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The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 was highly supported by the leaders and legal experts of the SDA Church. 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.”

In a trademark lawsuit that has been successfully hidden from the Adventist constituency up to this time, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Adventist Church organizations involved based on an application of RFRA that has split the circuit courts in our nation. (see GCC v. McGill) The three-member panel opined that the RFRA does not apply in private-party lawsuits.

McGill has filed a cert. petition in the Supreme Court that is being highly contested by the GCC. In the event this case is heard by the US Supreme Court, it is possible that the GCC will lose its power to prevail in future trademark lawsuits respecting the name SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Have you any knowledge of this lawsuit?

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Hello Gordon,

Thanks for the welcome.

I did a quick search on Google and found the following links that deal with this lawsuit:

http://www.finnegan.com/GeneralConferenceCorpofSeventhDayAdventistsvMcGill/

http://www.detroitbusinesslaw.com/2010/0...n-two-churches/

http://www.lexisnexis.com/Community/copyright-

trademarklaw/blogs/topcases/archive/2010/08/12/sixth-circuit-upholds-seventh-day-adventism-s-trademark-and-rejects-free-exercise-and-religious-freedom-restoration-act-claims-general-conf-corp-v-mcgill-august-10-2010.aspx

http://trademark-infringement-attorney.com/2-seventh-day-adventist-organizations-bring-

trademark-infringement-lawsuit-against-breakaway-church/2010/08/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_Seventh_Day_Adventist_Church

http://www.thethirdangelsmessage.com/religious_liberty_trademark_sda.php

http://www.detroitbusinesslaw.com/2010/11/update-seventh-day-adventist-trademark-dispute/

http://www.dailycorinthian.com/view/full...omment_10934311

------------END of LINKS------------

There is a fair amount of reading, and I think it is both interesting and sad. I wonder why I cannot find anything in the Adventist periodicals about this? Do you suppose the GC wants to keep this away from the constituency?

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The lawsuits originally deal with a church that was not affiliated with Adventist GC (although they did carry the same theological views, although a bit more aggressive), and yet remain to be named "Seventh Day Adventist", which GC had branded, and trademarked to control who can use such term. The church in question started printing ads and hanging billboards calling the Pope and Catholicism the beast of Revelation, and calling Sunday observance to be the future MOB.

GC got embarrassed (by their own views that were told in the open, although without any proper 10 week explanation) and invoked a lawsuit to make sure that those people would not be confused with real Adventists who basically teach the same thing.

GC invokes lawsuits against any group of people it deems to mis-represent SDA teaching or SDA purpose. The above are the cases that describe such actions.

Basically, GC created a legal monopoly on Adventism by becoming a corporation under the law, and then assuming trademark identity as such corporation. In such way the name brand Seventh Day Adventist, is legally treated the same as name brands Nike and Pepsi.

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The real problem was this.

They were impersonating the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

That's not the real problem. The real problem is a religious institution invoking corporate laws created by government for financial institutions, and uses them to monopolize a religious faith.

Basically, GC decided to define an SDA believer as the one who is affiliated with GC. If you are not affiliated with GC and you call yourself Seventh Day Adventist... it's grounds for a lawsuit.

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Thank you fccool. I think you are on to something very significant.

I also want to respond to LD here.

Quote:
I have always wondered what Jesus would do in this situation.

The answer seems clear from Scripture:

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. (Mark 9:38-40)

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Basically, GC decided to define an SDA believer as the one who is affiliated with GC. If you are not affiliated with GC and you call yourself Seventh Day Adventist... it's grounds for a lawsuit.

If someone is not a member of the Adventist Church, opens up a Church saying Seventh-day Adventist Church, collects Tithes and Offerings, you would be ok with that?

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You ask that question as though Adventistm has invented a certain Christian principles for sale. If someone wants to to open up an SDA Church, or any church I am more than OK with that. That's what this country is all about. SDA should never have monopoly over religious practices.

What GC fears is that if few churches open up that are not under its control, then the tithes all of a sudden don't have to trickle up to CG. It looses control. That's why it has to hammer down on any independent churches that may open up.

Name me any other denomination that would do that?

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It makes me think of Windows and Mac (shoot me if this is a bad parallel): If Apple hadn't been so proprietary about the Mac system, we would probably all be using Macs now.

Does this have a parallel in trademarking a church's name? I think it might.

We need to show we are Christians by our love; we need to make it easier for people to learn Bible truth - and maybe that means a variety of churches who carry the name; we need for people to know us by our service to others and not by our court cases.

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As I was thinking about some of these matters, the question came to me as follows:

A Parable of the Giver and the Steward

A man, a certain giver, was inspired by sanctified reason to offer a tenth of his best, along with sacrificial offerings to support a cause he considered most sacred.

After giving cheerfully, he discovered the steward was using his sacred trust to finance "witch-hunts" and other "inquisitions" that did not meet with his approval.

The man decided not to give any further benefits to the steward because of the breach of trust. The steward failed to repent of his misappropriations even after being confronted numerous times.

The giver, continuing to be inspired by sanctified reason to offer a tenth of his best, along with sacrificial offerings to support the sacred cause he believed in, turned to others who were more faithful.

Was the giver justified in his action?

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I don't think this is a question of whether or whether you should trust GC with your money. I have no doubt that people who comprise it are not out in it for the money.

I think we certainly should question any organization that would put self-preservation above any moral ideals that it claims to stand for.

I do understand the point about branch davidians. I think if tomorrow in the news it was revealed that some cult calling themselves SDA Church would drink the cool aid to "meet with God sooner", that would mean terrible reputation damage for SDA Church in general.

Yet, is it really worth to invoke the hand of governmental power (I.E. church invoking the state to enforce a certain religious standards) when the Church explicitly stands against such practices in any other cases?

"Seventh Day Adventist" is a generic description of a belief system. Just like "Catholic" is a generic description of a belief system. Ironically, there are plenty of Churches outside of Catholicism that do call themselves Catholic, and don't ascribe to centralization by Vatican. Yet, SDA GC for some odd reason sees it their duty to enforce compliance and conformity while preaching against Vatican who in part seeks the same thing?

Again, I do have trust that GC is comprised of people who value integrity... and who would back away from such questionable practices.

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There is a fair amount of reading, and I think it is both interesting and sad. I wonder why I cannot find anything in the Adventist periodicals about this? Do you suppose the GC wants to keep this away from the constituency?

Is that a rhetorical question?
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I don't think this is a question of whether or whether you should trust GC with your money. I have no doubt that people who comprise it are not out in it for the money.

I think we certainly should question any organization that would put self-preservation above any moral ideals that it claims to stand for.

I'm with you 100%,cool.It's not the money!!
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Quote:
Is that a rhetorical question?

Hello Doug,

What would your answer(s) be?

There are real people on both sides of this conflict. Yes, real people with real feelings, beliefs, and morals.

"Decided positions will be taken." (EGW)

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It makes me think of Windows and Mac (shoot me if this is a bad parallel)

I think a better example is that of a franchise. Something like Burger King or McDonald's. If you want to own one of these restaurants you have to serve the menu they dictate and pay them fees.

The Adventist church has a mission to carry the Three Angels' Message to the ends of the Earth. That requires a world-wide organization. We are not set up like congressional churches because we are not one. We have a much higher calling. We are preparing the way of the Lord by making His path clear. Those that don't want to be part of this world-wide structure should separate themselves from it and choose another name.

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Quote:
Is that a rhetorical question?

Hello Doug,

What would your answer(s) be?

There are real people on both sides of this conflict. Yes, real people with real feelings, beliefs, and morals.

"Decided positions will be taken." (EGW)

My position is rather simple. To be successful in doing God's will one must do it in God's way. What the church has done is try to save God's church by appealing to the State. I believe that, given what I've just read about the case,the SDA church has been rightfully given the LEGAL right to do what it requested. It,however, has not demonstrated that it's methods have been approved by the heavenly court.It reminds me of Gamaliel's wise advice found in Acts 5:38,39.But the church not buying it.Going after a 3 person church with a name that is somewhat similar to yours doesn't exactly demonstrate a lot of confidence in God's ability to handle the situation and preserve His true church.While cases will arise where such actions may be necessary, I don't see this as being one of them. And I wouldn't want my membership to be disturbed by any of my decisions particularly if they were somewhat questionable.
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I think a better example is that of a franchise. Something like Burger King or McDonald's. If you want to own one of these restaurants you have to serve the menu they dictate and pay them fees.

The Adventist church has a mission to carry the Three Angels' Message to the ends of the Earth. That requires a world-wide organization. We are not set up like congressional churches because we are not one. We have a much higher calling. We are preparing the way of the Lord by making His path clear. Those that don't want to be part of this world-wide structure should separate themselves from it and choose another name.

I really can't believe that you just compared SDA church to a franchising corporation.

It's sort of sad that you'd have such view of SDA church. Basically, what you are saying...

1) SDA church has the right to limit religious expression of other through government authorities.

This whole issue really revolves around manipulation of Brand law to make it applicable to religious institution (which is a violation of 1st Amendment)

If some church out there would like to be called SDA church because they practice identical beliefs, and yet are not affiliated with GC... then why not? Are you saying that no church is truly Adventist unless it conforms to the "franchise".

If so, then it's sad and hypocritical when it comes to the issues of religious freedom in this country. I doubt SDA church could do the same in Ukraine, for example. It's plain manipulation of trademark law to keep a religious monopoly over tithes. If it's not the main motive, then it's certainly one of the motives.

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Going after a 3 person church with a name that is somewhat similar to yours doesn't exactly demonstrate a lot of confidence in God's ability to handle the situation and preserve His true church...

Well-said...

I think there's a lot of misleading going on as to calling SDA church a "movement". It's not a "movement". It's an "establishment" the way it is defined today.

If you'd like to call it a "movement", then the issue of centralization is not legal, but rather pragmatic. At this point of time it's strictly legal with "good intentions".

I.E. , in order for our church to do it's mission there has to be GC that enforces certain standards on all of the churches. It does not really put much confidence in God, when GC runs crying to the government that some churches decide to do it on their own.

As an example, there are many unfunded churches in the Philippines. There's a lot of need, but the pastors are unable to get funding and eventually leave the ministry. The reason being is the structural constrains that dictate for the funds from above. If local congregations were allowed to take care of their pastors, there would not be a need... but that would undermine the idea that all of the money should be sent to the top before it's distributed. So, essentially, pastors have to rely on donors and relatives... and what's given to them is not "tithe".

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I think it is correct to call the church a movement. In fact, we are a world-wide movement that has organized itself. Our movement continues to grow and expand.

I think we need to understand the power of precedent too. Suing a small church with a handful of members may seem silly but if victorious, such cases can set precedent for future cases which will protect our name and help further God's end time message.

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