Thursday, June 23, 2016

PCG's Dennis Leap Remembers the Court Case with WCG

Dennis Leap has recently released an article (Whose Faith Follows, June 21, 2016,) discussing the court case that PCG lost concerning their pirated publication and distribution of some of HWA's writings. It was only during the negotiations after the trial that PCG bought the copyrights from WCG for $3 million. 

Leap insinuates that losing the court case would cause PCG the dire consequences for them.
Mr. Flurry was not just talking poetically here. The leaders of the WCG were hell-bent on grinding the PCG into the ground, never to rise again. The court case was a real fight for the survival to do God’s Work of keeping His message alive and active on Earth. ...
This case was the WCG’s final attempt to bury all of Mr. Armstrong’s writings—revealed truth from Christ—with him forever!
Of course that is largely hyperbole. WCG was not seeking to destroy PCG or render it inoperative. WCG was seeking to restrict PCG's printing and distribution of works copyrighted to WCG. The other COGs that generally never distributed HWA's writings consequently they for the most part never got sued by WCG. Even if the case ended promptly with PCG unable to publish HWA's writings PCG would still have been able to operate and maintain their organization. Also HWA's writings were also distributed on the Internet and they have been left alone.
The second week in February, Mr. Flurry called me into his office. He showed me a letter that Ralph Helge had written to him concerning our printing of Mystery of the Ages. Of course, the WCG did not like what we had done, and they demanded an explanation. The WCG filed a complaint against us in the Los Angeles federal court on February 10. The PCG was not informed about the court filing until February 11. This not unexpected, yet unwanted, development was a major concern to all of us at headquarters. The fight was on!

Mr. Flurry assigned me to work on our case and, well, the rest is history. The court case dominated many of my days for the next six years. There was one vital lesson that carried me through the glum days and the nail-biters. It is a lesson we all must learn and keep at the forefront of our thinking—especially because we are moving ever closer to the sure-to-come tough times ahead.
It is no surprise that WCG should have decided to exercise their right as the copyright holder to stop PCG from distributing HWA's writings. PCG's leaders have no one but themselves to blame for getting themselves dragged into that court case.

PCG's leaders have constantly insisted that catastrophe will soon occur ever since 1989. And before that HWA and his imitators said similar things since the 1930s. Here is the same, old dire proclamation that simply never comes to pass. They are but false prophets.

Leap mentions that few within the WCG ministry where he lived were upset at Mystery of the Ages being taken out of circulation by Tkach's WCG.
Many members in God’s Church [WCG] were upset and disturbed when Pasadena took Mystery of the Ages out of circulation. I was living near Buffalo, New York, at that time. Not one minister or minister’s wife I knew in that area expressed any distress over its removal. However, one ministerial trainee’s wife told me that she was very sad people would not be able to read the book. She said that the book had led her into God’s Church.
It is not possible for me to verify this claim. But even if this account is true it is worth bearing in mind that as a leader of PCG he has an incentive to discredit the WCG ministers who stayed in WCG or joined other COG groups.

Leap states that he had little awareness of how the law worked before this court case.
The only thing I knew about the law and legal matters came from the Ten Commandments and the first five books of the Bible. I had zero understanding of court cases, court filings, court lingo, court procedures, judges and the good or bad of lawyers except for what I had seen on television and in movies. A few speeding tickets had given me a look inside a courtroom. At those few times, all I had to know was the balance in my checkbook. Yet once the court case started, I was plunged into the world of all things legal: lawyers, judges and mountain-high stacks of paper.
Leap says he learned to always trust the minister over him, namely Gerald Flurry.
The one vital spiritual lesson I learned, which I plan to carry with me into eternity, concerns the critical importance of the faith of the leaders above us. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation,” wrote the Apostle Paul .... I reflected on this scripture often during the court case. It became my anchoring verse to help me weather the tough tests and trials wrought by WCG v. PCG. Study this verse carefully.

When our faith flags, we must learn to follow the faith of the ministers God has set over us. As Paul said, we must remember the men “which have the rule over you.” That means to remember their examples of faith.
It is easy to imagine PCG members reading this and interpreting this to mean that they must obey the minister over them.

Leap ends this article telling his followers to remain loyal to those who are over them.
What a blessing it is for us when we learn to follow the faith of the man [Gerald Flurry] whom God has given to rule over us. Let’s all be sure to read, study and apply Hebrews 13:7. We will need it desperately in the coming days.
This sounds a lot like papal infallibility.

Despite all of PCG's efforts and faith they actually lost the court case but in the negotiations after the court case WCG decided to essentially sell the copyrights to some of HWA's writings to PCG for about $3 million. Sending $3 million to Tkach's WCG allowed PCG to brag that they had the copyrights to some of HWA's writings in order to bolster their claim to be the sole, legitimate continuation of HWA's WCG.

(Later PCG bought another copyright from WCG, namely that of The Bible Story by Basil Wolverton. This later acquisition appears to have occurred no later than 2008.)

Very few WCG ministers joined PCG so PCG's leaders had an incentive to distinguish themselves from the competition, namely the other COG groups. Meredith's Global COG and his later Living COG and UCG which was formed as the Tkach changes reached its completion in 1995 all had more members and more WCG ministers with them. The fact that so many WCG members chose to join these other organizations challenged PCG's claim to be the sole legitimate successor to HWA's WCG. If PCG was so, then why did so many WCG members simply not bother to join PCG? Publishing HWA's writings and then buying the copyrights was one way PCG tried to make themselves seem to be worthy of one's allegiance compared with the other COGs.

But despite having these writings in their possession they still are losing members at the moment. One report asserts PCG has lost about 20% in annual income and yet they are still building some dance hall in Edmond. A recent letter on Exit and Support Network suggests PCG have reserved accommodation for only about 4000 people for the Armstrongite Feast of Tabernacles. HWA's writings did not open any sort of cornucopia of plenty for PCG.


  1. Ron Fraser got numerous letters containing information on "acceptable use" and also paragraphs that showed that once literature was taken down - never to be republished - it would be possible to win any such courtcase.
    This was sent long before the PCG entered into a settlement whereby they 'bought' the material.

    I know this because I was a part of this show at that time - thought that is now many years ago...

    Glad to be out, as you know. :-)

  2. Indeed. PCG's leaders have no one but themselves to blame for getting themselves caught up in that court case. There was nothing necessary about it. PCG's leaders quite likely knew that something like this would occur but they distributed copies of HWA's writings regardless. The other COG groups operated quite well without publishing HWA's writings. PCG could well have done the same.

    PCG's leaders have no one but themselves to blame for getting caught up in that court case.