On December 18, 1977, Ambassador Report was served with a $3.2 million lawsuit prepared by Ralph Helge of Rader, Helge, and Harms-attorneys for the WCG. The suit, filed on behalf of former world chess champion Bobby Fischer, alleges intrusion of privacy, public disclosure of private facts, fraud and deceit, mental and emotional distress, appropriation for commercial use, and more.
Not only are the allegations without foundation, but the plaintiff’s attorneys have offered no evidence whatsoever to prove their accusations. Some of the charges are actually quite ridiculous. For instance, the suit alleges “invasion of privacy,” yet it was Bobby Fischer himself who first contacted the staff of Ambassador Report. It was he who voluntarily brought to us copies of all his tithe and offering receipts. And, it was Bobby who once even suggested that we include a phone number with his interview so that people who were interested in personally talking with him could call, leave their name and number, and have him return the call.
The request for $3.2 million in damages borders on the ludicrous, especially considering Ambassador Report’s financial position. But, of course, money is not the real goal of the suit. Paragraph 62 of the complaint alleges that Bobby Fischer has no complete or adequate remedy at law since the Report is without money to pay damages to him and that “unless restrained by order and injunction of this court, the defendants have been and intend to continue publishing, selling, distributing and otherwise marketing said Ambassador Report….” In a nutshell, the intent of the suit filed on behalf of Bobby Fischer by Armstrong’s attorneys is to put Ambassador Report out of business, once and for all.
In recent weeks certain facts have come to us from sources within the Armstrong organization that clearly reveal that Bobby Fischer is being “used” by the Armstrongs and their associates “to get Ambassador Report.” The Report has caused the church monetary setbacks. So, it is in their interest to see the Report stopped or at least harassed. The following statement made by one WCG official and quoted to us by an inside source confirms that: “We can’t touch them on 29 of their articles, but we’ll get them through Fischer!”
But where does Bobby Fischer personally fit into the picture? Whose side is he really on? That is difficult to determine, but one thing for certain is that he is now a different Bobby Fischer than the one who came voluntarily to us in January of 1977, vehemently denouncing the leadership and tactics of the Worldwide Church of God.
Additional reports coming to us regarding Bobby’s whereabouts and relationship with the WCG seem to paint a bizarre picture of mental manipulation and direct control by the Armstrong hierarchy. In 1972, after defeating Boris Spassky for the world chess crown, Fischer disappeared from the international limelight. At the invitation of WCG officials, he came to Pasadena. He was put up in a luxury apartment owned by the WCG, wined and dined by church officials, chauffeured in a church-owned limousine, and flown to exotic places with Herbert Armstrong in the church’s private jet. The fact that Bobby donated $61,200 to the WCG that year may, have had something to do with the royal treatment he received. However, a comment made by a top-ranking WCG evangelist and overheard by one of our staff reveals a more sinister reason. He said in effect: “We had to get Bobby to Pasadena and within our sphere of influence where we could watch him and control any statements he might make to the press about the Worldwide Church of God. A co-worker with the kind of media attention he was attracting could be damaging to the work of God if unmonitored statements concerning us were errantly made to the press.”
Since 1972, Fischer has continually maintained residence with several high-ranking WCG officials and their families. He presently resides with a pastor-ranked minister who heads an orientation and reeducation program apparently designed to help the WCG field ministry adjust to the many recent changes within the Armstrong organization. We have learned that this official threatened to throw Fischer out of his home when he discovered that Ambassador Report was publishing an interview with the chess champion.
Another clue in this unraveling case is the anxiety Bobby began to express at the conclusion of his meetings with us. He became suspicious of people following him and of certain people finding out that he was talking with us. Then, as abruptly as he came to us, he disappeared without leaving a hint as to where or how we could safely contact him. We did not hear from him again until after the Report had been printed-eight months later!
We can only speculate on the pressures that have been brought to bear on Bobby. The entire mental transition that has apparently occurred within Fischer is remarkably similar to a mental condition called “floating,” a word coined by cult deprogrammers. It describes a state of mind in which a cult member becomes disenchanted with his religious regime and is unsure about what to do next with his life. It is a time when a person vacillates between “lives”-when he is most likely to recognize that his religious dreams have been shattered but subconsciously longs for the security of the life within the cult. More often that not, the cult, with its highly structured life-style and specific demands on members, offers the “easier” answer to questions about life and how to continue living. Cult leaders are often very adept at applying subtle pressures to a “floating” member to get him back under their control. We feel this is exactly what occurred to Bobby Fischer and that he is now back under the influence of the Worldwide Church of God.
Presently, this legal harassment continues to be a considerable drain on us, not only financially but in the time and effort being diverted away from the main task at hand. However, we are confident that this WCG-fomented lawsuit will be recognized by the court as groundless, intended solely to harass, and will be dismissed in a matter of weeks.