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.

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Comments on “Church Sues Former Members For Posting A Negative Review Online”

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41 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!’

G Thompson (profile) says:

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

G Thompson (profile) says:

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

from 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

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.

Chrys Stevenson (user link) says:

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.

Michael says:

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.

G Thompson (profile) says:

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!

Michael says:

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.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Michael says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.”

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

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