Saturday, March 26, 2016

revisiting a 2006 sermon from Mark Driscoll on Christians and suits; a mediation failure from 2013; and a trademark incident with MH legal counsel from 2011
Mark Driscoll
1 Corinthians 6:1-11
March 26, 2006

... Let me back up and summarize what Paul's saying. First thing he's saying is that a Christian anda  Christian that have a conflict, if it is a disputable matter, a secondary matter, a trivial matter, they should not rush off to court. They should agree on an independent third-party mediator or arbitrator to come in between them and work out the difference. The court systems actually use arbitrators and mediators to try and work out differences, and Christians should do the same. There's mediation and arbitration groups that actually do this.

Well ... interestingly enough.
the law office of Brian Fahling
December 24, 2014
Karen Cobb
Frey Buck P.S.
1200 Fifth Avenue, Ste. 1900
Seattle, WA 98101
Re: Jacobsen, et al. v. Driscoll, et al.

I have expressed to you since our first conversation regarding this matter last spring,
above all else, my clients’ desire to have their claims brought before a Christian mediator.

It would appear that's not how things panned out.  It would have seemed as if based on a sermon from ... a decade ago that mediation would have been preferable.
Most of the church's conflicts are trivial matters. [emphasis added] Weighty matters--totally different story. Trason, Al Qaeda, you know, terrorism and stuff--we don't do that, right? Like if you come home, and your roommate's like got big posters of Osama Bin Laden, is cooking meth, and there's a lot of ticking things in your room, you know, call somebody with a gun, right?  Don't call us.


What matters are trivial?  Most church conflicts?  Well ...

Clarification on some rumors that have been on some blogs
by Mars Hill Church on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 8:34 pm 
Sadly, in addition to giving things away, we’ve also had things taken. We’ve had churches cut and paste our logo, take our website code and copy it completely, had ministry leaders cut and paste documents of ours, put their name on them to then post online as if it were their content, and even seen other pastors fired for preaching our sermons verbatim.

We’re not the only church called Mars Hill, and occasionally there arises confusion between us and other churches that share the “Mars Hill” name, particularly as we now have our churches in four states. This was the case recently when one of our members called us to find out if we had planted Mars Hill churches in the Sacramento, California area. We had not, but when we went to these churches’ websites, it was obvious to us how people could be confused. Each of these three connected churches in the Sacramento region—planted in 2006, 2007, and 2010—bore the “Mars Hill” name and their logo was substantially similar to the logo we’ve used since 1996.

When cases like this arise in the business world, it’s customary for a law office to send a notice asking the other organization to adjust their branding to differentiate it. This is commonly referred to as a cease and desist letter. On September 27, 2011, our legal counsel sent such a letter to these three Mars Hill churches requesting that they change their logo and name. [emphasis added] In hindsight, we realize now that the way we went about raising our concerns, while acceptable in the business world, is not the way we should deal with fellow Christians. On Friday we spoke with the pastor of Mars Hill in Sacramento to apologize for the way we went about this. We had a very productive conversation and look forward to continuing that conversation in the days and weeks ahead.
Ah ... so that thing with trademark and logo was worth letting legal counsel send a cease and desist to a church over and it was only after it became an international stink that Mars Hill realized that maybe the way they went about raising their concerns was not the way they should have handled things with fellow Christians?  Did they not remember Driscoll's own preaching from 2006? Or had by 2011 the matter of perceived or actual copyright infringement become something serious?  Because it's not like Mars Hill didn't run into some trouble when the 2013 plagiarism controversy erupted and the church ended up retracting The Trial study guide from the 1 & 2 Peter series.

Still, it's worth noting that in the history of the leadership culture of Mars Hill resorting to lawyers to send cease-and-desist letters happened.  It might be tough to complain that former lower level leaders at Mars Hill might feel something sufficiently wrong has been done to warrant a suit if Mars Hill a the top dog level was okay with a cease and desist letter going out over a trademark concern and only deciding that was the wrong way to play after it blew up in their faces as a public relations problem.

But let's get back to Driscoll's decade old sermon here. For those who didn't hear this sermon first time around this is one in which he declared that privacy for church members is wildly overrated and that Mars Hill wouldn't assure members of basically any privacy if they felt something needed to be reported to local authorities.  How often that actually happened may be difficult to establish but here's what Driscoll had to say about the distinction between sins (the domain of the church) and crimes (stuff the church should let the state deal with):

If a crime is committed, call the proper authorities. If a sin is committed, they won't come. [emphasis added] If you call 911, "They gossiped! Come over right now!" they'll be like, "They what?" "It says in Proverbs gossip is bad. They totally gossiped. Hurry!" They're not coming, right? You're on you're own. You're totally on your own, right, and you can't file a suit because of adultery or fornication or porn addiction or drunkenness, because those are not crimes. Those are sins, right? So a lot of things only fit in the church because we deal with sins. Other things fit in the courts because they're crimes.

You need to see a distinction between sins and crimes. You call the cops if it's a crime. You call a mediator or an arbitrator or the church if it's a sin. And you've got to distinguish those.
Also, this does not give the church to cover up crimes. [emphasis added] I mean, it's shocking that I need to say that, but some churches do say, "Well, if a Christian did it, then we'll deal with it, and we're not gonna notify the authorities." Because then they could continue to do it. They can move to another parish. They can quit their job, go to work elsewhere, adn there's more victims. It's not just about covering Christians; it's about protecting victims. God is a God of justice; he doesn't just want us to cover crimes. And I've seen some churches--in the name of protecting their own--actually harbor sexual offenders, rapists, pedophiles, that in no way should be protected. They should be handed over to the proper authorities, because their victims need help. 

... I think what Paul is talking about is first trying to work it out, and last resort--if absolutely necessary--you end up in secular court. We'll deal with some qualifiers for that in my next point, but there may be a point where you and another alleged Christian go into business. They rip you off. They take advantage of you. They steal from you. They do something that's illegal. You have the right to seek legal recourse. [emphasis added] This does not mean that if a non-Christian sues a Christian that you can't defend yourself. ...

In Brian Fahling's correspondence quoted earlier it's stated that interest in mediation was brought up as far back as the spring of 2013. Had mediation been reached anywhere between 2013 and February 29, 2016 perhaps the suit would have been considered unnecessary. Driscoll's been shown to have no plausibility for saying "we're not entirely sure who they are" as comments from Sutton Turner and Justin Dean in 2015, discussed here at some length, established that Turner and Dean did have a fairly clear idea which people they were dealing with for a couple of years.  For the record, both Turner and Dean have commented at Wenatchee The Hatchet and obviously know who blogs here.  They've been welcome to comment and clear things up, which Turner has done and Dean not so much. We might disagree about myriad things but Wenatchee The Hatchet does try to give folks a chance to speak on their own behalf if they opt for that. And if leaders at Mars Hill knew who Wenatchee The Hatchet was back in 2013 then they had time to arrive at some mediation with people elsewhere, or didn't they? 

This is stuff that might be worth keeping in mind now that Mark Driscoll's been named as a defendant in a RICO complaint. 

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