Several weeks ago, when The Elephant’s Debt was originally released, readers were allowed to publicly share their stories through the website. But as the concerns and comments began to roll in, we quickly realized that the personal experiences of many people had the potential to overwhelm the central argument that we had advanced. And so, after much deliberation, we decided to restrict that section of the site to people who had close ties with both MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel.
While we do not regret our decision to act in the way that we did, we are aware that just as we were preparing to make our decision, a rather serious conversation was beginning to take place. More specifically, a number of people seemed genuinely concerned by the accounts of gambling and trips to Vegas that had emerged through the input of other readers.
This update seeks to bring closure to that discussion by offering a sampling of the comments that were made as well as two photos that were emailed to The Elephant’s Debt in response to a reader’s request. We are not prepared to offer any editorial on these remarks or photos; and you are free to draw your own conclusions from the pictures.
Having said that, we leave you with these two questions. First, can anyone identify the two oddly-bearded and yet similarly-bearded men that MacDonald is standing with in these photos that were originally posted on Twitter? Secondly, can anyone identify when and where these photos were taken?
“Not to open up a brand new can of worms here, but even assuming all of what’s been written here is a pack of unfounded lies (and there are nearly INFINITE reasons NOT to make that assumption), shouldn’t the members, elders, and pastors of Harvest Bible Chapel be DEEPLY concerned about how cavalierly and routinely JM tweets pictures of himself chumming it up with large-bearded bros INSIDE LOCAL CASINOS?!? No matter what he’s making, am I wrong in feeling as though he shouldn’t be anywhere NEAR a poker table with the salary my tithes have paid?!? And that question is to say nothing of the MULTIPLE stories I’ve heard wherein James has been recently seen by this or that person throwing cards into the wee hours at tables with buy-ins in the multiple (!?!) thousands of dollars. Above reproach? Hardly. Not by any system of measurement available. If this is slanderous libel, I IMPLORE him to say so directly. I fear he cannot.” (submitted by “A Concerned Member” on 10/16/2012)
“John T, I have not seen tweets such as these either. But word started circulating several years back that Pastor James had a gambling problem. Apparently he has been disciplined a few times by his elders over the last 10yrs for this issue in his life. Each time he has told them he would stop it. So it was kept quiet from the church since he said he would stop it. Who knows where he is with it now, ubt its a hard habit to break. Just go ask an elder about it. If they are an honest man he won’t be able to look yyou in the face and deny it. He will skirt the issue or tell you its all handled. Problem iwth all this is that it just adds to the overall picture that PastorJames has a real problem with money that actually disqualifies him from being a pastor since pastors are not to be ‘lovers of money.’” (submitted by “Yelp” on 10/17/2012)
“If Scott and Ryan can somehow make it possible to upload images, I can indeed substantiate. Pretty sure the original tweets have since been taken down, though.” (submitted by “A Concerned Member” on 10/17/2012)
“I have no idea if pastor James has a gambling problem, but I do know for a fact that he has flown to Vegas with executive staff to play poker. At the time I tried not to judge or make assumptions, however I was very disturbed and questioned it especially on two counts: #1) I’ve heard him preach on gambling and I distinctly remember him saying that any money received through gambling is actually a curse on the recipient’s life [but let me reiterate that I have no idea if he actually played for money]; #2) such a trip seems like a questionable use of time and money for someone in a very prominent place of Christian leadership.” (submitted by “Anonymous” on 10/17/2012)
“Proof? I believe what you are saying but we need pics, names, places, dates!” (submitted by “Yvonne Melchionne Trimble” on 10/17/2012)