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- Remnant Fellowship: Religious cult founded by Gwen Shamblin sues countercult ministry
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Gwen Shamblin and 66 other members of Remnant Fellowship, the religious movement she founded, have filed a lawsuit against an anonymous blogger, and against Rev. Rafael D Martinez of Spiritwatch Ministries.
Statement by Spiritwatch Ministries
The following statement, by Rev. Rafael D Martinez, is quoted from the website of Spiritwatch Ministries, a Christian apologetics and countercult ministry in Cleveland, Tennessee:
On December 21, 2006, I was personally served a summons by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department to appear and defend myself against a civil action filed against me by self-proclaimed “prophet” Gwen Shamblin and 66 other members of her cultic movement, the Remnant Fellowship based in Franklin, Tennessee. The case number 06448 was filed on November 6, 2006 in the Circuit Court of Williamson County, Tennessee. The civil action alleges that I have, in the course of my ministry here on the Spiritwatch website, “published one or more written false statements that were intended to impeach Plaintiffs’ honesty, integrity, virtue, and/or reputation” and that Shamblin and her following have incurred irreparable “damages to their reputations and potential incomes.” It ominously goes on to say that they “are not limited to the following ..” and cited three paragraphs from my critical writings on Remnant Fellowship, claiming they are “lies and falsehoods.”
So along with these allegations and the usual blackening of character someone being sued for slander will usually get, came the request for judgment against myself for damages exceeding 3.3 million dollars, alleging I have been wilfully and maliciously engaged in defamation
Aside from several unusual things about this lawsuit, I noted that I was not the only defendant. The suit names as a co-defendent one “Anonymous Blogger” of whom I have no connection with and who most of the lawsuit’s fury is directed against. This unknown person posted for several months on a personal blog a lot of negative information on many of these same plaintiffs in the lawsuit. However, it would appear that the pretensive posturing taken against this shadowy figure in the lawsuit provided for Shamblin and her flock an opportunity to file a lawsuit against me personally, alleging defamation. In essence, this absurd litigation is entirely aimed at myself, and by default, our ministry.
The allegations made against myself as having intentionally engaged in defamation and malice aimed at ruining reputations are entirely baseless, equally slanderous and will be vigorously defended against in a court of law. This is nothing less than an attack upon my freedom of speech, a faculty intolerable to cultic movements like Gwen Shamblin’s Remnant Fellowship. Each of the three paragraphs cited in the litigation contain truth claims I have made in the course of my research that are factual realities I unveiled to warn others against the damaging extremism that Remnant Fellowship’s veneer of public orthodoxy cloaks. They are hardly “lies” and “falsehoods.” The nature of our ministry is to warn the public about deceptive cultism, a ministration which Shamblin would desire to see silenced so she may continue her deceptive career. By the grace of God, we fully trust that this will never occur.— Advertisement —
So who says Gwen doesn’t believe in Christmas? She sent me an early gift, one I took with humility and rejoicing (Matthew 5:11-12). The unvarnished truth is my defense, as well as the fortress of my One True God in Christ by the Spirit and it will be all established in a way beyond refutation .. thanks to this frivolous opportunism by a cultic movement finding itself increasingly under scrutiny.
– Source: Statement On Gwen Shamblin et al Litigation Filed Against Spiritwatch Ministries, by Rev. Rafael D Martinez, Co-Director, Spiritwatch Ministries
Martinez has also posted a copy of his legal response to the lawsuit
The lawsuit, filed November 6, 2006, also refers to “false statetements on the Anonymous Blogger’s website”. The website in question, hosted on Google’s Blogger as remnanttalks.blogspot.com no longer includes the comments referred to in the lawsuit.
Instead, on November 28, 2006, the entries were deleted and replaced with two messages still posted. One entry provides two links to websites operated by Remnant Fellowship, along with the message, “This will be my last posting, please visit these sites for more information.”
The other entry appears to indicate a change of heart:
Although I doubt you are concerned in the slightest, I just felt I had to write. I have in the past been posting to a condescending blog about the Remnant Fellowship.
Although I have had so many opportunities to hear, something that was said over the holidays has really struck me and today I sat down for the first time and really listened.
Satan really has blinded me to my own beliefs, not God’s. I do not know how I could have been so blind as to believe that I alone understood. This has really troubled me, and I turned off the messaging yesterday. Today I could no longer wait really felt that God was urging me to act immediately. I returned home early to delete the blog and mail entirely.
I can scarcely apologize to you, someone I derided so arrogantly and so wrongly.
– Source: Remnant Fellowship and Gwen Shamblin
Comments by Apologetics Index
Gwen Shamblin is a registered dietitian and has experience as an instructor of nutrition at Memphis State University. She is the author of the popular, but controversial, Weigh Down Diet.
Shamblin is the founder of Remnant Fellowship, a church movement that – due to its rejection of a key doctrine of the Christian faith – must be considered to be, theologically, a cult of Christianity.
Sociologically, Remnant Fellowship has cultic characteristics as well.
Apologetics is the branch of Christian theology concerned with the logical presentation and defense of the Christian faith, and is aimed at challenges from both outside and inside the Church.
Apologetics ministry (sometimes referred to as ‘discernment ministry’ and/or ‘countercult ministry’) includes the application of spiritual discernment along with knowledge of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith.
Essentially all Christians should be involved in apologetics, but some who are especially gifted in this area are usually referred to as apologists.
One of the tasks of an apologist is to evaluate whether or not the teachings and/or practices of those teachers, churches and movements which identify themselves as ‘Christian’ violate the essential doctrines of the Christian faith – and if so, to what extent.
The term ‘cult of Christianity’ is used of a group, church or organization whose central teachings and/or practices are claimed to be biblical, but which are in fact unbiblical.
The term can also be applied to groups, organizations or churches whose statement of faith may sound orthodox, but who add aberrant, heterodox, sub-orthodox and/or heretical teachings to such an extend that the essential doctrines of the Christian faith are negatively affected.
See also: Sociological vs. Theological Definitions of the term ‘cult,’ published by CultFAQ (Apologetics Index).
April 10: Cult leader drops lawsuit
On April 10, 2007, Remnant Fellowship’s lawyer filed for a complete dismissal of the lawsuit. Raphael Martinez comments:
We felt all along that the suit was entirely orchestrated by Gwen Shamblin’s arrogance and paranoia. Those 67 other plaintiffs were just puppets she lined up behind herself to feel larger then life, ten feet tall and bulletproof. But it was her house of cards that collapsed when it suddenly dawned on her that she was going to be engaged by a vigorous legal defense and that she and her cult would have to face a scrutiny unlike any she’s had before. Unlike the lawsuits she successfully sealed under confidential settlement orders with her former employees, and the deal she struck with prosecutors at the Smith murder trial in which attention on Remnant would be muted, she was going to face the potential of an expose in a court of law. Being a cult leader thriving on secrecy and deception, she couldn’t abide having the full light of examination focused on her for long and still be able to keep her pretense of divine authority draped over herself. So she did the only thing her impetuous impulsiveness could do when confronted by a situation she couldn’t spin, control or dominate – she turned tail and ran.
In fact, it’s Shamblin’s own muted admission that she cannot even support her own false accusations she makes of us, much less defend herself and her sect against the truth we’ve uncovered about her abusive cult. We hope that this gives her flock some serious things to think about the truthfulness of their ‘prophet’ whom they’ve been misled by at such great cost to them personally. It is they who are the victims of ruthless exploitation here and we still pray for both them and Shamblin herself, who will have much to answer for in the next world if she doesn’t speedily repent.
– Source: Statements On Gwen Shamblin et al Litigation Filed Against Spiritwatch Ministries
- Links to Spiritwatch Ministries information regarding Gwen Shamblin and Remnant Fellowship can be found in the right-hand column of the ministry’s home page
- Apologetics Index research resources on Gwen Shamblin/Remnant Fellowship
- Gwen Shamblin/Remnant Fellowship news tracker & news archive
- RSS news feed: Gwen Shamblin/Remnant Fellowship