Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Harvest Bible Chapel drops defamation suit after court denies attempt by church to keep subpoenaed documents private


Harvest Bible Chapel says it's dropping its defamation lawsuit against three critics after a Cook County judge Monday ruled against the church's request to keep some documents private.

Harvest Bible Chapel and founding pastor James MacDonald have announced that they plan to drop their lawsuit against The Elephant’s Debt bloggers and Julie Roys after a court today denied the church’s attempt to keep subpoenaed documents private.


MacDonald claimed the defendants had “harmed our ministry through their careless campaign to discredit,” driving more than 2,000 people to leave the church, according to a letter posted on the Harvest website.
Such lawsuits brought by churches against their critics are rare, according to Frank Sommerville, a Texas lawyer who assists churches in preventing litigation but never has worked with Harvest.
That’s “primarily because of just what’s happened here — you bring more attention to the critics, you bring more attention to the reporter’s story than if you had just responded with, ‘We deny everything,’ and just going on,” he said. “The litigation process escalates the dispute to a whole new level.”
By not providing the documents necessary to prove the bloggers’ and reporter’s stories false, the church is “basically conceding” that they’re accurate, Sommerville said. ...


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