In 2009 I followed a blog by James Duncan, an associate communications professor at Anderson University. He had criticised a bill board campaign by New Spring Church, headed by a guy named Perry Noble. What happened from there became gripping reading, and sadly, real life drama. He is a clear, descriptive and careful writer, and I began to get a picture of the self-preservation culture of a mega-church that crushes those perceived to be in the way.
Duncan paid dearly for daring to question Noble and his mega-church. In early December of 2009, Duncan wrote a summary post that haunts me to this day: Holy rage at the Spring. In the post he outlined the escalating campaign of harassment directed at him and his family. Vulgarity threats, fake twitter account, a faked resignation letter to his employer, real life spill over…things got so bad Duncan went to the local sheriff. No one in leadership at New Spring Church took a public stand against what the finally identified church security guard was doing.
Genuinely fearful of physical harm befalling my family or me, I reported the harassment to the Anderson County sheriff’s office on July 24. The detective who investigated the case, himself a member of Newspring (who disclosed that fact to me at the outset with an offer to recuse himself), served search warrants on Twitter to get the IP of the person who was posting the content, then on Research in Motion to get the name of the subscriber to the Blackberry device that was being used for the account.
The man behind the harassment was Josh Maxwell, a full-time security staff member at NewSpring. Three other volunteers (Milstead, Eric Elgin, and Travis Dickson) also confessed to their involvement in the harassment, though none were as involved as Maxwell.
I met with an assistant solicitor for the county in October to see what charges might be warranted. For various reasons, the solicitor could only press a single charge against Dickson for distribution of pornography. I had already decided that if Maxwell, the main driver of the campaign, was not going to be charged, it wasn’t fair for him to get off while his friend, who was only briefly involved, was held legally accountable. I told the solicitor that I would not press the charge.
And then suddenly that December of 2009, James Duncan’s blog went dark.
Last time I posted here, I gave you a few details about the campaign of harassment that NewSpring staff and volunteers engaged in against my family and me because I dared criticize Perry Noble. In 2010, we did take legal action against Perry, NewSpring and others, and that process was resolved a couple of months ago. Over the next few days and weeks, I’ll be updating you about what I learned about what was happening inside NewSpring’s executive suites in 2009 based on documents and testimony acquired over the last couple of years.
via: FBC Jax Watchdogs