This was posted on a blog at World Impact Ministries by the owner of GraceTV.
Written by Peter Youngren on August 30th 2011
The Internet has become a haven for anonymous liars, who operate without accountability. The lies about myself, our church and ministries are too many to itemize. To list them would dignify that which is inherently evil. Grant it, a few statements are by people, who probably have good intentions, but they are just as ignorant and untrue nevertheless. Others make serious lies, which rise to the level of defamation. The worst lies are half- truths; facts are twisted and motivations are imagined.
I do not know who the people are that attack our ministry. Some deceptively pretend to be current or past staff members. Other engage in conversations with themselves, making an entry under one name, only to comment on their own entry under a different name, making it seem there is a big interest in their ideas. Blatant lies by anonymous writers can go unchallenged for years.
I am writing this because people ask me why I don’t respond. To me, it is just so unscriptural to respond to anonymous accusers. When the sons of Korah accused Moses, or when Shimei taunted and mocked David we know the names of those accusers. Moses and David were willing to meet their accusers; that’s my attitude, and the attitude of any man of God.
The only exception to the above anonymity is a pastor of a small church in Europe. I know who he is, and he writes under many different headlines and names. This man has dedicated himself to spread lies. I have tried to speak with him, but to no avail. It is so sad to see a man once on fire for Jesus become obsessed, trying to vindicate himself, by attacking others.
I have many faults and failures, just like everyone else, including the great heroes of the Bible and of Church history. God’s grace has enabled me to be transparent about those flaws before my church and before spiritual friends, like our partners. But you won’t see me share my heart in cesspool of mudslinging on Christian blog sites. Jesus said something about where you share your pearls.
This lying spirit is not new; it has always been at work against the Gospel, through evil rumors, distortions and false accusations. Jesus was accused of being a deceiver (John 7:12), and possessed by Beelzebub, the devil. Paul didn’t fare any better. He was called a “plague”, a “creator of dissension”, and “a ringleader” (Acts 24:5).
Earlier this year veteran broadcaster, David Mainse, spoke on television about bloggers that lie, “You get on the blogs and the blogs are always lies. Half truths are lies. One of the reasons that gossip, backbiting, is in the same list in the Scripture as murder and adultery … because if you don’t have all the facts—this is why you have editorial controls where there are checks and balances. That’s why an editorial board is in a newspaper. Checks and balances. But on the blogs—I treat a blog just like I treat the rags that are at the checkout counter at the grocery store. I don’t read them. I refuse to read them. They are half-truths. They have not been well researched. The have no editorial control. There are no checks or balances on these, so they are not reliable.” Amen to that.
In one way I am encouraged when I see liars so active in and around our ministry. I know the one, who is really interested that our ministry would suffer setback and loss, the devil.
Meanwhile Grace Television is reaching people, and in the next 9 weeks we have 3 mega Gospel Campaigns that will reach hundreds of thousands with the Gospel.
- Peter Youngren
Criticism can hurt. It can be difficult to read negative comments, observations or facts about your organization, choices, leadership or behavior.
The question I’m asking myself is why would Peter Youngren (World Impact Ministries/Grace TV) chose now to express his feelings and thoughts about what is online? What has been happening with his organization, and in his life to warrant his blog post? Why and why now?
The next question I have is what lies are online about Youngren, his church and his ministries?
The choice to respond to critics in a personal one. Management of an organization’s online presence is varied, the decision to respond, and the ‘how’ of a response is based on a leaders personality and his or her management teams style, as well as other factors such has how criticism is affecting the day to day of the operation, staff moral and the bottom line.
This Youngren post is aching for a fisking. I’ll start with what Mr. Youngren has said that I can agree with.
More below the fold.
1) Yes, people lie online, often anonymously. People lie off line.
2) Do anonymous online liars operate without accountability? Not always, but yes, they can and do. Different countries have different laws regulating public speech and accountability depends on who or what the lies are directed at.
3) “Grant it, a few statements are by people, who probably have good intentions, but they are just as ignorant and untrue nevertheless.” While uniformed or partially informed expressed opinion can spring from different motives, sometimes partially formed opinions and ideas can be ignorant or untrue.
4) “Blatant lies by anonymous writers can go unchallenged for years.” Yes, they can, the decision to leave things be or challenge is in the hands of the person or organization lies are directed toward.
6) Sock puppeting (writing under different names, responding to your own comments) is a problem online. People do represent themselves as something/someone they are not; conning occurs online and off.
7) “Jesus said something about where you share your pearls.” Yes, He did. Matthew 7:6
8 Yes, on January 3, 2011 David Mainse went on 100 Huntley Street and said what Peter Youngren says he said. I not only transcribed David Mainse remarks, I reached out to the few others who have bothered to blog about Crossroads, for counsel. I also wrote Crossroads. You can see for yourself: David Mainse of Crossroads slams blogs – the blogs are always lies. One salient point has been omitted by Mr. Youngren. David Mainse clearly stated he does not read blogs. That’s his choice. He then rendered his opinion.
9) “I know the one, who is really interested that our ministry would suffer setback and loss, the devil.” The bible does address the role of Satan.
Peter Youngren is not addressing critics or criticism. He is addressing accusers. To him they seem to be one and the same. He presents a blanket belief, all or nothing thinking with a tiny caveat to ignorance. On his blog off all places. Ironic. He makes no distinction between criticism, critics, opinion or query; all falls into the camp of other/enemy expression. He perceives himself as a victim of copious online hate and misunderstanding and wants the reader to agree. The implication is clear: even well-intentioned ignorant people online are evil, compared to Youngren, Moses, David, Jesus and Paul.
This was a laugh out loud read: ” the cesspool of mudslinging on Christian blog sites.” Convenient. Call everyone liars, don’t identify or address these lies and you too can be a victim. It is not evil to respond to accusers or liars. Lies are evil. Satan gets blamed for a lot of things we are reluctant to take responsibility for.
World Impact Ministries, Grace TV and Peter Youngren do not get much attention online, either positive or negative. Hittin’ teh Google for 2011 I found a news article from Bali on a crusade, an article on the Finnish police investigation out of Sweden, three blog posts bouncing off that issue, some chatter at Topix in an ongoing thread, a discussion in a pentecostal forum in Finland on the relationship between Youngren and employee Taina Kuusiluoma and Youngren’s latest divorce. There is nothing in broadcast trade magazines because nothing much is new with Grace TV. There are two people online I’ve found over the past couple of years who do not like Peter Youngren. They make no bones about what they think and feel. They don’t like his theology, they don’t like his behavior, and if he took a long walk off a short pier into cold shark infested waters, it would make their day.
The reality is World Impact Ministries and Grace TV are under discussed, barely noticed online, because the niche audience is small. Even Peter Youngren with the disarray of his personal life, his leadership decisions, and his projects and plans, isn’t nearly as accused and attacks in reality as he projects. He seems to be feeling some strong feelings, and fires in whatever direction he can at a very large group of people, some of whom are probably viewers and perhaps even donors.
Television is a brutal business. It is a glaringly public space, and in taking ownership of a station, Youngren has opened himself to a different level of scrutiny online that he shows himself with this blog post to be under equipped to manage.
I thought I would be angry or irritated as I read the first few sentences of Internet liars.
David Mainse on camera silliness in January got my dander up, but Youngren’s post is just sad.
There are numerous articles online for charities, non-profits, ministries and businesses about helpful and productive ways to respond to online criticism. . Phil Cooke, who wrote the book on televangelists for televangelists (The Last TV Evangelist Why the next generation couldn’t care less about religious media and why it matters) begs his broadcasting professional readers to deal with ambiguity and criticism and the loss of absolute control in a changing world. He gives solid advice on how to navigate online criticism.
Youngren and Mainse have done Canadian Christian television no favours with their outbursts this year. Both rants are in a nutshell, unprofessional. In villifying people online, which a majority of their viewers are, both broadcasters harmed themselves. I cringe at their contempt for people who help keep them and their shows on air.
Painting others who go online to discuss your leadership, personal behavior and public/private persona; as anonymous accusers, liars, defamers, attackers is bizarre to me. Lumping in anyone online with sock-puppeters and trolls, and likening their opinions, feelings and discussion as par with Satan himself, is just bizarre.
I have no idea how many sock puppets Youngren’s web administrator deals with. As someone who writes frequently about Grace TV, I can tell you how many I’ve dealt with.
None. People who have corresponded with me are not pretending to be former staff members. If I was a current staff member, I’d look at that statement as a threat, an attempt at intimidation.
Shooting the messenger can be an effective way to silence critics or even none critics. Ad hominem can work well in closed environments such as the workplace, a family, or a church. Scapegoating is a power tactic, to put blame on a group for the sins of a few.
We don’t know who the few liars may be (if they exist) because Mr. Youngren has made a choice common in a scapegoating scenario to remain vague and non-specific. In medical terminology it’s call displacement and projection. The feelings underneath scapegoating are frustration, aggression and hostility. Scapegoating frees the person engaging in it from accountability for their own feelings, decisions and behavior.
And perhaps that’s where my sadness at such a sorry blog post from Youngren comes in. I and I think others who are concerned about religious broadcasting in Canada, broadcast personalities behavior on and off camera, business practices and convenient theology, openly and clearly reject dehumanization and bullying. It doesn’t have to be this way. Religious broadcasters can learn that other mediums are not the camp of the enemy.
Identifying and naming the type of criticism correctly, staying calm, positive and direct is part of successful cross media communication. I respect Mr. Youngren for approaching his colleague. I also respect walking away when the situation is too toxic.
Here is how it works Mr. Youngren. I have people online and off who I am accountable to regarding BDBO. They know me personally, or they have dealt with me for years online. They are free to approach me anytime to correct. If a mistake or wrong attitude is brought to my attention, it is acknowledged and publicly corrected with an apology if necessary. If you believe I have wronged you in the “cesspool of mudslinging on Christian blog sites,” you have the right, and I believe the responsibility of response – the contact button is on the header.
Update: This might as well go up somewhere now. For quite some time there were rumours that employee Taina Kuusiluoma was dating Peter Youngren.
After the divorce of Peter and Roxanne Youngren, was announced in May 2011, people began to comment on the engagement of Youngren and Kuusiluoma. Recently commenters have said there was going to be a wedding (his 3rd) with various dates mentioned. I haven’t posted because the information wasn’t sourced. Commenter Ronald Tate grabbed a screenshot of the couple in the Grace TV prayer centre from the September 13/11 Encounter program. Ms. Kuusiluoma is wearing an engagement ring.