God calls this “ICHABOD”

California Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Word for Today Against Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa & Brian Broderson

Commentary by Moriel & Jacob Prasch

A Must Read for All Those Who Love and Uphold Truth

On June 27, 2016, the Court of Appeal of the State of California (4th Appellate District Division 3) ruled against Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (CCCM), Brian Brodersen, Roger Wing, Phil Twente, John Jackson, and other CCCM board members in favor of Word for Today and Janette Manderson (Chuck Smith’s daughter) regarding a counter-suit that CCCM had filed against Word for Today.[1]

According to one court document, Word for Today has been involved in a lawsuit against CCCM since 2014 in an effort to reclaim access to Chuck Smith’s “recorded sermons, writings, and other religious materials” that allegedly have been in CCCM’s possession since Chuck Smith’s death in 2013.[2] 

The June 27th ruling rejected CCCM’s counter-suit which had called Word for Today’s suit a frivolous lawsuit (under the anti-SLAPP statute). The court document states that Word for Today seeks “an injunction enjoining Calvary Chapel from engaging in the unfair and fraudulent business practices.”[3]

In providing an historical background, the court document states that Calvary Chapel hired Chuck Smith as its senior pastor in 1965, upon which he served for 48 years until his death. In approximately 1978, Chuck Smith and his brother, Paul Smith, founded Word for Today, which allowed for the dissemination of Chuck Smith’s sermons, broadcasts, and materials. The June 27th California court document also states:

As part of this cooperative working relationship, Pastor Chuck and Word for Today agreed to allow Calvary Chapel to have access to and use his religious materials during his lifetime. In exchange, Calvary Chapel agreed that Word for Today beneficially owned all rights and interests in Pastor Chuck’s religious materials, Word for Today would have the exclusive right to control and disseminate the materials upon Pastor Chuck’s death, and Calvary Chapel would pay Word for Today for using Pastor Chuck’s religious materials. Calvary Chapel, Word for Today, and Pastor Chuck confirmed his agreement in a signed resolution Calvary Chapel’s board of directors passed and ratified in 1998.[4]

However, according to this same document, CCCM allegedly refused Word for Today access to Pastor Smith’s materials immediately following Chuck Smith’s death.

Pastor Chuck, Word for Today, and Calvary Chapel agreed in writing that Calvary Chapel could use the materials during Pastor Chuck’s lifetime, but beneficial ownership at all times remained with Word for Today and Word for Today had the exclusive right to those materials upon Pastor Chuck’s death. . . .when Pastor Chuck died, Calvary Chapel seized control of Pastor Chuck’s religious materials and Word for Today’s office, including the post office box and toll-free telephone number Word for Today had used for more than 20 years to receive donations and orders for Pastor Chuck’s materials. . . . Calvary Chapel essentially put Word for Today out of business by refusing to provide it access to Pastor Chuck’s religious materials, failing to pay for its sale and use of those materials, and holding itself out to the public as the owner of the materials.[5]

Now that the California appeals court has ruled against Brian Brodersen, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and other plaintiffs who were trying to have the Word for Today lawsuit thrown out, on August 29, 2016, there will be a “Remittitur issued” (meaning the case will be sent back to the courts to be retried).[6]

The trial hearings in this case are also dealing with a second issue regarding life insurance for Chuck Smith’s widow.

The operative complaint also alleges claims for elder financial abuse and constructive trust on behalf of Pastor Chuck’s wife, Catheryn Smith. These claims allege Calvary Chapel agreed to purchase a life insurance policy on Pastor Chuck’s life and name his wife as the beneficiary. Calvary allegedly did so, but then later changed the policy to designate itself as the beneficiary. Calvary Chapel’s special motion to strike also challenged these causes of action.[7]


On the basis of 1 Corinthians 6:4-8  where it states “it is better to be defrauded” than to take brother to court and hang the church’s soiled linen out in public, it is good this phony law suit by Brian Broderson & Co. was thrown out. It is doubly sad, however, that Calvary Chapel could not have held Brian Broderson and CCCM to account within its own ranks. Paul Smith and Chuck’s family are plainly the victims. It is a very sad day when a corrupt civil court system has more moral and ethical integrity than what is supposed to be The Body of Christ. Had the senior Calvary pastors stood up and taken responsibility as God’s Word commands (1 Cor. 6:5)  and not in so cowardly a fashion deferred to ecclesiastical politics with its play for money and power, it would not have come to public scandal like this.

I know many leading CC pastors who could have and should have arbitrated this without it going to a fallen world’s godless judicial system. Where were they? Is 1 Corinthians 6 not in their copy of the Scriptures?  No one in CC would stand up to Bob Coy – and look what happened. No one in CC would deal with that tragic mess that got into the secular media in Albuquerque or the other mess in Idaho. No one in CC would stand up to Brian Broderson, and now look at the result. But most of the CC leadership is not about Jesus anymore – it is a self-serving theocracy motivated not by God’s Spirit based on His Word, but by a quest for a theocratic empire and the cash that comes with it, instead of building the Kingdom of God and proclaiming the return of Jesus as they once did. They now abjectly build their own fiefdoms.  

When my friend Chuck Smith checked out I made an appeal to the CC pastors on YouTube, etc. that was desperate and sincere. This was before the self-inflicted collapse of Bob Coy’s ministry and the legal scandal in which Costa Mesa is now drowning.  I and others predicted and prophesied an avalanche of this very kind of treachery and spiritual, ethical, moral and doctrinal decline. I do not say this makes us “true prophets”, but if it did not happen, we would certainly need to be regarded as false ones.

Beginning with George Bryson, Roger Oakland, Paul Smith and a few others there were those (including myself & Moriel) who desperately tried to prevent this. We warned when Chuck went to be with the Lord and even before that time that if a radical house cleaning with a sense of urgency and repentance did not take place quickly, CC as we knew it would fragment into a movement no longer held together by the Holy Spirit or common dogma (which were already dissipating prior to Chuck’s departure) but rapidly mutate into a religious sham driven by a self-serving pursuit of numbers, money, and power and not by Jesus. We warned it will become defined by public scandal and an eventual resulting decline and will no longer be identified and defined by the fruit of the Spirit. 

The house that Jesus built through Chuck was hijacked and turned into a stinking theocratic racket by misfits who never should have inherited the leadership and the cowardly enablers and compromisers who knew it was wrong but remained silent. This shameful public scandal is an absolute disgrace that never should have happened and would have been prevented if only many leading CC pastors I thought were good men stood on God’s Word, put Jesus & His sheep and the reputation and testimony of His church first and not taken the path of fear and self-interest, remaining silent and not ‘sold out’.


Some CCs I know have taken down the dove as their logo. This seems quite appropriate. The dove has flown away. The Spirit of God has departed from that movement. Any remaining faithful pastors in CC need to stop imitating ostriches and seek the Lord earnestly about their own future and the future of their congregation.  As with most other once dynamic movements held together by Jesus, CC morphed into a de facto denomination held together by convoluted church politics and a carnal hunger for power and financial control disguised in the cloak of self-righteous religiosity while doctrinal, moral, ethical ministry, and authentic spirituality standards, but disintegrating after being first allowed to progressively evaporate by the self-aggrandizing silence of those who really could have stopped it and preserved CC. 

Take our word for nothing – please read the Court documents for yourself. Thanks to the latter day sons of Eli the Priest (2 Samuel 2) and the hireling clergy who let it happen, the noble heritage of Calvary Chapel has been assassinated in the courts and in the news media. Whatever happens now is just for show. In fact the real show is now over and every honest observer of this sad and sickening fiasco knows it. So does the press. Thank God my friend Chuck Smith did not live to see this. If he had not already gone home to be with Jesus this reprehensible travesty would have killed him. God knows a few good brethren warned and tried to prevent this. But only a few – too few!

Tragically and un-necessarily, Calvary Chapel as a movement has been allowed to become ICHABOD .    

Get a shovel and bury CC next to Chuck. As we have said – CC died with him just as Methodism largely died with John Wesley etc., etc., etc.

[1] The Word for Today, Inc. v. Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa:http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub/G052514.PDF (a court opinion freely available to the public): “These opinions are known as “unpublished,” they generally cannot be cited or relied upon in other cases . . . This does not mean, however, that the contents of these opinions are protected or private information. All opinions posted on this site are public records and may be indexed by internet search engines. 

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