January 17, 2017
New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY, 10018
Dear Mr. Baquet,
The New York Times has libeled me by characterizing me as a Christian Nationalist in a Jan. 6, 2018 story, The Museum of the Bible Is a Safe Space for Christian Nationalists, written by Katherine Stewart.
This fabrication and mischaracterization that is without factual basis has damaged my reputation as an Evangelical pastor.
In failing to correct this injurious allegation, despite repeated requests to do so, the New York Times has continued to defame me and cause me irreparable harm.
This allegation is particularly damaging to my reputation as I lead weekly Bible studies to members of the White House Cabinet, U.S. Senators, and Representatives.
To accuse me of embracing a philosophy that promotes a Church-controlled government is character assassination that could destroy my pastoral work of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world’s leaders, which is the mission of Capitol Ministries.
For the New York Times to allow a writer to tarnish a man’s reputation in such a cavalier way without calling for comment and without checking facts that are readily available and contrary to what is being written is blatantly irresponsible and journalism malpractice.
A man’s reputation is a precious thing. I ask you Mr. Baquet, once a reputation is damaged, how can it be restored?
Stewart’s piece was written for the New York Times’ opinion section which has the same journalistic obligation to be factual and accurate as does any other section of the paper.
Yet, before publication Stewart did not call me for a comment.
She did not call me to check if her understanding of my position was correct.
Nor did she check the facts.
Christian Nationalism, also known as Dominionism, Christian Reconstructionism, and Theocracy, is defined by liberal/progressive author Michelle Goldberg in her book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. In a blog that was published by the Huffington Post, she writes:
“I’ve just published a book called “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism,” and since it appeared, I’ve been asked several times what Christian nationalism is, and how it differs from Christian fundamentalism.
“It’s an important concept to understand, because the threat to a pluralistic society does not come from those who simply believe in a very conservative interpretation of Christianity. It comes from those who adhere to a political ideology that posits a Christian right to rule.
“Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to create a secular republic; separation of church and state, according to this history, is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives… The goal of Christian nationalist politics is the restoration of the imagined Christian nation.”
Stewart also quotes George Grant, former executive director of D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries, who wrote in his book, The Changing of the Guard, that “Christians have a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ — to have dominion in civil structures…It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.”
I am not and have never been a Christian nationalist.
Had she bothered to look, Stewart would have easily found my true position on Christian nationalism on the Capitol Ministries website.
In the Bible study, Ministry vs. Political Activism I write:
“…Grown by the discipleship efforts of the Church, Public Servants are to serve the institution of the state with no eye for co-optation. (I should add a personal note here for the sake of secularists who tend to assume that Christian Public Servants have a desire to make America into a Theocracy: In over 20 years of working with Christians in office, I have yet to meet one who harbors this motive.)”
In the Bible study, Should Believers Be Involved in Politics?, I write:
“One other point here is worth mention. Christian isolationists often harbor ideological superiority: as if the authority of the Church is over the authority of the State. The Church is not over the State; conversely the Church too needs to submit to the State.”
“For Evangelicals to state, as they often do, that there is no mention of separation of Church and State in the American Constitution gives rise to secular fear that American Evangelicals in office are plotting a Theocracy.
“Regardless of what one may or may not think the U.S. Constitution says about this matter, the New Testament remains and has always been crystal clear: Institutional separation is biblical.
“But make no mistake, institutional separation does not mean there should be influential separation, as is postulated by the secularists.
My position is made clear in these public writings, among many, many more that are available on the Capitol Ministries website.
Once again to be very clear sir, I do not believe in or support the concept of a Christian nation because it is not biblical. There is no such thing as a “Christian nation” in the Bible.
The term “Christian,” as used in the Bible, relates to an individual who has come to Christ for salvation; it is this limited, biblical understanding that prohibits the idea of using it to describe a nation. Nowhere in the New Testament is that concept espoused or represented as something to be achieved.
America was, therefore, never a “Christian nation” per se in its founding. Yes, it was guided by Christian principles in the past, perhaps more so than today, but to say it was founded as a ‘Christian nation’ is, biblically speaking, an unfounded premise. It is a misnomer.
In the New Testament, the Bible teaches that God created the institution of the state as an entity separate from the institution of the Church. But that does not imply that God does not expect the institution of the state to be influenced by the institution of the Church: He does expect the Church to influence the State — while remaining institutionally separate.
I do not believe or embrace “Christian nationalism” nor does Capitol Ministries harbor any theocratic motives.
Capitol Ministries exists to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world’s leaders so that they may know Him and have eternal life.
In an interview with National Public Radio, you said:
“We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role of religion in people’s lives. And I think we can do much, much better.”
As of today, The New York Times has not made a correction. I am requesting:
- A letter to the editor authored by me be published on the New York Times’ online publication and in the New York Times newspaper
- An immediate retraction to this factual error be published and linked to Stewart’s New York Times’ online post
- An immediate retraction to this factual error be published in the New York Times’ newspaper as was Stewart’s opinion piece
- As Stewart’s story was prominently displayed, I am requesting a retraction in the same section on the same page where her story was printed
- The New York Times publish an op-ed piece authored by me clarifying these issues.
The New York Times’ disregard of basic journalism standards has not gone unnoticed by other journalists. Among them is political editor Mark Tapscott who wrote about Stewart’s New York Times piece for PoliZette in: Why Can’t the Elite Media ‘Get’ Christians? Most Americans Do with the subhead: Somebody please tell The New York Times that its opinion editors need to take Faith 101 to separate fact from fiction.
In part, Tapscott wrote:
“Having served for six years of my long journalism career as an editorial-page editor, I was especially struck by the fact this incredibly flawed op-ed appeared in Baquet’s newspaper. The opinion sections of all media outlets are no less obligated than the news pages to be factual and accurate. Somebody was asleep at the wheel on this one.”
“…The problem is that the op-ed’s author is trying to slander tens of millions of conservative and evangelical Americans as devotees of an obscure sect numbering in the dozens and inhabiting a far corner of theological opinion.
“…the opinion editor of one of the world’s most influential media outlets had the obligation to readers to make a few phone calls, maybe do a Google search or two, to fact-check this submission. Had that been done, I have no doubt this op-ed would not have been published.”
You have admitted, “We don’t get religion.” For your edification and education, I am attaching a copy of Tapscott’s story as well as a copy of the Capitol Ministries response to Stewart’s piece that is posted on our website and these Bible studies that clarify my position in the hopes that you may gain insight and see this issue from a perspective that is different from your own as journalists are obligated to do.
I look forward to hearing from you.
President and Founder
Stephen J. Greene, attorney at law
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher, New York Times
Clarifying The Continual Confusion About The Separation of Church and State
Should Believers Be Involved in Politics?
Ministry vs. Political Activism
Capitol Ministries response to Stewart’s New York Times story
Mark Tapscott’s PoliZette story, Why Can’t the Elite Media ‘Get’ Christians? Most Americans Do; Somebody please tell The New York Times that its opinion editors need to take Faith 101 to separate fact from fiction