On the 1st of July 2013, http://crosswire.org.uk published an article entitled, ‘Globe-trotting “Kung-Fu Bodyguard” evangelist investigated over biography lies – by Gavin Drake’.1 This response will reveal that the arguments and claims presented in the article against Taming the Tiger (2004) are fallacious.2 Note that it will not attempt to substantiate Mr. Tony Anthony’s testimony as http://www.forthesakeofthegospel.co.uk is currently dedicated to that purpose.3 Hence, this response will purely examine the flawed nature of Mr. Gavin Drake’s accusations that are being reported as truth in the public domain.
It is necessary to give the matter of ethical responsibility in journalism due consideration before examining each accusation. The Journalistic Code is founded on principles of truth, objectivity, discerning fact from opinion, minimizing harm and assuming innocence until proven guilty.4 Gossip, lies, slander and shattered reputations are direct consequences of unprofessional journalism. Moreover, it is in direct conflict with biblical values (Exodus 23:1, Leviticus 19:16, 1 Peter 2:1-12). Christian journalists in particular must be sure to stand by these basic principles.
‘Globe-trotting “Kung-Fu Bodyguard” evangelist investigated over biography lies – by Gavin Drake’.5
Question begging epithet is an informal fallacy committed when one uses biased (and often deceptive) language to support a conclusion rather than logic.6 In this case, ‘Globe-trotting’ is the expression carrying negative connotations as it suggests Mr. Anthony travels the world for self-pleasure. On the contrary, Mr. Anthony’s travels are always efficient and self-sacrificing. This kind of language is misleading and ought to be avoided in objective journalism. Question nine in the Q&A section of http://www.forthesakeofthegospel.co.uk provides further information.7
‘A SENIOR lawyer has been instructed by the Evangelical Alliance to investigate claims that a best-selling author and evangelist fabricated his remarkable life-story.’
The sign of an objective report is one that considers both sides of the argument fairly, presenting available information in an unbiased fashion. What the article fails to acknowledge is that Avanti Ministries supported the Evangelical Alliance’s investigation and agreed to the independent panel. Both parties and the publisher (Authentic Media) can testify that Mr. Anthony was fully compliant and welcomed the inquiry.
‘Tony Anthony and trustees from his Essex-based global evangelism charity Avanti Ministries gave evidence to the inquiry, which was launched after it was revealed that his autobiography, on which the charity is based, is built on fantasy and plagiarism.’
This statement is untrue. The inquiry was not launched after it was revealed that Mr. Anthony’s testimony was built on fantasy. If this were true, what would be the need for an inquiry? The inquiry began after allegations that Taming the Tiger was false, not after it was revealed to be false.
‘Tony Anthony’s “Taming the Tiger”, distributed in the UK through the Christian publisher Authentic Media, has sold more than 1.5 million copies in 25 countries.’
Mr. Anthony takes no personal income from the sale of his books. Authentic Media confirm print figures of 200,000 English language copies. In addition, they acknowledge that Mr. Anthony’s personal royalty earnings have always been channelled directly back into the printing of more books. Mr. Anthony has then purchased these books at a discount rate, enabling him to distribute them free to prisons, schools and other impoverished mission sites. Taming the Tiger has been published in many other languages, which might go some way towards the 1.5 million figure cited. However, many of these are administered through small mission-based publishers who pay little to no royalty to Mr. Anthony or his writer. The implication that Mr. Anthony has become rich because of his book is thoroughly unfounded. An examination of his relatively humble home testifies to a lifestyle consistent with a family sustained by the earnings of his primary school teacher wife.
‘In the book, Tony Anthony says he was taken to China by his grandfather, a Kung-Fu grand master, at the age of four.’
A lie is defined as, ‘A false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive’.8 It is not disputed that Taming the Tiger contains some minor discrepancies. As Mr. Anthony outlines in his public statement,
I now fully accept that there are a number of details that appear in the book that are no longer historically accurate. For example, as a very young boy I was raised to believe that the man in whose house I lived and who trained me in Kung Fu was my grandfather. It has since come to light that this individual was not my biological grandfather.9
What is disputed is the accusation that Mr. Anthony has attempted to deceive his readers. The conclusion that Mr. Anthony is a liar because of these errors does not follow.
‘One of the long-standing objections raised about Tony Anthony’s story is that there is no record, anywhere, to support claims that he won any Kung Fu competition; let alone that he was three-times world champion.’
This objection commits the logical fallacy of bifurcation.10 Two propositions are presented as mutually exclusive when, in fact, they are not.
The unstated propositions are:
1. Either, Tony won a Kung Fu competition and there is a record of it,
2. Or, Tony has not won any Kung Fu competitions and there are no records of them.
However, there is a third option that is not acknowledged:
3. Tony won a Kung Fu competition and there is no record of it (disclosed so far).
Mr. Drake’s argument can be restated as such:
- If there is a record, then Tony won a Kung Fu competition. (If P then Q)
- There is no record. (Not P)
- Therefore Tony did not win a Kung Fu competition. (Therefore not Q)
This argument also commits the formal fallacy of denying the antecedent and is akin to saying:11
- If it is snowing, then it is cold outside. (If P then Q)
- It is not snowing. (Not P)
- Therefore it is not cold outside. (Therefore not Q)
Clearly, this logical form is invalid since it is possible that it is cold outside and it is not snowing. Likewise, it is possible that Mr. Anthony won the Kung Fu competition but no records have been disclosed so far. Furthermore, Mr. Anthony clarifies why such records would be difficult to obtain in the following accusation.
‘Anthony attempts to deal with this criticism on his website, saying: “The competitions that Tony Anthony took part in are over 200 years old – and they are derived from the lineage of ‘Gong So’ who goes back to the Manchu Dynasty. These competitions are held in mainland China and as they are so specialised Tony Anthony have not known them to be publicised outside of the relevant circles, which is another reason why Tony Anthony doubt very much that you would ever find these competitions advertised on a Google search engine. But scrutiny of the book’s text reveals that many of the passages detailing Kung Fu techniques were copied, wholesale, from a specialist martial arts website. One passage is lifted from a book about Bruce Lee.’
Mr. Drake’s response commits the fallacy of irrelevant thesis.12 Even if it were true that Taming the Tiger has plagiarised, it does not follow that therefore Mr. Anthony has never won a Kung Fu competition. The argument can be summarised as follows:
- Gavin: There is no record of you fighting in a competition.
- Tony: That’s because these competitions are highly specialised.
- Gavin: Yes, but you copied parts in your book from a website.
Mr. Drake’s response does not refute Mr. Anthony’s explanation, as it is not relevant to the argument. Furthermore, although Mr. Drake makes an accusation of plagiarism, he does not cite his source. He makes a claim regarding a Bruce Lee book but does not verify his material. He should have attempted to interview the book’s writer regarding this issue before making a damaging claim to plagiarism. It is understood that this has never happened.
Due to the sinister nature of some of the content in Taming the Tiger, various names and dates were changed to protect confidentiality.
‘But he has not explained how he could have been leading five-man security teams…when he could only have been aged between 13 or 14 and 16 or 17; dependent upon which version of the book is used.’
Mr. Anthony has stated that he was 16 years and 8 months old when he first entered into Close Protection. The career was relatively short lasting for 2 years (see questions 24 and 27).13 The argument from incredibility is an informal logical fallacy committed when one assumes that something must be false merely because they cannot imagine how it could be true. Just because one finds something difficult to believe does not make it false.
‘Anthony’s grandfather was a laundry worker in Cardiff who later owned a café in Streatham. He died seven years before Anthony was born.’
Mr. Anthony has directly responded to this claim in his public statement. As of yet, no rebuttal has been heard. His public statement can be found here: 14
‘Anthony also claims in his book that his father was Italian. In fact he was Cypriot who anglicised the family name from Athanasiou to Anthony.’
This is untrue. Mr. Anthony’s father was not Greek Cypriot. He was part Maronite from his father’s side and part Italian from his mother’s, though he simply referred to himself as being Italian (see question 14).15 Even if it was true that Mr. Anthony’s father was Cypriot, it would not have shown that Mr. Anthony is a liar as there is no reason for him to lie about his father’s nationality. At best, it would have shown that Taming the Tiger contains some minor discrepancies and needs updated.
‘Tony Anthony’s deception isn’t restricted to his book. When he married his wife Sara in Rayleigh United Reformed Church, Southend, in 1995, he claimed he was 25 years old; but he was actually just 23.’
It is true that the wedding certificate has an incorrect date of birth. The Civil Servant who wrote it made a clerical error (see question 33).16 The alternative viewpoint, that Mr. Anthony has lied about his date of birth on his wedding certificate, is simply absurd. After all, what reason would Mr. Anthony have to lie about his date of birth many years before his book was written?
‘In public presentations, Tony Anthony continues to claim he was taken to China by his grandfather, despite admitting in response to the informal investigation that he was taken by “a distant relative” as part of a “complex family arrangement”.’
Mr. Anthony has never claimed that his grandfather took him to China. His book describes a stranger of Asian ethnicity taking him to China. The last paragraph on page 16 of his book states, ‘We [Mr. Anthony and the stranger] stopped. Before me stood a spindly man dressed in a silky black jacket with wide, loose sleeves and a high collar. Later I learned this was my grandfather [not his biological grandfather].’17 It was a stranger who guided Mr. Anthony to meet the man who was introduced to him as his grandfather. Mr. Anthony is completely consistent on this point.
On the 7th of October 2013, this accusation was removed from the article (See CORRECTION). 18
‘He says that when he was questioned by police, “We couldn’t tell our story fast enough. No more lies. We were both desperate to spill out details of the dreadful accident. I couldn’t care less about the interrogation. I wanted to die. All I could think about was the woman I had killed” …She was discovered in plain view in the middle of the road by a motorist who saw Anthony’s car speed off. And far from admitting the story, Tony Anthony and his wife Sarah told a series of lies and pleaded not guilty when they first appeared in court.’
This passage is taken out of context. Mr. and Mrs. Anthony told their stories truthfully in individual interviews (p. 207), not in the court. Mr. Anthony freely admits that, ‘People involved were obviously lying and our barristers were encouraging us to say things which weren’t strictly true, to help our case.’19 Here, the article is committing the ad hominem fallacy.20 It is trying to discredit Mr. Anthony by pointing out the mistakes he has made in the past and then concluding that Mr. Anthony’s present testimony must be false. Clearly, such reasoning is fallacious.
‘And rather than the single heated phone conversation with a Greek restaurant that’s detailed in the book, the court heard that Tony Anthony had made a series of abusive and racist phone calls to a former employer and to restaurant owners in Epsom, Surrey, and London.’
In truth, the book records several heated phone call conversations to a Greek restaurant in London, ‘Finally, I slammed the phone down. Instantly, it rang back. I snapped it up. It was him. Another stream of abuse. He put the phone down. Immediately I called him again…’21 Moreover, no evidence is given to suggest that Mr. Anthony ever had an argument with a former employer, and no source is cited for the calls to Epsom and Surrey. Even if it is true that Mr. Anthony made four harassing calls, the context of the passage in the book does not leave room for them to be mentioned. Note that Taming the Tiger never set out to be a strict historical record containing all of Mr. Anthony’s past mistakes.
‘The Evangelical Alliance and Avanti Ministries issued a joint statement late last night confirming that Tony Anthony’s story is false and that Avanti are withdrawing support for Taming the Tiger.’
The joint statement can be found at the following address:
Avanti Ministries never agreed that Mr. Anthony’s testimony is false. The fourth paragraph states that the panel concluded that major parts of Mr. Anthony’s life story are false. Avanti agreed that the panel found major parts of Taming the Tiger false but Avanti does not agree with the panel’s findings. It then says how Avanti ‘take serious note to the findings’ and that they are ‘deeply saddened’, but never does it say that Avanti agrees that Mr. Anthony’s story is false.
The accusations posed against Mr. Anthony in this article are flawed. There are minor errors within Taming the Tiger, but there is no attempt to be deceptive. The Bible warns against false teachers and states how to recognise them. Matthew 7:15-18 says,
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit [emphasis added].
Mr. Anthony’s ministry has reached millions with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has gained no earthly pleasure from this work and so there is no reason for him to lie about his life story. Such an act would be in direct conflict with his biblical values. Please visit http://www.forthesakeofthegospel.co.uk for answers to further questions.
- Drake, G. (2013). Globe-trotting “Kung-Fu Bodyguard” evangelist investigated over biography lies. Available: http://crosswire.org.uk/2013/07/01/globe-trotting-kung-fu-bodyguard-evangelist-investigated-over-biography-lies/. Last accessed 17th Mar 2014.
- Anthony, T. (2004). Taming the Tiger. Milton Keynes: Authentic Media Limited.
- Bruce, I. (2014). A response to and opinions about Tony Anthony, Evangelist. Available: http://www.forthesakeofthegospel.co.uk/. Last accessed 17th Mar 2014.
- SPJ Code of Ethics. Available: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp. Last accessed 17th Mar 2014.
- All accusations from – Drake, G. (2013). Globe-trotting “Kung-Fu Bodyguard” evangelist investigated over biography lies. Available: http://crosswire.org.uk/2013/07/01/globe-trotting-kung-fu-bodyguard-evangelist-investigated-over-biography-lies/. Last accessed 17th Mar 2014.
- Lisle, J. (2010). Discerning Truth. Green Forest: New Leaf Publishing Group. p.33.
- Bruce, I. (2014).
- Lie. Available: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/lie. Last accessed 17th Mar 2014.
- Anthony, T. (2013). A PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM TONY ANTHONY:.Available: http://www.tonyanthony.co.uk/. Last accessed 17th Mar 2014.
- Lisle, J. (2010). Discerning Truth. Green Forest: New Leaf Publishing Group. p.43.
- Ibid. p.65
- Red Herring. Available: http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/151-red-herring. Last accessed 17th Mar 2014.
- Bruce, I. (2014).
- Anthony, T. (2013).
- Bruce, I. (2014).
- Anthony, T. (2004). p.16
- Drake, G. (2013).
- Anthony, T. (2004). p.209
- Poisoning the Well. Available: http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/151-red-herring. Last accessed 17th Mar 2014.
- Anthony, T. (2004). p.211
- (2013). Joint Evangelical Alliance and Avanti Ministries statement .Available: http://www.eauk.org/current-affairs/media/press-releases/joint-evangelical-alliance-and-avanti-ministries-statement.cfm. Last accessed 17th Mar 2014.