John Loftus is one of the lead contributors to the anti-Christian blog, Debunking Christianity. He has commented here a number of times; most recently--ironically--on the issue of whether atheists can have a coherent philosophy of morality.
On May 22, 2007, he posted an entry attacking J.P. Holding. Nothing new here; Holding is enemy no. 1 for the online skeptics. Loftus began by linking to a blog by another atheist attacking Holding. Then, Loftus linked to another blog devoted to attacking Holding, in this manner:
I recently noticed another blog that apparently started up in March which is very critical of J.P. Holding, here. I personally do not like Holding, but I'm probably not going to waste my time on him, except to point out what others are saying about him....
When you go to the referenced anti-Holding blog, you see a picture of Holding and the title of the blog, "J.P. Holding." This in itself is deceptive as such pictures and titles usually identify the author of the blog at issue, rather than the subject. But it is also notable that the anti-Holding blog does not identify its own author (while criticizing Holding for using a pseudonym out of privacy concerns) and leaves the implication that the blog may just be hosted by someone impartial or even a Christian. This impression can be created by the discussion of Holding's purported lack of "theological credentials" and calls on "Christians themselves to denounce him" because he "is an embarrassment to Christianity."
The blog goes on to misleadingly frame the attack on Holding as the "consensus opinion about J.P. Holding." The source of this consensus opinion? Another atheist blogger hostile to Christianity. Other sources? Well-known impartial commentators such as Richard Carrier, a former editor-in-chief of the Secular Web, Early Doherty, the Jesus Myth hero of the left, etc., etc., etc. Any equal time for dissenting views? Nope. Not even a comments section for anyone to raise questions or voice disagreement.
But getting back to the author of the blog. Who could it be?
Well. It turns out that the author is John Loftus, who claimed at Debunking Christianity to have "just noticed" it and told his readers that it "apparently" started in March, feigning ignorance about its origins. He also distanced himself from the effort by saying he would not be wasting his own time attacking Holding except to point people towards anti-Holding resources--which he apparently had just done by linking to two such sites.
This was all uncovered by Holding himself. You can follow the thread here. Loftus admits that he was in fact the author of the anti-Holding blog but claims it was not "technically" a lie.
In my opinion, it was worse than a lie. Loftus knew he was deceiving his readers and crafted his blog post for just that purpose. The cleverness he apparently thinks he used to frame the description to give him "technical" deniability only confirms the intentional nature of the deception. When a blogger uses his own blog to deceive his readers to promote an agenda he claims distance from, he has lost credibility and the respect of his readers, assuming the audience is worthy of respect. There are many blogs out there and I am honored by those who make this one a part of their online reading. Our readers are not pawns in our personal, or even ideological, agendas. They--be they Christians or skeptics or undecided--deserve more than that. They deserve respect. Loftus has proven that he has a different view.
Another thing. I am mindful that I am only one contributor to this blog, as Loftus is one contributor to Debunking Christianity. Although we do not always agree with each other, we respect each other. I have no doubt about the integrity of of my co-bloggers and I trust I never do anything to make them doubt mine. If I did, my first concern would be how my actions impugned their reputation. For while no one should assume that co-bloggers always agree, they may rightfully assume that co-bloggers pick their fellows with care for character. By using a shared blog to promote his deception, Loftus raises questions about those who continue to blog with him--especially given the fact that he stands by his tactics. He has tarred them with his own deception and while they are not responsible for his actions, it cannot but touch their reputations as well.
Update: After claiming the right to "lie to liars" and to "deceive" his "enemies," Loftus has admitted that what he did was wrong. If you have followed my comments on his blog, you will see that this was my main point there; whether it was the policy of the Debunking Christianity blog (including Loftus' 10 or so co-bloggers), that it was justified for them to intentionally deceive their readers so long as the deception served their ideological agenda. This seemed Loftus' position in post after post. Yet neither he nor his co-bloggers--some defending him, some asking him to apologize--gave a straight answer to the question. However, given that Loftus has not just apologized, but admitted that what he did was wrong, I will take that as an implicit answer that it is not the policy of Debunking Christianity that intentional deception is a justifiable tool in their rhetorical box.