Lawsuit Against Bethel Outreach Withdrawn

The former Agape Press has made a change to one of its old stories:

On July 25, 2005, AgapePress published a report documenting allegations made against Bethel World Outreach Center’s “Victory Club” youth program. The allegations have been withdrawn and the report has, therefore, been removed from this page.

Additionally, the original report indicated that Bethel World Outreach Center, which is a member of the “Every Nation” family of churches, was affiliated with the “New Order of the Latter Rain.” That portion of the report was mistaken and AgapePress regrets the error.

The allegations, which I blogged on here, concerned “brainwashing”, pressure allegedly put on two school pupils to speak in tongues, and a claim that one was encouraged not to take medication. The parents of the two pupils subsequently brought a lawsuit against Bethel. Agape added the details about the supposed links to the NOLR, which were formulated by Agape in a rather peculiar way that recalled old-fashioned Christian fundamentalist antagonism against Pentecostalism.

The Bethel World Outreach website now carries a sworn letter from the plaintiffs (who are now named), in which they withdraw all their allegations:

TO: Bethel Church, Every Nation Churches, Inc., Victory Clubs of America, Inc., Steve Hollander, Rice Broocks, Jr.

FROM: Maria and Felicia Vega, Laurie Noyes and Jill Gustafson

…The Plaintiffs are persuaded that members of Bethel Church, its pastors and the Bethel Parties have sincere beliefs which can be a positive influence in the world. The Plaintiffs are also persuaded that the vast and overwhelming majority of the members of Bethel Church, its pastors and the Bethel Parties are good and decent people motivated by the spirit of Christ, who try to live Christ’s teachings, and who desire to help young people in need.

…The Plaintiffs hold no ill will towards members of Bethel Church or the Bethel Parties in general. Further, the Plaintiffs absolve the Bethel Parties and their officers as well as members who are not currently parties to the litigation, of any fault or responsibility for any injuries suffered by the Plaintiffs in the course of their association with the Bethel Parties or their members. The Plaintiffs agree to dismiss their claims against the Bethel Parties with prejudice such that those claims may never be brought again, and release the Bethel Parties from any responsibility for damages or injuries suffered by the Plaintiffs arising from or related to the events which are, or could have been, the subject of the lawsuit.

4 Responses

  1. […] Clubbed by Victory? Posted on May 15, 2005 by Richard Bartholomew UPDATE (9 March 2007): The lawsuit has now been withdrawn. See here. […]

  2. […] Agape Press Attacks Every Nation Posted on July 28, 2005 by Richard Bartholomew UPDATE (9 March 2007): Agape has withdrawn the story, and has stated that its linkage of EN with the New Order of the Latter Rain was “mistaken”. See here. […]

  3. It appears to be more muddy than this ‘sworn’ letter indicates.

    There is a detailed discussion on this topic in the FactNet.org discussion forum on MSI/Every Nation. Every Nation also agreed to pay medical costs as part of the out of court settlement.

  4. This lawsuit was just a way to find dissenters-if you notice the FACTNET people and the teacher attended the same schools, and knew each other. The FACTNET discussion is not a valid one-it’s a way for the church to get people outed to both silence dissent and search out who’s going after them and why so they can prepare an attack.

    The discussions mostly involve the same people, same times of day, but repeatedly changing sides-a good clue as to whose side they are on.

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