LOS ANGELES - In response to a lawsuit brought to silence an evangelical scholar who monitors the fundraising and spending practices of several ministries and their leaders, an Orange County court will hear Dr. William Alnor's motion to throw out a defamation suit against him.
After news reports of an emergency fund-raising appeal that claimed that up to $200,000 of the Christian Research Institute's money may have been lost due to a "bizarre" postal error by "novice employees," Alnor investigated the claim.
Alnor spoke with several representatives of the U.S. Postal Service who confirmed that CRI and Hanegraff were the subjects of an investigation and subsequently posted an article on his Web site, www.cultlink.com, stating that CRI and Hanegraff were under investigation for mail fraud. Alnor was then sued for defamation by the Christian Research Institute and its leader Hank Hanegraaff, who is also known as the Bible Answer Man.
In response to the defamation suit, Alnor filed an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit with the ACLU of Southern California and attorneys Becki Kieffer and Kevin Kieffer of Ross, Dixon & Bell. The hearing in Orange County Superior Court is set for Oct. 28.
"Dr. Alnor's comments were well-researched and completely in the scope of the law. He has done nothing wrong. This kind of suit is exactly the reason the California Legislature passed the anti-SLAPP law, which allows suits that chill freedom of expression to be thrown out of court quickly," stated Peter Eliasberg, Managing Attorney of the ACLU of Southern California.
Dr. Alnor, the son of a United Methodist minister, is the author of several books and is both a writer and an educator. He has been involved in evangelical causes since the late 1970s.
"My Web site is in the public interest," Alnor said. "What I publish is well researched and I stand behind it all. I think it's appalling that the Christian Research Institute would try to hide the truth by filing a frivolous lawsuit."