14 Responses to Statement by Tony Jones [January 27, 2015]

On This Page:

  • Table of Contents: Allegations and Responses in the Statement by Tony Jones
  • List of Links to Sources That Evaluate the Statement as a Whole

INTRODUCTION. On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, Tony Jones posted a 12-page Statement on his blog, with a PDF version. (A listing in a Google search for “Tony Jones statement PDF” notes a date of October 29, 2014 on an 11-page version of the document. This earlier edition appears to be the same except for an expansion on one of the allegations and documentation.) This Statement of Tony Jones gives his account of 11 allegations against him made by his former wife, Julie McMahon. It also gives his response and documentation for each allegation.

UPDATE: On February 21, Tony Jones removed his Statement from the Scribd site, as well as from his blog. However, the document has been preserved here. Links for the other likewise removed WhyTony Scribd site documents can be found in this post by Brother Maynard/Subversive Influence, on Tony Jones & Narrative Control.

Originally, this page was designed to address overall critiques here, and have a subpage for analysis of each of the 11 allegations. But, because the original document was removed, that plan changed to posting overall critiques here and dropping the allegation-by-allegation analysis, which would have contained the following probable elements:

  • Tony Jones’ allegation, and the page range for locating it in his Statement.
  • A summary of his presentation and items of evidence offered or referenced.
  • Information that includes verifiable/sourced facts, and my notes on how they appear to corroborate or conflict with information he gives.
  • Select allegation-specific analyses, interpretations, opinions, and questions drawn from crowd-sourcing, including items that corroborate or conflict with information he gives. The goal is not to be comprehensive and find every possible relevant online item, but to cover as many points as seem to be emerging and choose a few sources that best represent those points.
  • Links to additional items, such as allegation-specific technical terms. For instance: What is an Axis II diagnosis? What is the DSM? Why is the DSM-IV the correct edition to use?

With additional evidence pieces that have been posted online, I may eventually restore the original plan for analysis and subpages.

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Table of Contents:

Allegations and Responses in the

Statement by Tony Jones

00. Introduction. (pages 1-2)

01. Julie has full custody of the children and Tony has the minimum allowable visitation accorded by state law. (page 2)

02. Tony retained a lawyer before Julie and planned a divorce. (pages 2-4)

03. There was phone contact in phone records between Tony and Courtney Perry in May 2008. (pages 4-5)

04. Tony and Courtney were in a relationship before divorce papers were served, as proven by an email. (page 5)

05. Tony tore a ligament on Julie’s shoulder in an act of abuse and [she] has MRI to prove it. (page 5)

06. Tony is an abuser. (pages 5-7)

07. Tony is a “deadbeat dad” who does not pay child support. (pages 7-8)

08. Tony orchestrated Julie’s arrest. (pages 8-9)

09. Tony had pre-planned to get custody of the children when Julie was arrested. (pages 9-10)

10. Tony suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and that makes him unfit as a father and spiritual leader. (page 10)

11. Tony and Doug Pagitt concocted the categories of “legal wife” and “spiritual wife” in order to cover up Tony’s affair. (pages 10-11)

12. Conclusion. (pages 11-12)

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List of Links to Sources That

Evaluate the Statement as a Whole

Breaking: Transition Statement for Why Christian? 2015, by Dee Parsons (The Wartburg Watch, January 27, 2015). 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. Some of the allegation-specific comments from this thread will be noted on subpages here.

A Response to Tony Jones’ Statement, by R.L. Stollar (Overturning Tables, January 28, 2015). 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.”

The Evidence Against Tony Jones, by R.L. Stollar (Overturning Tables, February 11, 2015). 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 just as Stollar posts:

  • 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.

Tony Jones and Why the Documents Shouldn’t Have Been Needed, guest post by Shaney Lee (Overturning Tables, February 13, 2015). The article makes four points:

1. Our default should be to believe the victims.

2. Abusive patterns are easy to recognize.

3. Most victims don’t have concrete evidence. [Julie happens to be one who does.]

4. Asking for evidence is about you, not about the victim.

The following series of posts by Brother Maynard at Subversive Influence offers a significant level of observation, analysis, and interpretation. The series is important in part because Subversive Influence of one of the dozen or so blogs involved in the social media eruption of the Emergent/Tony Jones-Julie McMahon story in 2009-2010. Also, Brother Maynard was one who, at the time, was persuaded to remove Julie McMahon’s comments and edit others that brought in “personal” issues about Tony Jones.

February 15, 2015. Tony Jones & the New Emergent Manifesto, Part I, by Brother Maynard (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. Tony Jones & the New Emergent Manifesto, Part II, by Brother Maynard (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 18, 2015. Narcissists in the Pulpit, by Brother Maynard (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 23, 2015. Tony Jones & Narrative Control, by Brother Maynard (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 24, 2015. Tony Jones & the New Emergent Manifesto, Part III, by Brother Maynard (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. Sometimes I Doodle on 3×5 Cards: #WhenTony, by Brother Maynard (Subversive Influence). An attempt to visualize how much evidence it will take before those supporting Tony Jones revoke their support.

February 28, 2015. Tony Jones & the New Emergent Manifesto, Part IV, by Brother Maynard (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.

March 2, 2015. Tony Jones & the Multiple Marriage Proposal, by Brother Maynard (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 13, 2015. Shameful Ignorance: Tony Jones & Christianity Today #CTshame, by Brother Maynard (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.

February 22, 2015. The following comment of February 23 by Solomon Porch comes from a post at NakedPastor on, Tony Jones’ and company’s continued attempts to silence people and control the narrative. It is important for noting the role of Blois Olson, whose name appears at the very end of Tony Jones’ Statement.

Solomon Porch

February 23, 2015 at 6:12 pm

A widely overlooked piece of information found at the bottom of Tony’s 12 page statement was one of the two names listed as contact people who were enlisted to speak on his behalf: Blois Olson. Mr. Olson is a highly-regarded and politically-connected public relations heavy-weight who is based in Minneapolis. He is what is commonly referred to as a “spin-docter” with a particular expertise in “crisis management” and political maneuvering. Boy, it sure is surprising that a humble church leader like Tony Jones seems to need (and is able to afford) high-priced PR talent like this guy. But can you really blame him? Having someone who can help him with his image is probably the best money he can spend right now (it sure beats spending it on child support). That said, I don’t know about you, but I can always tell when the slick-sounding press releases are formulated after “the team” gets together for an exhaustive “public statement” strategy session during which every word, phrase, and nuance is carefully considered, debated-over, written and rewritten, and finally aligned-around prior to being released to the general public. The result is so contrived, manipulative and inauthentic that it makes you feel like a dumbass for even having taken the time to read it. These guys must think we are all complete idiots! Then again, they sure as hell don’t want Tony making his own statements. They’ve seen enough of that.