It is more to the honor of a Christian by faith to overcome the world, than by monastical vows to retreat from it; more for the honor of Christ to serve him in the city, than to serve him in the cell. Matthew Henry
We interrupt our series on creation to bring our readers news of a very positive development in the FBcjaxwatchdog's suit against the city of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville's Sheriff's Office and the Florida Assistant State Attorney's office.We will conclude our series on Monday with The Flintstone Doctrine so stay tuned.
To read the history of this historic case, please click on the FBC Jacksonville, Mac Brunson and Tom Rich categories to read our extensive review of this travesty against the First Amendment. Tom began an anonymous blog which was critical of his church, FBC Jacksonville, and its richly compensated pastor, Mac Brunson. It appears to this blogger that the legal entities, which were first contacted by Brunson associates, trampled on Rich's right to remain anonymous. These entities outed his name with questionable subpoenas. Then they gave Tom Rich's name to the church which resulted in Rich and his family being booted from their church. Rich was also called a "sociopath" by his loving and circumspect pastor in the Jacksonville newspaper.
When TWW first heard of this case, we contacted Tom Rich directly, sensing that it could be a landmark case for the rights of bloggers. Rich was kind enough to answer our questions and TWW did its own investigation of the climate at FBC jacksonville and was shocked at a number of issues apparent in both the church leadership and its pastors.
The lawsuit against the city and state has been settled in Rich's favor. Still outstanding is the lawsuit against the church. We believe that FBC Jacksonville and Mac Brunson should be concerned about the outcome of this suit. This bodes poorly for their case, no matter how they spin it.
We believe that pastors and churches everywhere should consider the ramifications of this development. Our advice: Pastors need to man up, take criticism like Jesus and be willing to communicate in a kind and honest manner. It is the actions and demeanor of pastors that set the tone for the church. If pastors act like arrogant tyrants, believing they have some sort of mandate to be king, they need to reread their Bibles. Whatever happened to turn the other cheek?
Finally, to those who ask why Tom is suing the church, we say to first ask another question. Why did Brunson and gang sic the Sheriff's office and Assistant State Attorney on Rich? Rich is merely defending himself. He is also defending the rights of bloggers everywhere. Make no mistake about it. This is a First Amendment issue. It also gives a rare insight into the worldly and sinful underbelly of some mega churches and their pastors.
Tom graciously gave us permission to make this announcement on our blog.You can read the announcement and comments at this link.
LAWSUIT SETTLED WITH EYE TOWARDS MAKING POSITIVE CHANGES
"Yesterday was an important day in the just over 3-year life of the FBC Jax Watchdog blog.
My lawyers and I have reached a settlement in the 1 ½ year long lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) detective and Assistant State Attorney involved in issuance of subpoenas on my blog back in October 2008 (for background, click here, here, and here).
The monetary settlement was for $50,000 representing the damages we have incurred from the actions of the JSO officer and Assistant State Attorney in unmasking my identity as the Watchdog blogger through subpoena power, and the ensuing banishment from our church – but much more important than the financial settlement is that the settlement agreement includes a commitment on the part of the city, specifically Sheriff John Rutherford, to make positive changes at the JSO stemming from the circumstances that led to this lawsuit.
In our agreement with the city, the Sheriff has agreed to a meeting with myself, my lawyers, and the city’s legal counsel to discuss important ethical issues that have arisen from this case, and to consider our input on changes that can be made in the JSO’s conflict of interest code for its detectives. Additionally, the Sheriff and the Office of General Counsel have agreed to develop and implement a training program for JSO detectives specifically on constitutional First Amendment issues and legal ramifications that must be considered when issuing investigative subpoenas.
We are extremely pleased with this settlement, and believe that the lawsuit and its settlement will serve the interests of the citizens of Jacksonville through a strengthening of the JSO’s ethical policies and training provided to detectives on constitutional First Amendment issues. We are very grateful to Sheriff Rutherford in agreeing to meet with us personally to address these issues, and think this is an example of excellent governmental leadership on his part.
I will have more to say in the future concerning the case, the litigation and the implications of the case to mega churches, etc. But this will be in the future – for now we will focus on our meeting with Sheriff Rutherford to try to help effect real change at the JSO for the betterment of Jacksonville."