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EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK: Pregnancy Resource Centers, Christians Suing Christians, Private Inurement and Book Royalties

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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 an additional perspective or, sometimes, a behind-the-scenes look at how the story came to be.

Post-Roe Violence.  I guess it should come as no surprise that people who think killing babies is OK would have no trouble destroying and vandalizing private property.  We’re seeing more of that sort of behavior in the aftermath of the Dobb decision.

As we reported a few weeks ago, Mountain Area Pregnancy Services in Asheville, N.C., had its windows shattered windows, a broken door and red, spray-painted text scrawled across the sidewalk. “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you,” the graffiti read.

At least a dozen pregnancy centers like Mountain Area have suffered attacks, many of which have been claimed by what appears to be a radical pro-abortion group called Jane’s Revenge.  Pregnancy centers in Lynchburg, Va., and Longmont, Colo., were vandalized or set ablaze, just as centers braced for the influx of clients they expect in a post-Roe world. 

I spoke with Roland Warren, the president of CareNet, which is a network of about 1200 pregnancy resource centers.  He said PRCs are responding with more security – including more cameras and even by having people spend the night at facilities.  But he also called this time a “great opportunity” for “the church to be the church” and meet the needs of men, women, and children in their communities.

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Litigation Crazy.  We’re writing more and more about church members suing their churches or their pastors.  A high profile case was apparently resolved last week when a Fairfax County, Va., judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by dissident members of McLean Bible Church who sought to overturn the results of an election for church leaders, known as elders. Those dissident members argued that church leaders, including senior pastor David Platt, a best-selling author, had violated the church’s constitution.

The suit was dismissed with prejudice.  That means the case cannot be filed again.  My non-lawyer interpretation:  This case should never have been filed in the first place.

Private Inurement.  Private inurement can mean excessive compensation, but it can also mean when an insider, such as a senior executive, uses a ministry to benefit himself.  

We see this phenomenon a lot in the Christian ministry space.  When a pastor or ministry leader is able to sell books because of the platform his church or ministry provides for him, it is MinistryWatch’s position that those royalties should go to the ministry or the church, not the pastor.  Rick Warren and Chuck Colson gave away the royalties from the millions of books that they sold.  (Disclosure:  I receive no royalties from the sale of my book Faith-Based Fraud.  They go to MinistryWatch.  The proceeds of my 2015 book Restoring All Things, which I wrote with John Stonestreet, go to WORLD Magazine, my employer at the time I wrote that book.)

The vast majority of ministry leaders don’t do that.  They keep the royalties for themselves.  That’s why our “Question of the Week” is important.  I recommend checking out Don Kramer’s discussion of this topic here.

In The News.  At the risk of shameless self-promotion, I wanted to mention that I was on NBC Nightly News this week to discuss one of the stories we’ve been covering here at MinistryWatch.  It’s the story of a Christian ministry in Florida that has allegedly defrauded the government of more than $8-million in payroll protection program funds.  You can see that segment 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.