Monday, October 11, 2004

Class action Lawsuit

There have been many people who've wanted to bring a lawsuit to the ICOC. Here is some helpful info.

Have you guys heard of or thought of doing a class action lawsuit for the emotional damage done by incompetent leaders?? I can think of several people in my city who might be interested in filing one against the leader here who has abused many people. If one lawsuit succeeded it could open the door for so many more. This could be the way to get these people to stop placing idiots in leadership. I find the lay leaders to be the most abusive.
When people are told to do things or their salvation/church membership could be affected that is very stressful(when it goes beyond scriptural authority) I was dropped from membership with no warning and slandered/marked. Do you think cases like these could win? maybe even get back previous missions contributions in the thousands, since finding funds were mis-appropriated?? I hear Russ Ewell lived in a mansion bought with church/my money.
Answer from Jack Pelham:
I've been working on this for well over a year now. I've contacted about 10 different large firms, each of whom rejected the case. From what I gather, they do not think there will be enough money found in the ICC to warrant their time. (Typically, a firm will make %30 or more of the awards from such a case.) I've also spoken to several attorneys who are NOT members of large firms, and all of whom tell me that such a case would take a very large firm to execute.

The way the ICC has organized itself is such that there's a huge mound of inconvenience standing in the way of seeing the books. From the moral perspective, it's a no-brainer; morality demands that they show the books. But the LAW is another matter. From a legal perspective, it would take a huge amount of effort to make them open the books---that is, as the result of a lawsuit.

Now, having said all that, if someone were rich and could simply hire a firm, that would be different. (Most suits like this are done on contingency, whereby the attorneys get paid from the cash awards they manage to win.) But still, such a case could take several years.

In the mean time, however, there are more and more administrators who are leaving the ICC--more and more ministry staff, too---and so many of these saw and heard and did things about which their consciences are bothering them. It just figures that they'll start talking in the course of time, as they continue to figure out just how evil the system was. So these big time leaders can't hide forever. They're going to get bitten by their own snakes. It's pretty much inevitable; they just don't have enough cash coming in to bribe all these people, and the you're-going-to-hell pressure they put on people has a way of disappearing once someone has been gone from the church for a few months---so what can they do to KEEP people from talking?

The better solution in the meantime is to report your local congregation to your state government. Chances are that they were fraudulently collecting money as "contribution for the poor" but spending it instead on HOPE. This is illegal, yet it was the game plan all along, and it will probably even pop up in writing at some point, as it was a matter of formal policy for the churches.

What's at stake legally is whether ICOC and HOPE really are two different entities. I believe that they are NOT, yet they are acting as if they are. So once they get in trouble for this HOPE fraud in a few states, the IRS will be much more willing to conduct a thorough audit on this issue. (Remember, we were told all along that HOPE is "separate" from the church, but even Kip called it a "separate arm OF the church", and appointed Bob Gempel as the "World Sector Leader" over HOPE. And HOPE helped itself to monies collected from the public at church meetings all the time. So they were definitely behaving as if they were the church itself.

Whether we are able to win any legal victories or not in this matter, it is very important to understand that God will avenge these sins. These people are twice dead. This will surely not escape the infinite righteousness of God's judment. Already, these people are going from bad to worse, and are suffering in their own lives as they are wasting away in depression, anger, bitterness, frustration and fear. And they continue to drive from them the kinds of people who are thinking people and who make the best friends. All they have left at this point are the "yes men" who would rather be praised by a "leader" than by God.

If you want to go after it, I'd suggest reporting them to your state authorities. And here's another idea. If you're still in the city where the church is, write them a letter asking to see all the books. When they deny your request, mount signs to your car saying, "The _________ Church of Christ Won't Open Its Books", and drive around with that for a year or so. (I live two hours away from the Nashville Church, or I'd have been doing this already.) If you do this, you'll be interviewed by the news people, and it'll cause a lot of attention--and it's completely TRUE. This means they couldn't win a lawsuit against you for doing it. And if they were stupid enough to try suing you over it, that means you get a chance to tell a judge and a jury and the press about what they are doing there in your town.

After spending 17 years helping to build it, I have been quite dedicated to UN-building the ICC. However, the further I get from it, the more I realize that it's just another in a sea of churches that are quite screwed up. The same dullness I find in ICC members is found in the members of so many different denominations that it's not funny. You try to get them to think through an issue, but they just don't seem to be able to do that kind of thinking. They basically figure that if it were that important, their leaders would tell them about it. That kind of thinking is not an ICC exclusive, unfortunately.

The ICC is storing up wrath for itself. It will not surprise me at any point to hear of terrible things being uncovered, of arrests being made, of 501(c)(3) status being revoked, etc.---or even of suicides by washed-up leaders and their lieutenants. Nor will it surprise me if God lets them keeping playing their game for another 100 years. Neither would mean that God is unjust---but both would prove that the ICC is unjust.

There is not one possible explanation for hiding their books that makes them seem righteous. In fact, the best stab they can take at it is that it would "make people struggle" if they saw the books. But that has been quite effective since ICC members are quite willing to obey the boundaries set for them in their thinking. If they are TOLD they will "struggle", then they assume it must be so--and they never once question why a church should be doing things to make Christians "struggle" in the first place.

Pity the poor "disciple". And contrast that with true Christianity, in which each person would know God for himself. (Jeremiah 31:31-35, John 17:3, Matthew 7:21ff.) The ICC is just another example of a group of people trying to be mediators between their underlings and God. And why would anybody want such a role when God specifically said the church wouldn't be this way? For pride and for money. Pride and money are the gods of the ICC. Jesus they do not know. How COULD they know him and keep secrets? It's a very simple proposition that people who know Jesus imitate Jesus and don't feel comfortable neglecting to imitate him.

Love God = Open the books.

Love God = Ask to see the books.

Stay ignorant = Don't know God

Keep hiding the books = Don't know God.

My son is 17 months old. He ALREADY knows when he's wandering out in the (fenceless) front yard, to keep an eye on Daddy to be sure it's OK to go where he's going. Why can a toddler who can't even talk yet know how to behave this way, when a church full of grown ups can't seem to figure out that it's supposed to be accountable to Jesus? They quit looking to Jesus for approval a LONG time ago--and many of them have never looked to him at all, but to the "church" instead.

Do what you can, but rest assured that God will deal with these people. Whether he helps you succeed or not, it won't change the score at the end of the game. There is no way the ICC will prevail in the Judgment. Its members will be sorely disappointed to have invested their lives in a lie, and to end up not having known God for themselves, even though they were "members" of the "best" church.

Oh, that they would listen. But even their leaders like urcrazy03 cannot seem to muster a response to a godly rebuke. They love their money more than they love the truth.


[ Jack's sig:
When I left the ICC 2 years ago, I wrote a book about how the church is sinning against scripture. And I participated extensively on this forum for the purpose of discussing doctrinal issues.

At this point, however, though I remain a Christian, I am participating here for the discussion of the FINANCIAL issues, which I have been investigating in earnest for over a year. Please do not mistake my focus as being innately unspiritual; I simply am not here to discuss spiritual matters at length. Also, please do not assume that whatever sharp comments you read from me here are coming out of the blue; many of these discussions involve conversants who have had ongoing dialogs. What may seem like an inordinantly sharp response may indeed be quite justified as part of an ongoing adversarial dialog.

None of what I am doing here would be necessary if only the ICC churches would open their books for independent audits. There is simply too much evidence of wrongdoing to be satisfied with their own say-so that they haven't broken the law. ]

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