Cult demands removal of material from site
- *** The following message was posted to the AR-talk mailing list,
and is posted here as an FYI regarding one cult's behavior. Note
that this particular cult was defended by cult apologist J. Gordon
Melton. See this article for an analysis of his involvement:
When Talk Isn't Cheap and Speech Isn't Free: The Abuse of Libel Law
This message deals with the so-called 'Local Church,' a movement
which theologically is a cult of Christianity.
Research resources on the Local Church:
What is a cult of Christianity?
This morning (it's 4:30 AM here), I received an email from two
people claiming to represent the Local Church.
Since the email was sent from an aol.com address, I have no way of
checking the message's authenticity. Nevertheless, the message may -
if and when it proves to be authentic - be of some interest to
those who study this particular cult of Christianity.
Subject: Resending: Copyrights of the Church in Fullerton
Date: Thu, 22 May 2003 21:03:35 EDT
May 20, 2003
Dear Mr. Hein:
As evidenced on your websites (www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex
http://www.xs4all.nl/~ahein/jim_moran_local_church.html), it appears
that you know:
1. The Church in Fullerton Corporation has acquired exclusive
ownership to the copyrights, trade names, and trademarks of any and
all of Mr. Jim Moran's websites, articles, publications, postings,
correspondence and other work product and materials whether
authored, assembled, created, or collected by Mr. Moran (hereinafter
referred to as "the Works"), by lawfully purchasing those rights
through the executor of Mr. Moran's estate; and
2. As the owners and lawful successors in interest to the Works,
any and all licenses and permissions for use of the Works previously
given to download, copy, distribute or disseminate the Works have
been revoked by the Church in Fullerton; and
3. Despite such knowledge you have violated our exclusive right to
distribution as the lawful copyright owner by utilizing your current
websites to enable others to download a copy of the Works without
the express written permission of The Church in Fullerton.
You yourself acknowledge the value of copyrights to material you
written, assembled, etc. On your webpage
www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex/howtolink.html, you require
others to honor those legal rights. In fact, you demand that others
honor the "look, 'feel' and original content of" your website and,
among other things, that they should not use that material except
"express, written (on paper) permission". Yet, you have violated
your own stated principles and ethics, as well as established law,
by doing the very thing that you forbid others from doing.
In light of these facts, we ask that you immediately:
1. Remove any and all of the Works from your Netherlands' based
(http://www.xs4all.nl/~ahein/jim_moran_local_church.html) from which
you are distributing the Works.
2. Remove your incitements to violate our copyrights and your link
from your USA-based Apologetics Index website
(www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex) to your Netherlands-based
website where you also incite others to download the Works;
3. Cease from any and all further violations of our copyrights.
We will look for your immediate compliance with these requests, and
hope that no further action on our part will be required. We also
ask, if you desire to use any part of the letter to you in any email
or webpage posting or other communication to others, that you
present the entire letter without any deletions or other changes.
Dan Sady and Dan Towle
for The Church in Fullerton
The fact that this message was "resend" to me (see Subject header)
indicates that someone interested in this issue is an AR-talk
subscriber. Hence the following:
1) The Apologetics Index website clearly states that any and all
legal communications must be made via snailmail:
Legal communications are accepted via registered snailmail (regular
mail) only. Harassment, intimidation, and threats of legal action
(real, veiled, or perceived) will be made public, and will be used
as evidence in any subsequent court case.
An email, especially one sent from an AOL account, doesn't carry
much weight. After all, we do not know whether or not it is
authentic. And even messages sent from official domain names may
have forged headers.
Note that that one of my spam filters, Mailwasher, uses a filter
rules set that treats mail from so-called 'throwaway accounts' such
as yahoo, hotmail, and aol, as 'suspicious origin':
[enabled]," Suspicious Origin (F,H,R)"," Suspicious Origin
The above (incomplete) line shows that such mail is automatically
flagged for addition to the blacklist, delete - which is what
happened to your(?) first mail - and bounce-back to sender (an
option which I have removed).
Aside from ourselves, the legal folks over here would also
appreciate something more official. And if you do your homework
regarding XS4ALL, you'll understand that they are very much
interested in attempts to suppress free speech (or, as the case may
be, attempts to silence critics).
2) The Local Church entry on our US-based site does not incite
anyone to violate your copyrights:
It simply describes what happened, and points to information
available to interested researchers - information that until
recently was publicly available, and of which Jim Moran himself has
stated the following:
Jim Moran's material may be freely shared with others, provided that
it is done strictly for educational purposes and that it is not
altered in any way.
Indeed, Jim's writings are available elsewhere on the internet as
well. And why should they not be? If, as the Local Church claims,
his materials contains "factual misrepresentations, innuendo and
false impressions," wouldn't be easier to try and address those
issues head on, rather than try and hide legitimate criticism of
In addition, Jim's site included material that you could not
possibly have purchased the copyrights to. For example,
correspondence from third parties, or articles such as this one
regarding earlier Local Church legal wranglings (and cult apologist
J. Gordon Melton's enthousiastic participation): "When Talk Isn't
Cheap and Speech Isn't Free: The Abuse of Libel Law"
So you've got to be specific. What material, specifically, do you
wish to censor?
Furthermore, *if* (and that is a big IF) we'd ever consent to remove
the material in question offline, we will certainly make use of
Jim's material under the Fair Use clause of various copyright
conventions. That is, we'll quote from it - of course mentioning
the fact that the Local Church itself has seen fit to try and censor
Indeed, we plan to greatly expand the Apologetics Index entry on the
Local Church, and invite qualified researchers to submit articles
for publication (yep, on a Netherlands-based website).
3) Your partial citing of the copyright information on our "how to
link" page is interesting. Did you miss the part about fair use
quotations? Also, we're very generous in providing permissions to
those who ask. After all, we've got nothing to hide. How about the
4) Before we do anything, we will run your suggestions by
Gospelcom's legal department, will talk with the folks at XS4ALL,
and will have a chat with our own legal advisors.
Meanwhile, if you indeed represent the Local Church we'll look
forward to your snailmail communication - on printed letterhead,
please. (Note that we'll be on vacation soon, so our response may
be delayed by a week or two).
ApologeticsIndex.org / ReligionNewsBlog.com