Lawsuit Against Bethel Outreach Withdrawn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 The allegations have been withdrawn and the report has, therefore, been removed from this page.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.