Steve Arterburn filed suit against Frank Minirth in the Superior Court of the State of California in Orange County. The case is listed as follows: 95 CV 00330, Stephen Arterburn v. Frank B. Minirth. In his action against Minirth, Arterburn was seeking damages in excess of $550,000. The file on the case indicates that Arterburn’s complaint was for defamation, “slander per se,” and that “a jury trial [is] demanded.”
Arterburn alleged that Minirth said the following words to at least Dr. Paul D. Meier and Nancy R. Brown (Meier’s sister): “He [Arterburn] is a murderer and adulterer.” It is stated in Arterburn’s complaint that Minirth’s statements exposed Arterburn to “hatred, contempt, ridicule, and obloquy” and impugned Arterburn’s integrity both personally and professionally. Arterburn contended that Minirth’s statements were slanderous and jeopardized Arterburn’s financial livelihood, which included book revenues and speaking engagements. Arterburn reported that he had received during the prior year $500,000 in book revenues and over $50,000 for speaking engagements. Thus, Arterburn was seeking over $550,000 in damages.
The following quotations are from Minirth’s response to Arterburn in the case file:
[Minirth] admits that he had a private conversation between himself and another business associate, Dr. Paul D. Meier, wherein Dr. Meier questioned the propriety of [Minirth’s] decision to terminate the contract between New Life Treatment Centers, Inc. and New Life National Corporation on the one hand, and Minirth-Meier Clinic, P.A., Dr. Minirth, and Dr. Meier on the other hand. [Minirth] responded to the effect that [Arterburn’s] judgment and actions were being affected by his previous actions (by his own admission in nationwide print) in getting a woman pregnant out of wedlock and then being responsible for her having an abortion. [Minirth] admits that his statement was true and was based upon and was a reference to [Arterburn’s] own admissions to nationwide audiences that he had committed adultery (sexual relations outside marriage) and had been responsible for an abortion, which in his own words and in the Christian community is the killing (murder) of an unborn child. [Arterburn] told a nationwide audience in January 1994:
[. . .] “When I was in college . . . it was a sexual relationship and we produced a child and we made a decision out of feelings completely out of feelings to have an abortion and I lived with that for I guess two years until I finally was able to accept that God had truly forgiven me.” (Emphasis added).
[Arterburn] called such action (abortion) the killing of a child (murder) in his co-authored book to a nationwide readership:
Induced abortion is a procedure performed on a pregnant woman that causes the fetus (unborn child) to be killed so that the pregnancy is ended. . . . We firmly believe that abortion for the purpose of birth control cannot be justified from a Christian point of view because abortion kills a human being. … Moreover, from a scientific point of view, we know that an unborn fetus is not just an “unviable tissue mass,” nor is the unborn fetus part of the woman’s body. It is enclosed in the woman’s body, but it is a fully distinct human being.
Minirth, F., Meier, P., and Arterburn, S., The Complete Life Encyclopedia A Minirth-Meier New Life Family Resource, p. 8-9 (1995). (Emphasis added). In his own book, [Arterburn] called such an action the destruction of a child (murder):
“You see, I had paid to have another woman abort a baby I was responsible for. . . . I felt I had destroyed a child.”
S. Arterburn, Hand-Me-Down Genes and Second-Hand Emotions, p. 8 (1992). (Emphasis added). In the same book, [Arterburn] told a nationwide readership that his actions (committing adultery while in college) were “sexual promiscuity,” which is synonymous with adultery. S. Arterburn, Hand-Me-Down Genes and Second-Hand Emotions, p. 12 (1992). (Emphasis added).
Minirth contended that his own statement was “qualifiedly privileged” because Minirth made the statement to one or two of his business associates (Dr. Paul Meier and possibly Meier’s sister, Nancy Brown). Minirth said, “Dr. Meier understood the statement was not intended to mean that [Arterburn] currently or recently engaged in adultery or murder/abortion and it was merely repetition of what [Arterburn] had already told a nationwide radio audience” (pp. 7,8).
While this suit was dismissed, we do not know if a settlement was made prior to dismissal. This lawsuit raised questions in our minds about whether or not Matthew 18 was implemented. We wrote to both Arterburn and Minirth asking this question. Arterburn replied that “The principles of Matthew 18 were carried out by me and my co-workers in an effort to help Frank see he had made a mistake and needed to repent.” Arterburn indicated that Minirth was unwilling to respond to himself and other Christians, thus causing him to engage in the lawsuit. Arterburn also indicated that he never intended to get money from the suit or to drag Minirth into court. Thus far Minirth has not responded. If he does, we will publish his response in a future newsletter.