Harvest Bible Chapel Wants to Drop Defamation Suit Against Critics

"James MacDonald’s church takes unfavorable ruling as “God’s direction” to abandon legal effort against Julie Roys and Elephant’s Debt blog." - CToday

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Bert Perry's picture

Notice here that what happened is that MacDonald et al dropped the lawsuit when the judge said that no, the process of discovery would include church records.  Quite frankly, if his attorneys didn't tell him that would be forthcoming, they should be disbarred for incompetence or malice.  For that matter, the same should apply if his attorneys didn't ask him for documents to see whether he actually had a case--it seems pretty obvious at this point that he didn't.

So the response to my questions from earlier--why did he sue when he could just have provided the documents--is that apparently those documents make the case of the defendants, and therefore the lawsuit was pure intimidation of a reporter, two former Christian school teachers, and their wives.  In other words, MacDonald saying "you cross me and I will try to take everything from you."

He needs to leave the pastorate for a time due to this after apologizing and making restitution, to put it mildly.  Other fallout includes the end of his radio show, and that's going to have some serious ramifications for Moody, which also is dealing with a lot of the same issues as is Harvest.  

And a lesson for us; MacDonald's overreach for the past half decade or so really stems from the fact that his "elder board" has basically been a rubber stamp for him--if you stood up to him, you were out on your keister.   Since others didn't say "if he's gone, so are we" in response, MacDonald started making dumber and dumber mistakes.  So if we've got a situation where everything comes down to the will of one may (say the head pastor), we need to step away from that, and intentionally so.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

One other thing that occurs to me is that one indication of whether an organization you love has a problem with too much central authority is if people start to quietly gossip and find "alternative means" to voice their displeasure.  For example, Roys' sources appear to be staffers, as she's been delivered a number of documents that only a staffer (or perhaps elder) would have access to.

Now of course, there are some people who for various reasons will gossip no matter what--they've learned the habit and never clued in it's a sin, or are just in rebellious sin to begin with--but as a rule, I'd argue that if the primary way these things get discussed is gossips or leaks, you've got a problem with too much authority in the leader.  See: Washington DC for a dismal example. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

He needs to leave the pastorate for a time due to this after apologizing and making restitution, to put it mildly.

I'm not going to hold my breath on this.  He should have stepped down when he invited TD Jakes to his Elephant Room thing years ago.  Unfortunately, there's lots of "I" in some ministries.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

"I" don't know what you mean ...

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

mmartin's picture

Bert Perry wrote:
And a lesson for us; MacDonald's overreach for the past half decade or so really stems from the fact that his "elder board" has basically been a rubber stamp for him--if you stood up to him, you were out on your keister.   Since others didn't say "if he's gone, so are we" in response, MacDonald started making dumber and dumber mistakes.  So if we've got a situation where everything comes down to the will of one may (say the head pastor), we need to step away from that, and intentionally so.  

Exactly! 

I understand it may not be as easy as made out to be by some of us.  People may have legitimate reasons to stay in a situation like this and by "legitimate" I mean what may described as reasonable and understandable by an objective third party.  But, I still contend that too many board members allow themselves to be unnecessarily bullied, intimidated, or frighted into inaction. 

I feel like asking, "What, there are no other churches in the entire United States of America you could go to other than this one?  Is this THE only church going to?  Is he the ONLY pastor worth sitting under?  You have no other options in your life but this??"

In the movie The Dark Knight there is a scene where the Joker mockingly asks a group of mobsters if they've been emasculated because of Batman.  How often do we hear of these situations and the board consists solely or a majority of men, yet who, as a whole, do little or nothing until it is too late.

Bert Perry's picture

Jay wrote:

He needs to leave the pastorate for a time due to this after apologizing and making restitution, to put it mildly.

I'm not going to hold my breath on this.  He should have stepped down when he invited TD Jakes to his Elephant Room thing years ago.  Unfortunately, there's lots of "I" in some ministries.

True, or perhaps long before.  Julie Roys links the testimony of a former youth pastor at Harvest, as well as another former staffer, who left in 2008 and 2011.  The former youth pastor/worship leader noted as well some of the methods mmartin might note to keep people "in the fold" despite knowing better; fame and really good pay, "six figures for a 32 year old worship leader".  As much as I would encourage my fellow fundagelicals to consider paying their shepherds more generously, I can't really consider that much better than "golden shackles". 

I dare suggest this is going to get a lot uglier.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Bert wrote:

six figures for a 32 year old worship leader

This is mad. I've been in my field for 17 years, have training from the Naval Security Forces, U.S. Army Military Police School and NCIS, and I make high five figures!

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Jay's picture

what people will turn a blind eye to for the right amount of money or prestige.  It doesn't even need to be six figures - it simply requires that they not be willing to sacrifice friendships or social standing.

Many people sell out for less than 30 pieces of silver.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Tyler, mad in light of typical compensation, genius in using that typical compensation to create situations where men look past wrongdoing.  No?

I of course hope that I am dead wrong, but again, I dare suggest that as this unfolds, it's going to get a lot ugllier.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.