Monday, January 5, 2015

Leave the children alone!

I have tried to respect what I understand as the family's wishes that a man who they call "gay","pagan" and a "cyber-terrorist" not offer condolences for their loss.  I know that anytime that I post this will be too close to the death of Ergun's child.  However, I consider evangelical culture's blanket acceptance of bullying children in some form or another to be something worth writing about. 

Some chronological context needs to be provided for JD Hall’s attack on one of Ergun Caner’s children. Before I move on, I want you to know that I am going to in no way excuse what JD did. However, there is a great amount of context that has been left out of the discussion.

As we move on from this tragedy, we need to adopt a policy of not bullying children to harass their parents and admit that children should be off limits.  A judge had to condemn Ergun's behavior July 1, 2014.  This story did not begin July 2, 2014. 

In between May and June of 2013, Ergun asserted on youtube that any work that he was a part of could not be used without his permission, even if another person claimed to have the copyright or if it was part of fair use criticism. I contested two of Ergun’s claims. One was a lecture that Ergun had given to the Marines, which the Marines asserted they retained the rights. The Marines had made this video public under the Freedom of Information Act. Ergun asserted under oath that the video was not public and he retained private ownership.

The second video I contested was a video compilation of this Marine lecture and a Liberty University student's vlog that I had edited together to be a little over a minute long. Even though I had obtained permission from this Liberty student and the Marines had given permission, Ergun asserted under oath that he was owner of both pieces of source material and I had insufficient permission to use both of them.

June 18, 2013, nine days after my daughter’s fourth birthday, Ergun filed suit against Jason Smathers and I. (Smathers was sued for the same Marine lecture I contested and another one that I had not contested.) I approached my brother and he helped set up a settlement discussion with Ergun’s attorney. Since my financial situation was quickly deteriorating, I could not afford an attorney. In fact by the following November, my family went through the eviction process and became legally homeless.

Before I move on, I need to insert this here: As we later found out, Ergun had no evidence that he was the owner of the Marine lectures and he had no claim to the one minute video that I had produced either. He knew this when he filed suit. He was bluffing: asserting things without evidence.

In the days following the suit, I answered a series of questions provided by Ergun and offered to sign a non-disparagement agreeing to never publicly criticize Ergun again for the rest of my life in exchange for a settlement. Such an agreement would also mean that I could never instruct anyone else including my own family to criticize Ergun. But nonchalantly not only did Ergun’s attorney ask that I sign a non-disparagement, he also asked that my wife and small children sign one as well. My wife and the kids had never publicly criticized Ergun and had no role in producing the videos. My wife had worked for Ergun from 2005-2008. May 2006, she had received the “President’s Award” from him for completing her seminary degree while working forty hours a week in addition to being pregnant with our firstborn.  Now Ergun demanded her silence.

As I mentioned above, in addition to my wife signing a non-disparagement, he asked that my firstborn, who was six years old at the time,  sign one as well. During my wife’s pregnancy, Ergun threw a babyshower for us at his home. As far as I can remember, Ergun had no harsh words for this child who he later asked to be sworn to secrecy. If it makes a difference, he was going into second grade and therefore had been able to sign his own name for a couple of years.

A contemporaneous facebook post from after the babyshower

Still, he also wanted my second son, who was five years old, to sign a non-disparagement as well. My second son, was ultimately the reason that my wife decided to become a stay at home mother. Shortly after our second son was born, my wife resigned her job at the seminary. At the time, Ergun had only best wishes for my family and our two children even though five years later he would try to swear us to secrecy.

Finally, he ask that my little girl, four years old at the time, sign a non-disparagement even though she could not reliably write her own name or even correctly pronounce her brothers’ names. Unlike, my other two children, Ergun had never even met my daughter. Even if I concede that Ergun is a true man of God, what kind of God wants a preacher to ask a four year old he has never met to agree to never criticize him for the rest of her life?

If my family, even my four year old, refused his demands, he promised that he would bankrupt me with attorney’s fees alone and follow up this suit with a defamation suit. I pleaded for him to show me where I had defamed him so I could publicly apologize and correct it. He refused.

Bankruptcy is one thing, but I could not look into my daughter’s eyes and condemn her to be under the threat of Ergun for the rest of her life. I would have been effectively giving Ergun the right to sue my daughter whenever in his eyes she stepped out of line in social media or any other public forum. You may say (and Ergun did say), he would never sue my daughter, but I would say then why did he need her signature if he had no plans to enforce it? I could not take that chance. My children should be free of me when they turn eighteen, not bound to some decision I made for them before they entered second grade. Others have put forth that such documents signed by minors would never hold up in court. True, but again if Ergun never had any plans to try enforce them, why ask?

I declined and October 14, 2013 fifteen days after my six year old turned seven, he proceeded to sue me with the intention of bankrupting me by running up the bill.

In Ergun’s defense, most of my friends told me to have my children sign the documents and churches as a whole do not seem to have any resistance to the idea of blackmailing preschoolers in lawsuits. In fact even knowing all of this, Johnny Hunt praised Ergun for having a “humble spirit” and a “desire to serve”. Countless pastors and laymen have praised him for being “anointed” and a “man of God.” Blackmailing a four year old really is not that large of a problem in the evangelical community. Perhaps Ergun’s attorney and other pastors have sworn minors to non-disparagements before.

This is my favorite comment from the blog at Popehat
 April 30, 2014, he told the court that I used to work for him and he had fired me. My wife had worked for Ergun, but I never did. He never fired my wife either by the way. With that falsehood at his back, forty two days later, he felt bold enough to defend the reasonableness of his reprehensible policy of having children as young as four sworn to non-disparagements. Coincidentally he filed this brief on my daughter's fifth birthday, June 11, 2014. His reasoning was twofold, one even given everything I had reminded him and the court about (babyshowers, awards, my wife’s employment), Ergun claimed that asking my children to sign non-disparagements could not be harassment, because he had “no prior knowledge” of my family before the lawsuit.

Justifiably Rebecca was really mad that day.
This was the last straw for my wife who had largely remained silent even with her former boss blackmailing her children. She had believed that her employment under Ergun had been some sort of ministry, but now Ergun publicly and formally denied all of it ever even happened. As infuriating as it is that Ergun both argued he fired me and never knew me within a period of forty-two days, the argument that it is not harassment to blackmail preschoolers if you do not know them is ridiculous.

Second, Ergun argued
Additionally, Mr. Autry makes a great deal out Caner’s settlement discussions. Mr. Autry states that Dr. Caner sought to have all of [Mr. Autry]’s family sign non-disparagement agreements as a part of the settlement, and that this is evidence of improper motivation. When these settlements were taking place, Dr. Caner—not trusting that Mr. Autry would uphold his end of the settlement—feared that Mr. Autry would repost the videos under different names, namely those of his wife and children. It was not Dr. Caner’s intent to bind Mr. Autry’s children; it was Dr. Caner’s intent to have Mr. Autry agree to the fact that he wouldn’t repost the videos under the names of his family. These discussions were fixated upon the goal of having the videos in question removed.

He needed a four year old’s signature, because he thought I would pretend to be a four year old. He says that he would not have bound them to the agreements, but if that is the case why would he need them in the first place?

July 1, 2014, Judge Moon ruled on the fee decision and took time to address the Ergun’s arguments about blackmailing children. On the issue of prior knowledge, Moon wrote,

When it suited him to describe Defendant as a vindictive, disgruntled former employee, he did so. Now, a narrative where Plaintiff does not know Defendant is offered to bolster Plaintiff’s purported good faith. I do not credit this boldfaced contradiction. It stands as one example of an objectively unreasonable position taken by Plaintiff that supports an award of attorney’s fees for Defendant.

Moon also addressed the unreasonableness of asking children to be sworn to non-disparagement statements.

Plaintiff now claims that he negotiated to settle in good faith. He attempted to obtain non-disparagement agreements from Defendant’s family, he says, because he did not “trust that Mr. Autry would uphold his end of the settlement,” instead “fear[ing] that Mr. Autry would repost the videos under different names, namely those of his wife and children.” [Ergun] does not deny Defendant’s other assertions, but claims he sought the names and identities of other critics, plus non-disparagement agreements from Defendant’s family, to ensure Defendant would not re-post the videos under another name.

I do not find Plaintiff’s explanations persuasive. If Plaintiff was truly concerned about Defendant re-posting the videos, he could have drafted an agreement explicitly precluding this conduct (perhaps like the non-disparagement agreement to which Defendant assented). If Defendant defied the agreement, Plaintiff could have sued to compel compliance.

After a year of questioning back and forth over whether or not my family and I should have given into the blackmail, the judge’s ruling was vindicating. Ergun Caner should not have demanded that a four year old, a five year old, and a six year old be sworn to non-disparagements. His reasons were unreasonable. The help that my children could not obtain from powerful evangelicals, they had obtained in court. This was July 1, 2014. July 2, 2014, JD went after Ergun’s son on twitter. A year earlier, Ergun blackmailed three children. A month earlier, he had tried to justify the behavior in court. Less than 24 hours earlier, the judge had just written about how unreasonable it was for Ergun to justify blackmailing children and then JD attacked Ergun’s child.

JD behaved just as bad towards Ergun’s child as Ergun had behaved towards my children. If JD’s behavior was bullying then Ergun’s behavior was bullying. JD had his reasons and Ergun had his reasons. JD’s behavior was almost universally condemned by Ergun’s critics. JD apologized within about a week, but left the material for others to see his wrong.

I tried to get Peter Lumpkin’s to condemn both Ergun and JD’s behaviors. I was less than successful. I tried to talk with JD’s supporters, I was less than successful.

Tragically Ergun’s son took his own life a couple of weeks after his interaction with JD. Rightly, some considered that JD’s comments may have been a factor. Some broadened the net and seem to suggest that other critics of his father may have been a factor. This would, I suspect include Judge Moon’s ruling and others arguing that Ergun should not blackmail children.

JD has apologized twice now for bullying Ergun’s son. The reason that this commentary has mostly been about Ergun bullying my children, is because Ergun did so for longer and with more children. Almost a full year after blackmailing my children, he tried to justify it on my daughter’s birthday of all days. Ergun has never apologized. He apparently still maintains that children, including JD’s children, are fair game to be sworn to non-disparagements.

This tweet has been pinned to my twitter wall since May 2014.

Let’s join together and make sure that all clergy know to leave all the children alone...not just some children.

PS - Again this comment is worth the price of admission.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Given the fact that Ergun has filed a lawsuit, he now has the ability to subpoena e-mails, facebook messages and any other communications. Accordingly, I would encourage you not to send any messages unless you are comfortable with Ergun reading them.

Update: In the initial settlement discussions Ergun demanded all my private communications about him along with non-disparagement agreements from myself and my wife and children.  I refused.  At the time there was about five more people that Ergun was threatening to sue.  I wrote this post in order to keep well meaning people from being sued or otherwise retaliated at by Ergun for their thoughts about his honesty in sermons and lectures. Ultimately Ergun lost and in exchange for a settlement Ergun has agreed not to sue Jason and I for anything that happened prior to 2015.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Warning these opinions are clearly Satanic and demonic

I have argued that Ergun claimed to have been educated in Beirut before he came to America in 1978.  This comes from my demonic reading of the following quote:
I hated you. That may be harsh, but as Dr. Hayes told you, my madrasa – my training center – was in Beirut before I came to America. We came as missionaries to you. My father was a muezzin, the one who does the prayer in the mosque. Five times a day he would climb to the top of a minaret and begin, [different language] and he would do the call to prayer. He was also an architect so we built mosques. And so we came to America – it was ’78. Ayatollah Khomeini had said, we will not stop until America is an Islamic nation and we came and we continue to come.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ergun Caner has youtube videos removed for violating copyright

Ergun Caner has hired someone at the Gibbs Firm to challenge youtube videos for copyright violations.  Thirty-four of my videos were challenged and less than ten of my videos critical of Ergun were left.

Gibbs included in the challenge one of the videos that was obtained by Jason Smathers from Marine Corp Air Station New River.  Given my limited understanding of copyright law and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), I do not believe that you can legally claim copyright on a video that was obtained by FOIA.

Who is David Gibbs III?

Attorney David C. Gibbs III is the President and General Counsel of the National Center for Life and Liberty, a ministry organization that defends life and liberty freedoms nationwide. Mr. Gibbs speaks regularly to audiences in churches and conferences while also litigating cases as a trial attorney. He hosts the weekly radio program Law Talk Live on the Moody Radio Network and has authored five books including Fighting for Dear Life and Understanding the Constitution.

Attorney Gibbs graduated from Duke Law School and manages the Gibbs Law Firm with offices in Dallas, Texas; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Washington, D.C. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and numerous federal circuit and district courts nationwide. He has also been admitted to the State Bars of Florida, Minnesota, Colorado, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, and the District of Columbia.

Attorney Gibbs was the lead attorney in the Terri Schiavo case representing the parents as they fought to save the life of their daughter. This case went before the United States Supreme Court twice in ten days. Mr. Gibbs is a frequent spokesperson on radio and television having appeared on many major news and talk programs .

Attorney Gibbs believes: “If it’s wrong, fight it. If it’s right, fight for it.” His life verse is Matthew 25:40, where Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
The return email to a Dgaines, so the person actually making challenges on youtube is probably an employee at Gibbs' law firm.

I invite you all to watch this lecture that Ergun and David do not want you to see. If you click on the video, on the viddler site there is a download link where you can obtain the flash file and distribute it.

Update: The embedded video went dead for some reason.  Jason Smathers has recently uploaded it also to YouTube.

Update: Ergun ended up suing both Jason and I for the video above as Count I against me and Count III against Jason.  Jason was also sued for another Marine lecture, "Ergun Caner at the Base Theater", as Count IV.  Of the thirty-four videos that Ergun challenged, only two were unedited.  The other thirty-two were clear edited fair use criticisms.  They were similar, but with better sourcing, to the videos that Peter Lumpkins had made about Al Mohler, Mark Driscol, JD Hall and James White.

Before my channel was taken down, I ended up only challenging one other video in addition to Count I.  Count II was a video, a little over a minute long, entitled, "Ergun Caner educated in Cairo, Egypt".  Count II was ultimately dismissed, because Ergun intentionally never attempted to register the copyright. Ergun boasted that the suit was about "unedited videos" when 88% of the videos he challenged on youtube were edited fair use criticisms.  25% of the total videos he filed suit over and 50% of the videos he filed suit against me in particular were not unedited. 

Youtube has restored my channel, but given the struggles of the Caner family, I have removed most of my content about Ergun.  However, Ergun's lawsuit, though a copyright suit, was ultimately a civil rights issue.  He attacked the principles of "fair use" in the First Amendment and the principles behind Freedom of Information Act.  Therefore both Count I and Count II will remain online, but please think twice before sharing.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Cessationist theology rant

This week, I have been looking for the source of a particular quote on cessationism.

It took me a while, but I found it.  I do not have time to source this little post, but enough effort went into the search for a source that I do want to comment. 

Pinnock is right.  The Counter-Reformation was an age of miracles.  The supernatural exploits of Priests and Catholic missionaries were normal post reformation.  Warning, any general statement about millions of people over the vast geography and ethnicities of Europe is probably too specific.  Still, reformers tended to destroy relics and holy sites while Catholics tended to try to promote what was left.  A Catholic missionary would heal the sick, cast out demons, and perhaps even raise the dead.  All of this tended to cast doubt in mainstream Protestantism for the validity of most miracles.  (Wow that statement was too specific.) Pinnock is right that frowning on miracles largely started as a way to discount Catholic missionaries and Catholicism as a whole.

Ultimately, I have found strength in some classic Christian (yes, Catholic too) tests for the supernatural.  Assuming that there will be more false positives for demonic activity than there will be real demonic activity, some developed a series of tests. 
  1. Levitation - Can they fly or make other things fly?
  2. Clairvoyance - Do they know things that they cannot possibly know? Can they find my car keys?
  3. Speaking in tongues - Demons should know other languages than the native tongue of the oppressed/possessed.
  4. Supernatural strength - Contortions or lifting heavy objects
Some of my friends just need to look into people's eyes or see a feat of strength.  I want at least two evidences or hopefully three.   Likewise, if your "word of knowledge", "flag", or prophecy can be replicated by psychics, mentalists, and astrologers, I am going to be skeptical.  Just because you say that it is from God, doesn't mean that I am not going to need proof.  Also, you dream about 14 times a week, about 56 times a month, and about 730 times a year.  I can buy that one or more of them seemed to predict the future and seemed to be from God.  Still, unlikely things happen everyday, so please don't mind my questions. 

The first step to convince me that you spoke in tongues is to get a tape recording of the tongue and the translation.

By having these standards, I am limiting my religious experiences. I don't think that gifts of the Holy Spirit or miracles have ceased, just that most of what is out there is false positives. I don't know if Pinnock would have called this a self-fulfilling prophecy or not. I just want to see some proof.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Me without you

Today, I came across this quote from a fictional rabbi.
Andy. You want an easy answer, go Jesus, go Allah, go atheist. I’m a Jew. My obligation is to wrestle, to engage. It’s not to just blindly believe. That’s how I see it.
I agree that atheism seems like an easy answer.  However, Jesus has been anything but.   Recently, I attended an Awana graduation ceremony.  Their theme song for the older kids was, Liberty Alumni, Toby Mac's "Me without you".  Personally, I cannot stand that song.
I'd be packin' my bags when I need to stay
I'd be chasin' every breeze that blows my way
I'd be building my kingdom just to watch it fade away
It's true
Honestly, I have been told by many that pray for me that I should be packing my bags and I don't need to stay. Earlier this week, a woman who believes that God sometimes tells her the contents of her mailbox, told me God doesn't want me to get comfortable where I am.  Still, likewise some are convinced that I need to stay.

I try not to chase every breeze, but many are convinced that I follow the wrong currents.  While devoted to Christ, I chose a seminary where the former Dean thinks that I am going to hell.  When you sign up who predicts that?  With God things do not seem easier, but like most Christians, I converted before adulthood and don't know how my life would be any different without Christ.

The song sounds frustrating and trite. Given everything, where I need to stay is still as much of a mystery as the contents of my mailbox.  After proving over and over again that I have a lot to learn, sometimes I wonder what I would be without Christ and if I would be better off.

PS - Many have told me that jealousy motivates my blog, tweets, and youtube videos.  There have only really been a couple of people that I have coveted.  Langworthy is one, but for a strange reason.  The guy was a serial child molester and the longest he did not work or volunteer with a church was a year.  It is frustrating to see a serial child molester have such a ministry. 

Friday, May 17, 2013