August 9, 2001
In a letter dated July 5, 2001, Kyle Cummings, a Vice President with Multnomah Publishing Company invited me to a face-to-face meeting with Gary Ezzo to discuss the character accusations against him and medical misinformation contained in Mr. Ezzo’s book, On Becoming Babywise.
Mr. Cummings explained that this meeting would be mediated by Peacemakers Ministries, headed by Ken Sande. According to Cummings, this meeting is required by Matthew 18 when there are disputes between two believers.
I sent him back a letter dated July 15 in which I explained my reasons for declining such a meeting at this time. Multnomah also sent similar letters to Pastor John MacArthur at Grace Community Church where Gary Ezzo was publicly rebuked; Pastor Dave Maddox at Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship where Gary Ezzo was excommunicated; Eric Abel, a former GFI employee and Ezzo confidant who resigned because of concerns with Ezzo’s integrity and materials; and the accounting firm that severed its relationship with Mr. Ezzo over his lying about his son-in-law’s misappropriation of as much as $500,000 from Growing Families International.
Several of the individuals contacted have sent letters of refusal to Multnomah, citing sound biblical reasons why such a meeting is inappropriate and unbiblical when repeated and unrepentant sin is involved.
The letter below details many of the reasons why I believe such a meeting is unneeded and inappropriate.
A Third Open Letter to Multnomah About Gary Ezzo and GFI
July 15, 2001
Mr. Kyle D. Cummings
Senior Vice President, Multnomah Publishers
204 W. Adams Street
Sisters, Oregon 97759-7832
Dear Mr. Cummings,
Thank you for inviting me to become a participant in your proposed meeting over the character and writings of your author and my former employer, Mr. Gary Ezzo.
It is unfortunate that this controversy must be made public, but Mr. Ezzo’s apparent continued lack of repentance and his attempts to smear his critics have led to the need for a public airing of this controversial leader’s character and materials.
I would be agreeable to discussing the mediation you propose further, but I believe it is inappropriate until you have exhaustively investigated and responded to the serious charges that have been made against Mr. Ezzo. I will detail my concerns further on in this letter.
As you know, I indicated in an Open Letter to Multnomah in February that I thought your company should investigate the serious allegations that have been made against Mr. Ezzo by his two former pastors, former employees, his former accountant, a former leading GFI Contact Mom, medical professionals, and other critics of his materials.
I was encouraged when you assigned your former editor Jeff Gerke to conduct such a thorough inquiry. I was also encouraged when I learned that after Gerke had submitted his findings to your leadership, you contacted Mr. Ezzo and told him you were severing your relationship with him over these character and medical concerns.
However, on the same day that a Christianity Today article appeared describing your decision to sever relations with him, Multnomah President Don Jacobson apparently overturned this principled decision, and he then issued a statement saying the investigation was still "in process."
Mr. Jacobson indicated that he was "attempting to act prudently by fulfilling the biblical injunction of hearing all sides of a matter before acting."
I am puzzled as to why there was a decision to reverse course after having notified Mr. Ezzo that you were severing your relationship with him. I assume you and others on your staff reviewed the overwhelming evidence of lying on his part over the course of more than a decade.
I also assume that you reviewed the analysis of medical misinformation in Babywise that was supplied by California pediatrician Dr. Matt Aney. He pointed out 35 specific instances in Babywise where Ezzo makes medical statements that are unsupported by current scientific knowledge.
I sent Jeff Gerke examples of babies who ended up needing intensive hospital care after being malnourished by moms who attempted to follow Ezzo’s feeding schedule advice. (During my time at GFI, I routinely sent these cases of "failure-to-thrive" or "low-weight-gain babies" to Mr. Ezzo for his review. He discounted them as being, to use his words, "fabricated" or "exaggerated." The nurses who dealt with these infants called them "Ezzo Babies.")
In addition, I sent Jeff a detailed analysis of the medical misinformation in Babywise by another Christian pediatrician who lives in Indiana. This analysis was originally sent to Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo by a pastor in Ohio. It is dated June 23, 1997. This pediatrician ended her critical analysis of Babywise with the following words:
"In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t think this book is very good. There is a fair amount of misinformation in it, recommendations which go against both my training and experience as well as against the policies of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"I wouldn’t want parents to think that babies don’t sleep through the night unless their parents put them on a regular schedule because this just isn’t true. I also feel that the authors are asking parents to train their children to eat when they are told to do so, not when their body is ready. All babies quickly establish their own consistent eating patterns which rarely vary unless they are sick. They don’t need to have a schedule imposed on them."
Did you find Gerke’s research to be flawed in some way? If so, it would be helpful to those of us who are still concerned about Mr. Ezzo’s character and medical information to find out what those errors were.
It is important for you to thoroughly investigate the medical misinformation in his books because his advice has negatively impacted the health of babies.
On the character side, there are certain statements that Mr. Ezzo and Dr. Robert Bucknam have made about their educational backgrounds that are suspect. If I were a publisher of Christian books, I would be deeply concerned to learn that two of my authors had misstated their educational accomplishments. It would cast doubt on their integrity and the accuracy of their materials.
Christianity Today has stated that both Mr. Ezzo and Dr. Bucknam have misled the public about their educational backgrounds. It is fairly simple to verify if these statements are true or false.
Has Multnomah called Mohawk Community College to see if Mr. Ezzo actually does have an Associate’s Degree in Business as he has claimed? Did your company call Talbot Theological Seminary to see if he earned a Master’s Degree in Christian Education as he has claimed? Likewise, did Multnomah contact the University of Colorado School of Medicine to see if Dr. Robert Bucknam is actually a faculty member there?
Christianity Today has found that Mr. Ezzo does not have an Associate’s Degree nor a Master’s in Christian Education as he has claimed. Dr. Bucknam has never been a faculty member at the University of Colorado as he claims.
Has Multnomah contacted Ezzo’s former accountant Chris Hamilton to find out if Mr. Ezzo lied to him about Robert Garcia’s (Ezzo’s son-in-law) misappropriation of nearly $500,000 from Growing Families International? Mr. Ezzo apparently told Hamilton it was a loan, yet Robert has admitted he misappropriated the funds.
Have you interviewed Mr. Ezzo’s former pastor Dave Maddox to see why Pastor Maddox would issue a statement saying that because of Ezzo’s unrepentant heart, he is "biblically disqualified from all public ministry"?
Have you read John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church’s statement (September 14, 2000) about Mr. Ezzo? In it, Grace notes:
"It appears rather obvious on biblical grounds that Mr. Ezzo’s refusal to heed his own church’s discipline disqualifies him from Christian leadership or public ministry in any context. After all, the first and most important qualification for those who would lead the church is that they be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2 10; Titus 1:6)."
While I can appreciate your sincere desire to sponsor a "peacemaker’s" meeting, it appears to me that such a meeting is premature and would be counter-productive until Multnomah has thoroughly investigated the facts surrounding Mr. Ezzo’s false educational claims, his flawed medical advice, his refusal to undergo a disciplinary process by two former churches, and other accusations against him. One of those "other" accusations is that his materials are dangerous not only to infants, but to families and to churches where his parenting philosophy has caused division and strife.
Furthermore, a Matthew 18 type meeting is not appropriate for dealing with Mr. Ezzo’s sinful behavior, but a 1 Timothy 5 response is. 1 Timothy 5: 19-20 says:
Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others make take warning.
Only after this type of biblical procedure had been followed and Mr. Ezzo had demonstrated genuine repentance would Matthew 18 type meetings be appropriate to resolve additional matters of personal offense between him and his critics. Until then, knowing how he manipulates situations for his own purposes, such meetings might be used by him as in the past, to avoid further accountability and even to cause further harm to his critics.
Mr. Ezzo has fled from biblical disciplinary efforts at two of his former churches: Grace Community Church and Living Hope Evangelical
Fellowship. This whole process is now in the "tell it to the church" stage. It is regrettable that it had to reach this point, but there have been few other options.
When the Grace Community Church statement was released against Mr. Ezzo, he maintained he was under accountability at Living Hope. When Living Hope attempted to bring biblical correction to him, he left that church. Currently he is claiming he is under authority at yet another church. The cycle repeats itself.
What is at issue here is not a personal squabble between two Christians, but whether or not he is fit for public ministry because of his habitual pattern of lying and false teachings.
A Christian leader—a teacher—should be held to a higher standard than others in lay leadership positions. A man of Gary Ezzo’s stature in the Christian community should be above reproach, yet those who know him well consider him to be arrogant, unrepentant, a skilled liar, and a slanderer. This doesn’t speak well for a man who travels around the globe teaching "biblical ethics."
One of his own staff members told me shortly after I went to work at GFI that the senior management team all acknowledged that Mr. Ezzo was a liar. That blunt disclosure, coming from a man totally loyal to him, was of no comfort to me. It did, however, confirm what I had personally experienced with him while on staff.
As his two former pastors have observed, Mr. Ezzo has forfeited any right to public ministry because of his sinful and deceitful behavior.
Your company is committed to integrity. It is my hope that after you’ve discovered the truth about Mr. Ezzo, his response will be one of genuine repentance and a willingness to then contact all of those individuals whom he has sinned against over the past decade. The list is quite long. Many individuals have repeatedly attempted to engage him according to the principles of Matthew 18, but they have been rebuffed and smeared.
I believe you will find most of them willing to engage in the type of meeting you propose, if they can be assured by what has gone before in your investigation that a basic requirement of such meetings can be met: both parties must be genuinely willing to acknowledge and correct any demonstrated wrongdoing.
Please feel free to contact me again about your proposed mediation meeting after you’ve completed a review of the materials that have already been sent to you. I would be happy to discuss such a meeting if you can confirm that Gary Ezzo has an Associate’s Degree in Business from Mohawk Community College and a Master’s in Christian Education from Talbot, that the money his son-in-law says he misappropriated from GFI was really a loan as Ezzo claims, and that the other concrete allegations made against him are in error.
Conversely, if you discover that he has lied about these things, I would want to know before discussing Multnomah-sponsored mediation why you would want to continue publishing the works of an author who has lied about his educational background, the financial mismanagement of his company, and whose advice contradicts accepted medical practice.
Of course, as Mr. Jacobson has stated, in your investigation, you are attempting to hear from all sides of this issue. A great starting point would be to conduct phone interviews with Phillip Johnson at Grace Community Church, Dave Maddox at Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship, and with Mr. Ezzo’s former accountant Chris Hamilton.
These individuals, like myself, have experienced the real Gary Ezzo, not the slick public persona who appears in his videotaped presentations or during his speaking engagements. There are two Gary Ezzos. You, perhaps, have only been exposed to the public version, not the real version.
I have a list of others you may wish to interview in order to do a thorough job of investigating Mr. Ezzo’s character. On your request, I will supply those names to you. I gave a great deal of information to Jeff Gerke during his investigation, so you may wish to review that evidence as part of your ongoing effort to get to the truth.
It is tragic that Jeff Gerke resigned over this controversy and that you distanced yourselves from him. Those of us who were interviewed by him felt that he acted with integrity and that he did an excellent job of gathering evidence in this case. He presented you facts that put him at great personal and professional risk. He should have been honored by your company for having the courage to tell the truth.
I look forward to hearing from you after you’ve confirmed the truth or falsehood of the concerns I have listed above. Please feel free to call me at the number listed below and we can have a candid discussion about this.
In the meantime, I am sure that both of us will continue in prayer about this situation. We are both seeking the truth and desire that the Lord will give us wisdom in bringing about a resolution to this controversy.