REDLANDS, CA - Lucan Chartier, associate to Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church pastor Walter "Chick" McGill, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday after a long wait at the Redlands Police Department. A federal warrant for Chartier's arrest had been issued when he and McGill refused a court order to stop using the name Seventh Day Adventist in a six-year long trademark dispute with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. The 26-year old Chartier planned to be arrested after a press conference in the parking lot behind the Loma Linda University Church.
In an email interview with Spetrum before the press conference, Chartier shared that he grew up in a very poor family that moved frequently. Chartier's father, a Catholic, discovered the Adventist Church through a telecast of the Three Angels' Broadcasting Network. Chartier said his family became nominally Adventist, and Chartier was baptized into the denomination at age 12. By age 17, Chartier decided to become a minister. He planned to get a job at 18 to save money for seminary. However, Chartier discovered the Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church through an Adventist chat room, and through ongoing conversation became convinced he should join the small group, a move that led to his eventual arrest Tuesday night.
Loma Linda University campus security officers arrived just before 6:30pm, the time Chartier alerted members of the media that he would arrive on the Loma Linda campus to issue a statement. The campus officers purportedly contacted the San Bernardino Sheriff's Office when Chartier appeared, but law enforcement never arrived on scene.
With representatives of several local news outlets present, Chartier issued a statement clarifying the position of his small congregation, based in Guys, Tennessee, and accused the Seventh-day Adventist Church of religious persecution. He began by invoking McGill, the pastor of Creation.
"This is the nineteenth day that Pastor McGill has been in jail. Its the nineteenth day that he's been without food. The reason is that the church we're standing at cares more about their perceived legal rights than the religious liberty of Christians", Chartier said. "We have been sued for trademark infringement. Our members are being jailed, our church house has been raided, our sign has been destroyed, our materials have been confiscated because they say that we're confusing people with the name of our church."
Chartier then addressed a press release issued by the North American Division Corporation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, saying that it contained "several outright lies about the history of this case and the facts." He said that contrary to the release, there had not been a single attempt made to contact the congregation or to work amicably with McGill. "Not even a legal complaint was received before a lawsuit was initiated," Chartier said.
He also took exception to the idea that there was confusion between his congregation and the Adventist denomination. "Frankly," Chartier said, "to be confused with organization that has this as their modus operandi, that will call the police to haul away people that disagree with their beliefs, is something that no Christian in their right mind would want to be associated with."
"It is not now, nor has it ever been the intention of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for Mr. McGill to be jailed," Chartier went on, quoting the press release.
He then read a court order from 2009, "Requesting the arrest of the defendant wherever he may be found within the jurisdiction of the United States and his incarceration in this district pending his full and complete compliance with the injunction order." Chartier stated that the Adventist Church requested that Border Patrol be alerted, that Customs be alerted, and that McGill be held indefinitely until he agreed to give up the name of his church.
Spokespersons for the Seventh-day Adventist Church did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
After sharing prepared statements with the press, and with campus security officers standing by, Chartier spent several minutes responding to reporters' questions.
To the suggestion that the name "Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church" dilutes the Seventh-day Adventist brand, Chartier stated that several other unaffiliated groups use the name as well without issue.
Asked if he would characterize the Adventist denomination's treatment of his congregation as bullying, Chartier responded, "Absolutely. This is a David and Goliath situation. They went after our church thinking 'We can get an easy victory against them, knock em down, it'll be easy...nothing's gonna go any further.' But the simple fact is our convictions won't allow that."
Chartier told reporters that like McGill, who continues fasting in the San Bernardino Central Detention Center, he will refuse solid foods. But unlike McGill, who characterized his fast as a spiritual act, Chartier said he will fast in protest. "I find it to be abhorrent that I would be jailed with criminals for my faith. For me to eat food that taxpayers have spent money on for criminals because because of my religious beliefs is just antithetical to the Constitution, to everything that this country and this church supposedly stands for."
Looking ahead to what will happen after he is released, Chartier said, "We'll continue to do exactly what we have done. Our convictions aren't subject to change based on a court sentence, based on a jail term, or anything of that sort. We'll continue operating the church as God has instructed us to operate it, and we'll continue doing so in the name he has given us to do so with. We can't change that.
"If this wasn't something that God gave to us directly, we would have no reason to be protesting it, no reason to be fighting court orders, there'd be no reason for any of this. But the fact that it is something that God directly and explicitly gave to us makes this an entirely different matter. We cannot obey this court order without disobeying God's instructions," Chartier said. "It comes down to a simple choice between obeying God and obeying man, and we can't choose man over God."
Asked why he characterizes this as an issue of religious freedom, Chartier answered with statements from Ellen White:
"We are Seventh-day Adventists. Are we ashamed of our name? We answer, 'No, no, we are not!' It is the name the Lord has given us." Again, "In the name of the Lord, we are to identify ourselves as Seventh-day Adventists." "Christ was a Seventh-day Adventist to all intents and purposes."
"Now you know that that was a long time before any trademarks," Chartier quipped.
Having finished speaking with reporters, and still with no sign of law enforcement, Chartier announced that he would drive five miles to the Redlands Police Station to turn himself in. His plan hit another snag when, upon arriving at the station, Chartier found it closed.
Chartier used an after hours phone to contact police officers. He explained that there was a federal warrant for his arrest, and that he had come to turn himself in. Then, for forty-five minutes, Chartier waited for police to arrive. "It is sure hard to get arrested around here," he joked with reporters. "Of all the things I expected to happen today, this isn't one of them."
Finally, Corporal Sean Flynn of Redlands PD arrived with another officer, and after briefly questioning Chartier, took him into custody. Chartier was then transferred to the San Bernardino County Central Detention Center where McGill is also being held.
Lucan Chartier speaks to reporters at the Loma Linda University Church
Loma Linda Campus Security watches as Chartier leaves
Chartier arrives at the Redlands Police Department
Chartier waiting to be taken into police custody
Corporal Sean Flynn and a Redlands PD officer take Chartier into custody
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4639