When Christians lie to abuse the truth

Recently, a couple of websites have been created to cast doubt on last year’s investigation into the shamed evangelist Tony Anthony.

I had carried out an extensive investigation into Tony Anthony’s “story”, supported by a group of concerned Christians who had been carrying out their own investigation. A subsequent investigation by an independent panel nominated by Tony Anthony’s charity Avanti Ministries and the Evangelical Alliance concluded that large section of the evangelist’s biography, Taming The Tiger was false.

As a result, Avanti Ministries announced that they were closing down (but have not yet done so, despite confirming in their annual report and accounts that they have publicly stated that they will do so); and Authentic Media announced that they were withdrawing Taming The Tiger from sale.

Throughout all this, a defiant Tony Anthony has maintained his innocence. In interviews he claimed that the “minor inaccuracies” will be “corrected” in a later edition of the book (but who would publish it?) and that any subsequent book will contain a “disclaimer” (presumably stating that “This is a true story apart from those bits which have been proved to be false”).

Despite this, neither Tony Anthony or his solicitor, nor Avanti or their solicitor, have contacted me to challenge the conclusions reported on CrossWire; or to complain about defamation. For the record, if they had done so, I would have stood by the investigation and challenged them to issue a defamation claim. I would then have to prove on the balance of probabilities that the allegations I have made about Tony Anthony are true; and I remain ready to do so.

All had gone quiet until a few weeks ago. First, a website, forthesakeofthegospel, was created by a Scottish man, his daughter and son-in-law, to publish the results of their own “independent investigation.” I’m not sure how independent it was, because the daughter – by the website’s own admission – carried out voluntary work for Tony Anthony; and the father had provided a letter of commendation.

As for an “investigation”, the website reveals that Tony Anthony wasn’t “a millionaire, living in a privately owned home with a luxurious swimming pool in his back garden”. But nobody had claimed that he was. That is not an allegation anybody has made.

When it comes to specific allegations, such as the fraudulent use of a false date of birth in official documents, the website says that “A clerical error was made by the Civil Servant who wrote Tony and Sara’s wedding certificate in July 1995.”

The website goes on to say that “An amended copy of the wedding certificate has been obtained” but when you follow the option to “Click to view scans” of it, you get a message saying that “This has been sent for and a copy will be posted on receipt.” So, has it been “obtained” or merely “sent for”?

140325-ta-change-of-birth-avantiIt is outrageous to lay the blame for this false information on the Registrar. Errors by Registrars are not unheard of, but are extremely rare. If this was down to an error by the civil servant, it is a coincidence extraordinaire that the “error” should coincide with the deliberate, false and fraudulent “change of details” form that Tony Anthony sent to Companies House to tell them that his date of birth had changed.

The website doesn’t address this issue, presumably because Tony Anthony can’t lay the blame for this onto an unwitting civil servant. Unfortunately, this is just one example of where the website whitewashes serious allegations against Tony Anthony that he cant, or won’t, answer.

The website was drawn to my attention by John Lawson, a colleague of Tony Anthony, who sent me a link to it in a Facebook message. John Lawson isn’t one of my Facebook friends and at the time that the message came through my mind didn’t recall who he was. I do not click on unsolicited links and didn’t give it any thought.

He then sent me another message asking for my response. This time I remembered who he was and decided to have a look. Having given it some consideration, I replied that I did not have a response (I don’t want to raise the profile of a site that has the potential to confuse and possibly cause damage to vulnerable people). Having said that I didn’t have a response, I explained why:

It’s a bunch of straw men and more falsehoods (eg: saying that the registrar made a mistake on the marriage certificate – a coincidence that the mistake coincides with TA’s deliberate falsehood when he changed his DoB with Companies House (something he still hasn’t explained). There has been an investigation. It has published its findings. This is nothing but an unsubstantiated fan-site that allow the devious and manipulative TA to change even more “facts” that have been proved to be false by claiming them to be mere inconsequential “inaccuracies”. I note that TA is continuing to defend his lies rather than repent and seek forgiveness.“.

I expected that to be the end of it. Certainly, nobody with any intelligence could take the site seriously. It did contain some new information but nothing to cast any doubt on the findings of my investigation, the informal group’s discoveries, or the independent EA/Avanti panel. If anything, his “clarifications” in some areas only serve to disprove other aspects of his “story”

An example of this is Tony Anthony’s explanation as to how he could have fitted so much into his short life (now that his actual date of birth has become known). He says on forthesakeofthegospel: “I have referred to the length of time I was incarcerated in Nicosia as being 3 years and have done so since I was released and deported to England.  My sentence was for 2½ years with an additional 3 months imprisonment prior to the sentence being passed.  I was released in November 1992 (my full sentence was up to May 1993).  As I created my time-line, I noted my incarceration was for over 2 years and I want to apologise for the error I have made in my testimony relating to this.

A simple mistake perhaps? But on page 174 of Taming the Tiger, Tony Anthony not only says he served three years, he says that he was denied remission as a result of his preaching activities in the prison. That is not a mistake of how long he was in prison: in the book he claims he was denied parole; in his new justification he claims he was released six months before the end of his sentence.

Each time he corrects one “inaccuracy”, he merely proves another falsehood.

And then another new website was created. This one, framingthetiger, is more sinister. For a start, it is completely anonymous – even to the extent that the person behind the site has used a “proxy” registration service to hide his identity. Why is his identity important? Well, this site makes a number of claims that are defamatory to me. While everybody has the right to freedom of expression, nobody has the right to defame somebody else.

If Tony Anthony feels that what I have written about him is defamatory, he could take action against me for defamation. There are sufficient solicitors around who will take such action on a conditional fee arrangement. He could even write to me or email me and tell me I’m wrong and challenge me. I can’t contact the owner of framingthetiger to challenge the author because the proxy registration service he has used will not release details of domain owners without a subpoena issued by a US court.

But it is worse than that, because not only is this website owner seeking to be anonymous, it is being promoted by somebody using a completely false identity.

A search of Twitter shows that the only person promoting this website is a person calling themselves “JohnThree BornAgain“. Clearly this is not a real name. But who is he? We don’t know. What we do know is that this person has also posted comments on framingthetiger in which he demands that people “# SAY SORRY TO TONY!” and claims that “IRREFUTABLE PROOF PROVIDED” about Tony Anthony’s claims. He heaps glowing praise on both the forthesakeofthegospel and framingthetiger websites, saying: “Splendid work has gone into the creation of an unbiased web-response about the truth of Evangelist Tony Anthony and the false accusations and slur that he has had to suffer unjustly.”

Except, they haven’t. The investigations by myself, the informal review group and the EA/Avanti panel all show that Tony Anthony is a fantasist: he is a person who isn’t who he says he is; and he has made up large parts of his dramatic “story”.

So who is defending him?

Well, as I said, the framingthetiger website has been created by a person determined to hide his identity. Anonymity is one thing, but what about making yourself out to be somebody that you’re not?

“JohnThree BornAgain” is on Twitter and on Facebook.

This is “JohnThree BornAgain” on Twitter:

140325-screenshot-twitter-born-again-john-three-profile

 

This is “JohnThree BornAgain” on Facebook:

140325-screenshot-facebook-born-again-john-three

And this is “JohnThree BornAgain”, too. But this time, he is “Alex”, the owner of Sunny’s Diner.

140325-screenshot-tempediner

 

And this is also “JohnThree BornAgain”. But this time, he is “Matt””, the subject of a scenario by The Relationship Coach.

140325-screenshot-relationship-coach

 

This is “JohnThree BornAgain” again; but this time he is a student called Philip who received study help with Exam Edge.

140325-screenshot-westeprep

 

I can only assume that “JohnThree BornAgain” is an educated man, because here he is again receiving more help from Exam Edge, only this time he is called Donovan.

140325-screenshot-mtleprep

 

a restaurant owner, a student living a double-life and a aide to a relationship counsellor. Maybe it’s no wonder that “JohnThree BornAgain” has needed to use the service of a dating site – here is is on mums meet dads, but this time he’s a dad called Morgans.

140325-screenshot-mumsmeetdads

 

No, on second thoughts, I don’t think that “JohnThree BornAgain” is any of these people. Instead, just like Tony Anthony, he isn’t who he claims to be and has used false information – in this case a stock photo – to hide his true identity.

If I had been accused of faking my identity and life story, the last person I would want defending me is somebody who themselves have faked their identity.

Christians, and others, need to be very wary of sites like framingthetiger and forthesakeofthegospel. Whatever the motives behind them – and I’m sure they are doing what they think is right – there is no new evidence that substantiates Tony Anthony’s discredited story.

An organisation called The Way has used these two new websites to call into question the original investigation, EA’s response, and the subsequent article in Christianity magazine. The Way demands an apology on behalf of Tony Anthony.

The only apology that is needed is from Tony Anthony himself who, as far as I know, has yet to acknowledge the damage he has caused by promoting such a false story.

And an apology is also due from “JohnThree BornAgain” or “JohnThree BornAgain and again and again and again and again” judging by how many identities are associated with his profile photo.

  • What you write here Gavin is absolutely true. I worked with Tony on and off for a number of years. He is just as you describe him in your article here. In fact, I think you are being generous.

  • David Buck

    But Gavin, having come new to this as an outsider I have to tell you that the tone of your reporting does not come across as impartial and sincere, but increasingly self-justifying. Having seen some of the vast amount of evidence painstakingly collected by some of Tony’s supporters to corroborate his story which can be found on the new websites you allude to ( http://www.forthesakeofthegospel.co.uk/ http://framingthetiger.com/ ) I wonder if both you and Mr Langlois should be more humble and more careful.

    • GavinDrake

      Hi David. There is no new evidence at all on either of the two websites you mentioned. Just a collection of excuses (“this was a mistake, I will correct it”; “that was a mistake made by somebody else”; “when I said ABC, I meant DEF”).

      Neither website is the result of a painstaking inquiry; and there is not a “vast amount of evidence” at all. Neither website addresses the core issues. It is typical of Tony Anthony that when one lie is exposed he replies with another lie. What he doesn’t seem to realise is that his subsequent lies then cast doubt on other claims he has made.

      My reporting is very careful and has nothing to do with whether or not I’m humble.

      • nathan_f77

        Hi Gavin, I remember being a little bit involved with the investigation a few years ago. Well not really, but I did follow all of the forum posts, and had a few Skype calls with someone else who was involved. But this has caught my attention again for some reason, and I would really love to know what kind of evidence was found that finally disproved his claims? Is it just the lack of evidence? Or did you find proof that he was living somewhere, when he claimed he was somewhere else?

        Has forthesakeofthegospel.co.uk been updated in the last year, with any new information? Because I just read through it and saw a few new things. The scars on his arm look pretty real in the video. The timeline kind of makes sense. There’s still a huge gap between his childhood and ending up in prison in Cyprus, though.

  • David Buck

    Gavin, I don’t agree.

  • Patrick Hutton

    Hi Gavin. Well done for standing up for truth in an active way. Has the report which Avanti Ministries refused to agree to being published gone ahead yet? If not I’d wonder why Ian Bruce is against it being published.

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