Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hypocrisy At Focus On The Family: Why Christians Are Losing Their Credibility

This is a photo of Focus on the Family staffer Gary Schneeberger, a photo that he placed today on his Facebook account. In placing the photo on his Facebook account, Schneeberger stated, "Not proud of the gesture here ... but that's who I was in college."

Schneeberger is Vice President for Media and Public Relations at Focus on The Family. He oversees internal and external media efforts of the international evangelical ministry, as well as Family News in Focus, a radio news program heard by more than 2 million U.S. listeners each day; CitizenLink Daily Update, a daily e-mail news service distributed to about 100,000 subscribers; and Citizen magazine, a monthly publication with a circulation of more than 50,000.

Why is this photo a problem? Because Schneeberger earns his money from the sacrificial Christians who contribute to Focus On The Family. He has a responsibility, according to Biblical standards, to conduct his personal and public life, with a holy and righteous standard of living. Additionally, Schneeberger's Facebook photos and comments are sent out to all of the members of his Facebook connections, including Christian publisher and activist James Hartline.

Schneeberger's postings on his Facebook account are replete with many more trash comments and photos. Hartline removed himself from Schneeberger's account upon receiving the latest photo posting from the Focus on the Family staffer. Hartline told Schneeberger, "I thought you were a Christian leader. Removing you from my facebook account. Can't stand the hypocrisy."

In response to Hartline's comment to Schneeberger, a number of Schneeberger's supporters went on the attack against Hartline. Those comments included, "hey everyone, I think Hartline was only joking" and "If that last isn't just ribbing, well, I'll say a liberal prayer for Mr. Hartline -- that he realizes honesty about oneself and one's past isn't hypocrisy, and that pretending that one's self, past or present, doesn't exist, is.... Sure it's ribbing, though ..."

There is a reason why corruption, immorality, child abuse, homosexuality, divorce, pornography, lying and adultery are rampant, both in the world and in the church. It is because of the double lives that are being lived out by the men who are in charge of Christianity in this nation. They have broken this nation's moral compass and Biblical influence upon the American culture has been destroyed.

The Bible says that we are to abstain from all appearances of evil. And the paid staff at Focus on the Family had better start including the Bible in their employment training manual.


fivesolas said...

Thanks, James. What your Facebook detractors seem to miss is that one's sinful past doesn't need to be broadcasted for all to see.

Sure, an acknowledgment of sin is necessary before God, but to post an unnecessary photograph for the sole purpose of showing this to others is unwise at best. We should be careful not to become stumbling blocks for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and I'm afraid a picture of such a vulgar gesture can only be interpreted as offensive.

God forgive us.

Gary Schneeberger said...

James, as I said in a private note to you, I truly do apologize for the offense. It is worth noting that the picture shown here was taken in 1987 -- 10 years before I came to Christ. I have a small cache of photos from my pre-Christian days precisely because they remind me of the life the Lord delivered me from. I post them from time to time on my Facebook page because they allow me to open a dialogue about the man the Lord has made me today. I call them my *testimony photos* because they allow me the opportunity to speak about the work they have done in my life. Every year on the anniversary of the last drink of alcohol I've ever taken, for instance, I post as a profile picture one of the few shots I have of me inebriated. The Bible says we overcome by the word of our testimony, and such photos spotlight to those who may not have known me then the miracle of the transformation brought about by my conversion.

As you know, I work with many ex-gays like yourself. They frequently make public photos from their prior lives in order to spotlight the changes the Lord has brought them through. It is for them as it is for me, visual evidence of the power of Jesus to transform lives.

As I noted in the caption to the photo you posted here, I was not and am not proud of my gesture in the picture. It came from a depressed and desolate soul. That soul has been replaced, as I am a new creation in Christ having accepted him as Lord and Savior in 1997. If revealing glimpses into my old life -- as I know you do in your own way -- is a way to engage others in a discussion of Christ, I am willing to take the risk of being ridiculed or criticized for it.

That said, I removed the photo shortly after you made your displeasure known -- because I wanted to be true to the biblical exhortation not to make a brother stumble. I believe I am free in this matter; i.e., demonstrating who I was as a means to discussing who God has made me is not something I believe to be hypocritical or sinful. But if other brothers and sisters in Christ have that view, it is my duty as a believer to take what steps I can to make things right.

I have done that to the best of my ability in this instance, but please know I will continue, as appropriate and as led by the Holy Spirit, to share details of my past that He might use to change someone else's future.


Gary Schneeberger

James Hartline said...

Here is the problem with Mr. Schneeberger's response, as sincere as it may appear. He attempts to downplay the incident of his publishing a photograph of him exhibiting a profane mannerism from 20 years ago, as an isolated event. However, one review of his Tweeter acccount, the other photos on his Facebook account and the other websites with information on him, and a picture is painted of a man who typifies the corrupting of the Christian leadership in our nation. Replacing true Christianity with this
"conservative" label, allows too many men in power in the Christian Community, like Gary Schneeberger, to get away with their hypocritical religiosity.

James Hartline said...

In so many respects, the daily behaviors and activities of Gary Schneeberger is NO DIFFERENT THAN the non-Christian men in America. This lukewarm, compromising Christianity is what is rotting our nation to its core.

For example, take a look at some of Gary Schneeberger's Tweeter postings:

"My wife thinks Morris Day is gay."

" Purple Rain is here!"

"Just bought this on Blu-Ray. I'm going through a mid-life Prince phase ..." referring to a purchase of the Prince movie Purple Rain.

""Wipeout," "Dog" and "So You Think You Can Dance." The only good summer TV is on Wednesday nights ..."

"Listening to Prince, especially the new live album I got, makes me wish I had rhythym ..."

"I'm going to have to face it, I'm addicted to love. Cuz Karla's simply irresistable. Can you tell I just got Robert Palmer's greatest hits?"

"So, Adam Lambert is gay? In the news business, that's called a "dog bites man" story ..."

"Dog the Bounty Hunter really ought to try his hand at being Dog the Shirt Buttoner ..."

"Heading home with Paul McCartney's greatest hits as my soundtrack ..."

"I think I may need an i12-step program for my iPhone addiction ... Step 1 was realizing that we were powerless over the app store : "

"OK, I admit it. I'm looking forward to the season premiere of "Brooke Knows Best."

"Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it, but if she sang to the girl she kissed, that girl probably didn't like it. Awful on "Idol" tonight."

"Can I just say-heterosexually-Hugh Jackman is hot?"

" "24" has finally done it:"

"Eagerly anticipating "Hell's Kitchen." Love Gordon Ramsay ..."

"Can't get the image of a creaky "K.C" from K.C. and the Sunshine Band singing on "Idol" last night out of his head."

"Enjoying some Clapton on the drive to work"

"Hey, I'm in the New York Times"

This entire matter with Mr. Schneeberger absolutely disgusts me. He personifies why we, as Christians, have lost our way and become pointless in so many ways in this nation. While Gary Schneeberger is making his nice, plump salary at Focus On The Family, a salary that has been paid for by hard working and sacrificial Christian moms and dads in this nation, he lives a life of being obsessed with being entertained by the ungodly. As an executive vice president of an organization that is supposed to be employing Godly people, living Godly lives, how on earth do they have Schneeberger and his infatuation with the sexually immoral Prince in charge of Focus On The Family's media operations?


The photograph of him flipping off people in the camera AND then justifying it as an old picture from his past is symptomatic of what so many hypocritical and lukewarm Christian leaders are doing to the Christian Community and in its influence in America. And these so-called Christian leaders are doing so while living well-financed lives, financial lives that are fed a gravy train of money from God's people.

We will no longer tolerate our nation being rotted out by the carnal lives of men who present themselves to the Body of Christ as messengers of light, but outside of the church, they are just as wordly as Congressman Barney Frank, New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Evangelical leader Ted Haggard, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, Congressman Mark Foley, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and President Bill Clinton.

Anonymous said...

James, you are so true. Many people have lost hope because of the corruption of this world. You help to our eyes open and minds clear. That's why I love to read your posts. The best I can do is to teach and share the same with those who are willing to listen.

Anonymous said...

As Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone."

James Hartline said...

Yeah, you missed that part about GO AND SIN NO MORE.
and that other little hit on Jesus' top forty hit list: He overthrew the money changers in the temple.

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering what is sinful about listening to Paul McCartney or Eric Clapton...or appreciating the talents of many other artists, many of whom I believe God put the talent in them to be able to do what they do. Just because they are not singing hymns does not mean musical artists do not reflect the beauty of God.

Anonymous said...

And in the world you would create, no one would be a viable Christian leader because none of us are perfect from birth. We are born into sin and the development of our soul into something more Godly springs from our life experiences, both good and bad.

Also, what Mr. Schneeberger did in his past is between him and God. And if God has forgiven him, shouldn't you as well?