The recent social media dust-up surrounding Dave Ramsey surprised me. I’ve followed his teachings (and promoted them at every single church I’ve been a part of) for over ten years. I couldn’t imagine him getting his briefs in a bind over some parody Twitter accounts—which, last time I checked, are protected under that whole “freedom of speech” idea.
I have heard Ramsey blast the concept of “gossip,” over and over again, on the radio show. He’s referred to it as one of the most toxic things that can happen in any business, or any church. In some respects, he’s right. Unsubstantiated rumors can destroy a person’s reputation, influence, ministry, or job. Vindictive, cruel individuals have no qualms about using distortions, faulty appeals to emotion, or flat-out lies to tear down another person. I’ve personally been in the cross-hairs of liars and manipulators, and it’s not a fun place to be. I’ve lost family and friendships because a disordered person painted me with a brush that only had two colors—black and white.
However, there’s two areas where Ramsey seems to be dead wrong on this issue:
1) Parody Twitter accounts are not “gossip.”
Dave, did these guys share Lampo trade secrets with the Twitterverse? Did they tap your bathroom, record you singing Marvin Gaye off-key in the shower, and broadcast it on Youtube? Did they reveal the location of Rachel’s super-secret honeymoon location, and put her safety at risk? No—according to media reports, they said you were spoiled rotten, authoritarian, and power hungry. (And since you worked to have the Twitter accounts deleted, well, I have no way of checking it on my own now, do I?) They must have said it in a funny, compelling way too, because you reacted like you’d been stung by a swarm of bees. You could have taken the high road, and invoked that little-known Bible verse that says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (Matthew 5:11) Instead, you threatened legal action and moved to shut them down. You also created a nifty little Streisand Effect, and increased the follower-ship of the last parody account ten-fold.
So it makes me wonder: Why are you able to stand against an entire culture and say, “Credit is bad, credit scores are worthless, and you can truly live without this system,” but you can’t stand against some paltry little anonymous Tweeters that call you a bully?
2) Matthew 18 has been the basis of almost every “anti-gossip” crusade that I’ve encountered as a believer.
However, Dave, there seems to be a part that you left out of your Bible study:
15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
So, if someone had confronted you on authoritarian, bullying behavior, and you simply “fired their butt,” where would they have to go next? According to Matthew 18, their JOB, Biblically, would be to “tell it to the church.” Since you’ve created a national platform for yourself (which has done a lot of people a lot of good) then the national and international church, via Twitter, is arguably a logical place to do this. If you still refuse to be repentant, then the Church’s next role is to treat you as a pagan or a tax collector.
Dangit, Dave, do you really want to be compared to the IRS?
You showed some interesting colors here, Dave. You could have laughed this off if they were telling lies, or you could have said, “Gee, maybe I was wrong, and maybe I have something to learn about authoritarian behavior,” if they were telling the truth. Instead, by working to get these Twitter accounts removed, you raised the suspicions of those of us who have been faithful followers of your program for years.
Please work to clear this up.
A Long-Time Fan