Sunday, 1 December 2013

Wising Up and Rising Up (Dec 2013- Jan 2014)

Information and Action

This entry focuses on the importance of preventing and confronting fraud/corruption via accurate information and legal action. There are two parts.

Part one (wising up) provides links to helpful articles and websites with current information on fraud, emphasizing religious institutions in the USA. Part two (rising up) presents a rationale for taking legal action especially within the Christian community. Both wising up (facts) and rising up (courts) are key for pursuing justice and protecting people.

Part One—Wising Up
Current Information and Examples of Fraud
The materials and links below delve into fraud in religious and non-profit organizations in the USA. They are very informative and certainly worth reading. The number and types of fraud cases are staggering—and seemingly exist everywhere. The applications go far beyond the USA and far beyond the religious/humanitarian community. They are also especially relevant for the NCI et al. fraud with regards to the huge numbers of ecclesiastical crimes NOT reported, criminal and/or unethical actions being rationalized, intentional and disguised cover-ups, leadership hubris/narcissism, superficial justifications for not taking action, tolerating questionable activities/people for the sake of organizational productivity/stability, discrediting and dismissals of whistleblowers, and so on.

(Forbes online article,18 November 2013)

(Washington Post online article,. 26 October 2013)

(website briefly describing many frauds affecting USA religious institutions)

(Insead online article, 7 February 2013)

Part Two—Rising Up
Legal Solutions for Justice and Protection
So far there have been at least four legal cases related to the NCI et al. Fraud, with various levels of government investigation in at least two other countries. The legal story is clearly not over yet nor are the efforts of civil society. The article/link below addresses the importance and appropriateness of taking legal action by Christians (the relevance of out-of-court professional mediation is another topic). It offers viewpoints on the validity of taking responsible. “biblical” action through the courts. In so doing it counters the assertions that Christians should not take legal recourse against others, especially Christians, as it is “unbiblical,” a bad “witness,” displeasing to God, and thus sinful. It highlights examples of how Jesus Christ and St. Paul took legal action at different times in order to defend themselves rather turning the other cheek. The article is also clear on the importance of having pure motives. So seeking justice and protection for self and others is a matter of the human heart for sure—virtuous motives--but is also often a matter of the (God-ordained) human courts as well.

Excerpts: On Suing A Christian Brother In The Civil Courts by Stanley W. Paher, The Examiner, Volume 3, Number 5 


“…it is said that a Christian is forbidden to file in civil court against another brother because a higher and better court, the church itself, should try any dispute. Realistically, is the local church competent to judge intricate matters of law? What about the following examples?

(a) Real Property Disputes. Are members experts on deeds, covenants, surveyors reports, and do they possess the knowledge of real estate values to make a settlement? It is tough enough for lawyers and elected officials to read and understand these documents.

(b) Divorce. If the church decides, can it judge as to both moral guilt and innocence and a proper property settlement, custodial rights, and similar entanglements between the parties involved? No.

(c) Overdue Debts. Can the church order the repayment of a loan or handle a foreclosure? Can a church preside over a bankruptcy? Is the church competent to interpret lengthy contracts and determine its various components in relation to the facts and events? Is the church empowered to enforce penalty clauses of contracts? Of course not.

(d) Theft, Invasion of Privacy, Eavesdropping, Slander, or willful disregard of civil rights, such as the right to face and cross examine accusers. Does the church have the talent or resources to resolve these matters and compel compliance as to its decisions? Can the church insure, as do the courts of this land, due process of law and equal protection of law? Hardly.

In these matters, each of which is greater than mere personal disputes among Christians, God has ordained civil government to establish a system of courts for their resolution. They are responsible, and Christians do not sin when they employ the courts for protection, whether it be marital infidelity, financial fraud, stealing the good name of a brother by slander, theft, or any other legal complaint. As Hoyt Houchen states, legitimate use of governmental courts is not even contemplated in 1 Corinthians 6.

Scripturally, the church may judge only matters between and among disciples common offenses such as name calling, mistreatment of others, ill-behavior -PERSONAL grievances. Should the church try to decide LEGAL matters routinely handled in civil courts, it would act beyond its jurisdictional competence. The division of responsibility is clear: the disciples should handle their own internal disciplinary matters and PERSONAL disputes between brethren, while the civil courts are the proper venue for any kind of LEGAL differences, even those between Christians. No nation would ever permit a Church of Christ to issue binding legal decisions which affect the public welfare….

The lesson is clear. Let not crooked church members take for their own wicked uses and spiritual aggrandizement that which belongs to the faithful, who have often allowed such takeover without a fight, just because of a traditional, mistaken view of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.”

Summary Thoughts
NCI et al. needs to be further confronted. This evil will not “go away” until it is further uncovered and justice is done. It is up to the courts as well as civil society and the church-mission community. It is up to the many specific people who have information to help and who have been affected along with their organizations. It is up to leaders at all levels within in the church, mission, and humanitarian community to break ranks and to do what is right. Who will wise up and rise up for the sake of justice and vulnerable people?

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