Dale Partridge is a church planter, podcaster, entrepreneur and “Christian influencer” with a huge online following, a popular clothing store called Sevenly and a seemingly boundless collection of pithy, easily re-tweetable inspo-porn. But for most of his career, the Bend, Oregon “revivalistic preacher and church reformer” has been hounded by accusations of plagiarism. And while he has offered a few wishy-washy apologies, his behavior has never changed.
A new RNS report from Bob Smietana delves into the real sources behind some Partridge’s most popular posts. A (now-deleted) Instagram post told his followers that “discouragement is not to be tolerated or wallowed in. It’s to be fought.” That’s good advice, but it originally came from John Piper’s DesiringGod.org. Another similar sentiment was shared by Partridge but was first written by A.W. Tozer — attribution which was later added after Smietana reached out to Partridge for a comment.
As Smietana reports: “According to critics who have tracked his tweets and Instagram posts, Partridge has commonly passed off quotes from celebrities, musicians, fellow entrepreneurs, authors and public figures including Ricky Martin, John Wooden, Ron Finley and Martin Luther King Jr. as his own. Partridge’s habit of plagiarizing quotes even inspired a “Fake Dale Partridge” Twitter account, which reposted Partridge’s tweets from October 2014, along with the correct attribution.”
Partridge told Smietana that “I have no problem admitting that was a past failure. But I don’t think it’s persisting.” He explained that in the past, he believed in something he’d called the “Uncopyright Movement” which held that “all ideas are God’s ideas.”
He says he’s repented of this notion, while also noting that sometimes the failure to attribute correct sources was just a consequence of being in too big of a hurry given the “intense demand for churning out content as a social media personality.”
Former pastor and podcaster Nick Laparra has been cataloging Partridge’s plagiarism for years, sometimes even reaching out over social media to challenge Partridge’s authorship. In 2016, Laparra pushed Partridge to start tagging the quotes he posted with their real source. Partridge said he was writing a “long story” on the “future of social citation.” That never materialized, and Partridge did eventually apologize.
But has the apology led to real change? Not exactly.
Partridge’s new book Real Christianity hit the top spot on Amazon’s “Christian” book list in January. His website Relearn Church featured a quote from Dallas Theological Seminary’s Richard Jennings, who called the book “a splash of warm water on your face. You still get the shock of being wet without the sting of cold words. It’s direct. It’s bold. But most of all, it’s accurate to the Scriptures.”
Just one problem: Richard Jennings doesn’t seem to exist.
On a recent podcast, Partridge’s wife Veronica read the quote, this time attributing it Richard Davis. Partridge told RNS that Davis doesn’t exist either, saying the quote was from a website mockup that was never meant to be used publicly. The quote was removed from the website after RNS inquired about it.
You can read the full investigation here.