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Ron Enroth's Response To Jon Trott

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Apr. 1, 2001: See related news item

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For reasons known only to him, Mr. Jon Trott of Jesus People USA (JPUSA) Covenant Church has decided to re-open the controversy surrounding my writing about former members of that congregation in the book, Recovering From Churches That Abuse (Zondervan, 1994). I had hoped and thought that the members of JPUSA had ''buried the hatchet'' and put the issue (dating back six or seven years) behind them. Instead, Mr. Trott has revisited the controversy by writing a chapter in a recently published book published by New York University Press. The chapter is entitled, ''Is Abuse About Truth or Story: Or Both?'' and is part of an edited volume, Bad Pastors: Clergy Misconduct in Modern America. My guess is that Jon Trott saw an additional opportunity to discredit me personally and professionally and could not resist that opportunity-this time in a book which will be read largely by a professional and academic audience.

Because of the nature of some of Trott's comments about me (as well as what he did not report), I cannot allow the attack to go unanswered. At the same time, I realize that what I say here will not change his thinking and that of his defenders. My purpose is solely to make my rebuttal available to as many people as will listen, realizing full well that JPUSA will come back with yet another set of denials, distortions, and untruths.

Trott's strategy in the chapter is simple: he recites his credentials; he cites credentialed people who agree with him; he avoids giving a comprehensive summary of what he is criticizing; he fails to recognize or deal with the issues I raise in my book, focusing instead on my methodology and engaging in ad hominem attacks; he selects quotes that he misuses to make me appear unfair or stupid; he throws in a large dose of saracasm, which he tries to make ''forgiveable'' by presenting himself as the aggrieved party; and then concludes his ''story'' by restating the utter folly of my point of view.

What surprised me most after reading the Trott chapter was the extent to which his comments and conclusions about me were based upon extensive personal correspondence of mine which had been duplicated by JPUSA and widely circulated without my knowledge or consent. This correspondence was between myself and the leadership of Trott's denomination (The Evangelical Covenant Church--ECC), members of the JPUSA staff, my publisher, and select others. Note the following quotes from Mr. Trott's chapter:

Not only letters, but copies of letters, began circulating. This ''communication by fax'' became a multivoiced but ultimately futile dialogue involving JPUSA, the ECC, Enroth, and various interested others (including other evangelical countercultists). There is no way to represent the sheer volume of the correspondence . . . (p. 163)

[Trott specifically identifies ''interested observers'' including Willian Backus, Ruth Tucker, Eliot Miller, Francis Beckwith, Norman Geisler, Bob and Gretchen Passantino, and Anson Shupe, and then adds] . . . all of whom I sent much of the Enroth vs. JPUSA correspondence. (p. 163)

But Zondervan's Stan Gundry was shocked to discover that I had been sending Nearly all the correspondence between Enroth, Zondervan, the ECC, and JPUSA to various Christian spokespersons. Gundry seemed most shocked when I mentioned having sent the entire correspondence (more than an inch thick even at that point) to professional acquaintances at Christianity Today . . . . (p. 165)

. . . Anson Shupe . . . agreed to visit us after reading the correspondence I'd sent him . . . (p. 165)

. . . Norm Geisler . . . wrote Enroth regarding the correspondence I'd forwarded ... (p. 166)

. . . dozens of packets of the entire correspondence (some forty letters, most more than one page) had been mailed to various evangelical and secular spokespersons. (p. 168)

Attorneys familiar with intellectual property law have clearly indicated that personal correspondence is covered by copyright, according to Section 102(a), Section 107, and Section 202 of the Copyright Act of 1976. There is legal precedent set forth in a number of cases, including Salinger v. Random House.

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