The recent support of a handful of irresponsible Christian apologists — who have, to the puzzlement, bewilderment and criticism of theologians, apologists and countercult experts, declared the Local Church’s theology to be within the boundaries of Christian orthodoxy — has fortunately not helped the group in its baseless and mean-spirited lawsuit.
Not unlike the Church of Scientology, the Local Church and Living Steam Ministry have a long history of misusing the legal system (and other dirty tricks) to try and squelch criticism of its unbiblical teachings and practices. The publishers of Apologetics Index hope that this latest rejection of its arguments will come as a lesson to this cult of Christianity.
Eugene, Oregon — June 20, 2007 — On June 18, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court brought an end to The Local Church’s six-year, $136 million legal battle against Harvest House Publishers and authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon.
The Local Church was appealing a January 2006 Texas appellate court ruling in favor of Harvest House. After the appellate decision, The Local Church requested a rehearing, which was denied. The Texas Supreme Court also rejected the case twice.
The Local Church complained that the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions defamed them by accusing them (and all the other groups in the book) of crimes such as murder, rape, and drug smuggling.
The Texas appellate court ruled that “nothing in the book singles out The [Local] Church as having committed [those actions].” The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of The Local Church’s petition means the Texas appellate ruling is upheld.
Harvest House and its authors have issued a corporate statement that comments on several key underlying issues of this case.
Shelby Sharpe, lead attorney for Harvest House and its authors, stated, “The Texas appellate court correctly applied well-established law to the facts of this case in reaching its decision. The position taken by The Local Church would have created a totally subjective standard for interpreting written or spoken language a standard that would have threatened all media communications.”
“We wrote our book to ‘speak the truth in love’ from a Christian perspective,” said authors Ankerberg and Weldon. “No matter what has transpired the past six years, we continue to pray for and care about the members of The Local Church. We encourage them to be spiritually discerning by comparing their leaders’ teachings to those of the Bible.”
“We are grateful beyond words,” said Harvest House president Bob Hawkins, Jr., “to those many individuals, organizations, and associations who understood this case and its significance, and who stood with us by offering their legal support, encouragement, and especially their prayers through this very long and arduous battle. Beyond all this, we are especially thankful to God for His faithfulness.”
– Source: Harvest House Publishers, OR, USA, June 20, 2007 Press Release
For the record, here is why the Local Church was included in the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions.