Religious Group Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Internet Critics

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In December of 2011, the World Mission Society Church of God, A New Jersey Non-Profit Corporation, filed a lawsuit against two individuals suspected of posting online statements critical of the church’s beliefs and practices. The complaint alleges that several statements on the website examiningthewmscog.com—a blog dedicated to challenging the WMSCOG’s interpretation of various biblical verses—are defamatory and should be taken down.

The statements are non-actionable expressions of opinion, and they enjoy protection under the First Amendment no matter how much the church may disagree with them.
-Lee Berlik

In December of 2011, the World Mission Society Church of God, A New Jersey Non-Profit Corporation (“WMSCOG”), filed a lawsuit against two individuals suspected of posting online statements critical of the church’s beliefs and practices. The Complaint (Case No. 2011-17163), filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia, includes claims of defamation, tortious interference with business expectancy, and business conspiracy, among others. The WMSCOG alleges in its Complaint that several statements on the website examiningthewmscog.com—a blog dedicated to challenging the WMSCOG’s interpretation of various biblical verses—are defamatory and should be taken down.

The defendants are being represented in the case by Lee E. Berlik of Reston, Virginia. “The entire lawsuit is based on a series of alleged statements critical of the WMSCOG, its teachings, and its methods,” says Berlik. “The statements are non-actionable expressions of opinion, and they enjoy protection under the First Amendment no matter how much the church may disagree with them.”

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