Wednesday, August 19, 2015

19 August 2015

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] New Video Shows Evidence that Live Babies are Killed for Organs with Scissors at Planned Parenthood

[2] President Obama Betrays Religious Freedom by Leaving Pastor Saeed in an Iranian Prison after Securing Nuclear Deal

[3] Mediocrity Continues at August 2015 Erskine College Board Meeting


[1] New Video Shows Evidence that Live Babies are Killed for Organs with Scissors at Planned Parenthood

In today's video installment from the Center for Medical Progress, Holly O'Donnell struggles to tamp down her emotions as she recalls her worst experience at Planned Parenthood while working as a procurement technician for StemExpress.

O'Donnell recounts a day at the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in San Jose, California, that will forever haunt her memories.

O'Donnell was training with another StemExpress employee identified only as "Jessica" when a baby boy was delivered intact. The baby had been selected for organ harvesting.

O'Donnell remembers the incident clearly:

So then I hear her call my name. 'Hey, Holly! Come over here. I want you to see something kinda cool. It's kinda neat!' So I'm over here and - the moment I see it I'm just flabbergasted. . .

And she's like, "Okay, I want to show you something." So she has one of her instruments and she just taps the heart and it starts beating. And I'm sitting here, and I'm looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating and I don't know what to think. . .

It had a face. It wasn't completely torn up. And its nose was very pronounced. It had eyelids and its mouth was pronounced. And then, since the fetus was so intact, [Jessica] said, "Okay, this is a really good fetus and it looks like we can procure a lot from it. We're going to procure a brain."

O'Donnell then describes how Jessica began the harvesting process by cutting through the lower jaw and into the face with scissors, then instructed O'Donnell to finish cutting through the face so she could extract the brain.

"I'm thinking, 'No, I don't want to do this,'" O'Donnell recalls.

"It's hard to imagine how anyone could even give such an order and what kind of callous and depraved subculture must exist at Planned Parenthood that this kind of horrific atrocity could be remotely considered 'cool' or 'neat,'" said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Board member for the Center for Medical Policy. "Kermit Gosnell is serving life in prison for cutting the backs of babies' necks with scissors. Now, at Planned Parenthood, live babies are murdered using scissors to harvest brains for 'research' - as if the 'research' part makes it all okay. Well, it doesn't. Jessica and the rest of the abortion crew at Planned Parenthood should be in a prison cell right next to Gosnell!"

The CMP video shows incriminating clips of Planned Parenthood and procurement company officials telling of intact, sometimes live births and the illegal altering of abortion procedures for the purpose of organ harvesting.

"Today's video is evidence that babies are being born alive during abortions at Planned Parenthood and then intentionally killed for their organs. This is no less than cold-hearted, premeditated murder," said Newman. "Furthermore, there is evidence that Planned Parenthood abortionists alter procedures to ensure the organs can be harvested. This is also a crime. We call on authorities in San Jose, Houston, and everywhere else that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts to immediately open murder investigations and swiftly bring those involved in killing born-alive babies to justice."

Meanwhile, Holly O'Donnell left us with one final thought.

"It's just really hard knowing that you're the only person who's ever going to hold that baby. . . I think that it's a wasted life, and it's sad that so many people view it as a mistake," O'Donnell said. "You know, 'cuz it's not. I mean, life isn't a mistake. Getting pregnant - it can be an accident, but it's not a mistake."

+ Christian News Wire, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20006, 202-546-0054,

+ Operation Rescue, Post Office Box 782888, Wichita, Kansas 67278, 800-705-1175, Fax: 916-244-2636,

+ The Center for Medical Progress, 15333 Culver Drive Suite 340-819,
Irvine, California 92604, 949-734-0859,

+ Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 434 West 33rd Street, New York, New York 10001, 212-541-7800, Fax: 212-245-1845

+ StemExpress, 778 Pacific Street, Placerville, California 95667, 530-303-3803,

[2] President Obama Betrays Religious Freedom by Leaving Pastor Saeed in an Iranian Prison after Securing Nuclear Deal

Activists to travel to Martha's Vineyard and Boston to challenge President Obama and Secretary Kerry to work for the immediate release of Pastor Saeed.

The project is part of the #orangejumpsuit campaign which encourages people to stand in solidarity with the persecuted church worldwide.

The campaign calls for Congress not to support any Iranian nuclear deal while Pastor Saeed is imprisoned.

Here is a national news story and editorial about #orangejumpsuit:

The group held a news conference and public witness in front of the home Secretary of State Kerry on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 12:00 P.M.

On Thursday, August 20, 2015 the #organgejumpsuit campaign will be traveling to Martha's Vineyard in an attempt to speak to President Obama about securing the immediate release of Pastor Saeed.

Some of the members of the group will be wearing orange prison jumpsuits with Pastor Saeed's name on it.

Pastor Saeed is Iranian born American citizen who was given an eight year prison sentence in Iran for his Christian faith.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Washington, D.C. Based Christian Defense Coalition and founder of the #orangejumpsuit campaign, states;

"When the Obama Administration negotiated the Iranian nuclear deal, they tragically failed to secure the release of Pastor Saeed and three other American citizens imprisoned in that country. While Congress and the American public debate the merits of this agreement with Iran, there is no debate that President Obama failed to stand for religious freedom and human rights by leaving Pastor Saeed to be brutalized every day for his Christian faith.

"We encourage President Obama and Secretary Kerry to embrace the universal principles of freedom of religion and speech and secure the immediate release of Pastor Saeed. We would also encourage the members of Congress not to support any deal with Iran while an American pastor is being brutalized in that country for his Christian faith.

"Sadly, President Obama missed an historic teaching moment when his Administration sat face to face with Iranian officials for the first time in over 30 years and failed to negotiate the release of Pastor Saeed. What a powerful message would have been delivered to the Iranian government concerning religious freedom and human rights, if the President made it clear that no nuclear deal would move forward while an American pastor was being persecuted for his faith."

#orangejumpsuit also wants to remind President Obama that while he enjoys a beautiful family vacation with the First Lady and their two children, Pastor Saeed is being brutalized in a harsh prison cell separated from his wife and two children.

+ Christian News Wire, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20006, 202-546-0054,

+ Christian Defense Coalition, Post Office Box 77168, Washington DC 20013, 202-547-1735,

[3] Mediocrity Continues at August 2015 Erskine College Board Meeting

The August meeting of the Erskine board on Thursday, August 6, 2015, probably set the record for the fastest board meeting in Erskine’s long history. The meeting was scheduled for two days; however, trustees were out and headed home by suppertime Thursday. For trustees who had long drives to Due West or had to fly in because of the distance, the meeting was hardly worth the effort. Other than hearing reports, little was accomplished. According to sources, the meeting was like a good paint job over rotten wood. The paint over the deck was glossy and looked nice-and-clean, but one knew that one should walk gingerly on the deck lest it gave way to a fall. In other words, the mediocrity that Erskine College and Seminary has become continues.

The Size of the New Class

The new class is large. There are about 225 freshmen and about twenty-five transferees from junior colleges, community colleges, and other colleges/universities. According to sources, the total number of “new” students is spoken of as mid-to-upper-240s. The total number of students for all classes is expected to be about 605 students (if all return) or about the same as last year. Obviously, retention is a serious concern. When asked as to the number of returning students, the response from administrators was in this manner: “We won’t know until they get here.”

The Academic Potential of the New Class

The academic potential of the new freshman class is less than stellar. The average SAT is 1010. At least forty (40) students (about twenty percent) were received provisionally. That is, they had an SAT score under 900, and they will need a great deal of remedial care to survive the freshman year.

The following is an interesting anecdote. In late May, with 206 students recruited for the freshman class, the average SAT was 1015. At that time, the baseball coaches were released for summer recruiting. As the story goes, eighteen students were recruited, increasing the new class to 224 students and dropping the average SAT to 1010. According to the math, the last eighteen students had an average SAT of 945. Presently, with one more student, the SAT average has not changed.

The upside of a large freshman class such as this is immediate financial help. Obviously, the downside is low retention and future financial instability in the next semester and for the next three years. The May, 2015, graduating class was just under 100, and the same can be expected from this class.

It is now wishful thinking to call Erskine a Liberal Arts college. According to sources, the driving majors are now in business and sports related programs. Such is to be expected when well over sixty percent of the students are athletes. With all due respect to those who still think of Erskine as a Liberal Arts college, Erskine is no longer a Liberal Arts college. Erskine’s academic legacy as “Top Shelf” has been lost.

The Discount Rate

The discount rate is a few percentage points lower than last year’s whopping discount rate of near eighty percent for the freshman class; however, a two or three percent drop is not heartening. Essentially, President Kooistra’s push to lower the discount rate failed. When push came to shove, warm bodies were needed to fill beds in dorms, and President Kooistra folded.

An Expanding Athletic Program

To say the athletic program is expanding is an understatement. Erskine is virtually an athletic camp. It was reported that the baseball team will be larger than last year’s team (above 100 players compared to 90 last year). The emphasis on athletic programs is clearly seen in the men-to-women ratio which is two to one men. McQuiston (the seminary’s dorm) is now being used as an undergraduate men’s dorm.

Erskine Seminary

Erskine Theological Seminary (all campuses) continues to disappoint. Once again, the seminary is bleeding red ink financially, and, once again, the administrators continue to do the same old things and get the same old results.

This year the seminary ended the year with a US$200,000 deficit. Without the US$300,000 from the MEDCOM DMin program for Army chaplains, the doors of Erskine Seminary would have probably been closed. Regardless of what is written in the seminary’s mission statement, Erskine Seminary essentially exists to provide a doctoral program for Army chaplains. Indeed, the seminary is not about seminary education but jobs for a few professors (and not well paying jobs at that!).

Since all the Bible courses for the college have been relocated to the seminary campus in Due West and are being taught by seminary faculty members, at least the classrooms at the seminary are being used once again.

Presently, there are only thirty-four new students enrolled for the seminary this fall. However, in fairness, it is still early for seminary enrollment. The seminary administration will not know what the enrollment looks like until the last few days before classes begin. In this matter, the seminary is very different from the college. Nevertheless, the prospects are not hopeful. Apart from the the MEDCOM program and a place to teach college classes, keeping the Due West campus open is difficult to justify.

The Financial Landscape

With the help of a seven percent draw on the endowment, Erskine College ended the financial year in the “black,” with a US$600,000 surplus for the college, a US$200,000 deficit for the seminary, and an overall surplus of US$400,000. However, before the bells of rejoicing can be rung, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ (SACS) stipulation of no more than a five percent draw on the endowment has to be demonstrated. The difference between a five percent draw and a seven percent draw on the endowment last year was about US$800,000 (that is, a percentage point was about US$400,000). The numbers have now changed. Presently, the endowment is reported at about 37.5 million dollars. This year a percentage point on the endowment equals about US$375,000.

The interest earned on the endowment last year was only one percent. With a seven percent draw on the endowment last year and with the endowment earning only one percent, the endowment was reduced by about six percent. When the board went into executive session, one would think that the discussion over the endowment earning only one percent last year would have been intense. In the corporate world, heads would have been rolling, but, of course, this is the Erskine board and no one is held accountable.

(By the way, the way to tell if President Kooistra is serious about changing the direction and ethos at Erskine is when there is a shakeup of the Administration.)

As was loudly proclaimed, the Annual Fund was a resounding success at US$1,728,853.26 as compared to US$1,140,762.10 a year ago (2013-14). Total donors giving to the Annual Fund rose from 1175 to 1372. However, as far as overall giving was concerned, there was a US$269,503 deficit. A year ago, total giving was US$2,462,687, and this year the total giving was US$2,193,164. Also, as far as total donors is concerned, there were a few less donors this year. Total donors in 2013-14 were 1808, and this year (2014-15) the total for donors was 1757.

As one Erskinite remarked, “The Annual Fund is politically important; however, the difference between [US]1.1 million dollars and [US]1.7 million dollars is not much when you realize we have a [US]25 million dollar budget. It’s only about two percent.”

Doubtlessly, the framing of the new budget is going to be tough. With auditors from SACS watching, the draw on the endowment will be limited to five percent (about US1.875 million dollars). With a freshman class that has a 1010 SAT score and forty provisional students, after the first semester, student attrition is expected to be high, and that will negatively impact expected revenue. With an unstable and falling financial market, can a return on the endowment of more than one percent be expected? Having expended an enormous amount of good will this year, will President Kooistra be able to repeat an Annual Fund Drive of US1.7 million dollars? At best, the financial landscape is uncertain.

Interestingly, with a five percent draw on the endowment this year (2015-16), a one percent return on investments, and no substantive effort to enlarge the endowment, a four percent decline can be expected for the endowment.

Hanging over Due West like a storm cloud is SACS’s warning of loss of accreditation. Erskine is currently on “probation” because of financial instability. The Erskine administration has yet to demonstrate to the satisfaction of SACS’s auditors that the institution can operate on a budget that only has a five percent draw on the endowment. Will Erskine be given more time to comply? According to President Kooistra, he does not expect Erskine to be removed from “probation” by SACS at the annual meeting of SACS this December.

Chapel Services Revamped

A motion was made and passed by the board that all chapel programs at Erskine are to subscribe to the Standards of the ARP Church. This is not complex or mysterious. It means that chapel services will reflect prayer and preaching/teaching that is Bible-based, Christ-centered, and God-honoring.

The number of chapel services will be increased from one to two a month. As I understand it, President Kooistra and Chaplain Paul Patrick will share in the preaching/teaching responsibilities.

The Alumni Association

The Erskine Alumni Association (an official arm of Erskine College and Seminary) met on Saturday, August 1, 2015 before the meeting of the Erskine board and gave President Kooistra a vote of confidence (

Well, that was nice!! It is like Donald Trump endorsing Donald Trump’s book!

Last year, the 11,000 alums of Erskine gave US1.729 million dollars to the Annual Fund (and I will concede that the total of US1.729 million dollars came from alums). That means the average gift per alum was US$157. However, of the 1372 donors to the Annual Fund, only 1048 were alums. Well, US$157 per year is not much love to show to one’s alma mater, is it? And if Erskine has only won the hearts and wallets of 1048 of it alums, Erskine has failed!!!

It is amazing! The vast majority of Erskine grads received substantial financial help in the form of grants, scholarships, and/or discounts. However, these alums act as though they were entitled to it. For whatever the reasons, the Erskine alums are not keen to help their school. In spite of their protestations to the otherwise, they simply do not support Erskine.

A few days ago, in a phone call, I was asked: “Why is Paul Kooistra pushing so hard to get Richard Taylor back on the board?” My response was, “Money, of course!”

The next question was: “Does Kooistra not realize how politically explosive and divisive this would be in the General Synod?” My response was, “He doesn’t care!!! He has no loyalty to the ARP Church! He’s concerned about money.”

Whatever the measure, this is disturbing. Does Dr. Taylor think that seats on the Erskine board are for sale? Does President Kooistra think board seats are for sale? If President Kooistra just wants to start a fight, this will do it!


I would like to say I was encouraged by this meeting of the board. The change regarding chapel services is small, and I do not wish to despise the day of small things. However, my assessment of the board meeting is that mediocrity is continued, and, if there were a hospice for Christian Liberal Arts colleges, Erskine would have a bed.

+ ARPTalk Blog, 864-882-6337,

+ Erskine College and Theological Seminary, 2 Washington Street, Due West, South Carolina 29639, 864-379-2131, Fax: 864-379-2167,

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729