Chip MacGregor

August 1, 2012

The Wine Press Follies


A few months ago (March 5), I wrote a blog post about the situation at Wine Press Publishing. They’re a big self-publisher of religious books, and their founder and former president alleges they’ve been taken over by a cult called Sound Doctrine Church. I’d read about the story online, and I made a comment on Facebook about it all — and was promptly served with a threatening letter from Wine Press, suggesting I was going to be sued, prosecuted, and presumably keel-hauled for having basically said, “Wow… I didn’t know this was going on.” They claimed I was a co-conspirator, and had their lawyer try to intimidate me with heavy-handed rhetoric.

Their lawyer’s name, by the way, is Dumas. (Feel free to pronounce that however you want.)
Well, several people have written to ask what the follow-up is, and what it was like when I ran into them at the ICRS book show. The fact is, I’ve stayed away from the topic on this blog. I mean, it’s not really my fight, I just happen to not like being barked at by a Dumas. Still, I noticed that the Brain Trust at Wine Press must have read my post, since they decided to write a couple responses on their church blog. (That’s right… I wrote a blog post about Wine Press, a publishing company claiming to NOT be a church, and their defense was posted on the church’s website.) On it, they took pains to detail what a “conspiracy” is, citing as their source that bastion of wisdom, Wikipedia. They also claimed that I was “lying about the facts,” though I notice they didn’t actually cite any lies, and concluded by saying I was “directly aiding… supporting, and contributing” to the people who oppose them. (You can read the whole thing here: )
It makes for interesting reading. I particularly like the parts where they quote all those nifty Bible verses about “not gossiping.” Those are helpful because, if you wander through the site, it seems to exist for one reason — to trash the reputation of their former owner, Athena Dean. I’m not sure if revealing past mistakes and personal decisions rises to the level of gossip, but the site is so biased and filled with religious phoniness it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Ms Dean is not a close friend of mine (I think we last spoke a couple years ago), and I don’t have any reason to take her side, but the fact that she’s being slammed by a “church” just bugs me. Of course, the fact they’d send Dumas after me for making a comment on Facebook does also. That said, I still think the verses are a nice touch — it gives sort of a cool veneer of religiosity to things.
Anyway, on the church blog post they quote some personal emails I received, which is fascinating to me, since these people have put up blog posts in the past criticizing others for doing exactly that. (You can find an example here —, with lots more helpful verses!) I guess citing personal communications between myself and the Dumas they had write to me is okay for Wine Press, since all those passages about “being confidential” and “not gossiping” probably don’t apply to a religious group. And notice that while the Wine Press sites don’t allow anyone to comment on their stuff, in the post above they’re quick to criticize others for not allowing comments. [Addendum: Well, the site noted was apparently taken down. Huh. Color me surprise. -Ed.]
I’m not sure if Dumas was behind that or not. But they were there, at ICRS. I had to keep walking by their booth, since it was located in the middle of several publishing houses, and  I’ve been told the Boss there has come out to confront the ungodly in the past. I was more or less hoping he’d excommunicate me or something, so I could post the recording. Alas, all I got was the stink eye. And they seem to be doing a rousing business, even in the face of all the accusations.
Still, there’s one very sad footnote about the goings-on at Wine Press and Sound Doctrine Church: I was going to ask one of their senior people about all of this — the guy who sent me cranky notes, who is apparently the Major Apologist for the church, and someone who was once described to me by a former member of their church as “an evil troll.” I thought I’d ask him about the situation, since he’s an insider in the church and also serves as the Executive Officer for the publishing house. Sadly, he’s unavailable to answer my questions… having been just arrested a couple weeks ago. For rape. Of a child.
Hey, Dumas, do you have any verses for that?

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  • Robin Somers says:

    Due to the possibility of loved ones being hurt by this cult AGAIN, I have begun researching and publically documenting everything I can find on the internet and personal interviews. I have created a group page on facebook:!/groups/124177164399055/
    And I do have a Scripture for Tim & Carla Williams: “Let my people go, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      Thank you for what you are doing. Great scripture. I already emailed Carla and asked her to stop the madness against me and let me go. No reply. They are not loving Christians–they are intent on HURTING people and destroying lives. And frankly, I’m sick of all of them. And tired of paying $400.00 an hour for a lawyer. I may only live another few months or I may live many years, but now I have to put aside my writing and work full time to pay a lawyer to fight a supposed Christian group who has no financial gain from harassing me and keeping my book hostage and all my royalties, which isn’t much. They are INTENT on hurting me. Would JESUS hurt anyone? God, please free up ALL the people being hurt by these demented people.

  • Joseph Gomez says:

    this sucks…I am about to get published through them… knowing my luck after all this hard work my novel may never see the light of day….

  • Cecilia Marie Pulliam says:

    Oh my. Given enough time, the evildoers do  have a tendency to hang themselves, don’t they? All good points, Chip, and an interesting read. 

  • mcnairwilson says:

    Chris – Anyone who employs humor to contend with the chronically serious is my kind of a fellow. I was directed to you blog by long-time pal Athena D. This is a sad story that is all too familiar in the family of God. I occasionally put in an appearance at the annual Christan Book Floggers Reunion (when I have a new book out) so I hope we can meet someday. Meanwhile keep jabbing the silly and the lost – – especially M.. Dumas. He seems to be living up to his name. (It’s a bit redundant, but oh so fitting.)



  • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

    I’d also like to thank Chip for posting on this subject. I’m sorry, Chip, if the excitement you ignited causes you more hassles. 

    Want to let your readers know that besides Athena, who has lost much compared to me, I am one of the victims of WinePress’s sickness. My two non-fiction books are with them and I am the ‘third’ member of the co-conspirator’s team: Chip, Athena, and me. 

    As of today, it is costing me $400.00 an hour for a lawyer to obtain what is mine–my two books. And I can’t afford it. They continue to sell both paperback and e-book versions, collect the money, and hide the royalties. They have written me threatening emails about how twisted and sick I am and how I can’t read the Bible because I am so evil. Claiming to be loving people with the real truth of living as Christians, they are doing underhanded things to sabotage little me–a peewee in the scope of things.

    And, I know this is old and will sound like whining–but I am very close to dying every day I live through. I’m the first and only person in the world to have a heart transplant and then years later a pancreas transplant. With that comes three types of cancer, all sorts of other diseases, and the fact I was supposed to be dead a long time ago. 

    I am out there–speaking, teaching, and most of all, encouraging people and sharing my transplanted heart with those who are hurting. 

    They, WinePress, are causing so much stress, that my surgeons and doctors have warned me it is shortening my already shortened life. And WinePress knows the state of my health and what stress does to me. I’ve stayed among them in their homes. I’ve seen abuse. And I’ve been on the receiving end of their sickness. They even harassed my 22 year old, goofy, but very talented college student who has been through enough himself.

    So my lawyer said I shouldn’t post anything about them anymore. Why? Because they’ll file more lawsuits against me? Freedom of speech is our right in this country. WinePress has already sued people for speaking of them and they have lost. And living on true borrowed time makes me a bit audacious. 

    I want people, especially those who are still with them or thinking of publishing with them, to know they are effectively destroying my health and it is fact–real fact, I could die from their attacks on me. True. Real. And disgusting. 

    Had to vent here. I’m tired of fighting them. I’m tired of them proclaiming how loving they are and how they have the truth of living as Christians when they are slowly causing my ultimate death. If you think I’m exaggerating the state of my health, Google me. You’ll get more than 50,000 results. 

    People need to know. 

    (Chip, I’d understand if you delete this comment. You’re not my therapist. And this may not be the place to go wawawawa.)

    All done with a smile. 8^)

  • I guess it’s a good thing that one can’t also be arrested for hypocrisy as we’re all guilty of it at some point. Still, woe to those who make a career of it at the expense of others.

  • Jan Cox says:

    Once again, Chip, it makes us realize what a spiritual battle we are in. I love Frank Peretti books – made me see the real war that is behind the “reality” of life.
    Power takes control of people – I am happy to associate with you – to know that you believe God is in control and Jesus is our Lord.
    I love your sense of humour as well.
    Standing up for what is right and making comments and asking questions to make people think – is good. 
    I don’t understand much of what is going on in this “battle” but power seems to be a big thing if they can’t talk seriously without slandering others. 
    We need the freedom to question – don’t we?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      We do need the freedom to question, Jan. I’m not saying everyone at Winepress is a bad person — only noting what I’ve seen and experienced.

  • Theresa Lode says:

    Uh, just realized they weren’t calling you the “evil troll.”  I read this aloud to my hubby…we’re both howling.  (But yeah, disgusted too.  I’ve been reading Athena’s blog.  She is a brave woman.)  

  • Denise says:

    How refreshing!  It is revolting when people misuse the Bible to further their agendas.  I had the pleasure of meeting Athena Dean recently.  We spoke briefly about her experience at Wine Press and she was visibly distraught by it.  It took considerable courage for her to get out and speak out.  Having someone like you validate her story is powerful.

  • Robin Patchen says:

    I love your humor, but what a sad tale. Thank you for having the courage to stand up to them. 

    Seems there are a lot of Dumases out there. 

  • Ane Mulligan says:

    When they sling mud, they can expect to have some fly back at them. Not surprised in the least at the arrest. 

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I don’t know the guy at all, but I was shocked by the arrest. 

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      I know him. I wasn’t shocked. Not after he tried to induct me into their cult and shared things with me he shouldn’t have. 

  • Rick Barry says:

    Woosh. That’s a bundle of information in one post, Chip. 

  • Theresa Lode says:

    You so totally rock, Chip. For an evil troll, that is. Ha. Seriously…you really do rock…

  • former_winepress_user says:

    Someone ought to let Malcolm Fraser know that the expression “True Facts” constitutes a tautology. This is not very scholarly. 

    However, when you are running a cult, you may need the concept of a true and false fact. That would allow you to say, take a *fact* and dismiss it as “just one of those nasty false facts, not a true fact”. 

    Reminds me a bit of Liberty University’s press release for why they fired Ergun Caner: for making “factual statements that are self-contradictory” – ie false facts. Malcolm, Timothy? Care to comment? 

    • Chip says:

      That is a true fact, my friend. (As opposed to all those false facts you usually get on my blog.) 

  • Jodie Bailey says:

    And this is why I totally respect Chip MacGregor.  For telling the truth.  In an amusing way yes, but the truth nonetheless.  

  • Athena Dean says:

    Hey Chip, this link you included seems to be something other than what you referred to…could there be a typo?

    (You can find an example here –, with lots more helpful verses!)  

    • Chip says:

      Hmmm… Sorry. Let me work on that, Athena. It worked fine for me when I created this. Sorry. 

    • Athena Dean says:

      Well, like what happened in your March post, when they saw you made them look stupid, they changed the landing page…I would suspect they did the same here, as the WAS their site where they quoted a bunch of scriptures against other discernment ministries, but now that’s all gone. Hmmmmm.

  • Ann Shorey says:

    Way to go, Chip! Love how you’re not afraid to speak out on issues. Dumas, watch out! 

  • Athena Dean says:

    You, Chip, are the best.

    I know you’ve taken heat from those bullies but that hasn’t intimidated you one bit. I appreciate your courage, and for making me laugh out loud when I easily could be weeping.

    Thank you for joining me in not being afraid to tell my (your) story! 🙂

    Athena Dean (

  • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

    I was sitting on the couch, 22 freelances articles about curtains looming over my already defeated mood, and your post came up. I’m working for the legal fees and find my fiction book manuscript sitting on my desk, paper browning from time I spend on freelance, bogus writing. So your words got me motivated to get up and stop feeling alone and woodenly. You are so kind. [grin] Like me–the incessant New York Italian who says it like it is, but you do so with such flare. 

  • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

    Have you seen this?  Looks like the courts are tired of so named ‘churches’ suing anyone that leaves and makes use of freedom of speech. 

  • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

    I’m in love with you, Chip Macgregor.

    • Chip says:

      Well, I’m not surprised, of course. I look EXACTLY like Brad Pitt, so long as you stand far enough away. 
      And squint. 
      And are blind. 

  • Bonnie Leon says:

    Dare I comment? Yeah.

    Thank you!

  • Booksbyjanice says:

    Just one more reason why I love you, Chip MacGregor. You make me laugh while speaking candidly about tough situations. 

  • Jan Cline says:

    Well said. What a shame all this has to darken the Christian pub world. As a conference director, I have had to field some questions from attendees. It’s all pretty clear by now what has been going on. We need good company choices for self pub for writers and it’s wise to be informed.

    • Chip says:

      Thanks, Jan. I don’t know much about people getting hired at conference, but there is plenty to read online about this situation. 

  • Chip, Color me astonished.I wasn’t aware that WinePress was under new management. (Must have missed your post on it). And their behavior sounds definitely strange. (Hope I don’t get sued for saying that). 
    Thanks for keeping us posted.

    • Chip says:

      There’s a bunch you can read about online, Richard. That’s where I heard about this. And I’m not taking sides here, other than to tell what’s been going on between them and me. For the record, I am not a client or former client of Wine Press, nor do I know the people well, nor do I have any sort of grudge against them. I just think the situation has been unfortunate. 

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