Posted in Blog, In the World

Plagiarism or Just Business?

I follow the blog of a pastor. Today, he posted a sermon that made reference to a letter that was ostensibly written by a visitor to a church. This letter was so obviously phony that I had to look it up to see if it was just an internet urban legend. To my amazement, what I found was that the entire sermon (not just the letter but the ENTIRE sermon) had been posted on another wordpress blog four years ago!

I left a polite comment on the blog I follow, asking if this post was a reblog, and linking back to (what I thought was) the original, posted in 2010.

He responded to my comment:

It is a former sermon. To God be the glory.

And he deleted my comment.

I commented again, once again linking to (what I thought was) the original:

A former sermon?

To God be the glory. But if someone else wrote it, it doesn’t seem to glorify God to pass it off as one’s one. Similarly, if it is a former sermon of yours, it doesn’t seem to glorify God if someone else has posted it as his own.

He deleted this comment without replying. I did another search, and found (what is probably) the actual original, posted in 2002. I posted another comment:

http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-peril-of-proud-praying-david-dykes-sermon-on-parable-pharisee-56700.asp

Is this something that pastors typically do? Share their sermons with each other without letting the congregation know that it is someone else’s work? Under the headline of “to God be the glory?”

http://junialeigh.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/entering-the-house-of-god/
http://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/the-peril-of-proud-praying

This seems kind of tricky. If it’s permitted among pastor’s circles, it is still kind of awful for congregants to find out. It’s too much like plagiarism for my linking. It’s one of those things that can really turn people off church. I must say, I’m a bit stunned.

If you really thought it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t delete my comment.

This time, my comment awaited moderation before going up. And then he replied:

I understand, Alma. I apologize for the confusion.

He allowed my comments (all except my original one), but then later deleted the entire blog post.

I left a comment on the other blog as well, but the comment is awaiting moderation, and I have not received a reply as yet. I have a feeling I won’t hear back.

Oh, and a little googling brought up the same sermon in a third place:

http://www.rbcaurora.org/cpt_sermons/the-peril-of-proud-praying/

This pastor apparently read it out to his congregation on a Sunday, as if it were his own.

The funny thing is, I write for a content mill where they buy my articles, including the copyright. I see my articles all over the internet with other people’s names on them. So maybe I’m just as bad. My articles are about dentures, or camping, or carpet cleaning, or acupuncture. They aren’t about things that I am passionate about, so I guess it hadn’t bothered me too much to sell them to someone who will pass them off as his/her own. But I guess it’s still being an accessory to plagiarism.

I really find it disturbing to find out that church is just another industry. Does this bother anybody else?

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Author:

Christian wife and homeschooling mother of five children, ages 1 through 9 years. Recently diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos. Trusting in Jesus for His plan for my life, and for my family. He was gracious to save my husband and myself 5 and 6 years ago, respectively. And really, He saved me just in time. Because how could I ever have handled this illness without Him?

22 thoughts on “Plagiarism or Just Business?

  1. Hi, I know who this ‘pastor’ is. it would be preferable to name him btw… I’ll be doing a similar post about a few things concerning him. So far, you count as approximately 4 people so far that has different problems with this guy and what he does with his posts and his followers.

    In answer to your question, the answer is ‘yes’ AND ‘No’. What I mean to say by this all depends on the type of church you go to. A church that has a ‘hierarchy’ and is not autonomous, you will find that one church and another are about the same when it comes to sermons (similar to public school curriculums because they are set up by the state rather than the individual teacher) so this type of plagiarism may very well exist.

    Fortunately, I don’t play that game and neither do many other pastors, leaders and lay-persons. What you want to look for is if a pastor is autonomous or if he has to answer to someone else. A pastor that is not autonomous usually has ideas that may or may not fit the mold and therefore you can learn more from them because they will question everything. A pastor set on a particular dogmatic statement will simply be a parrot and will not come up with correct doctrine but simply repeat what someone else says is correct doctrine.

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    1. I don’t want to start or join any kind of witchhunt against this or any other pastor. I unfollowed the blog, of course. And I may later post some of the reasons he gave me for what he is doing, but I have no desire to name and shame him. The Lord will do any convicting necessary.

      I honestly was just shocked to find this kind of plagiarism in a Christian blog — call me naïve, I guess. I have no ill will against this pastor. I’m sure he’s not the only unethical “Christian” blogger out there. My only intention is to bring light to this as a problem, so that we as readers can be more aware, and more cautious about who we are listening to and following. I don’t need to use his name for that purpose.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I get it. Just wanted to let you know that “Yes, this type of plagiarism does exist, not in unethical Christian bloggers, but between one church and another too. So, you may, in effect, find one preacher preaching exactly the same message as another preacher. It depends on the type of church governance that the church follows.

        I don’t like this type of plagiarism either but it does exist en-masse.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. “A pastor that is not [I’m assuming you meant who is autonomous] autonomous usually has ideas that may or may not fit the mold and therefore you can learn more from them because they will question everything. A pastor set on a particular dogmatic statement will simply be a parrot and will not come up with correct doctrine but simply repeat what someone else says is correct doctrine.”

      Amen to that!

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  2. Btw… as far as it ‘bothering me’… Yes it does. A pastor (just like any other believer) should be convinced of his beliefs due to his own efforts and definitely not ‘copy’ someone else’s efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Alma,
    I, too, discovered that the pastor to whom you may be referring is not posting original material. Like with you, something in one of his posts sounded very familiar so I googled it to remind myself where I had heard it before. I don’t mind pastors borrowing illustrations or ice-breaking jokes (though I find them annoying), as long as they don’t take credit for them. But when I googled the illustration I found that he had “borrowed” more than just the illustration. I, too, am no longer following him.

    Taking credit for someone else’s words is stealing.

    My friend’s church fired their pastor a few years ago for plagiarism. When they hired him they specifically told him they wanted his sermons to be the result of his own study and time spent with God. His great sermons turned out to be word for word from a book.

    When I listen to a sermon, I want to know that the person delivering it has been talking to God, pondering His word, doing some self-reflection and thinking about how what God is telling him might apply to his unique congregation. Though God’s word is universal, what we glean from it and what the Spirit highlights from it changes. A message written to another congregation 12 years ago is not going to have the same impact as one freshly penned by my pastor. Because for one, plagiarism will quench the Spirit, and two, it does not reveal my pastor’s heart. The best pastors talk from their own hearts, not someone else’s.

    I also want to know that the one delivering it has enough integrity to give credit where credit is due. I don’t think plagiarizing pastors do it out of malice, I think they just lack confidence in their abilities. One day they might step out and dig deep and write a great sermon of their own. And when they do they might be awfully bummed if someone else takes credit for it.

    Forgive me for writing a post-length reply. Have a lovely home-schooling day.

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    1. Don’t apologize for writing a thoughtful, considered comment! I love it!

      I am glad to hear that this is not the norm, and that churches want original sermons from their pastor (as did your friend’s church). I am a fairly new Christian, and find it so disillusioning to see problems like this in the church. I know that we are sinners, and as such, there will be problems in any human institutions, church included, but I think the Body of Christ should be striving to do so much better!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Frankly I would like to hear Pastor Joe’s own thoughts in regards to these concerns in his own words. He no longer responds to me nor accepts my comments as he informed me that they are now delegated directly to his “spam” folder. But doesn’t seem to mind borrowing from cyber-spam to put together his own messages and present them as his own?!
    This trips a circuit breaker for me???
    In his post concerning how to tell if one is a “false teacher”, he omitted the part about not writing one’s own messages as inspired by The Holy Spirit.
    He did however give me his standard rejection response which reads something about “God overwhelming us all with His Grace”
    Perhaps being truthful and honest and open having transparency would be a very good start?
    I love your family picture, you have a beautiful family for sure but doesn’t everyone present a best profile when at the photographers. Your profile picture on your blog for instance…great profile, nice suit, therefore i can trust you?! How can one know who one really is in Christ when one has no voice of one’s own?

    Anthony

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    1. Yes, honesty is a good start.

      As for your question about a voice of one’s own, I’m not sure what you mean about not having a voice.

      And as for knowing who is and isn’t really in Christ, I don’t think you really can know for sure.

      “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?” (1 Cor 2:11).

      But whatever others may or may not believe, the important thing is that the Word of God is your first and most important teacher, so that you are able to stand firm against various winds of doctrine. You can trust His Word, and test what teachers say against it.

      As for me, I’m no teacher (except, of course, to my children!) Just a Christian wife and mother writing a homeschool blog. I can tell you I’m a Christian and I love God, but ultimately, you have no need to trust or mistrust me. I’m not trying to earn your trust, or become anybody’s teacher (excepting, again, my beautiful kids!)

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  5. Alma,

    He tripped on his own words is all. It might even be a language problem, I’m not so sure yet…

    As for the voice part, he refers to plagiarism since the person we’re talking about does not preach with ‘his own voice’, how can another trust in what he states and who he is. The person is ‘advertising’, not ‘preaching’.

    Hope you don’t mind me trying to explain what you say… hehehe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You hit the nail on the head Raul.
      Luke 16:10
      “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.”
      He should have come clean like a true MAN OF GOD, THEN RESPECT and reconciliation would have quickly followed.
      I cannot respect a man particularly in that Sacred position of trust that cannot accept accountability for his blatantly obvious own actions.
      God hates a liar! It’s a breach of a Sacred trust and a break in vows taken that must needs be addressed and not swept under the rug along with people shunned for calling him on it, this is an abuse of the authority entrusted to Him. Without trust there is nothing to build on.
      My stand is on principles I’m not out to hurt anyone…But hey if I come back from a camping trip with a 25″ hairy ape foot in my hand…don’t try to tell me i didn’t see bigfoot. That’s an insult to my intelligence, what’s worse is that enablers go along with this instead of admonishing the action. How can this Pastor exercise what he does not put into practice himself. In leadership roles we must lead by example.
      God Bless,
      Anthony/Oneagleswings

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  6. 4 years ago I had a stroke (brain clot) for almost an entire day I went from emergency room to emergency room, 3 different hospitals. I lost my ability to speak or write, I had made a conscious decision to never write again due to mistakes I’d made in the past. When I regained my ability to speak again and write I was filled with inspiration and hope unseen…the dam burst and after fourteen years of not writing, now I could not stop. I accepted Christ Jesus as my Lord and Saviour soon there after. When I say I had no “voice” I meant, no voice, no hope, no reality, in separation from God.
    I made utterances in the world but that was not my God given voice.
    Anthony

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  7. http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/update-on-plagiarism-and-copyright/
    Never addresses the issue of being caught in a lie and then going to extremes to erase any evidence of it and suppresses any evidence presented and carries on as if nothing ever happened.
    “who are you that I should have to explain myself to you, kind of attitude!”
    Then along comes Miss “guilty conscience” here to offer her own personal face saving spin as a justification omitting the relative facts of a particular case. Truth be told if not for the words of others there would not be anything for this person to blog about except perhaps for their own busy-bodied views.
    I can no longer address this issue with either of these two parties in question, because they have both retreated into the smugness of there own understanding without acknowledging the Truth. A true child of God embraces Truth and does not rationalize to justify their own interpretation of it then hide like cowards!
    Anthony

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Furthermore I think it is particularly despicable to bend the Truth to accommodate a “lie” especially by a “professed” Christian and follower of “TRUTH” I am prohibited from responding to either of these two parties i am being blocked/suppressed who have conspired to trade Truth for a lie and have done so without any remorse or conviction of conscience signifying an absence of following the direction of the Holy Spirit they claim is living in them. Yet they make a point to continue the matter in a closed debate to the exclusion of the voices of counter points, very manipulative and devious!
      it is no loss to be banned by these two bloggers, my only issue now with them is that they continue to exert influence on those who choose to follow and accept without question the tainted goods they are peddling. There is a GOD and HE is on the job, I give it unto Jesus’ hands, though you carry on as if He is not…time will tell…
      Anthony

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