Our Appeal to the Supreme Court

From the March 2001 Trumpet Print Edition

We are in a court battle over Herbert W. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages. The big issue is, who owns the copyright? We won our case against the Worldwide Church of God (wcg) in the District Court of California, but we lost a split decision in the appellate court.

Now there has been an injunction issued. We have had to stop printing and mailing Mystery of the Ages (and all of Mr. Armstrong’s writings).

We have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. There is less than a 1 percent chance of our getting into the Supreme Court, but I believe we will. I prophesy to you that, one way or the other, God will provide a way for us to mail that book again.

If you want to know the reason why I make such a bold statement, write for a copy of my booklet The Royal Book of Revelation. We are now getting it ready to be printed. We’ll send you a free copy as soon as it is completed. You will be amazed at what the Bible contains about that mystery.

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote Mystery of the Ages only a few months before he died. He said he wanted to “reach the largest audience possible.”

Here is what Mr. Armstrong wrote concerning this book, September 23, 1985, about four months before he died: “Since last December I have been working diligently on the largest and most important book in my life. In real fact I feel I myself did not write it. Rather, I believe God used me in writing it.”

The book was serialized in the Plain Truth magazine. But even before Mr. Armstrong died, at age 93, the leaders around him began to make some changes in that book’s content. Of course, it was done without Mr. Armstrong’s knowledge. Then, about two years after he died, the book was discontinued.

The wcg destroyed their remaining copies of that book. I believe that was a very revealing act. It demonstrates how deeply they hated the ideas in that book! If Mr. Armstrong was right about God revealing it to him, it also shows how profoundly they hate God! And how contemptuous they were toward their own church members who wanted to receive those copies that were burned!

Yet at the appellate court, the wcg convinced two judges that they might produce an annotated version of Mystery of the Ages. It has been over ten years since they destroyed that book. And still the wcg has made no attempt to print it.

We agree with Mr. Armstrong, that this book was revealed by God.

Those church leaders that Mr. Armstrong trusted most obviously didn’t believe it was inspired by God. However, they never told him that! There is no evidence that they ever even disagreed with him—even on a minor point—while he was alive! That gives you some idea of their lack of character.

Here is why we won on the district level in the courts. Judge J. Spencer Letts got back to the intent of the author. Of Mr. Armstrong, Judge Letts said, “He didn’t dream that by giving this copyright to the corporation, which was his corporation that reflected his religion, that those who would come after him would use their corporate power to suppress his religion or to keep any prior practitioners of his religion, or any people that were ever vested with the authority of that religion, notwithstanding they don’t have corporate position, from making that book available on a continuous, freshly printed basis, I don’t believe the founder dreamed that. You don’t have a case that comes even close to it.”

Mr. Armstrong believed that God commissioned him to reach “the largest audience possible” with that book. He said that Mystery of the Ages was the greatest gift he could give to the world!

Now we believe God has commissioned us to take Mystery of the Ages to “the largest audience possible.”

This is the heart of what the court battle is about.

Joe Tkach, the current pastor general of the wcg, believes it is their “Christian duty to keep this book out of print.” But there are many people who still want that book.

His desire is to keep you and every person on Earth from reading that book. Two of the four judges we have faced believe that Mr. Tkach is violating the U.S. Constitution as well as the copyright law. He is trying to stop our freedom of speech and religion.

Our lawyers are making the case that the copyright law was designed to encourage and protect written material—not destroy it! It grossly offends the copyright law when people use it to suppress hated ideas!

Recently I was interviewed for three hours by Jess Bravin, from the Wall Street Journal. The press and public are becoming more interested in our court battle. It has implications that reach far beyond our church.

Please continue to read the Trumpet. We will keep you updated on this intense legal battle.