Michael Newdow Wins Libel Case

Michael Newdow may have lost the Supreme Court case over “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, but Yahoo News (via Christianity Today) reports on a consolation prize: he’s just won a $1 million dollar libel suit against the Rev Austin Miles, although he does not expect to receive the cash:

In an Internet posting shortly after the federal appeals court ruling [favouring Newdow in 2002], Miles accused Newdow of perjury, saying he lied about his daughter suffering “emotional damage” and “a sense of being left out” for not reciting the pledge at school.

Newdow argued that he never said any such thing. Miles has also claimed that Newdow had undertaken frivolous lawsuits against WorldNetDaily and ASSIST News Service (which Miles contributes to), among many others, with the aim of persecuting Christians. Newdow is a qualified attorney, and Miles sought to use all these grounds to have him disbarred in California. Miles’ full complaint, filed in 2003, can be found here.

Miles also objected to Newdow on moral grounds. Writing in BushCountry.org, he tells us that:

Michael Newdow, the atheist whose persistence resulted in having the Pledge of Allegiance declared illegal shortly after the attacks on America on 9/11 (which made his actions even more outrageous), is a man who can count on support from the liberal establishment. One would be hard-pressed to witness a more traitorous action than that of this man who latched onto one of America’s greatest emergencies in order to bring attention to himself; giving comfort to the enemy in the process while dividing America (to the delight of the enemy) and harpooning the morale of a grieving and shocked country still digging for bodies of loved ones buried under the rubble of the World’s Trade Buildings and the Pentagon.

Miles also claims that Newdow runs Evolvefish, which contains a link to (weird grammar and square brackets in original)

the most shocking blasphemous website of all that Newdow is connected to, called: God’s ex boyfriend. The site is blatantly homosexual and explicit and the name of the ‘writer’ is Scott, which is possible [to be] one of the names that Newdow uses. And to suggest that God is homosexual and had a ‘boyfriend’ is, I believe, the unpardonable sin.

However, Evolvefish, which is based in Colorado, denies any official connection with Newdow, (although it supports him) and Miles offers no reason why he thinks Newdow is Scott, except that Newdow is a Bad Person. But a look at Scott’s website shows it to be an obviously unconnected blog by someone else who just happens to agree with Newdow. Miles, a 70 year old who has suffered two strokes, also makes much of Newdow supposedly persecuting an old man in ill health.

But who is Austin Miles? Several stories from the mid 1990s have been gathered by someone called Shy David here [UPDATE: Shy David has now contributed to the comments]. It appears Miles has clashed with the law in the past:

A former evangelical preacher has been convicted of violating a state law by publishing a sheriff deputy’s home address in his conservative Christian newsletter.

Prosecutors said the Rev. Austin Miles published the address of Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Mould in The Connecting Link as a protest last year after county officials took over custody of a 6-year-old with leukemia.

Miles had also allegedly claimed that there exists an “alternative treatment for cancer including herb therapy which has been proved amazingly effective”.

Miles is a former clown and ringmaster, and is the source of a number of other claims, most recently that school children in California were being indoctrinated into Islam, a story Miles broke in ASSIST. He also tells us that Madalyn Murray O’Hair almost converted to Christianity before an unnamed evangelist she was impressed by fell from grace. Interestingly, for a while Miles was himself an atheist, having left the Assemblies of God and Jim Bakker’s entourage, and during this time he wrote an exposé, titled Don’t Call Me Brother. This book contains the following accusations, according to an advert:

Austin Miles opened the door on the steam room where Jim Bakker was cavorting – in the nude – with three other men.

Austin Miles watched the development of Jim Bakker’s violent mood swings and saw the chilling possibility that Jim Bakker could have become another Jim Jones.

Austin Miles was there when Jim Bakker started a fist fight with his producer over the favors of the current Miss America.

However, another Christian has taken issue with Miles’s book:

Miles does spend a great deal of time describing how the Assemblies of God church ruined his life, his health, his finances, and so on, supposedly with some help from the FBI. Yes, the FBI. I must admit that I do find much of what I read in his tell-all hard to believe. After all, it seems odd that Miles should have been privy to so many damaging and important conversations, been victimized by so many people, been at just the right (wrong?) place at just the wrong (right?) time so many times, peeking in doors, standing in hallways, just as this or that person does this or that thing that evokes a startling revelation…had we not known otherwise, we would have supposed that this was the biography of a Montana Freeman. But that’s what he’d have us swallow, and I’ll just have to accept it at face value. If I didn’t, he’d undoubtedly accuse me of being judgmental.

No doubt the same malign forces that have victimized Miles through the years will now be held responsible for Newdow’s legal victory against him.

UPDATE 1: Austin Miles has re-surfaced in relation to James Watt. See here.

UPDATE 2: The default judgement has been set aside. See here.