Harvest Bible Chapel to Drop Defamation Case against Critics
Harvest Bible Chapel filed a defamation lawsuit in October 2018 against three critics, but on Tuesday, after the court denied their request to keep certain documents confidential, the megachurch decided to drop the case.
In a statement posted to the church’s website, the Executive Committee of Elders wrote, “In October of 2018, we filed a lawsuit asking a civil court to restrict the actions of those attempting to interfere in the life of our church by publicizing false and distorted information about our church.”
The statement continues, “On advice of counsel, we still believe their actions to be illegal. However today the court ruled, contrary to expectation and legal precedent, that it would not stay further discovery while the case is under defendants’ motions to dismiss, nor would it restrict the publicizing of that discovery during the trial process.”
“The court appears unwilling to protect our many friends, including those with whom we seek to reconcile. In good conscience we cannot knowingly subject innocent people, in many instances against their will, to a full subpoena process,” the statement added.
The church elders then confirmed that they would be dropping the case because they believe that God would have encouraged the judge to rule in the churches favor if the case was meant to proceed.
The Elders wrote, “We receive these outcomes as God’s direction and have instructed our legal counsel to drop the suit entirely.”
When the suit was filed in October of last year, Harvest Bible Chapel filed suit against Julie Roys, Ryan and Melinda Mahoney and Scott and Sarah Bryant. According to the Daily Herald, Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant run and write for a Blog called The Elephant’s Debt, where Harvest Bible Chapel says the two conducted an "ongoing campaign of harassment" as well as published false or doctored information which painted the chapel’s founder and senior pastor James MacDonald in a bad light.
Roys was being sued under the same suit for making what the Bible Harvest Chapel said were “false statements about the church” and its founder, James MacDonald, in both print and digital media, the Daily Herald reports.
On Tuesday, the defendants publicly responded to the church's decision to drop the case in a blog post on The Elephant’s Debt. In the post, Mahoney and Bryant implored MacDonald to “Publicly confess to the fact that you consistently lied to your congregation, regularly asserting that you were suing three defendants. You need to further admit that at every opportunity you had to speak about this lawsuit publicly, you failed to acknowledge that you had sued Sarah Bryant and Melinda Mahoney, our two respective wives.”
The post also asked MacDonald to admit that he defamed and lied about character facts regarding Roys, Mahoney, and Bryant and implored him MacDonald and the church to pay for the legal fees for the “unnecessarily damaging lawsuit.”
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