Top 10 Stories for the Month of July
The following 10 stories received the most page views during the month of July. The first few sentences of each story is reprinted below. To read the entire story, click on the title of the story.
- Lawsuit Accuses Liberty University of Enabling Rapes. A new lawsuit against Liberty University claims the Lynchburg, Virginia-based evangelical Christian school has “intentionally created a campus environment” that makes sexual assaults and rapes more likely to occur. The complaint points a finger at the “weaponization” of Liberty’s student honor code, known as the Liberty Way, which it claims makes it “difficult or impossible” for students to report sexual violence. It also argues that such violence, particularly by male student athletes, was excused while the women who reported it faced retaliation. In a written statement, Liberty University said it was looking into the allegations, which it called “deeply troubling, if they turn out to be true.”
- “Pastor Plane” Project Examines Televangelist Travel Expenses. Televangelists’ astronomical travel expenses are receiving a fresh dose of scrutiny through Pastor Planes, a new aircraft-tracking project from the Trinity Foundation. The Texas-based ministry watchdog organization is using the ADS-B Exchange network to track 52 ministry-owned aircraft linked to prominent names such as James Robison’s LIFE Outreach International, Jesse Duplantis Ministries, Joyce Meyer Ministries and Kenneth Hagin Ministries’ Rhema Bible Church. These ministries and many others are spending thousands of dollars per hour to routinely fly around the country and abroad, the Trinity Foundation says.
- Prophets Political Predictions Bring Division, Derision. Joe Biden is not the duly elected President of the United States. The 2020 election was stolen. Trump will soon be officially reinstated. Patriots need to buy weapons and prepare for a second civil war. These are God’s views on American politics, according to dozens of preachers who claim to be Christian prophets. Researchers James Beverley and Gordon Melton found that more than 150 prophets predicted Trump’s victory last November, but only a handful have admitted they were wrong and apologized. “Others have dug in and prophesied a return of Trump to the White House,” said Beverley, who is affiliated with the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Texas and Tyndale University in Toronto. Though some prophets are little known, their words from God can reach large audiences through partnerships with other prophets, or appearances on programs like Sid Roth’s streaming show, “It’s Supernatural!” which has 1.3 million subscribers.
- David Platt’s Dreams For McLean Bible Church Sour. David Platt had a dream for the future of McLean Bible Church. The largely conservative northern Virginia church across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. had grown from a group of five families in the 1960s to a congregation of more than 10,000 spread across several campuses, attracting politicians and business leaders to the church’s evangelical message and values. Much of that growth had happened under former pastor Lon Solomon, a Jewish convert known for his Bible preaching, zeal for evangelism, and passion for serving children with special needs.
- Promise Keepers Goes Quiet Prior to Event. This Spring, Promise Keepers announced it would return to the stadium events that made the group famous in the 1990s. “We here at Promise Keepers, and the staff at AT&T, are prepared to seat 80,000 men on July 16 and 17, 2021,” says the group’s website. But repeated efforts to get updated information about the event have generated zero responses from The K Company, the publicity firm handling Promise Keepers’ media communication.
- Church Leaders Arrested In Jan. 6 Attack on US Capitol. David John Lesperance was cooperative when FBI agents interviewed him in his Florida home after the January 6 attack on U.S. Capitol. He was so cooperative that he admitted his pastor was with him during the attack, but he was not cooperative enough to provide the pastor’s name. The FBI agents had help. Someone sent the FBI an anonymous letter naming Lesperance and two leaders of his church. James Varnell Cusick Jr. is the founding pastor of Global Outreach Ministries, founded in 2015 in Melbourne, Florida. Casey Cusick, his son, also works for the church. All three Florida men had been inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, and all three were arrested in late June.
- Former Seattle Megachurch Pastor Called Out. Elders of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church who served with former pastor Mark Driscoll have called on their former leader to resign from his new position leading a church in Arizona, alleging in a statement that Driscoll has “continued in a pattern of sinful actions” towards staff members and parishioners and failed to seek reconciliation or repent. In 2014, Driscoll stepped down from leadership of the Seattle megachurch, which he founded in 1996, after several former Mars Hill pastors filed charges against him saying that he had engaged in a pattern of abusive and intimidating behavior including domineering leadership, harsh speech, and angry outbursts. After leaving Mars Hill, Driscoll founded The Trinity Church in Scottsdale in 2016.
- Liberty University Sued By Former Diversity Director. A former NFL player who served as a diversity officer at Liberty University has sued the Christian school for $8 million, claiming his firing violated the Civil Rights Act and the Virginia Human Rights Act. In a complaint filed Friday (July 2) in federal court for the Western District of Virginia, Kelvin Edwards, a former executive vice president of management efficiencies and diversity, alleges that he was fired because Liberty’s acting president, Jerry Prevo, does not value diversity.
- Accusations Surround Elder Selection at McLean Bible Church. Charges of voting fraud. Claims that a leader is too “woke” or “left.” Criticisms that opponents are practicing cancel culture. Debates about whether black lives matter, and how much. Welcome to McLean Bible Church in the final rundown to Sunday’s surprisingly contentious vote on new elders. McLean Bible Church is one of the largest and most influential churches in the nation. Because of its proximity to Washington, D.C., many government officials, Capitol Hill staffers, and thought leaders are members. Its pastor, David Platt, is a bestselling author and former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Missions Board. But Platt has been there for only a few years. In 2017 he succeeded a long-tenured and beloved pastor, Lon Solomon, who had been senior pastor since 1980 and had overseen growth from just a few hundred members to more than 12,000 members.
- Resignations, Turmoil Continue at Bethlehem Baptist Church. In 2012, members of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis were deciding who would succeed its famous pastor, John Piper. Jason Meyer, a graduate of the church’s Bethlehem College and Seminary, was a leading choice, even though, as he later told Leadership Journal, the responsibility seemed too big to bear. “I’m scared. I don’t want this. I don’t want the pressure. I don’t want the comparison,” he said. The congregation voted 784 to 4 to elect Meyer, and Piper stepped down as senior pastor one year later. Piper had served the church for three decades. He now serves as pastor emeritus of the church and chancellor of the college and seminary. Meyer’s most recent title was pastor for preaching & vision at Bethlehem’s downtown campus. Now, Meyer is part of a growing exodus of leaders and members leaving Bethlehem, a church with some 4,500 members on three campus which is seen as a flagship church in Converge, formerly the Baptist General Conference.