Harvest Bible Chapel dropped the lawsuit against Julie Roys and the writers of The Elephant’s Debt and their wives. This post is an overview of the situation from this corrupt church organization and how this news should be viewed. James MacDonald lost big and its time for bloggers to step up to the plate and continue to write about Harvest Bible Chapel.
“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.”
“Winning is fun… Sure. But winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point. Not giving up is the point. Never letting up is the point. Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.”
In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
until someone comes forward and cross-examines.
Proverbs 18:17 NIV
There is a lot of ground to cover in this post. I meant to do this article two days ago but I had some other business related to Harvest Bible Chapel that I needed to do. First lets look at how a lawsuit was dropped and why.
James MacDonald Drops the Lawsuit
On January 7, 2019 James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel decided to drop the lawsuit against The Elephant’s Debt blog and Julie Roys. The lawsuit from my understanding was in a period of discovery and the judge ruled to make confidential information about Harvest public. When that happened Harvest Bible Chapel feared more information going public. So they decided to drop the lawsuit. Harvest released a statement on its website that this blog found deeply misleading. The statement on its website is deeply warped and reflects the alternative reality that Harvest Bible Chapel lives in. Even when the judge ruled against Harvest Bible Chapel, the controversial church network said that the law was still being broken. What Harvest ran into is the fact that bloggers have free speech. James MacDonald is a big fish in a small pond of Harvest. Outside of Harvest he is but a gnat that is annoying which you swat at. You can read some of the coverage of the lawsuit being dropped in the following publications.
- Religion News Service, “Harvest Bible Chapel drops lawsuit against bloggers, writer.“
- Christianity Today, “Harvest Bible Chapel Wants to Drop Defamation Suit Against Critics.“
- The Christian Post, “Harvest Bible Chapel scraps lawsuit against Julie Roys, bloggers.”
- Church Leaders, “Harvest to Drop Lawsuit Against Critics.”
- Daily Herald, “Harvest Bible Chapel says it’s dropping defamation suit against critics so it can keep records private.”
- Walking With a Limp, “Harvest Bible Chapel drops lawsuits, the need for real repentance, and the little issue of word choice.”
Julie Roys Response
At Julie Roys blog she wrote a response to the lawsuit being dropped on a post that went up on January 8, 2019. Here is how Julie opened up her blog post about Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald.
“For the past three months, I have wanted to respond to the allegations Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald made in their baseless lawsuit against me and the authors of The Elephant’s Debt and their wives. I have refrained from doing so because judges don’t take kindly to defendants litigating their cases publicly. Yet now that MacDonald and Harvest are dropping their lawsuit, I think it’s appropriate to set the record straight.”
Julie goes on to discuss the situation and calls the allegations objectively false. The allegations that are made are filled out right malice according to the Chicago writer. The issue is that so many elders would sign onto a lawsuit with so many blatant and horrific lies. Julie goes on and spends time refuting some of the claims in the lawsuit. Its her belief that as for James MacDonald it is time for him to confess, repent, and resign. You can read Julie Roys response in, “My Response to Harvest’s Lawsuit: Time to Confess, Repent, and Resign.”
The Elephant’s Debt Response
The Elephant’s Debt was the main target of the lawsuit. Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant and their wives were the subject of James MacDonald’s rage. Over at The Elephant’s Debt they wrote about the judge’s decision here. That was followed by a post of an elephant celebrating which you can see here. But that was followed by a post that was direct to James MacDonald and very much challenging. You can read Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant’s letter to James MacDonald and the elder’s board here. In the post the writers of The Elephant’s Debt lay out the path forward and what James MacDonald needs to do. This is a summary.
- James MacDonald contacts Christianity Today and writes another op-ed and James confesses that he lied to his congregation And James will confess that he went after the wives of Scott Bryant and Ryan Mahoney as well.
- In that same op-ed James will confess that he lied about Julie Roys. As for Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant, MacDonald needs to own the fact that he lied about the writers of The Elephant’s Debt. MacDonald needs to clean up the lies that he spread about Ryan Mahoney and his employment at Harvest Christian Academy.
- James MacDonald needs to admit that he cost five defendants time, money and consternation. The Elephant’s Debt is expecting James MacDonald to pay their legal fees within 30 day. The Elephant’s Debt wants to refund the generous donors who helped them in this situation.
Analysis of the Situation
James MacDonald lost and lost big. This decision and the ruling by the court showed how out of touch with reality James MacDonald is. Harvest is James’ personal little fiefdom. He rules it with an iron fist. He rules by threatening, screaming, tearing people down, and firing on a whim. James as a pastor is a fraud. Its really that simple. Some people go into business to make money, well for James this is his business. He is in this for the money. But James got hit with reality in a legal court room. He saw that the threats, bullying and intimidation that he can do at Elgin or Rolling Meadows he can’t do successfully outside that environment. James lost big time and reality slapped him in the face. This blog is encouraged that James learned about dealing with the rules.
This lawsuit dismissal from my perspective is about protecting the guilty. Harvest Bible Chapel is hiding a lot of material. I know, because I have heard some of it. Julie Roys also knows a lot as well. James did what he did to prevent the hemorrhaging of information from Harvest Bible Chapel. James MacDonald is in a desperate state to control the information and hang on to his empire. He is like a person on the shore of Lake Michigan using a broom trying to keep the water from coming onto the beach. Its a losing fight and James is losing. On January 7, 2019 he lost big. I was stunned by the development and hoped this would happen. But this actually opens up the writing about Harvest to a new level.
Time for Bloggers to Finish the Job
This blog has a deep amount of respect for Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant. Their blog received a great amount of credibility in being sued, and pulling through. To my knowledge they are the only organization that has been sued by a church network. Sovereign Grace didn’t go after any bloggers, neither did Acts 29, or countless other organizations. The Elephant’s Debt should be proud and should stand up and celebrate. Better yet maybe they should spend more time in the watering hole or grazing on the Serengeti. Its well deserved. If any of the writers make it out to Washington, D.C. I will be happy to meet them.
For me I plan to stick with Harvest Bible Chapel and write for the long term. I have stories in the pipeline that I am vetting and working on. Let me tell you how I got into all this with Harvest Bible Chapel. I had heard about the lawsuit against The Elephant’s Debt and Julie Roys. I was stunned when I heard that development. So this blog, which writes heavily about the Evangelical Free Church of America wrote a couple of posts about Harvest Bible Chapel. Those posts are, “James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel Goes After The Elephant’s Debt Blog Accusing it of Defamation in a Lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, Illinois” , “Why did Harvest Bible Go After The Elephant’s Debt Now? What was Julie Roys Going to Break Through World Magazine that James MacDonald is Desperate to Silence?” and “James MacDonald vs. The Elephant’s Debt Lawsuit.” Someone had emailed me the lawsuit. It was not published at The Elephant’s Debt and I contacted the blog and asked for permission to post it. They gave me that permission but asked that I remove the personal address information. With those three posts it was like a flood of email from people who used to be at Harvest came at me. I remember speaking with one person on the phone and he encouraged me to keep writing about Harvest. However, he also said that James MacDonald was a diabolical individual. Julie Roys and The Elephant’s Debt were ensnared in a lawsuit and he explained to me that James was going to go after me also at some point. James as he explained is a very petty and vindictive personality. To preserve his turf he will go after anyone. So to write about Harvest Bible Chapel and The Elephant’s Debt was not easy. But I decided that a bully or thug like James MacDonald could not win. With The Elephant’s Debt dealing with the lawsuit I felt that someone had to write about these issues and help research this topic. Please note, I am not a victims advocate at all. I say that because I lack the formal training and background. What I do bring to the table though is a lot of academic and writing experience from grad school in Wisconsin. So I can connect the dots and research the topic well. Time pouring in primary source archives at Northwestern University or Marquette taught me that aspect.
There is one thing I want to say and now is the time to say it. Sometimes you hear information and you wonder what should you do with it? Should I publish it or should I wait for the right time. Now seems to be the time to mention this information. People have wondered why the Chicago Tribune has not written about the Harvest Bible Chapel lawsuit. After all the Daily Herald wrote about it. And those of you in Chicago know that the Tribune wrote about the issues at Willowcreek. Behind the scenes here it what allegedly happened according to my sources. A number of people approached the Chicago Tribune and shared information about what was happening at Harvest Bible Chapel. James MacDonald fired off a nasty lawsuit against a blog and a reporter. According to what I have heard the Chicago Tribune was going to work on an article and then James MacDonald allegedly threatened legal action against the newspaper. The Tribune got cold feet and worried about a lawsuit. Before people got shocked I just want to say that in these kinds of scandals this is common. I am aware of the media being pressured or forced to suppress stories. Let me give you two examples.
In 2015 the Dallas Morning News was to break a story that Matt Chandler’s The Village Church practiced church discipline on a female who annulled her marriage to a child pornography addict. Allegedly what happened is that when the paper approached Matt Chandler’s entity for a comment the organization pushed back. Some businessmen from the church who advertise heavily in the Dallas Morning News threatened to pull their advertisement funding, and the paper dropped the story. Amy Smith of Watchkeep actually broke it. In the Washington, D.C. area I stumbled across information where I was attending that the church had hired a violent sex offender and made him care director and hid it from the church. After wrestling with it for a while I notified someone about the situation. One of the D.C. news stations was going to go a story on the sex offender and Fairfax Community Church. The reporter later was forced to drop the story. I had heard that he was under an unusual amount of pressure to drop the story. The church had used some of its members to allegedly threaten to withdraw funding or support from the television station. So tragically this has happened before. Hopefully now the Chicago Tribune will step up to the plate and write about all this with Harvest Bible Chapel.
Its this blogs belief that writing about Harvest Bible Chapel by bloggers should move forward. The next phase I believe will deal with allegations of abuse. This blog has heard some stories behind the scenes that are disturbing. They need to be brought forward so that they can not be repeated by Harvest. This will come forward in time. People are sharing information now that back in September they were afraid to reveal. Its time for James MacDonald to bow out of ministry. However, I don’t think he will do that so the next step is to get the people to leave so that the organization can’t remain open. But now is the time for other bloggers to step up and write about the issues besetting Harvest Bible Chapel. But its crucial that the machine that is Harvest be chipped away at post by post. I told a number of people from Harvest that I plan to stick to this story until it is resolved. The loss by James MacDonald is a major victory for The Elephant’s Debt, journalism, blogging and free speech. Let’s take advantage of this development.