The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion", prohibiting the free exercise of religion, infringing the freedom of speech, infringing the freedom of the press, limiting the right to peaceably assemble, or limiting the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


We were wrapping up the FBC Jax saga, and two commenters “incited” us to write one more post on the travesty that occurred in Jacksonville. You can read the antagonistic comments by “Cooper” and “Robert L. Peeples” on the September 2, 2009 post.

Dee wrote an excellent response to these two commenters explaining why we as Christians are now involved in the FBC Jax conundrum. By the way, if you’re a Christian, this situation involves YOU too!

Here is Dee's response:

I was hoping some folks would get some fire in their belly. What makes me sad is the negativity expressed was mundane, predictable, ill thought out, and a wonderful example of the teaching at FBC Jax. I have been begging for somebody from that church to express some love and concern for Tom Rich and his family. You know, just like Jesus might have done. To no avail. The gloves come out and the punching starts. Do they just teach the Old Testament at FBC? Can anyone show me Christ's sacrificial love towards the Rich's, PLEASE!!!!!

Not one person has expressed love, not one. Stroud called him a coward, Brunson called him a sociopath in the newspaper, no less. Sorry folks. Your pastor went public and used the law and now he is fair game for us to comment on.

As for Mr. Peeples, I would be happy to put my life and my evangelizing out in the open for your critique and scrutiny. Although not perfect, I love to tell non Christians of my faith. I spent two years with Native Americans. I smuggled some Bibles into the old Soviet Union. I helped lead a friend to Christ and her husband, a Muslim, is now a believer. I have nursed a child through a malignant brain tumor and maintained the faith throughout it all. All three of my children are following the Lord, two are now adults. So, write me at this blog's email and I will be happy to let you know what I am doing currently as long as you let me know what you are doing as well! We could encourage one another as we seek to witness to God's love in this fallen world- kind of like pen pals! Thank you for your obvious concern for my ministry.

Now, for Cooper. Cooper, relax, take a deep breath. FBC has nothing to worry about. As Christians, we are called to be lights on the hill for the world to see. Apparently, that light at FBC includes calling former members sociopaths and insulting dead little old ladies. But, that's OK, if that is what you believe is right and good according to our Lord.

So, since everything is on the up and up, you should rejoice if the authorities take a close look at your church and your pastor. You seem to be so proud of him. Just think of this as a wonderful way to show the world how this man lives his life. You all should be really proud of his lovely home and gated community. And, think of it this way, perhaps some outsiders could come down the brown Danube with you all. Perhaps you could offer them a workshop on how to love your fallen brother.

If any of you could set up a meeting between Mac and me, I would be so appreciative. I would be happy to quote his answers verbatim. If he can clear his calendar, I will clear mine!

However, could either of you tell me when you sat down and had a thoughtful conversation with Tom Rich? I am sure both of you have done so since you seem to clearly understand that there are two sides to this story and are upset that I have not talked to your busy pastor. Could you tell me what you talked about with Tom? I would be happy to print the time of said meeting and what was discussed. I bet you both have spent many hours on your knees interceding for this fellow brother. Would you be willing to join me via email to pray for Tom Rich each morning or evening? We could be prayer partners!

As for drinking the Koolaid of Tom Rich – please show me where we have done this, specifically. I think we have provided links to quite a bit of documentation. Please let us know which of those were in error. We are willing to retract any documented fact that you can show us is wrong.

As for the “not having a horse in this race” comment: read carefully. We are looking at you all through the lens of the faith. We are sympathetic to those who follow the Lord. However, most of those who look at your church from the outside will judge the faith based on what they see and read. Frankly, the witness of FBC, is a little tarnished and we have handed you an opportunity to make things right.

FBC actions have cast a pale over the issue of free speech. I am a religious news blogger. Your church used the arm of the law to expose Tom's identity. That directly affects me. I most certainly have a right to stick my nose into a situation that may affect my ability to blog in freedom.

We believe that the subpoenas were based on what might appear to be dubious claims. Your church's action has national implications for those of us who love our Constitution and freely exercise our right to free speech-whether or not you or others don't like it. That's what so cool about the law. You don't have to like the law but you are obligated to follow it.

Our blog is named after the castle where Luther was hidden so he wouldn't be killed by the Pope. He finished his translation of the Bible there and published it on the Gutenberg press. He published his concerns with the church as well. The pope was not appreciative.

However, today, we are free to express ourselves in the USA. We must be careful to preserve these rights because someday, these rights may be removed from all of us. FBC started this legal mess and the issues must be resolved. In fact, we believe there needs to be a national discussion of this case because it is so well documented. Therefore, we cannot butt out. However, I would be happy to correspond with your through this blog and will commit to pray with and, for you, my brothers.

May we better understand the freedom we all have in Christ Jesus.

In regard to Tom Rich’s comment on yesterday post, we are grateful that there are those members of FBC Jax who have privately demonstrated support for him. However, it’s easy to be a Nicodemus who sneaks around in the dark when no one is looking to comfort Tom. It takes real strength of character to support a persecuted brother in Christ before a watching world.

Also, our main concern is with the leadership at FBC Jax. Why say “sociopath” to the local newspaper as opposed to “dear brother with whom we have some differences?” Once again, we beg someone (the supposed role model leadership) to publicly declare their love and support for the Rich family

As you can see, we at The Wartburg Watch are being persecuted for standing with Tom. We are pleased to report to you that the more we stand for justice, the thicker our skin is getting. Our critics no longer bother us. We are following the Holy Spirit's lead and having a blast!

Our prayer is that God will convict the hearts of Tom’s allies at FBC Jax and that they will speak out about a grave injustice that has been done, both to their brother in Christ and to the freedom of speech. We will continue to monitor this situation and will update you with any breaking news! 

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