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Hank Hanegraaff, radio's "Bible Answer Man," is suing a longtime critic for statements made in connection with a January fundraising letter sent out by the Christian Research Institute (CRI), Hanegraaff's apologetics ministry. The suit, filed April 1 in Superior Court in Orange County, California, seeks unspecified damages. The suit charges blogger William Alnor with falsely claiming that CRI was the subject of a federal mail-fraud investigation. CRI tells CT there is no investigation, which Alnor confirms.

Alnor, a journalism professor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville who first complained about the letter to postal officials, told CT that local postal officials told him in January there was an investigation of CRI for possibly misleading fundraising claims, but subsequently told him the case is "under review," as noted on his Christian Sentinel website.

In CRI's January fundraising letter, Hanegraaff said "newly hired U.S. post office employees" accidentally routed mail, worth "perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars," to a local business late last year. "To make matters worse," the letter continued, "the business to whom the envelopes were sent threw many of the envelopes into the trash!"

The Los Angeles Times and ChristianityToday.com's Weblog reported allegations from Alnor that Hanegraaff and CRI may have engaged in fundraising exaggeration. However, new information provided to CT, MinistryWatch.com, and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) corroborates the letter's claims.

According to a January 23 story in the Los Angeles Times, Alan Baron, chief operating officer for On-Target Direct Marketing in Foothill Ranch, California, said the company received just one tray of misdirected CRI mail ...

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Christian Research Institute Sues Longtime Critic
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