News & Opinion

Freedom House Church Threatens Queen City Nerve With Defamation Lawsuit

Nerve offers church leaders chance to make a statement

A view of Freedom House Church from Griffith Street in South End
Freedom House Church’s South End campus on Griffith Street. (Photo by Justin LaFrancois)

Freedom House Church leaders Penny and Troy Maxwell have threatened Queen City Nerve with a lawsuit, claiming defamation and libel for statements published in an article titled Freedom House Church Leader Heads Harassment Campaigns, Spreads Misinformation, on Aug. 9.

In a cease and desist letter delivered by Lance Edmonds of Fidelity Law Group dated Aug. 15, the Maxwells claim the Nerve has “continually defamed their personal and professional reputation, as well as the reputation of Freedom House Church.[sic] causing damage.”

It goes on to say the Nerve has “continually harassed [Freedom House Church], to the point of violating civil and criminal statutes.”

The letter cites two sentences in the article that were based directly on conversations with sources, and a paragraph in the article outlining Title 26 of the Internal Revenue Code that states “a tax-exempt entity may not ‘participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.’”

The letter accuses Queen City Nerve of continued harassment and even stalking, claiming the Maxwells fear for their safety and that the Nerve has incited followers to harass and stalk them. Queen City Nerve denies any such action on social media or elsewhere, after or in the course of our reporting. 

The letter also cites statements of opinion made in social media messaging on Instagram. An Instagram Story published by the Queen City Nerve account on June 27, 2023 — before carrying out any reporting on Freedom House Church — calls for followers to not ignore but rather expose the Maxwells for their campaign of intolerance against the LGBTQ+ community in Charlotte and beyond. It also noted that Queen City Nerve is “watching you … the same way you ‘watch’ everyone else.”

The private message referenced in Attorney Edmonds’ letter was sent privately in response to being tagged in Troy’s IG Story and was then screenshotted and published by Troy to his personal IG page.

Queen City Nerve has always stood for the inclusion and acceptance of every person, no matter their race, age, gender or sexual orientation. For that reason, our publication has never shied away from exposing intolerance in our community.

The letter demands that we publish a retraction in print and electronic format of “all defamatory remarks, including but not limited to, the remarks and insinuations of Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell and Freedom House Church violating IRS codes.”

The aforementioned article, and another article titled Freedom House Church Leader Makes Max Donation to Mark Robinson, do not contain any false statements of fact, and therefore Queen City Nerve will not agree to any request to retract the stories.

Screenshot of a cease and desist sent by Freedom House Church attorneys to Queen City Nerve
Screenshot of the cease and desist delivered by the Freedom House Church attorney.

Queen City Nerve, and our legal counsel, have invited the Maxwells to provide evidence demonstrating that the statements they’ve cited were factually false. Nerve’s policy is to clarify, correct or retract any published inaccuracies as warranted by the available evidence. The Maxwells ignored the invitation on social media multiple times, then rejected the invitation when delivered through our attorneys.

The Nerve believes in fairness, transparency, and a robust marketplace of ideas.

The Nerve invites the Maxwells to submit evidence proving that the stories contain false statements of fact and, consistent with our policy, pledges to retract any statements shown to be provably false. We encourage Freedom House Church leaders to provide documentation supporting their contentions.

In addition, the Nerve is offering to publish a written response from the Maxwells to the articles, edited in accordance with our publication standards – e.g., removing content that is provably false, defamatory, harassing, obscene, etc.

Queen City Nerve stands firmly behind our reporting. We are fully prepared to defend ourselves and our journalism in court. 


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