Judge Dismisses Case Against Jews For Jesus

May 5, 2004

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - Yesterday, Circuit Court Judge Catherine Brunson dismissed a lawsuit filed against Jews for Jesus that arose out of a praise report in a Jews for Jesus newsletter. Jews for Jesus is represented by Mathew Staver, President and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, Erik Stanley, Chief Counsel for Liberty Counsel and Anita Staver, Vice President of Liberty Counsel.

In July, 2002, Jews for Jesus sent out a newsletter to its supporters and friends. In the newsletter, Bruce Rapp, an employee of Jews for Jesus, included a "Praise Report." The report was about a visit with his father and stepmother before his father died. Bruce stated in the Praise Report that, "Edie (his stepmother) began to ask me questions about Jesus….when I asked her if she would like to ask God for forgiveness for her sins and receive Y'shua she said yes! My stepmother repeated the sinner's prayer with me - praise God!" The newsletter also contained a prayer request that urged prayer for "grace and strength for new Jewish believer Edie and salvation for her husband, Marty."

On December 11, 2003, Edith Rapp filed a lawsuit against Jews for Jesus. In the lawsuit, she claimed that Jews for Jesus defamed her by claiming that she was a "Jewish believer." The complaint stated that the account was fictitious and that Jews for Jesus knew the account was false when it published the newsletter. The Complaint stated that Jewish people harbor extreme animosity towards Jews for Jesus and that Jews for Jesus seeks the "end of the Jewish religion and the Jewish faith."

Liberty Counsel filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that it was not defamatory to call someone a Christian. A defamatory statement must be highly offensive to a reasonable person. Simply calling someone a Christian in America is not highly offensive to a reasonable person, nor should it be. Additionally, the motion argued that allowing the case to go forward would give effect to religious prejudices by recognizing and approving the prejudices that some individuals may have against Christian organizations such as Jews for Jesus. At the hearing on the Motion to Dismiss, Edith Rapp's attorney argued that calling Edith a member of Jews for Jesus was the same as calling a Christian a member of Al Qaeda or the Nazi party.

Mat Staver stated, "This lawsuit was really an attack against Jews for Jesus as an organization because of its outreach to Jewish individuals. The lawsuit even sought an injunction against Jews for Jesus' witnessing activities." Staver continued, "Jews for Jesus has a right to free speech and a right to seek to evangelize Jewish individuals regardless of whether some individuals harbor animosity about those activities."

Staver concluded, "The law should not give a voice to prejudice, whether it be racial, or, as in this case, religious prejudice. This lawsuit was based on prejudice against Jews for Jesus and an animosity against the beliefs of Jews for Jesus. We are pleased that the Court agreed and dismissed this case."