A dying woman has filed a $40 million lawsuit against religious broadcasters Paul and Jan Crouch and their Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), among others. Sylvia Fleener, 53, of Union, West Virginia, claims that The Omega Code, the 1999 apocalyptic movie, was originally her story. Fleener's attorney described her as an interdenominational Christian minister dying from internal scleroderma, which causes hardening of the organs. According to a statement from her attorney, Daniel Quisenberry of Kirtland & Packard, his firm began legal action because Fleener felt convicted by God to speak out. Quisenberry's firm filed the lawsuit on July 11 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The lawsuit says Fleener presented TBN officials with a manuscript titled The Omega Syndrome in 1996, hoping TBN would produce a film from it.Fleener received no response but was surprised when TBN released The Omega Code last year. The complaint alleges 38 similarities between characters and plot devices in the two works. Both feature the Bible as the source of coded information on the end times. Both have a lead character who is initially good but ends up as the Antichrist. And in both, racists seek to kill Jews.Quisenberry says Fleener was a 20-year supporter of TBN and had confidence in its TV ministry. He adds that TBN officials ignored Fleener's comments when she brought the similarities to their attention.Colby May of Washington, D.C., an attorney for TBN and Crouch, denied Fleener's claims. "It is a shame and certainly a hallmark of life in America in the 21st century that this kind of legal difficulty traces and tracks every business," May tells Christianity Today. "In this instance, there is simply no truth to the claim that Trinity and anybody associated with The Omega Code infringed on anybody's copyright or intellectual property, and certainly not Mrs. Fleener's.""A writer knows when [her] material has been taken." Quisenberry tells CT in response. "She noticed, of course, that the title was close but didn't expect the parts of her book were there as well."Progress of the complaint is uncertain. Quisenberry wants to depose Fleener before her death. "She would rather spend the rest of her days on this earth with family and friends close to her," he says. "Instead, she got this big fight thrown in her lap."

Christianity Today stories dealing with The Omega Code and other kinds of apocalyptic entertainment include: Apocalyptic Sales Out of This World | Popular fiction and movies have Christians panting for more Premillennialism. (Mar. 1, 1999) Christian Filmmakers Jump on End-times Bandwagon | Bestseller Left Behind is slated for the big screen. (Oct. 25, 1999) A Bone to Pick | Christian critics review The Bone Collector, Being John Malkovich, and The Omega Code. (Sept. 9, 1999)The secular press also ran a lot of articles about the financial success of The Omega Code:Christian Filmgoers Create Heavenly Box Office for 'Omega Code' | Los Angeles Times (Oct. 22, 1999) Sleeper 'Omega' Cracks Hollywood Code | USA Today (Oct. 19, 1999) 'Omega Code' Matches Prophecy with Thrills | Orange County Register (Sept. 9, 1999)