November 19, 2010
Ted N. C. Wilson, President
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, Maryland 20904-6600
We have never met face to face, though our spirits have clashed, as “there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (Rev. 12:7). “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9).
You deserve an explanation for the prompting of this open letter to you. Recently, your Assistant to the President, Orville D. Parchment, mailed a letter to my United States postal address, responding generically to a letter of deep concern intended for you from Sheila R. Hatch. Providentially, I became privy to Mr. Parchment’s letter drafted to Ms. Hatch on your behalf. While I was chagrined at the uselessness of that letter, I possessed no particular personal motivation for responding.
It was during the night when my accompanying angel woke me and commissioned me to write you this open letter. The appropriateness thereof is sustained by the nature of Armageddon’s current battle. “The battle of Armageddon will be fought. […] the Captain of the Lord's host will stand at the head of the angels of heaven to direct the battle” (Last Day Events, pp. 250, 51).
Ms. Hatch poured out her heart in an appeal to your Christian graces. She minced no words in expressing her deeply-held convictions to you. Did you have occasion to read her letter? I would wonder, for the response she received from Mr. Parchment did not deal honestly or thoroughly with any of the woman’s personal concerns. Instead, the official letter of apology amounted to a cold and “professional” turning of the deaf ear. Allow me to comment more specifically regarding three quoted portions of Mr. Parchment’s letter.
1. “The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not have any direct ties with the government of the United States of America.”
COMMENT: This is interesting wording. What are “direct ties?” “The beast ‘which had the wound by a sword, and did live,’ is the Papacy. That was a church dominating the civil power, a union of church and state, enforcing its dogmas by the civil power, by confiscation, imprisonment, and death. An image to this beast would be another ecclesiastical organization clothed with civil power—another union of church and state—to enforce religion by law” (Bible Readings for the Home, 1951, p. 236).
Mr. Wilson, it does not require an advanced degree of higher education to recognize a “union of church and state,” for “when the State shall enforce the decrees and sustain the institutions of the church, then will Protestant America have formed an image of the Papacy” (The Signs of the Times, Nov. 8, 1899).
Lest you cry ‘foul’ immediately, let me quote from your attorney’s [PROPOSED] ORDER OF CONTEMPT AND SANCTIONS (Nov. 2009, p. 12) to substantiate your request for “imprisonment.”
Accordingly, the Court hereby Orders the arrest of Defendant, wherever he may be found within the jurisdiction of the United States, and his incarceration in this District pending his full and complete compliance with the Injunction Order. This Court will release him upon his full and complete compliance with the Injunction Order.
The United States Marshal of this District is directed to take all appropriate steps to ensure that this order of arrest and civil commitment is executed wherever Defendant may be found within the United States or its territories, including appropriate notification of the United States Customs Service.
In addition, there has been State-ordered “property confiscation” by your religious organizations as evidenced in the recent petition for writ of certiorari (pp. 9, 10).
The district court thus authorized respondents and their agents “to remove and permanently dispose of [petitioner’s] signs and promotional materials that violate the Injunction Order.” App., infra, 36a. Respondents’ agents removed the church signs and other infringing materials from petitioner’s church on February 16, 2010, Dt. Ct. Dkt. 136 at 6, and again on October 6, 2010, Dt. Ct. Dkt. 148 at 4.1
Respondents believe they possess the “ongoing authority to remove and permanently dispose of [petitioner’s] signs and promotional materials that violate the Injunction Order” based on the “standing authority of the prior Orders of the Court.” Dt. Ct. Dkt. 148 at 4 n.1.
Mr. Wilson, you may testify ad infinitum that your religious organizations have no “direct ties with the government of the United States of America,” but the facts will betray you and reveal the truth.
2. The Seventh-day Adventist Church “recognizes as a duty of all Christians to obey the civil laws of the land, insofar as these laws are in keeping with God's law, the Ten Commandments.”
COMMENT: This is carefully worded, and would appear to advocate the principle adequately. However, Mr. Parchment has failed to distinguish between the “letter of law” and the “spirit of law.” “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). The Saviour warned, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt. 23:27, 28). The leading men of Christ’s day obeyed the laws of Caesar and observed the letter of Ten Commandments religiously, though they managed to kill the Prince of Glory and demonstrate their violation of the spirit of God’s law.
Mr. Wilson, our Master warns, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matt. 23:15).
3. “In order to preserve the privileges accorded to religious and not-for-profit organizations in the United States of America and around the world, it is our duty to prevent individuals or groups not officially affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church from making use of our name.”
COMMENT: It is dangerous to depart from “the faith once delivered to the saints.” Please take note of what the Spirit of Prophecy tells you: “Some will be honest when it costs nothing; but when policy will pay best, honesty is forgotten. Honesty and policy will not work together in the same mind. In time, either policy will be expelled, and truth and honesty reign supreme, or, if policy is cherished, honesty will be forgotten. They are never in agreement; they have nothing in common. One is the prophet of Baal, the other is the true prophet of God” (Lift Him Up, p. 287).
Mr. Wilson, what does the Bible tell you about persons who are “making use of [your] name” without “legal license?” “And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:49, 50). The remainder of Mr. Parchment’s letter consists of corporate image preservation that is hardly worth mentioning, though it is revealing that his understanding does not seem to agree precisely with your legal department’s Adventist Review interview dated June 10, 2010.
If you have been keeping abreast of the trademark lawsuit styled as Gen. Conf. Corp. v. McGill, you are aware that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has come under additional scrutiny regarding the intent of Congress respecting application of the law. You may have read the Adventist Review, Dec. 9, 1993 article titled “Victory for Religious Freedom” wherein Gary M. Ross, the author, touted the RFRA as of great significance to “Adventists and Christians in general.”
McGill virtually lost at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals because of how the RFRA was applied by the three-member panel of circuit judges. Now that a petition for writ of certiorari has been filed with the United States Supreme Court, I wonder how your legal department will argue the case. Will they maintain the historic position Adventists have taken regarding RFRA, which would ultimately result in a win for McGill, or will they gainsay the original Adventist perspective in order to prevail against McGill before the Supreme Court?
Mr. Wilson, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matt. 26:52). “What sword?” you make ask. For more than two decades, your plaintiffs have wielded the “sword of Caesar” in order to “sustain [your] institutions,” or in the exact words of your assistant, “in order to preserve the privileges accorded to religious and not-for-profit organizations in the United States of America and around the world.”
Should McGill prevail at the Supreme Court, your plaintiffs could never win another Seventh-day Adventist trademark lawsuit against a “breakaway” Adventist group for conscience’ sake. Then the Early Writings prophecy would finally be fulfilled: “They raised the sword [of Caesar] to kill us, but it broke, and fell as powerless as a straw. Then we all cried day and night for deliverance, and the cry came up before God” (p. 34; brackets supplied).
The investigative judgment of the living is presently moving toward its close in the heavenly sanctuary. Soon, none know how soon, the cleansing of the sanctuary will be completed, and the dreadful hour will come when the angel declares, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Rev. 22:11).
Mr. Wilson, the time has come for you to see things in their proper light.
It does not become anyone to drop a word of doubt here and there that shall work like poison in other minds, shaking their confidence in the messages which God has given, which have aided in laying the foundation of this work, and have attended it to the present day, in reproofs, warnings, corrections, and encouragements. To all who have stood in the way of the Testimonies, I would say, God has given a message to His people, and His voice will be heard, whether you hear or forbear. Your opposition has not injured me; but you must give an account to the God of heaven, who has sent these warnings and instructions to keep His people in the right way. You will have to answer to Him for your blindness, for being a stumbling block in the way of sinners” (Selected Messages Book 1, p. 43).
Ellen White penned the following related passage in The Signs of the Times, Jan. 28, 1886:
In every age God has committed to his people some special truth which is directly opposed to the desires and purposes of the human heart, and which tends to separate his church from the world; and it has been the duty of his ministers to proclaim this truth, whether men would hear or forbear.
I have faithfully obeyed the voice of my LORD, fulfilling the prophetic office assigned to me these twenty-two years. “I must not abate one jot or tittle of the message given me to bear, either for favors or because of frowns and alienations of any mortal.” (see 12MR, p. 18) I pray that you might find a place among the ranks of the 144,000 now being sealed for the heavenly garner.
Yours in the Blessed Hope,
Walter Ogden McGill III, Pastor
Creation Seventh Day Adventist
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