Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

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Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#1  Postby DoctorE » May 12, 2012 11:01 am

BEAVERTON, Ore. - A church pastor is suing a mother and daughter for $500,000 because they gave the church bad reviews online.

The family being sued left the church a few years ago and Julie Anne Smith says she and her family were shunned and couldn't understand why. So she went online and wrote Google and DEX reviews of the church and then started a blog.

"I thought, I'm just going to post a review," Smith said. "We do it with restaurants and hotels and whatnot, and I thought, why not do it with this church?"

Never did she think Beaverton Grace Bible Church and Pastor Charles O'Neal would slap her with the lawsuit.

"I'm a stay-at-home mom. I teach my kids at home, and this is just not the amount of money that normal moms have."

When the family left the church, Smith says friends were told to end all contact with her.

"If I went to Costco or any place in town, if I ran into somebody, they would turn their heads and walk the other way," she said. "All we did was asked questions. We just raised concerns. There's no sin in that."

Dissatisfied, she went online to write reviews. Other church members counteracted them with church praise. So Smith started a blog called "Beaverton Grace Bible Church Survivors."

But the pastor claims in the lawsuit he filed that her words, "creepy," "cult," "control tactics," and "spiritual abuse," are defamation.

Continues + vid: http://www.katu.com/news/local/Beaveton ... =video&c=y
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#2  Postby Sityl » May 12, 2012 1:02 pm

It's going to be hilarious when the court finds that they aren't defamatory because they're true.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#3  Postby chairman bill » May 12, 2012 1:10 pm

The pastor of Beaverton Grace Bible Church is a cunt. Sue me, you evil little shit.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#4  Postby Wiðercora » May 12, 2012 2:05 pm

Sityl wrote:It's going to be hilarious when the court finds that they aren't defamatory because they're true.


If the court does find it defamatory, could it mean that bad reviews are effectively illegal?
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#5  Postby Shrunk » May 12, 2012 2:50 pm

Wiðercora wrote:
Sityl wrote:It's going to be hilarious when the court finds that they aren't defamatory because they're true.


If the court does find it defamatory, could it mean that bad reviews are effectively illegal?


I guess it depends on the content of the review. If you just criticize a restaurant's food, that's OK. But if you suggest that the kitchen staff are peeing in it, that would probably be defamatory. So this case may come down to, e.g. whether she says the Church is like a cult, or suggests it actually is one.

The woman's blog is here, so you can judge for yourself.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#6  Postby purplerat » May 13, 2012 5:23 am

Shrunk wrote:
Wiðercora wrote:
Sityl wrote:It's going to be hilarious when the court finds that they aren't defamatory because they're true.


If the court does find it defamatory, could it mean that bad reviews are effectively illegal?


I guess it depends on the content of the review. If you just criticize a restaurant's food, that's OK. But if you suggest that the kitchen staff are peeing in it, that would probably be defamatory. So this case may come down to, e.g. whether she says the Church is like a cult, or suggests it actually is one.

The woman's blog is here, so you can judge for yourself.

I think most churches would have a tough time proving they are not a cult, at least not to satisfy a defamation claim.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#7  Postby Onyx8 » May 13, 2012 5:31 am

Ahhh, christians eating their own.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#8  Postby Morten » May 13, 2012 8:38 am

Shrunk wrote:
Wiðercora wrote:
Sityl wrote:It's going to be hilarious when the court finds that they aren't defamatory because they're true.


If the court does find it defamatory, could it mean that bad reviews are effectively illegal?


I guess it depends on the content of the review. If you just criticize a restaurant's food, that's OK. But if you suggest that the kitchen staff are peeing in it, that would probably be defamatory. So this case may come down to, e.g. whether she says the Church is like a cult, or suggests it actually is one.

The woman's blog is here, so you can judge for yourself.


But the pastor claims in the lawsuit he filed that her words, "creepy," "cult," "control tactics," and "spiritual abuse," are defamation.


I really doubt the church has a case here, it seems she just described how she perceived the church? If so, all that should matter is that she really perceived it like that or not, and proving that she did not perceive it like "creepy" or "cult-like" is pretty much impossible?
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#9  Postby Varangian » May 13, 2012 10:00 am

Onyx8 wrote:Ahhh, christians eating their own.

With so few lions around, it is the next best form of entertainment.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#10  Postby The_Metatron » May 13, 2012 11:18 am

I sent them (that church) an email registering my disapproval.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#11  Postby Sityl » May 13, 2012 3:13 pm

Shrunk wrote:
Wiðercora wrote:
Sityl wrote:It's going to be hilarious when the court finds that they aren't defamatory because they're true.


If the court does find it defamatory, could it mean that bad reviews are effectively illegal?


I guess it depends on the content of the review. If you just criticize a restaurant's food, that's OK. But if you suggest that the kitchen staff are peeing in it, that would probably be defamatory. So this case may come down to, e.g. whether she says the Church is like a cult, or suggests it actually is one.

The woman's blog is here, so you can judge for yourself.


But, if the restaurant's staff actually IS peeing in it, then it's not defamation.
Stephen Colbert wrote:Now, like all great theologies, Bill [O'Reilly]'s can be boiled down to one sentence - 'There must be a god, because I don't know how things work.'


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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#12  Postby Shrunk » May 13, 2012 3:28 pm

Sityl wrote: But, if the restaurant's staff actually IS peeing in it, then it's not defamation.


Good point. And if their response to the accusation is to go over to the person's home and pee in her food, it doesn't exactly help their case.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#13  Postby Pulsar » May 13, 2012 4:01 pm

What's that bible passage again about 'turning the other cheek'? Ah Christians, always so forgiving.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#14  Postby Weaver » May 13, 2012 8:11 pm

Hmmm - a church co-opting the civil law to silence criticism and dissent? How very Christian of them.

At least they're following many centuries of tradition.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#15  Postby BrandySpears » May 13, 2012 9:41 pm

What did Jesus say about when someone sues you give them your cloak? I'm on my way to leave a review.

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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#16  Postby The_Metatron » May 16, 2012 12:47 pm

The_Metatron wrote:I sent them (that church) an email registering my disapproval.

The_Metatron, in an email to Beaverton Grace Bible Church, wrote:From: "Jesse"
Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2012 3:37am
To: "chuckoneal@cleaninter.net <chuckoneal@cleaninter.net>
Subject: A church, sueing?

Some of those good old Christian values, eh?

If your practices and dogma doesn't stand up to criticism, file a lawsuit?

Pathetic attempt at intimidation.

Jesse

Sent from my iPad

To which they replied:
Beaverton Grace Bible Church, in a press release about this suit, wrote:From: chuckoneal@cleaninter.net
Date: 16 May 2012 10:02:27 GMT+02:00
To: "Jesse"
Subject: RE: A church, sueing?
Things are not always what they first seem to be. Here is the rest of the story.

BEAVERTON GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
PRESS RELEASE

There is another side to the story. Beaverton Grace Bible Church wants to present its side of the story before anyone rushes to judgment. In Nov. of 2008 a man was removed from the staff of Beaverton Grace Bible Church (BGBC). Since that time, Pastor Charles O’Neal and the Beaverton Grace Bible Church have been the targets of a three and a half year campaign of defamation by a group of former church members and attenders who are close personal friends of the former staff member. The church elders and the pastor did little to defend themselves over these three and a half years, believing that the individuals would tire of the effort and eventually cease the defamation. However, that did not prove to be successful. In fact it was counter-productive. The defamation campaign escalated recently when one of the former congregants established a blog on the internet with the intent of reaching a broader audience. This divisive group has used review websites, blogs, the police, the Department of Human Services, and now the local media in their three and a half year campaign to destroy Pastor O’Neal and Beaverton Grace Bible Church with false accusations that range from ridiculous to criminal.

The facts will show that this is not a free speech case. Just after the release of the before mentioned staff member, in Dec. of 2008, a member of this group called the police and the DHS to deliver a false report accusing Pastor O’Neal of physically abusing his own children and allowing pornography to be distributed to adolescents in the church. He, his family, and the church were subsequently investigated by the authorities and the case was dismissed as unfounded. His only response to these vicious charges was to state his own denial. As the campaign has escalated the postings on the internet have falsely accused Pastor O’Neal of being a “wolf,” a “liar,” a” narcissist” and one who “knew about a sex offender in the church who had access to the nursery and the children on a weekly basis and did not have any safeguards in place.” In yet further escalation, Julie Anne Smith stated that the church allows “sex offenders having free reign in childrens’ area with no discloser to parents… .” This is most likely the second worst thing that can be said about a pastor and a church and most certainly constitutes defamation.

Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Pastor O’Neal, and his family have patiently suffered these accusations for three and a half years. In light of the escalation of postings on the internet and the creation of the blog dedicated to continuing the accusations and spreading them to and even wider audience, the elders of the church concluded that their only viable option was legal action. They very reluctantly decided to defend their church and their pastor against these allegations in the courts of Oregon where they believe that truth will prevail. They trust that application of the law will demonstrate that defamation on the internet is not the type of speech that is protected by either the U.S. Constitution or the Oregon Constitution.

In response to the many rightly concerned Christians in the local community and around the world who are emailing and calling, Pastor O’Neal has stated:

Please do not be quick to believe what you hear or read in the press and then pass judgment upon our motives or our commitment to Scripture. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Proverbs 25:8 says, “Do not go hastily to court; For what will you do in the end, When your neighbor has put you to shame?” We have not gone hastily to court. For three and a half years this group has been engaged in a public, church to church, and World Wide Web defamation, showing their willingness to discredit God, harm the church, harm wives, harm children, and harm the testimony of Christ's Gospel. It is BGBC's firm conviction that this cannot continue. The ministry of the local church and the Gospel cannot continue to be hindered. Families cannot continue to be threatened by false allegations of abuse. 1 Cor. 6:7-8 was not meant to protect this group from the the legal consequences of their deeds. Matthew Henry (Charles Spurgeon's favorite commentator) comments on 1 Cor. 6; “Here is at least an intimation that they went to law for trivial matters, things of little value; for the apostle blames them that they did not suffer wrong rather than go to law (v. 7), which must be understood of matters not very important. In matters of great damage to ourselves or families, we may use lawful means to right ourselves. We are not bound to sit down and suffer the injury tamely, without stirring for our own relief; but, in matters of small consequence, it is better to put up with the wrong. Christians should be of a forgiving temper. And it is more for their ease and honour to suffer small injuries and inconveniences than seem to be contentious.” (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.) After three and a half years of suffering a great many injuries tamely, without stirring for our own relief, we are now using lawful means to right the ministry of the Gospel at BGBC and to protect our families. We thank you for your prayers.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#17  Postby Shrunk » May 16, 2012 1:21 pm

Umm, OK.

Here's the thing. Until now, I have seen no mention of these accusations of child abuse, sexual molestation, distribution of pornography to minors, etc. on the blog in question or in the media. It has only been presented as a case of a woman making critical comments online about a church she once belonged to. And now all of these more lurid, and potentially criminal, details are coming out. As a result of a press release from the church itself.

Is it possible for someone to commit slander against himself?
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#18  Postby The_Metatron » May 16, 2012 3:05 pm

This little snippet catches my eye:

... In yet further escalation, Julie Anne Smith stated that the church allows “sex offenders having free reign in childrens’ area with no discloser to parents… .” This is most likely the second worst thing that can be said about a pastor and a church and most certainly constitutes defamation.

...

Only the second worst thing? What would be worse, I wonder?
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#19  Postby Onyx8 » May 16, 2012 3:09 pm

Presumably that the pastor himself is the abuser.
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Re: Beaverton church sues family after they criticize it online

#20  Postby SafeAsMilk » May 16, 2012 4:48 pm

The_Metatron wrote:This little snippet catches my eye:

... In yet further escalation, Julie Anne Smith stated that the church allows “sex offenders having free reign in childrens’ area with no discloser to parents… .” This is most likely the second worst thing that can be said about a pastor and a church and most certainly constitutes defamation.

...

Only the second worst thing? What would be worse, I wonder?

Saying the pastor is an atheist in disguise, I presume.
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