Article Summary:

Ten irrefutable facts about the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions that show reckless disregard for the truth and malice on the part of both the authors and the publisher in including the local churches in the book.

Irrefutable Facts 1-10

  1. Authors John Ankerberg and John Weldon concluded, “Theologically speaking, Witness Lee and the Local Church do not constitute a cult, or strictly speaking, a non-Christian religion” in at least eight different manuscripts from the early 1980s through early 1999.
  2. John Weldon, even after ECNR had been published three times, admitted to a fellow anti-cultist that he did not know whether the local churches were a “cult” and that “to prove it would require a lot more time and space than we have.”
  3. John Ankerberg co-authored a revised chapter for publication in a second edition of ECNR with the words, “The Local Church . is unique among the groups in this encyclopedia. It is not a cult in the negative sense of the term, nor do the characteristics of cults in the Introduction generally apply to them.” (December 12, 2001)1
  4. John Weldon’s instructions to use the most “damning” and “damaging” quotes to “really hit these guys hard” and show their “demonization” resulted in the distorted picture of the Living Stream Ministry and the local churches that appears in the Encyclopedia.
  5. Harvest House’s editorial process did not include any substantive editing or fact checking of ECNR by either in-house or contract editors.
  6. Harvest House, John Ankerberg, and John Weldon have steadfastly refused to meet with us as Christian brothers and as recently as March 2004 informed the court that they objected to mediation.
  7. Harvest House Publishers responded to our first offer to travel to Oregon for Christian fellowship with a letter from their attorney.
  8. Harvest House surreptitiously filed a lawsuit against Living Stream Ministry and the local churches, even though our representatives were continuing to negotiate with Harvest House in good faith to settle this dispute. Thus, Harvest House initiated the use of litigation.
  9. Harvest House continued to republish ECNR, including over 45,000 additional copies printed and distributed through BookSpan, even though they had received numerous protests about the libelous nature of its inaccuracies.
  10. Harvest House, John Ankerberg, and John Weldon cannot produce evidence that the libelous charges of criminal and immoral behavior in ECNR are true concerning Living Stream Ministry and the local churches, yet they refuse to admit that such charges are false.


1 Contrary to Harvest House’s assertion, we did not take this statement from a settlement offer document. It was produced in the course of discovery in the present litigation by John Ankerberg. It was part of a draft revision sent out for review under a cover letter that said, “We are going to put this into our Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions. They are taking legal action against us and Harvest House Publishers. I have gone ahead anyway, as I think they are wrong!” Thus, Ankerberg’s stated intent for the revision was publication, not settlement. This chapter revision has not been published.

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