Revisiting the past….
August 13, 2002
Dear Mr. Ardis:
Greetings from Pasadena.
We have been advised that you are desirous of having accurate information about the case of Worldwide Church of God v. Philadelphia Church of God, as it pertains to the finality of the court decision regarding the Mystery of the Ages. we are pleased to be of aid to you in this regard so as to promote the truth of the matter and avoid the misimpression that Mr. Flurry is touting about the case.
When Mr. Flurry first pirated Mystery of the Ages, a determination had to be made as to what action Worldwide Church of God should take. It was my recommendation that, if action were not taken to enjoin Mr. Flurry’s pirating action, he would continue to confiscate further goods of Worldwide Church of God. It was decided to institute an action against PCG to enjoin them from pirating MOA. My prediction as to Mr. Flurry’s future conduct proved true because he filed a counteraction in which he claimed the right to publish 18 other works of Mr. Armstrong, based on the argument that they were central to his religion.
The first Federal Court trial judge, Judge Letts, decided that PCG would have a right to copy the MOA because WCG was not publishing it at the time, and because it was allegedly central to PCG’s religion to do so. As a consequence, WCG took an appeal to the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.
The case was heard by a 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit. Two of the justices, who are viewed as the most intelligent by attorneys in general, decided the case in favor of WCG. The important factor regarding your question is that they instructed the Federal District Court to enter an injunction against PCG, enjoining them from copying or distributing the MOA and to set the matter for a trial to calculate damages.
PCG desperately attempted to reverse the Court’s decision. First of all, they petitioned the panel of judges that heard the case to rehear the matter. Two of the three judges refused to do so.
In addition, they included a petition to the 26 judges of the 9th Circuit, requesting that they order what is called an en blanc hearing. An en blanc hearing is one in which 11 judges on the Court of Appeals would conduct a rehearing of the matter. None of the 26 judges requested such a hearing.
We understand that you have a copy of the opinion in this case.
Then, in a last desperate attempt to reverse the Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the PCG petitioned the 9 justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, asking them to rehear the case. All 9 justices refused.
The case then went back down to the Federal District Court and a new judge was assigned, the Honorable Christina Snyder. But even after the entire court system had acted and Mr. Flurry was well aware of the court’s intentions, he did still not obey the law, but rather he continued out of stiff neck rebellion to distribute MOA. Prior to the Honorable Judge Snyder issuing a written injunction, we were before her at a hearing. We brought up the matter that Mr. Flurry was flouting the intention of the court, in that he continued to distribute MOA. After Mr. Flurry’s attorneys had the opportunity to justify his conduct, the court looked at Mr. Flurry’s attorneys and said, “I am bothered by the fact that your client is still publishing the book.” Then, and only then, after the court gave Mr. Flurry’s attorneys a verbal order for PCG to stop publishing the MOA, did it do so.
Even then, to show the attitude of rebellion, Mr. Flurry put on the PCG web site, that all the people should contact WCG for the book. He knew, or should have known, full well that it was out of print, and that such a message would result in the clogging up of WCG phone lines and harass its operators. Again, Mr. Flurry did not remove the message from PCG’s web site until the local Federal Court “suggested” to Mr. flurry’s attorneys that he do so. Such childish, juvenile harassing antics are not the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit.
The judge then issued a written injunction, ordering PCG to stop distributing the MOA, to assemble all of the pirated copies that were still held by PCG and to store them in a warehouse. PCG argued that the cost of storage should be equally assessed against WCG and PCG. The court denied this request and assessed the entire cost of storage against the PCG. The pirated copies of the MOA are being held in a warehouse and Flurry is barred from having access to them without the consent of Worldwide Church of God.
Out of further refusal to accept the decisions and comments of the legally constituted authority, as demanded by scripture, the PCG again attempted to thwart the process. They attempted a technical move in the district court to amend their counterclaim and include MOA therein, so as to restart this process all over again regarding MOA. The astute trial judge recognized this tactic for what it was and denied PCG permission to do so on the grounds that the issues pertaining to the MOA had already been decided.
As a consequence, when Mr. Flurry tells his congregation that the case has been equally balanced with two judges finding for PCG and two judges deciding for WCG, it is blatant misinformation. If you want to take Mr. Flurry’s approach, two judges decided for PCG and 35 judges decided in favor of WCG, and, if the above orders of Judge Snyder are included, 36 judges.
Further, Mr. Flurry has made representations to the PCG members, giving the misimpression that there is still the possibility in the case that the court is going to award PCG the right to pirate the MOA. This is simply, again, misinformation. The case has been finally decided and concluded regarding MOA, and Mr. Flurry, out of sheer desperation, has exhausted all legal remedies available to him. Any attempt of PCG to acquire any court ordered right to print the MOA is over, done, finished. Legally there is no place else for him to go on this issue. I don’t know how else I can say it. PCG’s only “right” is to stand before the bar of justice and have damages assessed against them and attorney’s fees for the wrong that has been committed.
The secondary wrong that I see in this case is that, as we all know, Mr. Flurry holds dictatorial control over PCG and it had to be his ultimate decision to pirate the MOA. (Certainly, had the confiscation been successful, he would have taken the credit as God’s inspired instrument in doing so.) The grave wrong is that, it is the poor deceived members of PCG that have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of their hard earned money to defend this egregiously wrong conduct in order to save Mr. Flurry’s reputation.
A fact hidden from Mr. Flurry’s followers, as he professes his godly authority in pirating MOA, is the deception that he employed. First of all, he removed all inserts from the book that referred the readers to the Worldwide Church of God; he then changed the copyright notice from WCG to Herbert W. Armstrong to further hide the source of the work, and then, with the highest degree of chutzpah, he deleted the notice (as provided below) that forbade making copies:
“No pat of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the Worldwide Church of God.”
So this great alleged advocate and ardent follower of Mr. Armstrong violated Mr. Armstrong’s direct command, as well as the law. All of this, deceiving the public into believing that the work was that of PCG and, hence, tithes and offerings generated by distribution of the work would most naturally be diverted from WCG to PCG.
We sincerely hope that the foregoing will satisfactorily answer your question as to the background facts about the case, and aid you in clarifying the record.
Ralph K. Helge
Learn more: YOU CANNOT HIDE BEHIND RELIGION IN