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Focus of this Blog

James Michael McDonald, V and his wife Stacy purchased and operated Homeschooling Today Magazine unsuccessfully for a number of years before its resale. During that time, the venture turned out to be far from profitable, and the McDonalds have not been honest about how they established themselves in the homeschooling community, how they operated their business, or even about their personal lives.

Certainly no one rejoices in the drawing of attention to these matters, they must be noted in order to stop the deception. This movement of patriocentricity promotes false doctrine by perpetuating lies, profiteering off of the trust of earnest Christians who believe the shaming messages promoted by the movement. The end should never justify the means, and the Christian homeschoolers that support the McDonalds have the right to know the truth. This blog hopes to draw attention to the behaviors of the McDonalds, particularly those concerning the period of time during which the McDonalds owned and operated Homeschooling Today Magazine.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Few Clarifications

I intended not to comment any further on this blog regarding the information presented here, but I have decided to offer some clarifications.

First, as the Guenther account indicates, James McDonald and Homeschooling Today Magazine boast ties to HSLDA. HSLDA, a group of attorneys, is funded by the same benefactor who bankrolled Vision Forum initially and has given significant funds to Bill Gothard, Patrick Henry College, and the presidential campaigns of Mike Huckabee and George W Bush. So when I am asked whether I believe that the information presented here might be false or inaccurate, I would like the reader to consider that I have considered these obvious facts. James McDonald has some connections to “deep pockets” and attorneys that might be called upon to defend Homeschooling Today magazine’s interests if not to advise and defend James McDonald himself.

The patriocentrists (those involved in Vision Forum’s particular brand of so-called “Biblical patriarchy”) have a long reputation of threatening their critics with legal action and taking legal action against professing Christians. They circumvent the Apostle Paul’s instruction to keep all matters between Christians out of Caesar’s courts by campaigning to prove that those that oppose them are not Christian. Generally, they do so by abusing Matthew 18 or by bringing charges of discipline from within their parachurch organizations or by compelling a person’s local church to exact discipline on a local level. I also have documentation of James McDonald’s own threats of legal action against some of those who have merely disagreed with him privately. With all of these considerations, I posted the information that appears here because I have been advised that it can withstand legal scrutiny in a court of law. Without documentation and corroborating testimony, I would not have consented to post this information.

I would also like to note exactly why I altered the post concerning James McDonald’s business debt, the $75,000 debt wherein the McDonalds made no payment on the balance for over four years until information about the non-payment was noted on this blog, within another online discussion, and after information was divulged to one of the McDonalds’ supporters privately. The most appropriate representative within a private company very willingly disclosed a great deal of information to me concerning this matter on several occasions. The McDonald’s sale of their magazine out of state and then relocation to another state without informing this creditor of their new residence made it virtually impossible and unprofitable to collect on the debt. I was told that a sum of pennies on the dollar was offered to cancel the debt (a portion of the debt in lieu of full payment) which the creditor refused, something I believe that James now refers to as his “payment plan.”

I would like to make perfectly clear to the reader here that I altered the post containing documentation of this debt and removed the specifics, not because I doubt the veracity of what I posted here but out of concern and respect for the individual who disclosed this information to me. I am impressed that because the McDonalds hired an attorney to retaliate against his company for disclosing this information to me, this individual has likely been disciplined or has been threatened with the loss of his job for being so forthcoming with me. So I have removed that individual’s name, his company’s name and the details that likely threatened the McDonalds concerning the operation of James’ LLC out of respect and concern for the individual at the company who was so willing to do the right thing on behalf of any future unsuspecting creditors, individuals, homeschoolers, and Christians who might also be taken in by the stylings of the McDonalds. The McDonalds should be praised for finally consenting to begin payment of this debt after so long a time, but it is regrettable that they had to be compelled to do so by public exposure of their impropriety.

I have also been asked to comment on the blog that the McDonalds have set up to counter and malign me and information presented here on this blog. Based upon the personal testimonies and corroborated documentation that I have reviewed; I find what the McDonalds have written on their new blog to be audacious and inane confabulations designed to deceitfully cover the regretful truth about their history and behavior. Most notably, I would ask why James does not name the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly in his writings, calling it the “Presbyterian Organization in Question” or “POIQ” instead? I believe he is concerned about people searching for the documentation of his censure and deposition, thus failing to name the organization to decrease the chance of an unknowledgeable reader from searching for information confirming that he was discharged as a layman. Why does James not name the supposed location and name of the Southern Baptist Church (what he told the Peoria Journal Star paper and the RPCGA) where he claims ordination so that it can be simply verified? (I have heard testimony from various sources that James was not ordained as a pastor or elder per the McDonalds' own admission in the SBC or anywhere else as recently as the mid-nineties).

The McDonalds have finally disclosed to the public that they have both come together from different marriages, each bringing children into the marriage from those other unions. From my initial contact with Stacy in 2007, she has made the false assertion that I personally consider their remarriage a sin. She has thus tried to cast my protests as an issue of intolerance concerning the intramural issue of remarriage in general rather than as solely an issue of hypocrisy and deception on their part by failing to inform their very conservative target audience of their marital status. I am pleased that they have come forward to finally report their marital status publicly, though I believe that their assertion that people take issue with remarriage rather than their disregard and deception is a red herring and an appeal to emotional reasoning to distract people from the real issue. I believe that they showed disrespect and disregard for their following by concealing this information for so long because many in their target group hold to a conservative interpretation about the Scriptures concerning remarriage for pastors. They would also not widely qualify as “quiverfull family experts” within this conservative community if their blended family status was made common knowledge in the beginning of their homeschooling careers. Though I think it is helpful that they presented a defense of their doctrinal position on remarriage, I was disappointed to find the McDonald’s bold self-justification for their actions rather than expressions of repentance and contrition to the individuals and the Christian ministries that they mislead, particularly while marketing products during 2007 and early 2008.

It is unfortunate, because I believe personally that receiving a child that is not your own flesh as your own is one of the most godly things a person can do. Gentiles were not part of the Old Covenant, but God extended forgiveness to the Gentile, giving us the full benefit of His Name and His inheritance, offering us the spirit of adoption as His own children. Both James and Stacy have apparently received one another’s children and embraced them, bringing a blended family together in what appears to be a very successful way. They should be commended for doing so, and it is unfortunate that they have chosen to conceal this in the past, as they would find many who could benefit from their insights in this area. I pray that the McDonalds would stop trying to push against the truth and those whom they have hurt. I pray that they will choose to do right by them, honoring all of their debts of all varieties, so that everyone can be healed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Saga of Richard Guenther (a.k.a. Jefferson Smith) Back Online

From the HSIS Website
Respected Leader
The name Richard Guenther once meant something
You must imagine where I came from when I arrived to Houston. I was a highly visible leader in Germany, being the Director of what HSLDA often referred to as HSLDA of Germany. My wife and I often met with some of Germany's highest politicians — presidents of state senates, heads of counties, mayors and even the German vice president of the European Parliament, who sometimes addressed me as Mr. America and once told me that I had a very convincing wife.
When there were problems with families in Paderborn, the German government sent one of its top international negotiators to meet with us and these Russian German families. As it turned out and after another meeting, we won this man over to our side. He was quoted in one of Germany's leading newspapers to say that these Paderborn families should be left alone. It wasn't long and we heard that he had been retired.
We were mentioned in the press throughout Germany and the press liked our stories. We were somebody to be reckoned with. We had a name both in Germany and in America. James was hiring someone who would bring him and his operations prestige.
In the 1990's homeschooling was very little known in Germany. If you were to tell someone that you homeschooled your children their mouths would fall open. What on earth is homeschooling? Even government officials we met during this decade were not familiar with the homeschool movement in America. This all changed when we began our work in the year 2000. Beginning with the Harder family we went public in a big way. News outlets across Germany were running to write articles about homeschooling. We were being called for interviews and asked to be on radio and television programs.
There were many articles written in America about the Guenthers and the work they were doing in Germany. In the 2005 May/June issue of Homeschooling Today magazine, I was referred to as the Lafayette of Germany. What was interesting here was that Chris Klicka called us after the publication of this article and for reasons only he could understand was very angry at James for allowing this article to appear in his magazine. He said that he was going to tell James that from now on any articles he wanted to place in his magazine that had to do with Germany first must be cleared through Chris Klicka. This puzzled both Ingrid and I.
Later, when I had just begun to work for James, I had an idea of a product I believed would sell well in America and that would allow us to finance our now lain-on-ice ministry in Germany for lack of funds. I called a close family friend, a man who has been a large figure in the American homeschool movement to tell him about it and to ask him to put me into contact with someone who might be interested to finance it. He told me that Chris Klicka had told him that anything that had to do with Germany had to first be cleared through Chris. This puzzled me and my wife. What should Chris have to do with this? What was it his business? But after all, Chris was a trusted friend so we believed that he must have had a good reason.

James McDonald wants $60,000 per issue ad revenue

James and I emailed back and forth and spoke on the phone during October and November of 2005, while my family was still living in Germany. In one email, he told me that it was his goal to increase the ad revenue of his magazine to $60,000 per issue. Now, upon my arrival to begin work, he told me that he wanted it done by year's end. I was not aware what this meant but later understood that it was an almost impossible task he was asking of me. It took me some time and difficulty until I finally estimated that when I began work the ad revenue was around $20,000 per issue.
I used my name and the work we had done in Germany as my selling point. It worked wonders! Many ad buyers wanted updates of what was going on in Germany. They believed that they were at the right address talking to me. To make a long story short, by the end of March, a mere three months after I had begun my job I had already achieved the goal of $60,000 per issue.
I cannot tell you how many calls I received from advertisers who were disgruntled because James had failed to publish several issues of his magazine. One was the March/April 2005 issue and the other was the November/December 2005 issue. I was not aware that these issues had not gone out before I began my job. The loss of the Christmas edition was the worst. Advertisers had special offers that ended January 1. They felt terribly cheated because this was the most important issue of the year in which to place their ads. I addressed these complaints by assuring them that James had for too long been understaffed and that this is why he brought me onboard. From now on everything would work just fine.

Payday arrives and James cannot pay

When payday arrived on January 15, James told me that he did not have the money to pay me. There was no forewarning of this, so I was totally shocked especially since he had told me that I could expect to receive $4,000 a month to begin with. Being told that he did not have the money to pay me, I believed that he and his operations were in financial difficulty. I asked James to meet with me in my home office. In this meeting and with my family present James offered to pay me $5,000 for the month of January from a donation check which someone had pledged to donate to his ministry.
He kept telling me that he was waiting for the check to arrive in the mail so that he could pay me. In a February 14 email he said: "I gave your family $5,000 from our ministry account to cover this month's (January) needs, while I have only been able to cover half my salary."
Since I was the Director of Operations, I needed to take a close look at why James was in financial trouble. I asked his bookkeeper if the accounts of his three businesses were kept separated or if they were entangled with each other. I asked to see the books. Surely the money trail would provide the answer and enable us to make some adjustments and get everything back on track. I was never given the opportunity to see the books but was told to "go back and sell!" James was short and told me that nobody would get paid if I didn't sell. Of course I believed that James was irritated often because of the pressure he was under.
On one occasion, when James was backing out of his parking spot at the Tea Shop where he spent much of his time, he accidentally backed into my car, tearing off half of the back bumper. He apologized for this and asked if he could pay for it. I told him that it was an old car so just forget it. I was just relieved that no one had been hurt. He said that it was a good thing that he believed in predestination because this was predestined to happen — whatever that meant.
I saw very soon that the magazine could be a moneymaker and a good opportunity for me and my wife to finance our ministry in Germany. I could see raising it out of the little niche it was presently in — generally Presbyterian — into a much broader market. Since we were well known, this would have been in my opinion an easy undertaking.
Though I was not given opportunity to look into the books, and having watched James go about his business, I believed that the root of the whole problem was that James was not a good businessman (to which he admitted in front of his wife, me and my wife, and two men from James church in a meeting a few months later). I believed that if given the chance I could grow this magazine out of the little corner it was in and make it a great success.
James had already told me even before I began my job that he would eventually like to sell Homeschooling Today magazine and go full time into the church ministry (James was a Pastor and had begun a small church). Along with believing that James was in financial trouble, knowing this also encouraged me to begin talks with James to take over the magazine. In early February I began to discuss with James taking ownership of the magazine.
The old car I had purchased for $500 had given up less than two-months after I had purchased it. My family was now in dire need of another car. I asked James if he would co-sign. He told me that he couldn't do that but that he had a friend who owned a car lot in town and he would contact him. If he ever contacted his friend I never heard about it. I told James that since he would not cosign I needed an employment contract to show to the car dealer who might be willing to sell me a car if I could present him with an employment contract. He told me he was working on a contract but that it wasn't ready yet.
I couldn't understand why James was having difficulty working up a contract for me. It certainly wasn't my intention to irritate him by asking too often for this contact that he had promised to me upon my arrival to begin work. Though I couldn't understand why, especially since I was selling at such a high rate, James was obviously irritated with me.....
. . . . . .

Relationship with James draws to an end

The relationship between me and James McDonald was by now highly disturbed. I couldn't get him to look at my evidence to show my innocence. He distrusted me and I distrusted him. I tried to keep things civil and I believe he did as well. This is reflected in our emails back and forth. However, the whole ordeal caused me the greatest stress I have ever experienced in my life. My health began to tumble. I began to cough uncontrollably. I had to relieve the coughing with Codeine because nothing over the counter helped.
In early June, I was administered a blood test at the VA hospital in Houston. It was discovered that my PSA count was higher than normal. After an examination which showed distressing results, it was decided that I should undergo a biopsy of my prostate gland. On June 6, the results proved what the doctor had suspected: that I had prostate cancer. The doctor prescribed that I should immediately undergo surgery to have my prostate removed. This caused me and family to be greatly alarmed.
Three of my brothers had already passed away with cancer. The traditional treatments they received to fight their cancers only seemed to exacerbate their problems. They each died shortly after their cancers were diagnosed. Their chemo treatments had horrendous results. I therefore decided that I would seek alternative treatment for my cancer. Because I had no private health insurance due to HSLDA's interference between me and my employer, I could not afford this.
I therefore decided that since HSLDA had interfered with my employment, which caused me to lose my job and a very lucrative business opportunity, I appealed to Mike Farris to reimburse me with $500,000, a figure the judge who accompanied us to meet with Mike in Virginia had mentioned was a sum we could reasonably ask for, which would give me and my family a knew start and would pay for an alternative cancer treatment.
My relationship with James McDonald grew increasingly worse. He was repeatedly delinquent in getting out his magazine and thus cheating his advertisers. Of course, when the magazine did not go out I did not get paid. The advertisers do not pay until the magazine is actually printed and in the hands of the readers. In May, I received a check for a little more than $200. The publication dates were normally Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/June, July/August, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec.
Because James couldn't meet the print deadline, he began to label the editions according to the season, e.g., Winter Edition or Spring Edition. I noticed this and told him that this was dishonest. When I found out that he wanted to use another print company to print his magazine because he still owed too much money to his regular print company, I told him that this was not ethical. He wrote back that it was ok because he had the intention to eventually pay his regular print company. I was asked to sell anyway, which with a good conscience I could no longer do. When James terminated our work relationship I could only say that I had completed all tasks he had asked me to do that I believe I with a good conscience could do.
Read the whole account HERE.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Documentation of James McDonald's Financial Impropriety

~ Update April 3, 2009 ~
(original post 27Feb09)

Under threat of legal action I was asked by the company with whom I have been in contact for months via telephone regarding this matter of substantial debt to post a retraction of this information that appeared in this original blog post.

I did allude to this debt online and in some private correspondence with a supporter of the McDonalds prior to email corroboration of the debt and the publishing of this information.

Apparently, shortly after I shared this information with that supporter, a partial payment was made after what I understand to be 4 years of non-payment.

But this now unnamed company states that unless I publish this retraction I will face legal reprisal. The email sent to me today states:
Please do your best to have this taken down immediately or you will be facing legal action from Mr. McDonald.

I am thrilled that Mr. McDonald has made an effort to do the right thing and redeem his witness with an unbeliever by making good on this debt. I pray that God richly rewards Mr. McDonald and his family for doing the right thing, both financially and with things that money cannot buy. May he be blessed exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think for doing what was right and good.

May we all learn that "truth is an absolute defense against charges of libel or slander."