About the lawsuits: as the readers of the WD blog probably know, we have filed two lawsuits concerning this blog and matters at FBC Jax over the past year or so.
JSO and State Attorney's Office Federal Suit
This lawsuit against the sheriff's office (the city of Jacksonville), the state attorney's office, and the deputy and assistant state attorney is currently in federal court. This is a lawsuit claiming the actions taken by our local law enforcement in opening a criminal investigation into my blog, and then using subpoena power to obtain personal information from Google and Comcast on my blog and about me personally and at least two other bloggers, and then giving that information to FBC Jax was a violation of the First Amendment - both in matters of free speech and state establishment of religion.
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss based on something called "qualified immunity", and this week our lawyers have filed a response. The response filed on our behalf was quite lengthy, and is arguing the importance of this case in the matter of free speech, and the clearly established principle in case law that the right to choose anonymity as a component of one's speech is a fundamental part of the First Amendment's right to free speech. I hope to post a copy of this response to their motion to dismiss very soon, as it does state well the matters involved in this case.
FBC Jax and Mac Brunson Lawsuit
This suit was filed in state court a little more than 2 weeks ago, and next week the defendants should be filing their responses to the suit. I will report on that as this case moves forward.
But I do want the people of FBC Jax to know what this suit is about, and what it is not about.
This lawsuit is specifically about two things: 1. The actions taken by FBC Jax leading up to September 28, 2008 in making a police report the day after "Chest of Joash" Sunday, that resulted in a criminal investigation into my blog; and 2. Defamatory remarks made in April 2009 by Mac Brunson to the Florida Times Union concerning my mental health. This lawsuit is not about "disagreements" I have with the church over how they handled their church discipline process, or any of the matters blogged about here. Its narrowly focused on what FBC Jax leadership did, what they said to the JSO that started the investigation into my blog that resulted in them obtaining my name from Comcast as the owner of this blog site.
I know this is an uphill battle for me. Some on my blog predict my demise and have said my head will be handed to me on a platter as a result of these lawsuits. Maybe so. I know it would be easier for me to just drop it all and go away and "shut 'em down". While some people close to me support my decision to pursue these matters in court, there are many people I love and respect, who have my best interests in mind, who have counseled me to drop it all. But for now I will not.
I know there is a good chance we won't get very far in these lawsuits - I don't have the resources that those we are going up against have. I am going up against powerful men and powerful institutions. And I realize my actions have further incensed many at FBC Jax who think this blog is the source of trouble at their church, and who wrongly think I am violating scripture in filing a lawsuit against FBC Jax and Mac Brunson. This lawsuit is about matters involving how the church and the state came together under false pretenses to investigate a blogger who dared to write anonymously about matters that Mac Brunson and the Trustees of FBC Jax did not like. Those of you at FBC Jax who love your First Amendment rights, and who even this week saw how the current presidential administration is seeking to identify, and then silence and discredit and intimidate critics of their health care plan - you should likewise be very concerned that a church might be able to, at the drop of a hat, enlist the help of our government officials in the carrying out of their church discipline process against someone who dared to criticize their pastor and leadership. These are serious matters, and the only place for it to be rightly decided is in our judicial system.
Where is this blog going?
I remain very interested in the goings on in the Southern Baptist Convention, and for the near future I will continue to blog about issues that are of concern to me, especially matters of pastoral authority, spiritual abuse, and financial waste at mega churches - which may include matters at FBC Jax. I will likely continue to reflect on my experiences at FBC Jax while there under Mac Brunson's teaching, and as I gain a fuller understanding of what transpired last year leading up to my letter of 16 sins received in November, and the resulting Deacon's Resolution in February. Not to rehash events, but to educate and inform those outside of Jacksonville - both vocational ministers and laymen - so that what has happened at FBC Jax might be avoided elsewhere.
I will likely use this blog to keep readers updated on the progress of the lawsuits just as I have in this article. So stay tuned.
Watch the "Wartburg Watch" Blog
I want to recomend that my readers begin following the Wartburg Watch blog very closely. The blog authors are posting 5 articles per week, and they are focusing on spiritual abuse in the SBC and evangelical Christianity in general. The WW blog is extremely well written and researched, and if you are interested in understanding better how the events at FBC Jax in the past few years fit into the larger picture of spiritual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, then the Wartburg Watch is a MUST READ for you. These authors have their own experience in falling into disfavor with an SBC pastor and church, but their focus is much wider than a single church. In the coming weeks, they will be doing some articles on the matters at FBC Jax and concerning Mac Brunson - as well as Steve Gaines at Bellevue Baptist.
So that is my update, readers. My hope is that this blog and others will be used by God to open the eyes of mega church members around the SBC to the spiritual abuse that goes on right in their own church, by their own pastor enabled by his lay leaders, in the way the Word of God is preached to manipulate people, in the way church discipline is misused against critics and dissenters, and how church resources are used to enlarge the ego and pocketbook of their mega church pastors.
As always, your comments and criticisms are welcome here on this blog, and we welcome those who choose to express themselves anonymously on these matters.