I read with interest Clark Kauffman’s article on Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg yesterday in The Des Moines Register, since I know them and know some of the staff at America’s Family Coaches. I’m trying to figure out how this was considered news, let alone make the front page of the print edition. This was nothing but a hit piece with an obvious anti-Christian bias.
Where is the news? They have raised millions… so what? They are a nation-wide ministry, that isn’t unusual. They provide conferences all over the nation. They have a radio program. They provide military families marriage enrichment materials for free, as well as, seminars and lodging for $20 a couple. Somebody pays for that. They work with Christian schools in order to help students and parents grow in Christ-likeness together around the six keys to godly relationships. They spearhead CrossTrainers a multidenominational men’s Bible study that meets on a weekly basis.
Again, all of this costs money. I don’t know if Kauffman thinks they they have some sort of money tree growing in their backyard or that they can magically do all that they do on a shoestring budget or what. He obviously doesn’t have a clue what it takes to provide these services.
In a nutshell they are about strengthening marriages and help people “divorce-proof” their marriages. With the whole debate around the definition of marriage in Iowa I often received criticism about the divorce rate among evangelicals – this is one way we are trying to address it. Many churches have partnered with them when they did their “Divorce-Proof Your Marriage Campaign,” we won’t know this side of heaven how many marriages have been impacted as a result. I know I have been encouraged by material they have provided and through the times I attended CrossTrainers.
Kauffmann also makes much about the fact they are “unlicensed.” They claim to be marriage coaches, not counselors. They have never advertised one-to-0ne counseling since I’ve known them. A fact that Kaufmann buries in the story is that Gary Rosberg does have a PhD in Counseling (from Drake University I believe). He also was in fact a licensed mental health counselor.
So again, what is the issue here? They provide conferences, seminars, marriage enrichment materials. Kaufmann notes that their salary is line with charities their size, and that the “financial records of America’s Family Coaches show that most of the money that comes in is spent producing audio and video programs, seminars, books and DVDs. The organization’s overhead and fundraising expenses are significant, but are not unusual for a charity of its size.”
So again, what’s the problem? They are also members of ECFA, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which means they submit to audits, keep open books, implement acceptable accounting practices, etc.
Kaufmann revealed the true agenda behind the article when he wrote:
That mix of evangelism and coaching worries some people, including Erin McNamara-Bustamante, who saw the Rosbergs’ recent presentation to the Rotary Club. She has said that the Rosbergs’ religious beliefs – a major element of their books, but rarely mentioned in their YouTube videos, podcasts and solicitations – should be fully disclosed, in advance, to potential donors and the couples who go to their seminars seeking help with their marriages.
Licensed counselors, she said, would face "huge ethical issues" if they didn’t immediately disclose to all potential patients any faith-based approach to their work.
You have to be pretty blind not to know America’s Family Coaches are an evangelical organization. Gary Rosberg was a prominent speaker for the Promise Keepers men’s conferences. It’s listed on their website. They do conferences in churches. It’s common knowledge. Kaufmann continues:
The money will be used by America’s Family Coaches to provide military families with portable MP3 players loaded with the Rosbergs’ teachings, a Rosberg DVD and copies of the Rosbergs’ books. Those products include practical advice for couples of all faiths, but they also teach "daily obedience to Jesus Christ."
McNamara-Bustamante, who is working on a master’s degree in mental health counseling, said that’s a problem, given the broad, secular nature of the couple’s solicitations for financial support, as well as the diverse nature of the military families in need of help.
She said that when the Rosbergs discussed the walk at the Rotary Club, there was no indication of their charity’s evangelical mission. "And they openly asked people at Rotary for donations," she said.
Did anybody ask? Perhaps she wasn’t paying attention. Nobody wondered how they enrich marriages? I have a hard time believing that wasn’t shared at least by Q&A. Then there’s the issue of a testimony of one… nobody else complained?
Kaufmann turned what could have been a great story profiling some good work happening in the community on behalf of military marriages, and instead turned it into a hit piece that belongs in the opinion section of the paper, not the front page.