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Ministry News Opinion

EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK:  Kanakuk Kamps, and a Settlement In Allen Stanford Case

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Editor’s Note:  Most Saturdays we will feature this “Editor’s Notebook” column. MinistryWatch President Warren Smith will comment on one or more stories in the week’s news, adding his opinion, an additional perspective or, sometimes, a behind-the-scenes look at how the story came to be. 

Kanakuk Can And Should End The Pain. On February 13, survivors and family members of victims of sexual abuse at Kanakuk Kamps, a popular evangelical camp outside Branson, Missouri, testified before the Missouri House Judiciary Committee in support of a new bill regarding the statute of limitations for sexual abuse. (Read our story here.)

The event once again put Kanakuk in the spotlight for its handling of sex abuse claims.  And it’s hard to know why it chooses to keep enduring all this negative publicity, not to mention the financial fallout:  Kanakuk lost nearly $6-million in 2020, the last year for which financials are available. No doubt the Covid crisis contributed to this financial setback, but it’s hard not to also note that the negative publicity surrounding Kanakuk has not abated over time. It seems to have intensified.

For example, the group Facts About Kanakuk launched its website in March of 2021. Nancy and David French wrote a series of articles about the organization gained national attention soon thereafter. MinistryWatch and other news organizations have also been covering developments. (Read our coverage here.) A petition asking Kanakuk to release survivors from their non-disclosure agreements has not topped 26,000 signatures.

All of this when the solution to this problem is so simple:  Simply release the survivors from their non-disclosure agreements, and do a housecleaning of senior leadership who was there when the abuse took place, including Joe White.

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Kanakuk is an amazing place. I have nieces and nephews who went there. My own daughter spent two great summers there on staff. But it has never properly, publicly put this dark chapter behind it. The Kanakuk abuse survivors just want justice, and a part of achieving that justice is simply to be heard. MinistryWatch is not in the business to give advice, but if we were, the advice we would give to Kanakuk would be simple: End this. Do the right thing.

Allen Stanford Settlement. Eleven years ago this month, on Mar. 6, 2012, former billionaire Allen Stanford was convicted of perpetrating a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, using a network of Christian financial planners and others who unknowingly brought their clients into the scheme.

I wrote about that when it happened for WORLD Magazine, where I was working at the time.  I’d been covering Stanford for three years by then. (Here’s my first story about Stanford, from 2009.)

Last week, Toronto-Dominion Bank said it would pay more than $1.2 billion to settle a lawsuit by investors in Stanford’s scheme. Though lawyers will get a significant percentage of this settlement, it will provide a small measure of justice and restitution to the thousands of people who lost money in Stanford’s scheme, which was one of the biggest frauds in history.

That said, with this latest settlement, though the TD Bank settlement brings the total that Stanford investors will recoup up to $1.6 billion, most victims will get no more than ten cents back for every dollar lost in Stanford’s fraud.

And what happened to Allen Stanford himself?  Stanford was convicted of fraud and money laundering and is serving a 110-year sentence.

You can read an in-depth MinistryWatch report on Stanford, and his connection to the Christian financial planning world, by clicking here.

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Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.