The Merikay McLeod Silver Case
Due to her writing capabilities, Merikay McLeod, author of the book, “Now,” was offered a position as Assistant Book Editor at Pacific Press. She was just a young woman, not yet out of college, and she was flattered that the brethren were impressed with her work. During the interview, when she inquired as to her salary, no dollar amount was mentioned, so she assumed she would be making about $600 a month, which is what the woman she was replacing had been making.
She described her feelings when starting work at Pacific Press: “I have a good ‘family’ feeling when I walk into chapel. These people are my people, my family, since their God is already my own…This is where I am supposed to be.”
Throughout the first week, various employees stopped by her office to introduce themselves, and to compliment her on her story, “Now.” She felt welcome and admired.
During the second week of her employment she was informed that the hiring committee was concerned over her lack of having a college degree. Although disappointed over this upset so early in her employment, Merikay stated that she “hates controversy and confrontation. I don’t want to start having to defend myself.” She still had not been told what her salary would be, and was concerned due to her living costs. When she was called in for a meeting, she assumed it would be to discuss her lack of a degree. Instead, she was questioned in regard to her beliefs.
After working at The Press for a month she received her first paycheck – $400. She was devastated. This was not enough money to even make ends meet. When she confronted her supervisor, she was told that this is how they had worked out the “hiring problem.” Since she had not finished college, the Committee had decided to give her the title “Editorial Assistant,” instead of Assistant Book Editor—justifying the lower wage.
To help make ends meet, and at her husband’s urging, Merikay submitted a collection of her own short stories to pacific press for publication. After changing the title, the book publishing committee decided to print the book.
Merikay was relieved. She enjoyed her work and was making friends, one of whom was Lorna Tobler, secretary to Lawrence Maxwell.
While still pursuing an acceptable salary, Merikay was told that Pacific Press had a wage system based on need. “The Church’s institutions take care of their workers,” she was told. “It’s a family centered concept.” So, in an effort to improve her financial position, Merikay returned to school to get her degree. Although Press workers were routinely released from work to complete degree requirements, Merikay put in a full eight-hour day and continued with her schooling. She decided she would not ask for a raise until she had her degree.
At the copy machine one day, she saw a male worker copying his W2 form. They were both shocked to find that he made 40% more than she did, even though they were both doing the same work. Even though the “law” requires equal pay for equal work and sex discrimination is illegal, Merikay felt she should wait until she had her degree before asking for a raise. However, she then wondered if her work was acceptable, and confronted her supervisor. She told him she learned of the pay difference and wondered if it was because her work was not satisfactory. She was told, “Our system is called ‘Head of Household’…we believe a family’s main wage-earner should receive more because of his added burdens. Merikay was mollified.
A short time later, Merikay’s husband, lost his job. She was sure she now qualified for “Head of Household” pay since she was now the sole wage earner. About this time, a pamphlet came down from the General Conference basically stating, “on the basis of need determined by marital status, dependents and financial responsibility, an additional amount of money may be paid to employees without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, age, national origin or color.” According to the General Conference, Merikay qualified! She was thrilled!
While discussing this with her supervisor, he offered to write a letter to his boss praising Merikay’s work and asking that “a liberal, conciliatory attitude” be taken in this case so Merikay would not become discouraged.
Check Your Rights
Merikay’s husband asked her to see Joan Bradford, an attorney he had heard lecture a few months earlier, just as a precaution. When Merikay told the attorney the situation at Pacific Press, Joan Bradford stated that “the system is illegal,” and asked if Merikay wanted to sue? No, Merikay only wanted to know if she was within her legal rights to ask for “Head of Household” pay. Joan assured her that she was. The Pacific Press “Head of Household” system is illegal,” Joan stated, and Merikay had the right to ask for equal pay.
As moral support, a fellow male employee agreed to go to the boss with Merikay. The boss responded that this male employee had an advanced degree and six years of editing experience. Merikay countered with the fact that she had ten years professional writing experience. “If we do something for you—then the women in the bindery will want something too,” the boss replied.
The fellow employee attempted to defend Merikay by stating that when he got married he got a big raise in pay, plus his wife was covered by company insurance. He also stated that men in the book department who have not even finished high school are making big salaries. Merikay was simply asking for the same pay and benefits that a married man in her position would get. The boss said, basically, “Merikay’s having a dependent (her out of work husband) is not our problem.”
The Light Dawns
The light began to dawn. Merikay now realized that no woman in the institution was getting “Head of Household” pay, whether divorced with children, widowed, or retired missionary women taking care of a sick spouse. Nothing was resolved, and Merikay decided to write a follow-up letter to the boss, and wait to see what happened.
She realized something was very wrong at the Press. “Head of Household” really meant “male.” A lot of women (100-150 female workers) were supporting children, invalid husbands or parents; none of which were receiving “Head of Household” status.
Merikay received a message that if she would just humble herself and agree to forget what had happened, she would get more money; but if she took a hard line, she would get nothing at all. Merikay went to Joan Bradford and expressed her fears. Joan offered to write a letter to the Press in which she would offer to help legalize their employment practices.
In 1972, Joan sent a letter to Merikay’s boss, pointing out the illegalities of Pacific Press’ practices and offering to help them out. The attorney also stated; “In view of the fact that you have so far failed to make any responsive communication to Mrs. Silver in regard to these matters—we are notifying you that all future communication to Mrs. Silver regarding her rights to equal employment benefits are to be made through this office.”
Merikay was accused of not being loyal, and Lorna Tobler informed her that she was told, “Merikay will never, never, never get equal pay.”
The Press did not respond to the attorney’s letter until July. Then it was through an attorney. They claimed they were not breaking the law, there was no sex discrimination—Now or ever! Joan Bradford wanted Merikay to file an official complaint with the EEOC. Merikay was stunned! The Press was denying the truth! Did they not want to obey the law?
Letters flew back and forth between Joan Bradford and the attorney for Pacific Press, but there was no word from the Press, themselves. Letters were sent to the chief executives of Pacific Press. There was still no response.
Lorna photocopied all pay scale records and gave them to Merikay’s attorney. The basic wage scale was the same, except men got higher promotions than the women did. However, if women would be allowed to go into those jobs, they would have received the same basic wage, but the rent allowance was sex related. All married men got $1.00 per hour rent allowance. Single men received $.75 per hour, and women earned $.30 per hour.
Lorna received a letter of reprimand for her part in counseling “younger workers to contact attorneys.”
Merikay wrote a letter to her boss showing many Spirit of Prophecy quotes to substantiate her position. (MS 47, 1898; MS 142, 1903; Gospel Workers 452-453 (1915). In response, she received an executive letter of rebuke: “I don’t think there is a single statement on that sheet which would give anyone the impression that women should have the same wages as men, although I am not opposed to the idea. We should be careful that we don’t make the Spirit of Prophecy say something that was not intended.”
The chairman of the board came to town but refused to see Merikay if her attorney was present at the meeting. He did, however, see Lorna and claimed Pacific Press would obey the law and tell the truth. Lorna met with the General Conference President and the chairman of the board. They both assured her the General Conference wanted to do what was right. However, the chairman of the board asked Lorna to go easy on the brethren. He asked for patience and understanding. He said, “If we don’t ease up, if we insist on pursuing this thing, the brethren will burn us at the stake.”
Out of the blue, Lorna Tobler’s husband received a “call” to Germany. However, they decided Lorna would not go with him immediately—she would stay and help fight Merikay’s battle.
Someone filed a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. Everyone thought it was Merikay, but it was not. Her supervisor chastised her—”I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you, single-handedly, kicked off the time of trouble!” he yelled.
In November 1972, Merikay and Lorna filed an official complaint with the EEOC. In December 1972, Guy Guerrero, Department of Labor investigator arrived at the Press. After completing his investigation, he told Merikay, “Yes” he had found discrimination, and that it should all be taken care of shortly after the first of the year.
When Merikay received her January pay envelope, her check was the same, but there was $1,000 shown in the total-to-date column. She was puzzled by this, and called Guy Guerrero for an explanation. He told her it was the back pay Pacific Press owed her, and that they would cut her a check in a few days. Merikay explained there was an error. Her co-worker earned $11,000 a year while she earned $6,676.41. Guy Guerrero came to Merikay’s office—solemn faced he admited he never thought they (the Press) would lie to him. “Don’t cash any checks,” he instructed her, then left her office to confront the boss with copies of the W2 forms showing the discrepancies. He was dismissed from the office, and the statement was made, “The next time the Press sees you, it will be in court!” Guerrero began the process to sue Pacific Press.
Through this incident, Merikay realized that the Press would not do what was right because it was right, would not obey the law, because it was the law, nor would they treat their employee’s right because it was the moral thing to do. If the Press would work with her to correct the inequities, the government’s suit would automatically disappear, but they would not. She felt she had but three options. Either she could stay and leave things just as they were, which was unthinkable; file suit herself, or quit her job and find other work, which would not be hard with her talent. But what about all the other women, the ones who could not quit? Those who were afraid to speak up for themselves? The ones who could not find another job so easily? She was hurt and confused. She wrote, “All the love, all the idealism, all the pride I’ve had in my church and its institutions bubbles to the surface, only to be snuffed by the reality I’ve experienced.” Her days filled with confusion over what she should do, she finally decided that she “must file suit.” Eight months after asking for “Head of Household,” she filed suit in January 1973. The Press received notice of this filing in March.
The news traveled quickly, and Merikay received flowers from three women working at the General Conference headquarters in Washington D.C.—”Right on! Fight the good fight!” the card said.
The Press offered to settle for $10,000 for Merikay, which would have to be split with her attorney. No other women were to receive anything; no money, no promise of equal pay, no opportunity to move up through the ranks to higher positions. Merikay could not accept. Twice they came close to a settlement, but the Press refused to accept monitoring of potential settlements by anyone other than the Press or General Conference appointees. They were still denying, through their attorney, any wrongdoing.
The boss called a meeting of all the women employees. Attorney Bradford wrote a letter to Don McNeil, attorney for Pacific Press, stating that she was shocked and dismayed to learn that management had, without notifying her, called a meeting of certain employees, at which time management would, without attorney’s present, discuss employment policies with female employees. This was in direct contradiction to management’s agreement with her that they would meet with her, provide her with personnel records and attempt to set up employment guidelines before meeting with the women. “I regard management’s calling of the April 17 meeting to be another demonstration of the Press’ pattern of expressing superficially its desire to conform with the law, while at the same time, preserving its own authoritarian position over its female employees—instructing them without allowing them to receive information of appropriate employment practices from anyone other than their own employer.”… “I view these tactics by the Press to be another form of intimidation and coercion of its female employees…”
Merikay continued to receive letters of support from women (and some men) in all branches of the denominational work, while at the same time she had to sit through countless morning worship services while the men of the Press tore her to pieces in veiled words. Management was flexing their muscle through the morning worship period. A well-known editor spoke for an hour about modern Judas’s who sell the Lord’s work to the goat for a few pieces of silver.
Because of the many rumors circulating around the Press, Merikay decided to call a meeting of all of the women employees to explain her side. She and Lorna rented a building less than a mile from the Press office in which to hold this meeting. The day of the meeting, the Press executives, and their Attorney, Don McNeil had a Rah! Rah! session for worship, in which the women were urged to “divorce” themselves from the Class Action Suit by signing a form. Of course, they were assured that they were not being “told” to sign; they were simply being given the opportunity. That evening 50 women showed up at Merikay’s meeting.
The Press management ignored Joan Bradford’s request for information. They post-poned meetings with her and did not cooperate. Joan finally went to the Press offices and spent the day reviewing records, books, and files.
Finally, a new manager was brought into the Press. Shortly thereafter, in October 1973, Management sent Lorna Tobler a letter stating that they had agreed that she was to be terminated with two weeks severance pay so that she could join her husband in Germany. Lorna responded, “this action would certainly be viewed by the law as a reprisal.” Five days later the Press officially “clarified” the use of the word ‘terminated’—stating that they only meant she was free to go if she chose. However, the new boss visited Lorna, and a clear threat was made. Either she moved to Germany immediately or “something terribly serious will happen.”
In December, a letter from the General Conference, was sent to all SDA publishing houses instructing them not to accept articles or manuscripts written by Merikay, “because of her tendency to ignore Christian counsel,” and Lorna received a very strong letter from the German Conference stating that she must come to Germany immediately.
In January 1974, Lorna met with the Board Chairman. She showed him the letter she had received and asked if that meant her husband would lose his job.
“Well, those are some of the hazards,” he replied.
“That sounds to me like some little game or something,” Lorna stated.
He replied, “It’s not a little game, it’s a big game!”
The stress was beginning to cause Merikay to have migraine headaches, but the barrage continued. The Adventist Review published an article on the authority of the church, and her attorney, Joan Bradford, had back surgery. The rumor went about the Press offices that Joan had been struck down with cancer by ‘the Lord.’
In February 1974, an official of the General Conference came to see Merikay. He set aside the whole day for her, he stated, and she realized that this was an impressive gesture. After general “getting to know you” chitchat, he asked Merikay what she thought of the new boss. He then stated that he had the utmost confidence in the men in leadership at the Press. He asked her how negotiations were going, and Merikay informed him there were no negotiations.
“You know, Merikay,” he stated, “you aren’t shooting blanks in this. The main thing that bothers me about all of this is that I don’t think the government has any right coming into our publishing house and telling us what to do. Well, what can we do to end this thing?”
Merikay replied; “Talk, negotiate. Do what is right and lawful. I do not know what is so all-fired difficult about doing what is right.”
He opened the letter Merikay sent him and pointed to various items, asking what he could do about each of them. As they talked he took notes. Merikay was thrilled! He was the first leader who had actually listened to her. However, in March 1974, he urged Merikay to find a compromise.
In an April 1974, Settlement conference, the new boss refused to talk. He simply sat with his arms folded. Later a fellow employee told Merikay that her supervisor was laying the groundwork to fire her. “Be sure to keep a diary so you can document the things he says.”
The new boss read a letter in chapel, which was addressed to all the women employees of the Press. If the Silver lawsuit went to court, every woman’s name and how she voted on the Class Action Suit would be revealed.” One hundred ten women withdrew from the Class Action Suit. Sixty did not respond—which was counted as a “yes” we want to withdraw vote. Seventy-seven women now remained in the Class Action Suit.
EEOC Files Suit
The EEOC filed a preliminary injunction suit against the Press for harassing Merikay and Lorna.
The Press got a new attorney. They argued that they did not discriminate. “We’re a religious organization and as such do not have to answer to the government for our activities. The First Amendment protects us.” They also came up with a new argument. “The Press is the church and all workers are, in reality, ministers of the church. Matters of church government and administration are beyond the purview of Civil Authorities.” Press attorney, Dungan, argued that “church policy forbids members to use the court system to sue a church institution for any reason, let alone to determine intra-church, intra-family disputes. By continuing her suit, Merikay has put herself at variance with the church and has become a prime candidate for early disfellowshipping.”
In December 1974, the trial hearing began. The opening brief by the Press attorney included the following statements:
“Only members of the church who are in good standing are eligible for employment in the SDA church…”
“Determination by proper church tribunals respecting ecclesiastical matters…are accepted as binding. What the church cannot tolerate is for members to bring church disputes into civil courts.”
“Those who work for the Seventh-day Adventist church respond to a religious vocation in exactly the same sense as does a cloistered nun.”
“The church claims exemption from all civil laws in all of its religious institutions.”
In February 1975, the General Conference Committee recommended that the Press terminate Merikay and that she be disfellowshiped from the church. Action was also initiated to have Lorna disfellowshipped. A friend informed Merikay that a General Conference official was trying to get her fired and disfellowshipped. Her attorney instructed her to take some days off immediately so she would not be available to receive the termination notice. Merikay took a vacation. Her attorney also instructed her to leave her home, because the Press was going to try to serve notice to her there. Joan Bradford filed for a Temporary Restraining Order and the judge upheld the Order. Both Merikay and Lorna returned to work the following Tuesday.
In March 1975, a motion was made to the Board of Mountain View Church to have Lorna disfellowshipped.
The Trial Begins:
The Pacific Press attorney stated, “The Pacific Press Publishing Association is owned and operated by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which is the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
Many people in the courtroom gasp! But the vice president nodded in assent.
A friend of Merikay’s leaned over and told her, “The General Conference is not the church!”
The Vice President of the General Conference testified: “The General Conference is the highest authority in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” He claimed “when we join the church we agree to give up our individual rights for the good of the whole…When we are no longer in harmony with those principles…one is considered to be at variance with the church.”
Merikay was stunned by the testimony of these leaders of the church. “There is no truth or integrity in this room full of church men,” she stated.
On May 29, 1975, Merikay was fired, and in July, Judge Renfrew decertified the suit since Merikay was no longer employed by the Press.
One year later, May 1976, the 9th Court of Appeals reversed the decision, and two years later, April 1978, Merikay Silver settled out of court for $60,000; half of which went to her attorney. The very next month, the EEOC took Pacific Press to court.
Five years later, in February 1983, Lorna Tobler received $77,000, and in October 1983, the court ordered Pacific Press to deposit $600,000 to an account to be disbursed in non-traceable checks to Pacific Press women employees.
Sadly, Merikay reported, “The spirit of Christ and the spirit of the church are contradictory.”
The John Marik Case
In 1984, John Marik, a lay-pastor, received a letter from an attorney for the General Conference, regarding his use of the name Seventh-day Adventist Congregational Church. In this letter, John Marik was asked if he could furnish the General Conference with information on this offshoot group, showing the “offensive usage of Seventh-day Adventist.” Apparently this letter was sent to Pastor Marik by mistake, since John Marik was asked to report on his own church (as an offshoot group.)
Cease and Desist
A short time later John Marik received another letter in which the attorney corrected himself for having sent the previous letter. He stated the General Conference would be “moving to enforce our trademark registration…and will ask you and your congregation to agree to cease using the term Seventh-day Adventist in the name of your church.”
The President of the Hawaii Conference of Seventh-day Adventists wrote Pastor Marik asking him and his eleven member church to cease using the name Seventh-day Adventist.
In 1985, John Marik received a letter from another General Conference attorney which stated in part, “therefore, assuming that your use of ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ was done without intent to create confusion, even though such confusion is manifested by your use of Seventh-day Adventist, particularly as in your church name, we trust that upon receipt of this letter you will immediately cease and desist from utilizing the expression or any names or expressions equivalent… We consider your use of ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ to be an infringement of the SDA Church’s trademark/service mark rights, and also to constitute unfair competition and false designation of origin.”
John Marik replied, “We are sorry that this situation has been such a cause of distress; that was certainly not our motives. We have had no intention or desire—neither do we now have—to confuse, mislead, or deceive anyone in regards to our congregational church and its reason for existing independently of the denominational church. We, just as you, are concerned about the prospect of people being confused. We do not at all want or wish that any Seventh-day Adventist visitor, who is from some other place and not knowledgeable of the difference, to be tricked or deceived into attending our church—being unaware of the fact that we are not associated with the denomination.
“We understand very well that our name and existence as an independent body of Seventh-day Adventists has been, is, and probably will continue to be an offense to the Denomination. This is not our desire, but this unfortunately, is the way it is. We also do not, in the least, feel that we are in the wrong! And this is the reason why: Our faith and beliefs are those of a Seventh-day Adventist as is described in the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White (who we also hold to be an inspired prophet of God). If we were to call ourselves by some other name, wouldn’t the general Christian community question our reason for not expressing what we really believe, wouldn’t that be concealing our true identity, and wouldn’t that give just cause for our Sunday-keeping brethren to consider our honesty in what we verily believe and who we truthfully claim to be?
“We do not apologize for our convictions in regard to the counsel that God has given us as a people who are honoring the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment of the decalogue, and who very much long for and believe in the near advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Hence the name, “seventh-day” + “adventist.” We believe, and very much so, that the name “Seventh-day Adventist” is not a denomination name—it is a name or term which describes a particular Christian faith or body of beliefs. We also are convicted, even against our own judgment, that this name is especially approved and ordained by God as testified to in the inspired counsel given to Ellen G. White (Testimonies to the Church, vol. 2, page 223, 224.) And contrary to our judgment, we have yielded to what we solemnly believe to be in harmony with the revealed will of God. We have sought to obey His counsel on this matter, and by His grace we must continue to do so; and this can be our only reply to our brethren of the Denomination.”
“Please consider our faith and conviction in this matter. We ask that you please read the inspired testimony mentioned above. Do we not have the liberty and the freedom to conscientiously follow what we, just as many other Seventh-day Adventists, believe to be the truth? Just because we are not under the authority of the Denomination, does that mean we have no right to live the message as given to those who wish to honor God’s commandments and anticipate His soon second advent, does that imply that we can’t seriously take to heart the counsel given in the writings of Ellen G. White?
Plea for Understanding
“…We would ask that you please be understanding; for these convictions involve our faith, beliefs, and conscientious study of the Word of God.…We, along with others, are rather amazed at the intentions of the Denomination toward our little self-sustaining church. Not too long ago, we would never have considered that the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination could resort to such things as this—to appeal to a secular court of law to force others to conform to their wishes! Dear brothers and fellow Adventists, this is the very thing true Seventh-day Adventists have stood against for years! These are the tactics the enemy will use against every conscientious Sabbath-keeper. Where is the great principle of religious liberty? What should the SDA department of Religious Liberty say about this kind of action? Moreover, what does God say about it?
“…Another thing which we find strange, is the idea of the church and its message being a business. Since when has that come to be? Is the church of God in business with the competition such that it needs a protected trade name? …Surely God will prosper His faithful people; if they are wronged He will make it right. Why can we not let God decide what is right? If we of the congregational Adventists are in the wrong and you of the denominational Adventists are in the right, then will God not reprove us and uphold you? We have ample testimony of God’s dealings pertaining to this.
“…We would like to have a friendly relationship with the Denomination. We realize that there is a tremendous work for all of God’s people to do; each has a sphere of influence which is special; certain souls will be won to Christ by certain individuals; and likewise certain people will be reached for Christ by certain churches.
“…We want peace if it is possible to be secured without having to compromise our convictions and conscientious understanding in regards to God’s testimony. We do not know what farther course you may pursue in this matter; but we are standing on the clear counsel of God.”
The reply to this letter of appeal was that the matter was put in the hands of the General Conference law office or legal counsel.
A General Conference attorney wrote to Marik, “We would recommend and will favorably consider your using, for example, the name ‘Seventh-day Congregational Church.’”
In 1987, John Marik wrote a pastoral letter explaining their position in regard to this lawsuit, and the General Conference attorneys submitted a formal, legal complaint. A court order was given, and a Scheduling Conference was set for July 1987.
In April 1987, John Marik sent a letter to friends telling them that he had just been informed that the General Conference had filed suit against him. He then wrote a
4-page letter to the General Conference giving Bible and Spirit of Prophecy reasons why they could not do as they had been asked.
Several years ago, after the Merikay Silver case, the General Conference set down a new ruling that if anyone initiated a lawsuit against the General Conference, or any church entity; he was subject to being disfellowshipped. Since the leadership at the General Conference is involved with suing local Adventist believers, should they not then be subject to their own laws and suffer the penalty of being disfellow-shipped?
Some of the complaints against John Marik were:
- “Defendants’ conduct of selecting and commercially using the Seventh-day Adventist name for defendants’ services and goods in direct competition with the Plaintiff was done willfully, wantonly, and maliciously for the purpose of unjustly enriching themselves and injuring Plaintiffs good will and trade identity rights…
Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for judgment against the defendant…from using, promoting, or in any way displaying any name or mark which includes the term Seventh-day Adventist, or any term that is confusingly similar to ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ or is a colorable imitation thereof…”
- That each of them deliver up to Plaintiff for destruction, all labels, signs, prints, advertising materials, and other literature…bearing the term Seventh-day Adventist and all plates, molds, matrices and other means of making same.”
John Marik argued that the phrase Seventh-day Adventist described a system or set of Bible-based Christian beliefs, doctrines, and standards. One was a Seventh-day Adventist because of what he believed, not what organization he belonged to.
If each local church was not duly incorporated, then losing a lawsuit might strip every member of their property.
John Marik did not go into court with an attorney, and because of this, the General Conference submitted a paper to the court requesting no court trial be held, but that the court proceed directly to issue judgment. In July 1987, a hearing was held in the Judge’s office. Since John Marik, nor his church members had obtained legal counsel , a “Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, or in the Alternative, Motion to Strike” was submitted. Since John Marik did not object before or during the hearing, it was accepted by the judge and became official—no trial would be held, only a court judgment that would be based on the legal papers the judge received. Therefore, without realizing it, John Marik had just waived his right to trial.
In a lawsuit, whenever either party files a legal paper with the court, they are required by law to send a copy of that paper to the other party in the suit. The second party must then sign and date that they have received it. It is called a “Certificate of Service.” This certificate is then attached to the legal paper and filed with the court. In this case, John Marik claimed that he had not received this action paper, before or after the hearing. The General Conference claimed they sent it, and they filled out the “Certificate of Service” to guarantee this fact to the court. All the while, John Marik and his membership were praying for guidance and awaiting a chance to defend their faith at a trial that would never happen.
In August 1987, the group prepared a paper stating why they could not give up the name Seventh-day Adventist, and submitted it to the judge, and in September he filed a paper with the court declaring that the group would prefer not to enter into litigation with the General Conference.
An Order granting Motion on Judgment for Pleadings, given by the court, accepted the Motion that had been submitted by the General Conference attorneys, and in December 1987, the Federal Court handed down a verdict prohibiting the defendants from using the name Seventh-day Adventist and enjoined them to remove the sign from their church and hand over to Federal Agents all of their personal books, magazines, and other property with the name Seventh-day Adventist on it. The Federal Judge handed down his decision. There would be no trial.
A major position paper was submitted to the court by Max Corbett, now acting attorney for John Marik’s group. He requested that the Judgment be set aside, or dismissed, with the possibility of having a new trial. The small group submitted a paper explaining that they considered the December 8 court Order invalid “because of lack of jurisdiction” in religious matters, while the General Conference submitted a paper asking that the court decision be carried out immediately. The defendants must comply or be visited with civil penalties.
Attorneys for the General Conference requested that the court order the group to explain why they should not be considered in contempt of court for not complying with the judge’s decision, and requested that the hearing be held speedily. The court granted a date in February 1988.
In February 1988, John Marik’s attorney, Max Corbett, appeared in court and reminded the General Conference attorney about this problem of their stifling an open court hearing. This judge observed that the first judge may have made a wrong decision—but he felt duty-bound to uphold it. He counseled the General Conference to seek to come to a mutual agreement out of court to avoid the jailing of someone who believed the same thing the General Conference believed.
For the next two months papers continued to be filed by both sides of the suit, and in May 1988, the Federal District Court of Hawaii entered an Order for John Marik’s arrest, and a $500 a day penalty for every day of non-compliance. The Bench Warrant stated Mr. Marik, once jailed, was not to be released until the fine was paid and the books and related possessions bearing the name Seventh-day Adventist had been seized. This request was not for what they printed—but for what they possessed. It included:
- Adventist song books
- All Spirit of Prophecy books
- Back issues of denominational journals, and many more.
- Possible out of print books or papers dating back to 1800s.
All would be confiscated by the government agents and destroyed at the General Conference request.
The Southwestern Union Record, May 13, 1988 stated, “The church does not sue the offending organization for the purpose of obtaining damages or punitive judgments.” Yet the General Conference requested the judge “for an accounting to be determined, the damages that Plaintiff has suffered and the profits that were derived as a consequence of defendants acts as aforesaid; for an award of the damages suffered by Plaintiff and the profits derived by the defendants, as determined by the accounting, and that the award of profits be trebled (or 3 times as much) all pursuant to 15 U.S.C. Section 1117 and other applicable Law. For costs of suit herein.”
John Marik was subsequently arrested, and lost everything. Later he was a fugitive running from place to place, kept in hiding.
There are many others that the General Conference has pursued; Raphael Perez is just the latest. It is not needful for us to be prophets to understand motives; the actions speak for themselves without further comment.
- Betrayal, by Merikay McLeod
- The John Marik Case, by Vance Ferrell