Moderate Nazis and felonious ‘financial accountability’

Moderate Nazis and felonious ‘financial accountability’ June 4, 2024

• Here is the Right Wing Watch archive page for Nick Fuentes. Fuentes is an explicit white nationalist, misogynist, antisemite, and Hitler enthusiast. He doesn’t think non-whites should be allowed to vote or to work. Or that women should be allowed to vote or to work. Fuentes has often suggested that he is a Nazi, but just as often feigned indignation when others refer to him as such before broadly winking at the idea and affirming that he thinks the Nazis had the right idea about everything.

Just needed to remind you of who and what Nick Fuentes is before sharing this: “The second coming of Doug Wilson.”

Here’s the subhed: “Conservatives are elevating long-controversial Idaho pastor Doug Wilson, framing him as a champion of a relatively moderate form of Christian nationalism — but critics say his ideas remain extreme.”

“Critics say” is cowardly. Doug Wilson is a far-right extremist and a Neo-Confederate theocrat. He’s anti-gay, anti-feminist, and openly argues that white Christians should enjoy legal privileges not permitted to second-class citizens, i.e., everybody else (including the wrong kinds of white Christians, which is to say people who are not followers of Doug Wilson). He also has a long history of being a petty tyrant and bully and of covering up sexual abuse at his Idaho church.

But here is Doug Wilson’s explanation for why Doug Wilson should be viewed as a “moderate” voice: “Wilson, who engages with Christian nationalism in his new book ‘Mere Christendom,’ has framed himself as a more moderate alternative to other self-described Christian nationalists such as Nick Fuentes, who is known for spouting extremist rhetoric, including antisemitism.”

So yes, it’s true, that Wilson legitimately has a handful of points of disagreement with actual Nazis. He thinks that makes him “moderate.” It doesn’t. It just makes him Martin Niemoller in 1932.

Last week, we looked at this news item: “ECFA is adding leadership integrity to its accountability criteria.”

ECFA is the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an accounting auditor started by Billy Graham back in the day to provide a kind of Good Housekeeping seal of approval to assure would-be donors that his ministry and others weren’t misusing their money.

I expressed skepticism that the folks who do accounting audits of evangelical ministries have any tools to prevent the kind of Ravi Zacharias sex scandals they’re hoping to address with this. If anyone thinks nonprofit ministry boards are prepared to monitor the spiritual and personal lives of their president/founder/CEO, then I suspect they haven’t spent much time around nonprofit ministry boards.

For an example of why I think ECFA’s new standards would be ineffective, I pointed to the reporting on one recent, lurid, horrifying sex scandal at the Michigan church of televangelist Mark Barclay, where a third church leader — and board member — is now facing sexual assault charges against a minor.

That’s from Julie Roys’ site. And now here’s Roys writing about “Why the ECFA’s New Standard Won’t Stop Future Scandals.”

Roys is not impressed with ECFA’s track record:

In 2018, when I discovered that Harvest Bible Chapel maintained a black budget that only James MacDonald and a few of his cronies knew about, the ECFA visited Harvest and promptly declared Harvest a member in good standing. The next year, after firing MacDonald, the church commissioned a financial review by an independent law firm, which found that MacDonald had misused millions.

Similarly, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) was an ECFA member in good standing for decades. But a 2021 investigation revealed not only that Zacharias sexually abused numerous women. It also showed that ministry funds were used to provide financial support for Zacharias’ victims. This included a fake humanitarian effort, called Touch of Hope, which provided wire payments to benefit four of Zacharias’ massage therapists.

Pause for a moment to gauge the sheer chutzpah of that name: Touch of Hope.

Roys argues that the epidemic of sex scandals in white evangelical churches and ministries stems from two things: a pastor-as-CEO model imported from the corporate world, and what Skye Jethani calls “the evangelical industrial complex” or “the money-making industry (the Christian publishing houses, media outlets, megachurches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries) that relies on celebrity pastors and big events to sustain its business model.”

Without addressing those systemic problems, Roys says, ECFA’s new standard won’t make a dent in the ongoing scandal of white evangelical scandals.

There’s one huge, glaring omission in all this discussion of accountability for evangelical leaders: the rapist and convicted felon Donald Trump.

If you criticize Ravi Zacharias for coercing handjobs from massage therapists your standing and respectability within white evangelicalism will not be affected. You are also free to criticize Jerry Falwell Jr. or Bill Hybels or Ted Haggard for their various sexcapades without being ostracized by anyone in the “evangelical industrial complex.”

But if you dare to criticize Donald Trump for digitally raping E. Jean Carroll, or for his affairs with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, you will be cast into the outer darkness with David French and Russell Moore.

You cannot both endorse “financial accountability” and Donald Trump. The only idea of financial accountability white evangelicals now allow is pretending to believe that the massive volumes of evidence convicting Trump of defrauding banks and of falsifying business records are all “rigged.”

“Rigged” by who?

Well, you know, by them. By the, you know, international banker cosmopolitan coastal intellectual elites. Like George Soros, probably. Them.

The now-mandatory embrace of conspiracy theories denying the legitimacy of Trump’s civil liabilities and felony convictions follows the trajectory of all conspiracy theories in our mere Christendom. So it’s not just Doug Wilson. Every white evangelical endorsing this flagrantly dishonest conspiracy theory is also a lot closer to Nick Fuentes and his fellow Neo-Nazis than they’re willing to admit.

In any case, every effort to promote “integrity” or “accountability” among white evangelical leaders is doomed to fail as long as those same leaders are encouraged and required to bend the knee to a man who lacks all integrity and rejects all accountability.

White evangelicalism has stage-four Trumpism. ECFA has no cure for that. ETTD.

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