Summary of This Open Letter
A site called Ezzotruth.com portrays authors Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo as victims of attacks on their parenting programs and personal character by unprincipled people. Because many of the accusations at the site have been discussed in the past, Ezzo.info simply suggests two things to consider: whether the Ezzos’ claims of victimhood at the hands of numerous reputable Christian leaders are believable and whether the results in the Ezzos’ own family support their teaching. The debate is wearying, but it is crucial to the Christian obligation to pursue truth.
A web site called Ezzotruth.com has been created in response to criticism (like what is found here on Ezzo.info) of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo and the parenting programs offered by their organization, Growing Families International (GFI). Ezzotruth.com claims that the controversy surrounding the Ezzos is the result of “internet gossip and tabloid journalism.” It portrays the Ezzos’ numerous broken relationships over the past two decades as the result of others’ integrity problems and Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo themselves as “gracious, humble, kind, generous” people who “live an authentic faith” and whose parenting approach “wonderfully impact[s] millions of families” around the world. As with past statements by the Ezzos, the site consists mostly of personal attacks on their critics instead of substantive response to the concerns.
Since most of these attacks are not new and have been discussed elsewhere, Ezzo.info will not respond point by point. Instead, two simple questions reflecting the Ezzos’ longstanding pattern of behavior are suggested for readers to consider carefully in seeking the truth.
Are the Ezzos’ Claims Believable?
Consider whether the Ezzos’ claims about former professional relationships are believable:
- That public warnings about Gary Ezzo’s character issued by two churches where the Ezzos had been members (one, where Gary was on staff) are without merit and were actually retaliation for the Ezzos’ own concerns about the church leaders’ integrity.
- That GFI’s accounting firm did not terminate its relationship with GFI because of the kind of ethical concerns about Gary Ezzo that have been expressed by accounting partner Chris Hamilton; instead GFI fired the firm for negligence.
- That all three key original leadership couples who formed GFI along with Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo are not telling the truth in claiming that they left over concerns about the programs and about integrity; instead, at least some were asked to leave because of the Ezzos’ concerns over them or their performance.
- That the termination of the Ezzos’ relationship with their publisher, Multnomah Press, had nothing to do with the public criticism of the Ezzos or with the investigation Multnomah had just completed regarding the medical claims in their books.
Consider whether the Ezzos’ claims about the media are believable:
- That truth “did not matter” in an ABC World News Tonight story on the Ezzos by then-religion reporter Peggy Wehmeyer, herself a committed Christian who now broadcasts for World Vision, because, “Secular media is decidedly anti-God and anti-God’s people.”
- That World magazine, a Christian newsweekly, published a deceptive article with fabricated quotes in an “obvious and intentional misrepresentation” of the Ezzos’ teaching.
- That Christian Research Journal’s articles about GFI included duplicity and demagoguery, and its writers (one, the magazine’s editor) were wicked liars.
- That Christianity Today magazine tried to steal the Ezzos’ character through biased reporting and rumor mongering.
Consider whether the Ezzos’ claims about well-respected Christian leaders are believable:
- That renowned Bible teacher Dr. John MacArthur publicly said Gary Ezzo is disqualified “from Christian leadership or public ministry in any context” out of MacArthur’s own “carnal responses.” (MacArthur is pastor of a church where Ezzo had been a staff member, one of the two churches that have issued public warnings about him.)
- That Christian Research Institute president and radio “Bible Answer Man” Hank Hanegraaff committed a “serious breach of biblical ethics” by publishing Christian Research Journal articles about the Ezzos that were “tainted with duplicity and half-truths.”
- That Focus on the Family’s public statements of concern about the Ezzos’ teachings demonstrate that Dr. James Dobson has been intellectually dishonest, bore false witness against a fellow believer, and put himself above accountability.
- That the numerous other recognized Christian leaders and authors who have publicly expressed concern are also misinformed or biased, including Steve Arterburn, Rich Buhler, Randy Carlson, Barbara Curtis, Grace Ketterman, Kevin Leman, Cliff Penner, Father Val J. Peter, Dennis Rainey, Chuck Smith, and Tedd Tripp.
Consider whether the Ezzos’ claims about many others are believable:
- That the many medical and lactation professionals (often themselves Christians) who have expressed concerns about the Ezzos’ teachings and about the results these care providers have seen in their own practices are either misinformed or acting out of blind commitment to attachment parenting philosophy, an approach many professionals aren’t even familiar with.
- That fellow Christians who follow attachment parenting philosophy, including author and pediatrician William Sears, M.D., are motivated by “Freudian” and “humanistic” views and are “in their thinking…Christian up to a point,” not “see[ing] a need to subject their personal opinions, reasoning, and emotions to the guidelines of Scripture in all areas of life.”
These are only a few examples among many Ezzo claims. In Gary Ezzo’s own words about one situation, they “read like an episode out of a daytime soap.”
Ezzotruth.com points out that there is “so MUCH” negative information about the Ezzos (emphasis in original). Agreed; there is. And readers are encouraged to ponder why that might be so.
Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo present themselves as victims at the hands of all these people, under spiritual attack because their ministry has been effective. But many wonderful ministries are effective for God’s kingdom and yet do not generate this kind of controversy. Consider: is the Ezzos’ characterization really believable when they are the only ones who have been singled out for spiritual attack by so many reputable Christian leaders and professionals?
The truth is that after numerous attempts were made to raise concerns directly with Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, many people have felt compelled to take unprecedented steps honoring the admonition of 1 Timothy 5:19-20: “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” In contrast, many of the comments on Ezzotruth.com are identified with only first name, initials, or not at all.
A Family Ministry Without a Family?
Readers have reason to question not only Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo’s believability but also their suitability to teach others about parenting. The Ezzos have not succeeded in their parenting relationships with their own children as measured by their own standards. On Becoming BABYWISE tells parents not to look at “the reasoning or logic of the hypothesis” but to “observe the end results,” and Growing Kids God’s Way says, “The relational goal of our parenting is friendship with our children” (emphases in originals). But the Ezzos have not achieved this goal with their own two daughters.
Sadly, several years ago, both daughters and their husbands cut off contact with the Ezzos, and they remain estranged. Both couples have confirmed this to Ezzo.info. One couple, the Luedkes, indicated that their decision was based on their personal observation of the same types of character issues raised by others and that it was done only after much prayer, consideration, and counsel.
This situation is a true tragedy, but churches and parents considering the Ezzos’ parenting advice deserve to know that the pattern of broken relationships they have left behind them extends even into their own family.
No doubt readers are weary of the divisive debates over Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo and their teachings. The critics certainly are! It is tempting to throw up one’s hands in despair over the whole matter. But no matter how difficult it may be, no Christian should ignore the obligation to evaluate both the teaching and the character of anyone who claims to teach “God’s way.”
Readers are urged: to ponder the many concerns about the Ezzos expressed by so many people; to evaluate the way the Ezzos respond to criticism, including years of false and misleading personal attacks now renewed on Ezzotruth.com; to evaluate the results in the Ezzos’ own family; and to discern with the Holy Spirit’s guidance what the truth really is.