Statement On Shamblin Litigation - Round One - 11.6.2006
by Rev. Rafael D Martinez, Co-Director, Spiritwatch Ministries
On December 21, 2006, I was personally served a summons by the Bradley County Sheriff's Department to appear and defend myself against a civil action filed against me by self-proclaimed "prophet" Gwen Shamblin and 66 other members of her cultic movement, the Remnant Fellowship based in Franklin, Tennessee. The case number 06648 was filed on November 6, 2006 in the Circuit Court of Williamson County, Tennessee. The civil action alleges that I have, in the course of my ministry here on the Spiritwatch website, "published one or more written false statements that were intended to impeach Plaintiffs' honesty, integrity, virtue, and/or reputation" and that Shamblin and her following have incurred irreparable "damages to their reputations and potential incomes." It ominously goes on to say that they "are not limited to the following .." and cited three paragraphs from my critical writings on Remnant Fellowship, claiming they are "lies and falsehoods."
So along with these allegations and the usual blackening of character someone being sued for slander will usually get, came the request for judgment against myself for damages exceeding 3.3 million dollars, alleging I have been wilfully and maliciously engaged in defamation
Aside from several unusual things about this lawsuit, I noted that I was not the only defendant. The suit names as a co-defendent one "Anonymous Blogger" of whom I have no connection with and who most of the lawsuit's fury is directed against. This unknown person posted for several months on a personal blog a lot of negative information on many of these same plaintiffs in the lawsuit. However, it would appear that the pretensive posturing taken against this shadowy figure in the lawsuit provided for Shamblin and her flock an opportunity to file a lawsuit against me personally, alleging defamation. In essence, this absurd litigation is entirely aimed at myself, and by default, our ministry.
The allegations made against myself as having intentionally engaged in defamation and malice aimed at ruining reputations are entirely baseless, equally slanderous and will be vigorously defended against in a court of law. This is nothing less than an attack upon my freedom of speech, a faculty intolerable to cultic movements like Gwen Shamblin's Remnant Fellowship. Each of the three paragraphs cited in the litigation contain truth claims I have made in the course of my research that are factual realities I unveiled to warn others against the damaging extremism that Remnant Fellowship's veneer of public orthodoxy cloaks. They are hardly "lies" and "falsehoods." The nature of our ministry is to warn the public about deceptive cultism, a ministration which Shamblin would desire to see silenced so she may continue her deceptive career. By the grace of God, we fully trust that this will never occur.
So who says Gwen doesn't believe in Christmas? She sent me an early gift, one I took with humility and rejoicing (Matthew 5:11-12). The unvarnished truth is my defense, as well as the fortress of my One True God in Christ by the Spirit and it will be all established in a way beyond refutation .. thanks to this frivolous opportunism by a cultic movement finding itself increasingly under scrutiny.
Click to read a copy of Shamblin's summons to answer to the litigation (Adobe .PDF file)
Click to read a copy of our response to the summons (Adobe. PDF file)
UPDATE 5 FEBRUARY 07
** The first hearing originally scheduled for 12 February 07 has now been moved to 26 March 07 **
UPDATE 22 MARCH 07
Click to read a copy of Shamblin's legal argument and our response which will be argued in court on 26 March 07 (Adobe .PDF file)
Spiritwatch Ministries is an outreach of Christian concern for those involved in abusive spirituality. We went to court on 26 March 07 accused of lies and defamation by Gwen Shamblin and Remnant Fellowship, a cultic church that engages in manipulative religious abuse and psychological damage. But the only guilt we will plead to is in our public exposing and reproving of these abusive activities so we may protect the public and defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is twisted by Remnant's excesses. That is the hill we will stand and die upon to the glory of God in Christ by the Spirit and His blessed Kingdom.
We noted in court that Mr. Harris' case, as we expected, is unraveling. Mr. Harris openly admitted that they subpoenaed Google to find the identity of the so-called "Anonymous Blogger" and found, as we have consistently asserted, that this unbalanced character was a third party entirely and completely unconnected with Spiritwatch Ministries. The Honorable Jeffery S. Bivins, the Williamson County court judge who heard the argument had carefully studied the pleadings filed on 22 March by Mr. Philip Anderson, my lawyer. In court, Judge Bivins immediately cut to the chase, focusing on the core question of the case: he saw no clear content in the Remnant filing showing an identifiable person being defamed, and gave Mr. Harris 15 days to amend and rewrite his brief, something we expected. The judge asked him point blank if there were people identified and defamed on our website, and Harris, who clearly was struggling for purchase on the slippery slope he dug, immediately said "Yes, yes there are," ... So now he will dig into the website looking in vain for something that ain't there.
Click to read the order by Judge Bivins: the 15 day timeframe began on 4 April 07 when he signed it (Adobe .PDF file)
We have not changed a single byte of the text of any of the articles on Spiritwatch Ministries which RF has been searching and studying in their ultimately futile attempt to litigate us out of existence. We have documented evidence on our server logs that there has been considerable downloading through the offices of the Weigh Down Workshop office staff has been stalking Spiritwatch for the past several months. The mail.wdworkshop.com web address is the hostname of the most active downloader of Spiritwatch.org content - this is the Net address for this Remnant recruiting organization. They've been at this game for months, and the best "catch" they could make was a paragraph out of one of my articles that doesn't defame anyone.
Remnant's position, without specificity and clarity of legal claim, is clearly becoming indefensible. We expect it to be dismissed but even it it isn't, we are fully ready to go to the next step. We are certain that Gwen Shamblin and her likely reluctant co-plaintiffs, many of whom probably were pressured into signing off on this, are not and are trying to find some way out of this mess they created.
A day or so after I was served, the Lord encouraged me with a Scripture promise given to me to stand on .. and I praised God thinking about it all day long. It was a prophecy of what I saw today
The LORD is known
by the judgment which he executeth:
the wicked is snared
in the work of his own hands.
We will continue to exercise our First Amendment rights to do so knowing that the documentable truth about Remnant's hidden agenda is our defense, and that our authority to speak out upon this comes from the high calling we've been given by God in Christ by His Spirit to do so. Gwen Shamblin has taught her disciples to lambaste, despise and even hate all who disagree with her. The plain fact is that I and our Spiritwatch Ministries staff (as well as the legions of Christian pastors, family members, the City of Refuge support group and Christian apologists who've addressed Remnant excesses over the years) are the best friends they've actually ever had, striving to reign in their madness and bring accountability, truth, and balance to their zeal which Shamblin has so clearly exploited and twisted to her ends.
SOLA DEO GLORIA
We waited and waited. We heard nothing from Remnant's lawyer after leaving the courtroom on March 26 for several days. Finally, we received notification on April 11 of news we'd long expected: Remnant's lawyer filed on April 10 for a complete dismissal of the lawsuit. In effect, Gwen blinked. So she took the easy way out and chose to dismiss it .. quietly .. without having the media watch the Prophet fall apart in court. The war Shamblin incited against us petered out as her young lions of Judah, waving their banners and brandishing their threats, retreated when we stood prepared to answer - with Gwen leading the way back behind their own line.
Click to read Remnant's surrender via their order of dismissal: they didn't need 15 days to figure out they were defeated before they even began (Adobe .PDF file)
This abrupt dismissal was expected since we knew the claim of defamation had no merit whatsoever. If they file again within a year, as they could do, we will still be ready. We were always and will be ever ready to speak the truth without the fear they labor under. Gwen and Remnant, however, are unable to do that with themselves, let alone under the full light of examination in a court of law.
We felt all along that the suit was entirely orchestrated by Gwen Shamblin's arrogance and paranoia. Those 67 other plaintiffs were just puppets she lined up behind herself to feel larger then life, ten feet tall and bulletproof. But it was her house of cards that collapsed when it suddenly dawned on her that she was going to be engaged by a vigorous legal defense and that she and her cult would have to face a scrutiny unlike any she's had before. Unlike the lawsuits she successfully sealed under confidential settlement orders with her former employees, and the deal she struck with prosecutors at the Smith murder trial in which attention on Remnant would be muted, Shamblin and her Remnant plaintiffs would face a thorough expose in a court of law that could not be controlled or mediated to their advantage. Being a cult leader thriving on secrecy and deception, she couldn't abide having the full light of examination focused on her for long and still be able to keep her pretense of divine authority draped over herself.
So Mrs. Shamblin, did the only thing her impetuous impulsiveness could do when confronted by a situation she couldn't spin, control or dominate - she turned tail and ran. We openly question if this was the kind of example true Christian martyrs standing for their faith should show.
I don't think so.
We hope that this gives her flock some serious things to think about the truthfulness of their 'prophet' whom they've been misled by at such great cost to them personally. It is they who are the victims of ruthless exploitation here and we still pray for both them and Shamblin herself, who will have much to answer for in the next world if she doesn't speedily repent. Not only has she grievously and abusively manipulated her flock under the guise of being a messenger from God, but the "message" she teaches is unbiblical, imbalanced legalism wrapped up in black and white yet hip Christian absolutism.
Jesus said it would be like this in the last days: Take heed that no man deceive you. (Matthew 24:4).
Whoever the "Anonymous Blogger" is, whatever their reasons for posting what they did are a moot point. When Remnant discovered this person was not me, it probably undermined their whole lunatic premise behind their lawsuit. But whoever they are, they have to be one of the most miserable figures to have come under the control of Remnant. Unlike myself, they don't want to just be like Gwen Shamblin .. it seems apparent that they want to be Gwen, and did anything they could to get her attention. That explains the sudden change of blog perspective when they shifted from critic to supplicant almost overnight. It is another testimony to the power of deception in the last days.
Whoever you are, A.B., I am sure that if you are allowed into that Franklin hothouse, you are at the low end of the pecking order there and are tolerated only because your "testimony" of coming back to "the truth." You know what I speak of. You may have the passing praise of men but you cannot have the eternal peace of God. As you've been "listening again to the words and praying that God will open my heart to his will, his words, his passion" as you wrote on your now defunct blog, you've likely been listening to too many of the smooth yet forked tongued words spake by Gwen herself - not the word of God. Those "words" are the snare that is filling your life full of the chaos it is in. I hope your prayers for knowing God's will include an opening of your mind by the Spirit of Truth found in His Word and not the rambling sermons of a woman trying to make you into another clone of her self. I really do.
In closing, we as Spiritwatch Ministries will continue our efforts in Christian discernment. More testimonies and articles on the twisted teachings and practices of Remnant will be produced, as time permits. Mr. Harris can download all the files off our website to his heart's content but he will be unable to get his meal ticket out of them. We have other things to do. Remnant Fellowship's cultic influences aren't the only ones we are grappling with. We've been on the frontlines of true spiritual warfare for many years before we ever even heard of Shamblin and her cult. She's just one tadpole in a very big pond of heretics. There's a Cultworld filled with human and demonic principalities that have blinded and twisted much of the divine truth that Christianity has poured into a world in need of its' Savior. As the opportunity arises, we will continue to minister in this forgotten harvest field.
We thank so many who have supported us and intend to stay steadfast to the end in opposing spiritual abuse and doctrinal heresy.
To God be the Glory, great things He hath done.
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