Texas Supreme Court Rules Again in Local Church v. Harvest House Case

On February 16, 2007, the Texas Supreme Court denied a petition for rehearing that was submitted by the Local Church and Living Stream Ministry in their $136 million defamation lawsuit against Harvest House Publishers and authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon.

The purpose of the Local Church’s petition for rehearing was to urge the Texas Supreme Court to reconsider an earlier denial issued on December 1, 2006. In both petitions, the Local Church took issue with a Texas Court of Appeals (First District) opinion which ruled that Ankerberg and Weldon’s book Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions did not defame the Local Church.

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Background of this case, including recent developments in which Hank Hanegraaff, the controversial president of the Christian Research Institute, came out in support of the Local Church — to the bewilderment of Christian apologists and countercult experts.

The two rulings from the Texas Supreme Court firmly uphold the opinion written by the Texas Court of Appeals, which declared that the allegedly libelous statements in the Encyclopedia are not “of and concerning” the Local Church, and therefore “are not actionable.”

“With this ruling handed down by the Texas Supreme Court,” says Bob Hawkins, Jr., president of Harvest House Publishers, “we, as well as authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon, want to express our deep gratitude to so many who have stood by us throughout this arduous legal battle over the right to responsibly speak the truth in love. God has taught us all a great deal as we have depended upon Him every step of the way. May He receive all the glory for this victory and vindication.”

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