Engagement With Clare Locke

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“For those of you who are friends of our ministry here in Moscow, I thought I should share with you a newsletter that I recently sent out to our church community. Your prayers and support would be greatly appreciated as well. Thanks.”

Dear Kirkers,

It is time for the elders to bring you up to speed on certain strategic developments in how we are engaging with outside media, to outline the rationale for what we are doing, and to paint a little picture about our future plans in this regard.

At the beginning of December (12/01/23), Christ Church engaged the services of Clare Locke, a top law firm in the nation specializing in defamation cases. As almost all of you know, for years, we have been on the receiving end of a steady stream of defamatory accusation and slander. Because the Lord has been so kind to us in our ministries here in Moscow, up to this point, we have mostly just ignored it. For some of us, the accusations have assumed the status of white noise or the cawing of crows on a lovely summer day. But the time for ignoring such things has now passed.

We have several basic reasons for thinking this. First, God has blessed us with a ministry that is not just local. The body of Christ is far more than local. Social media and the world wide interwebs have enabled slander and defamation to consolidate and self-leverage, moving from something like a magazine article (Vice) on to a book (Disobedient Women), and then to another magazine article (Slate), building and layering self-citing false narratives in an attempt to establish a mainstream orthodoxy about our church and sister ministries. As we have gained more attention nationally, we seem to have taken our parasites with us. The accusations have grown in vehemence and have increased in stickiness because we are more newsworthy now—representatives of Christian Nationalism, Bible-believing Christianity, etc.

And as this has all been unfolding, the defamations are now being circulated by professional media entities that have a corporate ethical and legal obligation not to circulate information known by them to be false. This is a standard they have been manifestly failing to meet.

Second, this defamation is an issue that has been causing real damage. Defamation is not an ordinary civil issue. The legal term for it is tortious, and it necessarily involves intentional or reckless dishonesty. When churches and schools are damaged by defamation aimed at us, legal recourse is available. And while our roots are deep, and we are grateful to God that our community remains healthy regardless of any lies told, the damage to us locally has nevertheless been real as well. In addition, every single family in every ACCS school, every CREC congregation, every classical homeschool co-op around the world, every little church community that looks to us for help, all of them are at risk of real harm, courtesy of those flinging around links to various falsehoods, lies, and mendacious narratives. Most of them have already experienced damages of some kind.

While we have been in a position (thus far) to weather the harm done to us, there are vulnerable entities that have not been so fortunate. We believe that we have an obligation, not only to defend ourselves, but also to fight for our friends who have been taking heat for their association with us. The golden rule applies.

If we intend to fight at this point (as we do), it is important for us to do it right. Case in point, Clare Locke is one of the top firms in the country. The church has a line item in our budget for legal expenses, which is going to grow considerably. If you would like to donate to this line, your help is certainly encouraged. Just put Legal Defense in the memo line. Funds will be used for both legal defense and legal offense, as well as for media responses and publications.

We will keep you all apprised of our progress as it unfolds. Thank you for your prayers and support. And thank you for being such a cheerful group of saints despite the outrageous things being said.

Cordially in Christ,

Douglas Wilson