UPDATE ON OUR BATTLE FOR THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF GOD'S WORK
Pastor General Staff
As most of you know by now, on Wednesday, February 21, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Julius M. Title decided to lift the receivership from the Church. This is to be accomplished March 1, when Judge Title will sign the order officially vacating the receivership. Although he ended the seven-week long receivership on the grounds that it served no useful purpose, the judge retained jurisdiction and ordered the audit of our financial records to continue under the direction of the state Attorney General's office.
Just this past Sabbath afternoon Mr. Armstrong, via a direct telephone hookup with Tucson, reminded the afternoon congregation that the battle is God's and that we are not alone in this struggle. He said that God has always expected us to do all we can whenever we face a trial, and then He will make the vital difference. That became dramatically evident once again when to the surprise of all, including the lawyers on both sides, Judge Title decided to lift the receivership.
Mr. Rader held a news conference in his office the day after the decision to end the receivership. He stated that we were pleased that the ruling to lift the receivership was made since it has been the Church's position that a receiver was never necessary or proper (it was done under a new and poorly worded California law regulating charitable trusts and thus should never be applied to churches). Mr. Rader pledged that the Church would cooperate fully with Judge Title, stating that the audit will completely exonerate the Church and its officials of any wrongdoing.
An Expensive Seven Weeks!
The outgoing receiver is required by the court to submit an accounting of his administration's expenses. The greater part of this report has already been made available and covers the period of January 3rd through February 9th. Here are some of the highlights of that report (as given at the news conference) in which the receiver is asking the court to order the Church to pay from its own funds (tithes and offerings).
$46,950 Mr. Steven Weisman, the receiver's salary 30,250 Mr. Michael Clemens and daughter, receiver's attorneys 22,320 Kaplan, Livingston, et al (law firm) 13,522 A. Sheridan Atkinson (the receiver's assistant for 11 days) 12,160 Lowell H. Duggan's fee (receiver's assistant from January 16 until end of accounting period, Feb. 9) 2,382 Mailgram (Western Union) communication from receiver to ministry 510 Photocopying services
The above listed expenses are just a sampling of a thick report stating much more. The receivership has been very costly for God's Church, however Judge Title ruled that any future auditing or investigation costs should be borne by the Attorney General's office.
Conspiracy Being Uncovered
In the news conference Mr. Rader said we will do everything in our power to see that we are totally vindicated of all charges, allegations and accusations that have been made without proof. But how did such a travesty of justice ever come about in the first place? A picture of the incredible story is coming into sharper focus.
It was not long before bits and pieces of information began to come to light. A conspiracy has been discovered involving, to varying degrees and in different ways, disfellowshipped members and others who have never been a part of, or associated with, the Church. Mr. Rader felt that in the next few weeks we should be able to disclose who they are and what their involvement has been. At that time appropriate action against these individuals will be taken in the appropriate courts.
The War Is Not Over Yet
All churches and individuals are guaranteed certain rights and privileges by the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. But California has failed to recognize these guarantees of religious freedom and separation of church and state. In fact, this state is the only one that has raised the issue that assets of a church belong to the state — that a church is a public trust over which the state has the authority to come in and manage.
Even though the receiver has been removed, until the Work is vindicated and the damage compensated, the war is not over. Until our rights and protection are affirmed by the courts we — and all churches — remain vulnerable to the capricious activities of state officials. Since these and other legal issues have not been resolved, the status quo represents the state's theory that members have no rights and that the Church's assets belong to the people of California.
The Church's view is that those who have conspired to deceive the courts and violate our constitutional rights — those who have been responsible for trying to destroy the church and its leadership -should and will be punished in the proper forum — the courts of the land.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The news media has repeatedly asked if we are planning to move the entire operation elsewhere, and Thursday's press conference was no exception. These questions arise from something we have repeatedly stressed: Tithes and offerings of brethren from around the United States will never again come to a state where they can be confiscated. Pasadena will never again be the financial headquarters of the Work, Mr. Rader said. However, he stressed that most other functions of the Work in Pasadena will continue as usual.
The hardest single concept the press has had to grapple with is that "the church is not the buildings." And it is not a "corporation" either. Mr. Rader has emphasized over and over again that buildings and a corporation are merely physical means of accomplishing the Church's spiritual work around the world. The body of Christ — the spiritual Church of God — is not, and could never be, the buildings. He said members do not join a corporation, they don't worship a corporation, and they don't tithe to a corporation!
A church cannot effectively accomplish its work in an environment where religious freedom is not guaranteed to its members, its officers and its employees. Therefore, Mr. Rader declared that God's Church will never expose its assets and resources in the same way again.