"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Monday, February 6, 2012

Second Lawsuit Discovery Process Began Today

Back in 2009 I pledged to keep my readers informed of the lawsuits that came from the 2008 Jacksonville Sheriff's Office investigation of my blog.

Today I am giving a long overdue update.

As my long-time readers know, back in the fall of 2008 a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective opened an investigation to find the identify of the FBC Jax Watchdog blogger. The detective - who happened to also be an FBCJ member, employee, deacon, and discipline committee member, issued subpoenas to Google, Inc. and Comcast to obtain my name. He never conducted a legitimate investigation, testifying he interviewed no one, and handed my name to the FBC Jax church administrator John Blount, and then promptly closed the investigation at Blount's request.

Once the FBC Jax holy men had my name, they commenced the disciplinary process established in their bylaw changes of December 2007, issuing trespass warnings to me and my wife and demanding a meeting before their disciplinary tribunal. No meeting took place, and a deacon's resolution was passed in February 2009 condemning "unjust criticism" on the Internet. Judge A.C. Soud read the resolution, and the congregation stood and confirmed it.

They thought that was the end of the matter. Blogger gone, resolution passed, and not a soul would find out what the detective/discipline committee member had done to find my identity.

But in April 2009, religion Times Union reporter Jeff Brumley was reading my blog and saw the trespass warnings I had posted, and he ultimately discovered my name from JSO records. He interviewed me and church and city officials and wrote a news article about the investigation which appeared on the Times Union front page on April 9, 2009.

The actions of the detective resulted in a federal first amendment lawsuit that was settled at mediation in the fall of 2010, with a cash settlement and the sheriff's office agreeing to train their detectives on first amendment implications of investigative subpoenas. As a part of the settlement we were given a face-to-face meeting with our sheriff to voice our concerns over the actions of the FBC Jax detective, and we were assured steps would be taken to ensure that this would not happen again. Probably the biggest victory for us came months before, in April 2010, when federal judge Marcia Morales Howard affirmed the first amendment protection of anonymous speech in denying the defense's motion to dismiss.

But there was a second lawsuit we filed in 2009, which had to do with the statements made by Mac Brunson, our former pastor, that were printed in the April 2009 front page news story about the detective's investigation into our blog.

Now in February 2012, the discovery process in this 2nd lawsuit is underway. The first depositions were taken this morning - Mac Brunson and John Blount - with more to come in the next month. My deposition will be taken the first part of March. There is an important hearing regarding a motion for summary judgment and another regarding punitive damages, sometime at the end of March, with the trial scheduled in the spring or early summer.

We learned from the first lawsuit that the discovery process can be very painful and draining. We expect this second lawsuit process to be no different. And from the testimony given this morning by Mac Brunson and John Blount, we know we're in for a hard, ugly fight as the pastor and the church defend his awful statements about me made in the paper, but we are committed to seeing this through to the end.

And when it is all over, I fully intend to write about the depositions and discovery and the upcoming trial to give my readers a behind-the-scenes look at church legal tactics in defending the indefensible. I will do my best to keep my readers informed of progress during the discovery period and the coming trial.

In the meantime, as I wrote back in 2010:

I am committed to continuing writing my views on this blog, regarding matters at FBC Jax and evangelical Christianity, unabated and not intimidated, and with the aid of my lawyer I will continue the fight in this lawsuit.

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is this second case in federal or state court?

Anonymous said...

Stop whining and grow up.

Thy Peace said...

God bless you, WD. I thank Our Lord for giving you patience, persistence and tenacity in the pursuit of justice. To God be the glory.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the pastor believes he is above accountability and he is using a legal means to silence his critics because they have sins to hide and church is only a cloak for their sins.

By violating your 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech, the church is openly disobeying Romans 13 by disobeying the rulers who set up freedom of speech. By violating your freedom of speech, they shall receive judgment (Romans 13:2) from God.

Chuck

Anonymous said...

Doesn't make sense ,

Here Mac Burnson
is saying

" God is trying to do something in your life (Mac's)"

"He's working in me to change
make me a man with clean hands and a pure heart"

Now how can God be doing that if he resists coming clean?

James "Jimmy" Brown said...

So Tom, you opened an anonymous blog attacking the church you attended; now you hope they'll pay you too for the pastor having criticized you in public and banished you from the church who's leadership you were attacking.

Freedom of speech for you but not for him?

Anonymous said...

James,

Why doesn't the Church love their "enemy"? And what do they have to hide?

Chuck

Anonymous said...

1 Cr 6:1 ¶ Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

1 Cr 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

1 Cr 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

1 Cr 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

1 Cr 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

I am a bystander who caught this blog and I'm wondering why a Church would go to court to hide what they other people are saying about them. By taking the matter to court, the church is defeated already. Church, you are doing something that I'm not allowed to do because not going to court is a staple of Christianity but you are violating it for no good reason.

James "Jimmy" Brown said...

So Tom was the enemy of FBC; I suspected it.

Anonymous said...

Man if only Jesus would have had our legal system, he could have sued the Pharisees and those who sought to kill him. Back in those days he just forgave those who persecuted him and gave His life up as a ransom for all of us. Too bad He didn't have a blog or He could've really made an impact.

WishIhadknown said...

I wish you well Dog. It’s a terrible thing for all involved. It would have been better for all for the church to have work out a solution.

Karen said...

My thoughts are with you as you proceed with this lawsuit. You are made of tough stuff! Keep at it. Please know there are many who are totally behind you.

KarenM in NC

Dee said...

Jimmy

Calling a man a sociopath in the newspaper is not name calling. It is a diagnosis that can only be made by a psychiatrist or psychologist. I think you know that and I bet you even know that the diagnosis is incorrect, further casting doubt on a pastor who does not seem to know his limits.

Anonymous said...

So, you can anonymously talk about FBC and Mac in a blog, but he can't attach his name to comments in a news paper?

Anonymous said...

God's strength be with you and in you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Anonymous 11:19: And yet you are anonymous in your comments. Ironic isn't it.

Anonymous said...

Your criticisms angered the church. They had friends with power who could secretly find out who you were. This is what they were up to Monday thru Friday,while on Sunday singing, "Oh, How I Love Jesus," and how we are to love our enemies, do good to them...do unto others...

So this whole episode has the hypocrisy on display. As Bill Maher pointed out recently, you can't do these things and call yourself a "follower" of Jesus. You are just auditing.

I was shocked a few years ago to even find out that churches HAD lawyers. The whole idea was very enlightening, and shows how naive I was believing all that preaching all those years. There's preaching, then there's the real world.

Bose said...

You will win the case. Don't worry. justice stands with good people!@bose

Church Administrator Job Duties

Jeri said...

I think anybody who has ever witnessed any of the incredible amount of the abuse of the innocent conducted by SBC pastors is on your side in this, as am I. Best wishes on this long and difficult fight. Kudos to you for refusing to be intimidated. These men have stolen Christianity.

Anonymous said...

If you have a right to your blog (and you do), then Mac has a right to say whatever he wants about you and your blog.

There is an old saying that if you can't stand the heat, then don't go into the kitchen.

Grow up.

Anonymous said...

You will have to change your name to "Lucky Dawg" when you win the battle, but lose the war, and get to fleece all your old friends and former church family out of money.


You go Dawg!

Anonymous said...

"
Calling a man a sociopath in the newspaper is not name calling. It is a diagnosis that can only be made by a psychiatrist or psychologist. I think you know that and I bet you even know that the diagnosis is incorrect, further casting doubt on a pastor who does not seem to know his limits."

February 6, 2012 10:47 PM

Dee's words was worth re-posting for Mac's cheerleaders. As other's have said God bless you & your family W.D.

This case is a no brainer - it's yours to win!

Anonymous said...

Go, Dog. Go!

Anonymous said...

I believe the blog owner is standing for righteousness and that ignoring the faults of the church would be a sin of omission (James 4:17).

Romans 1:18 ¶ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Those telling the owner to grow up in an effort to silence him are holding the truth down in unrighteousness and they will have to give account to God (Rom. 14:12).

Ephesians 5:11 says to reprove the works of darkness and Ephesians says:

Ephesians 5:13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

Those who wish to hide the light are shameful because:

John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

This is why the Church won't address what is wrong with itself.

Shine the light, blog owner!

Chuck

James "Jimmy" Brown said...

Based upon my legal knowledge: Tom would have a STRONGER case against Mac if he actually was a physician/psychiatrist. But since he's none of those, he can't really be held accountable for making a public medical diagnosis.

Tom's team needs to find a judge who hates FBC. That would strengthen Tom's case.

Court is ALWAYS a crap shoot. If there are insurers involved, they'll want to settle.

If they settle, I'd guess FBCJAXWATCHDOG will disappear from the blogsphere as part of the settlement.

Opinions offered by the law firm of:
Dewey, Cheatum & Howe.

Anonymous said...

James "Jimmy" Brown . . .this is not about money. Why do you even read this blog?

I guess it is supposed to annoy us who supports W/D .

No problem, plenty of judges & jurers know the reputation of Soud of Brunson. It's not good!

Facts are on the W/D's side - most certainly not those of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville.

Arce said...

Dee was supporting the Watchdog. The point is that Mac lied about the Dog and should be held to account for that. Had Mac had the cajones to apologize and retract what he had said, there likely would not have been a lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

"So, you can anonymously talk about FBC and Mac in a blog, but he can't attach his name to comments in a news paper?"

I've read some incoherent comments on this blog before, but this one is a classic!

I will have to say that I really do appreciate you (WD) letting everyone comment on this blog.

It is a constant reminder (on almost every thread) how sick and twisted these man-worshipers are. They will go to the most incredibly illogical extremes to exempt their "king" from ungodly behavior.

Ironically, they account for a great deal of the blame when their leader falls, because they have not held them accountable.

Anonymous said...

Its so enlightening and revealing to see how you blog supporters love to act so super-spiritual in taking up for the blog and condemning all those that don't like it.

Any church or pastor that had a blog like FBC Jax had would do what they had to do to find out who was writing it--and then removing him and his family from their fellowship. I don't blame them a bit and support them totally in their actions.

Anonymous said...

"he can't really be held accountable for making a public medical diagnosis."

LOL!

Good luck with that tactic.

Anonymous said...

"So Tom was the enemy of FBC; I suspected it."

Not what he said Seneca or whatever your name is this week.

He said the church considered him an enemy.

And did they show love toward what they considered to be an enemy.

No, they showed him trespass papers. After abusing the system to extract his name.

Not very Christ-like is it?

Anonymous said...

"Tom would have a STRONGER case against Mac if he actually was a physician/psychiatrist."

So, you are saying he is better of being ignorant.

James "Jimmy" Brown said...

"Tom would have a STRONGER case against Mac if he actually was a physician/psychiatrist."

So, you are saying he is better of being ignorant."

CORRECT. He's not qualified, as far as the state is concerned, to make a medical diagnosis is he?

Anonymous said...

"Any church or pastor that had a blog like FBC Jax had would do what they had to do to find out who was writing it--and then removing him and his family from their fellowship. I don't blame them a bit and support them totally in their actions"

Annonymous,

Not every church or pastor would threaten a brother or sister for disagreeing with them because I have gone to pastors whom I disagreed with and they don't throw me out of their church or threaten me with arrest for tresspassing. Because of that, I would have to believe there is something more and I would believe there is basis for the charges based on how the church reacts because we should be our brother's keeper and Paul in Galatians 2:11 rebuked Peter because he was to be blamed and no one threatened Paul with arrest except the heathen for preaching Christ. Peter never threatened Paul with arrest. So therefore, I have to conclude that there is basis for this blog. And I believe based on how people are acting that there is something wrong with that church.

Chuck

James "Jimmy" Brown said...

Anonymouse said, ""Jimmy" . . .this is not about money."

PUHLEESE - a friend who sued school bus system after being hit by their bus (no huge medical issues) later told me, "It's always about the money. They lie if they say it isn't."

Anonymous said...

It didn't take long to prove my point did it?

Here is my comment:

I will have to say that I really do appreciate you (WD) letting everyone comment on this blog.

It is a constant reminder (on almost every thread) how sick and twisted these man-worshipers are. They will go to the most incredibly illogical extremes to exempt their "king" from ungodly behavior.

Here is the next comment:

Any church or pastor that had a blog like FBC Jax had would do what they had to do to find out who was writing it--and then removing him and his family from their fellowship. I don't blame them a bit and support them totally in their actions.

Anonymous said...

okay...think about it..

YOU can slander Mac daily.

YOU can print anything outlandish thing you choose too.

YOU can harass him constantly.

YOU can hide under anonymity and be a coward.

YOU can do everything in your power to bring down FBC.

YOU can attempt to defame Mac's character, strip him of his job, and ridicule him constantly.

and you are the victim????

God have mercy on you son.

Proverbs 6...16 There are six things which the LORD hates, seven which are an abomination to him....vs. 19..a man who sows discord among brothers

It's bad when God hates you.

Anonymous said...

"Any church or pastor that had a blog like FBC Jax had would do what they had to do to find out who was writing it--and then removing him and his family from their fellowship. I don't blame them a bit and support them totally in their actions."

What FBCJAX did is a violation of the constitution, free-speech laws, and what the Bible teaches about obeying the government that God has put in place.

But I'm going to ignore all of that so that I can continue to idolize my pastor.

Anonymous said...

PUHLEESE - a friend who sued school bus system after being hit by their bus (no huge medical issues) later told me, "It's always about the money. They lie if they say it isn't."

Anecdotal evidence - that's the best kind!

Anonymous said...

"CORRECT. He's not qualified, as far as the state is concerned, to make a medical diagnosis is he?"

That was a Joke Seneca.
Just like your point.

Anonymous said...

"YOU can hide under anonymity and be a coward."

From an anonymous commenter.

LOL!

Please stop!
My side is hurting from laughter.

Anonymous said...

"It's bad when God hates you."

I John 3:15
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

Stop the hate TROLL.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
okay...think about it..

YOU can slander Mac daily.

YOU can print anything outlandish thing you choose too.

YOU can harass him constantly.(end)

HOLD UP THERE BRO:
Calling out poor conduct on the part of a church leader is not slander or libel. Just critical thinking and speaking it to the brethren.

You worship the wrong jesus. The real one is on the right hand of the Father in Heaven, not the round guy in Jacksonville.

Pathetic man worhipping and yet so pious in their caustic replies. Wow.

A spiritual dufus, if you will, and there are many of them it seems that want to be armor bearers, or whatever noble sounding title.

Clearly, Mac could have solved this long, long ago. But has let it fester these man months. I think Tom would have been amenable to a simple sit-down discussion, no press, cameras or body guards and work this out.

I for one, expect the jury to find in favor of WD, it's all too obvious where fault is to lie. Ths will be an embarrassment to FBCJ, to Mac, the SBC, and to the Lord himself.

Just remember, you guy let this get way out of hand. Mac and Soud failed as leaders. Plain and simple.

NEXT!!

Mark said...

Here's what I have gathered.

Anonymous blogger FBC Jax Watchdog started a blog about what he perceived as legitimate problems in the FBC Jax church due to Mac Burnson's leadership.

Church no likey the bad things said in the blog (however true they are). They use church security who has ties with the local police to sniff out the owner of the blog. ("I got a friend who can help us stop this criticism. Who does he think he is!"). The lack of criminal intent on the part of the blog owner showed favoritism by the sheriff towards FBC JAX and a disregard for the first amendment rights of of the anonymous blogger.

These strong armed tactics are just one example that churches will use to "discipline" their members, even if it makes them pay tons of money in lawsuits.

What they don't acknowledge is that true division in the church is trying to get people to deny Christ or to believe another gospel, NOT pointing out the abuses of the pastor in charge. In my opinion, they clearly misused their connection with the police and abused the first amendment.

They need to pay.

Anonymous said...

Chuck,

You seem to forget that WD started the blog anonymously and only put his name out there when he was caught. You at least had the decency to go and disagree with your church leadership in person.

There's a big difference there.

Anonymous said...

Annonymous,

What difference is there now that people know who he is now verses WD being annonymous? Did the church change? Would they have heeded any warnings? Would it have made any difference and did it make any difference? Do you know anyone in the culture that says, "oh, please, please correct me"? And aren't you posting annonymously?

I've been thrown off of Christian bulletin boards by Christian pastors for giving the gospel. I've been thrown out of places for giving the gospel more times than I count so if you allow this culture of 'arrest the preacher' then you endanger everyone and you endanger people getting saved. You endanger free speech and correction (2 Timothy 3:16) as being "hate speech". And I know that I get hurt for speaking out and my family would get kicked out of most places for speaking out because Satan energizes (g1754 ἐνεργέω energeō)the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2) so that is why half of the books at the Christian bookseller convention are heresy and that is why most Christians don't have the ability to give a Bible study or stand up against what is wrong. They are on a milk diet and not mature even enough to discern evil (Hebrews 5:14) which is partly why sin doesn't bother them.

I'm not excusing it but it is becoming more prevelant where people don't approach the pastorate because the number one reason is they feel like; "you might hurt me". Pastor J. Vernon McGee said you have to preach a church empty before you can preach it full. Dr. J Vernon McGee said that if you try to attempt to clean people up, they will clean you up and that is what I see happening here.

The reason why I'm not even going to approach the Florida church is because I believe the moment I do that, even though I'm relatively new to this board, I'm afraid they will react like people who are afraid. I'm afraid I would get accused of harassment for just ringing the phone and saying, "hello" so that is why I wouldn't do any more mediation, factfinding or truth finding.

Now I agree that you shouldn't accuse an elder without two or three witnesses but the culture is that pastors and Christians are under attack in other countries like the United Kingdom (England, Ireland, Scotland) for speaking up so abuse is the reason that people go "underground".

And you aren't setting an example by posting annonymous. I at least post my name.

I posted my real name on computer bulletin boards years ago and I'm still slandered online till this day. Did I do anything about it? Did I sue the atheist for slandering me? No. My grandmother taught me at a very young age:

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Did you feel threatened or were there any threats? If there were threats, name them or otherwise you have no reason to go after someone like you are doing using the courts and threatening people with arrest for speaking up.

Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil.

I want you to examine yourself and ask if you are like your Father in heaven. Are you kind unto the unthankful and to the evil?

continued...

(by Chuck)

Anonymous said...

continued...

I asked a pastor about using my rights as a Christian and we discussed using Matthew 18:

Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

2 Corinthians 2:10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I [forgive] also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave [it], for your sakes [forgave I it] in the person of Christ;

2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Can Satan have an advantage over us for following Matthew 18:17?

A pastor friend of mine said that Satan can have an advantage over us. So it is up to you to whether you are going to be like God or whether you are going to let Satan have an advantage over you.

Chuck

Soon-to-be former member of FBCJAX said...

WD, keep doin' what you're doing.

I hope to remove my name off the rolls of this church soon.

I grew up there since fourth grade. And one thing I believe the church didn't and hasn't done well is reach out to teens "struggling" with homosexuality. Like never was there any addressing of it throughout my middle/high school years till I graduated in 2011.

But it's not a struggle to me anymore. I love who I am, and am not going to change.

What I really can't stand is the way they handled your case. I get angered that people may say things about me because I'm gay, but I don't mind them, because at the end of the day, no one's opinions matter to me but my own.

FBCJAX should've done the same with you; ie: if they didn't like it... well, then... they just shouldn't like it.

Anyway, props to you WD, for protecting your first amendment rights and being an inspiration to others.

BTW, do dogs smoke? You might like a fine cigar when all this nonsense is over. lol.

Peace. :D

Anonymous said...

11:41pm They did have Bible study groups on a variety of tough issues but as far as I know they were for adults. There has always been free counseling. What could they have done that you think they should have?
As you know there are a lot of things that can happen that hurt us and are done by church members either on purpose or in your case omission but the sins of people against us doesn't make God any different.

Anonymous said...

If there were a bunch of wolves in a church and you criticized them, what would the expected behavior be? Would the wolves become domestic and forgive like Christians or would they use the court system and sue?

Chuck

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Chuck - I appreciate your comments here, but please, the church is NOT suing.

I brought a lawsuit against the city of Jax and the JSO on first amendment issues, and we settled.

The second suit again is brought by me against the pastor and the church over statements in the newspaper.

Just want to clarify, as you've made several statements here to the contrary. Thanks...

Anonymous said...

Duly noted.

Chuck

Anonymous said...

John 18:22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?

John 18:23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

The trial was illegal and they were bringing Jesus before the high priest without witnesses. Jesus said, "why smitest thou me?" Some say that this does a lot for victim's rights because Jesus didn't turn the other cheek.

Anonymous said...

So if mac merely called you a coward, then you would not have sued?

1 Thessalonians 5:21 said...

Soon-to-be former member of FBCJAX (February 7, 2012 11:41 PM) said: “I grew up there since fourth grade. And one thing I believe the church didn't and hasn't done well is reach out to teens ‘struggling’ with homosexuality. Like never was there any addressing of it throughout my middle/high school years till I graduated in 2011.

But it's not a struggle to me anymore. I love who I am, and am not going to change.”

I am confused. If everything turned out to your satisfaction, then why would you criticize this church for not having an outreach to homosexual teenagers?

Anonymous said...

Justice? Justice? you actually want justice... and in the name of Jesus Christ. It is a good thing for you, Mr. Watchdog, that because of the blood of Jesus Christ that was spilled out for you, you are not going to get what you justly deserve. Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

I think that your lawyer is too chicken to go after a more formidable target and that is exactly why you went after Mac. What is the difference between someone calling you a coward or a sociopath? Did you ever even communicate with Mac what damage you figure that you are entitled to? No, I think the reason you don't go after the other guy is that the truth in his statement is easy to prove. Oh.... My First Amendment right.........In my opinion....

Soon-to-be former member of FBCJAX said...

Reply to 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Because I was made to think that homosexuality was "wrong" and was something that I had to change. And if so, then the church of all places should have helped me become straight (if I desired to do so).

Even so, I need and want to be myself.

I criticize this church because I've now realized how trivial religion is to me, and how I've wasted my life listening to Jesus-nonsense. I went to church because my mom did.

And glad I soon won't.