Church Sues Former Members For Posting A Negative Review Online

from the turn-the-other-cheek? dept

Nastybutler77 was the first of a few people to send over this story of a church pastor, Charles O'Neal, of the Beaverton Grace Bible Church in Oregon, suing a former church member, Julie Anne Smith, and her family, for posting a negative review of the church online. O'Neal claims that the review was defamation, and apparently responded to Smith's review on Google with a post about how Smith was lying and how he was planning to sue.

Some of the specifics argued in the lawsuit do seem to quite critical of the church, but it's not clear they rise to the level of defamation:

The original report also claims that part of the lawsuit claims that using the word "creepy" is defamatory. While the factual statements might be defamatory, opinion statements such as calling a place creepy are clearly not.

For what it's worth, Oregon appears to have a reasonably strong anti-SLAPP law, and I wonder if Smith will make use of that. It will depend on the details of her statements to see if they were truly defamatory, but the general descriptions provided certainly make it appear like a vindictive lawsuit to silence a vocal critic.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 9:28am

    Censorship is wonderful! It allows entities to perserve their awesomeness!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Yogi, May 16th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    Exactly

    This is just what Jesus would do if he had any kind of decent defamation law in his time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    [about three rednecks who met him after a show where he made a joke about Christians]
    Bill Hicks: [imitating them] "Hey buddy, we're Christians, we don't like what you said."
    Bill Hicks: [in his own voice] I said "Then forgive me".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 9:43am

    Doesn't their religion preach forgiveness?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 9:49am

    What is there to discuss? If its true, this lawsuit will do nothing but draw more attention and embarrassment to the church. If its a lie, then the lawsuit will go through, she'll need to apologize, and still nobody will trust that church as much as they have in the past, but gotta do some damage control. We'll see when the facts come out. Until then, meh. I can see this easily going either way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Grace bible church, May 16th, 2012 @ 9:51am

    Turn the other cheek?

    I got your other cheek RIGHT HERE.

    *pulls down pants, shakes ass at reviewer*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 9:56am

    Re:

    Streisand Effect in 3...2...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 9:58am

    Re: Exactly

    You lie. Jesus would have smote the censors down with the wrath of all the prior deities!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 10:01am

    The reason the church is making a deal about this, instead of turning the other cheek? Money. An unfortunate fact of churches is that they take money to run. They get money from their parishioners. If a church is accused of not protecting the children of the parish, then they could lose parishioners. With such damning accusations as she made, it could well ruin the church.

    In before 'Oh wont someone think of the children!'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 10:02am

    Re:

    Judging by the comments on their Google Places page. The church is officially ruined.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 10:06am

    Re:

    THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

    IN A NON SEXUAL CONTEXT!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Difster (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 10:11am

    Grace?

    Can we call this the Streisand Halo Effect?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 10:18am

    Re: !

    Wow, I suppose the internet has spoken.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    technomage (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 11:05am

    Re: Grace?

    Nah, the covenant had more respect....except for the grunts...and the jackals.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 11:13am

    The pastor should have joined reputation.com like normal churches do...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    LunaSilver, May 16th, 2012 @ 11:18am

    Got to love the snarky 4-star review

    "I'm excited to find a christian church that isn't afraid to take some good ideas from other faiths. Like suing your detractors. Works for scientology."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    Censorship is wonderful! It allows entities to perserve their creepyness!


    Fixed!

    and for another brilliant usage of stupidity and creepiness by religious organisations.. "Fired for a Sin or for a Blessing?" - Wall Street Journal

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: !

    Quick, sue the internet for defamation!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 11:38am

    Catholic Church finds more Butthurt in Australia

    This actually reminds me of a similar idiocy that happened just recently within Australia (apologies to Mike if he was going to post this story)

    Last week the Catholic church's Cardinal in Australia George Pell went on a televised panel about "Atheism vs Religion" up against Richard Dawkins (yes yes.. stupidity knows no bounds with this Cardinal) .

    The Cardinal in a moment of insanity stated “When in England, we were preparing some young English boys.... for Holy Communion.”

    Those dots... were an actual long pause where of course the audience laughed, (like most people whoa re reading this did), the Cardinal actually snarled and then said the last bit..

    Of course some wag twittered the first bit, it became a meme, and the Cardinal decided to send a legal cease and desist nastygram to the originator of the tweet, Catherine Devenywho is an Aussie Commedian that the catholic church sorta dislikes anyway, and also to twitter..

    This resulted in lots of more Butthurt for the Cardinal who subsequently found out all about the Streisand effect (Mike will Love this blogpost) and was educated in the reality of the world.

    Along with the above a new meme was generated. LULZ were had by twitter users and bloggers everywhere, and the solicitors and Cardinal recanted on their threats.

    Here's an example of the Meme that I did.. http://geekhideout.net/post/22708626352
    and here are all the rest in their glory http://memegenerator.net/QA-Pell

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 11:58am

    Re: Catholic Church finds more Butthurt in Australia

    Opps forgot.. here's Catherine's originating post about the whole thing which includes her "apology" and the Updates.. The first Update is the best one..

    http://www.catherinedeveny.com/columns/2012/5/7/pell-deveny-defamation-twitter-qa.html

    f rom the blog post - Best "Apology" ever:
    I apologize unreservedly for any hurt Cardinal Pell may have suffered from me tweeting a meme on April 10 that used his image and five words he said on Q&A the night before. Clearly it was significant enough hurt and embarrassment caused for him to lawyer up and spend the Catholic Church’s money to pursue defamation action against Twitter and me. There must have been deep deliberation over the decision to spend thousands of dollars of parishioners’ money on legal fees. Spending money that could have been spent feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless or alleviating suffering, instead of on defamation litigation, clearly illustrates how serious the breach I allegedly committed was in the eyes of Cardinal Pell.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Jeremy, May 16th, 2012 @ 12:25pm

    People post reviews of churches? Does god know the earth has become a user-reviewed online catalog of religions?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 12:45pm

    Money is also essential to keeping up a very comfortable lifestyle for preachers who would otherwise be cleaning out septic tanks somewhere.

    But the point is, when is this damn country going to set up a system that puts plaintiffs at significant risk from bullying lawsuits? This sound like just another case of the one with the money using lawyers to intimidate any complainants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    Hey, isn't there a verse in the bible that goes something like this?

    "If a Christian tries to leave the church, thou shall sue them for slander".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re:

    You clearly don't understand how religious fanaticism works. This will be explained to the gullible sheep as a "trial" or "Satan's attempt to destroy our church," and will serve to further bond the faithful to the pastor. Some may leave, but those that stay will be convinced that they are fighting the good fight against evil reprobates.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 3:19pm

    Oooh. Countersuit. He called her a liar. Prove that she is in court.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re:

    they keep missing that second part...
    but I guess thats a religion thing, only reading what you want...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Bob Webster (profile), May 16th, 2012 @ 4:37pm

    Cheeky

    Aren't Christians supposed to turn the other cheek? Blessed are the humble, but where's the humility in suing someone for a bad (even if inaccurate) review?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Dr. Evil, May 16th, 2012 @ 10:59pm

    think about the children .... mmmmmmm.. children..

    hey, wait a sec... don't compare guys who clean out septic tanks - an honorable job - with guys like Cardinal Pell...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    JustMe (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 4:03am

    Everyone remember

    Not to say that the Beaverton Grace Bible Church is creepy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Chrys Stevenson, May 17th, 2012 @ 4:55am

    Re: Catholic Church finds more Butthurt in Australia

    Glad you liked my blog post, GT! With the debate over same-sex marriage in Australia, the religious right are becoming increasingly desperate and exposing their hatefulness. We are seeing the kind of culture wars that we've witnessed in Australia. To Australia's credit, the head honcho of the Australian Christian Lobbyhas been forced to concede to his members that they are 'comprehensively losing'the debate.

    Make no mistake, fundamentalist dominionism is alive and well in Australia and they are using defamation threats to try to silence us. But our blogging community is strong and the 'Streisand effect' is powerful. Equality and justice will prevail - but for evil to prevail it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 7:15am

    Is this church a subsidiary of the catholic one?

    Reading the tweets, it could easily be mistaken as talking about the Boston area catholic church.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Michael, May 17th, 2012 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: Catholic Church finds more Butthurt in Australia

    "With the debate over same-sex marriage in Australia, the religious right are becoming increasingly desperate and exposing their hatefulness. We are seeing the kind of culture wars that we've witnessed in Australia. To Australia's credit, the head honcho of the Australian Christian Lobbyhas been forced to concede to his members that they are 'comprehensively losing'the debate."

    'Same-sex marriages' are evil. If anything it's people like you who and the homosexual movement who are exposing your hatred. You devalue morals and attempt to force unnatural, perverted behavior on the entire population, even while the vast majority always vote overwhelmingly in opposition. If anyone can be accused of bullying, it's definitely the GLBT movement what with their social engineering projects aimed at our youth in order to foster 'acceptance' of immoral behavior. It's indoctrination hiding behind a wall of protectionism. Simply put, if their actions were so morally upright, there'd be no need to push the issue as the majority would've accepted it long ago, but they haven't. I can only surmise that the homosexual community feels shame for their actions (as God's law is written in their hearts) and are desperately trying to gain public acceptance for their grossly unnatural behavior so as to feel better about themselves.

    There was nothing normal about a man penetrating another man in the rectal cavity almost 4,000 years ago, just as there is nothing normal about it today. No matter how much immoral filth the mass media/governments attempt to force-feed the masses and portray as "progress," I for one will never accept it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2012 @ 8:41am

    Can't no one man Evangelize the world. When you trying to be lord over God hertiage you are wrong. God gave them 1st Apostle, Prophets, Evabgelists, Teachers, Pastors to do what to effect the church. You can't do it by yourself. Everybody is not wrong sir and trying to keep your church from from the rest of the world is a"Cult". How can you help save the community separating ur self from them. For God so loved the world. U will be lied on persecuted for the gospel. Turn ur back to the persecutor. Turn back to the BIBLE.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Catholic Church finds more Butthurt in Australia

    Please explain what your comment has to do with defamation or anything else in context with the above comments, or the article in question.

    That's right it doesn't, it's just more ad-hominem attacks by some freak of a troll, stalker or both.

    Please take your religious fervour some place else, it is not wanted nor required here at TechDirt, unless it is within the context of the article/comments in question.

    in other words: Fuck off!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2012 @ 10:21am

    A church without morals!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Michael, May 17th, 2012 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Catholic Church finds more Butthurt in Australia

    G Thompson, I don't take orders from you.

    All I see is somebody gleefully attacking my religion, so yes, I will respond. It's obvious that you posted that in order to take hot-shots at the Church.

    "Last week the Catholic church's Cardinal in Australia George Pell went on a televised panel about "Atheism vs Religion" up against Richard Dawkins (yes yes.. stupidity knows no bounds with this Cardinal) ."

    So anyone who gets into a debate with Richard Dawkins is stupid in your view? Why's that? Is he special in some way? No, he's not. As far as the sexual abuse charges go against the Church, that occurred with less than 1% of all priests and, let it be known, around 80% of the accused actions were homosexual in origin. You cannot name a single religion, occupation or whatnot where sexual predators don't exist. You just choose to make a target out of the Catholic Church because it takes a firm stance against immorality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Catholic Church finds more Butthurt in Australia

    Oh grow up and get a bit of common sense.

    And No I don't doubt one little iota that you would ever take orders from myself, or anyone that has a smattering of understanding about your ideological stance, I have dealt with your type before. Though you do amuse me at the moment.

    I was not taking a hot-shot towards the Church, I was taking a shot against the stupidity of the Cardinals Public Relations team allowing him the opportunity to debate what to Catholicism is non-debatable. As you are probably aware from your own many 'debates' against people who don't agree with your world view, or don't actually believe in your god (or any gods for that matter) they normally are highly educated on not just part of your religion/ideology but all parts and other ideologies as well. The Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Muslim) are basically all the same at their fundamental roots. Richard Dawkins wasn't talking about the Catholic church (or Christianity even, and definitely not about the alleged, and proven, sexual predators that the church's have had work for them. Instead the debate if you had the inkling to actually READ and click links on what I posted, it was about the differences of Atheism versus ALL religions.

    Personally I have no qualms with the Catholic Church any more than I have with any other faith based ideologies. As long as they and their followers don't try to force their so called "moral" behaviour onto myself or others that don't want it - they can do their own thing. As soon as they do though, watch it. Then I will become their worse nightmare.

    Basically this is not the forum for this sort of debate/analysis/whatever and to tell the truth I have better things to do than spend my time constantly defending ethics and laws from those who don't seem to grasp the basic concept of human freedom and the concept that societal mores change over time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Michael, May 17th, 2012 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Catholic Church finds more Butthurt in Australia

    "I was not taking a hot-shot towards the Church, I was taking a shot against the stupidity of the Cardinals Public Relations team allowing him the opportunity to debate what to Catholicism is non-debatable. As you are probably aware from your own many 'debates' against people who don't agree with your world view, or don't actually believe in your god (or any gods for that matter) they normally are highly educated on not just part of your religion/ideology but all parts and other ideologies as well."

    Of course they are, seeing as the militant atheists' sole purpose in life seems to be to attack religion. Just as I'm educated as to the effects of atheism in government form (communism) and the end result: mass genocide, eradicating religion (specifically Christianity, their preferred target), loss of freedoms, etc.

    "Personally I have no qualms with the Catholic Church any more than I have with any other faith based ideologies. As long as they and their followers don't try to force their so called "moral" behaviour onto myself or others that don't want it - they can do their own thing. As soon as they do though, watch it. Then I will become their worse nightmare."

    And here is where your argument falls apart. It isn't the Church imposing its morals on others but rather the GLBT imposing their immorals on society as a whole. Morals are plain-set -- they are not subject to the passing of time, as if there were an expiration date whereby immoral actions suddenly become justifiable.

    "Basically this is not the forum for this sort of debate/analysis/whatever and to tell the truth I have better things to do than spend my time constantly defending ethics and laws from those who don't seem to grasp the basic concept of human freedom and the concept that societal mores change over time."

    Having freedom is not a license to impose unnatural behavior on society at large.

    As the saying goes, "Not all change is progress, just as not all movement is forward."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    hmm (profile), May 17th, 2012 @ 3:44pm

    how about

    How about everyone here simply conjures up a fake and rather filthy rude review of the church and its pastor...

    I wannna see how many "OMG she did WHAT with a sheep, four foot of rubber hose and a 50gallon drum of lube?!!" type reviews before they explode.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Ekim, May 18th, 2012 @ 7:43am

    A quote from someone:

    "Religion is like a penis. It's fine to have one and it's fine to be proud of it, but please don't whip it out in public and start waving it around... and PLEASE don't try to shove it down my child's throat."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This