Home Christian News Founders of Humanitarian Organization Preemptive Love Accused of Abusing Staff, Misleading Donors

Founders of Humanitarian Organization Preemptive Love Accused of Abusing Staff, Misleading Donors

Preemptive Love
Photo from YouTube: @Ben Irwin

Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC) is a multi-million dollar non-profit humanitarian organization that describes its mission as risking “our lives for peace,” serving on the frontlines where conflict is most prevalent around the world, including Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Korea, Israel, and Palestine.

On December 16, 2021, PLC’s former communications director, Ben Irwin, released an article accusing its founders, Jeremy and Jessica Courtney, of abusing staff and misleading donors. The article came after Irwin had begun to disclose these allegations on Twitter.

Irwin worked at PLC for six years and has now accused the Courtneys of running PLC “like a cult,” saying that they “demand unquestioning loyalty and punish dissent, perceived or real. They act like people who will do anything to hold onto power.”

The Courtney couple is more worried about building their brand than building up local organizations, Irwin claimed. He argued that Jeremy and Jessica misled their supporters, recalling a particular incident in 2016 where Jeremy led viewers to believe he was somewhere he wasn’t.

“In May of [2016], Iraqi forces launched an offensive to retake Fallujah from ISIS control,” Irwin said. “Tens of thousands of people fled for their lives. While Hala Al Sarraf’s team risked their lives bringing food to fleeing families, Jeremy sat in his office 250 miles away, in the relative safety of northern Iraq. (That’s one detail he usually leaves out of his story of dropping into Iraq in the middle of a war: they landed in one of the safest parts of the country, Sulaymaniyah.)”

Irwin continued, “As Hala’s aid workers in Fallujah sent back footage of their work, Jeremy began looking for a way to put himself in the story. He went outside and evidently found a backdrop that, to the undiscerning viewer, made it look as though he was in Fallujah, in the same place where Hala’s team was handing out food—He later wove that footage of himself with footage of Hala’s team, pretending to narrate events in real time, as if he was personally there—Mind you, Jeremy never actually said he was in Fallujah. But he let you think he was. Plausible deniability is Preemptive Love’s ultimate sleight of hand.”

Irwin described another incident where Jeremy and others edited footage to add war sounds, making it seem like they were filming on or near a location PLC was ministering to.

Irwin has also accused the Courtneys of misleading PLC donors. The former communications director claimed that Jeremy announced in 2020 that he wouldn’t be taking his $165,000 annual salary during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the hopes of avoiding any staffing cuts—only to renege three months later.

“They run Preemptive Love more like a cult than a peacemaking organization: stifling dissent and debate, frequent loyalty tests, the erasure and demonization of almost anyone who leaves,” Irwin stated. Then says that PLC’s “younger, less experienced staff are underpaid and overworked, so they can’t afford to quit and don’t have the bandwidth to look for another job.”

Irwin said that if you question anything the Courtneys decide, you’ll be fired, describing the culture at PLC as “a culture of fear that discourages people from speaking out…Jeremy once suggested he wouldn’t hesitate to fire every last person at Preemptive Love, except for him and Jessica, if that’s what it took to hold on to power.”

Former PLC employee Audrey White verified Irwin’s report of PLC’s toxic environment, sharing that she’s experienced “a lot of trauma and pain” after working there.

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Jesse is the Content Editor for ChurchLeaders and Site Manager for ChristianNewsNow. An undeserving husband to a beautiful wife, and a father to 4 beautiful children. He serves as a deacon, a growth group leader, and is a member of University Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio. Follow him on twitter here (https://twitter.com/jessetjackson). Accredited member of the Evangelical Press Association.