Church sues ex-member for online criticism
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. "What somebody does in the church is one thing, but when you get out into society we have the right to free speech, and it may not be what people want to hear, but we absolutely have that right," Smith said. The lawsuit didn’t just target Smith. Her daughter and three other commenters are also being sued. "He can say what he wants in the church and say, don't talk about this or don't talk about that, or don't talk to this person, but when you're out in the civil world, you don't do that anymore," Smith said. "And he's not my pastor anymore. He does not have that right to keep people from talking." The Smiths filed a special free speech motion to dismiss the lawsuit. It goes before a judge later this month. KATU News called the church, went there, went to the pastor's home and spoke to his wife. KATU News also called the pastor's attorney. All of them declined to give their side of the story.
Goodl! The pastor will learn a hard lesson of the exisitence of a civilized society who's priciple laws honors human rights before his own pathetic rights.
If you call it 'defamation' for person engage in excersising her freedom of speech based upon her personal inhuman experiences by you,
What do you call for what you were/are doing to the person?- Campaining to others with your words and actions to shun another human being.
It's at the least 'defamation'. You are also violating her Constitutional right to excise Freedom of Religion by persecuting her for not beliving your religion. It works both way!
Preventing and protecting its citizens from persecution by religious tyranny that was the very core conception, freedom of religion was adopted in the Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights.
This is outrageous conduct. If all the pertinent facts were reported, it will be dismissed. Sanctions for bringing a suit may be appropriate. The First Amendment ranks higher than defamation law. Also, I don't think that a pastor is private citizen under defamation law. A pastor is at least newsworthy which raises the bar. He would have to have much stronger proof to prevail. If the defendants have to hire a lawyer, it seems fair that they are awarded legal fees.
I don't this area well but it seems thaat some punitive action should be taken againstr the pastor. Even if you have right and the law on your side,being sued is a major trauma and expensive.
The pastor's lawsuit makes no sense from a containment point of view. Would we have ever read the "offensive" comments or heard of them were it not for his lawsuit? Many celebrities get very angry but decided not to sue. He has republished the content over and over. Whatever good works the church has done in the community will not be remembered. HIs lawsuit and the negative comments will be remember b/c of his own actions.
The United States certainly is litigious. Everyone wants their own brand of justice and they want it now. If a lawyer is involved in the suit, the lawyer could face sanctions.
Bring it, WTBTS.
And yes, this is a great candidate for a frivolous filing penalty. I'm glad to see more judges employing that tactic these days to keep dumb lawsuits out of the system.