect them to at least stand up against the abuse Tony Jones is inflicting directly and by proxy on his children.
This post also explores how friends of Tony Jones have allegedly continued in their attempts to control the narrative. For instance, Peter Rollins posted an article on May 1, 2015, talking generically about narcissism and narcissistic defense mechanisms, and philosophically about defense mechanisms and psychoanalysis, without seriously engaging the harmful impact typically coming from people with a clinical diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and specifically, his friend and professional associate, Tony Jones. Also, other close associates of Tony Jones have taken to deleting unfavorable comments about him/Emergent on their social media, extensive blocking of commenters on their social media, and/or refusing to read comments or interact with commenters.
May 04, 2015. In which Peter has a sexy accent (Emergent Parody. Length: 02:17.)
May 5, 2015. If You Want to Destroy Your Church, Follow Liberals’ Advice, by David French (National Review). A response to the recently released book by Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday.
May 7, 2015. a brief word on Rachel Held Evans, her dirty laundry, and her new book, by Peter Enns (Peter Enns). A response to the recently released book by Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday.
May 8, 2015. Liturgy and Mission: Why Rachel Held Evans and Keith Anderson Are Right, by Tripp Hudgins (God’s Politics). A response to the recently released book by Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday.
May 8, 2015. Follow Friday: The Women of Why Christian?, by Rachel Held Evans (Rachel Held Evans). Profiles of the eleven women who will be speakers at the forthcoming WX15/Why Christian? event in September 2015.
May 9, 2015. Let’s Stay Quiet: The JoPa Sisters, parody posted by Rev. Jeff Breakfast (Jeff Breakfast, Public Figure).
May 11, 2015. How to be a Christian on the Internet: 6 Questions and a New Series, by Rachel Held Evans. A forthcoming four-month series of civility on the internet, with interviews of “researchers, psychologists, bloggers, journalists, clergy, authors, activists, artists, leaders, and all sorts of other people. We’ll look at the latest research, consider the relevant philosophical/theological issues at hand, and discuss best practices.” The six topics are: call-outs, community, “twitter fight!”, boundaries and balance, shaming, and criticism.
May 11, 2015. There’s No Traffic Jam on the Canterbury Trail, by Tony Jones (tonyj.net).
May 11, 2015. Why I’m Embarrassed on Behalf of Keith Anderson and Tony Jones, by Rev Dr. Clint Schnekloth (Lutheran Confessions).
May 13, 2015. Jones McMahon Lawyer Letter 5.12.15, posted by Emergent Nightmares. The letter lists approximately 56 different individuals or entities in social media (some people with multiple platforms), who have posted a total of 166 specific URLs that M. Sue Wilson and Tony Jones wish to have removed for comments they contain from Julie McMahon, or allegations they mention.
Important background information about the posting of the redacted copy of the letter:
- Tim WB 1/2. Julie McMahon sent me Tony Jones’ lawyer’s letter. I was mentioned in it. I posted it to https://www.scribd.com/doc/265151674/Jones-McMahon-Lawyer-Letter-5-12-15 … I redacted personal details.
- Tim WB 2/2. I want to ensure there is no confusion over its origin, its authenticity, or my responsibility for taking it public. #IBelieveJulie.
This comment by Beatrice on David Hayward’s May 14, 2015, post is a helpful summary:
The court order was written by someone who understands the futility of trying to scrub this off the Internet. Julie and Tony are asked to remove THEIR OWN POSTS AND COMMENTS, “as far as they are able.” Well, if a post has comments frozen, Julie can’t delete her comment/s. If someone has put something – anything! – on Tumblr on the topic, one re-blog and it’s now out there for good. The original post is off and running and the author cannot recall it or delete it. S/he can delete their post at their Tumblr, that’s it. Same goes for Twitter. If it’s been re-Tweeted, the original Tweet can be deleted, but the reTweets will still contain it. Facebook too.
Julie can delete EVERY POST SHE HAS EVER MADE ANYWHERE and it won’t make a bit of difference. If anyone has taken screenshots of comments (hint hint), they can be posted on another domain, or in Scribd, and Julie has no connection to it. She can follow that court order, and no information will be lost.
May 13, 2015. Jones McMahon Lawyer Letter 5.12.15, by Season of Rain (Season of Rain).
May 13, 2015. Dianna Anderson Tweet: I know I said I wasn’t going to comment on the Tony Jones things anymore, but I have to break my silence to link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/265151674/Jones-McMahon-Lawyer-Letter-5-12-15.
May 13, 2015. See no evil. Speak no evil. Hear no evil. Parody humor tweet by David Elliott.
May 14, 2015. Tony Jones is trying to scrub the internet!, by David Hayward (nakedpastor).
May 14, 2015. A Letter to Tony Jones, by Living Liminal (Living Liminal).
May 15, 2015. Tony Jones, M. Sue Wilson, & the STFU Campaign, by Brent Toderash/Brother Maynard (Subversive Influence). Examines the Jones McMahon Lawyer Letter of May 12, 2015, and analyzes it in terms of First Amendment issues, lack of court jurisdiction over anyone other than the two people directly involved – Tony Jones and Julie McMahon – and the lack of court authority to require bloggers to remove their own social media posts, and/or comments by themselves, Jones, or McMahon. Also highlights the ongoing troublesome issues of apparent attempts at “narrative control” by Tony Jones and alleged “lawfare” campaign as pay-back to his ex-wife for telling her side of their story.
May 15, 2015. Narcissistic and/or Psychopathic Church Leadership, by Bill Kinnon (Kinnon.tv; originally posted February 10, 2015). UPDATE May 15, 2015: I have been notified by Julie McMahon that she has been asked in an emailed correspondence, to ask me to remove this post. That’s not going to happen. In my never humble opinion, this is simply a further working out of Tony Jones’ self-admitted Narcissistic Personality Disorder (admission on Pg 10 of pdf). Only an NPD could believe this to be a reasonable request.
May 15, 2015. ‘Why was Christ Killed?,’ new book asks, interview featuring Tony Jones (MSNBC; video, length = 05:31).
May 15, 2015. Morning Joe Asks Me About Jesus, by Tony Jones (tonyj.net).
May 29-June 2, 2015. The JoPa Group’s Learning Adventures, Boundary Waters, Theology of Creation with Tony Jones, is scheduled to go into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northeastern Minnesota.
* * * * * * *
Social Media and Events
July – August – September 2015
July 9-12, 2015. Wild Goose Festival: Spirit, Justice, Music, Arts. The 2015 Festival is set for Hot Springs, NC, and the theme for 2015 is “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” A list of speakers has not yet been announced, other than the fact that Brian McLaren will return as a speaker.
August 19, 2015. UPDATE: On August 18, The Wartburg Watch posted “So Sad: Tony Jones Reportedly Sues Julie McMahon for Custody of All of the Children.” The article notes that “Tony is suing Julie for the custody of the rest of her children and is reportedly claiming that Julie is an unfit mother. This is the woman who cared for the children while Tony pursued his degree, his career and then another relationship. Julie was there for those children all of those years.” No details available at this time on related court schedule for his litigation.
August 26, 2015. How the Emergent Church Helped Me Become an Atheist, by Trav Mamone (Bi Any Means).
September 8, 2015. Scheduled release date for Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People, by Nadia Bolz-Weber (Convergent Books).
September 18-20, 2015. The WX15/Why Christian? Event is scheduled to be held in Minneapolis, MN. It was originally due to be produced by The JoPa Group, but it eventually was shifted to being produced through the co-curators for the conference, Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans. This was due to substantive protests during January 2015 after the original announcement of the forthcoming event. Key issues in the social media dissent revolved around Tony Jones and his alleged abusive treatment of his ex-wife, Julie McMahon. The JoPa Group reportedly stepped back from the event so it could go forward, and a new website was built for Why Christian?
There was peaceful protest at the event Friday and Saturday, September 18 and 19, beginning at 8 a.m. A September 16 Facebook post on Stuff Christian Culture Likes (SCCL) gives the information about the challenges and their purpose:
A peaceful protest has been planned for the Why Christian? conference in Minneapolis this weekend. The purpose is to raise awareness that this conference is being held by and purportedly for women while there is substantial evidence that keynote speakers Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber dismissed the claims of a battered woman whose alleged attacker is their friend and colleague. Dismissal of a victim by people who champion both feminism and Christianity perpetuates the system of silence and shame around domestic violence. A full statement on the protesters’ grievance, court documents, and protest location/time is here: LINK. [NOTE: This public Facebook page also includes numerous posts by those who participated in the protests and some of the responses they received from Why Christian? attendees and others.]
A full statement on the protesters’ grievance complete with court documents is here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xp1kl6ht8eoy6sh/RHEandNBWhistory.pdf?dl=0. [NOTE: This link is to a Dropbox PDF entitled, “RHEandNBWhistory.”
September 22, 2015. Jana Riess at Religion New Service posted, “Rest in peace, Phyllis Tickle,” who had died in her sleep that day.
* * * * * * *
Social Media and Events
October – November – December 2015
October 6, 2015. As a follow-up to the WX15/Why Christian event, Rachel Held Evans posted “On Giving Testimony: Why “Why Christian?” Worked.” She notes that a similar event is scheduled for September 30-October 1, 2016, in Chicago.
November 11, 2015. Brian McLaren announces that he is taking “A Sabbatical …”
November 25, 2015. Dee Parsons at The Wartburg Watch posts “Sad News Regarding Julie McMahon and Her Children.”
TWW has received information from a credible source that Tony Jones has received temporary custody of all of their children. Please pray for Julie and the children. It does appear to me that some progressive men are not any different than the patriarchs when it comes to respect for women and children.