“As you, James, have so often taught in the past, resolution and reconciliation means far more than merely offering words. It requires concrete acts of repentance that demonstrate the fruit of the spirit and the sincerity of the words beings offered. To that end, we would like to suggest a small series of public – not private – acts that you could take that would genuinely help move your audience to honestly reassess your character and motivations.”
(JD Hall – Pulpit & Pen) Pulpit & Pen has been threatened to be sued hundreds of times. Greg Locke, Clayton Jennings, Jonathan Cahn, Perry Noble, and many more, have threatened to sue us and, in some cases, sent us cease-and-desist letters, which we ignore (or post them online, because they’re funny).
P&P has ruined careers by doing nothing but basic journalism, finding a niche in religious news reporting in a world where Christian media rarely publish hard-hitting, independent and investigative reporting. This occasionally makes famous Christian celebrites (or institutions) really, really angry.
Why have we never been sued, however? It’s very simple. When you sue someone for libel, then the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to demonstrate that your accusations are false (and for civil litigation, usually that they were intentionally false with intent to harm, an almost impossible hill to climb). Because of this, in order to make a proper defense, the defendant (the journalists in this scenario) have the right to make the discovery of evidence and are given the power to subpoena witnesses.
The power of discovery and subpoena in a libel lawsuit would turn any decent journalist into the absolute worst nightmare for a scoundrel with something to hide. In short, if the scoundrel thought the journalist was bad before, just wait until they can have the subpoena power and start dragging out evidence – on the record – in a court of law.
On certain occasions, Pulpit & Pen has hoped that we would be sued in order to have access to information we didn’t previously have, assured that the court process would allow us unprecedented access to the truth.
However, of all the charlatan careers we have destroyed, not a single person has had an attorney who thought it was a good idea to sue us even though the tangible financial costs have exceeded tens of millions of dollars. In short, there just hasn’t been someone dumb enough to try to sue us for exercising our First Amendment right of truth-telling.
The only time we have seen anyone, perhaps drunk on their own perceived invincibility caused by insulation within their influence bubble, sue anyone for truth-telling speech is Ergun Caner’s lawsuit of two bloggers, which were dismissed with extreme prejudice and he had to pay attorney fees. The judges in those two cases very evidently thought Caner was out-of-his-mind for even thinking his lawsuit could be successful.
The lawsuit from James MacDonald against Julie Roys and a few bloggers (and their wives) caught my attention, then. It is rare – extremely rare – for someone to attempt what MacDonald attempted. It is rare because it is so stupid. What MacDonald and Caner both have in common is within their own little empires, they were unconquerable and unquestionable. The delusion married to that mirage of power apparently left both men with the impression that the secular courts would support their attempt to silence the press. Both men were wrong.
MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel asked that records of discovery be sealed and the judge gave the predictable equivalent of “Lol, no.” Even though they claimed to have nothing to hide, with the prospect of their transgressions becoming public, MacDonald and his church dropped their lawsuit.
So then, the blog that became the legal target of silence and intimidation on the part of MacDonald, The Elephant’s Debt, ran a stinging open letter to MacDonald after he and Harvest Bible Church decided to drop the lawsuit. We wanted to share it as a warning to any other “Christian” leader who thinks they can use the American courts against the press.