Written by Jim Kouri
by Jim Kouri
In a legal action guaranteed to shock most Americans, a gay man is suing a major publisher of Bibles claiming certain verses caused him "emotional distress." He's suing for $70 million.
Bradley LaShawn Fowler, a 39-year old self-avowed homosexual from Canton, Michigan, seeks $60 million from Zondervan, a major publisher of religious books, and an additional $10 million from Thomas Nelson Publishing in his lawsuits filed in the federal court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
While observers believe Fowler is being backed by an anti-Christian or pro-gay group, according to The Grand Rapids Press (in Michigan), the plaintiff Fowler is representing himself in the legal proceedings.
"I believe this self-representation business is a sham. I suspect some big-money organization or a wealthy benefactor is providing the finances for this obscene abuse of the legal system and the US Constitution's 'separation of church and state' tradition. Are Christians really going to allow some gay activist and a black-robed lawyer decide how the Bible is written?" asks political strategist Mike Baker.
Fowler claims that King James Bibles published by Zondervan disparages homosexuals as sinners. He said he filed his lawsuits against Bible publishers because they are instrumental in having his family turn against him. Fowler is also claiming the Bible verses cause him physical discomfort and that he suffers mental distress as a result of those scriptures.
"The intent of the publisher was to design a religious, sacred document to reflect an individual opinion or a group's conclusion to cause me or anyone who is a homosexual to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence ... including murder," Fowler wrote in his self-styled legal brief.
"This whole lawsuit is making a mockery of the Holy Bible and a blatant attempt by the homosexual community to away the rights of Bible-believing Christians in the United States. Past cases against Christians and their beliefs has shown that court actions infringing on their beliefs and practices is even easier than taking away candy from a baby," Baker warns.
"My fear is that Christians -- bishops, pastors, and church-goers -- will silently accept the decision of a black-robed lawyer who may or may not have his own religious agenda. Too often religious leaders have failed to motivate their churches to take action when their rights are being violated by oppressive anti-religious forces inside and outside our government," said Baker.
In a recently released statement, a Zondervan spokesperson wrote: "Zondervan doesn't translate the Bible or own the copyright for any of the translations. Instead [our] company relies on the scholarly judgment of credible translation committees."
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr., who will hear Fowler's case against Thomas Nelson, said that he "has some very genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of [the plaintiff's] claims." Christian observers such as Jane Martin believe such statements only encourage these types of lawsuits.
"This case just may go a lot further than it deserves, thanks to a liberal judge who believes his word is sacrosanct," she said.
While the denizens of America's newsrooms appear to be ignoring this latest religious controversy, the gay press is keeping their eyes on the case and spinning the story to benefit their worldview.
While Fowler claims he alone is involved in the Zondervan and Thomas Nelson Publishing lawsuits, some conservatives believe he is being secretly backed by a group or individual with "deep pockets" and an interest in attacking Christianity.
"This guy Fowler isn't telling us the full story. I'd bet the farm someone with millions of dollars to spare is backing him financially in a move to actually alter what Christians believe is 'the word of God,'" claims Mike Baker.
Zondervan is a subsidiary of the publishing giant HarperCollins and specializes in evangelical books and audiotapes. Its books and products are sold in over 60 countries and it's a member of The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
"We're an international Christian communications company with a heart for helping people find and follow Jesus Christ by inspiring them with relevant biblical and spiritual resources. We do this through our best-selling, award-winning, and life-changing products," according to their mission statement.
The other target of Fowler's lawsuit is Thomas Nelson, Inc., located in Nashville, TN. Nelson is one of the oldest publishing houses in the US, being established in 1798. As with Zondervan, the company specializes in Bibles, Christian non-fiction and fiction books, audiotapes and other religious products.
The judge hearing the Fowler lawsuit, Julian Abele Cook, was appointed to the federal bench during the Carter Administration in 1978. According to a source in Washington, DC, Cook is "to the left" on most issues including so-called discrimination cases. In fact, besides being a federal judge, Cook has served as a chairman or vice-chairman of several civil liberties organizations and panels and he has close ties to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
"If people believe this lawsuit will disappear, they are sadly mistaken. Judge Cook is considered an activist judge who has a personal agenda when it comes to so-called discrimination cases. And the homosexual plaintiff against Zondervan and Thomas Nelson is claiming the Bible discriminates against gays and lesbians. This case is not going away any time soon," warns Baker.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund's weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri's own website is located at http://jimkouri