The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

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The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby William Thornton » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:20 am

I stopped checking the Bellevue Baptist Church blog critic, New BBC Open Forum, a year or so ago, but notice that the blog is acting as an ally to the FBCJax Watchdog blog. They share similar circumstances, I suppose, with their respective churches and pastors.

The NBBCOF blog article for today, FBC Jax Watchdog: Who's talking?, contains over FIFTY links to newspapers and other media, numerous blogs, forums (BaptistLife), etc commenting on the FBCJax squabble with the formerly anonymous FBCJax Watchdog. Seems that the key item in reaching the critical mass necessary for this church thing to explode beyond church-related sites and individuals was the outing of the blogger by the sheriff's dept. detective who was on the FBCJax pastor's private security detail.

One noteworthy comment was from Jonathan Turley, a law prof/expert often seen on major media outlets. He says:

So [Sheriff's Dept. Undersheriff] Machesy seems to believe that it is the job of the police to identify and reveal critics of churches. He seems utterly unconcerned about the free speech issues raised by Hinson’s act or the use of a government office for sectarian interests.


The matter found its way to Business Week and The Daily Kos among the many other outlets.

Perhaps other megachurches might learn from this.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby SLyons » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:55 am

Just want to point out: The New BBC Open Forum is one of three blogs that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office subpoened from Google during their investigation into the criminality of the FBC Jax Watchdog site.

Here are the subpoenas. http://www.newbbc.accura.net/FBCSubpoenas.pdf.

Somehow New BBC Open Forum was dragged into this by subpoenas issued by JSO.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Steve Wilcox » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:20 am

No, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was investigating due to possible criminal activity. Whether you agree with that or not is debatable, but that is their official stance. They also claim they regularly reveal unknown persons to those requesting the investigation and that Det. Hinson would have been seen in a negative light by his superiors if he had not.

And since when are churches prohibited on relying on the government for any assistance. I guess when someone steals the churches computers you better not call the police.

Again, the blogger posted the subpoenas, resulting in the newspaper article, and then proceeded to do interviews. Sorry I still blame the bloggers, not FBCJax or the JSO for his revealed identity.

The bloggers have been free to be OVERLY and OVERTLY critical of the church without any accountability, but demand and require it from those whom they criticize.

The issue is not privacy but unwillingness in resolving conflicts on both sides.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby JaneFordA » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:40 am

Best reason I can think of to tax churches about 90%. Without so much time and other resources to empire-build, they'd have very little time for malicious foolishness.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Michael » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:44 am

So, William, are you/we famous or obscure? :wink:
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby SLyons » Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:54 am

Steve - that is your version of events, and its your interpretation of those events.

More shall be told eventually, and then perhaps you'll have a chance to amend and revise your remarks.

:)
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby William Thornton » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:13 pm

Further comment from the Jax sheriff's dept below. This comes from the blog of Tiffany Croft who was an ancillary part of the investigation triggered by complaints against FBCWatchdog.

Thursday, April 22, 2009

I would like to clarify some information that has been reported about a recent Intelligence investigation conducted by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, regarding perceived threats against a local religious congregation.

* Our agency is responsible for investigating any perceived threats and possible criminal activity that is reported to us by a citizen. Our detectives routinely share what they learn in the course of the investigation with the victim or complainant.
* Suspects would not be made aware of this information, if it is gathered in an effort to determine if a threshold of criminality exists and none is found. In this case, the case was closed 11/13/08 with no further action by JSO warranted when no criminal conduct or significant threat to the church was determined to exist.
* In this case, the information about suspicious behavior directed at Pastor Mac Brunson and his home and family was provided to a detective whose normal duty assignment with the JSO is to investigate possible threats against Jacksonville’s religious institutions. He is a member of our Intelligence Unit. He would have investigated this situation had the complaint come from those affiliated with a Mosque, a Synagogue, or any religious organization. This is Detective Hinson’s job as the intelligence point person for the religious community, and other designated critical infrastructure sites in Jacksonville.
* All our religious institutions are a major part of Jacksonville’s critical infrastructure and we remain vigilant in investigating all perceived threats and security issues associated with those institutions. In light of recent violent incidents that have occurred in churches around the country, I think our vigilance is necessary and most appropriate to ensure public safety.
Had another officer received a similar threat or tip or raised a similar concern, Detective Hinson would have ultimately been the officer assigned to investigate. I have no issue with his investigation and there is no conflict of interest because he is affiliated with that particular congregation.
* The fact that the medium used to communicate the messages being investigated was the internet is irrelevant. Investigations are conducted into the sources of anonymous letters, phone calls, and in this day and age websites and emails, any time it is deemed appropriate for public safety. We then look at the contents and sources of internet information regularly, as part of our investigations.
* Ms. Croft’s blog was initially reviewed as a preliminary investigative lead due to the fact that the Croft’s blog site was listed on the fbcwatchdog web site and was unknown to the investigator. Once the blog ownership information was verified by the internet provider and matched the information listed on Ms. Croft’s blog site, Detective Hinson determined that there was no investigative value in Ms. Croft’s blog site.



If you read her entire blog article you find that she says she has talked to folks on all sides, including deacons from the church. Her concerns have been assuaged.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Annie2 » Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:09 am

Steve Wilcox, you are still drinking the kool-aid. I can tell that you don't have a clue as to what went on at FBCJ but if the preacher says it's all OK and there's nothing to be concerned about, it's all hot air from negative people, then you feel you must accept that. I, however, do have a clue as to what went on and continues to happen in the current day.

The powers-that-be at FBCJ did not think there were "possible criminal overtones." That's simply the ruse that was employed to accomplish the goal of outing the blogger who was critical of the preacher. If you would stop and think for one minute you would know that's what happened. You have maintained that Mr. Rich was investigated on a solid-rock basis and the church has a right to go to the authorities if someone is being overly-critical of the preacher and staff. NO, Mr. Wilcox they don't have a right to employ the law just because the preacher was tired of being criticized! I am not in favor of lawsuits but in this case FBCJ really planted its big hairy toe on the wrong side of the line and therefore should have to go to court and explain what they did when and why.

BTW, if you're interested in keeping any facts straight, the reason the reporter contacted Mr.Rich is because the reporter was looking into the records at the courthouse -- which is something reporters regularly do if they are looking for a story, and he found the NO TRESPASS orders and subpoenas. Also, you might want to ask yourself the question: Why were there no police reports filed in the supposed photo-taking/stalking or stolen mail incidents? I'll answer it for you. It's because there were no such incidents that happened!

The preacher at FBCJ is personally responsible for all that has transpired since his arrival! Please don't bore me with a reply about how people should have gone directly to the preacher. Guess what, Steve? Some of us did. Can you say "Brick Wall?"
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Steve Wilcox » Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:31 am

Annie2, uh, welcome to the Baptistlife forums. :o

Regardless of what you think, I do have some insight into what is going at FBCJax. I do not however, claim to know all that has gone on.

As for how the reporter got the court records, I have sent him an email asking him what prompted him to search the court documents and I will let you know what he says. I tried to call but he is not answering his phone.

Don't bore you? Don't bore me! I asked if anyone had come to the pastor, finance committee or pulpit committee back in 2007. Answer? NO ONE sought out a meeting and there were NO signed emails, etc. I was told that anyone that wanted to know about pastor's compensation would not get a detailed breakdown. "Why?" I asked. Because that is how they have done it for decades at FBCJax. This is not just something that Dr. Brunson brought to the church. If you have a problem with this then you have a problem with the late Dr. Lindsay Sr., the late Dr. Lindsay Jr. and Dr. Vines too and of course all the men that have served on the Finance committee over the past decades.

If this is such an issue for you why haven't you and others sought to have it changed years ago? My suspicion is some wanted it changed, but dare not challenge either Dr. Lindsays or Dr. Vines. You waited until there was a new guy, then pinned it all on him and the evil "MEGA-CHURCHES"! Then the best part was you guys did it anonymously on the WWW and demanded "transparency" from the church. :lol:

There may have been attempts after you and others had bashed the pastor for a few months but somehow I doubt they were sincere and more lame than real attempts. That way you can claim "We tried to go directly to the pastor; brick wall."

BTW, SLyons and I are having a rather civil discussion off-line about the issues. Maybe he can inject something into your post and my response.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby William Thornton » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:42 am

Annie2 wrote:Steve Wilcox, you are still drinking the kool-aid. I can tell that you don't have a clue as to what went on at FBCJ but if the preacher says it's all OK and there's nothing to be concerned about, it's all hot air from negative people, then you feel you must accept that. I, however, do have a clue as to what went on and continues to happen in the current day.

The powers-that-be at FBCJ did not think there were "possible criminal overtones." That's simply the ruse that was employed to accomplish the goal of outing the blogger who was critical of the preacher. If you would stop and think for one minute you would know that's what happened. You have maintained that Mr. Rich was investigated on a solid-rock basis and the church has a right to go to the authorities if someone is being overly-critical of the preacher and staff. NO, Mr. Wilcox they don't have a right to employ the law just because the preacher was tired of being criticized! I am not in favor of lawsuits but in this case FBCJ really planted its big hairy toe on the wrong side of the line and therefore should have to go to court and explain what they did when and why.

BTW, if you're interested in keeping any facts straight, the reason the reporter contacted Mr.Rich is because the reporter was looking into the records at the courthouse -- which is something reporters regularly do if they are looking for a story, and he found the NO TRESPASS orders and subpoenas. Also, you might want to ask yourself the question: Why were there no police reports filed in the supposed photo-taking/stalking or stolen mail incidents? I'll answer it for you. It's because there were no such incidents that happened!

The preacher at FBCJ is personally responsible for all that has transpired since his arrival! Please don't bore me with a reply about how people should have gone directly to the preacher. Guess what, Steve? Some of us did. Can you say "Brick Wall?"


Welcome to the forum annie2.

If you have read much here you are aware that I am a critic of the actions of FBCJax; however, you make several claims and assertions about knowing about things going on at the church, including knowledge of what folks there were thinking. Do you have a basis for such assertions?

I think we all understand that more is to come on this business...
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Randy » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:44 pm

I think it would be good for everyone to go and read the post on Tiffany Croft's blog. She has done some legitimate and honest research and found out details that noone has shared. She also found out that there was a complaint filed with the police department and that is why they investigated Tom Rich (which also is their duty.)

I agree with the assessments of the way things are done at FBC, Jax and the fact that Tom Rich never sought a meeting with Mac Brunson and/or anyone on the Finance/Budget Committees. That would have let all the hot air out of his blog and he wouldn't be getting all of the attention he is getting today.

Ya'll be sure and read Tiffany's blog. It might open some blind eyes.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby SLyons » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:39 am

Randy - sorry, but you are the one who needs to open your eyes.

No one ever said FBC Jax didn't file a complaint. Tiffany is NOT breaking the news that they in fact filed a complaint. That was known, and in fact it was discovered by Tom Rich himself and posted on his blog.

John Blount did file a complaint, and it was on September 29, 2008. Immediately after the complaint was filed (which was the day after the church's big budget committment day on September 28) the detective issued subpoenas to Google on the WD blog, despite there not being anything connecting the blog to any supposed allegations.

The question is that the allegations of stalking/taking pictures/stealing mail that happened in the past, prior to the Sept 29 complaint...that caused them to open the September 29th investigation, there were never any complaints filed for THOSE, if they ever indeed occured.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Randy » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:46 am

SLyons,

Sorry to disappoint you but numerous blog writers and posters continue to say that FBC, Jax never filed a complaint and keep harping on that point. Tiffany at least is the only blogger I have read that seems to have any sense of what is actually happening.

I still think there is a whole lot we don't know (on both sides of the issue) and need to stop jumping to conclusions that are unwarranted. It would be nice if someone in authority could actually speak with Mac Brunson but then that's his choice (and I respect it). Tom Rich caused this whole uproar by not going in and meeting with the proper people in authority in the beginning.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Chris » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:19 am

Randy wrote: It would be nice if someone in authority could actually speak with Mac Brunson but then that's his choice (and I respect it). Tom Rich caused this whole uproar by not going in and meeting with the proper people in authority in the beginning.


And what leads you to believe that Mac Brunson would have agreed to speak with Tom Rich in the beginning?
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby David A. Johnson » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:21 pm

Sorry to disappoint you but numerous blog writers and posters continue to say that FBC, Jax never filed a complaint and keep harping on that point.


Could someone please tell me what this is?

http://www.newbbc.accura.net/JSO-InvestRep-Sept29.pdf
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby David A. Johnson » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:30 pm

I asked if anyone had come to the pastor, finance committee or pulpit committee back in 2007. Answer? NO ONE sought out a meeting and there were NO signed emails, etc.


I don't know who you asked, but they were either uninformed or lying.

There may have been attempts after you and others had bashed the pastor for a few months but somehow I doubt they were sincere and more lame than real attempts.


How could you possibly claim to know this?
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby SLyons » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:34 pm

If anyone wants to know the chain of events, complete with hyperlinked documents of police reports, emails, subpoenas - that have led this fiasco to escalating to the point now of a pending first amendment rights lawsuit, please take about 20 minutes and read this blog entry:

http://fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com/2009 ... ng-to.html

UPDATE:

At the time that blog entry was written, the subpoenas were not obtained and thus not hyperlinked.

So here are the subpoenas:

http://www.newbbc.accura.net/FBCSubpoenas.pdf

The date printed on the subpoenas is March 09, but that is merely the date they were printed out by the government officials when the Watchdog requested them under a Florida Statute 119 public records request. The significant date is in the middle paragraph, which is the date by which Google must comply. Subtract 10 days from that date, and that is the approx date the subpoenas were issued by the detective.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby William Thornton » Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:17 am

As was expected, FBCJax Watchdog has a lawyer and is moving to a new phase. He says:

I have retained legal counsel to pursue the truth of exactly what happened last fall resulting in the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office obtaining my identity through subpoena power, and then disclosing my identity to the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. The issues discussed on this blog, FBC Jax and the words and actions of its pastor Mac Brunson, will now shift to issues of free speech, free anonymous speech, and federal privacy matters. As will be alleged in the forthcoming legal action, I believe it will be proven the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) and the State Attorney's Office (SAO) have played a role in wrongly interfering in one of its citizen's rights to speak freely on religious matters concerning FBC Jacksonville.

From this point on, I am committed to using all legal means necessary to find the truth, and then prevent these types of things happening again in Duval County and elsewhere. Government officials involving themselves in the affairs of a church matter under the pretext of a criminal investigation, for the purpose of identifying and exposing an anonymous dissenter to a large, powerful, religious institution is completely wrong, and unacceptable.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Chris » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:05 pm

William Thornton wrote:As was expected, FBCJax Watchdog has a lawyer and is moving to a new phase. He says:

I have retained legal counsel to pursue the truth of exactly what happened last fall resulting in the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office obtaining my identity through subpoena power, and then disclosing my identity to the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. The issues discussed on this blog, FBC Jax and the words and actions of its pastor Mac Brunson, will now shift to issues of free speech, free anonymous speech, and federal privacy matters. As will be alleged in the forthcoming legal action, I believe it will be proven the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) and the State Attorney's Office (SAO) have played a role in wrongly interfering in one of its citizen's rights to speak freely on religious matters concerning FBC Jacksonville.

From this point on, I am committed to using all legal means necessary to find the truth, and then prevent these types of things happening again in Duval County and elsewhere. Government officials involving themselves in the affairs of a church matter under the pretext of a criminal investigation, for the purpose of identifying and exposing an anonymous dissenter to a large, powerful, religious institution is completely wrong, and unacceptable.


AMEN. May the blogger be victorious.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Steve Wilcox » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:23 am

A newspaper article on Tiffany Croft was in the local paper over the weekend.

Click HERE

It is interesting in her blog how the WD supporter, in some of their comments, have turned on Tiffany.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby William Thornton » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:58 am

We might get rather far afield by going to secondary sources like Tiffany Croft, but here is what she said on her blog of April 24th:

The second reason is that I feel that Detective Hinson was "being thrown under a bus" and the others involved at the church were apparently not going to stand up for him. There are other facts that play into this decision and I feel that FBC has some explaining to do. It was the "pass the buck" scenario from the church admin.


One thing I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that this was not handled correctly - period! Not humanly right, but definitely not spiritually!


I do not believe that [FBCWatchdog's] name should have been released to the church under these circumstances. There was not enough concern gained during the "investigation" to keep it open, meaning actual criminal behavior, so there was no reason to "warn the church" as the Sheriff states.


Don't know what her commenters might be mad about. She is hardly an ally of FBCJax and the Sheriff's office.

This thing has a life of its own now, apart from one lone critic of the megachurch and pastor.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby SLyons » Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:55 am

Steve Wilcox:

You should also have directed readers to read this blog entry by Tiffany that she posted in response to the Times Union article:

http://tiffanycroft.blogspot.com/2009/0 ... -this.html

since she clarifies her complete position on the matter, since the Times Union article left off many of her concerns.

And WD supporters are not "turning" on Tiffany Croft, far from it.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Steve Wilcox » Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:20 am

SLyons wrote:Steve Wilcox:

You should also have directed readers to read this blog entry by Tiffany that she posted in response to the Times Union article:


I did not check there before posting it. Thanks for the heads up.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Haruo » Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:25 pm

Well, I disagree with Tiffany where she says "We all are infallible", but otherwise she seems a very careful thinker and writer, and she has marshalled a host of texts to her criticism of the pastor, which it would behoove the church leaders to consider prayerfully.
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Re: The famous and the obscure comment on FBCJax/FBCJax Watchdog

Postby Steve Wilcox » Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:59 pm

Steve Wilcox wrote:Again, the blogger posted the subpoenas, resulting in the newspaper article, and then proceeded to do interviews. Sorry I still blame the bloggers, not FBCJax or the JSO for his revealed identity.


Annie2 wrote:BTW, if you're interested in keeping any facts straight, the reason the reporter contacted Mr.Rich is because the reporter was looking into the records at the courthouse -- which is something reporters regularly do if they are looking for a story, and he found the NO TRESPASS orders and subpoenas.


Steve Wilcox wrote:As for how the reporter got the court records, I have sent him an email asking him what prompted him to search the court documents and I will let you know what he says. I tried to call but he is not answering his phone.


I sent the following to the reporter:

“Hi Jeff,

I wanted to ask you about the blogger subpoena issue at FBCJax.

I don’t remember seeing where you reported how you came upon the decision to check the subpoena issued against Thomas Rich.

Did you see the article about the subpoena on the blog (December 2008) and then go check out court documents?

Or did you search specifically for court documents for this issue between FBCJax and the blogger without knowledge of it being issued?

Or did you just happen to come across it one day while checking court documents for some other reason?

There seems to be some disagreement on how you got the subpoena which was the basis for your article.

Thanks,”


He replied:

“Hey Steve, as I recall an editor got a phone call informing us that subpoenas had been issued in this case. Once he told me of the phone calls I requested copies of the subpoenas and it went from there.

All the best,”


As I suspected the reporter went on a lead, it was not just an accidental discovery as claimed by Annie2. The editor received a phone call because apparently someone wanted a story on the issue to hit the newspapers.

This doesn’t discount the investigation into subpoenas but it does back up my claim that the church NEVER disclosed Mr. Rich’s name, and that it was his or a supporters fault that his name became public.
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