Ezzo Controversy Timeline-Part 2

[Part One 1966-1998][Part Two 1998-present]

Feb 17, 1998 — Wall Street Journal article "Striking Behavior"

More than 100 doctors, nurses and other health professionals hope to persuade the academy [the American Academy of Pediatrics] to investigate the Ezzos. A "Letter of Concern" they signed and sent to the academy last year stated that some of the Ezzos' medical claims are "untrue, misleading or unsubstantiated." Arnold Tanis, a Hollywood, FL pediatrician and past president of the academy's Florida chapter, submitted a resolution expressing similar concerns at the academy's recent Southwest district chapter meeting. The resolution passed earlier this month...

...Ezzo says the accusations in the Letter of Concern are "wild." A lot of people are upset, he says, because he and his wife are displacing them as the "authority" on child-rearing.

April 20, 1998. AAP MEDIA ALERT titled "AAP Addresses Scheduled Feedings vs. Demand Feedings" affirmed the American Academy of Pediatrics' support for cue feeding and reiterated the AAP position that "scheduled feedings designed by parents may put babies at risk for poor weight gain and dehydration."

April, 1998 "Babywise Advice Linked to Dehydration, Failure-to-Thrive" by Matthew Aney, MD, AAP News, Volume 14, No. 4, p 21

Spring 1998-- 3rd edition of Babywise published. This edition recommends feedings at 2 1/2 to 3 hour intervals (though most examples still refer to 3 hours) in the first 8 weeks, a plan that yields 8-9.6 parent-directed feedings in 24 hours. (The AAP recommends infants be fed in response to hunger cues yielding 8-12 times daily on average.)
View quotes from the '98 edition

August 6, 1998 -- Salon–Getting Wise to Babywise feature article includes a statement by Dr. Richard Ferber rebutting Ezzo's ideas on continuous nighttime sleep for small babies:

Dr. Richard Ferber, director of Boston's Center for Pediatric
Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital and the author of the bestselling "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" (Simon and Schuster). [rebuts Ezzo] "Parents shouldn't expect babies to sleep that long that early, although a very few will on their own and in that case, you may sometimes need to actually wake them to feed them," says Ferber. "There is no good evidence that babies that young can go that long without a feeding."

The Salon article also addresses the issue of documentation and research:

Incredibly, the 1998 edition actually cites the work of Ezzo critics Kathleen Huggins and Kathleen Auerbach as being supportive of Parent Directed Feeding [when their work actually warns against the practice.] The book also relies heavily on GFI's own self-conducted, never-before-published studies. Although the phraseology Ezzo uses to describe GFI's "survey" of more than 500 infants leaves an impression of rigorous medical research, no actual peer review process, as defined by the scientific community, was employed.

August 1998 "Pediatric News" column in Child Magazine: "Baby-care book could be dangerous", an opinion piece by the Drs. Zuckerman

Because the Ezzos appeal to widely held childrearing goals, the book may fool some parents. If you have questions, we urge you to speak with your family physician...

September 11-13, 1998: Annual American Academy of Pediatrics Chapter Forum passes AAP Resolution # 53SC (98)—"Evaluating Infant Management Programs". It noted that the PDF feeding schedule is "inconsistent with AAP recommendations" and that "over 100 health care professionals across the country including 19 AAP fellows have asked the Academy for feedback on [GFI's] potentially harmful program". It resolved that "the Academy continually evaluate infant management programs such as Preparation for Parenting and On Becoming BABYWISE and regularly report its findings."

Well, first of all, our advice on feeding babies is identical to the American Academy of Pediatrics...
--Gary Ezzo in 1999 BBC television interview

Ezzo and CRI

June 30, 1998 — CRI cover story, More Than A Parenting Ministry published. Summary from 11-page article:

The programs mix sound parenting advice with highly disputable ideas, but this does not fully account for the controversy. GFI has provoked unprecedented public censure from Christian leaders because, although it is not a cult, it has consistently exhibited a pattern of cultic behavior, including Scripture twisting, authoritarianism, exclusivism, isolationism, and physical and emotional endangerment.

The article also presented evidence that the Ezzos tend to attack anyone who criticizes or questions to them.

July 29, 1998-- Ezzo complained to Hank Hanegraaf, president of CRI, that the article was "gossip-dependent, and tainted with duplicity and half-truths." and asked for a personal meeting to discuss the matter, suggesting Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries as an observer. Ezzo noted, "Mr. Sande was extremely helpful in bringing resolution to the Grace Church/GFI conflict last year...."
Source: GFI document: A Response to the Christian Research Institute

July 30, 1998--GFI's website published a "preliminary response" claiming that CRI's More Than A Parenting Ministry article was an

attempt to create the pretense of believeability by withholding facts, telling half-truths, or by removing statements from their appropriate context to establish something other than the author's intent.

August & September 1998--Letters sent back and forth between Ezzo and CRI staff: Ezzo pressed for a private meeting with CRI head Hank Hanegraaf to discuss his complaints about the More Than A Parenting Ministry article and CRI responded by asking Ezzo to provide evidence in writing of the alleged misquotes and lies to establish a 'warrant and basis' for a meeting.

October 26, 1998—GFI responded to CRI's article on their website and in their print magazine, "The Community Perspective". It is archived here:
Preface Introduction Section 1 Section 2 Section 3 Conclusion

On the subject of accountability, this response insisted:

We appreciate the questions dealing with accountability. In addition to the accountability provided by our local church leadership [Editor's note: this refers to LHEF], there are several godly men to whom we are accountable for our conduct and our theology.

This was followed by an admission:

However, the Terner/Miller review clearly revealed a need to make this information more publicly known.

From the GFI website, an example of Ezzo's approach to accountability:

While it is true that LHEF was started with some former high profile leaders from Grace Community Church, it is not true that it started as a result of any controversy over the Ezzos. Neither the establishment of Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship nor the departure of other Grace Church leaders and members to other local churches had anything to do with the Ezzos or GFI. LHEF in all ways is an authentic New Testament church. It was started by people with God- honoring motives. It is built on biblical truth, and it is led by biblically qualified leadership.

Editorial note: LHEF's pastor, Dave Maddox was listed as a staff member of GFI along with 2 of the 3 elders (source: GFI website staff page). Nevertheless, when this accountability structure recommended a course of action to Ezzo to repair broken family relationships, he balked. And when they excommunicated Ezzo, he expressed second thoughts about their biblical qualifications for leadership. Yet Maddox's position was described in GFI materials published in 1997 as "ethical and theological advisor to Growing Families International"]

Fall 1998: CRI published "A Matter of Bias?" to respond to Ezzo:

...GFI has responded to our article much as they have responded to other Christian critics. They issued a statement saying they wished to address their concerns toward us privately, but at the same time they publicly accused us of "withholding facts, telling half-truths," and "removing statements from their appropriate context," and they promised to provide more details to those who contacted them directly.3 When we asked for examples that would substantiate their concerns prior to agreeing to meet with them, they continued to make similar charges publicly for three months without providing any substantial written documentation.4 They finally issued a 16,713-word (not including attachments) public critique of our 10,696-word article, questioning our motives, accusing us of duplicity and demagoguery, characterizing us as wicked liars, and challenging the accuracy of our statements, sources, and quotes, even to the point of debating minutiae.5

January 28, 1999—GFI issued a statement on their website, reiterating their disappointment with CRI for not meeting privately in accordance with Matthew 18 and announcing that they would conduct a unilateral review of the CRI article situation conducted by four outside organizations and facilitated by Ken Sande of Peacemaker ministries.
Source: GFI website statement, no longer online

Editorial note: I have never heard another mention of this proposed review.

Undated, 1999—GFI website message states they would not respond publicly to CRI's "A Matter of Bias?" article, citing their belief that the first article said what needed to be said and indicating a desire not to prolong controversy.
Source: archived GFI webpage

March 1999--The Washington Post published an article on Babywise. The article included real-life examples from GFI's online advice and support Forum message board:

"We're now on Day 5 of Timothy's retraining for naps," a Michigan mother wrote recently. "Yesterday was the most difficult day ever. I thought the screaming and crying for 45 minutes was difficult, but I could endure because I felt sure that this was the right thing to do. However yesterday, when I saw a little blood, it was hard not to panic and question my methods." This complete message in context

A rumor immediately circulated among GFI followers, and was posted as true in GFI's Forum message boards by one of the GFI Forum Administrators, that some of the examples quoted by the Post came from messages that were faked by imposters and that the blood mentioned in the post above was the result of a preexisting medical condition (compare this with the complete message).
Source: message board posts on file.

April 1999—Ladies' Home Journal "Babies in Danger?" by Jenny Deam detailed the story of the Kambas baby's slow weight gain while using the Ezzos' method, and Ezzo's reaction.

"The woman who taught our [Ezzo parenting] class said, 'They're going to tell you in the hospital to feed the baby when the baby is hungry....Just smile at them.'" *

But once Elizabeth came home, "She would cry and cry, but we wouldn't feed her because it wasn't time," Kambas says. "I called the person who taught the class. She said [Elizabeth] was probably just getting used to her schedule."

"We were so stupid," Kambas says, "But I really believed that this program was the most biblically based."

When Elizabeth was five weeks old, she cried so long and hard one night that Kambas became frightened and rushed her to an all-night clinic. The doctor there weighed the baby and discovered that she had gained less than a pound and a half since birth. (Typically a baby has gained more than two pounds by this time.) The doctor turned to Kambas and asked, "What's going on here?" She broke down and told the clinic staff about the feeding schedule she had Elizabeth on.

The doctor was adamant: Kambas had to start feeding Elizabeth more often. That night, she began to feed Elizabeth on demand. In seventeen days the baby gained nearly 5 pounds.

Looking back, Kambas is tormented by the thought of what she did to her baby. "[She] was so little," Kambas says. "We were starving her."

Gary Ezzo is skeptical. He's heard these kind of stories before, and dismisses them as either made up or extremely rare. "We don't teach hunger," he says...."We're an alternative to the last twenty-five to thirty years of runaway permissiveness," he insists. It is not just the popular parenting advice that is being rejected, but the values of the last forty years.

‘The vast majority of American Academy of Pediatric Fellows
would be right where we are,' he insists.

*Editorial note: this attitude can be compared with the instructions from Prep audio tapes:

Anne Marie: in regards to the hospital, that is where you actually can start the plan, but you have to kind of flex a little bit with what the plans are at the hospital. We don't want you to go in there and be a rabble rouser....

Gary: And our folks do not need to feel that they have to convert the entire hospital staff with this first child

AM: (chuckling) No, that's not your job!

--Source: 3rd edition Prep for Parenting Audio Tape #5 "Establishing Your Baby's Routine"

July 29, 1999---GFI announced a temporary closure of the "Forum"--the interactive advice & support message board community on their website.

Aug 1, 1999---Immediate closure of the GFI Forum advice and support message board was announced. Behind the scenes a permanent shutdown was planned while a "temporary" closure would be announced to the message board community.
Source: documentation on file

August 1999 –Ezzo's son in law, Robert Garcia--GFI's Vice President at the time-- misappropriated a large sum of GFI money for personal use. Ezzo later disputed the reported amount of $500,000.
Sources:Christianity Today "Unprepared to Teach Parenting", and
GFI's privately circulated document "A Response to Christianity Today: Unprepared to Teach Parenting?"

September 1999 -- Gary approached his pastor at Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship for advice regarding his son-in-law's misappropriation of GFI money.

October 29, 1999 – BBC Newsnight interviewed Gary & Anne Marie Ezzo in a segment on GFIduring their speaking tour in Britain.

Paxman: ...The American Pediatric Association says your
advice on feeding babies is wrong. Why should we take the
word of, with respect, one nurse against 53,000 registered
pediatric practitioners?

Gary Ezzo: Well, first of all our advice on feeding babies is
identical to the American Academy of Pediatrics...

[Editorial note: Babywise itself contradicts this, saying
"Babywise has brought a needed reformation to pediatric counsel given to new parents." (p.15) ]

December 1999 — Ezzo's pastor/elders at LHEF recommended that he take a "personal and spiritual sabbatical" to focus energy on repairing broken family relationships and the crisis within his company. Gary refused and started to express concerns about LHEF leadership, spreading an "ever widening circle of lies".
Source: LHEF's excommunication statement

Feb 2000 — The accounting firm of Hamilton, Boynton and Speakman terminated their 9-year relationship with GFI. Partner Chris Hamilton's said that Ezzo misled him personally regarding the firm's investigation of whether funds were misappropriated.
--Source: "Unprepared to Teach Parenting?" Christianity Today, Nov 13, 2000

Mar 9, 2000 – The Ezzos informed LHEF that they were withdrawing from the church, claiming concern over the elder board's integrity.
Source: Resignation Letter, dated Mar 9 2000

April 2000 LHEF issued an excommunication statement citing Gary Ezzo's pattern of sin and unrepentent behavior.

May 2000 — Mark Severance, Ezzo's personal assistant, resigned from his position.
Source: Christian Research Journal News Watch

July 2000 — Gary's other son in law, Paul Luedke, resigned his position with GFI.
Source: Christian Research Journal News Watch

July 25, 2000 — Dr. John MacArthur made a public statement to add the testimony of what had occurred in his church to what had just occurred at LHEF.

Aug 2000 – Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo sent a report on the church's discipline to supporters, styled as an "Independent Committee Review".

"In our attempt to stay above reproach and respond prudently to LHEF's accusations, we invited two committees of men, independent of each other, to come to Los Angeles, review the charges, and evaluate the context of our departure."

Editorial Note: It was not an independent review in any normal sense of the term: one committee was composed of GFI Regional Administrators, and the other was a committee of unnamed supporters. Both groups concluded they could "continue to affirm" the Ezzos.
Sources: GFI documents: "Independent Committee Review, July 14, 2000" and "Regional Administrator's Committee Summary, July 10, 2000

Aug. 16 2000 -- Bob Gaby, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ezzos' non-profit organization resigned.
Source: Christian Research Journal, News Watch

Aug. 18 2000 -- Sharon Nelson, MD, Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Ezzos' non-profit organization resigned.
Source: Christian Research Journal, News Watch

Aug 2000 -- Laurie Moody, a "Contact Mom" with the organization, one of the few people associated with GFI to have any training in lactation counseling, resigned over concerns about the material's effect on nursing mothers and babies and concerns about the Ezzos' integrity.

Nov 13, 2000 Christianity Today "Unprepared to Teach Parenting"

Summary: News report of GCC and LHEF statements that Ezzo is unfit for public ministry, Ezzo's excommunication from LHEF, his exaggeration of his qualifications including listing a college degree on an employment application that he doesn't have, the embezzlement of a large sum of money from the company by Ezzo's son in law, and his pattern of harrassment of critics.

Nov 13, 2000 Christianity Today On the Record: Gary Ezzo An interview between CT editor Tim Morgan and Gary Ezzo.

November, 2000 "GFI Responds to Christianity Today" document published on GFI's website. Unfortunately it is no longer on the website.

Some of you may have come across the November issue of Christianity Today and read the news story "Unprepared to Teach Parenting" by Kathleen Terner. If you did not read this opinion piece, you can probably catch the gist of what was said from this response....

....For the record, it is enough to say that while members or regular attenders, we have never been dismissed from any church or asked to leave one, including Living Hope. We are members of a well established evangelical fellowship, sitting under normal elder accountability, and have the freedom to minister our gifts. Living Hope accusations have been scrutinized by the GFI regional Administrators. An independent counsel [sic] of four Godly [sic] men have also evaluated the circumstances of these rumors.

To correct some of the less significant comments reported by CT, Gary does have a fully earned Master of Arts degree from Biola University (Talbot Seminary 1985) with a Christian Education emphasis. He has never intentionally mislead [sic] anyone about any other degrees. He does not accept the title "Doctor", in public or private. He was not the pastored [sic] of a church called His Vantage Point* nor has he ever been asked to step down from any church position for "divisive conduct." There is no cover-up of embezzled funds taken from us personally or GFI, we have never reported anyone to the IRS, and yes, to their journalistic credit, World Magazine did publicly apologize to the Ezzos for not getting all the facts right in a story they ran in 1996. (See "From the Publisher," World Magazine April 1997.)

On and on we can go with bits and pieces of error that became the mosaic of CT's story, but do we really need to? Is character really the issue? Or is it the standard we teach?

*Editorial Note: the small church where he served changed names. Ezzo is equivocating over this detail.

January 4, 2001 -- An Open Letter to Multnomah Publishers by Frank York, former editorial director for GFI pressed Multnomah, the publishing house for the Babywise series, to investigate facts brought forward in the CT article.

Feb 2001– GFI circulated an 18 page private response to the Christianity Today article to close followers. It partially mirrored their public response--but added a plethora of vivid details together with many disparaging comments about the article's author and the critics mentioned in the article. One of these, former GFI editorial director Frank York, responded in a public statement .

This private response paper admitted that Ezzo did claim a degree he never earned on an employment application, but justified it by saying he'd already been hired at that point, and the embellishment "suited the purpose for which the information was being requested which was simply establishing an educational benchmark for 1985."

"knowing the motive does not justify the lie itself"
--GKGW, p244

GFI also began sending out "Cyberspace Rumors and the Ezzo's [sic] Church Status":

"If there were any biblical merit to this [church discipline], we could not be members in good standing of a well-respected evangelical church, sitting under normal elder accountability, and given the freedom to minister our gifts, as is presently the case.

...There was just a young elder board [at LHEF] that made
some small mistakes and then tried to cover them up..."

Editorial Note: Compare to Ezzo's defense of the LHEF elder board in October 1998, when questions arose due to publication of the statement of his previous church. At that time, Ezzo assured his supporters that he was accountable to this elder board.

March 23, 2001 -- Christianity Today "Babywise Publisher Plans Contract Cancellation"

Summary: After years of persistent controversy surrounding Ezzo and his books, Multnomah took steps toward cancelling Ezzo's contract when the company reluctantly investigated complaints about Gary Ezzo.

Editorial note: Multnomah's president suddenly reversed the decision, saying the investigation was still in process, in a statement posted on Christianity Today's site the same day the cancellation story appeared. In June, the story was updated.

May 16, 2001 -- A Second Open Letter to Multnomah Publishers by Frank York, former editorial director at GFI reminds Multnomah: of the primary criticisms of Gary Ezzo — from his former pastors, from his critics, and from former employees like myself — is that Gary consistently lies about his materials and his critics. This is why it is highly unreliable for you to depend upon Gary Ezzo to tell you the truth about those of us who have challenged him. You need to talk to the people whom he has repeatedly maligned.

June, 2001 -- Christianity Today, in "Babywise Almost Dropped" noted that two Babywise companion books describe Ezzo's coauthor pediatrician Robert Bucknam as a faculty member at the University of Colorado Medical School. School officials say he was never employed there. A member of Dr. Bucknam's office staff explained that medical school residents have visited his practice as observers

The article reminds readers that Ezzo's program had been developed for several years when Dr. Bucknam's name was added to the cover of Babywise as co-author in 1993; he was certified in pediatrics in 1992. It marks the irony of the book's high claim of providing a "needed reformation to pediatric counsel."

July, 2001 -- Multnomah invited Frank York, Eric Abel, John MacArthur, Dave Maddox and the head of Ezzo's former accounting firm to participate in private, individual meetings with Gary to discuss accusations against his character and content concerns regarding Babywise. The meetings, said Multnomah, would fulfill the biblical procedure of Matthew 18 for disputes between two believers. The proposed meetings were to be mediated by Peacemakers Ministries headed by Ken Sande.

Mr. York's response to the invitation reminded Multnomah that the company had a moral obligation to follow through on their investigation of Ezzo's behavior and materials and that the individuals they invited to address Mr. Ezzo weren't speaking out about private personal disputes with Gary Ezzo. Instead, they were witnesses of Ezzo's persistent patterns of sinful behaviors, and as such Matthew 18 (resolving a private matter between two individuals) was not the relevant scripture, 1 Timothy 5 is.

September 11, 2001--America attacked by terrorists

Sept 12, 2001 -- Multnomah announced their "mutual" decision to return publishing rights to Ezzo effective Oct 1, 2001. (The announcement is no longer on the website as of March 2002, but is referred to in this bulletin from the Christian Booksellers Association.)

Oct 1, 2001 -- Multnomah returned publishing rights for the On Becoming series, including Babywise, to Gary Ezzo, ending their business relationship.

Oct 2001 -- In a letter to a supporter, Gary Ezzo dismissed concerns about several Christian critiques of Growing Kids God's Way by making disparaging statements about the authors and offering gossipy, false information.

Ezzo's letter also complained that these authors had misled or withheld information about their background and credentials; however the information Ezzo said was missing was either included within the critique itself or easily available.
Source: letter posted in internet discussion board, date and origin verified privately; emails from authors on file. Helpful evaluations of the facts and logic in the letter are found here, here, and here.

Dec 29, 2001 -- WORLD Magazine cover story "Religion: A Year in Review":

Dumped: Gary Ezzo, controversial author (On Becoming Babywise and founder of Growing Families International), by his publisher, Multnomah Publishers. Reasons: too much criticism of his parenting philosophy, and too many questions following excommunication from the latest of three churches he left under a cloud.

Jan 2002 -- new self-published edition of Babywise available from Ezzo's newly formed company "Parentwise Solutions"

Feb 2002--A university professor discovered that material in Ezzo's article, "Parental Affection and Character Development" published on GFI's website had been plagiarized from “The Killer Narcissists” by psychologist Barbara Lerner (National Review, May 17, 1999).

When this example of plagiarism was publicly criticized, Ezzo added an acknowledgement to his article, characterizing it as an "oversight."

The university professor dryly commented: "We have a lot of "forgetful" students at the university where I work -- that kind of absent-mindedness often draws a one semester suspension. A second offense equals permanent expulsion.."

A phrase such as "I'm so sorry, Mom; I will never do that again" is enough to melt the parent.

These are not necessarily legitimate signs of repentance, but ways of making parents think that repentance is genuine. There must still be consequences for wrong behavior. Parents have trained a child to a meaningless repentance when they continuously remove consequences on the basis that the child has confessed or appears repentant."
-- GKGW, p. 231

Summer 2002 -- Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo moved from Chatsworth, California, leaving behind their children and grandchildren, to resettle across country in Charleston, South Carolina. They attend Seacoast Church which offers a full range of Ezzo parenting courses. Reason given for the move (as reported in newspaper story): Charleston is a friendly place.
Source: Charleston Post and Courier, Oct 13, 2002

August 2002 -- GCC Board of Elders issues statement which reaffirmed:

"the concerns we initially raised about Mr. Ezzo's character were never satisfactorily addressed by him."
Source: GCC Board of Elders Statement

Fall 2002 -- New titles and cover designs given to GFI's religious parenting materials--series renamed "Let the Children Come".
Source: GFI website

November 2002 -- Jennifer and Paul Luedke (one of the Ezzos' daughters and her husband) cut off contact with her parents after much prayer, consideration and counsel, based on their personal observation of the same types of issues raised by the LHEF elders. Their hope is that the relationships will be restored following the Ezzos' repentence. (Editor's note: This has not happened; if it does, it will be noted on this timeline.)
Source: emails on file from Paul Luedke, dated January 25, 2006 and July 31, 2008

The relational goal of our parenting is friendship with our children.
-- GKGW, p. 133

February 13-22, 2003 -- Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo visit Australia to encourage the Growing Families Australia team there and to promote On Becoming Childwise in various parts of that country.

November, 2003--Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo visit Singapore to speak at the GFI conference there.

June 2005--Grace Community Church staff pastor Adam Bailie, writing informally in a message board, reaffirmed GCC's position that Ezzo was under church discipline when he left GCC, confirmed that Ezzo's children (one of whom attends GCC) have chosen to limit their interaction with him, and referred readers to 2 official church statements which were attached to the posting. (One about issues with the material itself, and one about issues of character .)
Source: Posting on file.

July 2006--After the public posting was taken down in accordance with Bailie's request, a GFI representative characterized the post as "gossip", "slander", a "splinter/log" situation and accused Bailie of having "stolen" the Ezzos' reputation.
Source: Letter from Tom Reed to Adam Bailie, posted on his website,

August 2008--In the wake of a rumor to the contrary, I verified that Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo remain estranged from their daughters.
Source: Email from Paul Luedke on file

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