The U.S. Christian Church in Crisis

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religious-USThe United States will remain a Christian majority nation for the foreseeable future.  However the Pew Research Center predicts that over the forty years between 2010 and 2050 the proportion of Christians will fall from over three-fourths (78.3%) to barely two-thirds (66.4%).  Of this predicted 12 percentage point drop over 9 points will be due to the growth of “Unaffiliated” to more than a quarter of the nation’s population (from 16.4% to 26.6%).

However, it’s possible that the change in Christianity’s nature will dwarf its change in numbers.  Anyone who has been reading this blog can’t miss my documentation of the PCUSA’s transformation from a denomination that was recognizably Christian to one that is at best led by post-Christian if not pagans.  Of course many solid Christians and churches remain in the PCUSA, but they represent a shrinking minority.

Other Protestant denominations are also being challenged by the dominant secular culture. For example, the United Methodist Church is currently being riven by the same issues associated with gay ordination and marriage that split the PCUSA.

Another visible instance is the  Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran church in San Francisco CA. This church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a Mainline denomination that is in “full communion” with the PCUSA. This means that these denominations can share clergy and officially claim a “common calling.”   The following excerpt (misspelling not corrected) is one of many radical statements that have been pulled from the herchurch website. The photograph that accompanied this text is included, though the caption is by this author.

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This photograph from the herchurch web site shows a young lady (face hidden for privacy) holding a version of the neopagan Spiral Goddess among other non-Christian statues.

Embodying the Goddess

The liturgy, community and ministry of the congregation reflects diverse thealogical works and voices hoping to be a part of the prophetic voice of the divine feminine that will deconstruct Christianity and other patriarchal religions so that both a new paradigm and worldview may emerge that truly creates an egalitarian, just, society and eco-sensitivies that tend to mending the web of life.

Many Christians, even those who are a part of the progressive movement, often question the congregation’s Goddess focus. But more important are the voices of persons who had felt alienated and isolated by the church prior to learning about the work of herchurch. Pastor Stacy and the congregation who are embodying the Goddess are convinced that the nature of the sacred and divine presented in feminist-inclusive understandings can and will help facilitate a caring culture.

Perhaps the most radical denomination at this point is the Episcopal Church.  For example, “The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church”  preached a stunning sermon on Acts 16:16-2.  In it the Most Reverend Jefferts Schori commented thusly on the Apostle Paul’s exorcism of a demon possessed girl:

But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.  Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it.  It gets him thrown in prison.  That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!

There you have it!  The concept of Christian inclusion means that a demon possessed girl’s spirituality is likely of a higher quality than that of the Apostle Paul’s!

Even the supposedly conservative Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has recently accepted “critical race theory and intersectionality” as “analytical tools” to be used in fostering racial reconciliation in the church. As discussed in this article excerpt, the resolution in question had been completely changed from one opposing these ideological tools to one in support and then rushed to a vote without due debate. This event should be a big Red Flag to orthodox Christians in the SBC.

In the original resolution, the language condemns critical race theory and intersectionality in no uncertain terms:

“critical race theory and intersectionality are founded upon unbiblical presuppositions descended from Marxist theories and categories, and therefore are inherently opposed to the Scriptures as the true center of Christian union…both critical race theory and intersectionality as ideologies have infiltrated some Southern Baptist churches and institutions—institutions funded by the Cooperative Program…critical race theory upholds postmodern relativistic understandings of truth and…divides humanity into groups of oppressors and oppressed, and is used to encourage biblical, transcendental truth claims to be considered suspect when communicated from groups labeled as oppressors.”

Clearly, all such condemnatory language was struck, and the “analytical tools” were held up and codified as “useful” by the committee so long as they were subordinate to the Bible. Put simply, Feinstein’s original resolution—condemning these philosophies—was transformed by the committee to endorse them.

Thus no Protestant Christian denomination is immune from this assault of deception, subversion and seduction.

The Catholic Church is experiencing an existential crisis in the area of sexual morality.  As state Attorney Generals have become more aggressive in pursuing sexually deviant Catholic clergy it has become undeniable that there has been a longstanding, wide and deep coverup of pederasty.  This scandal directly involves Catholic leaders at the top of the hierarchy.  Potentially even Pope Francis has been credibly implicated in the protection of criminal clergy to advance the coverup.  Unless the Catholic Church fundamentally reforms we could be heading for a crisis on the order of the Protestant Reformation.

Although most local churches operate outside direct influence of these issues, they are not immune from the same powerful cultural forces that have caused them.  Nor are these scandalous situations isolated from the rank and file.

These (and many other) examples indicate that the Western Christian Church is in a crisis.  In too many cases our leadership has become corrupt and heretical.  Too few pastors and parishioners are paying the attention necessary to understand what’s happening, let alone to create effective counter-strategies.

So, even if in 2050 two-thirds of Americans call themselves Christian, the content of that characterization may have so radically changed that it is unrecognizable to a Christian of 2019.

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Occasional Confirmations (4)

greenClimate Computer Models

Earlier this year I discussed the overwhelming complexity and uncertainties associated with climate computer models.  This is an important issue because it is only by these computer models that the practitioners of “climate science” can make their terrorizing predictions about “climate change.”  

Recently the Economist Magazine published a “climate change” edition.  One of the articles provided valuable detail about these models, which is excerpted below.  Perhaps those people who lord it over their peers on their “knowledge” about “climate science” should pay special attention.

[Modeling] is a complicated process. A model’s code has to represent everything from the laws of thermodynamics to the intricacies of how air molecules interact with one another. Running it means performing quadrillions of mathematical operations a second—hence the need for supercomputers. And using it to make predictions means doing this thousands of times, with slightly different inputs on each run, to get a sense of which outcomes are likely, which unlikely but possible, and which implausible in the extreme.

Even so, such models are crude. Millions of grid cells might sound a lot, but it means that an individual cell’s area, seen from above, is about 10,000 square kilometres, while an air or ocean cell may have a volume of as much as 100,000km3. Treating these enormous areas and volumes as points misses much detail. Clouds, for instance, present a particular challenge to modellers. Depending on how they form and where, they can either warm or cool the climate. But a cloud is far smaller than even the smallest grid-cells, so its individual effect cannot be captured. The same is true of regional effects caused by things like topographic features or islands.

Building models is also made hard by lack of knowledge about the ways that carbon—the central atom in molecules of carbon dioxide and methane, the main heat-capturing greenhouse gases other than water vapour—moves through the environment. Understanding Earth’s carbon cycles is crucial to understanding climate change. But much of that element’s movement is facilitated by living organisms, and these are even more difficult to understand than physical processes.

Of course, if the associated climate computer models are found to be accurate then the above issues can be said to have been mastered.  The problem is that when compared to actual measured temperature they are rather found absurdly overestimate temperature. The testimony of John R. Christy, University of Alabama in Huntsville, to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology provided damning evidence of these models’ utter inaccuracy.  A key comparative figure is shown below.

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Note the significant deviation of the computer model predicted temperature to the actual measured temperature.

And yet, based only on these defective computer models we are told to give over all power to the credulous and/or dishonest people pushing the “climate change” death cult’s message.

The New York Times’ 1619 Project (3)

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American Capitalism and Slavery

There are times when an institution has been so hollowed out, so blinded by ideological hatred that it literally becomes idiotic.  This is one of those times.  There are so many layers of vile stupidity here that it’s difficult to know just where to start.

Slavery Predates Capitalism by at Least 3,300 Years

The Britannica web site’s article on Capitalism dates the start of this economic system to the 16th century A.D.  Therefore, once capitalism arrived on the scene in Europe the institution of slavery had already been in existence since at least the 18th century B.C. and surely far earlier than our historical record documents.  Therefore, it’s impossible for there to have been a complete separation of slavery and any economic system that started while slavery existed.

And yet, the NYT’s headline attempts to tie this evil institution uniquely to American capitalism.  For this attempted linkage to be deemed credible it would have to be shown that capitalism in America was based on slavery and that the more capitalist is a state / colony the more it supported slavery.

The exact opposite is true in both cases.

Slavery was Eradicated in the Capitalist Northern States Long Before the Civil War

Although the 13 British American Colonies (and eventually States) shared a common heritage their dominant economic systems differed between the Northern and Southern regions.  Here’s a good summary of the economic situation in the United States just prior to the Civil War.

While factories were built all over the North and South, the vast majority of industrial manufacturing was taking place in the North. The South had almost 25% of the country’s free population, but only 10% of the country’s capital in 1860. The North had five times the number of factories as the South, and over ten times the number of factory workers. In addition, 90% of the nation’s skilled workers were in the North.

Thus it is in the North that capitalism as enabled by the industrial revolution dominated.  While there certainly were outposts of industrial revolution capitalism in the South, it was dominated by a more primitive agrarian economy dependent on the plantation system which required slavery for its survival.

These economic differences led to entirely different outcomes with regard to the institution of slavery.  While the agrarian South was utterly committed to slavery’s continuance the industrial North progressively eradicated this evil system.  This excerpt from the Federalist summarizes this point.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery in the territory that would become the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. In 1794, Congress barred American ships from engaging in the slave trade. Additional legislation in 1780 banned Americans from employment or investment in the international slave trade. Finally, the U.S. Congress officially banned the importation of slaves beginning on January 1, 1808, the earliest date allowed under the deal made to ratify the Constitution.

Far from the bastion of racism, hate and pro-slavery sentiment that the 1619 Project portrays, much of the United States was ahead of the world in ending the horror of slavery. Shortly after the signing of the Declaration, northern states took the lead. By 1804, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania had passed laws that immediately or gradually abolished slavery.

Clearly it was the far more capitalist dominated Northern states that aggressively opposed and abolished slavery.  This historic fact demolishes the NYT’s narrative about “American capitalism.”  But there’s so much more.

The Capitalist United States is a Anti-Slavery World Leader

Do you know that slavery is still an ongoing institution in the 21st century?  It is.  So, since the NYT thinks that capitalism is the most supportive economic system for slavery it stands to reason that it would be most prevalent in “capitalist” countries.  And, since the United States is the epicenter of world capitalism it must be the worst here.  But, of course, you would be pathetically wrong.

The Walk Free foundation published a Global Slavery Index that has been used by Progressive media organizations such as the Washington Post.  Here are two key figures from the 2018 report.

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Note that it is the “capitalist” countries that have the lowest prevalence of slavery in 2018.

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Note that the United States is the second highest in the world with regard to legal protection against slavery.

Given these results, the question must be asked: Why is the NYT holding the United States up as a cesspit of slavery when it clearly is a world leader in opposing slavery?  The answer is obvious to anyone not blinded by Progressive ideology.

The NYT Hides True Economic Brutality

Finally, it must be noted that the NYT has been an enthusiastic supporter of the most truly brutal ideology in world history, and one that has enslaved and murdered at a level unheard of before its existence — that being Socialism.

The NYT lied to the world about the Ukrainian Famine in the 1930s Soviet Union (and still accepts a Pulitzer Prize for their lies). Walter Duranty was then the NYT’s reporter in the Soviet Union.

In the years 1932 and 1933, a catastrophic famine swept across the Soviet Union. It began in the chaos of collectivization, when millions of peasants were forced off their land and made to join state farms. … At least 5 million people perished of hunger all across the Soviet Union. Among them were nearly 4 million Ukrainians who died not because of neglect or crop failure, but because they had been deliberately deprived of food.

Duranty continued, using an expression that later became notorious: “To put it brutally—you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” He went on to explain that he had made “exhaustive inquiries” and concluded that “conditions are bad, but there is no famine.”

Indignant, Jones wrote a letter to the editor of the Times, patiently listing his sources—a huge range of interviewees, including more than 20 consuls and diplomats—and attacking the Moscow press corps:

Censorship has turned them into masters of euphemism and understatement.  Hence they give “famine” the polite name of “food shortage” and “starving to death” is softened down to read as “widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition…

“Russians Hungry But not Starving” became the accepted wisdom.

The NYT has never ceased being a cheerleader of and apologist for Socialism.

The nostalgia for Communism is never far beneath the surface in the Progressive Left, as was recently reemphasized in a New York Times oped (emphasis added).  There could be no better confirmation of my recent condemnation of the Progressive Left’s whitewash of Communist genocide (see below figure from this post) than the statements from this oped.  Here’s how the lie looks today.

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New York Times Oped:

We can get to this Finland Station only with the support of a majority; that’s one reason that socialists are such energetic advocates of democracy and pluralism. But we can’t ignore socialism’s loss of innocence over the past century. We may reject the version of Lenin and the Bolsheviks as crazed demons and choose to see them as well-intentioned people trying to build a better world out of a crisis, but we must work out how to avoid their failures…

The New York Times is the last place one should look for accurate historic information or moral instruction.

iBooks Publish Announcement: A Denomination’s Debacle

I have published my fourth eBook on iBooks.  If you have an iOS device then you can use this link to access.  If you do not use an iOS device, a PDF version can be found on my blog using this link.

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A Denomination’s Debacle

This book is an indictment of the leadership elite who have driven the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), or PCUSA, into an utter debacle.

The most visible aspect of this debacle is the unprecedented loss of membership and churches that occurred between 2011 and 2017. Over that time span the PCUSA experienced a net loss of 601,000 members and 1146 churches, which is almost 30% of its membership and almost 12% of its churches. But these numbers don’t capture the human cost in broken trust, lost faith and shattered relationships that has occurred behind the scenes.

What remains is a denomination dominated by a post-Christian elite who use their power to advance a social gospel that is virtually indistinguishable from the secular Progressive political project. To some readers this charge against the PCUSA leadership will seem to be not just extraordinary, but also unbelievable. This book contains the extraordinary evidence that justifies the charge.

Preface Excerpt

The reader may well ask why I feel compelled to tell this story. I do so for three reasons.

First, the elite denominational leadership has obtained this end under the cloak of purposeful deception. This deception is not found in their policy and theological positions. No, they have aggressively advanced their cause with general honesty. The deception is that they claim to have been doing so as a legitimate expression of orthodox Reformed Christianity. By so doing they have preyed with premeditation and malice upon the trust of the denomination’s parishioners. We will never recover from this spell unless the truth is exposed.

Second, there are still many faithful members and churches in the PCUSA. However, unless they fully understand the forces arrayed against them they will likely eventually succumb. Only if they understand that their presence in the denomination is as a light shining in the darkness can they be protected from the apostasy and heresy that surrounds them. That understanding is what sustained the Apostles and early Christians as they proclaimed the Gospel as isolated individuals and churches in the pagan Roman Empire. The challenge we face is far less extreme. Yet, if we prioritize the comfort and peace of our lives over our responsibilities as followers of Christ even the small courage required will elude us.

Finally, the forces that have corrupted the PCUSA act upon our general culture and thus are not unique to this denomination. Therefore, we can expect that other churches and denominations are struggling under the same theological onslaught as has laid the PCUSA low. Thus this book attempts to explain these forces and how a corrupt leadership can by deception and seduction smuggle false theology into an otherwise orthodox Christian fellowship.

Table of Contents

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Dispassionate Meditations on Mass Shootings (6)

Are White Men Disproportionally Likely to be Mass Shooters?

The New York Times published an article titled “Mass Shooters Are All Different. Except for One Thing: Most Are Men.”  The leading paragraphs are as follows (emphasis added).

As convenient as it would be, there is no one-size-fits-all profile of who carries out mass shootings in the United States.

About the only thing almost all of them have in common is that they are men.

But those men come from varying backgrounds, with different mental health diagnoses and criminal histories. Examining past New York Times coverage of mass shootings reveals some shared tendencies of the gunmen, including the fact that they are most commonly white, but such traits also describe thousands of law-abiding Americans who don’t become murderous.

The Chicago Tribune recently published a column that pointedly singled out white men for this sin.

As the toll from mass shootings this year already approaches the total for all of last year, more people are openly asking a question that has lurked mostly in the shadows: Why are the shooters so often white men?

Taken at face value these articles appear to be an obvious indictment of “white male toxicity.”  However, in reality they are open windows into the ignorance that saturates our supposedly elite media.

Let’s start by adding up all of the mass shooter numbers by race for the post-leading figure, resulting in a total of 113.  I have divided this total onto each racial category and expressed the result as a percent.  Next, I have plotted the percent by race from the most recent Census results and plotted this in the same figure, as shown below.

Mass-vs-Race-Pop

What we find is that there are the most white mass shooters because they are the largest race group in the United States.  In general the percentage of mass shooters tracks the population percentage.  Interestingly Latinos are less likely to be mass shooters.

The fact that our most elite journalists were apparently unable to understand this obvious and simple fact speaks poorly of their education and/or intelligence.  Or, they do know better and this result is an accurate measure of the intellectual contempt that they have for their readers.

So, no, there is no reason to consider white men to be disproportionally likely to be mass shooters.

Dispassionate Meditations on Mass Shootings (5)

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Video screenshots from the Yahoo News story “Beto O’Rourke says Trump ‘is in large part to blame’ for El Paso shooting”

Is President Trump Responsible for Recent Mass Shootings?

The Democrat Party has decided to blame President Trump for the recent El Paso mass shooting, with Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke as their primary spokesman.  Their “case” against the President is that the manifesto allegedly published by the shooter uses words that have also been used by the President.  In particular the word “invasion” as applied to mass illegal immigration at our southern border.

You don’t need to dig far to find manifesto text that counters this thin reed of logic.  In particular, this insane, evil person specifically rejected the idea that his deeds were tied to President Trump.  Note also that the shooter also disavows potential blame of “certain presidential candidates” for his actions, which can only refer at this point to Democrat candidates.

Crusius ended the manifesto by saying he expected to be killed in the attack he would allegedly carry out on Saturday. As it turned out, the shooter was not, and he is now behind bars, charged with killing 22 people and wounding 26 others. He said his actions would be misunderstood as being tied to Trump.

“My ideology has not changed for several years,” Crusius wrote. “My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president. I [am] putting this here because some people will blame the President or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case. I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist anyway and blame Trump’s rhetoric. The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that.”

That was the only time Trump appeared in the manifesto, and it appears clear that Crusius borrowed his “fake news” characterization of the news media from the president. But that is not what Trump’s critics have charged. They have charged that Trump inspired Crusius to kill. They have charged it so often in the last few days that it has hardened into a general perception that Crusius was inspired by the president. But read the manifesto. It’s just not there.

*The word “invasion” has been used in connection with illegal immigration since long before the president ran for office. In the 1990s, for example, the state of California unsuccessfully sued the federal government, claiming the government did not protect states from an “invasion” of illegal immigrants. In 2010, the state of Arizona also unsuccessfully challenged the federal government over a similar “invasion.” The word was also used, well before Trump, in general commentary, usually by those who sought to restrict immigration levels into the United States. And more generally, too: Bobby Jindal, the son of immigrants and governor of Louisiana who ended his 2016 presidential campaign with a bitter attack on Trump, used to say that “immigration without assimilation is invasion.”

Why would the vile, evil killer mention Democrat candidates in his comments?  Probably because he uses the same eco-dystopian future ideas as numerous of them.

After all, these misanthropic ideas, this green miserabilism, this anti-modern guff about humanity being a plague on poor Mother Earth, is a central feature of the El Paso killer’s manifesto. And if Trump can be held responsible for the shootings on the basis that the manifesto echoes his Mexican-bashing, why shouldn’t greens, who pollute public debate with the kind of anti-humanist ideology that clearly moved and enraged the El Paso murderer, shoulder some responsibility, too?  …

… In his alleged manifesto, the killer, alongside his racist rants about Hispanic people and the ‘replacement’ of whites, attacks modern society for being eco-unfriendly. Westerners’ lifestyles are ‘destroying the environment’ and ‘creating a massive burden for future generations’, he says. He seems obsessed with the core element of green thinking – the idea that mankind is overusing limited natural resources. We are ‘shamelessly overharvesting resources’, apparently.

As with green ideology in general, there is a strong streak of anti-humanism in his eco-obsessions. He attacks ‘urban sprawl’ – also known as human habitation – and the way it ‘destroys millions of acres of land’. As for ‘consumer culture’ with its production of ‘thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste’ – he slams that as another part of humankind’s ‘decimation of our environment’. The solution? Surprise, surprise: population control. Echoing the numerous eco-Malthusians who have spent decades calling for a restrictions on human natality in order to save the planet, he says we need to ‘decrease the number of people in America using resources’.   …

… somehow in recent years, this backward, anti-modern obsession with cleansing nature of foul mankind’s uncaring, destructive behaviour has morphed into a supposedly progressive, leftish outlook. And it is now utterly mainstream, being promoted by virtually every public and political institution.

Also, were the Democrats to apply their supposed logic consistently then they would have to blame Elizabeth Warren for the Dayton Ohio mass shooting.  In fact, the case is much stronger.  Here’s what the Dayton shooter allegedly had to say.

Heavy.com got access to the shooter’s social media. Contrary to the media narrative currently boiling over, this shooter was not a Trump fan. In fact, he hated Trump, hated Republicans, was an avowed leftist, used antifa style language in his posts, and loved Elizabeth Warren. …

He used language often used by Antifa, exclaiming that he wants to “kill every fascist.” He also liked and commented on posts expressing support for the group.

“#2016ElectionIn3Words This is bad,” he wrote on Nov. 8, 2016. “You can’t kill 50+ people and injure 600(!) In 10 minutes with cigarettes my dude,” he wrote in 2017. In response to a Buzzfeed story that read, “Virginia has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the “Unite the Right” rally anniversary in Charlottesville this weekend,” he wrote: “Kill every fascist.

Betts was a politically active socialist who supported Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

On the Twitter page, Connor Betts indicated he’d vote for Elizabeth Warren for president but not Kamala Harris, responding to a person’s tweet suggesting they be co-presidents. “Nahh, but only cuz Harris is a cop – Warren I’d happily vote for,” he wrote.

I don’t recall a single Democrat or MSM source drawing attention to this information in an accusatory manner with regard to Mrs. Warren.

Finally, recall from this previous post that the significant increase in mass shootings began and continued under President Obama.  What’s going on now is just the continuation of a process rather than something new under the Trump administration.  Were it my goal to “blame” President Obama for the significant increase in mass shootings that occurred on his watch I could dig up many quotes in support.  But that isn’t my goal. Yes, President Obama said many things that I believe to have coarsened our political dialogue and caused social turmoil.  However, I don’t blame him for the mass shootings that occurred during his Presidency, nor should anyone else.

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If you blame President Trump but bestow innocence upon President Obama and the current crop of Democrat candidates then you are engaging in divisive politics.

But we should rather be looking at ourselves, at the culture and values that we have embraced for answers, not convenient scape-goats be they be Democrat or Republican presidents or candidates.

Dispassionate Meditations on Mass Shootings (4)

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The Lott study results (right) contradict the Lankford results…why?

Does the United States Have the Most Mass Shootings (2)?

Lankford’s Credibility Challenged

Given the publicity given to the Lankford study it was certain that attempts to review and replicate the results would be made.  However, from the beginning of this coverage in 2016 to well into 2019 Dr. Lankford absolutely refused to release the data upon which his conclusions rested or to engage in substantive dialogue with other researchers.  Therefore, anyone attempting to assess his results was completely on their own.  And, given Lankford’s striking and highly publicized results, John R. Lott, Jr., President of the Crime Prevention Research Center took on the challenge.

Given the previously discussed uncertainty about terms and definitions combined with Lankford’s refusal to share his definition or data, the Lott study used a widely accepted definition of “mass shooting.”  The following definition was used by the Congressional Research Service in their 2015 study titled “Mass Murder with Firearms: Incidents and Victims, 1999-2013,” which is similar to that used by Mother Jones.

… a “mass shooting” could be defined as a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms—not including the offender(s)—within one event, and in one or more locations relatively near one another.

Using this definition and a comprehensive review of foreign news sources (including non-English language sources), the Lott study came to a contradictory conclusion, that being (emphasis added):

Lankford’s study reported that from 1966 to 2012, there were 90 public mass shooters in the United States and 202 in the rest of world. We find that Lankford’s data represent a gross undercount of foreign attacks. Our list contains 1,448 attacks and at least 3,081 shooters outside the United States over just the last 15 years of the period that Lankford examined. We find at least fifteen times more mass public shooters than Lankford in less than a third the number of years.

Coding these events sometimes involves subjectivity. But even when we use coding choices that are most charitable to Lankford, his 31 percent estimate of the US’s share of world mass public shooters is cut by over 95 percent. By our count, the US makes up less than 1.43% of the mass public shooters, 2.11% of their murders, and 2.88% of their attacks. All these are much less than the US’s 4.6% share of the world population. Attacks in the US are not only less frequent than other countries, they are also much less deadly on average.

Lankford Finally Responds

After almost three years of stonewalling by this public academic, Lankford finally respond to his critics and released his data in March of 2019.  He did so by publishing a paper titled “Confirmation That the United States Has Six Times Its Global Share of Public Mass Shooters, Courtesy of Lott and Moody’s Data.”  Though Lankford spun this paper as a devastating rebuttal of Lott’s work, in reality it amounted to an admission of professional malpractice (if not worse).

It turns out that Lankford had, without disclosure, limited his study to include only mass shooters who “acted alone.”  As was discussed in the previous post, the only definition that assumes a single perpetrator is that for an “active shooter,” and even there the FBI had extended it to include multiple shooters.  Even more devastating to Lankford’s position is the fact that he led his original paper using the 1999 Columbine attack which had two shooters.

One is also left to wonder why, if Lankford had such an easily available “devastating” riposte to Lott’s work, he waited so ling to respond.  The most likely answer is that Lankford had pulled a definitional trick in order to place the United States in a bad light.  For, by supposedly limiting (though he was not consistent, see above Columbine example) his study to lone active shooters Lankford was able to manufacture a statistic that appeared to show the United States to be a “mass shooter” negative outlier.

In order to better appreciate the gravity of this apparent deception, ask yourself if you would rather go to a nation that had 1.57 mass shooter attacks per 100,000 people (Northern Mariana Islands) or 0.015 (the United States)?  Would you really care if you were murdered in an event with only one person doing the mass shooting?  Of course not!

It is for this reason that Lankford most likely refused to explain his definitions, share details of his methodology or publish his data for almost three years.  Only when the pressure to explain himself became overwhelming did he finally come clean; and then in a manner that attempted to hide his malpractice behind a fog of accusations.

Lankford’s Open Admission of Bias

Lankford in his original paper made it absolutely clear that he was a deeply biased source.  Following is the first paragraph from his original paper (emphasis added, see end of post for information on H. Rap Brown).

Are public mass shooters predominantly an American problem? For years, people have wondered whether the dark side of American exceptionalism is a cultural propensity for violence. Political activist H. Rap Brown once claimed that “Violence is a part of America’s culture. It is as American as cherry pie” (Lehman, 2014). Similarly, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Richard Hofstadter (1970b) concluded that the most notable thing “about American violence is its extraordinary frequency, its sheer commonplaceness in our history, its persistence into very recent and contemporary times, and its rather abrupt contrast with our pretensions to singular national virtue” (p. 7). Although United States history includes the killing of indigenous people, a revolutionary war, a civil war, many foreign wars, slavery, race riots, domestic terrorism, and high rates of homicide, perhaps no form of violence is seen as more uniquely American than public mass shootings.

This appears to be the work of a man on a mission to denigrate and discredit the United States.  I have read hundreds of research papers in my lifetime.  No researcher who desired to maintain a posture of disinterested inquiry would ever start a paper in this manner.  However, if your goal were to catch the eye of like-minded politicians and media organizations then this is an excellent opening paragraph.

Thus, this situation appears to be a glaring example of how a supposedly disinterested academic can distort research to support a predetermined outcome due to their personal bias.



h-rap-brown1

H. Rap Brown: “I say violence is necessary.  It is as American as cherry pie.”

H. Rap Brown:

Rejecting the prosecution’s call for a death sentence, a jury sentenced the former ’60s radical known as H. Rap Brown to life in prison for killing a sheriff’s deputy in a shootout two years ago.
The jury deliberated for about five hours before deciding Wednesday to spare the life of the Muslim cleric now called Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. He will not have a chance at parole.

So, a supposedly disinterested, public spirited criminology professor quoted a convicted murderer and Black Panther Party member as a credible source on the nature of violence in the United States.  This would be amazing had I not lived through the past ten or so years.

Dispassionate Meditations on Mass Shootings (3)

Lankford-Mass-Shooting-Results2

The Lankford study … is it credible?

Does the United States Have the Most Mass Shootings (1)?

In the previous post I confirmed that the incidents and associated death toll of mass shootings in the United States is on a precipitous increase.  Since we live here this turn of events is at top of mind (e.g., note the recent Times Square panic).  And, since most of our news is about the United States it’s not unreasonable to fear that there is something uniquely wrong here, resulting in a higher incidence of mass shootings than occur elsewhere in the world.

So, when an academic study by Adan Lankford  (University of Alabama) was published showing that the United States is indeed unique (in a bad way), many people’s emotional response was confirmation of their worst fears.  And, since that study was cited by major media organizations and politicians the presumed credibility of these results was confirmed.

But there was something strange about this study.  It turned out that Dr. Lankford’s paper was vague/inconsistent about key issues like definitions and methodology.  He also refused to release the data set upon which his conclusions were based.  This behavior is extremely odd for an academic who speaks on key public policy issues.  The generally expected behavior is clarity on definitions and methodology and complete transparency on the data set.  In this way other researchers have the opportunity to replicate or challenge the findings.

For example, the New York Times story based on the Lankford paper consistently refers to “mass shootings” as the topic under study.  Lankford’s paper uses multiple terms interchangeably, such as “mass shooters,” “rampage shooters” and “active shooters.”  The Lankford paper’s title uses the term “Mass Shooters.”  The New York Times article uses the term “mass shooting” twenty-four times but never mentions “active shooter.”

The definition of a “mass shooting” is uncertain and highly variable as discussed by the Washington Post.

But “mass shooting” is a term without a universally-accepted definition, which complicates news coverage of events such as Sunday’s massacre in Las Vegas.  …

The FBI does not officially define “mass shooting” and does not use the term in Uniform Crime Report records. In the 1980s, the FBI established a definition for “mass murder” as “four or more victims slain, in one event, in one location,” and the offender is not included in the victim count if the shooter committed suicide or was killed in a justifiable homicide, according to a Congressional Research Service report detailing the definitions.

After the 2012 shootings in Newtown, Conn., Congress defined “mass killings” to mean “three or more killings in a single incident.” Some media outlets and researchers still use the four-fatality definition, and have adopted the CRS definitions of “mass shooting” and “mass public shooting.” Other researchers include injuries in the victim count. Some researchers include acts of terrorism, drug deals gone wrong or gang conflict in their research. Others don’t.

Some media reports, such as those of our Wonkblog colleagues, and advocates use a broader definition used by the Mass Shooting Tracker maintained via Reddit, an online forum. In this case, mass shootings are incidents in which four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire. By this count, the San Bernardino shooting is the 355th mass shooting this year. (In comparison, CRS counted 317 mass shooting incidents from 1999 to 2013.)

Note that none of these definitions place a limit on the number of shooters.  And, the San Bernardino incident in which there were two shooters is explicitly included under any definition of a “mass shooting.”  This distinction is, as we will see, central to assessment of Lankford’s results.

Well into the Lankford paper a definition for the data utilized is provided (emphasis added):

Data for this study were drawn first from the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) 2012 Active Shooter report. This report employs the Department of Homeland Security’s definition of “active shooter”: “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area” (Kelly 2012, p. 1). More commonly, these offenders are referred to as rampage shooters or public mass shooters. According to the formal definition, their attacks must have (a) involved a firearm, (b) appeared to have struck random strangers or bystanders and not only specific targets, and (c) not occurred solely in domestic settings or have been primarily gang-related, drive-by shootings, hostage-taking incidents, or robberies (Kelly, 2012). For this study, attackers who struck outdoors were Public Mass Shooters and Firearms included; attackers who committed sponsored acts of genocide or terrorism were not. This is consistent with the criteria employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in its 2014 active shooter report (Blair & Schweit, 2014).

It turns out that even the FBI acknowledges that the definition of an “active shooter” is uncertain and open to interpretation (emphasis added).

The agreed-upon definition of an active shooter by U.S. government agencies … is “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” Implicit in this definition is that the subject’s criminal actions involve the use of firearms. For purposes of its study, the FBI extended this definition to include individuals, because some incidents involved two or more shooters. Though the federal definition includes the word “confined,” the FBI excluded this word in its study, as the term confined could omit incidents that occurred outside a building. Whether inside or out, these incidents still posed a threat to both law enforcement and the citizens they seek to protect.

So, what we have is a confused situation in which terms with varying definitions are used interchangeably by the paper’s author (Lankford), with the term “mass shooting” used in the paper’s title and “mass shooting” used exclusively by the New York Times in its article based on this paper.

The consequences of this confusion and the author’s complete refusal to answer questions or simply share his data set significantly complicated the process of review and replication that normally occurs for academic research results.

This assessment continues with the next post.

Dispassionate Meditations on Mass Shootings (2)

bialik-flowers-king-mass-shootings-21

Here’s an example of the significant differences between three sources on mass shootings: (1) Mass Shooting Tracker, (2) Mother Jones and (3) the FBI.

Is the Occurrence of Mass Shootings Increasing?

This question seems ridiculous given that last Saturday the United States experienced two mass shootings within a 14-hour period.  Certainly this was a shocking turn of events that has left us all reeling.  But it turns out that this question is more difficult to answer than our emotions would suggest.

The header figure for this post was chosen to make this point.  It shows data on mass shootings in the United States from three information sources, those being: (1) Mass Shooting Tracker, (2) Mother Jones and (3) the FBI.  Note that for the year 2013 (the only year for which data is available from all three sources) the number of mass shooting events are 363, 5 and 17!  The number of deaths and injuries all varies widely across these three sources.  Also, no trend in number of events, deaths or injuries is apparent in any of these sources.

The primary reasons for this huge variation across sources are determined by the methodology and definitions used.  For example, the Mass Shooting Tracker uses a crowd source (use of information contributed by the general public, often via the Internet and without compensation) methodology and a broad definition for mass shootings.  Mother Jones and the FBI use much narrower definitions (but not identical) for mass shooting and the data is collected and validated by that organization.  While there are cases for which crowd sourced data is credible, the uncontrolled nature of this methodology isn’t a good match for mass shootings.

Since Mother Jones* has the longest time span (1982 to 2019), a consistent definition and centrally managed methodology I will focus on their data.  There are many ways to display data of this type.  The following figure shows two key aspects of the mass shooting data, those being number of events and number of deaths per year.

mass shootings 1982-2016

Mother Jones data through June 2016: Each rectangle is an individual mass shooting event and the height of each rectangle is the number of deaths for that event.

It’s easier to identify trends if we plot the number of annual events and number of deaths separately, as shown in the following two figures.  For each figure I have included the fifth-order polynomial best (least squares) fit curve to highlight the underlying data trend (dashed line).

mass-shooting-events

Mother Jones data: 1982 – 2018

The trend line clearly shows the number of mass shooting events began to rise significantly starting approximately in 2009.  Note that this rising trend continues through the last full year of 2018.

mass shooting deaths

Mother Jones data: 1982 – 2018

The trend line clearly shows the number of mass shooting deaths began to rise significantly starting approximately in 2007.  Note that this rising trend continues through the last full year of 2018.

These results indicate that our perception of significantly increased events and deaths due to mass shootings is backed up by the available data.  Of course the Mother Jones data set isn’t perfect (nor is any other).  However I’m satisfied that it is sufficient to accurately identify the trends associated with this tragic situation.


* Comment on credibility criteria

Some readers may wonder why I’m using mass shooting data from a very Progressive organization.  After all, a primary theme of this blog is severe criticism of Progressivism. There’s no doubt that I strongly disagree with Mother Jones on interpretation of events and policy positions.  However, all this doesn’t necessarily mean that Mother Jones’ mass shooting data itself is tainted.  In fact, based on their methodology, definitions and transparency I’m comfortable using their data.

Mother Jones has clearly communicated their definitions and methodology for identifying and cataloguing mass shooting events.  Of absolute critical importance, they are also completely transparent with respect to the results.  I or anyone else can access their entire data set and evaluate it for consistency, accuracy and completeness.  This implies they are making a good faith effort to generate useful information in this critical area.

Finally, I note that if anything the Mother Jones data is conservative even when compared to the FBI data (see the above figure).  Were they attempting to bias their data to accentuate the number of mass shootings I very much doubt that this result would have occurred.

Note that the credibility of any data source will be severely compromised if these conditions are not met.

The Disappearing PCUSA: 2018 Data (5)

Explaining How Existing Members and Churches were Driven Out of the PCUSA

Note: This is an unusually long post, but by necessity to explain this root cause of the PCUSA’s debacle.

It appears that a few years of surface quiet were experienced between 2002 and 2006.  However, behind the scenes the PCUSA national leadership must have been preparing for the coup that occurred at the 2006 General Assembly.  An informative report by David and Tim Bayly on this event follows.

Even more troubling to us is the approval of the so-called Peace, Unity, and Purity (PUP) Report, which, for the first time in our denomination’s history, allows local congregations and regional governing bodies to ordain as ministers, elders, and deacons people who refuse to accept or obey requirements for ordination established by the denomination’s constitution, if they convince the ordaining body that they can nonetheless serve. While this refusal to comply may apply to any requirement, the issue has been primarily focused on and driven by the question of ordaining practicing and unrepentant homosexual candidates…

A number of years ago our denomination’s constitution was amended to limit ordination to those who are faithful in marriage, which is between one man and one woman, or chaste in singleness. This wording was approved by a majority of the regional bodies, and re-approved twice by larger majorities each time. At the time it was added it was not a new limitation, but made explicit an understanding that had historically been practiced within the denomination (and for that matter in nearly all Christian denominations).

What made the PUP Report unconscionable was that it amends the denominational constitution by an unconstitutional process. It by-passed the regional bodies whose approval is required by the constitution itself. It is as though the U. S. Constitution were to be amended by a simple majority vote of Congress, by-passing the states. Advocates of the ordination of ineligible people, unable to change the constitution, proposed to “interpret” it by altering the meaning of the phrase “shall not” so that it from now on it means “may.” A prohibition was changed by interpretation into permission, because the advocates of change could not muster the votes to pass an amendment.

Lest you assume that this is a biased report, here is a contemporaneous report on the same General Assembly by NBC News. 

Like other mainline Protestant groups, Presbyterians have been debating for decades how they should interpret Scripture on salvation, truth, sexuality and other issues.

But tensions erupted after a June 2006 meeting, when delegates granted new leeway in some cases for congregations and regional presbyteries to sidestep a church requirement that clergy and lay officers limit sex to man-woman marriage.

The “delegates” in this quote are those to the General Assembly.  Thus, it is the General Assembly, acting alone, that granted the “new leeway” to local congregations and Presbyteries.

The General Assembly continued down the path of democratic nullification in 2008, where numerous additional steps were taken.  This article lays out what occurred.

… the denomination then turned to the issue of standards for ordination. The language to be replaced requires that all ministers of the church must live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.” That language, consistent with Scripture and Christian tradition, is to be replaced with a new standard that would require nothing at all with reference to sexual integrity.  The new wording would read:

“Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation, pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation and establishes the candidate’s sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.”

The proposed amendment to the standards now moves to the denomination’s 173 regional units (presbyteries) where it must receive sufficient support. Similar efforts have failed in the past, but many believe that this proposal will be difficult to defeat. The defection of many conservatives from the denomination (and some churches as well) may weaken the opposition.

Nevertheless, even without the change in the standard, local presbyteries may well move to ordain active homosexuals anyway. The Associated Press explains how:

“Of equal importance to advocates on both side of the debate, the assembly also voted to allow gay and lesbian candidates for ordination to conscientiously object to the existing standard. Local presbyteries and church councils that approve ordinations would consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.

That vote was an “an authoritative interpretation” of the church constitution rather than a change to it, so it goes into effect immediately. The interpretation supersedes a ruling from the church’s high court, issued in February, that said there were no exceptions to the so-called “fidelity and chastity” requirement.”

The “standards for ordination” change would require further action by the next General Assembly to be fully accepted.  The “authoritative interpretation” did not requite Presbytery approval to go into effect.  Thus, “consent of the governed” had been in effect nullified.  That is, regardless of how the Presbyteries voted, the PCUSA had enabled ordination of practicing homosexuals.

By these General Assembly actions the PCUSA was flipped from a denomination that rejected demands to align theology and policy with contemporary sexual liberation ideology to one that had lost it’s will to resist.  This result was obtained by two distinct but related mechanisms, those being:

  1. by making it absolutely clear that the demanded policies would be implemented by illegitimate means, it encouraged those members and churches who formed the core of the resistance to leave the denomination
  2. those in opposition who still remained were so demoralized that many gave up and retreated into passivity.

Thus, between 2008 and 2011 the Progressive camp was able to achieve their demanded ends in a denomination that had effectively resisted them for decades.

As explicit standards on blocking homosexual ordination [are] starting to disappear, the General Assembly finally voted to approve of the ordination of … gays and lesbians on July 8, 2010 by a vote of 373 to 323. This new amendment was ratified on May 10, 2011. Approximately 19 presbyteries that voted against the issue in 2008-2009 switched to “yes” votes, including conservative areas, like northern Alabama. Some that resisted the issue in the past felt that gay/lesbian ordination was “inevitable” in any case. 

The approval of gay/lesbian ordination upset conservative members, with some leaving to join more conservative denominations, like the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, which formed less than year after the new amendment was ratified.

This is political nullification posing as a legitimate process.  Once this coup became successful it was virtually certain that Progressives would achieve dominance as orthodox members and churches fled what had become an overtly corrupt denomination.

Note in the following figure that it is after 2006 that the number of members and churches exiting the denomination began to significantly increase.  Were our leadership not corrupt (or utterly incompetent, a perhaps more charitable but unlikely explanation) they would have easily recognized that the denomination was nearing a debacle between 2006 and 2011.

However, they likely viewed this situation as positive since it guaranteed eventual Progressive political dominance.  What we know for certain is that they used the diminishing presence of orthodox Christians to obtain approval of gay ordination in 2010, thus driving the denomination from danger into outright debacle.

Debacle-Data-Print

Stages of the Debacle:  In the General Decline period membership loss was increasing but few if any churches were dismissed.  In the Danger Warning period membership continued to decrease but now churches were being dismissed at a much higher rate.  In the Debacle period both membership and dismissed churches went off a cliff and remained at unprecedented levels.

The current Progressive leadership doesn’t want us to know about these dirty dealings.  While they may avoid accountability they shouldn’t be allowed to avoid the shame of their conduct.