Just wanted to share with my readers some recent events that have occured that fit into the theme of this blog, that serve as another example of abusive, bully mega church pastors. Pastors who hit their critics first, then talk later (maybe).
Last month I received a letter from the lawyer of an SBC mega church pastor, an SWBTS graduate, who claims I defamed this mega church pastor on my blog in 2008. He accused me of "unlawful conduct" because of my blog post, demanded that I immediately take down the offending posts, else will face a lawsuit with massive damages and legal costs. Even said I would have to pay the mega church pastor's legal costs, which would be "substantial".
I will show restraint and not use this pastor's name here, but I'll use the tactic that many preachers use when referring to someone and trying to not get in trouble for using their name: "If I said this pastor's name, you would immediately recognize him." But I will confirm its not Mac Brunson.
The letter accused me of "defamation per se", and that I must immediately take three actions to avoid the wrath of this mega church pastor and his lawyer: 1. I must cease and desist any defamatory remarks about this pastor - which is hard to do since I never began or continued to make defamatory remarks; 2. I must remove the Internet posts on my blog that he doesn't like (which occured over a year ago), that he claims are defamatory; and 3. Enter into a written agreement that I will "refrain from further defamatory activity" against the mega church pastor.
And get this...his lawyer, unbelievably, claims in this letter that his letter is "copyrighted" - yes, the actual LETTER he sent me....and that I am not authorized to "publish this letter, in whole or in part, in any manner. Any unauthorized publication of this letter will potentially expose you to substantial damages for copyright infrigment." There, I just did. So I guess I will be sued for copyright infringement also.
Three words for this pastor and his lawyer: Fair Use Doctrine.
My first reaction was to post the letter and this pastor's name, and let my readers know of yet another attempt by a pastor to go after a guy who dares have a blog analyzing and offering opinion on events in the SBC. But I didn't. Not out of fear, but in restraint. I had our lawyer reply to this pastor's lawyer.
Needless to say I didn't comply with this attempt to bully and intimidate me into removing posts that I believe are truthful and based on other media reports. The response from my lawyer to this mega church pastor's lawyer denied that defamation has occured, and we sent copies of 4 news articles that confirm information contained on my blog. I have even talked to the editor and author of the previous news accounts that I used for my information, and he confirmed he has multiple sources and stands by everything he has written. He confirmed he has not been contacted by this pastor about defamation from his news articles - in fact he has had a standing offer to this pastor to respond to his writings in his publication, but the pastor has not taken advantage of these in the years since the articles appeared.
So the pastor doesn't go after the news media outlets who initially reported the story...but he DOES go after a blogger who dared to comment on his situation! Amazing.
What does this pastor want? I believe he just wants me to take down a post on my blog that seems to be a top hit when his name is Googled. That's fine. Perhaps he could have first tried to call me to kindly ask that I remove the post, since he had my name and address. I have absolutely nothing against this pastor and he has never been the focus of this blog. It would be nothing for me to remove a post if he nicely requested it instead of using the tactic FIRST of wrongly accusing me of illegal behavior and threatening me with a lawsuit and legal fees.
But this apparently is the new modus operandi for some megas against their critics...hit 'em hard first, talk later. Intimidate. Threaten legal action. It appears to me that Mac and his trustees decided it was best FIRST to hit me and my wife with trespass warnings - kick our butts out FIRST, then maybe talk later if its on their terms only. Not a phone call or a visit. This pastor, now...decides his best course of action is to first get his lawyer to make demands and threaten a costly lawsuit unless the demands are met - and throw in the special "my letter is copyrighted" twist to keep the letter off of the Internet. Seems to me that they want to bully, but boy, they don't want anybody to know about it.
What's next? I don't know, but I fully expect this mega church pastor to sue me. I certainly don't think such a threatening letter would be sent unless they intended to follow through with the threats. And if and when I'm sued, I'll defend myself and I'll keep my readers here abreast of events, and maybe even go ahead and post the letter for everyone to enjoy - along with the links to the articles that I used that show clearly I did not defame this pastor.