The Dallas Observer on Ole Anthony

9:35 pm | Apologetics

The Dallas Observer has published an article about Ole Anthony and the Trinity Foundation, and it’s not good. But given the article’s title, “The Cult of Ole,” and the Dallas Observer’s history of sensational reporting, there is reason to question the veracity of the reporting.

The article seeks to exaggerate controversy surrounding Wendy Duncan’s self-published book, I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult. In short, this book, built from the author’s experiences with the Trinity Foundation, alleges that the organization is a cult based upon a number of factors that are outlined in the article. The Trinity Foundation is described as having many cult-like traits: “Zealous commitment to a domineering leader not accountable to any authority,” “Discouragement or punishment of dissent and doubt,” “Use of mind-altering techniques such as denunciation sessions,” “Dictation by leadership of how followers should act, sometimes in great detail,” “Breakdown of personal boundaries, such as denying members permission to marry,” “Encouraging a sense of elitism or special status for the group,” and “Fostering an ‘us vs. them’ mentality.” In particular, a significant emphasis is placed on reactions to Doug and Wendy Duncan’s intention to marry.

I want to make a few comments on this article. First, I visited the Trinity Foundation back in June and talked with folks there, including Ole Anthony, and made a blog post about my experience here: A Visit to Ole Anthony and the Trinity Foundation

During my visit, I spoke with several folks there about the recently self-published book, and based on those discussions, my experiences, and interactions with other folks who are familiar with the Trinity Foundation, I have serious reservations about the book’s claims. The consensus opinion was that the individuals that wrote the book suffered from some mental imbalance, and many of them expressed genuine personal concern for the author. They were not particularly defensive about the book. One person I spoke with made the comment that the Trinity Foundation is very open (as my friends and I discovered) and not secretive, so if there is something going on, folks can visit and see for themselves. From my perspective, if Ole Anthony is a heretic, it’s not because he’s a cult leader ;)

Also, the article in the Dallas Observer is typical of this rag’s style of journalism. Nothing printed in the Dallas Observer should be taken too seriously - it is a paper that earns its stripes for sensational journalism. An example is the 2005 hatchet job that was done on the University of Texas at Dallas’s campus housing where they labeled the campus apartments as “The Dorms from Hell.” The standard of journalism set by the Dallas Observer was so low that even the campus newspaper (the student-operated UTD Mercury) found it necessary to correct the glaring errors in the piece in order to maintain journalistic integrity.

This article also asserts that the Trinity Foundation’s investigation of Robert Tilton was not so much to expose the dangers of the televangelist, but that Ole Anthony’s real goal was to achieve a “national forum” from which he could speak. If that is true, then the Trinity Foundation is incompetant in its public relations. It is somewhat ironic that while my friends and I were talking with Ole in his office, he received a call from the Dallas Observer following up with their request for an interview. Ole’s comment was that the Trinity Foundation has never sent out a press release, but still they get calls from the press looking for interviews. The Trinity Foundation has never intentionally sought press attention. Based on our visit and time spent talking with Ole, I seriously doubt that he is in good enough condition to be “basking in media attention” as the article asserts. It was pretty clear that his health is deteriorating, and being a media icon is out of the question.

In short, the Dallas Observer does what the Dallas Observer does best: find controversy and exploit it to increase circulation and increase advertising revenue. The Dallas Observer is nothing more than a tabloid publication, and their exposé of the Trinity Foundation deserves only slightly more attention than the latest reports about the exploits of Bat Boy.



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Comment on August 7, 2006 @ 1:47 pm

I found the article to be right on. It’s people like Ole that give Christians a bad name. I would classify Ole as a closest homosexual and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s molested most of his following because he seems to be about mind control and power over others. I think he was jealous of these other ministers and took his actions to the extreme. I believe the pain in his foot will seem like the joy of his life when it comes time for him to face the final judgment.

Doug Duncan

Comment on August 25, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

Very poorly informed comments by TrackBack, here. When he says, “The consensus opinion was that the individuals that wrote the book suffered from some mental imbalance, and many of them expressed genuine personal concern for the author,” he is mindlessly repeating a cult’s slandering of someone he has never met personally, and in fact becoming party to their spiritual abuse. Of course, the people in a cult are going to say that those who are pointing out that they are a cult are crazy. I defy you to find any cult that would respond differently. It is pretty naive to go to a cult and ask them, “Are you a cult?” and expect to get an objective response. However, if he were to talk to any of the dozens of former members of Trinity Foundation whom Wendy Duncan interviewed for her book, he would receive a different answer.

As to the veracity of the Dallas Observer, all I can say is that the quality of any story pretty much comes down to the integrity of the reporter. Glenna Whitley, the author of the Trinity piece, is a believer and is a very respected journalist in Dallas. It is possible that something else that has run in the Observer was not as well done as Whitley’s investigation of Ole and Trinity, but her article was the first that I have seen that actually got the Trinity story right–and I know.

john ruttles

Comment on August 26, 2006 @ 2:21 pm

Nice hatchet job you did on Wendy and Doug. Why not talk to them, they are open and not secretive too. “Poisoning the well” by implying that nothing good can come out of the Observer is unfair at best. You owe Glenna and the Duncan’s an apology.

Doug Duncan

Comment on October 31, 2006 @ 9:32 am

Hey, there is a new development in this story. The November issue of Charisma magazine has an article about this controversy. The article breaks no new ground, but it is a good, objective piece. You can check out a teaser on the web at

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