Controversial anti-gay minister Bradlee Dean and his evangelical band/ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International (YCR) are suing The American Independent News Network’s senior reporter, Andy Birkey, and are threatening to also sue our site The Minnesota Independent. Rachel Maddow, who also reported about Dean on her MSNBC show, is also named in the suit, which seeks $50 million in damages.

The lawsuit describes Andy as taking “a ‘special interest’ in Plaintiffs Dean and YCR because he is a secularist and/or atheist and gay activist with a politically left ideology who despises people of faith.” However, Andy’s award-winning coverage of YCR has received wide praise, including the Society of Professional Journalist’s (SPJ) first prize for Best Continuing Coverage. SPJ stated that Andy took “an even-handed approach into a weighty subject sure to provoke controversy from various standpoints.” We read your comments, tweets, Facebook messages, and emails and know you agree that Andy’s coverage, along with the rest of the reporting by The American Independent News Network, is excellent. You can help ensure that our work continues by making a donation today to support The American Independent News Network and our Legal Defense Fund.

Make no mistake: This suit is a direct attack not only on us but on the very idea of a free and independent press, as well as an attempt to silence journalists like Andy who expose the views of people like Bradlee Dean.  In short, this is a frivolous and blatant attempt to chill free speech. They think that because we are a small, non-profit organization we will be forced to back down; they think by threatening us with a lawsuit, we will stop. They are wrong. We stand behind Andy and our coverage completely, and know you do too.

The American Independent News Network fully intends to fight this suit and to continue our reporting.  You can help us do both by making a donation to our Legal Defense Fund today.

By making a donation you are helping to provide us with the resources to withstand such challenges and to continue our work of advancing and protecting the common good.  Your donation can help take a stand for freedom of the press and against the suppression of dissent through dubious legal means.

Hanaa Rifaey is the publisher of The American Independent News Network, the parent organization of The Florida Independent.

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