'Threats' and 'changes'

Religion | National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson sends out an email questioning WORLD's coverage
by Marvin Olasky
Posted 6/23/12, 11:16 pm

Monday morning (June 25) thought from Marvin Olasky: Thanks to all of you who have sent very supportive notes. (Example: "Hang in there, and keep up the good work.") I particularly took to heart, though, one note that was supportive but included this sentence: "The tone of this article (e.g., "Lest anyone believe") is, in my opinion, just a bit antagonistic and is unlikely to improve relations between WORLD and the NAE."

That's a worthwhile point. We plan to emphasize the facts previewed in last Thursday's article and gone into more thoroughly in the article and column in the WORLD issue that goes to press Tuesday evening. The facts are the story. This should not get personal. We want relations between WORLD and the NAE to be both truthful and loving.


In a new twist to the story WORLD first posted on Thursday (see "The money trail"), National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson has sent out an email with this statement:

"Mr. Olasky threatened to post on his website his questions to me and my answers to him if I did not respond as he desired. Here is his posting: ["Conflicted," June 22]. As you compare his questions and my answers sent to you yesterday you will see that he has changed the questions and deleted much of my answer. This is why I have chosen to no longer respond to his inquiries."

WORLD published five of the seven paragraphs Anderson sent, and 10 of the 15 questions I had originally addressed to him. Lest anyone believe that Anderson's statements about "changed" and "threatened" are accurate, we're publishing now what WORLD did not publish Friday. After that, you can read the "threat." Judge for yourself.

The two omitted paragraphs:

"The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has a long history of opposition to abortion on demand. We are pro-life. The Ten Commandments forbid taking the life of another person and that is what abortions do.

"Evangelicals have stood strong and firm against abortion on demand and have fought hard and long for laws that protect the lives of the unborn. Sadly, we have not faced up to the tragedy of abortions within our own churches and evangelical communities. While we continue to speak to the nation about abortion we need to engage our own churches and people to reduce the number of abortions in our midst. Too many evangelicals are sexually active outside of marriage, becoming pregnant or getting others pregnant, and having abortions."

I left out those two paragraphs because as an editor I don't like online articles to be longer than 600 words—the article as we published it was 640—and paragraphs three through seven contained Anderson's general response to my questions. His first two paragraphs were what journalists call "throat-clearing" and "this everybody knows." (But read for yourself those two and the other five.)

Second, once I decided not to use those two paragraphs, I didn't want to publish all my questions lest someone say I wasn't being fair, so I did not use five of my 15. Here are the five I dropped to keep the article from getting longer:

  • When did NAE publicly disclose that grant?
  • If NAE did disclose that grant before June 2012, in what ways did that disclosure occur?
  • Why did NAE advocate that Campaign CEO Sarah Brown be a member of the Q Gathering 2012 panel on "Reducing Abortion?"
  • Did NAE also recommend Jenell Paris [of Messiah College]?
  • Why didn't NAE disclose to Q Gathering head Gabe Lyons or conference planner Scott Calgaro that the NAE had received a large grant from Sarah Brown's organization?

I did not change the questions, except that I once put in the full name—The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy—instead of just "The Campaign," and later I put in "The National Campaign" instead of "The Campaign."

Third, my "threat." Anderson never responded directly to my inquiries. Although I requested to talk with him, all my contact from June 14 through June 21 was with NAE communications director Sarah Kropp. When she sent me Anderson's statement, I wrote to her:

"Thanks for sending this, but I suspect you see that it's a non-responsive response to just about all of my specific questions. Tomorrow morning I plan to put on WORLDmag.com my questions and President Anderson's response. Then we'll finalize the whole story and be ready to go to press. I hope that today President Anderson or Galen Carey will answer my particular questions."

That's a threat?

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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